Around Alaska

Posted: Monday, November 05, 2001

Native educator Effie Kokrine dies

FAIRBANKS -- Effie Kokrine spent the last day of her life singing, dancing, telling jokes and laughing a lot with other elders in Tanana, an Athabascan village at the confluence of the Yukon and Tanana rivers.

After a short nap late Thursday night and a game of solitaire, Kokrine, 82, a dog musher and educator in the Fairbanks School District, died in her sleep Friday at the Tanana Elders residence overlooking the Yukon River she so loved. Kokrine was in Tanana to attend the first anniversary memorial potlatch for Elizabeth "Pinky" Folger, her sister-in-law.

Daughter Dee Linzner had picked up Kokrine in Fairbanks and driven her to the airport.

"She was in an excellent mood," Lizner said "She was singing and translating the hymn 'In the Sweet By and By' into Koyukon Athabascan."

Before landing in Tanana, Kokrine asked the pilot to divert the plane slightly and fly over the family's Yukon River fish camp between Tanana and Rampart, where her son Robert is living.

Fairbanks school children knew Kokrine as "Grandma Effie" and she taught them Athabascan culture for the past two decades.

"When we heard the news, we had everybody in tears," said Riki Sipe, director of federal programs at the Fairbanks school district. "Everybody knew Effie. She was so vibrant and alive and involved in everything."

Born March 23, 1919, in a camp on the Tanana River, Kokrine grew up experiencing those stories. In 1949, Kokrine and her late husband, Andy, moved to Fairbanks. She adjusted to city living and made an early claim to fame by winning the Women's North American Sled Dog Championship for three years from 1952-54.

Cell phone charge on Assembly agenda

JUNEAU -- The Juneau Assembly will consider a resolution tonight that imposes a 75-cent surcharge on cell phone and wireless telephone users who have a Juneau billing address. The city currently charges regular telephone users the 75-cent fee with the proceeds going toward 9-1-1 dispatch services, according to the city. The change would take effect Jan. 1 and help defray the cost of enhancing the 9-1-1 system, the city said.

The Assembly also will consider comments to the Alaska Department of Transportation about local review of state highway projects. The state has proposed limiting local review to legal planning and zoning requirements only. A draft resolution would urge the state to provide the widest scope of review possible.

The meeting starts at 7 tonight at Assembly chambers.

Game Bd. member won't seek new term

ANCHORAGE -- Board of Game member Mike Fleagle of McGrath has announced he will not seek another term after his board appointment ends Jan. 31.

Fleagle, a strong supporter of wolf control, said during a board meeting in Anchorage that he did not want to wait until he heard from the governor.

"After two terms on the board, I've contributed as much as I feel I can," said Fleagle, who was appointed by Gov. Tony Knowles in 1996. "I'd like to move on."

Fleagle said he was proud to serve and thought he did important work on predator control discussions. However, he often was frustrated by the frequent turnover of board members and said members are too often caught in political battles.

Fleagle serves on the board of Doyon Ltd., the Fairbanks-based regional Native corporation, and is first chief of the McGrath Native Village Council. Board members Greg Streveler and chair Greg Roczicka also end their terms in January.

Man held for assault damages jail cell

KETCHIKAN -- A man jailed for allegedly assaulting a trooper at the Ketchikan airport broke a sprinkler in his cell over the weekend, causing several thousand dollars in damage, Alaska State Troopers said.

Troy S. Smart, 30, will face charges of criminal mischief after the incident Saturday, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson. Smart broke the sprinkler system and caused his jail cell and two adjoining rooms to flood with water and fire suppression chemicals, Wilkinson said.

Smart was under observation at Ketchikan Correctional Center after he swallowed a small plastic bag containing a substance that resembled heroin, officials said. They said Smart ingested the bag during a fight with officers at the airport terminal Wednesday.

No home confinement in paintball incident

ANCHORAGE -- A judge has refused to recommend home confinement for the man convicted of videotaping paintball attacks that targeted Alaska Natives last winter.

Charles Wiseman, 20, has spent most of his six-month sentence in solitary confinement because of fear other prisoners might harm him, according to the Department of Corrections.

Wiseman's attorney argued that such "hard time" was not intended as part of the sentence and asked that Wiseman be allowed to serve the balance of his time at home with electronic monitoring.

In an order issued last week, Judge Peter Ashman refused the request. If anyone had asked him at sentencing, Ashman said, he would not have approved electronic monitoring for Wiseman.

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