State Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Ice Classic officials say breakup is near

FAIRBANKS - The ice on the Tanana River could go out this week, said organizers of the Nenana Ice Classic.

Warm weather is rotting the ice beneath the wooden tripod that signals the time of break-up in Alaska's richest guessing game.

Ice on the nearby Nenana River went out Saturday. On the Tanana, open water is three-quarters of a mile away from the tripod in both directions.

Last year, six winners shared a $304,000 jackpot after they picked the winning time of 9:27 p.m. May 7.

Money from Ice Classic ticket sales goes to civic organizations, scholarships and other causes in the city after the jackpot and expenses are paid out. For an update on the ice conditions beneath the tripod, call (907) 832-5446 or check on the Web at

Alaska Bush author Proenneke dies at 86

ANCHORAGE - Dick Proenneke, who lived alone in a remote cabin and kept journals published as the classic Alaska memoir "One Man's Wilderness," has died at age 86.

Proenneke died Easter Sunday in California.

Until 1998, Proenneke lived alone in a cabin he built at Twin Lakes in what is now Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.

"I call him a modern-day Henry David Thoreau," said John Branson, a Lake Clark park ranger and historian who was a longtime friend of Proenneke's. "Thoreau lived at Walden for only one year. Dick lived there for 30 years."

Proenneke moved permanently to Twin Lakes in 1968 at age 52 after retiring as a diesel mechanic and heavy-equipment operator in Kodiak. Branson said Proenneke wanted to live deep in the wilderness out of a need for simplicity rather than to escape.

"He was not to be misconstrued as an end-of-the-roader or anti-social at all," Branson told the Anchorage Daily News. "He was extremely hospitable and gracious to visitors."

"One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey" was first published in 1973, attracting visitors to Twin Lakes, 20 miles north of Lake Clark in the Alaska Range.

The book was reissued in a new format in 1999 and won a National Outdoor Book Award. It may have sold as many as 75,000 copies over the years, a bestseller by Alaska standards, said Sara Juday, regional manager for Alaska Northwest Books, the publisher.

"It has a kind of cult status. It has changed people's lives," Juday said.

Anchorage airport fighting industry slump

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's largest airport is fighting a slump in the airline industry.

"What we're trying to do here in Anchorage is come up with a demand for more logistics service, things that are value added," said Michael Kean, transportation director of the Anchorage Economic and Development Corporation.

Kean said examples of "value added service" are preclearance of freight, partial assembly of merchandise and final packaging. At the same time, airport marketers are working on changing basic perceptions of Alaska in the Lower 48.

"A lot of folks in the Lower 48 have the misconception that we're far away, dark, cold and maybe live in igloos up here," Kean said.

Anchorage International is the leading cargo airport in the Western Hemisphere. It ranks fourth in the world for tonnage behind Memphis, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

FedEx, UPS and Northwest operate major hubs, with more than 50 other cargo airlines landing at the airport on a regular basis. About 66 percent of revenue at the Anchorage airport is generated from cargo. The airport serves about 5 million passengers a year while international and domestic cargo operations average 520 per week.

One in 10 jobs in Anchorage is related to the airport.

Murkowski names two Interior judges

JUNEAU - Gov. Frank Murkowski has appointed two Fairbanks men to Interior judgeships.

Randy Olsen, 52, was chosen for a Superior Court judgeship. According to the governor's office, Olsen has worked as an assistant attorney general in Fairbanks since 1982, specializing for the past 15 years in tort defense for the state. Before that, he was an assistant district attorney in Fairbanks.

Winston Burbank, 54, was picked for a District Court judgeship.

Burbank has been semiretired for the past five years. Before that, he was a partner in the Fairbanks law firm of Call, Barrett and Burbank.

Burbank also served as a temporary District Court judge while Judge Jane Kauvar was on sabbatical leave.

Anchorage bookstore owners honored

ANCHORAGE - The owners of a used-book store in Anchorage have been named Alaska's Small Business Persons of the Year for 2003 by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Steve Lloyd and Julie Drake opened Title Wave 12 years ago in a 900-square-foot space with one employee. Two moves later, the store now occupies 33,000 square feet and employs 44 people.

Criteria for the award include growth in sales and employees, financial stability, innovativeness of products and services, response to adversity and contributions to the community, said Frank Cox, Alaska district director for the SBA.

Lloyd, a lifelong Alaskan, and his wife and partner Drake, who came to the state in the mid-1980s, followed a growth path that was mapped by their customers. For example, the store now carries a larger selection of new books.

Title Wave's sales have grown to an expected $2 million this year from $10,000 during the shop's first year, Lloyd said.

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