Man charged with restaurant burglary
JUNEAU - A 27-year-old man allegedly found passed out in a storage room of a Merchants Wharf restaurant downtown was ordered held in lieu of $11,000 bail Tuesday.
Phillip G. Sharclane Jr. was charged with a felony count of second-degree burglary and two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief, police reported.
Officers received a call shortly after 1 a.m. that a man was found in the restaurant storage room. They believe Sharclane entered after kicking down a door. They also found damage to a second door within the room.
Police lodged Sharclane at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.
In Juneau District Court on Tuesday, Magistrate John W. Sivertsen Jr. told Sharclane the felony charge could carry up to five years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner told Sivertsen that Sharclane was on felony probation for a 2001 case that led to a conviction for third-degree sexual assault.
Sivertsen set bail at $10,000 for the charges filed Tuesday. He also said Sharclane would have to post $1,000 to be released in a separate case - a petition to revoke his probation from a misdemeanor criminal mischief conviction in a case originally filed in December 2003.
Governor signs workers' comp bill
JUNEAU - Gov. Frank Murkowski on Tuesday signed a workers' compensation bill that was a subject of the past two special sessions.
Several legislators and union lobbyists fought hard against the changes, protesting provisions to create a governor-appointed appeals commission and to pay only claims in which a work-related accident was the "substantial cause" of an injury.
The bill went through two conference committee compromises before the final version was passed, and both opponents and supporters agree that it is not a singular fix to lowering Alaska's workers' compensation rates, which are among the highest in the nation.
Murkowski on Tuesday called the bill's passage a significant accomplishment, saying it will freeze medical costs and be more effective at resolving disputed claims and investigating fraud.
But state Sen. Hollis French, D-Anchorage, said the new definition of a re-injury will shrink the pool of workers eligible for compensation, the appeals commission creates an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy, and a task force that was supposed to tackle the issues left open by the bill has yet to meet.
Biologists: Leave your goats at home
ANCHORAGE - Dall sheep hunters planning to use domestic goats as pack animals have been asked by state veterinarians to leave them at home.
Domestic goats or llamas could expose wild Dall sheep, mountain goats or musk oxen to diseases or parasites, said spokesmen for the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Fish and Game.
Dall sheep hunting begins today in Interior Alaska.
Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen, a Fish and Game Department wildlife veterinarian in Fairbanks, said using goats as pack animals was the talk of Fairbanks.
"Up here, it's kind of a new thing but it's really hot," she said.
Pack goats can carry about 50 pounds. They appeal to some hunters because they do not need to carry their own feed. Instead, they graze on what they find on the trip.
Beckmen said most populations of Dall sheep, mountain goat and musk ox in Alaska have never been exposed to infectious diseases and parasites of domestic animals.
"They will likely have little resistance," she said.
Domestic goats have exposed wild sheep to diseases and parasites in other states, she said.
Ski resort mayor will telecommute
WHISTLER, British Columbia - The mayor of this resort town says he needs a mid-life change from the mountains and snow.
Mayor Hugh O'Reilly, staring at his 50th birthday next month, announced Tuesday that he's moving to Hawaii to sell real estate.
O'Reilly won't run for re-election in November. Instead, he will complete the rest of this term, either telecommuting or commuting to council meetings from his new home in Hawaii, the city said in a news release.
"He's going to move on," said City Council member Nick Davies, who is running to replace O'Reilly this fall. "We have two choices. We can turn this into a political football or we can take the high road."
Whistler is a resort community about 75 miles north of Vancouver and a key site of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Davies said he thinks the city can function just fine with O'Reilly phoning in from the beach.
Crew of 1,350 fights Washington wildfire
POMEROY, Wash. - Nearly 1,400 firefighters were working Tuesday to control a 37,000-acre wildfire in southeastern Washington, days after the fire destroyed more than 100 residences.
The School fire was considered 20 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon, said Mary Crowell, a fire crew spokeswoman.
About 1,350 people were assigned to the fire, including fire crews on the line and support staff.
To the south, the fire, which started Friday, continued to burn into steeper, rougher terrain in the Umatilla National Forest.
Garfield County officials estimated that more than 100 residences burned in the fire over the weekend, mostly hunting cabins, vacation homes or pads for recreational vehicles. Officials said they could only confirm 35 burned residences.
In north-central Washington, about 575 firefighters were fighting the Dirtyface fire near Lake Wenatchee, about 18 miles northwest of Leavenworth.
The National Interagency Fire Center said 30 large fires were active Monday in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. So far this year, wildfires have charred 5.1 million acres, compared to 5.6 million at the same time last year.