Alaska Digest

staff and Wire reports

Posted: Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Bill would extend state boater safety program

JUNEAU - Gov. Frank Murkowski on Monday signed a bill extending the state's boater safety program.

The Alaska Boating Safety Act, created in 2000 by Juneau Rep. Bill Hudson, consolidated boating regulations in statute and established a steady funding source for the program. The program, however, was set to expire in 2005 without and extension by the Legislature.

House Bill 93, by Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch, R-Juneau, extends the program to 2010.

Appeals court rejects convicted killer's claims

ANCHORAGE - The state Court of Appeals has rejected claims by Marlon Ray Mack that he was denied due process when he was convicted for the 1999 strangling death of his girlfriend.

Allison Ward, 26, was found half-naked in her home with a bra wrapped twice around her neck. Her 4-year-old son discovered his mother's body.

Mack, a Sand Point resident, told police he had left the home and checked into a hotel after a heated argument the night before she was murdered.

He was convicted by an Anchorage jury in 2001 and sentenced to 99 years in prison.

In his appeal, Mack claimed he was denied due process when prosecutors released Ward's belongings to her mother instead of keeping them as evidence. He also argued that portions of a police interview with Ward's son should not have been presented to the jury and that his sentence was excessive.

The lower court had ordered Mack not be eligible for parole until he had served 66 years of the sentence.

Fire service wants tankers replaced

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Fire Service has asked for three smaller aircraft to replace the two large tankers lost when the federal government canceled their contracts earlier this month.

The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service canceled the contracts for 33 large firefighting aircraft this season. The Alaska Fire Service had been expecting to use two DC-4s, each with a 2,000-gallon retardant capacity.

The Alaska Fire Service, based at Fort Wainwright, has asked for two medium-sized tankers and a single-engine tanker, spokeswoman Maggie Rogers said.

The request will go to the National Interagency Coordination Center, which controls the assignment of aircraft, she said.

The forest fire season has just begun in Interior Alaska and will last through late July. Normally, about a half-dozen fires start in the last two weeks of May, caused by humans and lightning, Rogers said.

The federal government has primary firefighting duties in northern Alaska, outside the Fairbanks and Delta Junction areas. The state handles most of the southern part of Alaska.

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