State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Park shelter bookings available soon

JUNEAU - The city will begin taking reservations for park shelters on Feb. 3.

Shelters can be reserved at Savikko Park in Douglas, Cope Park downtown, Riverside Rotary Park in the Mendenhall Valley and Twin Lakes near Salmon Creek. Shelters can be reserved on an hourly basis from April 18 to Sept. 14. Shelters frequently are rented for birthday parties, company or agency gatherings, and bases for sporting events.

Rates are $15 an hour for the Savikko and Cope Park shelters. The Riverside shelter runs $5 an hour, and the Twin Lakes shelter is $10 an hour.

Reservations must be made at the Parks and Rec office in City Hall through Feb. 14, after which faxed and mail requests can be made. For more information, call 586-5226. Dimensions and other details are on the "Picnic Shelters" link at Parks and Rec Web site,

Masek wants to be majority leader

JUNEAU - Rep. Beverly Masek, a Willow Republican, wants to replace Lisa Murkowski as the next state House majority leader.

Masek, a five-term incumbent who had one of the worst attendance records in the House last session, issued a press statement Tuesday saying she is seeking the leadership post.

Lisa Murkowski was selected majority leader by fellow House Republicans after the Nov. 5 election. She resigned from the House after her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski, appointed her to his vacated U.S. Senate seat.

Republican Reps. John Coghill of North Pole, Gary Stevens of Kodiak, and Lesil McGuire of Anchorage are vying to replace Murkowski as majority leader.

House Republicans are expected to select a new majority leader during a caucus Sunday.

Ketchikan school reopens

KETCHIKAN - A Catholic school reopened Tuesday after most of its students stayed home with a gastrointestinal illness Friday.

Holy Name Catholic School closed early Friday and remained closed Monday.

The closure Monday was primarily to allow time for the affected students and staff to recuperate, said the Rev. Patrick Travers. It also ensured that the school was thoroughly cleaned, he said.

Signs of the illness began Thursday morning and accelerated through the day with large numbers of students vomiting.

State health officials advised that affected students and teachers should not return to school until 72 hours after the symptoms subsided.

Symptoms of a Norwalk-like virus were reported last month in Juneau and Ketchikan.

Panel: Press secretary violated ethics code

JUNEAU - The state Senate Republican majority's press secretary violated the state ethics code last fall by calling a news conference to blast a speech by then-gubernatorial candidate Fran Ulmer.

That's the decision of the Senate Subcommittee of the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics, which met last week to hear testimony on the case. The panel issued its formal decision Tuesday.

The committee recommended no penalty for Ron Irwin because he immediately canceled the news conference upon being informed it could be improper and because his use of state resources - sending electronic mail to the media - was minimal.

Irwin has said he believes he did nothing wrong and plans to appeal the decision.

Irwin sent out a release Sept. 4, advising that members of the legislative majority would explain at a news conference at a state office "the serious ramifications of a tax-and-spend plan like she (Ulmer) is proposing."

The committee determined the news release was a use of public resources for partisan political activity. Sen. John Torgerson, a Kasilof Republican, issued a dissenting opinion.

The news conference was to have been held at the Legislative Information Office in Anchorage and was to feature House and Senate Republicans who had served on legislative finance committees.

Democratic Party Executive Director Tammy Troyer filed the complaint against Irwin.

Woman found dead after house fire

ANCHORAGE - Firefighters who responded to a burning home early Tuesday found the body of a woman in the living room.

Deputy Chief Tom Kempton said neighbors reported the fire just after midnight. When firefighters put out the fire they found the body on a couch. The name of the 42-year-old woman has not been released.

Kempton said the cause of the fire is under investigation but does not appear suspicious.

Property damage is estimated at $100,000.

Man gets five years in sex abuse case

FAIRBANKS - A former Bettles man has been sentenced to serve five years in prison for his conviction of molesting two of his daughters several times and threatening them with a handgun.

State Superior Court Judge Charles Pengilly on Tuesday sentenced William E. Mackey, 43, to eight years with five suspended for a conviction of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, and three years with one suspended for a conviction of third-degree assault.

He was assigned eight years of probation.

Mackey had pleaded no contest in September to the sexual abuse and assault charges in an agreement with state prosecutors that significantly reduced his charges.

He had been indicted on nine counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and three counts of third-degree assault, charges that alleged he molested his daughters, both younger than 18, on several occasions between 1997 and January 2002 and endangered both girls with a handgun during separate incidents.

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