Jet, plane have close call
ANCHORAGE -- An Alaska Airlines jet reported it came dangerously close to a small plane Tuesday while approaching Anchorage International Airport.
Alaska Airlines Flight 131, carrying 102 passengers and five crew from Seattle, was at 3,000 feet about eight miles southwest of Big Lake when air-traffic control alerted the pilots that a twin-engine plane was nearby, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
The pilots saw the plane and veered up to the right. They came within 500 horizontal feet and 200 vertical feet of the other aircraft, said Jim LaBelle, head of the Alaska region NTSB. An investigator will review radio transmissions between both planes and air-traffic control as well as the saved radar images, he said.
The Piper Seneca, registered to Elmendorf Aero Club, and the Alaska Airlines plane were in proper radio contact with air-traffic control, LaBelle said.
Suicide victim was murder suspect
ANCHORAGE - A man who committed suicide as state troopers closed in was a suspect in two murders, authorities said Tuesday.
Jimmy Tofson, 27, of Anchorage, committed suicide Sunday after encountering troopers as he tried to leave his room at the Westmark Inn in Fairbanks.
Troopers were at the hotel to question Tofson about the murder of 34-year-old Michael Carr, who was found shot inside his car July 1 in Wasilla. A witness told police a man stopped his vehicle in front of Carr's, got out of his vehicle and shot Carr.
Troopers in Fairbanks were led to Tofson on Sunday after receiving a tip that a possible murder suspect was staying at the Westmark Inn. Troopers were evacuating rooms when Tofson saw them and shot himself once in the head.
During the investigation into Tofson's suicide, police found out he had been driving a 1994 white Pontiac whose owner was reported missing in Anchorage on Friday. On Sunday, the body of Elizabeth Arthur, 35, of Anchorage, was found south of Fairbanks. She had been shot twice.
Quarry holds promise for Metlakatla
METLAKATLA -- A rock quarry on Annette Island is holding economic promise for the Metlakatla Indian Community, hit hard by the closure of a sawmill last fall.
The Southeast community is conducting geological tests to determine if the quarry rock could be used for road building, boat harbors and other construction projects. ``I think that right now the preliminary tests look very promising,'' said Paul Brendible, Metlakatla's contracts and grants administrator.
So far, the community, with help from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Program, has spent a half-million dollars on the project.
Ed Gunyah of the Bureau of Indian Affairs said if the tests pan out the quarry could stay in operation for 35 years. ``Right now all indications are that our rock will meet federal standards, Portland cement and asphalt standards,'' he said. Gunyah said the quarry could employ up to 60 people in full-time jobs.
Anchorage man charged with murder
ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man shot at a party Sunday morning died Monday and the suspect has been charged with murder.
Billy Waterson, 21, was shot in the head when a fight broke out among a group of young men, police said. Waterson was declared brain dead Monday evening.
After Waterson's death, police charged Jerome Logan, 20, with first-degree murder. Logan is being held at Cook Inlet jail on $75,000 bail.
Knowles dedicates youth center addition
ANCHORAGE - Gov. Tony Knowles dedicated an addition to the McLaughlin Youth Center in Anchorage on Tuesday.
The addition will provide 30 more beds and help reduce overcrowding at the detention facility, which opened in 1968 with just 45 beds. It now has 200 beds.
The money for the $5.3 million addition was included as part of the governor's Smart Start initiative. The initiative also provided more than $1 million to hire more staff for the expansion.
The Department of Health and Social Services also dedicated a 15-bed youth facility in Palmer on Tuesday.