Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, February 19, 2007

UAA chancellor takes Illinois job

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ANCHORAGE - University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Elaine Maimon has resigned to take the job of president of Governors State University in University Park, Ill.

Maimon's departure was announced Saturday in a UAA press release.

Maimon was announced as a finalist for the Governor's State job in January. The Anchorage Daily News reported that during a meeting with the faculty in late January, UA president Mark Hamilton said he had no plans to try to retain Maimon. The UAA Faculty Senate earlier this month passed a unanimous resolution asking Hamilton to try to retain her.

Maimon has been UAA chancellor since August 2004, succeeding Lee Gorsuch.

Sternwheeler to give tours in Ketchikan

KETCHIKAN - A steam-powered sternwheeler will ply the waters of Tongass Narrows this summer.

Alaska Travel Adventures plans to operate the sternwheeler Alaska Queen on 2.5-hour tours of the Ketchikan waterfront.

The 161-foot boat was built in California and launched in the early 1980s.

"What's really unique about her is that she still has the original steam engines that were built in 1884," said Gary Odle, senior vice president for marketing and sales for Juneau-based Alaska Travel Adventures.

The two steam engines were constructed in Wheeling, W. Va., and have been in service on at least five other vessels, according to Odle. The most recent was a tow boat named Detroiter that was scrapped around 1960.

The Alaska Queen is undergoing a major refit at a Seattle shipyard after serving many years as a tour and excursion boat on the Sacramento River.

Teen shootings lead to talks in Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS - A double murder and suicide involving local teenagers in January prompted the Fairbanks Native Association to hold a weekend meeting to look for ways to keep youths safe.

The association's board of directors met Saturday with dozens of teens, elders and adults to brainstorm ways to avoid similar acts of violence.

Sixteen-year-old Joshua Hjelm shot and killed John Charles Edward Esmailka, 18, and Daphne Sipary, 16, late in the evening of Jan. 13. According to Fairbanks police, Hjelm was upset because Sipary, his girlfriend, had been spending time with another boy.

Esmailka was not the boy in question. But he happened to be standing next to Sipary when Hjelm confronted her. After the shooting, Hjelm turned the gun on himself, police said.

The association's executive director Shirley Lee said she was surprised by Saturday's large turnout, which also included Police Chief Dan Hoffman and Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly Member Torie Foote.

The adults deferred to the youths at the event, asking them to address two questions: What would keep young people away from drugs and alcohol and what can Native and community organizations do to help them thrive in Fairbanks?

The youths said increasing recreational opportunities would help stave off the boredom that can ignite drug and alcohol use. They also would welcome more hunting, fishing and crafting activities, the creation of athletic teams that compete outside of school, and more job training and employment programs.

Cruise line hires visitors bureau head

ANCHORAGE - The president of the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau has resigned and taken a job with Princess Tours as the cruise company's senior executive based in Alaska.

Bruce Bustamante, 49, was named vice president of community and public affairs for the Seattle-based cruise and tour company. He will start in mid-May and possibly sooner if the convention bureau finds a replacement before then, the company said.

Major cruise lines earlier this month announced the formation of the Alaska Cruise Association with the goal of improving its relationship with Alaskans. Bustamante's new job has many of the same goals.

Bustamante will represent Princess on the new cruise association and take on other responsibilities, said Charlie Ball, the company president.

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