Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Rec center named for Juneau veterans

JUNEAU - A recreation and National Guard building at the University of Alaska Southeast's Juneau campus is now named after two Juneau residents who served and died in the Vietnam War.

The $16.3 million facility scheduled to be completed in July was named the Charles Gamble Jr.-Donald Sperl Joint Use Facility. The building is combined project of UAS and the Alaska National Guard. It will serve as a student recreation center and the guard's readiness center.

Gamble and Sperl graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in the 1960s before leaving for Vietnam.

The Alaska Legislature approved the name during the last regular session with House Bill 277. Gov. Frank Murkowski attended the naming ceremony and signed the bill Tuesday.

Juneau sites make endangered list

JUNEAU - The Alaska Governor's Mansion and the Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Co. Locomotive Repair Shop are among 10 historic sites identified by the Alaska Association for Historic Preservation as most endangered.

The association compiles the list yearly in an effort to publicize threatened properties that it considers assets for tourism, economic development and cultural heritage. Inclusion in the list elevates a site's chance for a matching grant from the association if individuals or organizations plan preservation projects for 2006.

Other sites on this year's list are: the Bureau of Indian Affairs School in Unalakleet; Flat City Historic District in Flat; Japonski Island Boathouse in Sitka; the Jesse Lee Home in Seward; Cannery National Historic Landmark in Kake; the Capt. Saint Elias Lighthouse on Kayak Island; the historic Soldotna Post Office in Soldotna; and Nike Site Summit in Eagle River.

Woman sues over assault

JUNEAU - The female victim in a Lemon Creek Correctional Center sexual assault is suing Alaska's corrections system.

The woman, identified in the lawsuit only by her initials claims Department of Corrections officers owed her a duty to protect her from harm while she was in custody, and that they sexually discriminated against her.

Anchorage attorney Christine Schleuss wrote that the plaintiff is the victim of Donald L. Coke, who worked as a corrections officer at Lemon Creek between June and September 2003, when she was an inmate.

Coke, now 36, agreed to plead guilty to third-degree sexual assault in 2004. Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins sentenced him to serve four months in jail with another eight months suspended. At the time of his plea he had moved to Hawaii.

A third-degree sexual assault charge against a corrections officer does not address issues of whether the inmate consents to sexual activity.

The plaintiff also claims DOC was negligent in hiring, training, supervising and retaining Coke before the sexual activity took place. Coke was dismissed by DOC in October 2003 after a personnel investigation, Deputy Commissioner Portia Parker said at the time.

The lawsuit does not specify the monetary damages it seeks.

New public parking lot opens

JUNEAU - The city will open a free parking lot on Willoughby Avenue on Friday.

Streets Superintendent Mike Scott said the 1-acre lot can hold 115 cars and six more spaces accessible to the disabled. Public parking will be available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. There are no limits on how long people can park there, but overnight parking is not allowed.

"Right now, we are in the middle of construction on Seward Street and lose some parking there. And it has been a general problem," Scott said. "This certainly should help."

Scott said the city plans to open this parking lot year-round. But it is up to the Assembly and City Manager Rod Swope to find funding for plowing the lot in the winter.

Goldbelt shareholders meet, elect leaders

JUNEAU - Shareholders of Goldbelt Inc., a Juneau-based Native corporation, gathered Saturday for an annual meeting to review a yearly report and elect individuals to serve on the board of directors.

Re-elected to the board were Randy Wanamaker and Joe Kahklen. Candidate Robert Loescher was also elected to a three-year term.

In a separate reorganization meeting, the board appointed Kahklen as chairman, Andrea Cadiente-Laite as vice chairman, Del Cesar as secretary and Kathy Polk as treasurer.

Road obstructers plead guilty

KETCHIKAN - Greenpeace protesters from around the country pleaded guilty in federal court to obstructing or helping to obstruct a road during an anti-logging campaign in Southeast Alaska last summer.

The 21 defendants were not present during hearings Monday in U.S. District Court in Ketchikan, but participated by telephone in groups of seven.

Each was given the choice of spending the business hours of one day in a U.S. Marshals Service holding cell, or of paying a $300 fine and serving two years on unsupervised probation.

All chose the jail time. Ketchikan federal Magistrate Mary Guss ordered the defendants to serve their sentences within the next 60 days.

During the hearing, Guss also heard from Jackie DuRette of DuRette Construction Inc., whose road construction was halted by the protest on Kupreanof Island near Petersburg.

DuRette asked Guss to order the defendants to pay restitution of $157,000 for damages her company suffered. A final decision regarding restitution could come in July.

New state tort imits become law

JUNEAU - A bill that will cap medical malpractice winnings at $250,000 for non-economic damages and $400,00 in severe cases was signed into law Tuesday.

In an attempt to retain and attract more doctors to Alaska, the medical community pushed for Senate Bill 67, sponsored by Sen. Ralph Seekins, R-Fairbanks. Supporters of the bill hope it will lower rising malpractice insurance costs.

Some lawmakers opposed the bill last session as they believed doctors should be held accountable for making gross errors, and that the law should not put a price on one's ability to enjoy life.

The limit does not apply to intentional misconduct or a reckless act or omission.

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