Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Child abuse prevention rally to be held today

JUNEAU - The Southeast Alaska Child Abuse Prevention Network, an organization of AWARE, will hold a child abuse prevention rally at noon today in the Dimond Courthouse courtyard, on Fourth Street across from the Alaska Capitol.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. The theme of the month is, "It shouldn't hurt to be a child." Communities throughout the United States will hold ceremonies to remember America's abused, neglected and abandoned children. Light blue, chosen to symbolize children with bruises, is the color of the month. SCAN works in conjunction with the Mint Green Ribbon Campaign, an organization founded to bring attention to abuse.

"Alaska has one of the highest per-capita rates of reported child abuse," said Natalie Powers of AWARE. "It's really important for us to raise awareness of what communities can do to prevent child abuse."

Juneau's 45-minute program will begin with introductory remarks by Marc Wheeler, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Big Brothers will then present the children's memorial flag. The flag, a symbol for children who have died from child abuse and neglect, is raised in every state of the country during April.

The Juneau Charter School violin group will play, then Joel Gilbertson, Alaska Department of Health and Human Services commissioner, will speak. Community leader and family advocate Doloresa Cadiente will also deliver a speech.

Laura Minne will present CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Light of Hope awards to Jeannie Hale, social worker supervisor at the Juneau OCS field office, and Susettna King, family caseworker for Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

Home-schooled high school student Tatianna Sinhuber will sing the closing song.

Participants will release light blue balloons.

Man indicted in tackle shop burglary, arson

JUNEAU - A grand jury has returned eight felony counts charging a man with burglarizing a Hoonah tackle shop and setting fire to it in January in an attempt to conceal the crime.

James M. Refuerzo III, 20, was charged in three indictments with first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, second-degree arson, two counts of second-degree theft, two counts of third-degree criminal mischief and tampering with physical evidence.

Hoonah Police Chief Hugh Miller said that late on the night of Jan. 15, someone burglarized Tidelands Tackle, 324 Harbor Way in Hoonah. The burglar took firearms, ammunition, camping and outdoor equipment, food, a computer, money and a safe.

The burglar also apparently attempted to conceal the crime by burning the building by igniting gunpowder and flammable liquid, Miller said. The flames burned out on their own. He said damage from the fire was estimated at $10,000, and the unburned liquid fuel did about $9,000 to $10,000 in damage to the building and its contents.

Much of the stolen property was found that night in an unoccupied vessel near the harbor, Miller said.

The indictment alleges first-degree burglaries of Tidelands Tackle and second-degree burglary at the Alaska Native Sisterhood building, 314 Front St., in Hoonah.

Teen pleads not guilty to assault with golf club

JUNEAU - A local teen arrested Tuesday after a fight involving a golf club appeared in court Monday with a black eye and pleaded not guilty to charges in a felony indictment.

Randal Benc, 18, was indicted by a grand jury on a second-degree assault charge alleging physical injury to a 32-year-old Juneau man with a golf club. He was also indicted on a third-degree assault charge alleging he put the man in fear of imminent serious injury by attempting to run over him with a car.

The indictment also includes a misdemeanor charge alleging his driver's license had been suspended, canceled or revoked.

Benc had been in custody since his arrest Tuesday, after police responded to a report of a fight downtown. Bail originally was set at $5,000. Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks released him Monday to the supervision of his girlfriend's mother.

Weeks scheduled Benc's trial for July 26.

Police Capt. Tom Porter said officers did not determine why Benc and the man identified as his victim were involved in a physical altercation.

According to court records, Benc and the victim, both of whom had their girlfriends with them, exchanged words in a Willoughby Avenue parking lot. The victim did not have a car. He left and was near 10th Street, and Benc attempted to run over him, witnesses reported.

They told police that Benc got out of the car with a golf club and hit the victim in his head. The victim tackled Benc, causing him to drop the club. The victim's girlfriend allegedly picked up the golf club and hit Benc in the face, separating the two.

Blood Bank to hold four-day drive

JUNEAU - The Blood Bank of Alaska is conducting a four-day blood drive in Juneau this week at various locations to strengthen the state's blood supply. Red blood cells and blood donors have reached a critical point, according to the agency.

The blood bank has recently integrated a state of the art collection system called ALYX, enabling blood donors to touch more lives with their donation.

Dates, times, and locations are as follows:

• Wednesday, April 21, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Juneau-Douglas High School, Marie Drake Room 241. For details and appointments call the Nurse's Office at 523-1626.

• Thursday, April 22, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the University of Alaska Southeast, in the Mourant Lake Room. For details and appointments call Student Activities at 465-6528.

• Friday, April 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Alaska Electric Light & Power, in the Line Crew Room. For details and appointments call Martha Penrose at 463-6340.

• Saturday, April 24, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Nugget Mall, in the Community Room. For details and appointments call Alaska Health Fair at 790-4072.

To donate blood you must be at least 17 years old (with parental permission); weigh at least 110 pounds; have been at least 56 days since last whole blood donation; and be in overall good health.

For more information visit

Businesses to appear on the Food Network

JUNEAU - Four Southeast Alaska companies will be featured on the Food Network's "Food Finds" series today, tomorrow and May 1.

The show will appear on the Food Network, cable channel 62 in Juneau, at 10 p.m. today, 2 a.m. Wednesday and 2:30 p.m May 1.

The Juneau's Alaska Brewing Company and Horst Alaska Seafood, based, Haines' Birch Boy Alaskan Syrups and Sitka's Theobroma Chocolates will be featured on the show, which broadcasts to 80 million viewers.

Host Sandra Pinckney and the crew of the show visited Juneau last August and filmed at Horst Alaska Seafood, the Alaskan Hotel and Bar, and at the brewery.

Juneau's weather cooperated for the producers, so the 30-minute program will show the Mendenhall Glacier and the top of the Mount Roberts Tram under clear blue skies.

The owners of the four Alaska companies are preparing for the rush in business that typically follows national exposure.

Susan Humphrey, co-founder of Birch Boy Syrups, contacted similar businesses featured on past shows and found that some businesses received more than 1,400 orders in the days following the show's debut.

Humphrey has made her Web site more user-friendly in anticipation of increased traffic, she said. She also began stockpiling syrups last spring, when the show's producers first contacted her for the show.

"I didn't realize the show was going to air more than once, so that's kind of neat," Humphrey said. "There's no way that any of us could have afforded that kind of advertising."

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