State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Aerospace firm plans to build facility in Kenai

KENAI - One of the world's largest aerospace firms plans to build a production facility in a move that could bring high-tech jobs to Kenai.

Officials from European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company said they expect it will be about two years before they can begin their aeronautics guidance testing operation near the Kenai Municipal Airport.

EADS manufactures Europe's Airbus jet liners for airline and air freight companies, among other products.

The company anticipates generating as many as 25 jobs to conduct final assembly, testing and maintenance of a helicopter laser guidance system it hopes to sell to the Pentagon.

Troller sinks near Kruzof Island

SITKA - A search that began Tuesday when a passing Alaska Airlines jet picked up an emergency signal led to the discovery of a 34-foot wooden troller that had sunk on the west side of Kruzof Island.

One person was believed to have been in the boat.

Fire Chief Dave Miller said the Alaska Airlines pilot called the Coast Guard around 6:25 a.m. to report receiving an emergency radio signal. The 17th District Coast Guard Command Center in Juneau sent a helicopter from Air Station Sitka to the area indicated by the EPIRB signal.

The Sitka Volunteer Fire Department sent a dive team and three boats from Search and Rescue to help, according to the Sitka Sentinel.

The helicopter spotted an oil sheen and debris a quarter-mile offshore Point Amelia, north of Shelikof Bay, said Search and Rescue Capt. Don Kluting of the Sitka Volunteer Fire Department.

A hull number on a piece of debris indicated the identity of the missing boat, said Paul Webb, a search and rescue specialist with the Coast Guard in Juneau.

The Coast Guard said the sunken boat was spotted after noon in shallow waters off Twin Point. Miller said the volunteer search boats were attempting to haul the submerged troller closer to shore for investigation.

Police chief demotion protested with manure

FAIRBANKS - Protests over the potential firing of the Fairbanks police chief took a turn for the smelly Monday night.

Longtime resident Kathy Marquette showed her disgust for Mayor Steve Thompson's actions by dumping manure at his feet at a meeting of the Fairbanks City Council.

Marquette, a regular at council meetings, used the public comments portion of the meeting to file her fragrant opinion.

"I have a right to protest," she said, just before unloading the pile from a grocery bag onto a blanket she had laid out on the floor.

Marquette said she was disgusted with Thompson's demotion of Police Chief James "Scooter" Welch in December, when Thompson brought in a former Alaska State Trooper as police "director."

Then last week, at a special meeting, council members voted to leave Welch's fate to the mayor, removing themselves from the process.

Thompson and Councilman Bob Boko carried the protest paraphernalia from City Hall, and a window was opened to diffuse the odor. The mayor refused to indicate whether he will fire Welch, a police department employee for nearly two decades. He said city and state law prevent him from publicly discussing a personnel matter.

Body may be missing Florida woman

ANCHORAGE - A woman's body discovered in Cook Inlet late last week likely is that of Florida schoolteacher Pamela Hawthorne, one of the passengers aboard the Cessna 180 that disappeared June 25 while flying from Hallo Bay to Homer, Alaska State Troopers said.

"We're all thinking this is the woman out of the missing plane," said Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Jim Hibpshman, who helped take the body to the mortuary. Until an autopsy is done, and medical and dental records checked, no one can be certain, he said.

The autopsy did determine that the woman drowned. Hawthorne was from Lake Worth, Fla. Hawthorne's family has been contacted, Hibpshman said.

Eagle River woman dies in motorcycle wreck

ANCHORAGE - An Eagle River woman died Monday night after suffering severe injuries in a motorcycle wreck on the Seward Highway, Alaska State Troopers said.

Kimberly Fredrickson, 39, died in the accident. Trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said a call came in at 8:05 p.m. and Girdwood troopers responded to the accident at Mile 106.8, about two miles south of Beluga Point.

Fredrickson was driving south on a 1986 Honda motorcycle.

Witnesses said she rounded a corner at Mile 107, looked to the right and drifted to the right. As the motorcycle left the road surface, Fredrickson lost control and struck a guardrail, Wilkinson said.

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