Dec. 31, 2009 — As the confirmed number of chemically tainted wells in North Pole continues to grow, public health officials say they’re still about a month away from determining the safety of water near the Flint Hills refinery.

Monitoring wells have found various levels of sulfolane, an industrial chemical used as part of the fuel refining process, in area wells since November. Flint Hills officials believe a spill sometime before 2000 introduced it into groundwater near the refinery.

Tests have detected sulfolane-tainted water about 2.5 miles north of the refinery, said Ann Farris, a contaminated sites project manager for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.



Dec. 31, 1994 — BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Helicopter pilot Bobby Hall returned early today from 13 tense days of captivity in North Korea to a hometown decked with yellow ribbons, balloons and “Welcome Home Bobby!” signs.

From his front porch, he thanked the community and his family for their support.

“I really appreciate it,” he said, smiling and waving to reporters and dozens of neighbors and well wishers who stayed up for his homecoming.



Dec. 31, 1969 — Russell C. Hobbs, 48, complained of persistent headache to city jailers where he had been confined since early on the morning of Dec. 27. He was arrested that day for being drunk in public.

He should have had a headache. He had a bullet in his head.

The city jail prisoner was taken to Fairbanks Community Hospital Dec. 29 after he complained of persistent pains in his head. He had an unusually bad black eye when he was arraigned in District Court Saturday morning on his drunk charges.



Dec. 31, 1944 — The News-Miner did not print on this day. Here is an item from Dec. 29, 1944 — The establishment of an office of the Veterans Administration in Alaska at this time is primarily for the purpose of studying the needs of the veterans in Alaska, Anthony E. Karnes, in charge of the office, said here today.