Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Snow not expected to cancel school

JUNEAU - Six inches of snow was forecast to cover Juneau, but schools Superintendent Peggy Cowan said Monday night she expected district campuses to be running on regular schedules this morning.

If she decided otherwise she planned to contact Juneau media outlets by 6 a.m. She said she would consult with the bus contractor, district maintenance staff and city streets officials about the safety of the roads and walkways.

Any snowfall is expected to be gone by the end of the day, according to the National Weather Service forecast. An afternoon high of 39 degrees was expected.

Pair charged with assault at hotel

JUNEAU - Two men appeared in a Juneau courtroom Monday, accused of assaulting a 60-year-old disabled man in his hotel room, along with a man who came to his aid.

Police arrested 33-year-old Brian Cassalery and 31-year-old Norval Nelson III after responding to a call at 1:41 a.m. from the Breakwater Inn in the downtown harbor area. The two appeared before Juneau District Judge Keith Levy about 12 hours later on felony charges of first-degree burglary and third-degree assault, as well as misdemeanor fourth-degree assault.

Juneau District Attorney Patrick Gullufsen said the two men were accused of breaking into the victim's room and assaulting him after pounding on his door. He said the older man's disability gave him little use of his arms to defend himself.

A 39-year-old man in the next room heard calls for help and came to the older man's aid, Gullufsen said. He allegedly was hit in the face with the leg of a camera tripod and was bleeding from the mouth when police arrived.

Gullufsen said he didn't know he didn't know what led to the incident.

Attorney Louis Menendez, representing Nelson, told Levy the fight was a continuation of an earlier bar fight. He pointed to the defendants' swollen faces, and said their hands weren't damaged as if from fighting.

"We believe the charges were not properly levied," Menendez said.

Levy set bail at $20,000 for Nelson and $25,000 for Cassalery.

Police Capt. Tom Porter said no one from the incident was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital.

Croft gives up committee seat

JUNEAU - State Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, will give up his position on the powerful House Finance Committee to focus on his campaign for governor in 2006.

House Democrats chose Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, to replace Croft on the committee.

Croft held his seat on the committee for five years and was an active and vocal member for the Democratic minority on the panel, through which all spending bills must pass before they reach the House floor.

"I take my obligations to the other committee members, my caucus and all Alaskans seriously, and don't feel I can do the work the job requires and still campaign effectively for governor," Croft said in a news release.

Croft and fellow Anchorage Democrat Rep. Ethan Berkowitz are both running for governor in the November 2006 election.

Berkowitz said he plans to keep his position as House Minority Leader when the Legislature goes into session in January.

The only Republican so far to announce her plans to run is Sarah Palin of Wasilla.

Judge OKs review of mine permits

JUNEAU - A federal judge agreed Monday to send back Kensington Mine permit decisions challenged in a federal lawsuit to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an internal review of the two permits.

The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, the Sierra Club and Lynn Canal Conservation sued in September to block the Corps of Engineers' permits for the mine. The major complaint in the case involves a permit that allows the mine to dump its tailings, or rock waste, in Lower Slate Lake.

The Corps of Engineers' attorneys last week asked U.S. District Judge James Singleton for a voluntary remand of the permits. The Corps' attorneys said the agency intends to suspend the permits while it conducts an internal review.

In their court motion, Corps attorneys said the internal review could resolve the major issues involved in the lawsuit.

Boat sinks off Afognak Island

KODIAK - Two men aboard a 56-foot landing craft that sank in the Gulf of Alaska had to be treated for hypothermia, but were otherwise safe.

The Kodiak-based vessel Hustler sank Saturday three miles south of Izhut Bay near Afognak Island. The men, Samuel Cole and Tom Keegan, put out a distress call when the ship began taking on water.

A Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak found the two men floating on debris. They were taken to a hospital in Kodiak for treatment.

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