Northwest Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Sunday, December 19, 2004

Yukon airline suspends Juneau service

JUNEAU - Air North won't be flying between Juneau and Whitehorse, at least until next year, according to Juneau's airport manager.

"We're certainly not happy about this," Allan Heese said. "But we're glad to hear they plan to return."

Whitehorse, Yukon-based Air North provided the only regularly scheduled international service at Juneau International Airport.

Last week, the Canadian Broadcasting Co. reported that company President Joe Sparling said the Juneau flights would be canceled until June because of a decline in passengers. He also pointed to an increase in airport fees.

Messages left for Sparling at Air North offices in Whitehorse and Fairbanks were not returned Friday.

Heese said that since July 1, Air North has faced an additional fee of $4 per customer. The fee is charged for all passengers on scheduled and chartered international arrivals. The fee was imposed to offset the expense of officials from the U.S. Customs and Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Two men accused of home-invasion assault

JUNEAU - Two men accused of assaulting a Mendenhall Valley man after breaking into his residence early Friday allegedly had words with the man downtown earlier in the night.

Timothy Sanders and Ri Dong Kuang, both 31, appeared in Juneau District Court on Friday afternoon on felony first-degree burglary charges and misdemeanor fourth-degree assault charges.

Police reported they arrested Sanders and Kuang after a 26-year-old Valley man reported at 12:25 a.m. Friday that two men forced their way into his home and assaulted him.

The man described the assailants, and police located Sanders and Kuang as suspects a short time later in the parking lot of a local convenience store. The two were lodged at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.

Police Lt. Walt Boman told the Empire it did not appear to be a random home-invasion crime.

Assistant District Attorney Jack Schmidt told the judge that the investigation concluded that Sanders and Kuang had words with the alleged victim at a downtown bar earlier in the evening, before they called him and made threats. Later they forced their way into the home and assaulted him.

Magistrate John Sivertsen Jr. set bail at $10,000 for Kuang and $25,000 for Sanders.

Schmidt told Sivertsen that a 1992 burglary conviction for Sanders justified a higher bail. First-degree burglary carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Vote recount results in no changes

ANCHORAGE - A recount of Alaska's U.S. Senate race has produced no significant change in the vote totals, Division of Elections officials said.

The recount, requested and paid for by a group called Alaskans for Fair Elections, involved re-scanning 310,000 Accu-Vote ballots and counting by hand ballots from 47 precincts. The recount began Monday and was completed on Friday.

"The hand count results confirmed that the Accu-Vote machines used to count ballots are accurate," said Laura Glaiser, director of the Division of Elections.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski beat Democrat Tony Knowles by more than 9,500 votes, or 3 percentage points, in last month's election.

The group that requested the recount was questioning the accuracy of the state's Accu-Vote machines, saying there was a disparity between the final outcome and the results of exit polls conducted on Election Day.

Alaskans for Fair Elections paid $10,000 to conduct the recount and had six to eight observers on hand throughout the week during the process, chairman Joe Sonneman of Juneau said.

The Division of Elections hired more than 60 people for the recount and counted all the ballots cast, along with absentee and questioned ballots. Division officials also reviewed the ballots that had been rejected.

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