Posted: Tuesday, June 05, 2001

Calista board beats recall

ANCHORAGE - An attempt failed over the weekend to recall the Calista Corp.'s board of directors. The regional Native corporation represents the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area.

Just 17 percent of Calista's shareholders voted for the recall at the company's annual meeting in Russian Mission. The resolution needed a vote of 51 percent of all shareholders to be successful.

Proxy votes handled by the directors probably helped defeat the measure, said board member Arvin Dull.

Dull has complained about the proxy materials. He said the materials claimed all board members opposed the measure, even though the board never voted on that issue. Dull has filed a complaint with the state's securities regulators.

Shareholder George Smith of Scammon Bay started the recall effort after the corporation tried to secure grant money that usually goes to the local tribes through the Association of Village Council Presidents. Calista did not secure the housing grant.

Copper River fishermen return to work

CORDOVA - Copper River Delta salmon fishermen were back at work Monday after calling off a price strike.

The fishermen hung up their nets Thursday after processors refused to pay the price they agreed to before the season, $1.10 per pound for red salmon.

But fishermen Sunday decided to suspend the minimum price agreement and go back to the standard market-driven pricing of fish.

An unexpected bounty of Copper River reds led to the conflict between the two sides. Fishermen have netted more than three times as many fish as biologists had predicted at this point in the season.

With a bounty of fish also heading up the river, the state Department of Fish and Game loosened dipnet rules in the Chitina area for the middle part of the month.

The decision came after biologists detected more than twice as many fish passing a sonar counter as they had projected. The total has reached nearly 250,000 salmon.

As for the commercial fishermen down at the delta, they caught nearly 539,000 reds before they stopped fishing Thursday. The department had predicted 184,000 fish caught by that date.

The king salmon catch has also surpassed expectations, but only by a small margin.

Man changes plea in murder case

FAIRBANKS - A Fort Yukon man pleaded no contest Monday to second-degree murder and assault for the December shooting of two people on a snowmachine.

William Carroll, 35, faces a maximum of 35 years in prison after reaching a plea agreement in Fairbanks Superior Court.

Alaska State Troopers say Carroll fired a bolt-action .30-06-caliber rifle several times at four people piled onto a snowmachine as they left Carroll's home early Dec. 16.

Investigator Gary Tellep said Carroll knew the victims.

One of the shots killed Warren G. Ward, 22, the last person on the snowmachine. The same bullet hit Crystal Fields, who was sitting in front of him. She was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and treated for her injuries. The two other riders, Jody Peter and Jason Carroll, were not injured.

Tellep said no motive was apparent in the shooting and alcohol may have been a factor in the killing.

Carroll had been indicted on one court of first-degree murder, three counts of attempted murder and a count of first-degree assault. Superior Court Judge Richard Savell must approve the plea deal before or at sentencing. Sentencing is set for Oct. 2.

Six rescued after plane damaged

KODIAK - Six people in a single-engine floatplane were rescued by the Coast Guard on Sunday evening after a wing was damaged as the plane was taking off from Blying Sound about 25 miles east of Seward.

Pilot Dennis Perry was trying to take off when the wing dipped into the water, causing substantial damage, the Coast Guard said. He was able to put the airplane back down on the water and taxi to shore. There, he activated an emergency beacon.

Coast Guard aircraft reached the area about 9:20 p.m. and spotted the plane a few minutes later near Cape Junken. A Jayhawk helicopter ferried the pilot and his passengers to the Seward airport.

Rescued in addition to Perry were Daniel and Cody Miller, Dudley and Katrina White, and Anna Metzger.

Assembly members object to cost overruns

JUNEAU - A cost overrun for a tubing hill at the Eaglecrest Ski Area prompted a discussion about increased project costs at a Juneau Assembly meeting on Monday.

The Assembly unanimously approved $21,000 in extra funding for the tubing project. According to the city, the additional costs came from a snow tube storage building, the snow tubing lift and additional snowmaking pipes. The project's total price was $140,000. The original cost estimate was $97,000. Additional funding will come from the areawide street sales tax and a transfer request approved by the Assembly in May, according to the city.

Assembly member Don Etheridge said he is frustrated by changing cost estimates for such projects as the tubing area and the ice rink in Savikko Park in Douglas.

"I don't know how many times I've been nailed on the street," he said. "What kind of business are we running? If we don't have a good figure on what (the projects) are going to cost, I don't think we ought to be moving forward."

City Manager Dave Palmer said he agreed with Etheridge that project costs need to be based on good engineering and design data. He said he would check with city staff members for additional information about the issue.

Assembly member Dale Anderson asked for a review of the city's bid process.

"I think we need to be willing to step up to the plate and say no until we have good numbers," he said.

Tubing at Eaglecrest opened in mid-February and 2,466 people used the area in 26 days of operation. The project brought in $8,695 in revenue. Eaglecrest hopes to open a second tubing lane next year, according to the city.

Cigarette blamed for Anchorage fatal fire

ANCHORAGE - The Memorial Day fire that killed a couple in their Anchorage home was caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette, a fire department investigation found.

Danny and Gina Dennard were trapped in their basement bedroom and died of smoke inhalation the morning of May 28.

Both smoked. One of them must have gotten up during the night and smoked in a chair in the family room, said fire inspector Cleo Hill. It appears a cigarette was lodged between the chair's cushion and wood frame, where it smoldered, perhaps for a few hours, before igniting the chair, Hill said. Burn patterns on the chair are consistent with that theory, she said.

From the chair, the fire spread to wooden supports in the ceiling and then to the wood paneling on the walls, she said.

"Once it reached ignition temperature, it spread pretty rapidly," Hill said. He found no evidence of smoke detectors in the house.

Had the couple had a working smoke detector, they probably would have been warned early enough to get out, she said. Instead they were trapped in their bedroom, where the only windows were too small and too high up for anyone to escape from.

The couple's grown daughter, whose bedroom was on the ground floor, got out safely.

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