Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, September 17, 2007

Juneau man, daughter rescued near Gustavus

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Juneau - A 47-year-old Juneau man and his 15-year-old daughter were rescued Saturday night near Dude Creek, between Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park.

The pair became stranded while on a hunting trip in the area. Alaska State Troopers worked with the Coast Guard, Gustavus emergency medical technicians, and the National Park Service to extract the two after Gustavus Emergency Response received a cell phone call from the girl at about 7:30 p.m.

A Coast Guard helicopter picked them up and took them to the airport, where they were met by an ambulance. The girl was reported to be in good condition and the man was treated for hypothermia in Gustavus.

Man donates 1 million soup labels to school

FAIRBANKS - An 84-year-old man from Athens, Ga., who for most of his life has dreamed of visiting the spot where Will Rogers and Wiley Post died, has donated 1 million Campbell's Soup labels to an elementary school in Barrow. The labels can be used by the elementary school to purchase school supplies under the soup company's Labels for Education program.

Sam Skinner, 84, and his daughter Tammy traveled to Barrow, the farthest north city in the United States, last week to personally present the gift to the students and staff at Fred Ipalook Elementary School. The Skinners didn't collect the million labels through years of eating soup, but rather won all the labels in a recent Internet contest. After winning the contest, Tammy Skinner said she asked her father which school he wanted to donate the labels to. He immediately said the school in Barrow.

"I always wanted to go up there (to Barrow)," Sam Skinner said on Thursday morning in Fairbanks on his way back home to Georgia. "Especially since Will Rogers was killed up there."

Rogers, an American vaudeville, radio and movie star, died in 1935 when a plane he was in, piloted by Wiley Post, crashed near Point Barrow. Sam Skinner was only a teenager at the time, but remembers vividly how he felt as he followed the news of the crash on the radio. Ever since then, he said, he's wanted to visit Barrow.

Fred Ipalook Elementary principal Brian Freeman said the Skinners' visit was exciting for the kids, not only because of the gift but because the children were able to see how their community was connected to other people across the country. Many kids in the small city grow up learning about Post and Roger's deaths but don't realize that it was an important event for people living far away from Barrow.

"It's sometimes hard for kids to grasp the larger picture," Freeman said. "This was a significant event, not just for your community but for the nation and even the whole world. That's pretty earth-shattering."

Bear problems up this year in West

BILLINGS, Mont. - Bears have been causing an unusual amount of trouble in the area around Yellowstone, raiding cabins, tents, cars and backpacks in search of food.

In recent weeks, at least 15 problem bears have been euthanized and more than 30 have been relocated in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.

Bear problems also have been reported in Colorado and Nevada.

Biologists point to a variety of causes ranging from people moving into bear habitat and leaving food out, to less natural food for bears.

Problems with bears typically worsen as fall approaches and the animals hurry to fatten up before hibernating for the winter. But this year, problems have been ongoing.

"We've had a very busy summer," said Sam Sheppard, warden captain for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Bozeman.

Around Big Sky, Sheppard said, bears haven't been able to resist partially eaten lunches left in garbage cans, trash bags left in garages and windows left open. One bear climbed through an open window to get to some freshly cut peaches.

Three bears have been euthanized in the Big Sky area.

"Every single one early on could've been prevented, but they habituated to the point where there was no hope," Sheppard said.

Dozens of black and grizzly bears have been moved this summer in Wyoming, mostly in Teton County near Grand Teton National Park.

"Every couple of years it seems like we have similar activity," said Mark Bruscino, bear management officer with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. "I can't put my finger on it exactly, but it's probably a combination of things."

Grand Teton rangers have euthanized four black bears and sent two cubs to a zoo.

"It's been one of our most busy years as far as human-bear incidents," park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said. "A very active year, a very frustrating year."

Often, younger bears are the ones getting in trouble. But this year, older bears are causing problems.

"That indicates to me that they're nutritionally stressed," Bruscino said.

Horizon to resume flights next week

SEATTLE - Horizon Air said Sunday that it will return to 90 percent of normal operations this week, following several days of heavy cancellations while the company inspected its Bombardier Q-400 turboprops.

The airline issued a new schedule that will be in effect from Tuesday through next Monday, after which it hopes to resume normal operations.

Horizon canceled more than 120 flights on Wednesday and Thursday, and 97 on Friday - about one-fifth of its schedule - after landing-gear failures on two planes in Europe prompted Bombardier to order the grounding of all Q-400 planes with at least 10,000 flights.

"With safety as our foremost consideration, we're working diligently to respond to directives from the manufacturers and regulatory authorities as we receive them," said Jeff Pinneo, Horizon president and CEO. "We remain focused on minimizing any inconvenience to our customers as we progress toward the restoration of our full flight schedule."

Horizon flies 33 of the Bombardier turboprops and says it has not had any problems with its planes.

Horizon is a subsidiary of Alaska Air, which has taken over some routes during the inspections.

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