Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, September 15, 2005

Yakutat Assembly ejects ill mayor

YAKUTAT - The Yakutat Assembly recently voted to terminate its mayor, Tom Maloney, who is suffering from cancer and has spent long months in the hospital.

"It's kind of a tragedy situation for the community," said Steve Henry, the city manager.

Henry said it has been difficult for Maloney to conduct city business from a hospital bed.

After a public discussion, the six-member Assembly voted 6-0 on Sept. 6 to approve a notice requiring Maloney to forfeit his job.

Mayor Pro-Tem Casey Mapes is filling the position until Oct. 18, when Yakutat residents will elect a new mayor to fill the one year remaining in Maloney's term.

Maloney was diagnosed with cancer last November, a month after he was elected mayor, and spent the bulk of the winter and early spring in Seattle undergoing treatment, Henry said.

Maloney returned to the hospital in April for further treatment, and has since been in and out of the hospital. A month ago, he was airlifted to the hospital again. He also developed pneumonia and suffered broken ribs from a fall within the last month, Henry said.

Maloney was present at the meeting where the council voted and the town was divided over the Assembly's decision.

Maloney's desire was to continue as mayor, Henry said, adding, "It was a very hard thing for the Assembly to to do."

Entangled humpback whale calf frees itself

JUNEAU - A humpback whale calf entangled in crab pot gear for days near Juneau apparently got itself loose, a federal fisheries biologist said Wednesday.

"It is very good news when an animal can free itself," said Aleria Jensen, a biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The calf was first spotted Friday where Chatham Strait and Peril Strait come together south of Juneau. The calf's mother wasn't caught in the fishing gear, but had stayed close to the calf.

Several people, including experts in how to disentangle whales who just happened to be attending a two-day workshop on marine mammal strandings in nearby Gustavus, set out Wednesday morning to free the calf, Jensen said.

The group flew over the same area where the whale and her calf were previously seen. This time, they saw the fisherman's buoy but no whales.

Just to make sure, they circled the area until they spotted the whale and her calf just north of Benjamin Island.

The sighting was confirmed through photo identification of the mother whale's tail fluke and dorsal fin. The whales were located about three-quarters of a mile from the fishing gear.

Man charged with attempted murder

FAIRBANKS - A 32-year-old North Pole man faces three counts of attempted murder after allegedly trying to kill his wife and two sons in a failed murder-suicide plot, police said.

A judge set bond for Kirk L. Kosiek at $50,000.

Kosiek's wife woke Monday morning to what she thought was the smell of smoke, according to court records.

The woman told troopers she checked on the children, ages 5 and 7, then went downstairs in search of her husband.

The woman said she found him standing in the attached garage beside the family vehicle and a four-wheeler. The engines of both vehicles were idling, and the door between the garage and the residence was open with a fan blowing exhaust-filled air into the residence, court records say.

Kosiek allegedly told troopers he expected "we will all be in heaven," according to the documents.

Firefighters later registered carbon monoxide levels of 166 parts per million in the master bedroom's closet, court documents say. Firefighters order evacuations when levels pass 35 parts per million.

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