State Briefs

Posted: Monday, August 13, 2001

Former college head wins promise

WASILLA - In resigning as head of the Matanuska-Susitna college this month, Stephen Sylvester collected about $71,000 and a promise from the state university system.

His separation agreement forbids University of Alaska officials from saying anything disparaging about him. In addition, the university has agreed to strike any negative comments about Sylvester's performance from his personnel file if he requests it, according to the eight-page agreement.

The agreement also forbids Sylvester from making disparaging comments about the university.

Sylvester was under investigation because of complaints about his management style and personal behavior when he resigned Aug. 1. The investigation was never completed, university officials said.

Sylvester was hired last July to head the college, which has about 1,500 students. In May he was placed on paid leave pending the investigation.

The search committee that recommended Sylvester for the job in Alaska learned later about problems he had had at Montana State University Northern, where he had served as a professor and dean of the College and Arts and Sciences.

In Montana, 13 of the 24 faculty members Sylvester supervised signed a petition in March 2000 asking that he be removed as dean, according to a report in the university's student newspaper.

Sylvester could not be reached for comment. His home near Palmer has been sold and his phone disconnected.

Neighborhood loses beetle-killed trees

ANCHORAGE - Loggers are removing trees dying or killed by spruce bark beetles to reduce the hazard of wildfire in one of Anchorage's most vulnerable neighborhoods.

In the past four weeks, more than 40 percent of the Spencer Loop next to Hilltop Ski Area has been cleared of beetle-killed spruce trees.

The logging is "low impact," as these things go, said Sue Rodman, an Anchorage Fire Department forester and a project manager. A contractor is removing only dead or dying trees, ones that would fall to the ground in a few years anyway.

But the trail's dirt bed has been loosened by machinery and log dragging. Some living trees have been bruised or, in the case of smaller ones, crushed in the cutting and clearing process.

Jerry Walton, acting manager of the city's Division of Sports and Recreation, promised the wear and tear on the trail will be corrected.

Three injured in Steese Highway rollover

FAIRBANKS - Three people were hospitalized after a sport utility vehicle rolled several times on a muddy stretch of Steese Highway.

Levi Ballard, 21, of Fairbanks, the driver of the Jeep, suffered massive head and internal injuries and was in stable condition Sunday at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Passengers Michael Leake, 27, and Christine Leake, 23, both of Fairbanks, also were in stable condition. Other passengers Darae Leake, 27, of Fairbanks and Matthew VanDorp, 26, of North Pole were treated and released.

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