Northwest Digest

Posted: Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Accidents blamed on snowy morning

JUNEAU - With fresh snow falling on Juneau's streets Monday for the first time on a morning commute this season, Juneau Police responded to at least seven minor traffic accidents, department spokesman Capt. Tom Porter said.

No one was reported seriously injured, Porter said. He reported three people showing up at the Bartlett Regional Hospital emergency room, two of whom were taken by ambulance.

A woman had to be cut out of a vehicle that rolled before 7 a.m. on Egan Drive at the Sunny Point area, he said. Capital City Fire and Rescue crews reported needing about 45 minutes to remove the woman from her vehicle.

Porter said the woman, who was identified, "was not going fast." He said others had trouble negotiating the road at speeds below the speed limit. While four-wheel-drive vehicles may handle better in the snow, they can still have trouble stopping on slick streets, he said. In one Monday morning incident, a four-wheel-drive police vehicle slid into a car on Crow Hill Drive in the Douglas area, although it had its brakes on, Porter said.

Problems were reported on steeper roads, such as Crow Hill Drive and Cordova Street. He also cited the back of Mendenhall Loop Road as a problem. Two accidents were reported in the area of the University of Alaska Southeast.

Judge expedites Kensington Mine case

JUNEAU - Alaska District Judge James Singleton has agreed to a quick briefing schedule for the most significant legal issue in a Kensington Mine environmental lawsuit.

Singleton said in a court order last week that he will rule on the legal matter - a contested federal permit allowing the mine northwest of Juneau to dump millions of tons of tailings into Lower Slate Lake - at the earliest date permitted by his calendar.

The final briefing in the case is due on Dec. 19.

The environmental groups who filed the lawsuit against the mine's Army Corps of Engineers water permit asked Singleton to expedite the briefing schedule. The groups' attorneys said a quick ruling on the matter could eliminate their need to file an injunction to block construction at Lower Slate Lake.

The schedule calls for the plaintiffs, Juneau's Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Haines' Lynn Canal Conservation and the Sierra Club, to file their opening brief Nov. 10.

The federal brief is due Dec. 1 and the intervenors in the case, including Coeur Alaska, Goldbelt Corp. and the state, must turn in their response Dec. 8. The intervenors' brief is limited to arguments not made by the federal government, Singleton said in his order.

Sitka's 'Mother of God' painting on tour

ELLWOOD CITY, Pa. - Hundreds of Orthodox pilgrims are expected to visit a Lawrence County monastery Wednesday to view a painting that believers say has the power to heal.

The Sitka icon called "Mother of God" will be displayed at the Orthodox Monastery of the Transfiguration.

The 19th century painting, which depicts the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child with silver and gold halos, is credited to Russian artist Vladimir Borokovski.

The painting has been displayed at the Archangel Michael Cathedral in Sitka since the mid-1800s, but is now completing its first tour of North America. It will move to another site in North Canton, Ohio, after it is displayed at the Pennsylvania monastery.

Whitehorse man gets life for murder

WHITEHORSE, Yukon - A Whitehorse man who stabbed a taxi driver and then ran over him with the driver's van has received a life sentence for murder.

Michael Hamilton, 25, will have to serve at least 13 years for killing Brian Wheldon before he's eligible for parole, Yukon Supreme Court Justice Leigh Gower ruled.

Hamilton earlier pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the June 29, 2004, death along a remote section of Range Road.

"The most significant aggravating circumstances is Mr. Hamilton's reckless disregard for Mr. Wheldon's well-being in hitting him with a van after stabbing him, running him over at least once with the wheels (or a wheel) of the van," Gower said in delivering his 41-page decision over 90 minutes Friday.

"Then, moving the van again, while Mr. Wheldon was likely underneath. And finally, by accelerating the motor in a forward gear with enough force to cause the noticeable spray of gravel behind the rear passenger tire, while Mr. Wheldon was obviously pinned underneath the front of the van in the ditch," Gower said.

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