Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Police: Fire behind Gastineau intentional

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JUNEAU - Officials said that a fire started behind Gastineau Elementary School on Monday night was intentionally set.

A fuel can containing a flammable fluid was set on fire and left to burn, said Daniel Jager, acting fire marshal of Capital City Fire and Rescue.

Firefighters responded shortly after 8:36 p.m. Monday, but found the flames extinguished by a neighbor with a fire extinguisher.

The school was not damaged, and there are no suspects at this time, Jager said.

U.S. Army identifies soldiers killed in Iraq

FORT RICHARDSON -The U.S. Army on Tuesday identified two artillerymen who were killed last week in Iraq.

Sgt. Bradley W. Marshall and Specialist Daniel F. Reyes died July 31 from wounds suffered from an indirect fire attack on Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, spokesman Capt. Richard Hyde said.

Hyde said there was a delay in releasing their identities because there was a difficulty in notifying some next-of-kin.

Marshall, 37, of Little Rock, Ark., first joined the Army in July 1990 and later rejoined in March 2002. He was assigned to Fort Richardson in July 2006.

Reyes, 24, of San Diego joined the Army in June 2005 and was assigned to Fort Richardson the following January.

Marshall was assigned to Bravo Battery, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

Reyes was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

Eleven other paratroopers were injured in the incident, one seriously. The other 10 were treated and returned to duty.

Since the Fort Richardson unit deployed last fall, 51 soldiers have been killed.

Two hooligan grizzly bear cubs killed

FAIRBANKS - Two young grizzly bear cubs who had already made a name for themselves were shot and killed after killing a couple of goats and harassing horses at a home just outside Fairbanks.

The cubs were the same ones reported prowling around Chena Hot Springs Road last week.

Their bad behavior caught up with them on Sunday when an Alaska State Trooper was called to a home at Mile 4 and shot the cubs.

The homeowner, Steve Davila, came home from the Tanana Valley State Fair at around 10 p.m. and noticed his two horses acting frantically as he pulled into the driveway at his home on Luthers Loop, about a half mile from Chena Hot Springs Road.

"One of the bears was harassing the horses or checking the horses and other livestock out," he said. "When we drove up, it ran off into the woods."

First, Davila checked on his 17-year-old stepdaughter, Katie Ganley, who had arrived home about an hour earlier. Then he told his wife, Carol, to call the neighbors and alert them that there were bears in the area before grabbing a shotgun and heading back outside.

That's when Davila noticed that two of his daughter Hannah's goats were missing. The bears, which were first reported at around 10 Mile last week, had broken down one corner of the corral fence, killed the two goats and dragged them into the woods, he said. The third goat was injured but still alive.

State dairy posts profit following losses

PALMER - The Matanuska Maid state-owned dairy posted a profit after losing money for months.

Dairy managers now say an improved bottom line is strengthening options that the 71-year-old dairy can remain open. The dairy ended June with a $62,000 profit.

Two months ago, the dairy was in such dire financial straits its previous managers moved to shut down the company, saying escalating losses could soon eclipse their ability to pay bills.

However, the dairy's future is not secure. The company has lost nearly $650,000 so far this year. But members of a state Creamery Board, which oversees the dairy, say the recent turnaround has bought them more time to decide what to do with the dairy.

"Right now, we have a lot more breathing room than we had," said Kristan Cole, chairwoman of the Creamery Board.

In June, the company turned a profit of nearly $62,000, the first monthly profit in at least five months. Also, in May, the company trimmed losses to about $36,000. That compares to a loss of nearly $170,00 a month on average over the previous four months.

Board members said the results are notable because sales tend to slow in summer.

Palin opposes listing for beluga whales

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sarah Palin said listing the Cook Inlet beluga whales as endangered would cause serious long-term damage to the area's economy.

Palin submitted her comments to the National Marine Fisheries Service on Friday, the last day of the public comment period. The letter was released by her office Tuesday.

In it, Palin told the federal government the whales' population has increased slightly in recent years, the already is doing everything it can to protect them, and the whales don't need the listing.

Instead, she asked that the National Marine Fisheries Service work with state and other scientists to finalize and implement a conservation plan for the Cook Inlet beluga whales.

The government has until April 2008 to decide whether to move forward with the listing.

A group calling itself the Natural Resources Defense Council says in the past two months, more than 100,000 Americans have called for the whales to be listed as endangered.

Only 300 of the white whales remain in Cook Inlet.

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