Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Petersburg fisherman named to council

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JUNEAU - Petersburg commercial fisherman Gerry Merrigan has been nominated to fill a vacancy on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council by Gov. Frank Murkowski, according to the governor's press officials.

Merrigan, 51, a fisherman since 1981, was named Friday to fill a post vacated by Arne Fuglvog. He works as a manager of government affairs for Prowler Fisheries.

Murkowski also selected two alternate nominees: Duncan Fields, a Kodiak fisherman since 1960; and Juneau's Joe Childers Jr., who also has been involved with commercial fishing since the early 1960s.

The nominees' names were submitted to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Carlos M. Gutierrez, who will make the final decision about the appointment.

The council meets in Anchorage Dec. 4 and Murkowski said he hopes a decision will have been made by that time.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to oversee management of the nation's fisheries.

State's flu vaccine is in ample supply

JUNEAU - The state should have plenty of influenza vaccine to go around this year, but some places might not receive it until later in the season, an official at the heath department said Monday.

"We don't expect to have a shortage this year," said Laurel Wood, immunization program manager with the Alaska Division of Public Health.

"The vaccines are being delivered in phases," she said. "We don't have a shortage. We just don't have all the vaccines yet."

Wood said more than 100,000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed to providers statewide. More are scheduled for delivery in November. Some health care providers secure their own supply of vaccine, outside of the public health system. The flu season peaks in the United States in February.

Wood said people need to consult their primary health care provider to find out where to get an inoculation.

"If people call their doctor today, they may not have the vaccine, and the next week they will," she said.

Bulldozer turns on its side, killing girl

ANCHORAGE - A 10-year-old Wasilla girl died Sunday of injuries suffered when a bulldozer turned on its side and trapped her.

The girl's name was not immediately made public by Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers said the girl was riding in the cab of a bulldozer being loaded onto a flatbed truck shortly after 7 p.m. at a home on Dawn Lake Drive in Wasilla.

A man was driving the bulldozer up ramps onto the truck bed. The bulldozer slipped off the ramps and rolled onto its left side. The girl fell out of the cab and was trapped underneath the machine's roll bar.

Adults and family members used jacks to lift the bulldozer and free the girl. She was transported to Providence Hospital by helicopter and pronounced dead at the hospital.

The State Medical Examiner and troopers will investigate, troopers said.

Killer whale skull to be put on display

KETCHIKAN - The skull of a killer whale found beached earlier this month will eventually be put on display, federal officials said.

"We have determined that the skull will remain in Ketchikan, given the local effort expended to obtain it and the benefit to the community," said Aleria Jensen, the Alaska marine mammal stranding coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The orca is thought to have died in September. It was found Oct. 7 by Wayne Lich, Joyce Lich and Ashley Wieber on a beach about 25 miles from Ketchikan. The cause of death remains unclear.

The skull will likely be displayed at Point Higgins Elementary School.

"As far as I know, it's the University of Alaska Fairbanks Museum of the North that had expressed interest, and we work very closely with them and try to get as many specimens as possible into their collection," Jensen said. "But in this case, we decided to have the skull remain in Ketchikan for the benefit of the community."

Village of Nikolski runs out of fuel

UNALASKA - The Aleutian village of Nikolski has run out of fuel, leaving the remote community without phone service or electricity.

Few details were available from Nikolski on Monday because all phone lines to the village were down.

Officials with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association were looking into the situation, but had little information.

Fuel suppliers in Unalaska who deliver to Nikolski said that the village had been calling them about a delivery.

But poor weather was forecast for the next few days and is expected to keep fuel barges from reaching the community before the end of the week.

Delta Western Fuels has delivered a small amount of fuel by plane for use in the Nikolski Village School, which is believed to last through midweek.

Nikolski is on Umnak Island, about 925 miles southwest of Anchorage. The village is home to about 34 mostly Native residents.

APIA President Dimitri Philemonof, who spoke with Nikolski community leaders Monday, said that the fuel shortage was a logistical problem and not related to financial issues.



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