Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, July 08, 2007

Empress of the North resumes operations

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JUNEAU - The 299-foot cruise ship that was evacuated after striking the shoals of Rocky Island in May was scheduled to resume operations Saturday in Southeast Alaska, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

An investigation into the grounding of the Empress of the North is continuing, and the National Transportation and Safety Board recently issued a recommendation about life-saving equipment.

The ship was inspected Saturday, and the Coast Guard determined it can be safely navigated.

Boat capsizes in squall near Wrangell

JUNEAU - A 55-foot steel-hulled fishing vessel capsized during a squall Tuesday near Wrangell, according to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

All three people on board the boat, the Miss Kristina, were rescued without injury by a local search and rescue team.

The U.S. Coast Guard was notified of the incident in Stikine Strait after receiving an electronic position emergency radio beacon signal at 5:40 p.m.

Miss Kristina's owner, Don Sorric of Wrangell, reported that 700 gallons of marine diesel were on board in fuel tanks at the time the vessel rolled, the department said.

The vessel was towed to Wrangell's harbor Wednesday.

Sales Tax 'glitch' at Home Depot fixed

JUNEAU - Customers at Home Depot last week might have noticed they were being charged too much for sales tax.

Instead of the city's 5 percent tax, Home Depot was charging customers 6 percent.

"There was a slight error where a few customers were charged that - however, we have since corrected the issue," Home Depot spokeswoman Kathryn Gallagher said.

The store tried to correct the mistake by offering 5 percent discounts, she said. But if someone was overcharged, they should see a store manager, she added.

"If someone sees it on their receipt, please bring it in immediately to the store, and we'll rectify it," she said.

When asked how the error occurred, Gallagher said it was "just a glitch in the system."

"It has been corrected, and all is normal now," she said.

Home Depot is located on Commercial Drive in Lemon Creek. The big box retailer opened its doors to the public June 28.

The store's hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays.

Tourist hit by SUV in downtown Juneau

JUNEAU - A 75-year-old man suffered pain in his right hip and elbow Friday afternoon after being struck by an SUV downtown, Juneau police said.

The tourist was walking in a crosswalk in a parking lot near the Mount Roberts Tramway when he was struck at 12:38 p.m.

The driver did not see him and was traveling about 5 mph, police said. The investigation continues.

More Fort Wainwright soldiers head to Iraq

FAIRBANKS - About 200 aviation regiment soldiers at Fort Wainwright are being deployed to western Iraq to support ground troops there.

An advance team of about 40 soldiers has already arrived in Kuwait to prepare the way for the 15-month deployment.

The soldiers are from the 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, known as Task Force Dragon. The task force's eight CH-47 Chinook helicopters are en route to the Middle East. The Chinooks, often termed the Army's workhorse, can carry large amounts of supplies or troops.

The remaining 160 soldiers, who are scheduled to fly out of Fairbanks within the next few days, were honored during a deployment ceremony Thursday morning at Fort Wainwright.

The unit will support Marines and other troops in Baghdad and throughout Iraq's Anbar province on the western side of the country.

Police recapture escaped prisoner

ANCHORAGE - A prisoner on his way from Palmer to Anchorage escaped for several hours before being recaptured near a truck he was accused of stealing.

Police closed down the Glenn Highway and laid down spike strips to arrest Ralph Carstens, 32. He was charged with felony eluding.

Carstens has a long criminal history, according to court records. On Friday, he was at the Mat-Su Pre-Trial facility on charges related to vehicle theft and drug possession.

Employees from Genesis Recovery Services, an Anchorage treatment facility, were driving him to Anchorage at about 2 p.m. when he jumped out of the car near he Seward Highway, police spokesman Lt. Paul Honeman said.

Several hours later, Anchorage police officers spotted Carstens in Eagle River. He fled again and stole a small truck from a driver who putting something in the back of the vehicle, Honeman said.

Carstens took off on the Glenn Highway toward Anchorage, with police in pursuit. Police chased him at high speeds to about the Fort Richardson exit, where officers had put down spike strips. With the truck's tires flattened, Carstens fled on foot across the median and tried to carjack a vehicle in the outbound lanes, police said.

He was wrestled to the ground and arrested, police said.

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