State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2001

Anchorage twins' robot takes prize

ANCHORAGE - Twin sisters who attend Anchorage's East High School have won $50,000 in scholarship money for inventing an ice-crawling robot, built from parts worth about $200.

"It's a robot that rescues people that fall through ice on frozen lakes," said Hanna Craig, 17, who developed and built the robot with her sister, Heather.

The Craigs won second place in the team division of the National Siemens Westinghouse Science and Technology Competition.

The Craigs' 4-foot-long, 23-pound robot is designed to cross ice and snow to deliver a lifeline to someone who has broken through thin ice or fallen into a glacial crevasse.

The tracked robot is tethered to and controlled by a rescuer who would pull the victim out. The robot has a video camera mounted on front.

The Craigs' parents - Carol Hult, a technical writer, and Paul Craig, a neuropsychologist - said their daughters have long been interested in working with tools and building things.

When still quite young, Paul Craig recalled, they said they wanted to make a robot that could go into a room, take a picture and retrieve an object. They made something out of a VCR motor, wires, switches and a disposable camera.

"It wasn't a great robot, and it looked a little goofy, but it did exactly what they said it would do," said Paul Craig.

The girls said they would like to get their new device patented and eventually put to use.

JDHS holds auction for activities

JUNEAU - Juneau-Douglas High School will hold an auction and international-themed dinner Saturday to benefit four school activities.

"All the money raised goes to support activities at the high school," JDHS Activities Director Sandi Wagner said. "It helps with travel; it helps them buy equipment."

This year's beneficiaries will be the volleyball and cross-country teams, and the world language and music departments.

The auction preview starts at 2 p.m. Saturday in the JDHS commons. There will be an ongoing silent auction, and an outcry auction at 6 p.m.

The international dinner, featuring dishes prepared by JDHS French, Spanish, Japanese and Russian classes, will be held at 5 p.m.

Tickets for the dinner are $7. There is no charge to attend the auction.

Last year's event raised $11,000 for school activities, Wagner said.

Port security plan under review

JUNEAU - The city is in the process of submitting its port security plan to the U.S. Coast Guard for a formal review, said city Port Director Joe Graham.

The city is adding additional details to its plan at the request of the Coast Guard and expects to have it approved by mid-January, Graham said Wednesday. The Coast Guard asked ports in Southeast Alaska to update security plans after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In an effort to maintain public access to the downtown dock, the city has proposed screening people who enter certain areas, Graham said. The size of the restricted areas would depend on the threat level, he said.

Kirby Day, director of shoreside operations for Princess Cruises and Tours, said his company is working to revise and update a security plan for the privately-owned Franklin Dock. The plan will be submitted to the Coast Guard, he said.

"There is no effort on the part of industry to try to get the city to close off the dock. We don't want that, either," he said.

Cruise lines also are required to submit separate vessel security plans to the Coast Guard.

Man charged with DWI after crash

JUNEAU - A man was arrested for drunken driving Wednesday night following a two-vehicle accident on Egan Drive. No one was injured in the crash.

Police Sgt. Joel Hinz said Brad Johnson, 43, was charged with felony drunken driving, and the misdemeanors of reckless driving and driving with a revoked license. Johnson was lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center pending arraignment.

A drunken driving charge is a felony when a person has two previous drunken driving convictions within 10 years. The felony charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Hinz said a 1990 Jeep Cherokee driven by a boy, 17, was headed outbound on Egan Drive when a 1983 Chevy pickup driven by Johnson tried to get onto Egan Drive from Sunny Point. Hinz said the pickup began fish-tailing and started to spin and struck the other vehicle.

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