State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2002

USCG renews search for hunter

ANGOON - The U.S. Coast Guard said today it has rejoined the search for an Angoon man, missing since Sunday morning, after learning that someone matching the 21-year-old's description was spotted fleeing into the woods that day.

Walter Jack Jr. went missing early Sunday morning while camping with friends near Salt Lake on Admiralty Island. The Coast Guard had suspended its air search Monday night.

But Alaska State Troopers requested helicopter assistance from the Coast Guard in Sitka late Tuesday night after three people told troopers they spotted a man matching Jack's description around 6 p.m. Sunday near Salt Lake, the Coast Guard said.

Roger Wetherell, spokesman for the Coast Guard, said the group members didn't report that information until Tuesday because it took them that long to get to Angoon to notify authorities.

The group told troopers they saw a man wearing a light-colored shirt sitting under a makeshift shelter, the Coast Guard said. However, the man ran into the woods.

Search efforts have been under way for Jack since Sunday and have focused on the Hasselborg Lake area. On Monday rescue teams found the sweatshirt and house slippers Jack was wearing when he went missing.

Greg Wilkinson, spokesman for the troopers, said today that a search crew Monday found Jack's canoe swamped by rocks near the end of Salt Lake.

Walter Jack Sr., Jack's father and coordinator for the Angoon search and rescue team, said Tuesday that a Coast Guard helicopter may have spotted Jack in the woods Sunday.

But Coast Guard Lt. Brad Wilson said the helicopter crew lowered a message block to the man, asking that if he were Jack to get in the helicopter, and if not to walk into a nearby cabin. Wilson said the man walked into the cabin.

Coast Guard helps punctured boat

JUNEAU - The crew aboard the Ketchikan-based Coast Guard cutter Anthony Petit saved a charter boat from a possible sinking after it grounded late Monday night near Sisters Island near Ketchikan.

Crewmembers aboard the Anthony Petit heard someone's plea for assistance on VHF FM radio at 6:02 p.m. Monday after the 28-foot vessel Fish N Fool grounded, puncturing a hole in its hull.

Coast Guard officials did not know how many people were on the Fish N Fool, but said no one was reported injured. The boat owner is reported to be Richard Hay of Elfin Cove, the Coast Guard said.

A team from the Anthony Petit diverted to the scene aboard one of the cutter's small boats, arriving on scene at 6:20 p.m. The crew completed the dewatering and took the Fish N Fool in tow alongside the Anthony Petit at 10:25 p.m. A Station Juneau crew relieved the tow Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. and took it to Auke Bay.

Some downtown streets to be closed

JUNEAU - Several downtown streets will be closed to traffic beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday to accommodate the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Sisterhood camps' "We the People, Standing our Ground" parade, police said.

Franklin Street will be closed to traffic between Marine Way and the Mount Roberts Tramway parking lot for 10 minutes beginning at 11 a.m.

Franklin Street, Front Street and Seward Street will experience some delays between 11 and 11:30 a.m., and Fourth Street will be closed between Seward Street and Main Street from 12 to 1:30 p.m.

Accused sex offender arrested

FAIRBANKS - A newly hired mental health clinician for a Fairbanks teen-age substance abuse treatment program is accused of molesting a boy in his former Idaho town.

William Masimer, 58, faces extradition to Cascade, Idaho, where he is charged with four felony counts of lewd conduct with a minor under the age of 16.

Fairbanks police arrested Masimer on a $500,000 warrant Friday.

Masimer is accused of molesting a boy in 1997 and 1998, according to comments from Valley County prosecuting attorney Richard Roats to The Star-News in Idaho. Masimer faces a maximum of life in prison on each of the four lewd conduct charges.

Masimer was undergoing employee orientation at Life Givers, a substance abuse treatment program for Native teen-age girls that is operated by Fairbanks Native Association. Masimer was working in a director position at a care center in Fort Yukon before applying to Life Givers, FNA Director Annette Freiburger said.

Before Masimer was hired, he cleared an extensive background check, including reference checks, fingerprinting and the Alaska State Troopers background check system, FNA Director Annette Freiburger said.

However, it's likely the check came back clean because Masimer was not charged with the crimes until last week, when the boy reportedly told authorities about the alleged incidents of abuse.

A trial date on the charges will not be set until Masimer is transported back to Idaho.

James wants to be House speaker

JUNEAU - North Pole Republican Rep. Jeannette James announced Tuesday her intentions to seek approval from House colleagues in a run for speaker of the House. She will face Eagle River Republican Rep. Pete Kott and Anchorage Rep. Lisa Murkowski for the position.

James was first elected to the House in 1992 and served as House majority leader during the last legislative session.

"After a great deal of consideration, I have decided to make a bid for speaker. Despite the delegation losing several legislative seats during the last redistricting process, the Interior delegation stands in an unprecedented position to assume some of the highest leadership positions in both houses," James said in a prepared statement.

James is running against Rep. John Coghill in the Republican primary for House District 11.

Fairbanks celebrates new bishop

FAIRBANKS - The Diocese of Fairbanks on Wednesday began celebrating this week's ordination and installation of Monsignor Donald Kettler as bishop.

For more than two years, the diocese, which stretches across 48 parishes that cover more than 400,000 square miles of Alaska, has been without a bishop.

Kettler, who will be ordained today, succeeds late Bishop Michael J. Kaniecki, who died of a heart attack in 2000.

A parish priest for most of his 32 years in the priesthood, Kettler will serve as the fifth bishop of the Fairbanks diocese. He is making the move from his last parish in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Compiled from staff and wire service reports.



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