Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Anderson's mayor killed in accident

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FAIRBANKS - The mayor of Anderson is dead after the bed of his dump truck fell and crushed him, the city's public safety director said Tuesday.

Mike Pearson, 50, was adding fluids to his truck Monday shortly after 8 p.m. when a line ruptured and the bed fell on him at his home, located in this city of 536 people about 76 miles from Fairbanks.

The mayor had been helping new residents clear lots that the city had recently given them and was collecting fill to make a toboggan hill, said Keith Fetzer, an Anderson councilman and the city's public safety director.

He was first elected to the Anderson City Council and was appointed mayor - a volunteer position - by fellow council members. He was a 1975 graduate of Anderson School and spearheaded an effort to develop the city through a popular land giveaway earlier this year.

Pearson had been an Anderson resident since 1963. He leaves a wife and two children behind.

"He was very quiet and very gentle," Fetzer said. "He was not an in-your-face type of individual. He was the type of guy who would give you the shirt off his back. He was good to a fault at times. That used to frustrate his wife."

Hydroelectric project meetings scheduled

JUNEAU - The U.S. Forest Service announced it will host two public meetings to discuss the proposed Angoon Hydroelectric power project and its accompanying Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which is now open for comment.

The first meeting will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. June 27 at the Angoon Community Services building in Angoon. The second meeting will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. June 28 in the main conference room at the new Juneau and Admiralty Ranger Districts' office at 8510 Mendenhall Loop Road.

During the open house, information on the project will be displayed and Forest Service personnel will be present to discuss and answer questions on the environmental impact statement and project alternatives.

Kootznoowoo Inc., the Angoon rural Native corporation, proposes to develop hydroelectric energy in the steep section of Thayer Creek below a natural fish passage barrier. The lower section of Thayer Creek supports salmon spawning habitat.

The presence of natural barriers prevents salmon fish passage from the lower to the upper stream. The preferred alternative proposes construction of roads, a pipeline, a powerhouse, transmission lines and other related facilities.

An alternative transmission line route, as discussed in the impact statement, would include a submarine cable in Chatham Strait.

The community of Angoon has some of the highest electrical rates in Alaska due to use of diesel-electric generators. The hydro project would become the primary electric power supply for the community, would stabilize electric rates and reduce dependency on diesel fuel.

Four injured in plane crash near Homer

ANCHORAGE - Four people were injured, three critically, when a flight-seeing plane crashed south of Homer Tuesday.

Alaska State Troopers said one man and three women were on board the Cessna 206 when it sputtered and went down at the east end of Yukon Island, about 10 miles south of Homer.

Troopers identified the pilot as Jennifer Foltz, 30, of Homer. The passengers were identified as Cledia Larrison, 52, of Seldovia, James Pastro, 53, of Homer and Teresa Cook, 24, of Nanwalek.

The four initially were flown by helicopter to South Peninsula Hospital in Homer. Foltz, Larrison and Pastro were later flown in critical condition to Anchorage hospitals, said Karen Nogle, a nurse manager at the Homer hospital.

Witnesses told authorities the plane sputtered just before it crashed about 11 a.m., said troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

The plane, which was a total loss, had been traveling from Seldovia.

It is owned by Homer-based Smoky Bay Air, which offers charter services, flight-seeing and bear viewing excursions.

A Smoky Bay Air spokesman said the company was not immediately releasing any information.

Motorcyclists raise funds for charity

FAIRBANKS - A group of motorcycle-riding, law-enforcing Southerners has departed Fairbanks on a 7,000-mile journey across the continent in a quest to raise about a half-million dollars for the Special Olympics.

The 38 mostly Georgian bikers plan to get from Prudhoe Bay to Key West, Fla. by July 7.

"Special Olympics is close to the hearts of many law enforcement officers," said Ed Christian, a task force agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Atlanta and the organizer of the trip. "We've got sheriffs, police chiefs, detectives and officers."

Most are experienced bikers, and many of them made a similar trip in 2004 when they rode from Georgia to California for the same cause.

But are they ready for the Haul Road?

"It's the toughest ride you'll have in your life," Christian said.

Some of the riders are concerned about their bikes on the notoriously punishing Dalton Highway.

Ted Price, 71, from South Carolina, was covering a large portion of his Harley-Davidson with heavy black tape trying to protect the paint job from the road's grit and gravel. He has traveled long distances before and knows the damage flying rocks can wreak on a bike.

"I'll probably have to repaint it when I get back," Price said.

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