State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, December 30, 2001

Businesswoman dies in Mexico

FAIRBANKS - Linda Lewis, a well-known Fairbanks businesswoman and volunteer, died while scuba diving in Cancun, Mexico, on Wednesday.

Lewis, 52, and her husband, Terrel, were just over a week into a three-week vacation when she died during a scuba diving lesson, her close friend Valerie Therrien said. So far the cause of Lewis' death is unknown.

Lewis was an emergency medical technician, a board member of the Fairbanks Rotary Club, and was involved in foreign student exchanges for many years.

Suspect in fatal crash surrenders

ANCHORAGE - A man wanted on suspicion of stealing a pickup truck and smashing into another truck earlier this week, killing a man, turned himself in to police Thursday.

Joel Ruby, 23, was taken to Alaska Native Medical Center early last Sunday after a collision that killed 51-year-old Edward Wong. Police had intended to arrest Ruby when he was discharged, but Ruby walked away from the hospital Wednesday morning.

Police spokesman Ron McGee said Ruby stayed Wednesday night with an acquaintance. "He got up this morning, saw the paper, and realized Joel was in trouble," McGee said. "He told him he couldn't stay there and he called the police."

Ruby left before officers arrived, but he eventually called police and arranged to meet them.

Police booked Ruby into Cook Inlet Pre-Trial Facility. He faces charges of manslaughter and vehicle theft.

Homer firm gets visitor center contract

HOMER - A Homer construction company has won the federal contract to build a headquarters and visitor center for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in Homer.

Jay-Brant Construction got the job with an $11.7 million construction bid, said Sheri Della Silva, a contracting officer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The $16 million total budget includes in construction money and about $3 million to design and build interpretive displays in the 38,000-square-foot facility.

The visitor center will be located on a bluff above Beluga Slough in Homer. The 60-acre site was purchased in the early 1990s for $1.1 million.

The facility will include space for the state and federal Kachemak Bay Research Reserve. Construction is to begin in May and should take two years to complete, Della Silva said.

The Alaska Maritime Refuge, created in 1980, protects 3,000 islands, including most of the Aleutian Islands and the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea.

Utility wants cost of additive added to bills

FAIRBANKS - Golden Valley Electric Association wants its customers to pay for an additive that helps reduce sulfur dioxide emissions when coal is burned at its Healy power plant.

The charge, expected to run 45 cents a month per customer, will be considered by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

The association has been using the additive at its Healy plant for more than a year due to stricter rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said John Grubich, the co-op's chief financial officer.

Golden Valley estimates the additive plus freight charges will cost $600,000 for 2002. That translates to about 45 cents a month per customer on average, Grubich said.

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