Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Driver charged after leaving crash scene

JUNEAU - A Juneau man faces a felony assault charge following a Monday afternoon crash.

Just after 2 p.m., William Petaja, 37, allegedly drove his 1990 Ford van into a 1991 Subaru from behind at the McNugget intersection and then attempted to leave the area on foot, police said. He was located by officers near a business in the area.

Capitol City Fire & Rescue transported all three occupants of the Subaru to Bartlett Regional Hospital's emergency department. According to Bartlett spokeswoman Marijo Toner, a man, 46, was treated for soft tissue injury of the upper back. A woman, 32, apparently suffered no injury. A girl, 9, was examined but apparently had no injury.

Petaja also was transported to Bartlett by ambulance. He was treated for a soft tissue injury around his neck and one knee, Toner said. He was released in good condition.

Petaja's van sustained about $5,000 damage. He was arrested for third-degree assault, a class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison, said police Capt. Tom Porter. He was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a revoked license. Alcohol was involved in the collision, police said.

Home ownership program kicks off tonight

JUNEAU - The first in a series of meetings on a home loan program targeting low-income Juneau residents runs from 7 to 8 tonight at the Gruening Park recreation room, 1800 Northwood St.

The program incorrectly was listed as running Wednesday in Monday's Empire events calendar.

Housing First, a local nonprofit group, offers the Home Opportunity Program to prospective homebuyers who meet household income guidelines. For example, a single person cannot earn more than $35,150 a year, while the limit for a three-person household is $45,200.

Using $327,500 from the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., the program offers interest-free, forgivable loans in Juneau and Sitka to help bridge the gap between a home's price and a low-income buyer's ability to pay.

In addition to tonight's meeting, one will be held at 7 p.m. April 18 at the Gruening Park recreation room. For details, call 463-1276.

Olympic torch relay coming to Juneau

JUNEAU - The capital city will host the Olympic Torch Relay on Jan. 24, 2002, during the only Alaska stop of the symbolic flame as it travels to Salt Lake City, Utah, home of the XIX Olympic Winter Games. This will be the first time any Alaska city has hosted the torchbearers carrying the flame.

In celebration, an official Olympic Torch Relay flag will be raised at noon Friday at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

"We're extremely proud that the Salt Lake Organizing Committee has chosen Juneau to host the torch relay and we're gearing up for a wonderful Alaskan celebration to welcome the Olympic flame to the capital city," said Juneau Mayor Sally Smith.

Carried by 11,500 torchbearers more than 13,500 miles through 46 states, it will take about 65 days for the flame to reach the opening ceremonies of the XIX Olympiad in Salt Lake City.

Alaskans may nominate themselves or others for carrying the flame two-tenths of a mile during the Juneau relay. Nomination forms are available at or by writing to Alaska Torchbearers, Juneau Parks and Recreation, 155 S. Seward St., Juneau 99801. Nominations must be postmarked by May 15, 2001.

For details, call Smith at 586-5240; or Tish Griffin at 465-6528.

Ash cloud from volcano spreading

ANCHORAGE - An ash cloud from the weekend eruption of the Mount Cleveland volcano continued to move slowly Monday, spreading as much as 200 miles at 25,000 feet.

The 5,675-foot mountain, on the western half of Chuginadak Island in the Aleutian chain, erupted explosively Sunday morning, spouting ash for three hours. Chuginadak Island is uninhabited, but the volcano's ash cloud traveled far enough Monday to pass over Dutch Harbor, said Steve McNutt, a volcano seismologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

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