Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Juneau School Board names officers

JUNEAU - The newly constituted Juneau School Board, with four new members, elected Mary Becker its president at Tuesday's meeting.

Robert Van Slyke was named vice president. A new member, Rhonda Befort, was named clerk. The board has seven members.

Befort and other new members Phyllis Carlson, Julie Morris and Andi Story were sworn into office by Juneau Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks.

Alan Schorr, an incumbent who won re-election by one vote, was ill and attended the meeting briefly by telephone. The city, in response to an application by 13 voters, plans to recount the School Board ballots today.

Schorr was not present during the swearing in, but he did not have to be sworn in to retain his seat.

Schorr is a board member until he is replaced, said City Attorney John Hartle.

Valdez man charged in mother's death

ANCHORAGE - A 31-year-old Valdez man is accused of killing his mother, Valdez police said Tuesday.

Daniel Lee Nichols was indicted by a grand jury Monday on charges of first-degree murder and weapons misconduct, Lt. Bill Comer said.

Nichols' mother, Dixie Lee Nichols, was found dead Oct. 15 in a campground near the Valdez airport, about three hours after she was reported missing by her family. Comer said the state medical examiner's office determined the 58-year-old woman died by asphyxiation.

The younger Nichols was arrested the same day on the weapons charge for being a felon in possession of a weapon, according to Comer. He declined to discuss a motive.

Daniel Nichols was scheduled for arraignment today.

Man dies after falling off Seattle crab boat

JUNEAU - A man died after falling off a crab boat from Seattle despite the efforts of two fellow crew members to pull him from the frigid Bering Sea, the Coast Guard said.

Vernon Rosendahl, 46, spent 20 minutes in the water without survival gear and wasn't conscious or breathing when he was brought back aboard the 110-foot Shaman, Coast Guard officials said.

Rosendahl, whose home town was unknown early Tuesday, was pronounced dead after being flown by Coast Guard helicopter about 85 miles to Cold Bay, a Coast Guard spokesman in Juneau said.

The death was apparently the only one during the five-day Bristol Bay red king crab season, which ended about four hours after Rosendahl was "knocked from the stacks" of crab pots and fell into the water about 1:45 p.m. Alaska time, the Coast Guard said.

According to the Coast Guard, another crew member put on a survival suit, leaped into the water and could not be seen for a time. A second crew member then donned a survival suit and entered the water.

The first would-be rescuer and Rosendahl were taken aboard the Shaman moments later, and the second crew member was picked up by the nearby Bering Star, also based in Seattle.

Weather at the time had subsided to 22-knot winds and 8-foot seas from the gale-force winds and massive swells that prevailed earlier in the season, the Coast Guard said.

Of the boats that participated in the king crab season, more than half - about 140 - were based in Seattle or other Puget Sound ports. The Shaman is owned and operated by Dan Madsen, president of the Alaska Crab Coalition in Seattle.

Kasilof woman indicted for boyfriend's murder

KENAI - A Kasilof woman has been indicted by a Kenai grand jury in the shooting death of her boyfriend.

Betsy Hester, 50, is charged with one count of second-degree murder. She is accused of killing John E. Clark, 49, of Kasilof.

Hester called Alaska State Troopers at 1:47 a.m. Oct. 4, reportedly saying she had shot Clark. The initial investigation revealed the shooting happened following a domestic dispute, troopers said. They said Clark had been shot with a semiautomatic pistol.

Ex-employee settles lawsuit with utility

KETCHIKAN - Ketchikan Public Utilities has settled a lawsuit filed by a former employee who claimed the utility retaliated against him for reporting a 1999 fuel spill.

Michael Carlile, who filed the lawsuit in late 2001 shortly after resigning from the utility's electric division, agreed to settle the case for $140,000.

Anchorage attorney Frank Koziol, representing the utility and other defendants, said KPU's insurance company settled rather than go through what was expected to be a costly three-week trial.

Carlile said he also was not able to continue funding the lawsuit to trial.

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