Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, January 14, 2008

Communities observe AMBER Alert day

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JUNEAU - Communities across the country Sunday observed National AMBER Alert Awareness Day.

The AMBER Alert program is designed to assist in the recovery of abducted children.

Since Alaska implemented its AMBER Alert program in 2003, an activation has not occurred, but on Dec. 27, 2007, the Alaska State Troopers in Southeast assisted in the successful recovery of two boys who were abducted by their mother from foster care in Texas.

An AMBER Alert was issued in that case in Texas following the abduction. In mid-December, U.S. Marshals traveled to Southeast Alaska in an attempt to locate the abducted boys and their mother. There was a suspicion that the mother was taking the boys to Naukati, were the family had once resided.

Nationwide, there are 119 AMBER Alert plans, including 28 regional, 38 local, and statewide plans in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To honor the program as vital to the safety of children, program administrators encourage wireless subscribers to sign up for Wireless AMBER Alerts at

The program, created after the 1996 abduction and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters and transportation agencies. It activates an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases, allowing the public to become the eyes and ears of law enforcement.

The AMBER Alert program is coordinated on a national level by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Seiner in Seward after engine failure

ANCHORAGE - A 55-foot purse seiner out of Petersburg arrived safely in Seward on Sunday after its engine failed in the Gulf of Alaska early Saturday morning.

The U.S. Coast Guard received word just after 6:30 a.m. Saturday that the fishing vessel Equinox was disabled 34 nautical miles south of Montague Island with four people on board.

The Coast Guard Cutter Mustang, a 110-foot patrol boat out of Seward, was diverted from another mission to respond, arriving on scene and getting the Equinox under tow by early afternoon.

Weather conditions were favorable until the Mustang turned into the channel between Resurrection Bay and Blying Sound, when winds picked up to 40 knots and the temperature dropped to 12 below zero. Despite heavy freezing spray and a frozen towline, the crew completed the tow without incident, the Coast Guard said.

The Equinox arrived and was docked at the Seward harbor Sunday afternoon.

UAF teams up with Finland school

FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska Fairbanks will be teaming with the University of Lapland in Finland to offer graduate degrees to students across the northern hemisphere through the University of the Arctic.

"The idea is to get different cultures to interact and to add that to a more interdisciplinary graduate program," said Larry Duffy, the interim dean of UAF's graduate school.

The University of the Arctic already offers a bachelor's degree in circumpolar studies. Over the next few years, officials at UAF and the University of Lapland also will be working together to develop some sort of master's degree program. The exact nature of the graduate program still needs to be worked out, Duffy said, but will likely focus on climate change or indigenous studies.

The University of the Arctic is a school without a campus. Founded in 2001, with UAF as one of the founding institutions, the university is a cooperative network of 110 universities, colleges and other organizations committed to higher education and research in the Arctic.

Alaska Air National Guard members return

ANCHORAGE - About 30 members of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing at Kulis Air National Guard Base are headed home.

The airmen were expected back today. Their return ends a four-month deployment for two units, which began a rotating deployment to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan back in September 2007.

Individual airmen spent one or two months in Afghanistan at a time. The mission for the Alaska Guard members consisted of providing airlift support of supplies and personnel throughout Afghanistan.

Kott seeks delay in reporting to prison

ANCHORAGE - Former Alaska House Speaker Pete Kott has asked federal officials if he can start his prison sentence later than planned.

Kott was sentenced last month to serve six years in a federal prison for his convictions on conspiracy, bribery, and extortion charges.

In court documents filed Thursday, Kott wants to delay reporting to the federal prison in Oregon until February 1st so he can support his daughter, Pamela, who is scheduled to give birth around January 21st.

He's scheduled to report to prison this Thursday.

Kott also is appealing both his conviction and sentence. It could take up to 18 months for the federal appeals court to hear Kott's case.

Police seek burglars who bludgeoned dog

ANCHORAGE - Burglars stole thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment and left behind a badly injured small dog that may have tried to protect its Wasilla home.

The 6-year-old miniature dachshund was seriously injured Wednesday and had to be euthanized.

Rachel Almon, 19, said she returned from work with a friend around 3:30 p.m. and discovered an overwhelming stench and her mother's bedroom light on.

Almon ran downstairs to check on Cadie, the 6-year-old dachshund, and her 4-week-old pups. The family had been leaving those dogs in a playpen in the living room rather than in a kennel so Cadie could nurse the pups.

"I walked over to the playpen and she was all bloody and the pups were all bloody," she said.

The mother dog was so badly hurt, the family decided to have her euthanized.

An investigation is under way, Wasilla Police Chief Angela Long said.

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