Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2007

Anchorage approves wireless Internet

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ANCHORAGE - Downtown Anchorage is going wireless.

The Anchorage Assembly on Tuesday approved a deal with a California company to install free wireless Internet in downtown Anchorage by summer's end, a service that could be expanded to the rest of the city later.

The wireless service offered by MetroFi Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., pays for itself with online advertising, the company said.

The contract calls for MetroFi to build a wireless broadband network using city facilities, such as light poles and buildings.

Fort Richardson soldier killed in Iraq

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. - A 27-year-old soldier from New Jersey was killed in Iraq when the base where she was located was attacked by insurgents, military officials said Wednesday.

Sgt. Trista L. Moretti, of South Plainfield, died Monday in an indirect fire attack by insurgents on a base near Nasir Lafitah, according to a release from Fort Richardson in Alaska, where her unit was stationed in the United States.

Indirect fire often indicates a mortar or rocket attack on a base.

Moretti, a signal intelligence analyst and paratrooper who joined the Army in 2003, was assigned to the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

Twenty-one other paratroopers from the division were also injured in the attack; their injuries were listed as not serious.

Tip line set up to catch bootleggers

FAIRBANKS - A tip line set up to try and bust bootleggers is heightening the police presence at Fairbanks International Airport, where alcohol and drugs are sneaked into rural Alaska aboard small planes.

The toll-free line was established in April. So far, airport police have received 40 tips.

The toll-free line, (877) TIP4FIA, is credited with nearly doubling the number of contacts officers make with passengers suspected of carrying illegal cargo. Three ounces of cocaine; up to eight gallons of beer and whiskey; and a pound and a half of marijuana have been confiscated, Officer Robert Dickerson said.

However, officials said it is too soon to gauge whether the tip line has resulted in an increase in the amount of drugs and alcohol seized.

The seizures, aside from cocaine, are similar to seizures during the same period last spring when the tip line did not exist. Officials said they hope to see an increase in seizures over time.

The black market is lucrative in rural Alaska, where alcohol and drugs bring hefty sums compared with profits for controlled substances in larger communities.

When a load of alcohol hits a dry community, the effects can be seen within hours, said Mike Supkis, chief of airport police and fire services.

"When a plane that comes in wet hits, two or three hours later, all hell breaks loose," Supkis said.

The tip line was the idea of Lt. Karen Ebanez. She said the line is part of a three-pronged effort to prevent alcohol and drugs from infiltrating rural Alaska.



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