Alaska News Nightly: September 24, 2012

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Coleman Barney Sentenced To 5 Years

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Federal judge John Bryan sentenced former Fairbanks Peacemaker’s militia member Coleman Barney in Anchorage today to five-year sentences for each of the two counts he was convicted of. The judge said the sentences will run concurrent and there will be credit given for time served. Barney has already been in jail for about a year and a half. Following his release from prison, he will be on probation for three additional years.

Judge Bryan was meticulous in going through the potential sentence enhancers, taking more than an hour and a half to allow the state and defense to argue the points before finally allowing Coleman Barney to address the court.

Mr. Barney started by saying he loved his family and he wanted to apologize for making poor decisions. He said he did feel remorse and he would do anything to go home to his five children and his wife. Judge Bryan asked him how he felt about the business with Schaffer Cox. Barney said he got involved in the hype, mentioning the Tea Party and that he was with a group of Christian men who were worried about protecting their families if the government collapsed. But he said when the militia talk started, he got caught up in it. He said he was embarrassed and if he could go home, there would never again be a problem with him. The judge said although Barney had obviously been a good family man and successful business owner, there came a time when he should have said, “This is not right, this is not what my church teaches.”

Barney’s attorney Tim Dooley says he believes his client is a good man who got caught up and didn’t know about the wild claims Schaffer Cox was making about the militia’s power until after he was arrested and heard recordings while in jail.

“He was completely unaware of the speeches by Schaffer Cox down in the states where he claimed to have 3,000 people and airplanes and doctors and machine guns. He didn’t know any of that. Including a speech at KJNP where Schaffer Cox said a lot of bizarre things while Coleman was outside of the KJNP radio station, running the security detail to make Schaffer feel better,” Dooley said.

Judge Bryan said he was tired of hearing the group called a militia, saying they were not regulated, well trained or organized as a militia would need to be. He said the case was not about freedom of speech but of violations of criminal laws.

Rachel Barney, Coleman’s wife sat with his parents in the courtroom. After the sentencing, she did not wish to talk on tape but said, “The government messed up, they lied and they should be disbarred.” She said she had thought her husband would be acquitted.

Schaffer Cox and co-defendants Lonnie and Karen Vernon are scheduled for sentencing in November.

Kenai River Flood Warning Extended Through Thursday

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai

Flood waters have begun to recede in Seward and points north, but the National Weather Service has extended its flood warning for the Kenai River until Thursday. Flooding along the Kenai has been reported in several areas and forced road closures and evacuations.

Seward, Mat-Su Flooding Slowly Receding

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

In Seward, the city emergency operations center is closing its doors Monday, although the center will reopen Tuesday morning.  Brenda Ballou, deputy city clerk for the city of Seward, says some residents are relying on local water taxis to get around.  Ballou says the city drinking water system remains intact.

Talkeetna residents plan to hold a community meeting Tuesday evening to determine what happens next after flooding swept the town last Friday.  The Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly meets tonight in emergency session to extend the disaster declaration that was issued on Sept. 20.

In the Mat- Su, all rivers are below flood stage except for the Skwentna, which is cresting, and officials are forecasting another two days before the Skwentna recedes.

Crews Work To Restore Railroad Service

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The Alaska Railroad is continuing flood repair work on damaged tracks north of Talkeetna. The recent floods have washed out a section of track south of Gold Creek at milepost 261 on the main line. Crews are working around the clock to repair the track and restore service north of Wasilla.

Legislators Focus On How Disabled, Elderly Residents Fared Southcentral Storms

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

A legislative meeting in Anchorage today focused attention on how the city’s most vulnerable residents fared in this month’s series of wind and rain storms. Anchorage Democratic Senator Bill Wielechowski called the meeting as chairman of the Senate State Affairs Committee to assess the lessons learned from the response to the damaging storms. But he came away with few answers on how to better serve disabled and elderly Alaskans.

Congress To Have Full Slate After November Election

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

Congress has recessed until after the November election. When it returns, it will have a full slate of legislation to pass: From a defense authorization to a farm bill to cyber security measures. Most of the attention, though, will be placed on looming tax increases.

Fire Island Powers Up

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

All 11 wind turbines on Fire Island are now generating power for Southcentral Alaska. Officials at Cook Inlet Region Incorporated say they’ve been testing the turbines and transmission lines for nearly a month now. And today it became official- all of them are feeding into the grid.

Tanana Adding New Biomass Systems

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The city of Tanana is looking forward to lower fuel bills. The city is adding new biomass systems enabling it to swap high priced oil for locally available wood.

Day Trip Gives YK Delta Residents Peek At Fort Knox Gold Mine

Sophie Evan, KYUK – Bethel

The Donlin Gold mining company, which wants to start an open pit gold mine near Crooked Creek in the middle Kuskokwim River area, sponsored a tour of the Fort Knox Gold Mine in Fairbanks.  The day trip allowed 30 stakeholders from the Y-K Delta a first-hand look at an open pit gold mine in operation.

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