Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2005

High court dismisses consolidation lawsuit

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Supreme Court has delivered the final blow to a failed attempt to consolidate Fairbanks borough and city governments.

The court rejected an appeal by Don Lowell, who was seeking to overturn a Superior Court dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the city of Fairbanks and officials afte his consolidation effort was defeated at the polls in August 2001.

Lowell said Monday he was disappointed in the decision but will not pursue the matter further.

"It's been a long issue and this really puts it to rest finally," he said. "I'd like to have had the case remanded back for a jury trial. I think the end result would have been different. But I don't want to cry over spilled milk. ... Life goes on."

Lowell, who spearheaded the consolidation petition effort, had contended in his lawsuit that then-Mayor Jim Hayes and city attorney Herb Kuss maliciously accused him of perjury during the process and hindered his right as a citizen to introduce a petition. He also said Kuss threatened him with criminal prosecution.

The Superior Court threw out all of Lowell's claims for a variety reasons, which the Supreme Court upheld in the ruling issued Friday.

Four people killed in Homer car crash

HOMER - Four people were killed this weekend in a one-car accident in Homer.

John Wayne Blackshear-Walker, 24, was driving the car north on Kachemak Drive on Sunday night when it struck a culvert and rolled over, according to Homer police on Monday.

Blackshear-Walker was killed, along with Rebecca Jean Atwater, 21, Toni Lou Gregoire, 19, and Randall Walstrand, 17. The four were pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders. The badly damaged car was found resting on its top, according to KBBI Radio in Homer.

The vehicle had been pulled over for speeding about a half-hour before the accident and witnesses told police they had seen the vehicle traveling extremely fast.

Homer Fire Chief Bob Painter, who went to the scene, said it appeared the occupants were not wearing seat belts.

Tour firm focuses on historic site in Kenai

KENAI - Four tour busses stopped in the city of Kenai, in the first wave of what area tourism supporters hope will be an incoming tide of tourism traffic to the city.

The busses, with more than 130 passengers, were part of Anchorage-based Premier Alaska Tours route down the Kenai Peninsula. It made Kenai Landing part of its tour last week as it transported visitors to and from the cruise ship Clipper Odyssey which was docked in Homer.

Mya Renken, executive director of the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau, said tour busses on the peninsula often pass the city of Kenai and travel straight to Homer. She is hopeful that Kenai Landing will help change that.

Fishing boat sinks; five people rescued

JUNEAU - A passing vessel pulled five people from the frigid waters of Whitestone Harbor Monday after their fishing boat struck a rock and sank.

All five crew members spilled out of the 58-foot fishing seiner Johnny A at about 5 a.m. when the boat struck the rock on its way into the harbor from Icy Strait, about 13 miles east of Hoonah on Chichagof Island in Southeast Alaska, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Some 5,000 gallons of diesel was on board.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Gail Dale said a good Samaritan boat, the Aleutian Mariner, responded to a distress call at 6:13 a.m. The Aleutian Mariner reached the Johnny A and pulled its crew aboard by 7:43 a.m. No injuries were reported and all five were good condition when a Coast Guard boat brought them into Juneau, Dale said.

Donors, volunteers help city parks

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage voters have repeatedly rejected the idea of paying for improvements to city parks with bonds, but now private donors and volunteers are stepping in this summer to make a difference.

The city created the Anchorage Park Foundation last year to give those who want to donate money for park improvements an easy way to do it. The foundation is a nonprofit fund tied to the Parks and Recreation Department.

The goal was to raise about $500,000 the first year, said Jeff Dillon, who is Parks Department director and a foundation board member. Instead, he said, because of contributions from the Rasmuson Foundation charitable organization and a widening circle of individual donors, the foundation should reach about $1.2 million this year.

Former Anchorage Mayor George Sullivan, businessman Larry Carr and Anchorage Parks and Recreation Commission member Victor Mollozzi are among the givers, Dillon said.



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