Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, December 08, 2003

One dead, two injured in Anchorage shooting

ANCHORAGE - A 23-year-old man was killed and two others were injured in an early morning shooting in Anchorage Saturday, police said.

An altercation led to an exchange of gunfire at a home at 3060 Lore Road about 1:30 a.m., police said. Vance C. Robertson died in the shooting.

The dead man's brother, 20-year-old Joel D. Robertson, was being treated at a local hospital for a gunshot wound, police said.

Another man, 24-year-old Jose McPherson Jr., also was shot. He was treated at a hospital and released.

The death is the 15th homicide this year in Anchorage.

Woman caught with gun in luggage at airport

FAIRBANKS - A 41-year-old woman is accused of carrying a gun in her luggage at Fairbanks International Airport, airport security officials said.

Tracy A. Terry of Fairbanks told airport police she had forgotten the .25-caliber pistol was in her carry-on bag when she went through the screening Nov. 14, according to a criminal complaint written by airport police.

Terry was issued a summons last week to appear in state court. She is charged with a misdemeanor offense that carries a sentence of up to 90 days in jail and a $25,000 fine.

Terry also is accused of violating an Alaska Administrative code that prohibits unauthorized firearms at the Anchorage and Fairbanks international airports. Terry has declined to comment about the incident.

Kim Ellard, assistant federal security director at the Fairbanks airport, said he could recall only one other instance where a firearm was found in carry-on luggage.

Four dead of carbon monoxide poisoning

ANCHORAGE - Four members of an Anchorage family were found dead inside their home Saturday afternoon, the apparent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, police said.

The bodies of David Arts, 42, his son, Willem, 3, and two daughters - Ann Marie, 8, and Taylor, 11 - were found inside their home in Anchorage's Hillside section. The children's mother, Rita Arts, 33, was found unconscious and taken to Alaska Regional Hospital.

Dispatchers said a friend discovered the bodies when she went to check on the family after they missed several appointments. The friend called police shortly after 12:30 p.m. from the home at 8100 Robert Drive.

"It was so sad to hear about that call," said dispatch supervisor Linda Rodriguez.

Stevens seeking GAO audit of tribal spending

FAIRBANKS - Sen. Ted Stevens is asking for a General Accounting Office review of how federal dollars are spent on Rural Alaska programs.

Stevens, a Republican from Alaska, inserted an amendment in a spending bill before Congress to order the GAO to examine federal spending on such programs and include "any data demonstrating the performance of each program."

In recent years, Stevens has complained about the proliferation of Alaska Native tribes - some of which number as few as 25 people - and has questioned federal funding they receive. Alaska has more than 200 federally recognized tribes.

Earlier this year, Stevens proposed giving the state millions in tribal justice grants bound for Native courts and law enforcement so it could fund village public safety officers and rural magistrates.

After some Native representatives criticized the tribal justice amendment and Stevens' comments about it, the senator backed away from the proposal.

His latest proposal will focus on Native housing authorities, many of which are operated by tribal entities. That's an area that has also drawn criticism from Stevens.

DEC to oversee coal bed methane drilling

ANCHORAGE - State environmental health officials say they have the authority to regulate exploration by Alaska's developing coal bed methane industry, reversing a previous position.

An official for the state Department of Environmental Conservation acknowledged the agency "waffled a little bit" on the issue but has since demanded waste disposal records from Evergreen Resources (Alaska) Corp.

As a result, the DEC discovered that drilling waste dumped last summer contains elevated, but not dangerous, levels of heavy metals and salt.

That revelation will factor into new state rules to protect water when operators dump drilling wastes as they continue their exploration work. Evergreen's decision to bury drilling mud last summer - under an oral agreement with the state - won't happen again without more state oversight, officials said.

"It's not worth digging up, but it probably isn't the way it should be disposed in the future," said Kristin Ryan, chief of the state's environmental health division.

From now on, Ryan said, the state probably will require operators to reinject wastewater thousands of feet below drinking water - as Evergreen has done on its own - and also submit tests before it dumps solid wastes.

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