State Briefs

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2002

2 plead guilty in Douglas theft

JUNEAU - Two men await sentencing after pleading guilty this week to theft and weapons charges stemming from a December armed incident in Douglas.

Rorie Miller, 20, pleaded guilty in Juneau Superior Court on Wednesday to charges of felony theft and felony misconduct involving weapons, stemming from an incident Dec. 16.

Joshua Coon, 22, Miller's accomplice, pleaded guilty Tuesday to the same charges.

Both men originally were charged with felony robbery, a more serious charge, and felony misconduct with weapons.

Miller and Coon were arrested in December after entering a home on Douglas, authorities said. The men were armed with a shotgun and a handgun, and demanded and received money from the homeowners and fled the scene, authorities said.

District Attorney Rick Svobodny recommended a sentence of 12 years and nine months with five years suspended as part of the plea agreement with Miller.

Both men will be sentenced April 23.

Many have yet to apply for PFD

JUNEAU - Alaskans have until Monday to apply for the 2002 Alaska Permanent Fund dividend. Completed applications must be postmarked by 11:59 p.m.

Larry Persily, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Revenue, said many post offices have earlier postal cancellation schedules. He urged people to check with their post offices if they plan to wait until the last day.

Online applications also must be submitted by the deadline. But people who choose that route can mail in a required signature page later.

Persily said an estimated 100,000 Alaskans still had not sent in their applications as of Thursday.

Last fall, nearly 600,000 Alaskans received an $1,850.28 dividend - the second highest amount in the fund's 20-year dividend history. The record amount, set in 2000, was $1,963.86. This year, the dividend is expected to be lower than last year's because of weaker stock market performance.

Children name new fast ferries

JUNEAU - Two new fast ferries in Southeast will be named Chenega and Fairweather.

The new names will be used for a Metlakatla-to-Ketchikan fast ferry, scheduled to come on line in 2003, and a Sitka-to-Juneau fast ferry, scheduled to start service in 2004.

The names, submitted by two Alaska school children in a name-the-ferry contest, were picked from among finalists by Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, Speaker of the House Brian Porter, an Anchorage Republican, and Senate President Rick Halford, a Chugiak Republican.

The contest was open to children in grades two through six. Participants were required to submit 250-word essays.

By law state ferries must be named after Alaska glaciers. Eleven glacier names already have been used, but students had 735 other glaciers to choose from.

Chenega Glacier is west of Chenega Island. It heads in the Sargent Icefield on the Kenai Peninsula.

Sixth-grader Emily Rose Oskoloff of Ninilchik submitted the name Chenega. In her essay she said she liked the sound of the word, and that she admired the history of the people of Chenega Bay.

Fourth-grader Wesley Tyrrell of Central submitted the name Fairweather. He says when people hear the name Fairweather, they will picture blue skies and calm seas.

The Fairweather Glacier is in Glacier Bay National Park and heads on the west slope of Mount Salisbury.

University president hospitalized

FAIRBANKS - University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton was hospitalized in Fairbanks on Wednesday for an undisclosed ailment.

University spokesman Bob Miller said only that Hamilton, 57, was "experiencing some discomfort" when an ambulance was called to his home at about 10:45 p.m. Wednesday night.

He was in stable condition at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital on Thursday, said hospital assistant administrator Karl Sanford.

"He is just under observation and undergoing testing," Sanford said.

Neither the hospital nor the university would release any further information.

"I have talked to both President Hamilton and his wife and they really don't want to talk to the media directly," Sanford said. "We have been asked by them to wait until we get the results of the tests."

Hamilton, a retired Army major general, took his post as president of the UA system in 1998 after a 31-year military career.

Fuel spills into village well

ANCHORAGE - The drinking water well at Mountain Village has been shut down, following a fuel spill.

The village is about 200 miles northwest of Bethel in Western Alaska.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation says between 200 and 250 gallons of diesel fuel spilled when a snowmachiner ran over a fuel line to a 300 gallon tank, and broke the line on March 22.

The tank supplied the fuel to heat the building that houses the well.

DEC says the residents of Mountain Village will use alternative wells for drinking water until it can be determined that the spill has not affected the drinking water well.

Environmental officials have advised the city to determine the perimeter of the spill, try to contain it and begin recovery of any remaining fuel. DEC maintains cleanup equipment in Mountain Village.

DEC said the spill is about 500 yards from the Yukon River. The area slopes down to the river, but DEC environmental specialist Bob Carlson said the small size of the spill probably means there is little threat to the river.

Fire damages historic home

KETCHIKAN - One of Ketchikan's oldest homes was damaged by fire earlier this week.

According to fire officials, the 102-year-old home of Hugh and Nyna Fleury was damaged Tuesday by a fire that started in the basement and worked its way through interior walls.

Investigators said the fire started after heat built up in a large pile of dried laundry. Fire Chief Rich Leipfert said the home's basement suffered water damage, and paneling on the first floor was destroyed.

Compiled from wire service and staff reports.

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