Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, December 18, 2006

UAF receives grant for fisheries school

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FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska Fairbanks is finalizing the payment of a $5 million grant from the Rasmuson Foundation to redesign the schools fisheries program.

The money will be distributed over the next six years to the university's School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences as it hires new faculty and staff and adds a new degree program, according to UAF Chancellor Steve Jones.

The school plans to add a fisheries minor and a Bachelor of Arts degree to the Bachelor of Science degree it already offers.

Students who enroll in the B.A. program will take many of the same courses as those in the science track, according to Dennis Wiesenburg, dean of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Science. The B.A. program, however, will also allow students to take classes in politics and history and business management.

"It will allow us to better serve the industry by producing graduates who aren't strictly prepared for the science end of fisheries," Jones said. "A B.A. in fisheries will allow someone to be fully steeped in the science of fisheries management but have a broader base - it may be in management, it may be in some other discipline."

The university developed the concept of the B.A. in fisheries after consulting with industry leaders across the state.

"This approach, they believe, and we believe, meets the needs of those who would be hiring our graduates," Jones said.

Starting early next year, university officials will create the curriculum and map out new faculty positions.

Ed Rasmuson, board chairman of the Rasmuson Foundation, said the grant underscores the importance of training Alaskans for jobs in the state's fisheries.

"It is important that the University of Alaska's program grows our own experts who can step up both to help shape public policy and meet the industry's ongoing need for qualified leadership," Rasmuson said.

Fairbanks man pleads no contest to rape

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man who posed as a retired military colonel has pleaded no contest to raping a female soldier who returned to Alaska after serving overseas.

According to authorities, Edward Pezel, 41, approached the soldier at Dennys Restaurant and asked her for a ride. He then lured her to a secluded place and raped her.

In an agreement with the district attorney, Pezel will receive a 20-year prison sentence, which is half the minimum prison time he faced had he gone to trial and been convicted. Sentencing was set for Feb. 13.

The rape took place May 30, according to court records. Pezel approached the woman at Dennys Restaurant where she was eating a meal and identified himself as John Frankenbach. He struck up a conversation after learning the woman had recently returned from duty in Kuwait.

Pezel told her he was a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel. He gave her an e-mail address so they could keep in touch and then asked her for a ride home.

Pezel reportedly directed the woman to an area along the Richardson Highway. There, he claimed to suddenly have stomach cramps and crawled into the back seat, records stated.

When the woman stopped the vehicle and got out, Pezel hopped out and pushed her into the back seat where he pinned her and removed her clothing. He threatened to kill her, according to the complaint.

After the assault, Pezel instructed the woman to drop him off where he said a friend lived.

The woman drove to the North Pole Police Department. She gave police a detailed description of her assailant and underwent an exam at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

Funeral planned for Alaska-based soldier

BUTTE, Mont. - A funeral is planned Friday for a former Butte resident who died while fighting in Iraq.

Shawn Murphy, 24, was one of three soldiers killed on Dec. 10 when the humvee they were riding in was destroyed by a roadside bomb just east of Baghdad. He was serving with the Army's 509th Parachute Infantry.

"I found out from talking with the Army that the night Shawn was killed, he had volunteered to go out on that night patrol in place of a soldier that was sick," said his father, Mark Murphy. "That's just the kind of person he was."

Mark Murphy, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, said his son always had the feeling he wasn't going to live a long life.

Mark Murphy said his family moved frequently because of his military career. They now live at Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks.

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