Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, October 14, 2004

Donations sought to continue Sitka search

JUNEAU - The sister of one of the five men who disappeared when a Harris Air floatplane failed to arrive as scheduled to Baranof Warm Spring Bay in September is seeking donations to continue the search.

The Coast Guard gave up the search 10 days after the plane from Sitka was reported missing Sept. 20. Passengers were Jim Murphy of Sequim, Wash., his twin brother, Joe Murphy of Bremerton, Wash.; Jerry Balmer of Auburn, Calif.; and Lloyd Koenig of Pleasanton, Calif. The pilot was Erik Johnson of Sitka.

Pat Koenig Flesuras, sister of Lloyd Koenig, said last week that she believes they could be found. "They had food for the lodge on the plane. These are ironworkers, used to working in harsh conditions, and most of the men were avid fishermen."

She said the search covered several hundred miles between Sitka and Baranof Warm Spring Bay and included shoreline and nearby forest areas around Kruzof Island, Salisbury Sound, Chatham Strait, Peril Strait, Takatz Bay, Point Elizabeth, Rodman Bay and Ushk Bay to Hoonah Sound.

To continue the search, families need to pay for gasoline to help the volunteers. Donations can be sent to Wells Fargo Bank, 300 Lincoln St., Sitka, AK, 99835. The account number is 7038094699. The bank's telephone number is (907) 747-3226.

Kenai Peninsula brown bear hunt likely

KENAI - If the situation remains the same, hunters on the Kenai Peninsula will likely be doing some brown bear hunting this season.

There hasn't been a hunt for brown bears on the peninsula for three years.

Jeff Selinger, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said it looks like the regular hunting season will open as planned.

Each year, Selinger sets a quota on the number of bears that can be killed by humans. The number includes those killed in defense of life or property, by vehicles or through hunting.

There have been few enough human-caused bear deaths to allow the hunt to go forward, Selinger said.

"Unless something drastic happens, we will have a hunt," he said.

Hunters must register at the state Department of Fish and Game offices in Kenai, Homer or Anchorage. They also must have a locking tag and can only hunt if they've not taken a brown bear on the peninsula within the past four years.

Official says ad with UA president violated policy

FAIRBANKS - University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton violated university policy with appearances in advertisements endorsing a school board candidate, according to a Board of Regents official.

The two newspaper advertisements were for Kip Harmon, a former associate athletic director at UA Fairbanks.

The inclusion of Hamilton's job title along with his name broke the regents' policy forbidding such official endorsements, regents executive officer Jeannie D. Phillips told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Phillips said Hamilton probably will not face repercussions for the matter. She said the inclusion of the job title clearly was not at Hamilton's direction.

Hamilton acknowledged the error. He told KUAC-radio that the advertisement's reference to him as UA president is against policy because it implied that the university itself endorsed Harmon.

"It's a very simple case of not having people believe that the institution supports these individuals, that's all you're trying to avoid," Hamilton said.

AIDEA to sell bonds for Fairbanks hospital

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority will sell $120 million in revenue bonds on behalf of Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and its expansion plans.

AIDEA, a state development agency, will only issue the bonds. The hospital, the main health care services provider for the Fairbanks North Star Borough, is responsible for repaying the debt.

Hospital officials said they will use the money to build a new outpatient imaging center, triple the size of the emergency room, and replace boilers, laundry, trash and other systems.

The expansion is one of several large Alaska hospital construction projects and underscores the growing importance of the health care industry to the state's economy.

"It is the most dynamic sector in the economy as far as employment goes," said Neal Fried, an economist with the state Labor Department.

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