Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, August 28, 2006

Two arrested after attacking children

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JUNEAU - Two men in their early 20s were arrested and charged with fourth-degree assault Tuesday after jumping out of a black van and beating up two boys on Basin Road.

A 24-year-old was charged with fourth-degree assault. A 23-year-old was charged with fourth-degree assault, misconduct involving a controlled substance in the sixth degree and driving with a revoked license. All the charges are misdemeanors, and both were lodged at Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

The two boys did not need medical treatment.

At 2:25 p.m. Tuesday, a 12-year-old girl called police to report that she and the two boys had been walking down Basin Road when the men jumped out of the van and demanded their money.

A short time later, police spotted the van near Second and Franklin streets and found the two suspects inside. They were positively identified by the children.

Fairbanks Lend-Lease monument dedicated

FAIRBANKS - Pilots and other veterans who helped forge the World War II bond between Russia and the United States were on hand Sunday for the dedication of a monument Sunday commemorating the Lend-Lease program.

The 14-foot granite and bronze statue, created by Juneau artist Skip Wallen, was officially unveiled at Griffin Park in downtown Fairbanks with help from dignitaries that included Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov.

Fairbanks resident Randy Acord was a witness to history being made. He moved to Alaska in 1943 and was stationed at Ladd Field, now Fort Wainwright.

Acord was a pilot with the Cold Weather Testing Station. His unit used the west end of Hangar No. 1 as its base of operations. Nearly 300 Russians were based in the east half for the Lend-Lease operations.

Fairbanks was the transfer point for 7,926 aircraft delivered to the Russians through the Lend-Lease program to help in the fight against Germany in World War II. The airplanes were part of an aid campaign, delivered by multiple routes, that included equipment such as 132,000 machine guns and 15 million Army boots.

Feds take over suicide prevention hotline

FAIRBANKS - Unpaid phone bills threatened a national suicide prevention hotline that operates in Alaska but the federal government will take over the service.

The hotline, 1-800-SUICIDE, took 721 calls from Alaska last year.

The hotline is run by the Kristin Brooks Hope Center in Washington D.C. It owes about a quarter of a million dollars in overdue telephone bills.

The center's agreement with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has not been released.

Calls to the national hotline will continue to be routed to crisis counselors. Reese Butler, president of the Kristin Brooks Center, said the hotline this year had received more than 400 calls from Alaska.

If the hotline had closed, callers likely would have been asked to hang up and dial another number, something a person in crisis might not be inclined to do.

"There are people who basically have 800-SUICIDE on speed dial," said Kimberlee Vanderhoof, program director of Careline Crisis Intervention, another suicide hotline. The Careline is based in Fairbanks.

"Having that live person answer the phone is so important," Vanderhoof said.

Former Alaskan dies from West Nile virus

WICHITA, Kan. - A retired civil engineer from Hesston, Kan., who helped build the Alaska pipeline has died from the West Nile virus.

James Pulis, 79, is the third Kansan to die from the disease. He died last last week at the Via Christi Regional Medical Center-St. Francis Campus.

Pulis' son, Michael Pulis, said his father was being treated for non-life-threatening pneumonia when he was diagnosed as having the mosquito-borne virus, which can attack the brain and spinal column.

"My dad was a very hale and hearty guy; he was a very active man." he said. "He was in good condition. No one in the family would have remotely expected that he wouldn't have lasted 10 more years. He was a big, strong man."

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