Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2007

Police investigate kids with air guns

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JUNEAU - Police questioned two sixth-graders and one seventh-grader at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School after finding two air guns on campus Wednesday.

The school was shut down during the morning of the investigation. It reopened later in the day, according to school and law enforcement authorities. No one was injured.

The seventh-grader, an unidentified minor, was taken to the Johnson Youth Center.

Two "air soft" guns, plastic weapons propelled by carbon dioxide, were confiscated. The school resumed normal activities at 11:10 a.m.

It was the second weapons alarm in as many days at a local school.

A Mendenhall River Community School fifth-grader was reported to have brought a BB pistol to school Tuesday morning. Police said no one was harmed.

"They found it at the end of the day," said Police Sgt. Dave Campbell. "Him and another student, a friend of his, were roughhousing around with it."

Everyone involved was interviewed, authorities said.

No one wanted to press charges, said Campbell. School administrators, rather than law officers, were deciding on disciplinary action in the elementary school incident.

650 moose killed by Alaska drivers

SOLDOTNA - More than 650 moose have been killed by Alaska drivers since last July, and officials are predicting a spike in moose fatalities as summer traffic picks up during the next two months.

Winter is the deadliest time for moose on the roads, said Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. But a second spike in collisions often occurs in late May and June as traffic increases for the summer.

Lewis said often at this time of year a motorist will see a cow cross the road and not consider that its calf may be following.

"If we knew how much property damage and injury there is, maybe people would drive a little more defensively," he said. "But there are just times when you can't avoid it."

With two months left in the regulatory season, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough has so far experienced an increase in moose fatalities with 261 moose killed. The Kenai Peninsula saw a decline, with 194 killed, down from 212 last year. Anchorage drivers killed 98 moose, officials said. Alaska Railroad locomotives have killed 55.

Fairbanks PD arrest suspect in robbery

FAIRBANKS - A teenager suspected of robbing 27 guns from a Fairbanks outdoors and hardware store has been arrested, but an accomplice remains at large.

Police said Tuesday they had charged Larry Pierce with robbery, burglary and assault and recovered 23 of the stolen guns. Pierce turned 18 Friday, the day of the robbery.

A 16-year-old suspected accomplice is being sought, police said.

Investigators say Pierce and the other teenager hid in the store, Frontier Outfitters, on Thursday night. The store anchors one side of the Gavora Mall in east Fairbanks. It has outdoor gear on its ground floor and hardware in its basement.

When an employee arrived Friday morning to open the store, the suspects confronted him, police said.

The robbers reportedly assaulted the employee, pointed a gun at him and demanded to know where the store's money was kept. Three other employees also were in contact with the suspects.

They left in a car stolen from one of the employees, police said.

Store owner Michael Lund said the burglars had tripped the store alarm and police searched the store. Lund declined to say when the alarm went off and when the search took place, cutting short his comments when asked by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

"It's pretty upsetting what happened," Lund said. "There are a lot of employees trying to get over it."

New Chugach Electric leaders reconsider wind power proposal

ANCHORAGE - New leadership at the state's biggest electric company could dim its support for a wind farm proposed for Anchorage's Fire Island.

The new majority on Chugach Electric Association's board campaigned for an election last month on a platform of cost savings. Some members question whether a wind farm makes financial sense.

The project is being planned by Cook Inlet Region Inc. on land the Native regional corporation owns on windy Fire Island.

Under its previous board, Chugach united with three other Railbelt utilities to explore buying power from the wind farm if CIRI builds it. Last week, however, the utility's operations committee voted 3-1 to withdraw Chugach's support.

"There may be other renewable energy projects that are more cost effective," Chugach's new board chairwoman, Elizabeth Vazquez, said Tuesday.

The new board wants to review the project before committing to back it, she said.

The project is expected to cost $151 million to $227 million. That cost would cover transmission lines from Fire Island, a barge landing and roads on the island, and wind turbines.

Project supporters estimate the turbines could generate 3.5 percent of the power needs from Fairbanks to Homer.

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