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Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Clerks catch suspect after botched robbery

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JUNEAU - Juneau police arrested Duwaine Price, 38, after several store employees fought with and detained him during a robbery Monday evening.

Police said Price was attempting his second robbery of the night when the employees fought him just before 6 p.m. in the 800 block of Glacier Avenue.

Price allegedly attempted to rob another merchant on Glacier Avenue less than 30 minutes before. Price allegedly threatened to shoot the clerk, but she ran and called police from a safe location, police said.

Price was transported to Bartlett Regional Hospital for injuries suffered while fighting with store employees during the second robbery, police said.

An investigation is ongoing, and police expect to charge Price with robbery, theft and assault.

Fourth plane crash victim identified

ANCHORAGE - The National Park Service has identified a pilot who was one of four people killed in a plane crash this weekend near Katmai National Park and Preserve.

He is 60-year-old Bruce Stephens of Wasilla.

Park Service spokesman Neal Labrie says all victims have been removed from the crash site and will be flown to Anchorage.

The three others killed were 44-year-old Greg Brophy and 49-year-old Sean Brophy, both of Ontario, Canada, and 38-year-old Tom Beatty of Homer. Beatty was a guide, and the two Canadians were fishing clients.

No further information on the cause of the crash is available. The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating.

Contract to run Army utilities awarded

FAIRBANKS - A multibillion-dollar contract to run utilities systems at three U.S. Army bases in Alaska has been awarded to a Fairbanks company and subsidiaries of the Alaska Native corporation Doyon.

Under the nearly $4 billion contract, Doyon Utilities LLC will take ownership of 12 water, sewer, heat and electricity systems at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Fort Greely in Delta Junction and Fort Richardson in Anchorage.

The contract goes through February 2058.

Doyon Utilities is a new joint venture between Doyon Properties Inc. and Fairbanks Water and Sewer Inc.

Doyon Properties is the commercial property management subsidiary of the Alaska Native corporation Doyon Ltd.

Fairbanks Water and Sewer assumed control of the Fairbanks municipal water and sewer systems in 1997.

Aurora Energy LLC will help operate the electric and heat utilities and various power plants acquired through the contract.

Man sentenced in drunk driving death

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man found guilty of drunk driving in the death of a Maryland physicist was sentenced on Monday to more than 18 years in prison.

Byron Frank Geisinger, 47, had also been found guilty of manslaughter.

Authorities say Geisinger slammed his full-sized pick-up truck into the back of a sedan rented by Yong-Ki Kim, 74, who was sightseeing along Chena Hot Springs Road about a year ago with his wife and son.

Kim, of Germantown, Md., was killed. His wife and son suffered minor injuries.

At the sentencing, Judge Randy M. Olsen said that he believed alcohol played a role in the accident in addition to brake problems.

Olsen imposed another 10 years of probation during which Geisinger is not to drink or possess alcohol or enter an establishment that sells it. Geisinger's driving privileges were also revoked for life.

Yong-Ki Kim's son, Edward Kim, told the court that Geisinger had no respect for laws restricting his driving, and would likely drink and drive again when released.

"If we were malicious and uncaring people, we would ask you to release the offender with all due haste," he said. "Release him to drink alcohol and drive with wanton recklessness among the citizens of Fairbanks."

Geisinger admitted to drinking before the accident, but said that should not have impaired his judgment.

"I know what I had to drink that day. I had two beers. There were hours in between. I had food that day. What I had shouldn't have affected me," he said and claimed the collision might have been due more to faulty brakes.

Delegation backsinsurance program

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's three Republicans in Congress voted to expand a popular children's health insurance program known in the state as Denali KidCare despite the threat of a veto by President Bush.

Congress over the next five years wants to extend coverage from 6.6 million children to 9.7 million uninsured children.

Despite widespread national support for such state-based programs, President Bush is expected this week to veto the bill.

The president has said he supports the insurance but does not want to expand it as much as Congress does. He has said he will send the bill back for revisions.

His expected veto is seen as part of a wider spending showdown in Washington, where Republicans have complained that the Democrat-controlled Congress has not passed any budget bills this year.

The three Alaska Republicans were among GOP lawmakers who joined with Democrats to pass the children's health care measure.

"Until we in Congress can agree on how to address the future of our nation's health care policies, programs like the child health insurance program are needed to ensure that these children are not left out," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski in explaining why she and other Senate Republicans supported the bill.

Murkowski and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens were among 18 Republicans who joined Democrats in voting 67-29 to increase spending on the program from about $5 billion to $12 billion annually for the next five years.

The expansion would give more Alaska children access to Denali KidCare, although it's not clear yet how many more would be eligible.

In Alaska, the program helps thousands of children receive basic prevention and treatment, said Jerry Fuller, who oversees Medicaid programs for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Federal and state money pay for Denali KidCare. It covers about 16,000 Alaska children whose parents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but whose incomes are not high enough to afford private health insurance coverage.

"Here's a program where we put in 33 cents and get 66 cents from the federal government. What's not to like?" Fuller said.

"Talk about a wonderful return on investment. I'm not certain there are any losers, if you've got healthy kids."

Many of the Republicans who support the legislation in the House face difficult re-election campaigns next year.

U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, voted against the initial version of the legislation in July, including "free health insurance for illegal immigrants." Changes in the version presented last week made it more palatable, and he voted for it, he said.

"While I'm not 100 percent thrilled with this bill, it does what we need it to do," Young said, "and that is to take care of Alaska's children."

Those fighting the bill's passage have used heated rhetoric in recent days.

Any expansion is "a step toward more government-controlled health care," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

The president's main concern, she said, is that the poorest children have access to the program first, before those with parents who have higher incomes.

"That's where the policy difference is," Perino said.

The White House has complained that expansion of the program by some states has led to a phenomenon called "crowd out," where some parents drop their children's private health insurance to enroll them in the cheaper, taxpayer-funded coverage. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that for every 100 children enrolled today, 25 to 50 were previously covered in the private market.



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