State Briefs

Posted: Friday, November 09, 2001

AFN Elder of the Year a busy man

FAIRBANKS - Richard Frank keeps six phones in his ranch style Aurora home so he can be accessible easily to friends who need his help.

"Somebody might need us," he said, cradling a cell phone. It's why he and his wife, Anna, don't mind the constant phone calls.

After one or two rings he is on each call like a dispatcher, talking calmly and soothingly, answering questions, assessing the situation, dispensing advice.

It's no surprise the Alaska Federation of Natives has named him elder of the year.

Frank, 74, is no longer a working man. But retirement hasn't slowed him down much. He fills his days with community service through veterans' and Native organizations and often volunteers to help others understand Native culture and ways.

Nelson Angapak, executive vice president of AFN, said Frank was selected elder of the year because of his contributions to Alaska Natives.

"He's willing to sacrifice his time to help other elders to understand business and land issues," Angapak said. "He's one of those folks who has helped greatly the understanding of Native people by the non-Native community."

Frank was born in Minto and raised there and in Rampart. When he was almost 18, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and was sent to the South Pacific.

After leaving the military, Frank tried working for Boeing in Seattle but missed Alaska too much. "The boat life lured me back," he said. Frank made a career of boats, working his way up from deckhand to pilot to captain of stern-wheelers.

Frank also served as chief of Minto from 1960 to 1963 and was president of Minto Village Corp.

His last official job was as director of the Tanana Chiefs Conference's Alcohol and Drug Prevention program, which he ran for seven years until 1995.

Beistline nominated to U.S. court

ANCHORAGE - President Bush is nominating state Superior Court Judge Ralph Beistline of Fairbanks to be a federal judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.

The White House made the announcement Thursday. If the nomination is approved by Congress, Beistline would replace U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland, who is retiring from active practice.

Beistline, who was born in Fairbanks in 1948, has served as a state Superior Court Judge in Fairbanks since 1992.

He was one of three judges recommended to the White House to replace Holland. The others were Beverly Cutler of Palmer and Michael Thompson of Ketchikan.

Former DMV clerk pleads to thefts

ANCHORAGE - A former clerk for the state Division of Motor Vehicles has pleaded no contest to stealing from more than 70 customers who were reinstating suspended driver's licenses.

Darcy N. Riley, 28, entered the plea this week to a charge of second-degree theft. Riley was accused of manipulating a glitch in the agency's computer system in Palmer to steal more than $11,000 in fees from customers.

The glitch allowed Riley to charge drivers the full price of up to $250 to reinstate their licenses and later record the transaction as a $15 license replacement. The money was taken only from people who paid cash.

Riley is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 4.

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