State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, November 24, 2002

Fog blankets Juneau again

JUNEAU - Fog disrupted flights into Juneau on Friday and Saturday, the third time in about a month travelers have been stymied by weather.

Two Alaska Airlines flights made it out of Juneau on Friday and only one flight had lifted off as of 4:30 p.m. Saturday, according to airline spokesman Jack Evans. Juneau usually sees about 10 Alaska Airlines passenger flights a day, according to the carrier's winter schedule.

Alaska Airlines has reduced weather-related flight cancellations in Juneau by using advanced navigation equipment, but fog has frustrated operations this year, Evans said.

"The visibility is down beyond even what we can operate with the GPS equipment on the aircraft," he said. "Since that system was put in place, we've been able to get in 150 flights a year more than we were able to otherwise. This year instead of 10 cancellations, we have well over that."

The National Weather Service was forecasting partly cloudy skies with patchy fog this morning, with a 40 percent chance of rain tonight. Fog brought flight cancellations on Oct. 23 and 24 and from Oct. 28-31 in Juneau.

Prosecutors drop sign-burning case

ANCHORAGE - Prosecutors have dropped charges against a man who stood on a sidewalk last month and burned a Murkowski-for-governor sign.

Patrick Blomquist, 26, had been charged by police with criminally negligent burning, a misdemeanor that carries a jail term of up to a year and a fine of up to $5,000.

Heidi Peters, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, said the case was dropped for "discretionary reasons."

Blomquist filed a complaint with the Anchorage Police Department, saying that the officer who arrested him used unnecessary roughness and made an offensive remark. The department has been conducting a routine internal review, a spokesman said Wednesday.

The Alaska Civil Liberties Union also is investigating.

On Oct. 14, Blomquist stood on a sidewalk holding the small campaign sign as it burned. Someone called police, and an officer in plain clothes showed up in a patrol car. The officer forced Blomquist to the ground, twisting and cuffing his hands behind him, Blomquist said.

Blomquist said the district attorney's decision made him feel vindicated but that it only made the incident more troublesome.

"I'm not a police officer, and I can't say what's appropriate or not appropriate to do, but I know he crossed the line," Blomquist said.

Grant aids Alaska Native language

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Endangered Language Fund at Yale University has awarded a grant to a Russian researcher who is trying to help preserve a Native language spoken in Alaska and Siberia.

Siberian Yupik was suppressed in Siberia during Soviet days, but is still spoken by people on St. Lawrence Island in Alaska.

To foster travel between the two groups, Nikolai Vakhtin of the European University in St. Petersburg is developing a travel phrase book for Russian Yupiks.

Vakhtin will receive a $14,000 grant from the Endangered Language Fund for the project.

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