Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, January 20, 2006

Soldiers arrive in Juneau Sunday

JUNEAU - Juneau soldiers of the Alaska National Guard's Alpha Co., 3rd Battalion 297th Infantry who were deployed to Iraq for a year's tour of duty will arrive in the capital on a flight from Anchorage at 9:44 a.m. Sunday.

The Guard's Family Assistance Center and the Capital City Republican Women are encouraging people to greet the soldiers at Juneau International Airport upon their return. The soldiers returned to Anchorage on Jan. 13.

The Guardsmen also will be honored with a welcome-home ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday at the National Guard Armory at Camp Denali on Fort Richardson. The unit will be presented with the Combat Infantry Company Streamer, an accolade that is awarded when more than 65 percent of the soldiers in the unit receive a Combat Infantry Badge.

This was the first deployment of Alaska Army National Guard combat troops since World War II.

Man dies after seizure and traffic accident

JUNEAU - A 48-year-old man involved in a single-vehicle accident Wednesday evening died after what witnesses described as a seizure, Juneau police said.

Victor Lee Walker apparently died of natural causes and not as a result of the accident that occurred at about 8 p.m. in the outbound lanes of Egan Drive near Aurora Harbor, police said.

Witnesses who came to Walker's aid after the Ford F-350 pickup wrecked said they thought he was having a seizure. He was later declared dead at Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Sen. Murkowski to vote for Alito

FAIRBANKS - Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she will vote to confirm Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court, even though she is disappointed in his reluctance to describe the law on abortion as "settled."

The senator was in Asia last week and unable to watch much of the hearing when the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Alito.

"But in review of the statements that were made, it goes back to my first impression of the man - an individual who has the credibility, the temperament, certainly the resume," she said. "Is he qualified to serve? Yes."

Murkowski said she also was hoping for a stronger statement regarding abortion, though.

"Well, I would have preferred it if he had said very clearly that this is settled law," Murkowski said Wednesday. "He did not state that as strongly as I would have liked."

In 2003, Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted for a resolution expressing support for the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which declared a constitutional right to abortion. She said that right should be subject to "reasonable restrictions," though.

Murkowski then voted to ban partial-birth abortions. She also supports the congressional ban on spending federal Medicaid money on abortions, unless the mother is endangered or the child she is carrying is the result of rape or incest.

Museum expansion needs more money

FAIRBANKS - The expansion of the University of Alaska's Museum of the North is nearly complete but millions of state dollars are needed to finish the project, according to museum officials.

They maintain the funding is needed to complete the $42 million structure that has dramatically altered the skyline of the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

"We've already raised a majority of the funds from non-state sources and need the appropriation to complete the project," said Kerynn Fisher, communications coordinator for the museum.

In November, the university's Board of Regents included a $4.5 million appeal to pay for unexpected cost overruns in its $250 million capital budget request from the state's general fund.

Gov. Frank Murkowski put $95 million for the university in his proposed capital budget, but failed to fund the museum appropriation.

"The museum was just too far down on the regents' list of priorities," said Cheryl Frasca, budget director for the governor.

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