Police officers to be lauded: Soldotna to commend response to CPH shooting

Posted: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Four Soldotna police officers are scheduled to receive commendations from the city at this evening's city council meeting for their response to the shooting at Central Peninsula Hospital the day before Thanksgiving.

Commendations of Valor are to be presented to senior Officer Johnny Whitehead, Sgt. Robb Quelland and Officer Tony Garcia, and a Commendation of Exemplary Service is to be presented to Victor Dillon.

The day after being fired, Joseph Marchetti returned to the hospital armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol, and shot his former bosses, one fatally.

Hospital Information Services Director Mike Webb, 55, was killed and Imaging Director Margaret Stroup, 57, was shot in the stomach and is recovering in an Anchorage hospital where her condition has improved to fair, according to a hospital spokeswoman Tuesday.

The 48-year-old gunman was shot and killed following a standoff with Soldotna Police and Alaska State Troopers in the hospital parking lot after the shooting spree inside CPH.

Soldotna Police Chief John Lucking Jr. has said, after officers surrounded Marchetti and talked him into putting down the rifle in the parking lot, Whitehead retrieved the weapon, disarmed it and removed it from Marchetti's view.

Lucking said Marchetti was asking officers to "just shoot (him)."

After Marchetti reportedly made an assertive move, three troopers shot at him, fatally wounding him.

The hospital has not released details about the shooting spree inside the building and the Alaska Bureau of Investigation has not released a report of its investigation.

Also on tonight's Soldotna City Council agenda is a public hearing on Ordinance 2008-37, removing the $300,000 limit on real property tax exemptions for disabled veterans and allowing the exemption for additional qualifying parcels besides the primary residence.

City Manager Larry Semmens said the change brings the Soldotna Municipal Code in line with the Kenai Peninsula Borough code as it pertains to property tax exemptions for disabled veterans.

The council also is expected to take action on Resolution 2008-078, which adopts an alternate allocation method for the Shared Fisheries Business Tax Program, and Resolution 2008-079, which ratifies changes to the city employees' union contract as it pertains to health insurance.

Semmens said all municipalities on the Kenai Peninsula split a portion of the fish tax received annually. Soldotna's share amounts to less than $5,000 for fiscal year 2009, he said.

The proposed change to employees' health insurance raises the deductible amount but lowers the employees' monthly share of premiums they will have to pay.

Union members already have voted in favor of the proposal, which must be ratified by the council.

Listed on the council agenda under the "Other" category is consideration to authorize Semmens to submit an offer to buy property north of the city's public library for a possible expansion. Owners of the property have made it known they are interested in making the land available to the city, though no details are available and the city has not yet appropriated any money for an expansion.

Also up for discussion is the location of a Soldotna city cemetery.

Semmens said he would like to know if the council wants him to continue pursuing the cemetery development east of the Soldotna Municipal Airport or if he should explore one other potential site.

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Because the city council will not convene on Christmas Eve, the group is not slated to meet again until Jan. 14.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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