State and local briefly

Posted: Friday, March 24, 2000

Towed fishing boat sinks south of Sitka

JUNEAU - A Sitka fishing boat sank Thursday near Sitka, despite the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Skipper Matthew Konoske called the Coast Guard for help about 2 p.m., when he was 63 miles south of Sitka. Konoske said fishing gear he was retrieving knocked a hole in the hull of his 35-foot trawler, Raven. There were 25-knot winds and 12-foot seas at the time.

A Coast Guard helicopter delivered dewatering pumps, and several fishing vessels were on the scene to assist.

Konoske made temporary repairs to his boat. The vessel Seattle started towing the Raven to Sitka at 4:15 p.m., but the Raven capsized and sank about 12 miles from town. The crew of the Seattle got Konoske aboard and took him to Sitka.

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment in Sitka is investigating.

House approves new classes of towns

JUNEAU - A new kind of Alaska town may soon exist.

The state House on Thursday approved 37-0 a bill that would allow for the creation of ``home rule'' cities and communities.

The new classes of towns could retain responsibilities for some services, but not be forced into administrative duties now required of incorporated cities.

Sponsor Rep. Fred Dyson, an Eagle River Republican, said the only concern he's heard about House Bill 255 is that some people fear existing towns will switch to the new classification to avoid having to run schools or some other expensive service.

Dyson said the measure should do well in the Senate as long as he can move it through committees and onto the floor before the session ends.

``If I can get it to the herd, I think it'll do fine,'' Dyson said. ``It has no enemies.''

Knowles reappoints two to fisheries panel

JUNEAU - Gov. Tony Knowles has reappointed two members to the state Board of Fisheries.

Knowles named Larry Engel of Palmer and Ed Dersham of Anchor Point to additional three-year terms on the seven-member board this week.

Engel, appointed to a third term, was first appointed to the board by Gov. Wally Hickel in 1993, shortly after he retired from his job as a sportfish biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game.

Robert E. ``Ed'' Dersham owns Dersham's Outlook Lodge, a marine salmon and halibut charter business in Anchor Point. Dersham, a retired drug enforcement agent, also served on several industry panels, including the North Pacific Fishery Management Council's halibut charter working group.

The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Legislature.

Groups want tunnel opening delayed

ANCHORAGE - Seven environmental groups want Gov. Tony Knowles to delay opening the Whittier road tunnel because of concerns about safety and possible visitor impacts.

Their request came in the form of a letter Thursday, and it follows reports that a state electrical inspector in January found code violations that could have led to explosions, fire and other hazards if left unresolved.

The groups also want the delay to give Whittier and the state Department of Natural Resources time to deal with the expected increase in visitors and development pressure on Prince William Sound.

``We'll take a look at their letter, but I'm not aware of any plans to delay the opening of the road,'' said Knowles' spokesman Bob King.

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