Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2007

Fort Richardson soldier killed in Iraq

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ANCHORAGE - A soldier based at Fort Richardson died this weekend in Iraq, the Army reported Sunday.

The paratrooper, whose name the Department of Defense has not released, was killed by a roadside bomb while on foot patrol on Saturday in Iskandariyah, Iraq. The family has been notified, according to Alaska-based Army spokesman Richard Hyde.

The soldier, who was a paratrooper, was assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

The Army said two other paratroopers were injured in the incident. One was listed as seriously injured and one listed as not seriously injured.

Both were evacuated to the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq, Hyde said.

Judge nixes permit for herbicide plan

JUNEAU - A Superior Court judge tossed out a permit granted by the state to spray herbicides on Long Island near Prince of Wales Island.

The city of Hydaburg and five groups had sued to stop the spraying of herbicides on the Southeast Alaska island.

The Department of Environmental Conservation permit would have allowed Klukwan, Inc., a Haines-based Native corporation that owns the property, to spray herbicides from a helicopter. The agency issued the permit last year to Klukwan to spray two herbicides by helicopter to kill unwanted alder and salmonberry on over 1,900 acres of clear-cut land owned by the Native corporation.

The plan was first proposed in 1999. Klukwan wants to grow more conifers for future logging.

The Hydaburg Cooperative Association, city of Hydaburg, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Organized Village of Kake, and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council appealed the permit.

The groups said aerial spraying of poison could affect fishing waters and wildlife habitat.

They sued the state last year, claiming the Department of Environmental Conservation ignored overwhelming public opposition in issuing a permit allowing Klukwan to spray from the air.

Long Island for years has been used by residents of Hydaburg to support their subsistence way of life, said Hydaburg Mayor Tom Morrison. He has said if Klukwan sprays the herbicides, he would not feel safe eating any of the food harvested from around the island.

The permit allowed for four herbicides to be sprayed on the northern tip of the island.

Ex-UAF player gets 8-month sentence

FAIRBANKS - A former University of Alaska Fairbanks basketball player implicated in a campus burglary spree last fall received an 8-month prison sentence.

Christopher Jordan, 20, apologized Friday for his behavior and said that he looked forward to putting the incident behind him, moving home to Texas, resuming his education at another college and maybe someday joining a professional basketball team.

"I know what I did was wrong," Jordan said. "I personally want to say sorry to the victims."

Jordan entered five unlocked apartments at the Cutler Student Apartment Complex in the early morning hours of Sept. 3, and stole primarily laptop computers, some not far from where their owners slept. The drug charge is for possessing the drug Ecstasy.

Jordan was originally charged with 11 felonies. The charges were later reduced.

Jordan was the UAF basketball team's leading scorer during the 2005-06 season.

Superior Court Judge Mark Wood set Jordan's probation for two years.

Wood also ordered Jordan to pay $877.98 in restitution to one of the victims.

Fellow former Alaska Nanook Christopher Adams, 23, also pleaded no contest to burglary in connection with the crimes. His sentencing has been delayed while he recovers in California from a stroke.

Jordan and Adams were removed from the basketball team and lost their scholarships shortly after being charged. Their convictions will be set aside assuming they successfully complete probation.

The men received reduced charges after agreeing to testify against an employee of the UAF financial aid office, Mina Nix. The 30-year-old allowed the men to store two of the laptop computers at her residence.

Nix lost her university job after a jury convicted her of theft and furnishing alcohol to minors. Her sentencing is set for mid-June.

Trial begins in manslaughter case

FAIRBANKS - A jury will decide whether a woman suspected of driving drunk and drugged should be convicted of manslaughter in the death of a teenager who ran a red light and drove into her path.

Faith Derendoff, 31, is charged in the death of Andrew Coker, 18, on May 28, 2005.

Derendoff was on her way to a convenience store to purchase tweezers. Coker, a University of Alaska Fairbanks accounting student, was headed to the Cookie Jar Restaurant for a family dinner.

Derendoff's trial on charges of manslaughter and driving under the influence began Thursday with the prosecutor and the defense attorney debating whose driving offense caused Coker's death.

Public defender Paul Canarsky told jurors that they should convict Derendoff only of drunken driving.

"If you had that verdict form, you could put down guilty right now," Canarsky said. "However, it doesn't mean that she is guilty of manslaughter. There is a difference between operating a vehicle under the influence and being responsible for someone's death."

Prosecutor Scott Mattern said alcohol and cocaine in Derendoff's system, plus the speed at which she was traveling, were to blame for the crash.

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