Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2005

Half-staff flags honor former mayor

JUNEAU - Alaska state flags flew at half-staff Thursday in honor of former Anchorage Mayor George Sharrock, Gov. Frank Murkowski announced.

Sharrock was Anchorage mayor from 1961 to 1964 and helped lead recovery efforts after the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. He served as state commerce commissioner in former Gov. Walter Hickel's administration.

Sharrock died Sunday at Providence Alaska Medical Center. He was 94.

Flags were to return to full-staff this morning.

State asks for end to geoduck fishery ban

KETCHIKAN - The state has asked a judge to lift the order blocking a commercial fishery on geoduck clam farm sites in Southeast Alaska, but the mariculture company that sued to stop the fishery says it will fight the request.

"We will resist whatever move they bring to the court," said Jim Redfield, a partner in Etolin Enterprises LLC, which has leased two farm sites from the state. "We will fight this tooth and nail."

On Monday, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski ruled that a commercial fishery announced Feb. 11 by the state Department of Fish and Game was illegal and issued a preliminary injunction. A key part of Michalski's decision rested on two state regulations that describe the steps the department must take when opening a commercial fishery on each geoduck fishing area. The department had not taken those steps.

"The proposed fishery is illegal for failure to meet the requirements of the Alaska Administrative Code and is enjoined," Michalski wrote.

On Tuesday, department officials went to the Alaska Board of Fisheries and had the regulations changed.

The new rule states that "notwithstanding (the existing regulations cited by the judge in imposing the injunction), the commissioner may open, by emergency order, a commercial geoduck fishery on geoduck farm sites in southeastern Alaska to allow a harvest of wild geoducks on those sites."

Fairbanks police trade in sedans for Harleys

FAIRBANKS - When the snow melts, some Fairbanks police officers will trade in four-door sedans for something with a little more style: Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

The department showed off the police edition of the 2005 Road King on Wednesday.

The Harley is one of two on loan for the summer from the Harley-Davidson Farthest North Outpost under a program that began in 2002.

The police department gets free use of Harleys annually.

"I've been able to drive them every year," said Lt. Dusty Johnson. "It's been magnificent."

The decked-out touring bikes are white with police department insignia, two-way radios, lights and sirens. The motorcycles are valued at $22,000 apiece.

Harley dealerships across the nation loan motorcycles to police departments, said store sales manager Doug Chambers.

Mileage put on Harleys by police officers can be a selling point when the stores reclaim the motorcycles and put them on the showroom floor.

"It's about where it's been and what it's done," Chambers said.

First National Bank Alaska donated $2,500 toward tailoring the motorcycles for the police department.

The bikes are used primarily for parades and some patrolling.

A third motorcycle will be on loan to the North Pole Police Department, Chambers said.

Fairbanks schools try to lure substitutes

FAIRBANKS - Beginning Monday, some substitute teachers in Fairbanks will make a little extra money.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District will increase the pay $25 a day for any substitute teacher who has taught more than 20 days. That brings the compensation for subs up to $125 per day for certified teachers and $115 a day for those without teaching certificates.

The district is hoping the extra money will help attract substitute teachers.

Last Friday, for example, the district had 135 absent teachers and a pool of 250 substitutes. Jared Arnold, who runs the substitute teacher help desk for the district, still ended up short 30 teachers.

"I would say that's the worst day I can remember," Arnold said.

Board postpones decision on caribou

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Board of Game has postponed making any decisions on who should be allowed to hunt the thousands of caribou roaming the Nelchina and Copper river basins.

The board spent Monday and Tuesday discussing the herd of about 36,700 animals with Native leaders and sport hunting representatives.

Ahtna leaders, representing Alaska Natives of the Copper Basin, had told board members that the proposal was moving too fast and remained unfamiliar to the region's eight villages.

The Nelchina caribou harvest has been managed under a complicated system that limits who can hunt based largely on their hunting history. Most of the permits go to urban residents rather than village residents.

In 2003, only 2,005 permits were issued to more than 7,800 applicants, with most going to Anchorage or the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Some 756 caribou were killed under state rules; Copper Basin residents took another 329 animals under a separate federal subsistence program.

The proposal would replace the current system with a "super exclusive" subsistence hunting zone. It would be open to any Alaska resident willing to hunt this area but nowhere else in the state.

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