State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2002

Bush signs law to transfer Adak base to Aleuts

ANCHORAGE - President Bush signed a bill into law that completes the transfer of the old Adak Naval Base to the Aleut Native Corp.

The legislation by Sen. Frank Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, swaps the old base for a similar amount of corporation land. It was signed into law last week.

The agreement transfers 47,150 acres on the remote Aleutian island to the Native corporation. The transfer includes hundreds of homes, two schools, a large runway and a deep-water port built by the Navy.

The base closed in 1997.

The Aleut Corp. has said it wants to use the base for several ventures, including air and sea shipping, refueling and fish processing.

Director named for science and technology foundation

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Science and Technology Foundation announced Wednesday the name of its new director.

J.A. Hans Roeterink will replace Jamie Kenworthy, who is leaving the post at the end of the year.

Roeterink has more than 15 years of experience in the technology industry and is chief technical officer and vice president of network operations for T-Systems Inc. in New York, foundation officials said.

T-Systems holds major government contracts. Roeterink recently oversaw the design and construction of an 18,000-mile North American telecommunication network.

Roeterink, who will begin his foundation tenure Nov. 1, has spent considerable time in Alaska with his wife, Catherine, who was born and raised in Anchorage, according to foundation officials.

The foundation is a state agency that invests money to improve Alaska's economy and to increase the state's science and engineering capabilities.

Saxman council candidate gives up after tie

KETCHIKAN - A run-off election in Saxman ended up in a tie, but the issue was resolved when one of the candidates yielded to the other.

Gilbert Benge and Harvey Shields received 30 votes in Friday's run-off for a one-year seat on the Saxman City Council.

At Monday's council meeting, Shields gave up the seat to Benge, who then took the oath of office, said Saxman City Clerk Nora DeWitt.

Five council seats were available in the Oct. 1 general election. Two of those seats were for one-year terms.

Alaska motorist killed in Yukon accident

WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory - A Tok man died in Yukon Territory after he lost control of his pickup truck when it hit an icy stretch on the Alaska Highway, Canadian authorities said.

Patrick Michael Crozier, 53, was ejected from his truck in the accident, which occurred Monday evening west of Whitehorse. He was traveling alone.

Crozier was not wearing a seat belt, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Crozier was driving north on the highway between Haines Junction and Destruction Bay when he hit an icy section and the truck rolled over several times, police said.

Seldovia officials grapple with budget crunch

KENAI - Seldovia officials are considering forming service areas to help bring in new revenue to pay for fire, medical emergency and police services beyond city limits.

Seldovia Police Chief Andy Anderson said roughly 25 percent of the incidents to which police respond are outside city limits.

The city's $360,000 general fund budget includes about $106,000 for police. The state compensates the department for aiding Alaska State Troopers and for services rendered outside the city under terms of a special services contract.

But that contract pays Seldovia only about $16,700 a year, a figure that hasn't changed since 1994, Anderson said.

Meanwhile, cost-cutting by the city has eliminated a police clerical position and made a deputy's position a half-time job during the winter.

City Manager Ken Weaver said the city also spends about $45,000 a year on the Seldovia Ambulance and Fire Department, supplemented by the volunteer nonprofit Seldovia Volunteer Fire and Rescue.

Until recently, the Seldovia Village Tribe provided an EMS coordinator, but that position is empty.

Roughly 8 percent of the fire and EMS calls in 2000 were outside the city. The service averages about 20,000 volunteer hours a year, said Sue Hecks, who until this week was mayor of Seldovia.

The Seldovia City Council has not petitioned the Kenai Peninsula Borough for a new service area, in which residents pay a tax for services, but members of the council did meet with borough officials late last month to go over the procedures necessary to begin.

Anchorage Assembly wants ex-candidate to pay legal fees

ANCHORAGE - Despite a colleague's plea, Anchorage Assembly members have refused to back down from billing ex-Assembly candidate Robert Hayes for $1,721 owed the city for legal and collection fees in his failed legal challenge of the city election.

Assembly member Dan Sullivan had urged forgiveness of the debt, arguing that Hayes' lawsuit raised an important public-interest question and he should not be punished for pursuing it.

The resolution to forgive Hayes' legal fees died on a 9-2 vote at the Tuesday night Assembly meeting.

Assembly chairman Dick Traini said city taxpayers should not have to foot the bill.

"Failure (for the city to collect the fees) just invites people to file lawsuits against the city and expect the city to walk away," Traini told the Anchorage Daily News.

In April, Hayes ran for an East Anchorage Assembly seat and finished a distant third. He filed a lawsuit contesting the qualifications of the winning candidate, Brian Whittle.

Redistricting had moved Whittle's longtime neighborhood into a new district, and the city charter says candidates must live in their district for a year to be eligible to represent it.

City Attorney Bill Greene also felt that Whittle should be disqualified. But the Alaska Supreme Court sided with Superior Court Judge Peter Michalski in tossing out Hayes' lawsuit.

Michalski called the lawsuit frivolous and awarded $1,426.66 in attorney fees to the municipal clerk and the Assembly. Including collection fees, Hayes now owes the city $1,721.

Compiled from wire service reports.

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