Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2003

Accident knocks out power near bridge

JUNEAU - Police are looking for information leading to the driver of a U-Haul moving truck who caused a five-hour power outage in the 1100 block of West Ninth Street Tuesday night.

Shortly before 9:30 p.m. Juneau police and Capital City Fire and Rescue personnel responded to the accident scene, where they learned that a truck had backed into a power pole, causing it to break.

Officers found the top section of the power pole on the roof of a West Ninth Street resident. Police reported that the truck found parked in the area had been driven under a guide wire supporting the pole. The truck snagged the wire and continued forward, causing the pole to break off just below the transformer.

Only one resident of the affected area was home at the time. Police reported that he was able to leave and was advised to stay away until repairs were made to the pole.

Alaska Electric Light and Power personnel made immediate temporary repairs to the pole, and power was restored at 2:22 a.m. Wednesday, police reported. The operator of the truck left the scene before police arrived. Officers believe no one was injured in the accident.

Skagway chief hired to head Juneau division

JUNEAU - Skagway Fire Chief Martin Beckner has been selected as the Capital City Fire and Rescue division chief over career firefighters.

City Manager Rod Swope said the selection committee was impressed enough with Beckner to choose him to fill one of the two positions created by a recent department reorganization. Swope noted Beckner was a career firefighter in Skagway, supervising an all-volunteer department.

"He has a good relationship with volunteers," Swope said, adding that the experience would be important in Juneau, which operates with a mix of career and volunteer firefighters.

The other division chief will be Paul Smith, a longtime Auke Bay volunteer. He will oversee volunteers.

Swope described Smith as energetic and enthusiastic, with a flexible work schedule that allows him to devote the time the department demands of him.

Both Beckner and Smith are scheduled to start their new jobs Jan. 5.

Juneau should begin advertising nationally for a new overall fire chief next week, Swope said. He has asked the volunteers and career firefighters to describe what they would like to see in the next fire chief to help define what the city will be looking for.

Michael Fenster has been serving as acting chief since Mike Doyle resigned from the department's top spot in November.

Swope said he expects it will take four or five months to hire a new chief.

Man convicted of murdering wife

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man has been found guilty of killing his wife in 1999.

A jury Tuesday acquitted Michael D. Bailey, 48, of first-degree murder but convicted him of second-degree murder, man-slaughter and evidence tampering in the death of Susan Bailey.

At sentencing, the manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide counts will merge with second-degree murder, and he will be sentenced only for the murder and tampering charges, said prosecutor John Novak.

Bailey, dressed in a gray business suit, shook his head and was visibly upset after the guilty verdicts were read. Assistant public defender Wally Tetlow told the Anchorage Daily News that he had no comment on the verdict.

Susan Bailey's family said it was relieved by the jury's decision.

Kathleen Hollett, Susan's sister-in-law, said outside the courtroom: "It was a tragic event. ... I just wish it never happened."

Trial begins in soldier beating case

FAIRBANKS - Jurors heard two versions of what happened last summer in a strip club parking lot that led to the severe injuries of a soldier.

Fellow Fort Wainwright soldiers Michael P. Annunziato and Jason M. Galvin are accused of first-degree assault in the beating of 34-year-old Monty Roy Haney on July 26 outside Reflections in south Fairbanks.

Lawyers for both sides said the incident started when Annunziato, 26, and Galvin, 23, who were with a larger group of men at the strip club, noticed a drunk and obnoxious Haney, a man they did not know.

Coast Guard may use surveillance aircraft

KODIAK - A type of military aircraft flying in the world's war zones may soon join the Coast Guard's inventory.

The Predator, an unmanned aerial vehicle, is used by the military for reconnaissance without exposing a pilot to enemy fire.

It has an endurance of 30 hours and can provide real-time video imagery day or night in all weather conditions.

Last month, the Coast Guard tested two RQ-1 Predators out of King Salmon for five days to see how they would function in Alaska's winter weather. Overall it was a success, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Troy Beshears, UAV platform manager in Washington, D.C.

"It was the first time they flew in that cold of weather," he told the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Temperatures fell to 30 during the test.

Businessmen sue over Fairbanks hotel flood

FAIRBANKS - An Anchorage businessman has filed a million-dollar lawsuit against the city of Fairbanks and its utility services provider over flooding of a hotel in that city two years ago.

Owner Michael L. Cusack and California resident Dan Aalfs, who had a security interest, are seeking compensation for flooding in the vacant Northern Lights Hotel, which stands across the street from the Rabinowitz Courthouse in downtown Fairbanks.

They claim in the lawsuit that workers with Golden Heart Utilities caused pipes to burst when they tried to shut off water on Oct. 28, 2001. Water gushed from the pipes for several hours following the incident, flooding the building and spilling onto First Avenue.

"The resulting damage was several million dollars," wrote Anchorage attorney Phillip Weidner in the lawsuit.

Cusack is the former owner of the Anchorage Aces, a professional hockey team, as well as a Northern Lights hotel in Anchorage. He did not return a call to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

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