Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2007

State education commissioner resigns

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JUNEAU - Roger Sampson, the state commissioner of Education and Early Development, has resigned, Gov. Sarah Palin's office announced.

Sampson, a holdover from the Murkowski administration, will head the Education Commission of the States, a national group which researches improvements in public education.

Palin said she was sorry to see Sampson leave.

"Commissioner Sampson has worked tirelessly for the students and teachers of Alaska for the past 20 years," her statement said.

The department oversees 53 school districts and operates the state archives, state library, two state museums, a state arts council and two commissions dedicated to education.

Sampson had been education commissioner since 2003.

Judge OKs delays in ex-legislators' trials

ANCHORAGE - A federal judge has granted a request to delay the political corruption trials of two former Republican lawmakers.

The trials of former House Speaker Pete Kott, who represented Eagle River, and former Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch of Juneau were delayed by two months.

Kott and Weyhrauch, both Republicans, are accused of selling their votes and influence to executives of VECO Corp., an Anchorage-based oil field services company. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

Kott's lawyer asked for the extra time to review evidence. Investigators collected at least 250 hours of video and hundreds of phone conversations.

U.S. District Court Judge John W. Sedwick changed the trial date change from July 9 to Sept. 5.

U.S. Army identifies soldier killed in Iraq

FORT RICHARDSON - A Fort Richardson soldier killed last weekend in Iraq was a 23-year-old Nebraska native, Army officials said Tuesday.

Spc. Adam G. Herold died from wounds suffered Sunday when a bomb on a vehicle detonated near his position at a checkpoint near Karbala, U.S. Army Alaska spokesman Capt. Richard Hyde said.

No other Fort Richardson paratroopers were injured in the incident.

Department accepts vending applications

JUNEAU - The city's Parks and Recreation Department is accepting applications for commercial and nonprofit vendor permits for food and merchandise sales for the Fourth of July at Savikko Park in Douglas.

The deadline is June 29.

Permits are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. Designated locations, fee information, insurance and DEC requirements are available upon request.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation requires food vendors to obtain food service certificates. Contact the DEC at 465-5087. Nonprofit organizations are required to provide a copy of a 501(c) (3) IRS form.

For more information or to request an application, contact Parks and Rec at 586-5226.

Fairbanks hospital halts surgeries

FAIRBANKS - Non-emergency surgeries were halted at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital after officials discovered flies under the floor of the hospital's pharmacy, which is adjacent to surgical suites.

The hospital first discovered "a gnat" Thursday in a hall between the pharmacy and surgery rooms, according to the hospital's chief executive officer, Mike Powers.

Hospital personnel later found "a collection" of the bugs, which turned out to be flies, in a pool of water near a pillar below the pharmacy.

"As a precaution, we have elected to cancel elective surgeries," he said Monday. "There are no patients at risk."

The hospital canceled about 20 appointments Friday and another dozen Monday, Powers said.

Two surgical suites separated from others by a firewall were available for emergency procedures and used over the weekend.

Hospital spokeswoman Shelby Nelson said people who have had recent surgery have nothing to worry about.

"If we felt there was any risk, we would absolutely make alternate arrangements," she said.

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