Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Commission looks at Eagle Beach changes

JUNEAU - The Juneau Planning Commission will consider improvements at the Eagle Beach State Recreation Area at a meeting tonight.

A state improvement plan for the area has been under development since 1998. It calls for new parking, a caretaker's cabin, permanent toilets, trails, picnic areas and other changes at 28 Mile Glacier Highway. The commission will consider a variance to build a trail within a required 50-foot setback.

The commission also will consider three permit requests from Channel View Inc. to build a 22-unit apartment building and parking deck at 345 Gastineau Ave.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Assembly chambers. A special meeting to review the draft Area Wide Transportation Plan will start at 5 p.m.

Assembly to talk with manufacturers

JUNEAU - Juneau Assembly members will get a close look at manufacturing operations in Juneau during a meeting tonight at the Alaskan Brewing Co.

Assembly member Jim Powell said manufacturers and officials will discuss ways to encourage light manufacturing in town. Support might come in the form of tax incentives or zoning changes, he said.

"It helps diversify our economy. Manufacturing is a way to create wealth in our community and create jobs," he said.

The meeting, which starts at 5:15 p.m., will include a tour of the brewery.

Police look for suspects in beating death

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage police are investigating the beating death of a woman.

Caroline Merculief was beaten just outside some apartments in north Anchorage during an overnight party on Saturday, according to police.

Merculief, who had a history of substance abuse and mental illness, was released from jail last Wednesday, police said. She had been placed in a supervised apartment close to a treatment center, and appeared to be making progress.

But on Saturday night she was visiting a friend at her old apartment, and they joined a party in a downstairs unit. Police said a fight broke out when someone came to pick up someone at the party.

Police said Monday they're looking for four to six suspects. Merculief died of severe head trauma.

Villagers search for missing Ruby girl

FAIRBANKS - The search for a 16-year-old Ruby girl who apparently drowned in the Kobuk River after a boating accident June 5 has been growing as more volunteers journey from neighboring villages to comb the river near Shungnak.

Stephanie Bennis, a student at the Galena Charter School, disappeared when she was thrown from a boat.

Bennis and boyfriend Aaron Tickett, 18, of Shungnak, were on their way back to Kobuk at about 10 p.m. when the boat struck something. Both were thrown into the river. Tickett managed to swim to a sandbar, retrieve the boat and get help.

Erickson said searchers found the girl's shoes and some of her hair in the murky and swift water between Kobuk and Shungnak.

Searchers may get some help from the weather. Bennis' mother, Dawn Honea, told Erickson that water levels have dropped, allowing sandbars to surface and water to clear.

Family friend Cynthia Erickson said there are 16 to 20 boats with three to four people apiece searching for the girl.

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