Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Two Juneau officers promoted to sergeant

JUNEAU - Police Chief Richard Gummow announced Tuesday that two officers have been promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Kris Sell and Ed Mercer will be presented their new badges Monday during a brief promotion ceremony at the police station.

Police Capt. Tom Porter said the promotions bring the total of sergeants in the department back to seven, after the recent retirements of sergeants John Boltjes and Ben Coronell.

Both Sell and Mercer have most recently been assigned to investigations. Sell is a six-year veteran of the department, and Mercer has been a police officer for 12 years, Porter said.

Senate Finance takes up permanent fund bills

Juneau - Senate Republicans on Tuesday took a skeptical view of minority Democrat proposals to constitutionally guarantee an Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.

Democrats have called this a necessary part of any plan to use some of the $27.6 billion fund to fix the state's chronic budget woes.

Their words carry more force this year since Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski appealed to lawmakers and voters to finally close the state's budget gap. Senate Republicans don't have enough votes to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to do this.

"I am not willing to start turning the spigot on the permanent fund unless there is a guaranteed assurance that they can't open the spigot full blown and get rid of the dividend," said Sen. Kim Elton, D-Juneau.

Declining oil production has left the state with budget deficits of hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade. The fiscal 2005 budget now before the Legislature has more than $500 million in deficit spending.

This week, the Legislature has set aside much of its work to consider Murkowski's request to seek voter permission to use the fund.

Police: Three teens dead in Anchorage home

ANCHORAGE - Three teenage boys were found dead in an south-side Anchorage apartment on Tuesday, and police had someone in custody for questioning.

Police would not disclose the name or the gender of the person in custody, nor would they immediately identify the boys or say how they died.

Police spokesman Ron McGee said the boys are believed to have died earlier in the day.

Field crewman suffers injuries in bear mauling

HOMER - A member of an oil exploration crew was attacked by a sow bear near Anchor Point Tuesday morning, but not before squeezing off a killing shot.

Alaska State Troopers said Chuck Brady was wounded on the back and legs, but was able to walk out of the woods with his fellow workers and even joked with an investigating trooper later at an area hospital.

The crew was working near Stariski Creek, about 30 miles north of Homer, said trooper Sgt. Glenn Godfrey. They worked for Veritas DGC Land, setting up seismic equipment, said project manager Henry Biggart. Brady, armed with a shotgun, was the crew's bear guard, charged with watching for bruins and protecting the other people, according to company policy.

Godfrey said Brady saw what looked like a bear den and stepped a little closer to investigate. That's when a brown bear sow charged out of the hole. Brady raised his shotgun.

"He got off a shot before the bear was on top of him," Godfrey said.

Woman claims Jesuit priest molested her

FAIRBANKS - A Jesuit priest who founded KNOM radio is named in a lawsuit filed by a woman who says she was molested as minor between 1978 and 1984.

The unnamed plaintiff, an Alaska Native woman identified as "Jane Doe," alleges the Rev. James E. Poole molested her more than 100 times over seven years, starting when she was 10 years old and living in Nome.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Bethel Superior Court, says Poole molested the plaintiff by kissing, fondling and having her lie on top of him. Also named in the lawsuit are the Fairbanks Catholic Diocese, the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus and the Alaska Society of Jesus (Alaska Jesuits).

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