Local and state Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Fog stalls air traffic in Juneau - again

JUNEAU - Fog grounded flights into and out of Juneau on Monday evening and this morning.

Only three of eight scheduled flights for Alaska Airlines were able to leave Juneau on Monday, and as of 10 a.m. today no flights had landed or left the airport, said airline spokesman Jack Walsh.

Juneau has seen an unusual amount of fog in the last week. Low-lying clouds forced the airline to cancel 11 flights last Wednesday and Thursday.

"We've had more flights that couldn't make it in in the last couple of weeks than would normally be canceled in a year, I would say," said Walsh.

Fog forms when moisture-laden air cools and condenses into ground-level clouds. The clouds sit at ground level until warmer temperatures cause them to evaporate or until winds blow them away.

The National Weather Service is predicting the fog will clear up soon after noon today.

"Right now the fog is trapped below drier air that is circulating above us," said Julia Ruthford, a meteorologist with the weather service. "We've got some higher-up easterly winds that will come down to the surface and mix out the fog this afternoon."

Company withdraws proposal to use trail at Brotherhood Bridge

JUNEAU - A proposal to allow commercial bike tours on a section of the Kaxdigoowu Heen Trail has been withdrawn from the city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee agenda tonight.

Cycle Alaska had asked to use about a half-mile of the 2-mile paved trail - from the Brotherhood Bridge parking lot to the Dimond Park spur bridge - for bike tours. Commercial groups don't use the trail currently.

The city Trails Working Group, which spent two years preparing a set of recommendations for commercial trail use in Juneau, didn't recommend Kaxdigoowu Heen for commercial use last year. At that time, the bridge from the trail to Dimond Park hadn't been finished. When the trail was developed, the Juneau Assembly prohibited commercial use from Montana Creek north.

Because not everyone on the Trails Working Group agrees about the trail, Kiefer said Monday she planned to recommend against the commercial bike tours. The group will review its recommendations again in 2004.

After discussions with Kiefer on Monday, Cycle Alaska co-owner Joyce Waldman said her company decided to pull its proposal.

"This particular trail really was not part of the trails worked on in the working group and they're not in a position to make a determination - that's a big reason why we're pulling it," she said. "We don't want to inflame things."

The parks committee meets at 6 p.m. today in Juneau Assembly chambers at City Hall. Plans for a new park in Auke Bay are on the agenda.

Mayor assigns members to committees

JUNEAU - With a new Juneau Assembly in place, Mayor Sally Smith made new committee assignments on Monday.

The mayor re-appointed Ken Koelsch as deputy mayor and Jim Powell as chairman of the Finance Committee. Dale Anderson will remain as the chairman of the Planning and Policy Committee, which deals with tourism issues.

Randy Wanamaker will be the chairman of the Lands Committee, and Jeannie Johnson will be the chairwoman of the Public Works and Facilities Committee. Marc Wheeler will take the helm of the Human Resources Committee, which deals with liquor license renewals, appointments to city boards and other issues.

All Assembly members serve on the Committee of the Whole and the Finance Committee. Smith hasn't named Assembly liaisons to the city's enterprise boards and other groups yet.

Wasilla woman sentenced in son's arson death

ANCHORAGE - Suzette Welton was sentenced to 99 years in prison Monday for a Wasilla house fire that killed her 14-year son, Samuel.

Welton, 39, was convicted in May of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and first-degree arson in a trial that lasted 7 weeks. The trial and Monday's sentencing took place in Palmer Superior Court.

Welton and two of her other children - Jeremiah, 16, and Bree, 6 - escaped the September 2000 fire, but Samuel died of smoke inhalation in an upstairs bedroom of the duplex.

Welton's defense attorneys had argued there was insufficient evidence to find Welton guilty. Welton, who will be eligible for parole in 33 years, is expected to appeal.

Husband shoots wife, tries to kill himself

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man shot and killed his wife early Monday and then shot himself in a failed suicide attempt.

Anchorage police have not released their names. Police said the shooting occurred at a Tesoro station on Spenard Road shortly before 5 a.m.

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