Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, December 19, 2003

Former state rep from 1976-78 dead at 56

JUNEAU - Alaska flags are being lowered this weekend in member of former state Rep. Bill Akers, who represented the Lower Yukon from 1976 to 1978. Akers died Monday. He was 56.

Akers, of Emmonak, was a fisherman and fish processor on the Lower Yukon. He is survived by four children and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage. Akers will be buried at the fish camp at Chuloonawick.

Man agrees to 15 years in sexual assault plea

JUNEAU - A 45-year-old Juneau man changed his plea to guilty for an August sexual assault in a deal that will send him to prison for 15 years.

John R. Tanner originally was charged with five counts of first-degree sexual assault, all alleged against the same woman on Aug. 16. Court records show the victim had a protective order against Tanner in the past.

Tanner agreed to plead guilty Thursday to the second count in the indictment and to a prison sentence of 20 years with five years suspended.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins scheduled sentencing for Jan. 28. She told Tanner the crime normally carries a presumptive sentence of eight years if there are no "aggravating factors" - circumstances defined by law that make it more serious in the eyes of the court.

Assistant District Attorney Richard Svobodny called the agreement "lenient."

The maximum sentence for a single count of first-degree sexual assault is 30 years under Alaska law.

Collins ordered Tanner to be held without bail until his sentencing hearing.

Power outage reported in Auke Bay area

JUNEAU - Electricity was out for about 50 minutes Thursday afternoon in the area of DeHart's Auke Bay Store and further out on Glacier Highway after a tree fell on a power line, according to Alaska Electric Light and Power reports.

Gayle Wood, AEL&P office manager in Juneau, said the outage lasted from about 3:50 to 4:40 p.m., after a tree fell on a line at about milepost 16 on Glacier Highway.

After power was restored Thursday afternoon, AEL&P crews responded to a transformer sparking in the area of milepost 17, Wood said.

Police and troopers increasing holiday patrols

JUNEAU - A few more police and state troopers will work to see Juneau's streets are less naughty and more nice for the rest of the holiday season.

"Our goal is to never arrest anybody for driving under the influence," Juneau Police Lt. Walt Boman said. Ideally, he would like to see all drivers alcohol-free.

Meanwhile, from today through Jan. 4, police and troopers will be looking to make drinking and driving to be harder to get away with.

Alaska State Trooper Sgt. David Tracy said troopers will be operating in Juneau with an extra five-hour evening traffic enforcement shift today, Saturday and Sunday, as well as New Year's Eve through Jan. 4.

Next weekend, for the Christmas holiday, troopers in Southeast will put extra attention on Ketchikan, Tracy said.

Cindy Cashen, local director for Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, praised the high-visibility effort to increase safety on Juneau's streets.

"The greatest risk that children face this holiday season is being unbuckled in a crash," she said, adding there will "likely be more drunk drivers on the road than ever."

Boman said a state grant will pay for police overtime, between one and two officers each day. Police will give special attention to New Year's Eve and the weekends, he added.

Mat-Su manager urges transportation corridor

KENAI - The manager of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough urged government leaders on the Kenai Peninsula to get on board with a Southcentral regional transportation authority.

John Duffy said the authority could create a new transportation corridor stretching from the Mat-Su Borough to Homer.

The corridor could include a bridge between Anchorage and Mat-Su, the extension of the Kenai Spur Highway to the northern tip of the peninsula and the use of high-speed ferries.

The first step, developing the high-speed ferry, already has been taken, Duffy told the Kenai Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.

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