State Briefs

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2001

Doctor's license suspended

ANCHORAGE - Following complaints on laser procedures he performed, the Alaska State Medical Board has suspended an Anchorage doctor's medical license. The board concluded that Dr. Steven Nathanson is a "clear and immediate danger to the public health and safety" if allowed to continue practicing.

Licensed in Alaska since 1977, Nathanson specializes in ear, nose and throat disorders but added other procedures in recent years, including liposuctions, breast augmentations and reductions and "tummy tucks." Most recently, he has performed laser removal of hair and tattoos.

The Division of Occupational Licensing has investigated Nathanson since 1997 and has filed accusations against him several times.

Nathanson was awaiting a Feb. 25 hearing on these accusations even as the division began receiving new complaints about his laser treatments, including one from a woman who said Nathanson burned her face during a laser surgical procedure.

Inquiry questions GCI cable bid

ANCHORAGE - The Justice Department is investigating whether GCI's bid for a 2,000-mile fiber-optic cable would give it a monopoly on phone and data traffic between Alaska and the Lower 48.

Anchorage-based General Communication Inc. is among a few telecom companies expected to bid Friday for all or some of the capacity on the $165 million undersea fiber cable owned by WCI Cable, an Oregon company that has filed for bankruptcy reorganization.

The WCI cables are being auctioned in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Portland, Ore., and include a segment between Fairbanks and Whittier and the 2,000-mile line between Whittier and Oregon.

GCI already owns the other major undersea fiber line to the Lower 48, as well as a cable along the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline. AT&T Alascom owns an older, much smaller fiber-optic cable between Alaska and the Lower 48.

Regulators are concerned GCI could have an unfair competitive advantage by owning the two cables, perhaps giving it power to mark up prices or influence consumer rates, said Alaska Assistant Attorney General Ed Sniffen.

Ron Duncan, GCI's president, said his company is mainly interested in owning a second cable so it can back up its existing line, he said.

Teen dies after soccer practice

Fairbanks - A 13-year-old Fairbanks boy collapsed and died soon after finishing indoor soccer practice, Alaska State Troopers said.

Mark Zonzel had just completed five laps inside a basketball court at Howard Luke Academy on Friday evening when he sat down and complained of a headache, said trooper Sgt. David Drvenkar. Shortly after, the boy collapsed and stopped breathing.

The boy's father, who had arrived to pick him up, tried to resuscitate him but failed, Drvenkar said. The boy was taken by ambulance to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Drvenkar said.

The boy's parents said the boy had no pre-existing condition that they knew of, according to Drvenkar. He said the state medical examiner's office will perform an autopsy.

Retired trooper, son die in accident

WILLOW - A retired trooper and his son died Saturday night in an accident north of Willow, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Edward Stauber, 53, and his son, Mason, 25, were killed in the accident that occurred around 7 p.m. at Mile 74 of the highway.

Stauber was returning from his daughter's wedding in Talkeetna when the accident occurred. His sport utility vehicle swerved and slid sideways across the center line of the highway and collided with a pickup truck.

Edward Hogan, who was driving the truck, tried to avoid the SUV but the pickup smashed into the passenger side of Stauber's vehicle. Hogan, his wife and two children were treated for minor injuries. Stauber retired from the troopers in 1997 after serving in Anchorage and Cooper Landing.

Ketchikan murder trial set for January

KETCHIKAN - A third trial has been scheduled for an 18-year-old man accused of murdering his father even though prosecutors have not decided retry the case.

Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins set a trial date of Jan. 7 for Jose M. Mateu, charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in the January 2000 shooting death of Jose R. Mateu.

Juneau District Attorney Richard Svobodny said the case has been reassigned to him. Ketchikan District Attorney Steve West was the prosecutor for the first and second trials. Both ended in hung juries.

West said the case was reassigned because of a full calendar for Ketchikan prosecutors. Svobodny said the decision on retrying Mateu will be made this week. Defense attorney Louis Menendez objected to setting a trial date. He said it would make more sense to wait until the state makes a commitment.

Airport drill set for Thursday

JUNEAU - The Juneau Airport will have a "wheels-rolling" emergency drill Thursday.

The live drill of emergency procedures will last several hours and flames and smoke may be visible in the area. Emergency vehicles and numerous participants will be actively working in and around the airport during the drill, simulating a real emergency.

Lockup fund-raiser targets disease

JUNEAU - The Alaska Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association will place some Juneau residents "behind bars" during a fund-raiser from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the Silverbow Restaurant.

Those "jailed" will be "serving time" for one hour to raise their $1,000 bail using cellular phones and airtime donated by ACS/MACtel to benefit MDA and more than 260 Alaska families living with neuromuscular disease.

Money raised at the event will help send Alaska children to summer camp, provide clinical services and ultimately find a cure for neuromuscular disease. All services provided by MDA are without cost to the families. Call (800) 478-5683 for more information.

Coast Guardsman dies while hiking

KODIAK - One off-duty Coast Guardsman was killed and another injured over the weekend after a hiking accident on Pyramid Mountain, the Coast Guard said today.

The mishap occurred sometime Saturday when the two fell down a ravine between Bear Mountain and Pyramid Mountain on Kodiak Island, the Coast Guard said.

Seaman Apprentice Ian Rodgers, of Monterey, Mass., was killed in the accident and Seaman Apprentice David Losh, of Kuna, Idaho, was injured, the Coast Guard said. Their ages were not immediately available.

They were located after Losh, who suffered a compound fracture to his leg, spelled out the words "HELP" with tree branches, the Coast Guard said.

Fisheries panel OKs seabird protection

ANCHORAGE - Endangered short-tailed albatrosses and other seabirds with a fatal attraction to bait from longline boats got a safety net Sunday in regulations approved by a federal fisheries panel.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council adopted revised regulations requiring larger vessels in the hook-and-line groundfish fishery to fly bright-colored streamers from lines while setting gear. The streamer lines will create a bird-free corridor in which baited hooks can sink.

The revised regulations, initially affecting larger vessels, are an issue the council has been wrestling with for several years.

Thorn Smith, executive director of the North Pacific Longline Association in Seattle, said he agreed with the action. "We recognize that the goal is to reduce seabird bycatch, and that the issue is so critical that we must be prepared to assume certain burdens to do so," Smith said.

He said the measures were being implemented as the result of a Washington Sea Grant Program study, which was providing the best information on the problem. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will provide free paired streamer line kits to owners of vessels fishing for groundfish and halibut in Alaska waters.

Just more than 100 years ago, millions of short-tailed albatrosses flew the Pacific, federal officials said. The species was clubbed to near extinction by Japanese feather hunters who settled on the few islands where the species bred. There are now only about 1,300 birds on two islands in the Pacific.

Other issues before the council Sunday included halibut subsistence regulations and limiting access to the crab fishery. The council voted to postpone until its April meeting in Anchorage final action on Alaska Board of Fish recommendations.

Individual fishing quotas are now an accepted part of specific fisheries, but this is the first time the council is looking at the possibility of quotas for those who process the lucrative crab harvest.

New FEMA director named

ANCHORAGE - Washington Rep. John Pennington has been appointed director of Region 10 for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The region oversees operations in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

Pennington was elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 1994 and has been Republican speaker Pro Tem since 1996. He chairs the National Conference of State Legislatures Advisory Council on Energy and represents the Pacific Northwest states on the Environmental Protection Agency's national air quality panel.

"His knowledge of the needs and capabilities of state and local leaders will be invaluable as FEMA works with its partners on preparedness for, and response to, disasters," FEMA director Joe M. Allbaugh said.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.

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