Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2007

State offices closed today for Alaska Day

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JUNEAU - State of Alaska offices will be closed today in observance of Alaska Day. The state library and museum are also closed today.

There is no school on Alaska Day for the Juneau School District. Schools will also be closed Friday for in-service. Classes will resume Monday.

The University of Alaska Southeast campus is open today.

City offices are closed today. Zach Gordon Youth Center and the City Museum are also both closed for Alaska Day. Treadwell Arena and Augustus Brown Swimming Pool are open regular hours.

The downtown and Douglas libraries are closed today. The Mendenhall Valley library branch is open today from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and will host an Alaska Day celebration at 4 p.m.

Lawyers present two portraits of ex-stripper

ANCHORAGE - A beautiful ex-stripper was either a master manipulator who dangled men at arms' length to get money, gifts and favors - going so far as to have one fiance kill another for the insurance money - or was an immature woman who engaged in bizarre relationships with multiple men while promising to marry them.

Lawyers on Wednesday presented differing portraits of 35-year-old Mechele Linehan, who was 23 years old and employed at the Great Alaskan Bush Co. in 1996 when fiance Kent Leppink was murdered. Another fiance, John Carlin III, was convicted of killing Leppink.

Now, prosecutors are trying to prove that Linehan was in on the murder to cash in on a $1 million insurance policy, not realizing Leppink had removed her name from the policy just days before his death.

"This person manipulated the circumstances with her guile and deception," prosecutor Pat Gullufsen told the Superior Court jury during his closing argument. "All she needed was someone to kill him."

Alaska Guard members welcomed back to U.S.

ANCHORAGE - Alaska officials were in Mississippi on Wednesday to welcome about 575 members of the Alaska Army National Guard back to the U.S.

The soldiers have been serving as security forces in northern Kuwait for a year.

Before leaving, they spent three months in training at Camp Shelby, Miss., preparing for the mission and desert conditions.

Welcoming home the guardsmen at Camp Shelby were Gov. Sarah Palin, Alaska National Guard Adj. Gen. Craig Campbell; Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.

Soldiers will start returning to Alaska on Thursday.

The guardsmen came from more than 80 Alaska communities in the largest Alaska National Guard mobilization since World War II.

Gov. Palin honors soldier killed in Iraq

JUNEAU - Gov. Sarah Palin has offered her condolences to the family and friends of a Fort Richardson soldier who died Sunday in Iraq.

First Lt. Thomas M. Martin of Ward, Ark., died when insurgents attacked his unit during combat operations in Al Busayifi, Iraq.

The 27-year-old Martin was a cavalry scout officer who graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2005 and was assigned to the Alaska fort in June 2006.

He was assigned to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Palin will fly an Alaska flag over the state Capitol in his honor.

The flag will be sent along with a letter of condolence to his family.

Fairbanks woman dies of exposure

FAIRBANKS - Officials say a Fairbanks woman died from exposure after spending the night outside when temperatures dipped into the teens.

Forty-six-year-old Suzie R. Simmonds was pronounced dead early Sunday morning at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

A man who identified himself to police as her boyfriend says she drank a fifth of whiskey and went into the woods.

Fairbanks Police Lieutenant Dan Welborn says she then tried taking off her clothes, and pushed her boyfriend away when he tried to keep her warm.

He says he tried to flag down cars to call 911 throughout the night with no luck. On Sunday morning, police and medics took her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Judge rules initiative can move forward

JUNEAU - A Superior Court judge has ruled that a clean water ballot initiative can move forward for voter consideration.

The Renewable Resources Coalition wants to begin collecting petition signatures for voters to decide on restricting large scale mining and the pollutant discharge.

In siding with the group's court appeal, Judge Fred Torrisi overturned an earlier decision by Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell to deny the petition application.

Parnell relied on a department of law opinion that stated, "The initiative goes beyond regulation and is an impermissible allocation of public assets."

A staff member said Parnell is weighing his appeal options.

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