Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, October 07, 2005

Landing craft burns in Berners Bay

JUNEAU - A 53-foot landing craft was towed to Auke Bay Thursday evening after catching fire in the morning near the northern tip of Berners Bay while hauling supplies to the Kensington gold mine.

No one was injured. Two passengers escaped into a life raft and were rescued by the Steadfast, a Good Samaritan vessel.

The Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office will investigate the cause of the blaze today.

The Coast Guard received a mayday call from the landing craft, the David V, at 11:43 Thursday morning. The ship was a mile north of Point St. Mary and on its way to the mine.

It was carrying 500 gallons of fuel, groceries, equipment and supplies for the workers, the Coast Guard said.

A Coast Guard helicopter from Sitka, a boat from Juneau and the Steadfast arrived at the scene at 12:45 p.m.

The fire was extinguished, but no further information was available, said Jimmy Belcher, chief petty officer.

"We're not sure of the cause of the fire," he said. "They'll probably determine that (Friday)."

The David V was expected to arrive in Auke Bay at 10 p.m. Thursday.

Man arrested on child sex charges

JUNEAU - Police arrested a 58-year-old Juneau man Thursday, a week after receiving a report of child molestation.

Ralph Nathan LaFavour was charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor, according to police reports. No bail information was available.

The case remains under investigation, according to police reports.

Wyo. man convicted of big-game crimes

JUNEAU - A 45-year-old Laramie, Wyo., man pleaded no contest in Juneau District Court Thursday to two counts of unsworn falsification, taking over-limit black bear and unlawful possession of a brown bear hide illegally taken in a next-of-kin hunt.

James E. Jairell was ordered to pay the state $5,050 in restitution for illegally taken game. He also was ordered to forfeit illegally taken trophies and three boats and motors to the state. Jairell's two-year prison sentence was suspended during his five-year probation. He was ordered to pay $15,000 of a $40,000 fine with the rest suspended during his probation.

His Alaska big game guide and transporter licenses were permanently revoked. His Alaska hunting license was revoked for five years.

Hale arraigned on felony counts

PALMER - A self-styled mountain man who went on the lam for nearly two weeks after being indicted for incest and other felonies was arraigned Thursday, a day after he was arrested in an Anchorage suburb.

Robert Hale, 64, was appointed a public defender during Thursday's court hearing. No other court dates were immediately set, and he continued to be held in jail.

Hale was arrested Wednesday in Eagle River when he was apprehended by a railroad police officer, who noticed him after he drove into a restricted area.

Hale was indicted Sept. 22 by a state grand jury in Palmer on 30 felony counts, including 10 counts of sexual assault, one count of kidnapping, eight counts of incest, eight counts of coercion, and three counts of assault.

The family was best known for its running feud with the National Park Service over access to their property the 13.2 million-acre national park.

Stevens recall group appeals decision

ANCHORAGE - The group pushing to recall state Sen. Ben Stevens asked the Superior Court in Anchorage to overturn the state's rejection of its petition.

Citizens for Ethical Government said Wednesday the state Division of Elections improperly dismissed the petition after more than the required 1,232 signatures were submitted.

Elections director Laura Glaiser said when rejecting the petition last month that the organizers failed to show sufficient legal grounds to recall Stevens, the Senate president who represents a South Anchorage district.

The recall group is aligned with the Republican Moderate Party of former legislator Ray Metcalfe.

Metcalfe's appeal was filed by attorney Ken Jacobus, who said he expected the matter to be handled on an expedited basis by the court.

The recall application claimed Stevens as a state senator had a conflict of interest with his consulting work for VECO Corp., an oil field services company.

VECO in 1999 supported a campaign seeking voter permission to use Alaska Permanent Fund money for capital projects, the application said. Voters rejected the proposal with an 83 percent vote.

Since 1999, VECO has paid $400,000 to six lobbyists and $195,000 to Stevens.

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