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Dividends bring benefits, crime concerns to North Slope

By Bonney Bowman 11:02 AM December 5, 2013

ASRC shareholders in Barrow received a $10,000 dividend

BARROW – As millions of dollars in regional corporation dividends flooded the North Slope Wednesday, Barrow residents are faced with a hefty decision: how to spend $10,000?

Qaiyaan Harcharek stood in line with dozens of other people at Barrow’s only bank, waiting to cash the dividend check he plans to spend on a new snowmachine. Harcharek said the vehicle would be used for hunting — helping him provide for his family.

“Eighty percent of our diet is the food we catch,” he said. “For my family, anyways.”

Harcharek said the high cost of living on the North Slope drove many to spend their dividend checks on essentials: food, shelter and fuel. But for some, the windfall is a means to a bad end. Drugs and alcohol sold by bootleggers go for a high price. They also have a high cost for the North Slope community.

North Slope Borough Police Chief Leon Boyea said his department may see an increase in drug and alcohol-related crimes in conjunction with the dividend distribution. But his department is cracking down on the trade: Detectives stationed in Anchorage and Fairbanks intercept contraband before it arrives in Barrow.

“We’ve been very successful at that,” he said. “We think we will continue to be successful and I think that’s made a difference.”

Boyea said seizures of illegal drugs and alcohol are on the rise, while crime has seen a corresponding decline.

But standing in line at the bank, Harcharek said there would always be a few bad apples.

“It is what it is,” he said.

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