State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Police search for driver

JUNEAU - Police are looking for the driver of a white sport utility vehicle who may have caused a roll-over accident in the Mendenhall Valley on Tuesday evening. The accident sent a 22-year-old man to the hospital with minor injuries.

A 1990 Dodge Dakota pickup, driven by the 22-year-old whose name wasn't released, was traveling toward the McNugget intersection on Glacier Highway around 4:52 p.m., police said today. A SUV pulled out in front of the Dodge from a parking lot near the Berners intersection, police said. The Dodge driver swerved to avoid hitting the SUV, left the road and rolled on its side, police said.

The SUV left before police arrived, police said.

The Dodge driver was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital with a knee injury, said Capital City Fire and Rescue Capt. Beth Weldon. The Dodge sustained $3,000 in damage.

Police are asking anyone with information about the accident to call 586-0600.

Murkowski heads back to Washington, D.C.

FAIRBANKS - U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, the Republican candidate for governor, said he has been called back to Washington, D.C., for several days by the chairman of the House-Senate committee overseeing the energy policy bill.

Murkowski was scheduled to appear at a debate sponsored by the group Commonwealth North today in Anchorage. Campaign spokesman Dan Saddler said Murkowski would participate by teleconference. A debate sponsored by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and KUAC radio scheduled for Thursday tentatively was rescheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Jason Moore, communications director for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fran Ulmer, said while Alaska needs Murkowski in Washington for the energy bill he still is running for governor and needs to be available to voters.

"He's spent most of his campaign back in D.C., and I agree that it's important to deal with this energy bill," Moore said. "But it seems like a pattern of behavior here where he doesn't want to be engaged in debate."

Saddler said the joint House-Senate committee chairman, Rep. Billy Tauzin, a Louisiana Republican, notified Murkowski on Tuesday that he would be required in Washington.

Alaska's delegation has tried to have measures to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and to create a package of incentives for an Alaska natural gas pipeline inserted into the energy bill, but those efforts have met with little success.

In a news release Tuesday, Murkowski said the purpose of his return was to fight for Alaska interests in the bill, but he admitted prospects appear grim. "In my view, the conference is on life support," he said.

Sitka Seafoods closes its Yakutat plant

SITKA - Sitka Sound Seafoods plans to close its fish-buying and processing plant in Yakutat.

Company officials said the operation is no longer economical. Sitka Sound's lease on the plant expires at the end of the year.

The closure will remove the only processor in Yakutat, where fishing has been the backbone of the economy. The departure of the company will be a blow to the community, said Yakutat Mayor Tom Maloney.

The city owns the building where the company operated. Maloney said the closure will mean the loss of about $80,000 in lease revenue. The closure also means the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in raw fish taxes, property taxes and income for workers, Maloney said.

The mayor said he has hopes someone will take over the plant. He said a disaster declaration could make funds available to buy the equipment from the plant and keep it running under new management.

Southeast Alaska Native and civic leaders have asked Gov. Tony Knowles to declare Southeast Alaska an economic disaster area.

Two moose killed by same truck

FAIRBANKS - Jim Remington wasn't seeing double when his pickup truck struck a moose as he drove around Fairbanks. That's because he hit two moose.

Remington was driving with his girlfriend Sherry Steffens, their two children and the family dog Sunday night when one moose crossed in front of the truck on Farmers Loop north of the city. Almost immediately the truck hit the other moose.

The animals were apparently chasing each other when the accident occurred, Alaska State Troopers said.

One of the animals died in the crash and the other was hurt, so troopers had to shoot it.

The double collision caused $8,000 in damage to the truck. Other than the moose, no one was seriously injured.

UAF students charged with impersonating firefighters

FAIRBANKS - Three University of Alaska Fairbanks students have been charged with impersonating firefighters and waking two female students up at 1:30 a.m. Oct. 10 to check their dorm room for a gas leak.

University police said the three donned firefighter gear and helmets they either owned or borrowed, randomly picked a room on the women's floor in Skarland Hall and told the two women they had to check their room for a gas leak.

The women complied and waited outside with one of the three fake firefighters while the other two used a fake wand to check for leaks, police said.

Police said the women were harmlessly touched on the eyelids to "test" them to see if they were exposed to gas. The inspection lasted no more than five minutes and the women returned to their room afterward.

The three faux firefighters would have gotten away with the prank but one of the women wanted to write a paper for one of her classes on the inspection, police said.

The next day she called University Fire Department for more information about the inspection, police said. That's when they realized the inspection was fake.

Nick Praznovsky, 18, of Fairbanks, Andrew Dalle-Molle, 19, of Kotzebue and Dustin J. Praznovsky, 18, of Anchorage were charged with impersonating a public servant, a misdemeanor. They were cited and released. The women reported nothing stolen.

Compiled from staff and wire service reports.

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