Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Juneau girl alternate in poetry competition

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JUNEAU - Kodiak High School senior Naphtali Fields was named Tuesday night to represent Alaska from among eight students competing in the state's first Poetry Out Loud competition.

Juneau-Douglas High School junior Sakara Dunlap was chosen as the alternate for the national finals in May in Washington, D.C., said Susan Olson, statewide director for the competition.

"It was an agonizing choice," Olson said after the competition at Centennial Hall. "I wish we could send them all."

DNA links convicted killer to cold case

ANCHORAGE - DNA has linked a convicted killer awaiting sentencing in a murder six years ago to a far older case involving the stabbing of a woman found dead in a city park.

Lance Hinson has now been linked to the killing of Martha Jimmy, a 33-year-old homeless woman, in what has been one of the city's longstanding unsolved homicide cases.

Police said they have known for more than a year that Jimmy's body contained semen from Hinson but have not filed charges.

"DNA evidence alone does not make a case. You have to have corroborating evidence and other information," said Capt. Ross Plummer of the Anchorage Police Department. "There has to be something other than DNA."

According to newspaper stories about the case, a man walking his dog on Feb. 25, 1991, found Jimmy's stabbed body near a park on the east side of the city. Jimmy was a homeless woman who stayed at the Brother Francis Shelter.

Her death is one of about three dozen unsolved murders in Anchorage over the past 50 years.

Hinson, 38, killed Tina Shangin, 59, in August 2000. The woman originally was from the village of Perryville. Her body was found in brush along the Glenn Highway near the Northway Mall. Hinson was part of Shangin's extended family and hung out and drank with her in the field where her remains were discovered.

In February 2005, an Anchorage jury found Hinson guilty of second-degree murder. Last Friday, during a court hearing where Hinson was supposed to be sentenced, state prosecutor Sharon Illsley revealed the connection between Hinson and the older murder.

North Pole soldier killed in Iraq

NORTH POLE - A 22-year-old soldier from North Pole was killed in Iraq, military officials said Tuesday.

Army Pfc. Joseph Love died when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee on Sunday, the Department of Defense said in a prepared statement.

The Defense Department said the bomb exploded in Balad during convoy operations.

Love was assigned to the 84th Engineer Combat Battalion, 8th Sustainment Command, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

His unit deployed to Iraq in December, according to an Army spokesman.

A memorial service has been held for Love in Iraq, the spokesman said.

Love is a 2003 graduate of Fairbanks Youth Alternative School, a program of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

Wall Street investors grab hatchery bonds

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's sport-fish hatchery bonds were snatched up quickly in what could be the first sale of such bonds in the country.

The state is issuing nearly $67 million in tax-free revenue bonds to fund new hatcheries in Fairbanks and Anchorage.

Response to the bond sale has been phenomenal, said Deven Mitchell, debt manager for the state Department of Revenue. In a preliminary offering Monday, Alaskans and retail investors ordered $27.2 million worth of bonds in $5,000 shares, he said. Institutional investors were expected to snatch up the remaining $39.7 million in bonds Tuesday morning.

Underwriters favor the idea because of the state's explosive growth in sport-fishing, said Gordon Garcia, the state's hatchery program manager. Sport-fishing license sales jumped 10 percent in two years, hitting about 500,000 in 2005, he said. Nonresidents buy about three-quarters of those licenses, and will repay most of the debt, Mitchell said.

The new hatcheries will help the state double the trout, grayling, char and salmon that are stocked in Interior lakes and streams, to 100,000 pounds annually, Garcia said. The state will increase its stocking efforts by 50 percent in Southcentral Alaska, to about 270,000 pounds of fish.

Exploded coal plant to undergo repairs

FORT WAINWRIGHT - A coal power plant at Fort Wainwright that exploded in February is scheduled to receive more than $5 million in repairs, base officials said Monday.

"We have to repair this because it's not as safe as we want it to be," said public works director Mike Meeks. "It's to correct the situation and make sure it never happens again."

A blockage in coal dust filters caused the Feb. 24 explosion and fire, according to Meeks and fire officials. Two employees received minor injuries in the fire. Most of the damage was focused on a steel coal elevator, the ceiling and other nearby equipment.

Meeks said the department will install a vibrator on the damaged collector to keep coal dust moving through the system.

A request for the funding is going through the Senate appropriations process in Washington.

The repairs should take up to five months to complete once funding is approved, Meeks said. He said he hopes repairs are completed by winter.

The fire did not affect the overall operations at the plant, which provides heat and electricity to the post.

The explosion occurred after employees tried to push the heated build-up out of the collector.

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