Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, January 25, 2004

DOT to hold hearing on transportation plan

JUNEAU - The state Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing in Juneau on Monday to present a draft version of the updated Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan.

The meeting will be held at the Mendenhall Mall conference room from 7 to 9 p.m. An open house will be held at the same location from 5 to 7 p.m.

DOT will solicit comments from the public on the draft plan.

The update of the regional plan covers surface transportation systems, including the Alaska Marine Highway System and the Southeast road system.

The current plan was approved in March 1999 and updated in February 2001.

The draft update supports maintaining an AMHS fleet of four mainline ferries and various shuttle ferries. It also recommends building a road from Juneau to Skagway, a road connecting Bradfield Canal near Wrangell to the Canadian road system, and a road across Baranof Island.

Seventeen other public meetings will be held throughout Southeast between Jan. 26 and Feb. 5.

For a complete list of public meetings, copies of the draft plan and additional information, see DOT's Web site at

Public comments on the plan can be submitted in writing to Andy Hughes at the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, 6860 Glacier Highway, Juneau, AK, 99801, or they may be sent by e-mail to

Public comments are due by Feb. 23.

Catamaran grounded after taking on water

JUNEAU - An 80-foot tour boat, the Fairweather Express II, en route from Haines to Juneau, took on water about 2 p.m. Friday when a wave broke a window on the vessel, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The vessel, a catamaran, didn't have any passengers aboard at the time. It was crewed by two people, said Lt. Matt Moorlag of the Coast Guard's command center in Juneau. No one was injured.

"They took a large wave over the bow. It broke out their window and put several thousand gallons of water into the interior of the vessel," Moorlag said.

The captain intentionally beached the boat on Shelter Island, just north of Auke Bay, to assess the damage and pump out the water.

The boat was refloated on high tide at about 1 a.m. Saturday and it traveled to the harbor at Auke Bay while escorted by a sister ship, the Fairweather Express, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard had dispatched a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Juneau, and a helicopter from Sitka, to Shelter Island. The helicopter turned back after the catamaran was successfully beached, Moorlag said.

The Fairweather Express II is owned by Chilkat Cruises and Tours of Haines, a subsidiary of Klukwan Inc., the Native village corporation for Haines.

Company officials could not be reached immediately for comment.

Father charged with endangering children

ANCHORAGE - A Homer man was arrested after Alaska State Troopers found him and his five children in wet, freezing clothing as they sat in deep snow on a ridge above the town.

Geoffrey Seneff, 45, told officers he had taken his children into the mountains to pray. He was charged with five counts of reckless endangerment and one count of misdemeanor assault related to domestic violence.

Seneff was being held Friday at the Homer Jail with bail set at $5,000 bond, said Sgt. Jim Hibpshman.

The children, ranging in ages from 3 to 14, were chilly but otherwise unharmed in 25-degree temperatures Thursday night, Hibpshman said. They warmed up at a nearby house before going home to their mother in town.

A search was triggered Thursday after a Diamond Ridge area resident found an unknown car parked in her driveway and called police about 7:30 p.m. Troopers traced the registration to Seneff and his wife, whose name was not released.

The woman told troopers that Seneff had taken the kids about 1 p.m. and reported that an incident of domestic violence had occurred earlier in the day, Hibpshman said.

Troopers found tracks leading into a valley.

"You could tell that the little kids were there, and you could see their little prints in the snow," Hibpshman said. "The snow was real deep and you could see the mitten prints where they had fallen."

The troopers found the family sitting calmly a few hundred yards away and took Seneff into custody.

Homesteaders donate property for housing

KENAI - A pair of Nikiski Senior Center members didn't like the choice of land for a new senior housing complex, so they've come up with something nicer - part of their own homestead.

About six acres on Marie Lake will be the site of the housing project, thanks to the gift from longtime Nikiski Senior Center members Jim and Nedra Evenson.

The Evensons decided to donate the land, part of 160 acres they homesteaded in 1958, because they felt the site originally proposed for the complex wasn't pretty enough.

"With all the beautiful land in North Kenai, we decided they should have lake frontage," said Nedra Evenson.

Nikiski is an unincorporated community of about 4,400 off the Sterling Highway nine miles north of Kenai.

The project is planned to include six to 11 handicapped-accessible units where seniors can live independently in the company of other seniors.

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