State Briefs

Posted: Friday, February 14, 2003

Nature program for children offered Tuesday

JUNEAU - A nonprofit outdoors education group will offer a Discovery Day program for third- and fourth-graders Tuesday, when students have a day off because of a school in-service program.

Discovery Southeast naturalists will offer an all-day program based out of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. Hiking, tracking, role-play games and an art project will be based on the theme "Adaptation and Survival."

The program begins at 9 a.m. at the visitor center. Transportation from downtown will be offered at 8:30 a.m. from Harborview Elementary School. The program has space for 20 students and the cost is $40 for members of Discovery Southeast and $45 for nonmembers. Scholarships are available. Preregistration should be done by calling the Discovery office at 463-1500.

Juneau-based Discovery Southeast offers a variety of hands-on, field-based, outdoor "ed-venture" programs. Through a partnership with school PTAs and the support of members, the organization's naturalists visit almost every third-, fourth- and fifth-grade class each season and take students on a variety of field trips.

One Discovery Southeast program is the Creek Stewards project at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, which gives youths with a special interest in science, natural history and new GPS tools a chance to get hands-on practical experience. Last week, city lands manager Steve Gilbertson escorted the team to the end of the Lemon Creek road, where he interpreted historical developments and the watershed's contribution to the building of Juneau. Students used a GPS unit and a computer to plot waypoints of importance along the creek and shot digital photos that will be used in a booklet about the area.

Man arrested after threatening state worker

JUNEAU - A 27-year-old Juneau man was arrested Thursday morning after reportedly threatening an employee of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Juneau police said Getano L. Mayen threatened over the phone to kill a 44-year-old Labor Department employee and her co-workers because he was unhappy with information he had been given.

Police arrested Mayen about 11:30 a.m. at his home on a charge of terroristic threatening. He was taken to the Lemon Creek Correctional Center, where he was being held without bail.

The Labor Department placed its building in "lock-down status" - meaning people weren't allowed to enter or leave - but the lock-down was lifted about noon.

Juneau police initially said the threat came from an employee.

Black history celebration Saturday

JUNEAU - The Black Awareness Association of Juneau will sponsor a Black History Month Celebration beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday at the parish hall of the Cathedral of the Nativity.

Keynote Speaker Lester Monts will talk about the role music plays in black culture. The event includes soul food, skits, music by Fortress and a song by Sherry Patterson.

A $5 donation is suggested.

Eaglecrest bunny hill opens again

JUNEAU - The city-owned Eaglecrest Ski Area will open its Platter Pull beginners' slope again this weekend.

Lift tickets are free and the area will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday, which is the Presidents Day school holiday. Discounted lessons for beginners will be offered at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day.

Despite the lack of snow on other downhill runs, the tubing hill and Nordic trails, the area will hold a "We Love Snow" weekend, which includes two free races. An obstacle course will be set up 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and a dual slalom race will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call the area at 790-2000 or go to

Woman sentenced for fatal DWI crash

ANCHORAGE - A woman charged with killing a teenager while driving drunk last summer in Anchorage has been sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Michelle Pungowiyi pleaded no contest to charges of driving under the influence and manslaughter for the crash that killed Chaz Crabb, 17, July 23.

Pungowiyi ran a stop sign and struck the vehicle in which Crabb was riding. Pungowiyi has three previous DWI convictions.

In addition to 13 years in prison, Pungowiyi's license has been permanently revoked. She will not be eligible for parole for at least 8 years.

A sobbing Pungowiyi apologized to the Crabb family in court in Anchorage Thursday and said she wished it was her instead of the boy who had been killed.

The South Dakota teen was visiting his uncle and his grandparents when the crash occurred.

Man to enter plea agreement in homicide

FAIRBANKS - A man charged with murdering a 16-year-old North Pole girl has indicated he plans to agree to a plea deal.

A lawyer for 27-year-old Ernest Elizardo told a Superior Court judge Wednesday that Elizardo has reached an agreement to plead no contest to second-degree murder in the death of Jenny Cullen.

Elizardo will formally enter his plea on Feb. 24. If the plea is accepted, he could be sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Alaska State Troopers arrested Elizardo on July 9, a day after Cullen was pronounced dead at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. The girl had been shot in the head with a .357-caliber revolver in what troopers initially thought was an accidental shooting.

However, troopers' investigation determined that the shooting was intentional.

According to a criminal complaint, Elizardo had been drinking and got into an argument with his brother. He told troopers that he went outside and shot at a tree before reloading the gun and going back inside. The bullet struck the girl behind her left ear.

Man enters plea in abuse of minor

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man faces up to four years in prison after he was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor.

Stacey Lorenz, 29, pleaded no contest Wednesday to one count of sexual abuse of a minor. Prosecutors dismissed four other counts of the same charge.

Under terms of a plea agreement with prosecutors, a judge can sentence Lorenz to as many as four years in prison and between five and 10 years of probation. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 13.

Lorenz also pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Lorenz was arrested by Fairbanks police on Dec. 27 on charges of having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl during October and November. The arrest came almost nine years after he was indicted on a similar charge of having sex with a girl who was 15 years old or younger.

INS sweep nets fewer illegal workers

ANCHORAGE - A sweep last week by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service of seafood processors and fishing boats in Dutch Harbor netted fewer than 20 illegal immigrants, compared with about 60 arrested in a similar operation in 2000.

In 1997, INS officials found almost 300 illegal workers in two operations there, said Tim Staebell, the agency's assistant director of investigations.

INS agents arrived in Dutch Harbor on Feb. 5 for Operation Bering Sweep. Agents checked documents at the four major seafood processing plants and arrested eight illegal immigrants working at the plants, five from boats and a few others from businesses in Dutch Harbor, Staebell said.

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