State Briefs

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2003

Gov. appoints DNR head, Game Board, UA regents

JUNEAU - Gov. Frank Murkowski this morning appointed a new commissioner to the Department of Natural Resources, six members to the Board of Game and five members to the University of Alaska Board of Regents.

Murkowski appointed mining executive Tom Irwin of Fairbanks to head the Department of Natural Resources. Irwin has spent 30 years in the mining industry. He is vice president of business development for Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc.

"Tom Irwin has the knowledge and the experience - and the management abilities - to bring DNR into the 21st century, and truly will make it the engine of Alaska's economy that it should be," Murkowski said in a prepared statement.

"We will have a greater emphasis on mining in Alaska, which is (Irwin's) long suit. But we must also look to our oil and gas sector to continue to provide the substantial base of our economy, as it has for the past 25 years."

Irwin moved to Alaska in 1992 after serving as general manager of Amax Gold's Sleeper mine in Nevada. From 1992 to 1996 he was vice president of operations for Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc., where he worked to start up the Fort Knox mine about 30 miles northeast of Fairbanks.

He served as operations manager for the True North gold mine about 30 miles north of Fairbanks, and the Fort Knox gold mine from 1996 to 2001.

Murkowski also appointed Sharon McCleod-Everette and Peter Buist, both of Fairbanks, Ted Spraker of Soldotna, Michael Fleagle of McGrath, Ron Somerville of Juneau, and Cliff Judkins of Wasilla to the Board of Game.

Fairbanks-Northstar Borough Assembly member Cynthia Hayes, former Fairbanks Mayor James Hayes, Sitka business owner Mike Snowden, Mary Hughes of Anchorage, and Derek Miller of Fairbanks were appointed to the 11-member University of Alaska Board of Regents.

Anchorage man rescued from mine shaft

SANDY VALLEY, Nev. - An Anchorage man was reported in fair condition Thursday after he was rescued from a mine shaft.

Tysen Whittock, 61, was trapped in the abandoned mine shaft near rural Sandy Valley. Whittock was unconscious and was trapped for about two hours before firefighters rescued him.

Whittock, his son and two other men from Anchorage were exploring in the remote area 40 miles south of Las Vegas when Whittock fell into a 30-foot hole.

He was flown by helicopter to University Medical Center, where a spokesman said he was in fair condition.

State responds to Kmart closures

JUNEAU - The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development is ready to aid the more than 900 employees of Alaska's Kmarts when those stores close here, said state labor Commissioner Greg O'Claray on Thursday.

Response teams will be available to come to the stores, if asked, and explain the unemployment insurance program, job market trends, job search programs, career planning assistance and the availability of funds for retraining, the agency said.

Kmart announced Tuesday it is closing stores in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kenai and Juneau as part of an effort to emerge from bankruptcy.

Veteran folk musician performs today

JUNEAU - Longtime folk musician Larry Hanks will play an acoustic concert at 8 tonight at the Silverbow Back Room. Tickets are $8.

Hanks plays guitar and Jew's harp and sings old-time country and cowboy songs, ballads, blues, children's music, and topical and contemporary songs, including tunes by Malvina Reynolds, Utah Phillips, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams.

An instructor at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop and the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Wash., Hanks has performed at clubs and coffee houses since 1962. Appearances include the Vancouver and Mariposa folk festivals and the Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife. He also has toured folk clubs in England, Scotland, Wales and Finland.

His 1984 album, "Tying A Knot in the Devil's Tail," was recently re-issued as a CD on the Dandelion label.

Inter-island Ferry celebrates anniversary

KETCHIKAN - The Inter-island Ferry Authority celebrated the ferry Prince of Wales' first year in scheduled service Wednesday with a brief sailing around Pennock Island.

The vessel, which has a capacity of about 30 vehicles and 155 passengers, completed 464 round trips in 2002 - double the service provided in earlier years.

The IFA was formed in 1997 with the goal of providing better ferry service for Prince of Wales Island than was being provided by the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The island communities of Craig, Coffman Cove, Klawock and Thorne Bay joined Wrangell and Petersburg to form the public corporation, according to Len Laurance, IFA marketing director.

Ketchikan board OKs charter school

KETCHIKAN - A new charter school will be part of the Ketchikan School District next school year if it enrolls at least 155 students.

The Ketchikan School Board on Wednesday approved a contract with the Tongass School of Art and Science. The contract places the new charter school at Valley Park Elementary School.

The school will share the campus with the Ketchikan Charter School, which moved to the building last fall. The current Valley Park Elementary School will no longer exist if the new charter school enrolls its required minimum.

The board voted 5-1 to approve the contract, with Russell Thomas casting the dissenting vote. He said many people contacted him to express concern over closing Valley Park.

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