State Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Ice sculptures suffer in deep freeze

FAIRBANKS - The deep freeze that gripped Fairbanks broke four of the sculptures in the World Ice Art Championships last week.

One of those sculptures - six days in the making - broke just minutes before it was to be judged Sunday. The sculpture called "Chains" was an interpretation of Michelangelo's David. But David lost his gigantic head and body, which toppled from its frozen perch.

This year, four sculptures cracked and broke at different times during the competition. While it's not uncommon for sculptures to break, it's rare when there are so many, said Fred Freer, judge coordinator for the past seven years.

It's also the first time the carving had to be suspended because of cold temperatures. Dick Brickley, Ice Alaska's chairman, said the 50-below-zero wind chill prompted officials to stop the construction of the large entries Thursday night.

"It's incredibly cold for the people. They could get frostbit and not even know it," Brickley said.

Ogg chosen to replace Gary Stevens in House

JUNEAU - Former Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Dan Ogg was appointed by Gov. Frank Murkowski on Monday to fill a vacant House District 36 seat.

"He is exceptionally well-qualified, has run for the seat in the past, and has strong support from the people of Kodiak," Murkowski said.

Ogg replaces former Rep. Gary Stevens, a Kodiak Republican, who resigned Feb. 19 to fill the Senate vacancy that arose after Sen. Alan Austerman was picked by Murkowski to be his top fisheries policy adviser.

Ogg, 53, is executive director of Alaskan Oceans Seas and Fisheries Research Foundation in Kodiak and is a former University of Alaska regent. He lost to Stevens in the 2000 Republican primary by 80 votes.

Murkowski chose Ogg over Lonnie White and Dan Rohrer, who also were nominated by the Republican House District 36 committee. Ogg's term begins immediately and will run through January 2005.

DIA reports election results

JUNEAU - Of 61 ballots cast in the March 3 Douglas Indian Association election, 36 were deemed legitimate and produced four council members.

Henry Howard, Charles Williams, Jim Marks and Bradley Fluetsch received the most votes in the election, according to Dapcevich Accounting, the Sitka-based firm hired by DIA to conduct the election. They will replace board members Dorothy Owen, Buddy Soriano and Madeline Morris, said DIA tribal administrator Harold Frank. Fluetsch returns to the board after resigning his board seat in January.

Dorothy Zura, Henry Stevens, Tom Paddock, Michael Dunlap and Helen Loescher will retain their seats, Frank said.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs is in the process of reviewing the election and will recognize or reject it this week.

Niles Cesar, BIA regional director, was unavailable to comment on the election results today. Immediately following the election, Cesar told the Empire if the election was for only four and not the full nine tribal council seats, the legitimacy of the DIA tribal government would be in question.

Charles Williams said he will not be sworn in on April 3 unless an election for all nine board seats is held.

"I was elected, but you know way down deep I can't really honor it until this thing gets resolved and is done in the proper way like it should be," Williams said. "Nine elected people should be on that board."

Police say missing brothers likely abducted

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage police are now considering the case of two young brothers who disappeared from their South Anchorage neighborhood a week ago a criminal abduction.

Interviews with half a dozen family members have turned up no evidence that Malcolm Johnson, 8, and Isaiah Johnson, 5, were kidnapped by a relative, Police Chief Walt Monegan said. Family members "are just as concerned as we are," Monegan said.

In addition, days of searching by police officers and volunteers who covered 22 square miles of forested parkland, streets, back yards, ditches and other nearby areas turned up no trace of the brothers, police said.

"So they didn't just wander off," Monegan said.

That leaves one possibility, he said: The boys were taken against their will.

"Through a process of elimination, we're fairly sure it's a criminal act, that the boys were abducted by a stranger," Monegan said. "We're fairly confident that it's not the other two" possibilities.

Investigators could not come up with a psychological profile of a potential kidnapper, because there is no crime scene to work with, Monegan said.

Vandals cut brake lines on 50 buses

ANCHORAGE - Vandals cut brake lines on 50 school buses, disabling the Eagle River and Chugiak bus fleet and leaving about 2,700 students without their normal transportation to school.

The vandalism occurred sometime before 5 a.m. Monday.

More than 560 students were absent from Eagle River and Chugiak schools on Monday, which school officials say is more than normal. Bus service resumed today on some, but not all, routes in the area.

Anchorage police are investigating the vandalism but have made no arrests.

The buses belong to First Student Inc., the company that provides the Anchorage School District with about two-thirds of its buses and drivers. It wasn't immediately clear how much it will cost to fix the buses.

"Anybody who would target a school bus with the potential to endanger kids, that's pretty scary," said Steve Kalmes, the district's transportation director.

Every bus at the terminal had identically damaged brake lines, said Scott Grill, service manager for First Student.

Officials said safety procedures and the buses' design thwarted disaster. Because 49 of the 50 buses have air brakes, they can't move if that system isn't working.

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