Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, November 11, 2003

JAMHI to open housing for homeless veteransP>

JUNEAU - The Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc. has been awarded more than $244,000 in federal grants to open a seven-bed transitional housing complex for homeless veterans.

"One of the spurring factors was that several veteran's organizations came to us and asked us to write the grant," said Pat Murphy, clinical director at JAMHI.

He said the grant proposal was written in conjunction with Gastineau Human Services, a social services agency in Juneau.

Murphy said the beds are needed because at least 75 to 100 veterans in Southeast are homeless. He noted that Alaska is one of three states that does not have a mental health program for homeless veterans.

"We have people come down in the middle of the winter with their beards frozen," he said.

He said the facility, which will be located downtown, will open sometime in January or February.

About $26,000 of the grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will be used to purchase a handicap van. The rest will be used to renovate the housing complex.

Murphy said those who live in the housing complex will have access to all the services that JAMHI provides, including clinical, psychiatric, nursing and case management services.

Taxi driver charged with sexual assault

JUNEAU - A taxi driver was arrested last week on a charge alleging first-degree sexual assault of a woman who had fallen asleep in his cab.

Darold Peters, 44, is accused of engaging in sexual activity with the woman without her consent on Oct. 19.

According to court records the woman reported taking a cab home from a bar because she had been drinking. She reportedly told police that she awoke to find the cab driver molesting her.

Court records show that police arrested Peters after concluding that he had been the driver of the cab the woman had ridden in.

Juneau District Magistrate John W. Sivertsen set Peters' bail at $5,000.

Road dedicated to Clam Gulch founder

KENAI - Each year, as many as 200,000 clam diggers, beachcombers, fishermen and sightseers use a winding, narrow gravel road to access the scenic beach at Clam Gulch.

Most of them don't have any idea that before Per Osmar came along, there was no road. Even more don't know that before Osmar came along, there wasn't even a Clam Gulch.

But at a special ceremony last week, the beach access road Osmar built by hand back in 1948 was renamed Per Osmar's Way in his honor. Now, anyone wishing to use the road, which is part of an Alaska state park, will know the name of the man who built it.

The idea to rename the road came about as a way to recognize Osmar, who is credited not only with building the road, but with naming the town itself. "Brother Tom" Patmor, Clam Gulch's unofficial mayor, said he figured that since the town owed its existence to Osmar, the least it could do was name its most famous road in his honor.

Minto dedicates new community hall

FAIRBANKS - Minto is keeping old traditions alive by holding a potlatch to dedicate the village's new 7,000-square-foot log community hall.

Minto's 200 residents and special guests gathered late in October to celebrate the completion and dedication of the hall located on the old potlatch site.

But it was happenstance not history that the $705,000 structure is located where it is, explained Jim Pohlman, who managed the project for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Minto is 90 miles northwest of Fairbanks.

The community hall's location was determined hastily last June, shortly after the contractor came on the job. Core samples were drilled on the original site, a small distance away, and the soil was found to be laced with permafrost.

What followed was a hectic week of looking for a new location that was acceptable to both the community and the contractor as well as fulfilling all the necessary state and federal regulations.

"It was kinda wild," recalled Pohlman.

Within six days, a new lease was worked out with the state to switch control from one site to another. A new survey and a core sampling were done, and it was determined that the new site was a good location.

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