Posted: Monday, May 21, 2001

DWI charges include assault on son

WASILLA - A Wasilla woman is facing charges of driving while intoxicated and assault after a motor vehicle accident Sunday night that injured her son.

Alaska State Troopers alleged Kimberly Swinburne, 40, was driving her pickup truck while intoxicated when the truck rolled down an embankment on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway shortly before 11 p.m.

Troopers said Swinburne's 11-year-old son, who was riding in the bed of the truck, was ejected and pinned under the vehicle when it came to rest.

The boy was taken to Valley Hospital. Troopers said his injuries do not appear to be life threatening. Kimberly Swinburne was not injured.

Swinburne was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and two counts of third-degree assault. She is being held at the Mat-Su Pre-trial Facility on $10,000 bail.

Grants help protect coastal areas

ANCHORAGE - More than $113,000 in grants were awarded to 10 Southcentral Alaska wildlife and watershed conservation projects, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Coastal Program funds will allow the Homer-based Community Rivers Planning Coalition to develop a watershed protection and planning program for the Anchor River. The Anchorage Waterways Council will receive a grant to fund a similar effort.

The Kenai Watershed Forum will develop a field guide to willows for use in stream bank restoration projects. And the Alaska Audubon Society will identify areas of special significance to birds throughout Cook Inlet.

In addition, several organizations received grants for a second year to continue ongoing restoration and education efforts.

The Alaska Region Coastal Program is in its second year and provides technical expertise and funds to support organizations that protect coastal areas.

Assembly takes up garbage plan

JUNEAU - Juneau residents who attract bears would face a misdemeanor violation and fines under an ordinance the Juneau Assembly is scheduled to consider tonight.

Under the proposal, people would need to place garbage in a bear-resistant container or structure or in a closed garage. Garbage could be put outside after 5 a.m. on a scheduled collection day. The ordinance implements recommendations from the city's Urban Bear Committee.

The ordinance defines a bear-resistant container as one that can withstand entry by a person who uses neither hands nor tools. City staff members suggest replacing the definition over time with more specific details or examples of standard designs for bear-resistant systems.

Attracting bears would cost a first-time violator $100 with a $250 fine for a second violation. For a commercial operation, a first-time violation would cost $250. A second violation would cost $500. Improperly storing waste would cost a first-time violator $25.

The Assembly also will consider an ordinance that would establish a permit system to close streets for block parties and other events. Another ordinance would appropriate more than $700,000 for improvements to the Mendenhall Wastewater Treatment Plant and Valley Court lift station.

Tonight's meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Assembly chambers.

Injured skier now in therapy

JUNEAU - Pavel "Pasha" Chernyakov, the man who was injured in a skiing accident at Eaglecrest Ski Area on April 7, returned to Juneau a week ago and is now undergoing physical therapy.

Attempting to do flips at Eaglecrest, Chernyakov landed on his head. He was not wearing a helmet and crushed two vertebrae. He was medevaced from Bartlett Regional Hospital to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he remained until May 15, he said.

"I am doing good. I am really glad to be home. It's good to see friends and everything and breathe the Juneau air," said Chernyakov, who moved to Juneau from Moscow in October and worked as a personal care attendant with REACH.

For the first several days after his accident, it was thought Chernyakov might be paralyzed. But he has no paralysis, he said, although he is using a wheelchair.

His recovery may be prolonged. "Nobody can say exactly in this situation (how long it will take to recover completely). Usually it is about two years. But I am looking forward for full recovery."

Chernyakov hopes to return to work in July, and was going to visit his co-workers today, he said. Friends are trying to raise money to pay his bills, he said.

Another climber flown off McKinley

TALKEETNA - A climber was evacuated from Mount McKinley on Sunday after suffering frostbite to one of his feet.

Officials with the National Park Service said Ron Morrow, 51, of Denver appeared exhausted and unsteady as he transported gear to the 16,000-foot level of the mountain during the weekend. After returning to the camp at 14,200 feet, Morrow reported he had no feeling in his right foot.

Rangers treated him for frostbite, but after his foot thawed he was unable to walk. With weather conditions worsening on the mountain, rangers feared Morrow might get weathered in at the 14,000-foot level. The Park Service's high-altitude helicopter was summoned to transport him to the base camp at 7,000 feet. He was flown off the mountain by a local air taxi service.

Park officials said Morrow would be treated by a frostbite specialist in Anchorage.

About 1,300 people have registered to climb Mount McKinley this summer. At 20,320 feet, McKinley is the tallest peak in North America.

There are about 485 people making their way up the mountain. Since the climbing season began earlier this month, 19 people have reached the summit.

Suit filed over ACS calling plan

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage lawyer has filed a class-action lawsuit against Alaska Communications Systems, alleging the Anchorage-based telecommunications company violated the terms of its Infinite Minutes interstate long-distance calling plan.

The lawsuit was filed by lawyer Paul Adelman.

The ACS Infinite Minutes plan allowed residential customers unlimited interstate calling for a flat rate of $20 a month. But last month, after losing money, ACS capped the plan at 600 minutes a month for existing customers, in part because some people were using Infinite Minutes for business calls.

Adelman alleges ACS knew the plan wouldn't work but used it to lure customers. ACS spokesman Tom Jensen called the complaint "a typical nuisance suit" and said most customers understand why the company cannot continue the plan.

Wrightson promoted to sergeant

JUNEAU - Juneau Police officer David Wrightson has been promoted to sergeant.

Wrightson has been a member of the JPD for six and half years and has worked on patrol, field training and investigations, according to the department. He is a member of the special emergency response team and has worked with the department's commercial vehicle enforcement program.

Wrightson was presented with his new badge at a ceremony earlier this month.

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