Workers hope to reopen Sterling Highway today
ANCHORAGE - Homer's only road connection to the world could reopen today if flood waters recede enough so workers can repair the Sterling Highway, cut in three places this week by heavy flood waters.
"The big issue is whether or not we get any more heavy rains," said Murph O'Brien of the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
Smaller arterial roads near Homer and Anchor Point also were closed by the flooding, including the road that provides access to the village of Nikolaevsk.
Emergency shelters were set up in Homer, Anchor Point and Seward, while airlines offered more seats to those stranded by the road problems.
Several people were rescued after they were trapped by high waters.
On Wednesday, crewmen from a Coast Guard cutter rescued a man and his dog trapped in the man's trailer near the Seward Highway. The Coast Guard crew used a line-throwing gun to shoot a line to the trailer of David Moore, 45, then got a boat to the structure and rescued the pair.
Four Dryden Middle School students busted on pot charges
JUNEAU - Four students were charged Friday with possessing a small amount of marijuana at Floyd Dryden Middle School, police said.
Two boys, 13, a boy, 14, and a girl, 13, were arrested at the school and charged with a felony because they allegedly possessed marijuana on school property, police said. The students were lodged at the Johnson Youth Center, a state juvenile jail.
School administrators called the police at about 9:45 a.m. regarding suspected drug dealing in the school by students, police said.
Police interviewed the suspects in the presence of their parents, said Sgt. Troy Wilson. Police learned that drugs and money had exchanged hands, but because of the amount involved it didn't meet charges for drug sales, he said.
Principal Tom Milliron said the amount of marijuana involved was very small. He said he couldn't say anything else about the incident because it involved minors.
The school district's policy on substance abuse for first-time offenders requires administrators to contact the parents and police, suspend the student for up to 10 days, create an intervention plan, and review it with the parents before implementing it.
Second-time offenders face suspensions of up to 30 days. Third-time offenders can be expelled.
Milliron said it was the school's first incident with marijuana this year and the third incident with marijuana in the four years he's been an administrator there.
"The real focus is on intervention and getting our drug and alcohol-abuse counselor involved with meeting with students who have had substance-abuse issues and try to deter that in the future," Milliron said.
Cost of reprinting election books higher than estimated
ANCHORAGE - The state Division of Elections error that sent the wrong election pamphlets to 40 percent of the state's voters cost about $125,000, well above state officials' $95,000 estimate last week.
The vast majority of voters had received the correct pamphlets by Friday, according to Virginia Breeze of the division.
Republican Party officials were critical of the division's performance.
"This is the most important thing they send," said state GOP chairman Randy Ruedrich. "Here we are within 12 days of the election, and there are still people who don't have their guides."
The mistake has become something of a campaign issue, and Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, who heads the division, said in a statement that "I regret the mailing error, but the Division of Elections worked hard to correct it quickly. The pamphlets were reprinted and we've taken extra care that they are mailed to the correct districts."
About 132,000 pamphlets were reprinted at an Oregon plant, then shipped to Anchorage by air and mailed from there. The error, detected last week, occurred because workers in the division failed to update a computer addressing file to reflect new House and Senate districts.
Medical board suspends Eagle River doctor
ANCHORAGE - The Alaska State Medical Board suspended the medical license of an Eagle River family practitioner Thursday.
Dr. Samuel Schurig, 51, is accused of hiding narcotics in a trash bin and shed.
Schurig has been licensed in Alaska since 1983 and works at Eagle River Primary Care Clinic. This is the board's first disciplinary action against him, according to Division of Occupational Licensing records.
An affidavit signed by Colin Matthews, senior investigator for the division, said Schurig prescribed almost 38,000 narcotics and other pills to one patient since early 1998, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
When Schurig learned that his patient's son was stealing her drugs, Schurig placed them in a locked shed outside his office and provided her with the combination to the lock. He also hid the drugs in a trash bin in his office parking lot and under rocks outside her home, according to the affidavit.
The board also discussed concerns over Schurig's mental state. Schurig admitted using office samples of Zoloft, a drug used to treat depression, the affidavit said.
In August, the state medical board had ordered Schurig to undergo medical and psychological evaluations, but the doctor did not do so, board members said Thursday.
The board voted 6-0 in favor of the suspension. Board members Dr. Martha Cotten and Dr. Irvin Rothrock did not attend the meeting and did not vote.
Thomas Van Flein, Schurig's attorney, said he didn't know about the meeting or the board's action to suspend his client's license.
State statute allows a medical board to immediately suspend a doctor's license without first giving him a hearing if the board rules that allowing him to continue working is a danger to public health.
Schurig's license will remain suspended until he undergoes evaluations and the board has a chance to review them
Compiled from staff and wire service reports.