State and local briefly

Posted: Monday, March 13, 2000

Heart trouble blamed for student's death

ANCHORAGE - An irregular heartbeat was the likely cause of death of a Dimond High School sophomore who collapsed suddenly last week, according to the state medical examiner's office. Ryan Keyes, 15, died Wednesday afternoon at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

More study on the boy's heart tissue was necessary, said chief medical examiner Michael Propst, but the autopsy findings were consistent with heart arrhythmia.

Ryan had been diagnosed with arrhythmia as a newborn and treated for a year with medication, but then outgrew it, said Kelly Hasvold of Sioux Falls, S.D., Ryan's aunt.

Doctors told Ryan's parents the disease stood a 10 percent chance of returning in his teen-age years, Hasvold said. But no symptoms ever showed themselves and his activities were never restricted, she added.

On Wednesday, Ryan was walking off a badminton court when he collapsed, Anchorage School District officials said. The school nurse and others tried to revive him until paramedics arrived, officials said.

Man gets 99 years for mechanic's death

KENAI - A 73-year-old Kenai man was sentenced Friday to 99 years in prison without possibility of parole for the 1997 murder of a Soldotna mechanic.

Everett Turner was found guilty of first-degree murder for the shooting death of Richard Nelson, 34, on Nov. 17, 1997. Prosecutors said Turner was angry about repairs Nelson failed to make on Turner's vehicles.

In handing down the sentence Friday, Superior Court Judge Harold Brown disregarded advice of counsel. Both lawyers in the case, Kenai District Attorney Dwayne McConnell and defense attorney Joe Montague, stated the maximum sentence was not necessary.

``This is a clear case of premeditated, cold-blooded, deliberate murder,'' Brown said. ``This homicide was a depraved act, of which there is not a single mitigating circumstance.''

Turner's stated confession that he meant to kill Richard Nelson and was disappointed when he thought he had failed was brought up at sentencing.

Brown also cited Turner's previous convictions on nearly 20 different charges since 1971 and a lack of remorse.

Ex-North Pole mayor's suit dismissed

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks judge has dismissed what was left of a lawsuit filed by a former North Pole mayor that alleged a corrupt election process in the Interior city.

Superior Court Judge Mary Greene said Tim Peters' allegations came too far after the election in question.

The decision frees North Pole from a lawsuit that has dogged the city council since shortly after Peters was ousted from office in a November 1998 recall election.

In January, Greene dismissed a claim by Peters that the mayoral post, once voters elected him in 1997, was a property right and that the city council's move to certify the recall election violated his due process rights. Earlier the judge dismissed two other allegations, including one that challenged the recall grounds as stated on the ballot.

Still unresolved is a counterclaim made by the city which seeks reimbursement for costs associated with Peters' actions, said city attorney Zane Wilson.

Cook Inlet Region reports record profit

ANCHORAGE - Cook Inlet Region Inc., the Native regional corporation for Southcentral Alaska, earned a record $57.4 million in 1999, the corporation reported Friday.

CIRI's profit was up 14 percent from a year earlier, when the Anchorage-based corporation earned $50.2 million. It was the seventh straight year of increasing profit, CIRI said.

Revenue in 1999 was $297 million, up from $251 million in 1998.

Carl Marrs, CIRI president, attributed the revenue and profit increase to growth in the value of CIRI's wireless communication operation. He said the corporation also sold some of its real-estate holdings.

CIRI has joint ventures giving it a share in wireless telecom licenses in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami and Washington, D.C.

CIRI also announced Friday that shareholders will receive a first-quarter 2000 dividend of $6.28 per share, up from $5.50 in the same period in 1999. For the typical shareholder, the dividend adds up to $628.

Unocal explores Kenai prospects

KENAI - Unocal is spending about $1 million this winter doing seismic exploration on the Kenai Peninsula, searching for new pockets of natural gas. If the surveys around the Swanson River oil field and near Kalifornsky Beach Road find promising formations, exploratory wells could be drilled next year.

Fairweather Geophysical LLC started seismic work about a month ago in the area, said Roxanne Sinz of Unocal.

The goal is to find new pockets of gas associated with the Kenai Gas Field. Sinz said the Kenai gas is essentially a bubble trapped under a dome-shaped formation. Unocal hopes the seismic work will reveal additional pockets.

Kodiak state cod fishery opens

KODIAK - A state Pacific cod fishery opened Saturday in the Kodiak area with a quota slightly higher than last year and prices expected to be high for the season.

The fishery has a harvest limit of 12 million pounds, up from 11.7 million pounds in 1999.

Local processors say cod prices are stable at about 40 cents a pound, making the fishery worth an estimated $5 million for the fleet of nearly 200 boats.

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