Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, October 29, 2006

Three arrested in Douglas burglary

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JUNEAU - Police arrested two men and a juvenile after a botched convenience-store burglary in Douglas, officials said Saturday.

Gregory Nelson, 34, and Kristopher McKinley, 18, have each been charged with burglary and theft. In addition, Nelson was charged with criminal mischief. The juvenile, of whom police did not give the age or sex, was charged with burglary and theft.

At 1:40 a.m. Saturday, someone called the Juneau Police Department to report a burglary in progress at the Douglas Depot.

According to police, the group of three tried several times unsuccessfully to break the glass on the store's door. They finally got into the store by breaking a window.

Once inside, two of the three suspects allegedly stole three cartons and 69 loose packs of cigarettes. They also stole 17 boxes of cigars, police said. The other suspect stood outside as a lookout, according to a police report.

The three were located almost immediately after the burglary and arrested by officers. The juvenile was taken to Johnson Youth Center. The men were taken to Lemon Creek Correctional Center and held without bail.

Candidate who died on Election Day wins in coin toss for seat

JUNEAU - A coin toss made a dead woman the winner of a rural school board race Friday.

Incumbent Katherine Dunton and challenger Dona Highstone were tied after the Oct. 3 election in Adak, the same day Dunton died.

Even with Dunton's death, state law requires a tie vote to be settled by lot after an official recount.

Division of Elections Director Whitney Brewster flipped the coin to determine the winner Friday. Dona Highstone called heads, but the coin landed on tails. Dunton won the coin toss and the race.

Now, since the winner is dead, the school board must find a replacement for the three-year term.

Brewster said to everyone's recollection in the elections office, this has never happened before.

"This is definitely a new one for the division, and it's just, just ... I'm speechless, frankly," she said.

President declares disaster for August fire in Hooper Bay

ANCHORAGE - President Bush on Friday declared a major disaster exists in the state of Alaska after the August fire in Hooper Bay.

Bush ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area.

Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the fire.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide, officials said.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director R. David Paulison has named William M. Lokey as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

The agency said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

About 250 residents fled the massive fire that burned a 15-acre swath in early August. The blaze burned 35 structures and came within 300 feet from fuel tanks before being knocked down by residents and firefighters from around Alaska.

No one was injured but 12 homes were destroyed, initially leaving 65 people homeless.

Pogo mine operations are still suspended

FAIRBANKS - Buildings at the Pogo Mine have temporary power but mining remains shut down, according to operators.

A fire at the mine Oct. 19 knocked out electricity and telephone service at the site northeast of Delta Junction.

Portable generators have allowed workers to perform scheduled maintenance and construction work, said Karl Hanneman, the mine's manager of public and environmental affairs, but they have not resumed mining.

"Currently there is only limited work being done underground," he said.

The fire started when a contractor severed a buried electrical cable, causing a short in a substation next to the mine mill.

Pogo crews contained the fire before the mill sustained major damage, Hanneman said.

Another portable generator was to arrive at the mine Friday and should provide power to resume at least partial underground mining operations by Tuesday, Hanneman said.

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