Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Juneau man injured in motorcycle accident

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HAINES - Alaska State Troopers reported a 22-year-old Juneau man sustained a closed-head injury during the weekend while riding a motorcycle in Haines.

Wesley Roggenkamp was southbound on Mud Bay Road at about 5 a.m. Saturday when he apparently lost control of a 2004 Buell motorcycle, troopers reported. He flipped over the front and landed on the roadway.

Emergency medical technicians responded from Haines and took Roggenkamp to the Haines Medical Clinic where he was treated for the injury before being flown to Bartlett Regional hospital in Juneau for further treatment.

Troopers reported that Roggenkamp was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. They estimated damage to the motorcycle at $5,000.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.

Unalaska oil residue cleanup continues

ANCHORAGE - Crews in Unalaska have resumed cleaning up oil residue from the Selendang Ayu, a freighter that spilled hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into waters off the Aleutian island in 2004 after grounding during winter storms.

State officials on Monday said they believe a hard summer of bagging tar balls and using backhoes to break up larger coats of oil will bring operations to a close.

"Things are actually going pretty well, but there's still some work to be done," said Gary Folley an on-scene coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Selendang Ayu was carrying 60,000 tons of soybeans from Tacoma, Wash., to China when it encountered engine trouble and grounded off Unalaska, the hub of a prolific commercial fishery about 800 miles southwest of Anchorage. More than 335,700 gallons of oil and diesel and tons of soybeans spilled from the ship after it split in half on a rocky shelf.

Folley on Monday said about two more miles of beach still need to be cleaned, while the rest no longer need treatment. Waves and storm surges over the winter washed away much of the oil, or broke it into small particles that will eventually dissipate, he said.

A crew of 22, mostly local residents, is involved in the shoreline cleanup work, said Unalaska Mayor Shirley Marquardt.

Wildfires mar holiday weekend for many

ANCHORAGE - Hundreds of holiday motorists were stuck in traffic as a wildfire near Sutton prompted officials to shut down the Glenn Highway for several hours on Sunday.

Authorities closed both lanes of the Glenn, from the Kings River bridge at Mile 66 to Mile 68. Slippery fire retardant had to be cleaned off the highway, the borough said. The highway reopened to one lane of traffic around 6:45 p.m.

Crews stopped the fire at 13 acres, before it damaged any of the 20 homes in the area, according to state Division of Forestry spokesman Matt Weaver.

Dave Osgood said he and his family sat on the porch hoping the fire didn't get much closer. Osgood said holiday weekend drivers were backed up toward Sutton as far as the eye could see.

"They weren't happy," said Osgood, who owns a fishing guide company on the Little Susitna River.

Meanwhile, fire crews are making good progress on a 700-acre fire at Point MacKenzie, officials said. As of Sunday night the fire was 75 percent contained, and fire managers anticipated full containment by Monday night. They could not say when the fire will be completely put out.

The Point MacKenzie fire had spread quickly on Saturday, destroying two structures and injuring two firefighters as it raced through dry growth and drifted a plume of copper-colored smoke across Knik Arm into Anchorage.

Washington GOP seeks constitutional change

YAKIMA, Wash. - The Washington state Republican Party has adopted a platform that would revoke the constitutional provision granting automatic citizenship to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.

Diane Tubeless, state GOP chairwoman, said she believes the provision reflects the sentiment of Washington voters.

"I think voters realize immigration is a problem and we are trying to grapple with solutions to the illegal-immigration problem," she said.

The platform resolution was adopted Saturday with little debate and few dissenting votes. Delegates supporting it said their concerns included the cost to public hospitals and the expense of welfare for the children of indigent or deported illegal immigrants.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna, keynote speaker at the convention Saturday, disagreed with the action, citing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which confers citizenship on everyone born in the United States.

"I believe the Constitution provides otherwise," he said. "I believe that if you are born here, you should be a citizen."

In a recent statewide telephone poll of voters in the state by Elway Research of Seattle, about two-thirds favored allowing illegal immigrants who have lived in the U.S. a number of years to apply for legal status leading to citizenship if they meet conditions, such as paying a fine and back taxes.

Thirteen percent said illegal immigrants should be considered felons and denied employment.

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