State Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2002

St. Vincent's shelter needs help after sprinkler mishap

JUNEAU - The St. Vincent de Paul family shelter is asking for help after a sprinkler mishap on Sunday dumped 500 gallons of water into five housing units, displacing families.

Executive Director Dan Austin said water destroyed six Pentium computers used in the shelter's after-school homework program and extensively damaged five housing units.

At about 5:30 p.m. on Sunday a ceiling sprinkler unit was triggered when a resident hung some clothing from it, Austin said.

Though the water ran for only 15 minutes, it quickly flooded the small apartment and leaked into four apartments below it, as well as the recreation and dining area where the computers were kept.

Clean-up efforts began Sunday night with the help of Glacier Station firefighters who stayed after shutting off the water, Austin said.

Austin said two of the families were able to go back to their apartments Sunday night, while two families doubled-up with other residents. The mother and 5-year-old daughter whose apartment flooded moved into a vacant apartment.

Damage estimates are not known but are expected to top $5,000, Austin said.

Donations to help the families replace damaged items can be dropped off at St. Vincent's labeled for the flood damage families.

Austin said the families need small appliances, mattresses, children's clothing for boys and girls ages 5 to 8, adult clothing, bedding and replacement computers.

For more information call 789-5535.

House approves jump in driver's license fees

JUNEAU - Driver's license fees would go up by $5 under a bill that passed the House on Monday.

The increase would pay for a more secure digital photo identification system, said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Pete Kott, an Eagle River Republican.

House Bill 344 would boost fees for licenses and identification cards from $15 to $20. Fees for learner's permits would increase from $5 to $15.

Kott said Alaska's fees are lower than most states now. Alaska is one of only three states that haven't switched to a digital photo ID system, he said, and the other two states are in the process of making the change.

Division of Motor Vehicles Director Mary Marshburn has said the increase would pay for a computer system that can produce licenses that are more difficult to forge or alter.

The fee increase would raise $750,000 to $900,000 a year. The DMV needs about $500,000 to make the change, so the additional money will be available for other state spending.

The bill passed 35-2, with Reps. Vic Kohring, a Wasilla Republican, and Bev Masek, a Willow Republican, voting no. It now goes to the Senate.

Man hospitalized after parachute fails

ANCHORAGE - A Canadian man was seriously injured early Monday morning after he tried to parachute from the top of a vacant 14-story building in downtown Anchorage, police said.

Kenneth Kell, 32, jumped off the MacKay Building at about 12:30 a.m., but his parachute did not open properly. Police said the Ontario resident suffered broken bones in his pelvis and legs, and a collapsed lung.

Kell was being treated at Alaska Regional Hospital.

Two witnesses, who know Kell, told police he is a good sky diver but is new to the sport of base jumping. Kell had been drinking prior to his jump, according to police.

The MacKay building was built in the 1950s, but has sat empty for about two decades.

Compiled from Empire staff and wire service reports.

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