Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2007

Man arrested on illegal hunt charges

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ANCHORAGE - A man charged with violating numerous hunting laws in Alaska last year has been found by Washington state authorities.

Washington State Patrol officers located Joseph Querin, 53, in the Pacific County Jail, according to Alaska State Troopers on Tuesday.

He had been incarcerated earlier this month on several other charges following a traffic stop, including possessing methamphetamine.

Troopers in Alaska had issued a $10,000 arrest warrant for Querin after he failed to appear at his arraignment. The charges included unlawful possession of big game, being a nonresident hunting without a guide, and multiple license and tag violations.

Querin and Carson Kemmer, 24, killed a moose, caribou, brown bear and two Dall sheep while hunting along the Dalton Highway and Turnagain Arm without the proper licenses, Alaska troopers said. Both men are from Ocean Park, Wash.

Other violations included failing to salvage all edible meat and killing undersized animals, troopers said.

Kemmer pleaded no contest Oct. 12 to six violations; prosecutors agreed to drop another 16 charges.

Astronauts to visit Alaska next week

FAIRBANKS - Two astronauts will visit schoolrooms in Fairbanks and Galena next week.

Wendy Lawrence and Livingston Holder will be giving presentations to a dozen Fairbanks schools and University of Alaska Fairbanks classes. They also will spend one day working with students and teachers in Galena.

Lawrence worked aboard four shuttle missions, flying on Endeavour, Atlantis and Discovery twice.

Holder was assigned as a shuttle payload specialist for a classified Shuttle flight until the Challenger accident forced cancellation of the mission.

The visit is sponsored by the non-profit Space Foundation, a nonprofit organization advancing space-related endeavors.

Rail link plan stirs interest in Mat-Su

ANCHORAGE - A proposed $300 million extension of the Alaska Railroad to Port MacKenzie in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough is still in the early planning stages, but the project has aroused a lot of curiosity.

More than 300 people turned out for community information meetings at Big Lake, Willow, Wasilla, Knik and Houston in late September and early October to ask questions and voice concerns about the proposed project.

A project team representing the Alaska Railroad Corp. and Mat-Su Borough is putting together a summary of those comments to present to the borough's planning commission on Nov. 5 and the borough assembly on Nov. 20, borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan said.

The project, which would involve construction of 30 to 45 miles of new rail line, would cost roughly $4 million to $8 million per mile.

Oil subsidiary fined $500,000 for spill

ANCHORAGE - A subsidiary of ConocoPhillips on Tuesday was ordered to pay $500,000 for covering up an oil spill in 2004, and a judge gave half that to a whistleblower who informed the Coast Guard.

Polar Tankers, Inc., also was ordered to pay $2 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as a community service. The money will fund environmental projects along the Alaska coast and in Prince William Sound.

The subsidiary pleaded guilty for failing to properly maintain an oil record book, U.S. Attorney Nelson Cohen said in a prepared statement. The attorney's office did not immediately return an after-hours call seeking further comment.

Messages left with ConocoPhillips by The Associated Press were not immediately returned Tuesday.

On Jan. 16, 2004, the crew of the Polar Discovery accidentally caused a discharge of oily sludge overboard and into the ocean, Cohen said. It was not immediately known how much was involved, or where exactly in the Pacific Ocean it occurred.

Authorities said the crew hid evidence of the discharge and failed to record the transfer in the ship's Oil Record Book. Also, the ship was turned into the wind to clean oil from the side of the ship, which the captain explained to the company as a man overboard drill.

A crew member four months later reported the incident to the Coast Guard. Senior U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland on Tuesday ordered that half of the criminal fine be awarded to the whistleblower.

Linehan's sister jailed after not testifying

ANCHORAGE - The sister of convicted murderer Mechele Linehan was arrested this weekend on charges that she refused to testify in Linehan's trial.

Melissa Hughes was arrested this weekend in Atlanta on a material witness warrant after returning from the Czech Republic, authorities said Tuesday.

Hughes, 38, was placed in the Clayton County jail, a 1,500-bed facility near the Atlanta airport, jail authorities said.

She was set to be released this week after Superior Court Judge Philip Volland dismissed the warrant following the jury's decision on Monday.

Linehan was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of her former fiancé Kent Leppink in 1996. Her co-defendant, John Carlin III, was convicted in April.

Hughes said months ago that she would not testify in her sister's trial and left the country before being served with a subpoena from Alaska prosecutors.

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