Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Group accepting grant applications

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JUNEAU - Applications for grants are being accepted now by the Community Advisory Board, a group that helps Holland America Line, Gray Line of Alaska and Westmark Hotels allocate the companies' donations of cash, in-kind services (hotel rooms, bus services, etc.) and an annual cruise.

Applications can be picked up at the Westmark Baranof and should be mailed to Kathy Newman, Holland America Line, 745 W. Fourth Ave. No. 100, Anchorage, Alaska, 99501. They are due by the morning of Aug. 15. For more information, contact Newman at (907) 264-2128 or e-mail

The advisory board will make decisions about the grants to local service and nonprofit Juneau groups at its meeting on Sept. 11.

The advisory board's cash budget is meant to be distributed to as many recipients as possible over a 12-month period; therefore, grants between $200 and $2,000 have the best chance of being funded. The advisory board rarely gives grants for general operating expenses and prefers grants that support one-time activities or events. Members look for projects that will benefit Juneau as a whole and not just one small part of the community.

The board meets twice a year, usually in March-April and September-October, to review applications. Application deadlines are Aug. 15 for the fall meeting and March 1 for the spring meeting. Grants are not a corporate decision, but are made solely by the members of the board, comprising the following community members: Gary Bader, Renda Heimbigner, Ginger Johnson, J. Allan MacKinnon, Byron Mallott, Jamie Parsons and Paulette Simpson.

Searchers recover body in Harding Lake

FAIRBANKS - The body of an Illinois woman missing more than a month and presumed drowned was recovered Tuesday at Harding Lake, an official with the organization leading the volunteer search effort said.

A body was recovered by divers about noon Tuesday, and both volunteers and family members have identified the body as that of Kathy Garrigan, said Ginger Placeres, a spokeswoman for the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

Alaska State Troopers were en route to the scene, about 45 miles south of Fairbanks, to make official identification.

Garrigan, 24, of Oak Park, Ill.; Travis Alexander, 19, of Fort Yukon; and Liza Lomando, 20, of East Meadow, N.Y., were last seen alive May 27 in a canoe on Harding Lake. Lomando's body was found shortly after they were reported missing. Alexander's body was found Saturday.

The three worked in Nenana for Tribal Civilian Community Corps, which is affiliated with AmeriCorps and the Tanana Chiefs Conference.

Since the official search was called off, the nonprofit Tanana Chiefs Conference sponsored volunteer efforts on the 2,500-acre lake to recover the bodies of Alexander and Garrigan.

Grizzly taking own tours of Anchorage

ANCHORAGE - A young grizzly bear is taking tours of downtown Anchorage, the railroad yard and surrounding neighborhoods this summer.

The bear, believed to be a 250-pound female, has been sighted wandering through several neighborhoods as it heads for the Port of Anchorage and salmon in Ship Creek.

It has been sighted numerous times around town in the early morning when most of the city's residents are asleep, wildlife officials say.

Department of Fish and Game biologist Rick Sinnott is trying to trap the bruin and relocate it out of the city.

"She's not a troublemaker," Sinnott said. "But this is not an appropriate place for a brown bear."

Al Storey, a security officer at the Port of Anchorage, said he's received three reports of the bruin around the port and sauntering into restricted areas.

Tim Thompson, spokesman for the Alaska Railroad, said workers have been alerted to the bear's presence and told to be careful around the rail yard. The fact that it would stay in the area surprises him and others that work at the railroad.

"It's not the quietest area," he said.

"She probably thinks she's hit a bonanza down there," Sinnott said of her at Ship Creek sightings. "There are no other bears around and she's got the fishing all to herself."

Biologists estimate some 60 brown bears and 250 black bears live around the Anchorage area, from Portage to the Knik River. But while the black bears are commonly seen within the city, brown bears tend to hide from people and are for the most part unnoticed, keeping to themselves in the mountains.

The omnivore has, for the most part, been acting like a young brown bear should, said Sinnott's assistant, Jessy Coltrane, who has been tracking the animal.

She has been eating grass, picking up salmon carcasses and fishing for salmon in local creeks.

She is likely still finding her niche in the bear world and learning how to fish on her own, Sinnott said.

Sylvia Elliot saw the bear Sunday night in the Government Hill neighborhood as she walked her dog. The dog locked into a smell in the hedge near a tall chain link fence dividing the park where she was walking the dog from Elmendorf Air Force Base. The bear popped up its head on the other side of the fence, about 12 feet away.

"We both sort of gasped and jumped back," Elliot said.

Later on that night, the bear was spotted at the downtown Bridge Restaurant on Ship Creek Avenue, Coltrane said.

State biologists say this year there is a bumper crop of grizzlies in the city.

Biologists are tracking eight grizzlies that seem to be wandering into human territories and getting spotted regularly. They all are in Eagle River and in Anchorage's Hillside area. Both communities are next to a large state park.

Two nuisance bears shot near Fairbanks

FAIRBANKS - Two young grizzly bears, believed to be siblings, were shot and killed Sunday night within a half mile of each other in a residential area about 20 miles east of Fairbanks.

One of the bears was shot by a state wildlife biologist responding to a report of two bears in a woman's yard. The other was shot by a homeowner after the bear tore a window out and ripped siding off his home.

The two shootings bring the number of nuisance grizzly bears killed in and around Alaska's second largest city to eight this season, not counting another grizzly that was found dead from a gunshot wound. State wildlife troopers are investigating that case.

The two bears were killed in the yards of homes on Chena Hot Springs Road.

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