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Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, December 07, 2007

Sparse snow cover on lower runs delays Eaglecrest opening

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JUNEAU - With only one inch of snow covering the lower ski runs, Eaglecrest Ski Area announced Thursday that Saturday's planned opening day will be delayed until more snow arrives.

At least 18 inches of compact snow is needed on the lower slopes to open, said General Manager Kirk Duncan. Two more feet of snow is needed on the upper mountain, he said.

For five days, staff worked to create snow cover at the bottom of Ptarmigan Lift before a problem with the Cropley Lake intake pipe stopped snowmaking operations Tuesday.

Duncan said that 1,500 season pass holders need to have their picture taken and pass created. Now is a great time to get it done, he said.

Perseverance Trail to remain closed through December

JUNEAU - Work will continue on the Perseverance Trail throughout December as Trail Mix and Channel Construction take advantage of clear weather to restore the historic route to the Silver Bow Basin. The trail will be closed until work is completed sometime around the end of the year.

Crews are working seven days a week in the vicinity of Ebner Falls, and the public is advised not to proceed beyond the first trail head on Basin Road due to heavy equipment traffic, blasting and extremely hazardous conditions.

Once work is complete, the danger of falling rock will remain high until spring, and hikers are advised to avoid the Perseverance Trail until April.

For more information, please contact Trail Mix at 790-6406.

Ketchikan considers bid to upgrade dock pilings for cruise ships

KETCHIKAN - City officials want to repair wooden portions of two downtown cruise ship docks in time for next year's cruise ship season.

The city council next Tuesday will consider a $573,875 contract to repair portions of Berths I and II.

Steel pilings should be ordered as soon as possible to make sure repairs are completed before cruise ship season, Assistant City Manager David Martin told the council in a memo.

The wooden portion of the dock needs about $2 million in repairs, officials said. About 200 of the 1,126 wood pilings that support the deck are in very bad condition.

Maintaining the wooden dock after the interim repairs would cost the city about $1 million annually, according to engineering firm PND, Inc. Council members this fall indicted they preferred replacing the dock, in the long term, over maintaining it.

State's largest electric utility fires top executive

ANCHORAGE - The top executive of Alaska's largest electric utility has been fired.

The board of directors of Anchorage-based Chugach Electric Association voted 4-2 Wednesday to fire Bill Stewart.

Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Vazquez says Stewart wasn't making changes fast enough.

Brad Evans, a senior manager at the utility, will take over the job while a board committee searches for a new interim chief executive.

Stewart worked for Chugach for more than 30 years, taking the top job on an interim basis when the board fired his predecessor, Joe Griffith, in 2005. The next year Stewart was hired on a permanent basis.

Fire destroys home of Alaska Native artist Riba DeWilde

EAGLE - A fire destroyed the home of Riba DeWilde, an Alaska Native artist known for her sewing and bead and bone work.

DeWilde said she was just able to get her three children out of the smoky two-story log cabin, but none had time to put on shoes.

DeWilde lost all of her art supplies in the Wednesday fire. They were only able to save a beaver skin parka made by her late mother.

She believes the fire was caused by a device to polish stones she left unattended after falling asleep.

The Eagle Volunteer Fire Department responded to the fire, about 10 miles outside of town, but by then it was too late.

"It was so windy that when it broke through the wall there was nothing anyone could do," she said.

Fairbanks man gets 19 years on burglary, other charges

FAIRBANKS - A 25-year-old Fairbanks man will spend 19 years in prison following his convictions for burglary, theft and forgery.

Authorities say Burke W. Dentler was part of a burglary ring which traded stolen goods for drugs.

He was arrested in February after trying to cash checks on a closed account belonging to an 83-year-old woman.

Dentler told police he committed so many burglaries in the span of a year that he couldn't remember them all, prosecutors said at the Wednesday hearing when arguing for a stiff sentence.

He was indicted on 10 counts of second degree forgery, eight counts of second degree theft, three counts of first degree burglary and one count of third degree misconduct involving weapons.

Search for missing helicopter continues in Prince William Sound

ANCHORAGE - Searchers continued looking Thursday for a missing medical helicopter in Prince William Sound.

Alaska National Guard spokeswoman Sgt. Karima Turner said weather provided searchable conditions Thursday, but cloud cover still made aerial searches more difficult.

Aircraft from federal and state agencies were being assisted in the search by a Coast Guard cutter and private fishing boats. The Alaska Railroad also assisted by sending employees on snowmobiles to search a glacier.

Efforts are being concentrated on the last known position of the LifeGuard Alaska helicopter that vanished Monday evening while heading to an Anchorage hospital from Cordova.

Those on board were patient Gaye McDowell, 60, of Cordova; pilot Lance Brabham, 42, of Soldotna; flight nurse John Stumpff, 47, of Sterling and paramedic Cameron Carter, 25, of Kenai.



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