Alaska digest

Posted: Monday, September 22, 2003

Anchorage considers plan to help urban salmon

ANCHORAGE - Salmon struggling to migrate up an urban Anchorage creek could get an open channel under a plan proposed by government officials, biologists and stream advocates.

The proposal would help Knik Arm salmon swim up Chester Creek to Westchester Lagoon, and one of Anchorage's most popular recreation sites.

The draft design would usher the creek under the Alaska Railroad through a gigantic culvert big enough for the stream to meander on a bed of rock.

David Martinson, project manager with the Army Corps of Engineers, said it would be more a portal than a pipe. The 106-foot-long culvert would be 18 to 19.5 feet across with the flattened shape similar to that of city bike trail tunnels.

The culvert would be big and light and have a slope so slight the water wouldn't flow too fast.

After emerging on the park side, salmon could follow an open channel through a swale near the lagoon's west end and climb an open-air fish ladder. People on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail could watch.

Fish now must swim underground through two dark culverts for hundreds of feet, then navigate sharp turns up a fish pass. The layout prevents many fish from reaching the lagoon and moving upstream to the spawning grounds.

Anchorage sees early flakes, but no record

ANCHORAGE - The first snowflakes of the season in the Anchorage area didn't wait for fall.

An early, wet snow fell across much of Southcentral on Saturday, three days before the official start of autumn.

Heavy flakes mixed with rain across much of Anchorage and accumulated in mountainside neighborhoods in the Chugach Range and in spots from the Kenai Peninsula to Glennallen. A troopers dispatcher in Soldotna said it was snowing hard in Cooper Landing on Saturday morning.

The snow in Anchorage nearly tied the Sept. 20, 1947, record for the earliest measurable accumulation.

Denali Borough eyes 3 percent sales tax

FAIRBANKS - Denali Borough voters will decide in November whether to levy a 3 percent sales tax in the borough, which covers the tourist areas near the entrance to Denali National Park.

A 5-4 vote by the Denali Borough Assembly put the measure on the ballot.

The sales tax could generate about $750,000 for the borough, according to Mayor David Talerico.

Assemblywoman Teresa Hall, who sponsored the first version of the tax ordinance, said the borough needs to diversify its revenue stream. Most of the borough's $2.3 million budget is paid for by a 5 percent severance tax on natural resources and a 7 percent bed tax.

Hall said the borough is facing a money crunch. The mayor was able to cut the budget enough to make ends meet this year, Hall said.

"Everybody got pretty much what they wanted. But that is not going to happen next year," she said.

In recent years, borough revenue has been flat, Talerico said, while expense for schools, capital projects and other items have increased. He said the state may soon ask local governments to contribute to road projects.

Marathon runners pause mid-race for marriage

FAIRBANKS - Ken Leary and Jane LeBlond got their marriage off to a running start.

Taking a break from the Equinox Marathon, the two tied the knot, then crossed the finish line together.

"We wanted something that meant something to both of us," Leary said of the decision to marry during the race Saturday.

They met five years ago when a group of runners gathered for lunch after the 1998 race.

LeBlond, originally from Anchorage, is a a three-time women's winner of the marathon. This year, she was suffering from a pinched nerve in her back and was not able to run a competitive race, at least by her standards.

Instead, she ran the first several miles, then traveled by car and ran when she could. Leary ran the entire race.

Both detoured at about Mile 25.

Fellow marathoner Mike Kramer performed the ceremony. Kramer squeezed in a relay leg before swapping running gear for slacks and a dress shirt for the marriage duty.

Juveniles arrested in paintball attacks

FAIRBANKS - Two teenagers were arrested after authorities received complaints that vehicles traveling on Chena Hot Spring Road were being hit by paintballs.

An investigation revealed that two teenagers from Fairbanks were shooting at vehicles from a hay field near Wayne Williams Road, Alaska State Troopers said Saturday.

The two juveniles were arrested Friday and charged with criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment. One of the 16-year-olds also was charged with third-degree assault for brandishing a paintball gun at a passerby who tried to detain one of them.

The teenagers were taken to the Fairbanks Youth Facility.

Anchorage woman dies after car accident

GLENNALLEN - A 19-year-old passenger in a car died after the vehicle left the roadway and hit a telephone pole near Glennallen.

Stephanie Voss of Anchorage was one of three passengers in a Ford Explorer driven by Larry Huelskoetter, 45, of Copper Center.

Alaska State Troopers said Huelskoetter was driving south at 11:49 a.m. Saturday at Mile 79.5 Richardson Highway when he lost control on the icy road. The car left the roadway and hit the pole.

Voss and Dawn Huelskoetter, 46, were flown to Anchorage with serious injuries. Voss died of her injuries at Providence Alaska Medical Center, troopers said.

Larry Huelskoetter and passenger Susan Shelton, 44, of Anchorage, suffered minor injuries, troopers said.

Alcohol was not believed to be a factor in the crash, troopers said.

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