State Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Juneau cat's TV debut delayed

JUNEAU - A TV documentary about the chance return of a long-lost Juneau cat will air in February, not this month as earlier announced.

The Lifetime Network filmed Judy Nelson and her cat Sugar last July for its "Beyond Chance" program, which tells stories of unusual coincidences. Nelson recovered her runaway cat after someone who happened to give her a ride home spotted a photo posted on her wall and recognized it as the stray they had been feeding for more than a year.

Lifetime originally scheduled the segment on Nelson and her cat for December. But she recently found out it will air Feb. 23. Series producers said it could be delayed further, depending on the timeliness of other segments. "Beyond Chance," hosted by musician Melissa Etheridge, airs Saturdays at 10 p.m. on cable Channel 28 in Juneau.

Woman removed from Alaska Airlines flight to Juneau

KETCHIKAN - A woman was removed from an Alaska Airlines plane after allegedly causing a disturbance on a flight to Juneau, airline officials said.

The woman, who was not identified, was taken off the airplane by two police officers but was not arrested, said officials at the Ketchikan International Airport. The incident happened Dec. 3 as Flight 67 was preparing to leave Ketchikan for Juneau.

Alaska Airlines spokesman Jack Evans said the woman was behaving strangely and caused other passengers to become uneasy. Don Kubley, who was on the flight, told the Ketchikan Daily News that the middle-aged woman grabbed a bag from the overhead compartment and ran down an aisle as the plane was preparing to depart. Kubley said the woman seemed agitated on the flight from Seattle.

After the incident, the plane returned to the gate and the woman was removed. The flight was delayed by about 30 minutes, the airline said.

BP plant to use fuel cells

KENAI - BP's gas-to-liquids plant in Nikiski will be powered by fuel cell technology by mid-2003, company officials said.

The GTL plant, where natural gas will be transformed into liquid fuel, is scheduled to begin operating by March. BP will install a Siemens Westinghouse "solid oxide fuel cell" unit that will convert low-pressure natural gas directly into electricity through a chemical reaction similar to what is used in a battery.

The fuel cell will produce direct current electricity and convert it to alternating current, what's commonly found in household power outlets.

GTL engineering manager Steve Fortune said the technology designed around the unit is more environmentally sound.

"The fuel cell is far more efficient," Fortune said. "It produces far more power per gallon of diesel and produces less emissions."

The project is expected to cost $6.5 million and will operate at the GTL plant for two years.

Juneau man named deputy commissioner of department

JUNEAU - Gov. Tony Knowles recently named Juneau resident Elmer Lindstrom deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

An eight-year veteran of HSS, Lindstrom fills a vacancy left when Jay Livey was promoted to commissioner.

"With his years of experience in the Department of Health and Social Services, Elmer Lindstrom thoroughly understands the department's goals and programs, and he will be able to step in immediately as deputy commissioner," Knowles said.

Lindstrom holds a degree in public administration from Western Washington University. He began working for the state in 1979 as an accounting technician. He also served as staff to the House Finance Committee for six years.

Aurora researcher honored

FAIRBANKS - The director of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is being honored for his work in the study of the aurora borealis, the sun and the Earth's magnetosphere.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has made Syun-Ichi Akasofu a fellow of the association.

Akasofu, 71, became director of the International Arctic Research Center in 1999. Before that, he was director of UAF's Geophysical Institute for 13 years.

Akasofu came to Alaska from Japan in 1958 to study space physics. His greatest discovery in aurora research has been his identification of intense activity called a substorm within the aurora display.

Williams executive dead at 58

TULSA, Okla. Cuba Wadlington Jr., president and chief executive officer of Williams' gas pipeline division and executive vice president of Williams, which is active in Alaska, died Sunday of complications related to cancer. He was 58.

From 1995-99, Wadlington served as senior vice president and general manager of Williams' Trans-co natural gas pipeline system. From 1988-95, Wadlington served as senior vice president and general manager of Williams Western Pipeline Company, executive vice president of Kern River Gas Transmission Company and director of Northwest Pipeline Corporation and Williams Western Pipeline, all affiliates or subsidiaries of Williams.

Wadlington had worked on assignment in Chile, Columbia and Argentina.

In May, he gave a speech in Anchorage to a meeting of the Alaska Highway Natural Gas Policy Council in which he offered advice on building a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48.

Wadlington was vice president of planning and corporate development for Northwest Pipeline from 1984-88. The Kern River pipeline was conceived and planned while he served in this position. The $1 billion Kern River system was the longest pipeline built in the 1990s and the first interstate pipeline built to California.

He is survived by his wife, Ann, in Tulsa; two children; and three grandchildren.

Subsistence board mulls over several fishery proposals

ANCHORAGE - The Federal Subsistence Board opened three days of meetings today to consider a number of proposals dealing with fishery issues.

Among the most closely watched proposals is one that would establish a subsistence fishery for federal waters on the Kenai Peninsula.

Another proposal would allow a federal subsistence fishery on the Copper River, with fish wheels and larger harvest limits, alongside Chitina dipnetters following state rules.

A third measure asks the board to stop salmon sportfishing in Redoubt Bay, near Sitka, in marine waters now controlled by the state.

The meeting, which runs through Thursday at the Egan Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, is the second fisheries meeting since the federal government took control of fishing on federal waters two years ago.

Diesel fuel spilled in Deering

DEERING - About 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled Monday in the northwest Alaska village of Deering.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation says the spill occurred when a tank was ruptured by the forks of a loader. The fuel spilled onto a road leading from the village tank farm to the power plant, operated by Itnatchiaq Electric.

Officials say about 500 gallons of fuel pooled in a low area in front of a house.

Kotzebue Electric was assisting by sending equipment and a DEC representative was headed to Deering to oversee the cleanup effort.

Wasilla man pleads no contest to sex abuse

FAIRBANKS - A Wasilla man pleaded no contest Monday to a charge he fondled a 12-year-old girl while their two families were at the Tanana Valley State Fair in August.

Assistant District Attorney Scott Mattern said Kenneth Griffeth's family and the girl's family were both vendors at the Fairbanks fair.

The incident reportedly occurred the night of Aug. 6, after the girl went to sleep in a camper. Prosecutors say Griffeth fondled the girl.

Griffeth, 33, was indicted in October on one count each of first- and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. He pleaded no contest to the second-degree charge, and the first-degree charge was dropped.

Superior Court Judge Mary Greene said Griffeth could face a maximum of 10 years in prison because he has a prior felony conviction. He would also have to register as a sex offender for 15 years. Sentencing tentatively is scheduled for January.

Man arrested for alleged sexual assault

ANCHORAGE - Police arrested an Anchorage man Saturday on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman he had met at a Spenard dance club.

Leroy Stewart asked a 32-year-old woman for a ride home as they left Chilkoot Charlie's early Saturday, police said.

The woman told police she drove Stewart, 44, to his apartment and asked to use his bathroom. Stewart is accused of pinning her to the floor after she came out of the bathroom and assaulting her sexually.

The woman called police about 5:30 a.m. after she was able to leave the apartment. Officers arrested Stewart without incident Saturday evening at his residence.

He has been charged with kidnapping and two counts of second-degree sexual assault and is being held at Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility in lieu of $15,000 bail.

Anchorage dentist has license suspended

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska State Board of Dental Examiners has suspended Dr. Leeland Cho's dental license after an expert witness said Cho's practice is hazardous to his patients.

Cho has said he will challenge the board's Dec. 7 action. A hearing is scheduled for Friday.

Cho began practicing in Alaska in 1991. The Division of Occupational Licensing started investigating Cho in 1998 after receiving complaints from patients and other dentists.

The division flew Dr. John Mitchem, professor emeritus at the Oregon Health Sciences University, to Alaska last fall to review Cho's dental cases.

Mitchem concluded Cho was misdiagnosing need for treatment, putting patients through unnecessary trauma and pain, and in some cases endangering their health. Cho also repeatedly showed he lacked treatment skills and didn't know when to refer patients to other professionals, according to state documents.

Mitchem said some patients lost teeth unnecessarily. He recommended Cho lose his license.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.

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