State Briefs

Posted: Friday, July 26, 2002

Police need public's help to solve arson

JUNEAU - A June 3 fire at Juneau Self-Storage may have been set to destroy evidence of a burglary, police said Thursday.

Through identifying recovered stolen items, police are trying to catch who is responsible for the fire, which destroyed the building and its contents.

Police are holding an open house Saturday morning for storage unit owners to determine whether items in police custody came from the Juneau Self-Storage or from other area burglaries.

"At this point we believe the person or people involved broke into the storage facility, stole several items from the units and then set the fire to the building to cover up the burglary," said Officer Kris Sell.

Sell wouldn't say where police found the items. They include a cufflink collection, a man's jewelry box, and aviation, Cub Scout and motorcycle memorabilia.

The open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the police station on Alaway Avenue. For more information, call 586-0600.

Stevens backs bill to keep USCG role

WASHINGTON - Sen. Ted Stevens won approval of a measure Thursday aimed at protecting traditional functions of the Coast Guard after it is transferred into a new Department of Homeland Security.

Stevens brought up the issue Wednesday as the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee began drafting a Homeland Security bill.

The measure acknowledges the Coast Guard's prime mission is security in times of war. But during peacetime, the measure would protect traditional roles such as search-and-rescue and fisheries enforcement by keeping the Coast Guard intact and requiring the administration to obtain permission first if it wanted to use agency assets for time-limited homeland security duties.

Critics argued the measure would tie the hands of the new secretary of homeland security.

The U.S. House also was preparing to begin floor debate on its Homeland Security bill. It includes a provision to protect the Coast Guard's traditional roles.

Ross would prefer woman on ticket

ANCHORAGE - Wayne Anthony Ross said he'd like to see voters pair him with a woman in the race for governor in the general election.

Ross made the statement Wednesday while airing his message on a conservative talk show on KENI radio.

Ross, a Republican making his second bid for governor, said, "I'd like to see a woman as lieutenant governor to balance the ticket."

He said he thought the second spot would best be filled by someone who was not a career politician. "I'll work great with anybody, but if I had my druthers, I'd have to say I'd go for Sarah Palin."

Palin is the mayor of Wasilla but hasn't held statewide office before.

Ross faces U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, Eric Wieler of Anchorage and Brad Snowden of Seward in the Aug. 27 primary.

Nearly 172 people on cruise fall ill

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Dozens of passengers aboard a Holland America week-long cruise to Alaska fell ill with what a cruise line spokesman says may be a common virus.

The Ryndam docked in Vancouver on Thursday after the Alaska voyage. In all, 163 passengers and nine crew members were reported to be suffering flu-like symptoms.

Cruise ships must report an illness when more than 3 percent of passengers on board are affected, said Holland America spokesman Erik Elvejord. In this case, nearly 13 percent fell ill. A reported 1,266 people were on board.

The cruise line is awaiting lab test results to determine the culprit, but Elvejord said Holland America thinks a virus similar to the Norwalk virus is to blame. He said cases of the Norwalk virus have been reportedly recently in Alaska.

The ship's crew has disinfected all rooms and common areas of the ship.

Compiled from staff and wire service reports.

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