State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2003

U.S. Navy warship to visit Juneau

JUNEAU - The USS Stethem, a San Diego, Calif.-based Navy destroyer, will visit Juneau today through Monday, May 26, for Memorial Day weekend. This is the ship's first visit here.

The USS Stethem is a warship. The destroyer's primary purpose is to provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities, and it can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups.

The destroyer is named in honor of Robert Dean Stethem, a victim of the terrorist hijacking of Trans World Airlines Flight 847 to Beirut, Lebanon, on June 14, 1985. A petty officer in the U.S. Navy, he was returning from an assignment in Nea Makri, Greece, when the terrorists seized the aircraft.

Stethem was singled out as a U.S. Navy sailor and killed. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1985 and the Bronze Star in 1986.

The USS Stethem will not have an open house. For more information, visit

Kayaker snares 90-pound halibut

KETCHIKAN - Catching a 90-pound halibut in a 14-foot kayak can lead to quite a ride, says Howard McKim.

McKim was fishing from his kayak Tuesday when he hooked the halibut near the northern end of the Tongass Narrows.

"It's a serious adrenaline rush," he said. "I was shaking for long time on that one."

McKim's fishing trip started at about 3 a.m. Tuesday when he paddled out aboard a sit-on-top kayak equipped with a fish finder and rod holders. After crossing Tongass Narrows, he began fishing for halibut in about 130 feet of water.

The halibut hit at about 7 a.m. It towed the kayak for several hundred yards at the pace of a fast paddle, said McKim. Then it dove "straight for the bottom."

McKim took about one-half hour to bring the 60-inch fish up to the kayak. He gaffed it, knocked it out, and eventually got it on the kayak's deck.

"There's just no better way to catch fish," he said.

Climber brought down from McKinley

DENALI PARK - A climber suffering from frostbite on both his hands was brought down from Mount McKinley Wednesday with the help of the National Park Service's contracted high-altitude helicopter, according to park officials.

Rocky Pennington, 51, of Colorado was attempting to climb the West Rib, a much tougher route than the traditional West Buttress route. With the frostbite, Pennington couldn't hold an ice ax, so it wasn't safe for him to travel on the West Rib terrain.

After Pennington's party radioed a distress call to a passing plane Monday, rangers dispatched the helicopter to the 14,500-foot level of the mountain. Pennington was ferried down to the base camp and then an air taxi flew him to Talkeetna for medical care.

It was the second evacuation of this year's climbing season. A climber was brought down Monday after suffering severe abdominal pain.

About 1,100 climbers are registered to climb the continent's tallest peak this season. More than 300 of them are on the mountain now.

Ketchikan borough may boost sales tax

KETCHIKAN - The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly wants to more than double the borough's sales tax, a move that would raise the tax in the city of Ketchikan to 8 percent.

The assembly voted 5-2 Monday to add a 2.5 percent "education sales tax" on top of the current borough sales tax of 2 percent rate. The sales tax in the city of Ketchikan is 3.5 percent, collected on top of the borough levy, bringing the total sales tax in Ketchikan to 5.5 percent currently.

Any sales tax increase would have to be approved by voters.

The complex sales tax proposal, which also includes exemption cards and property tax discounts, would boost borough tax revenue by nearly $3 million.

Crewman arrested in assault on shipmate

JUNEAU - A cruise ship crewman from Scotland has been charged with assault after an altercation aboard the M/V Amsterdam resulted in 23 stitches in the face of another member of the crew, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Alex Marshalsey, 53 of Foshabers, Scotland, was charged with assaulting fellow crewman Nathan A. Tice, 26, of Helena, Mont.

Marshalsey, the ship's communication officer, hit Tice in the face with a wine glass Monday during an argument, according to troopers.

Tice received approximately 23 stitches to repair the wounds from the altercation, troopers said. According to investigators, Tice, but not Marshalsey, had been drinking.

The Amsterdam was underway in Alaska waters near Prince of Wales Island when the assault occurred. Troopers boarded the ship to investigate when the ship arrived in Juneau Monday morning. Marshalsey was being held at Lemon Creek Correctional Center. The cruise ship fired both men, according to troopers, leaving them behind in Juneau when the ship sailed.

Quake near Yakutat

PALMER - A light earthquake near Yakutat was felt in Gustavus, according to Michael Burgy at the Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.

The quake, which had a magnitude of 4.9, occurred at 8:08 p.m. Wednesday, Burgy said.

It was centered about 70 miles southeast of Yakutat. The spot is about 25 miles inland from the Gulf of Alaska on land between Yakutat and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

Bethel priest accused of sexual misconduct

BETHEL - A Catholic priest in Bethel who has served in Alaska for more than half a century is facing an accusation of sexual misconduct.

The complaint involves Henry Hargreaves, 89, the assistant pastor of Immaculate Conception Church, according to church officials. Chancellor Richard Case of the Fairbanks diocese said in a statement that Hargreaves is accused of making "inappropriate advances" toward a woman in her 60s on April 15.

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