Palin calls indictments 'a sad day for Alaska'
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JUNEAU - Gov. Sarah Palin released a statement Friday after the indictments of Rep. Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, and former Reps. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, and Pete Kott, R-Eagle River, on charges of bribery and extortion involving an oil company.
"This is a sad day for Alaska, and I am sad with all of you," Palin said.
Kohring, Weyhrauch and Kott were arraigned Friday in Juneau and released on bail. They were accused of taking bribes from oil companies trying to influence the state's oil tax rates and development of a natural gas pipeline.
"As your governor, this administration is committed to doing things right, and this news just continues to reaffirm that this path must be corrected for the benefit of Alaska and all Alaskans," Palin said. "We are committed to doing it right and building the faith of this state."
Palin said she is "firm on a fair and open process" for the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act.
"We will continue to strive to be fair and transparent with not only our gas line, but in every decision we make for Alaskans," Palin said.
Trooper arrested on sexual assault charge
FAIRBANKS - An Alaska State Trooper based in Fairbanks is accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while he was off-duty.
Trooper Junior Anthony, 35, was arraigned Sunday on two charges of second-degree sexual assault. He was arrested at his North Pole home on Saturday.
At the arraignment, bail was set at $50,000 and a preliminary hearing in Superior Court was scheduled for May 16. Anthony did not enter a plea in the District Court arraignment.
The alleged assault took place late last month, according to charging documents. Anthony is an acquaintance of the girl's family and was alone with her at her North Pole house at the time, authorities said.
Anthony is accused of kissing and touching the girl, who told investigators she had not consented to his actions. Anthony left the home after the girl moved his hands away and locked herself in her bedroom.
The girl reported the incident to friends and her mother, according to investigators. The Alaska Bureau of Investigation, an agency within the troopers, conducted a criminal investigation.
Mount Rainier park reopens after floods
MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. - The road to Paradise reopened Saturday.
Six months after November floods ravaged the main road in this park in the Washington Cascades - along with campgrounds, trails and the wild country in general - the road to Rainier's main visitor center reopened at 9:37 a.m.
An hour beforehand, more than 100 cars and trucks were lined up outside the park's Nisqually entrance, The Olympian newspaper reported.
"Im going to get up to Paradise, set up my tent and go up to Camp Muir for the day," Curtis Plumb said as he readied his 44-pound backpack. "Then I'm going back down to Paradise and stay the night."
In a brief reopening ceremony, Congressmen Norm Dicks and Dave Reichert talked about the hard work it took to reopen the park - and the work that remains.
"We hope to see lots and lots of you here this summer," said Jay Satz of the Student Conservation Association, which is helping to organize volunteer work crews at the park.
Not all of the damage caused by the heavy November storms is yet known, because snow in the high country won't be melted until mid-July.
Greens take new poke at public-lands grazing
PORTLAND, Ore. - Environmentalists are making a new attempt to reduce the number of cattle on federal land in the Columbia River Basin and perhaps elsewhere in the West, arguing that federal anti-pollution laws should be applied to grazing permits.
A federal suit filed last week makes a test case out of a permit issued to Bill Colvin, 66, a rancher along a tributary of the John Day River in Eastern Oregon.
The aim is to get more streamside vegetation, cooler rivers and more steelhead and other threatened fish, a backer of the suit said.
Environmentalists have long argued that cattle and sheep trample and eat the vegetation along Western streams, which means streams get warmer as they flow without shade and carry more sediment from erosion - both conditions that hurt fish.