Saturday ferry stop added in Hoonah
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JUNEAU - The M/V Taku will add a stop in Hoonah when it departs from Juneau on Saturday night for its regularly scheduled southern run to Ketchikan and Prince Rupert, the state Transportation Department announced.
The Alaska Marine Highway System added the Hoonah stop for the Taku to fill in for the Allen Marine vessel St. Aquilina, which cancelled its scheduled run due to high seas and storm conditions.
The St. Aquilina has been filing in for the M/V LeConte, which is anticipated to be in the yard for maintenance until December. The St. Aquilina was originally scheduled to be in Hoonah on Friday.
The Taku will leave Juneau at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night, about an hour earlier than scheduled, and arrive at Hoonah at 1:30 a.m. before departing for Kake, Petersburg, Wrangell, Ketchikan and Prince Rupert. The trip will cause about a two-hour delay to the Taku's regular route.
The Taku is a mainline vessel that carries 370 passengers and room for 69 vehicles. The St. Aquilina can carry 149 passengers.
The AMHS will continue to contract with Allen Marine to fill in during the absence of the LeConte.
Customers who want to receive last minute schedule information are advised to call 465-3940. The AMHS website is www.ferryalaska.com.
Crews battle fire at UAF power plant
FAIRBANKS - A fire that broke out at the University of Alaska Fairbanks power plant drew emergency vehicles from around the city.
Crews were able to control the blaze without shutting down the plant Friday night.
One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and was treated at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and released.
University fire officials are investigating the blaze, which broke out inside the plant's metal wall. The fire smoldered in the insulation on 4th and 5th floors.
The fire was reported about 7 p.m. Friday, bringing crews from six different departments.
Firefighters dragged water hoses through the plant and cut through the wall to get at the fire.
Fire crews had the blaze under control by 8:30 p.m. and monitored hot spots for at least another hour with thermal imaging equipment.
The power plant - with a power generating capacity of 23 megawatts - uses two coal-fired and two oil-fired boilers to generate steam for electricity and heat. It was built in 1964 and has been continually upgraded.
Circle man sentenced in friend's death
FAIRBANKS - A Circle man has been sentenced to four years in prison in the death of a friend he ran over with his snowmobile.
Jack Boyle, 28, was sentenced Friday, almost six months after a jury convicted him of criminally negligent homicide for the death of Richard Crow Christmas Eve 2005.
Crow, who was lying on a slippery road that night, had alcohol and drugs in his system, the state medical examiner testified at Boyle's trial.
Crow, 42, died almost immediately after being struck by Boyle, who was going as fast as 50 mph on a snowmachine with multiple defects, including no brakes, bad steering and dim lights.
At his sentencing, Boyle apologized to Crow's mother.
"There's not a day that goes by that I'm not thinking about your son," Boyle said. "When I'm putting my own son to sleep, I think about what you go through."
Ruth Crow, who asked for the maximum punishment of 10 years, stared at the bench in front of her during Boyle's remarks.
Bad weather the night of Crow's death kept Alaska State Troopers from immediately responding to the scene at Circle, 160 miles northeast of Fairbanks at the end of the Steese Highway.
Sex offenders to take lie detector tests
FAIRBANKS - Convicted sex offenders in Fairbanks will have to take lie detector tests as a term of their parole or probation.
Plans are under way to expand a polygraph test pilot program started last spring in Anchorage, said Portia Parker, deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Corrections.
"We have to know what's going on in their heads in order to treat them better," Parker said Thursday in remarks before a local civic organization.
Studies have found lie detector tests to be an effective tool in monitoring and treating sex offenders, Parker said.
Parker said almost 40 other states already require rapists and pedophiles to undergo polygraph testing upon release from prison.
The practice has been challenged in court, but a federal appeals court upheld the use of polygraph testing on a convicted sex offender in May after a New York man sued saying it violated his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.
Results of polygraph tests are rarely admitted as evidence in court.
"This has nothing to do with prosecuting people," Parker said. "It has nothing to do with court. This is a treatment tool.
"It has a proven positive effect. It puts responsibility on the offender to change their behavior."
Between 100 and 120 sex offenders are released from prison in Alaska every year, Parker said.
She said the challenge is having a large enough pool of polygraph examiners trained to work with the offenders. The pilot program in Anchorage relies on a contractor who travels here from Washington state.
"We're not getting resistance from sex offenders to taking the polygraph, but they are being deceptive because they have been for years," Parker said.
The National Academy of Sciences reportedly rates the median accuracy of polygraph testing on parolees at nearly 90 percent, provided the examiner is properly trained.
Alaska tops the nation for its prevalence of sexual assault and sexual abuse of minors per capita, according to Parker.
Dillingham cab driver charged with murder
ANCHORAGE - A Dillingham cab driver was charged with the murder of a woman whose naked body was found hidden in some bushes.
Convicted sex offender Cress Carney, 43, was arrested this week on a charge that he picked up a fare, took her to a gravel pit and killed her. Carney is facing first-degree murder.
Natalia Timurphy, a 41-year-old Dillingham mother of five, was last seen getting into Carney's cab. According to the Dillingham Department of Public Safety, Carney told them he had sex with Timurphy before strangling her. Timurphy had been missing for more than three weeks before searchers found her decomposing body Sept. 28.
Carney was a cab driver for Nushagak Cab, one of several cab companies in the community of 2,500 in Bristol Bay. Police say that on Sept. 6, he picked up Timurphy outside a liquor store. Witnesses saw Timurphy get in the tan cab.
Shortly after her disappearance, Carney told police that he dropped her at a home.
But in a follow-up interview Wednesday, police said Carney told them he drove Timurphy to the gravel pit by the entrance to the Nerka subdivision outside town, where he said they had consensual sex in the cab.
According to court documents, Carney told police he wanted to leave but Timurphy didn't and threatened to "cry rape." It was then he strangled her, according to the complaint, and dragged her body into nearby bushes and tossed her clothes nearby. He then went back out on the street to finish his shift.
"The defendant stated he was scared of going to jail if Timurphy said he raped her," the charge says.
Carney has not been charged with rape. Police would not comment on whether they believe Timurphy was raped or not.