Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Assembly plans for terrorism response

JUNEAU - The city Assembly adopted an ordinance Monday to implement a metropolitan medical response system in Southeast Alaska to respond to a mass casualty terrorist incident.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is funding the two-year project with a $600,000 grant.

The funds will be used for planning, travel and training within Southeast Alaska, equipment and pharmaceutical purchases and exercises.

The system will address each participating jurisdiction's capacity to handle mass casualty incidents in a manner that promotes standardization of planning, training and operations.

Young Hoonah car thief gets five-day sentence

JUNEAU - An 18-year-old Hoonah woman convicted of stealing a car in September has been ordered to maintain a B average in school.

Heather Brown, a Hoonah High School student, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor second-degree vehicle theft and drunken driving. She was charged with felony first-degree vehicle theft after being stopped by Hoonah police Lt. William Mills in the early hours of Sept. 14.

"I've known Heather for quite a while," Mills said. He knew the car she was driving didn't belong to her and she appeared to be intoxicated, he added.

Hoonah, a community of less than 900 on the northern coast of Chichagof Island, is about 40 miles west of Juneau.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins sentenced Brown to five days in jail on the drunken driving charge - 90 days with 85 days suspended. She also fined Brown $500 - $1,500 with $1,000 suspended - revoked her driver's license for 90 days and placed her on probation for one year.

For the vehicle theft, Collins ordered Brown to maintain a B average in school and placed her on probation for a year. Conditions include 80 hours of community service under the direction of the police department, alcohol counseling and a letter of apology to the man who owns the car she stole.

Mills said the car was returned undamaged. Brown told him she took the car from the harbor area, where the keys were left in the ignition, he said.

Brown was limited in her options of where she could take the car, since there are no roads leading off the island, Mills said.

Cruise passenger's sex crimes plea postponed

JUNEAU - A cruise ship passenger accused of sexually molesting a 15-year-old boy in August will have to wait until Wednesday for a chance to return home.

John T. Johnson, 61, of Pacific, Wash., was indicted by a Ketchikan grand jury on two counts of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, one count of attempted first-degree sexual assault and one count of attempted second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

He went before Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins Monday with an agreement to plead guilty to felony indecent exposure. Under the agreement, all but 100 days of the sentence would be suspended.

One condition of probation requires Johnson live in Washington. The credit for the time served in custody since his arrest in Skagway on Aug. 25 would allow him to return home after sentencing.

But Collins said she could not explain Johnson's requirements to register as a sex offender in Washington. She said she needs to be able to advise the defendant what those will be.

"I'm not going to play fast and loose with a change of plea in a felony case," she said, noting she was handed the agreement when she came into court.

Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner said he would research the information and have her questions answered today.

Collins rescheduled Johnson's hearing for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The charges stemmed from alleged actions on Aug. 25 aboard the Star Princess as it sailed through Stephens Passage.

Fire department: Vent system blamed in deaths

ANCHORAGE - A malfunctioning natural-gas furnace ventilation system is being blamed for the carbon monoxide poisoning of four members of a family found dead inside their home.

The Anchorage Fire Department investigation was completed Monday.

"If they'd had a properly working carbon monoxide detector, it would have alerted them to the problem," said Tom Kempton, a department spokesman.

The bodies of David Arts, 42, his son, Willem, 3, and two daughters - Ann Marie, 8, and Taylor, 11 - were found inside their home Saturday in Anchorage's Hillside section.

The children's mother, Rita Arts, 33, was found unconscious and taken to Alaska Regional Hospital, where she remained Monday. Details on her condition were not released.

Initial carbon monoxide readings at the Artses' home came back at 715 parts per million, Kempton said. Levels of 150 to 200 ppm are sufficient to kill, according to a Consumer Product Safety Commission publication.

Shipwreck fan touts tourism possibilities

KODIAK - Disasters from Kodiak's past could turn into blessings for its future, according to a maritime lawyer and shipwreck diving enthusiast.

"You guys have a great resource in the maritime history of this island," Peter Hess told an audience at Kodiak College on Sunday.

About 40 people attended the lecture by Hess, of Wilmington, Del., sponsored in part by the Kodiak Maritime Museum.

Audience members heard stories of silver, gold and jewels salvaged in recent years from wrecks dating to the days of the Spanish galleons. Hess recalled his excitement at seeing real treasure chests bursting with pieces of eight.

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