State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Committee reduces proposed UA budget

FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska Board of Regents Finance Committee on Monday approved a revised version of the 2003-04 budget that scales back planned increases to student services and recruitment.

"We did not get enough money to do what we need to do," UA President Mark Hamilton told regents.

The university's 2004 budget request totaled about $647 million, an increase of about $36 million from the budget this year. It counted on nearly $225 million in state funding, an increase of about $13.5 million over this year.

The state budget passed by the Legislature included a net increase in university funding of about $4.5 million. That increase is offset by a $19 million increase in fixed costs, which includes increased personnel and health insurance costs, and operating costs on new buildings, according to Pat Pitney, director of statewide budget and institutional research.

Nearly $10 million of the increased expense was supposed to come from the state, UA officials said.

The university has raised tuition, which, coupled with increased enrollment, is projected to raise about $8 million more next year.

2 men charged in death of Anchorage teen

ANCHORAGE - Two men were charged Tuesday in connection with the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy, Anchorage police said.

William McFall Jr., 26, and Jierum Duarte, 19, were charged with second-degree murder in the May 18 shooting that left John Fonua dead. Duarte also was charged with first-degree assault in a shooting two days later.

Fonua died after he was shot in the head outside an apartment complex in the city's Mountain View neighborhood.

Police said the shooting is believed to have been gang-related.

Man dies in accident

PALMER - A Wasilla man died Monday night after his motorcycle crossed the centerline of a Palmer road and crashed head-on into a pickup truck.

Kevin Godwin, 28, died at the scene, Alaska State Troopers said.

Witnesses told troopers Godwin shortly after 10 p.m. was weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed on a dirt bike.

Troopers say he apparently turned to look over his shoulder and his bike turned into the path of the pickup truck near Bogard and Engstrom roads.

Volunteers keep St. Michael fire from store

NOME - Community volunteers in St. Michael helped keep a weekend fire from reaching the community's Taciq Native Store next door.

Village Public Safety Officer Teresa Kobuk said the fire started around 11 p.m. Sunday in an abandoned building known as the "Straight Arrow." The building had been slated for renovation.

Volunteers pulled merchandise from the store and hosed down the side nearest the burning building. St. Michael residents, with help from neighbors in Stebbins, were able to douse the fire by about 4 a.m. Monday, with no damage to the store.

There were no injuries reported and the cause of the fire has not been determined.

St. Michael is a community of about 400 on the east coast of St. Michael Island in Norton Sound. It lies 125 miles southeast of Nome.

Anchorage man dies in bicycle accident

ANCHORAGE - A 56-year-old Anchorage man died overnight after he was struck by a pickup truck as he rode on his bicycle Monday afternoon.

Jerry Baca died from his injuries suffered after he was struck at International Airport Road and Arctic Boulevard.

Police said Baca road against a traffic light at about 1:30 p.m. and was struck by an eastbound 1993 Ford pickup.

"Witnesses said it appeared he was trying to beat the light" after it had just changed, said police spokesman Ron McGee.

Suspect found dead

BETHEL - A Bethel man sought over the weekend in connection with a break-in and a stabbing apparently killed himself Monday.

Sigurd Hopstad, 20, was found dead at his home of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police received a call at 6:25 a.m. Saturday reporting that a Bethel woman had been stabbed with a knife. Police found Stephanie Beal, 20, with multiple stab and cut wounds to her body. She was transported to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital.

Police searched for Hopstad and tracked him to his home Monday.

United Way fund-raising drive short of goal

KENAI - The Kenai Peninsula United Way fund-raising drive came up a little bit short, but organizers say it's still a success.

The organization, which funds 27 nonprofit agencies on the peninsula, raised $614,943 this year - about 94 percent of its $650,000 goal.

And while the amount is less than the organization's record intake of $781,514, raised in 2001, it's still far ahead of the annual average.

"I think we did great under the circumstances," said Executive Director Evy Gebhardt.

She attributed the shortfall to nationwide concerns over the war in Iraq and the impact of the stock market on retirement funds, as well as to layoffs and business closures on the peninsula.



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