Alaska Digest

Wire reports

Posted: Monday, January 10, 2005

High school choirs seek names of military

JUNEAU - The Juneau-Douglas High School string orchestras and choirs will hold a concert at 7 p.m. Thursday at which they honor local residents who are serving with the military in the Mideast.

The music department is still asking residents who know of such people to call Laurie Perkins, president of the choir boosters, at 364-3450 with the names and location of their service.

The theme of the concert is "I'll be Home for Christmas," and it is dedicated to the troops in the Mideast, said choir director Rod Pocock.

The men's choir will begin the tribute with one verse of "I'll Be Home For Christmas," as the other choirs and dancers file onstage and the orchestra comes into the pit.

During the second verse, the scrim, a sheer cloth, will drop slowly. All performers will play and sing softly while the names of all Juneau-area service people deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan are read by Coast Guard Rear Adm. Jim Olson.

After the last name is read, the scrim will rise and everyone, including the audience, is invited to sing a verse.

The local NBC television affiliate will tape the concert and send copies of the tapes to each person serving. Donations will be accepted at the door to defray the cost.

Relief moves through Anchorage airport

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage's international airport is the sorting point for numerous American and Canadian corporations that are donating medicine, food and other supplies for tsunami victims.

FedEx, Northwest Airlines and UPS use the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport as a link to Asia and they are among the companies participating in relief efforts, donating free cargo shipping services, among other things.

FedEx is working with six relief organizations and has shipped more than 230 tons of medical supplies, said Ed Coleman, a company spokesman.

Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx uses Anchorage as its main sorting center for cargo heading to and from Asia. A large amount of the relief materials bound for tsunami victims, mostly in Sri Lanka and Indonesia, are being handled in Anchorage, Coleman said.

Weather allows more spill cleanup

ANCHORAGE - The weather off the coast of Unalaska Island continued to cooperate Sunday with a salvage team tackling fuel removal from the broken Selendang Ayu.

Calm weather allowed the team to remove nearly 10,000 gallons of fuel mixed with water from the soybean freighter Sunday and more than 8,000 gallons on Saturday, said Petty Officer Thomas McKenzie. The total fuel and water removed now stands at more than 35,000 gallons, he said.

Cleanup crews collected 1,450 bags of oily waste from Skan Bay on Saturday. McKenzie said Sunday's count was not immediately available.

Crews planned to go out again today, but the weather was expected to worsen later in the week, according to McKenzie.

As of Sunday, 536 marine birds and five otters have found dead since the spill, McKenzie said. Several hundred more live oiled birds have been spotted.

Pregnant senator ordered to bed rest

ANCHORAGE - State Sen. Gretchen Guess said Sunday she won't be in Juneau at the start of the Alaska Legislative session today. Her doctor has ordered her to stay in bed in Anchorage.

Guess, a Democrat, is eight months pregnant. She said she'll stay in Anchorage until her doctor allows her to travel or until her baby is born. She's due in mid-February.

"I take my legislative job seriously, but I hope people will understand I need to do what is in the best interest of my baby's health," she said.

The senator and her husband, Jeff Tyson, had planned to have their baby in Juneau. She's already moved her car and belongings there.

Now Guess plans to do her job by phone. State law allows all actions to be done by phone, except for voting on the floor and moving bills from committee.

Man charged with rape chooses trial

ANCHORAGE - Jury selection is set to begin today in the trial of an Anchorage man accused of serial rapes.

Terral D. Wright, 23, rejected a 20-year plea bargain Friday, choosing instead to go before a jury.

Wright was arrested in October 2002 and charged with lying in wait inside a woman's home, attacking her when she arrived home, tying her up and repeatedly sexually assaulting her after covering her head with a small rug so she couldn't see him.

According to police accounts, the victim recognized Wright's voice and identified him as the boyfriend of a friend. When police searched Wright's home they found clothing the victim said she had been wearing at the time of the attack.

A month later, a grand jury returned a 22-count indictment against Wright that included eight counts of first-degree sexual assault. It named two other alleged victims who reported being similarly attacked earlier that year, before the original complainant.

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