State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2001

Two men arrested for murder of Anchorage woman

ANCHORAGE - Two men have been charged with murdering a woman who disappeared the same day she received a large check from a Native corporation.

Police charged Curtis Kragero, 36, and Antonio Garrison, 37, with first-degree murder in the death of Tawni Williams of Anchorage. Her body was found in a shallow grave in Wasilla in August.

Williams, 50, disappeared May 18 on the same day she received a $22,500 distribution from Cook Inlet Region Inc. The money was drained from Williams' bank account in the weeks following her disappearance. She was last seen with Garrison at a gas station.

Garrison is being held at the Cook Inlet jail for the murder last year of Anchorage used car dealer Paul Clinton. Kragero was arrested Tuesday night at his home in Anchorage.

Bank records show Williams withdrew $13,500 from automatic teller machines May 18. Michelle Wilcots, one of Williams' friends, said she saw Williams give her bank card and personal identification number to Garrison a couple of months before she disappeared.

Garrison has said he did not hurt Williams or Clinton.

Salmon found in Petaluma, 2,000 miles from home

PETALUMA, Calif. - A chum salmon that normally makes its home in Alaska has turned up in Adobe Creek near Petaluma, trying to lay its eggs along with chinook salmon.

Hatchery manager Jerry Ayers said it is the farthest south he's ever heard of a chum salmon. "It's not impossible," he said. "It's definitely lost."

The chum salmon in Petaluma was identified Tuesday by the United Anglers group at Casa Grande High School. The students spent Monday rescuing chinook salmon trapped in tiny creeks and trying to get them to spawn in the school hatchery, and Tuesday observing salmon spawning in the students' restored stream beds of a nearby creek, wildlife teacher Tom Furrer said.

Furrer called the 2-foot-long, 8-pound chum salmon "an absolute fluke."

"This will set people on their ears," he said. "They won't believe it."

Alaska Rep. unhappy with highway fund changes

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's U.S. Rep. Don Young and several House Transportation Committee members are criticizing a spending bill approved last week.

Young says the bill will take millions of dollars away from state highway departments to fund pet projects of a few individual lawmakers.

"In an unprecedented move, the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee cut each state's highway formula funds," Young and the others wrote in a letter to House members. "The (spending bill) cuts a total of $423 million from the states' highway formula to enable the appropriators to fund more project earmarks for the select few."

Alaska, though, is one of the select few. The bill costs Alaska $5 million in formula funds but also contains some $38 million specifically for Alaska highway projects, thanks to the earmarks of Sen. Ted Stevens, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Even though Ala ka gets more, Young spokesman Steve Hansen said the congressman is unhappy with the process.

"If you start messing with the formula, you don't know what you're going to get," Hansen said, adding that Alaska may not always have a high-ranking appropriator like Stevens on its side.

Young wants Congress to stick to the spending formula his committee wrote in 1998, under its previous chairman.

Alaska predicts improved sockeye run

KENAI - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says a better sockeye run is due in 2002.

Fish and Game predicts there will be a return of 3.7 million sockeye to the upper Cook Inlet in 2002 with an expected harvest of 2.2 million. The number is up from this year's 2.1 million and the 1.5 million of two years ago.

"There will be a slight improvement," said research project leader Mark Willette.

The return to the Kenai River is expected to be 1.7 million, with 787,000 returning to the Kasilof River, 451,000 to the Susitna River, 141,000 to Crescent River and 95,000 to Fish Creek.

Willette said the 2002 forecast is based upon numbers of smolt monitored between 1996 through 2000.

Youth shelter worker charged with abuse

FAIRBANKS - A man who worked at a Fairbanks emergency youth shelter has been indicted on charges he had sex with a 15-year-old girl staying at the shelter in October.

Julian Brookes, 34, was indicted Wednesday on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, said Fairbanks police Detective Aaron Ring. Ring said the allegations surfaced after the girl moved out of state to stay with relatives.

Brookes was arrested without incident at his home Wednesday. He is being held at Fairbanks Correctional Center in lieu of $100,000 bail.

Brookes had been a part-time employee at Family Focus, a shelter for homeless, runaway and abandoned youth for about a year, according to Annie Hopper, the shelter's program director. The shelter is operated by the Fairbanks Native Association.

Annette Freiburger, executive director of the association, said an extensive background check of Brookes revealed no prior record.

Compiled from wire reports.



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