State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2001

Alaska volcanologist wins international award

FAIRBANKS - An international group has honored a University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist as one of the best young volcanologists in the world.

Jim Gardner, an assistant professor at the university's Geophysical Institute, has been named recipient of the 2002 Wager Medal. The medal is presented every four years by the International Association for Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior. It is given to volcanologists younger than 40.

Gardner, 38, will share the award with co-recipient Andrew Woods of Great Britain. They were selected from among thousands of volcanologists worldwide.

Gardner's work has helped others understand how magma, molten rock within the earth, changes during its ascent to the surface through volcanoes. "I think a practical use of this is improving our ability to forecast eruptions because of the geophysical signals that we see," said UAF professor John Eichelberger, who made the nomination.

Gardner has studied volcanoes all over the world, including Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia and the Canary Islands. He will receive the award in May in Martinique, where 100 years ago Mount Pelee erupted and destroyed a nearby town, killing 30,000 people.

Gov. Knowles names new habitat director for state

ANCHORAGE - The state director of the National Parks Conservation Association has been chosen to head the state Division of Habitat.

William "Chip" Dennerlein, 51, a former state parks director, was picked for the job Tuesday by Gov. Tony Knowles.

"Chip Dennerlein knows the land, resources, communities, people, and challenges of rural and urban Alaska firsthand," Knowles said. Dennerlein will earn approximately $72,000 annually in his new job. He begins Jan. 7.

Dennerlein worked as a special assistant in the Department of Natural Resources during the administration of Gov. Jay Hammond. He worked as executive manager of public services and intergovernmental affairs for the Municipality of Anchorage during Knowles' two terms as mayor.

In private business, Dennerlein has managed a commercial fishing company and consulted with Alaska Native corporations on projects ranging from land exchanges and conservation agreements to oil and gas exploration and development.

The Legislature in May rejected Dennerlein's appointment to the state Board of Game.

Fisheries council director resigns

KODIAK - Clarence Pautske, the executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, is leaving to run the newly established North Pacific Research Board.

Pautske, who spent 21 years with the council, leaves Dec. 31 to take over the new Anchorage-based post.

Congress established the 19-member board to coordinate marine research projects planned for the North Pacific, Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean. The panel is financed by the Environmental Improvement and Restoration Fund, which arose out of a legal dispute more than two decades ago.

The 1979 Dinkum Sands lawsuit involved a dispute between the United States and Alaska about ownership of submerged lands along Alaska's Arctic coast. In 1997 the Supreme Court decided in favor of the United States.

Over the course of the case, $1.6 billion in oil lease revenues accumulated in escrow accounts. About $1.5 billion went to the federal government and $4.2 million to the state of Alaska.

Half of the $1.5 billion was designated to establish the Environmental Improvement and Restoration Fund.

"This particular fund is targeted on marine ecosystem (research) and to support fisheries management targeted toward living marine resources off Alaska," Pautske said. "There's a tremendous amount (research money) that comes through various agencies."

Alaska may already meet new federal student testing requisites

FAIRBANKS - Alaska may already comply with the nationwide student testing requirements that Congress has approved and President Bush is expected to sign.

Ed McLain, deputy commissioner of education in Juneau, said he had not seen the details of the bill passed Tuesday by the U.S. Senate but thought Alaska's testing program would meet the new rules.

"In general we think that this is in a direction that is very similar to the direction the state has taken," McLain said.

Under the bill passed Tuesday, the federal government will require student testing in grades three through eight.

The state of Alaska requires standards-based benchmark testing in grades three, six and eight, as well as the state high school exit exam, starting in the 10th grade. The state also requires that students in grades four, five, seven and nine take norm-referenced tests. This year those students will take the TerraNova California Achievement Test.

Standards-based tests measure students' knowledge and abilities. Norm-referenced tests compare a student's performance to others in a peer group.

Under the federal bill, failing schools would get more money, at least initially. Students who attend such schools could use federal money for tutoring or for rides to better schools.

McLain said he had not seen the final definition of failing and so could not speculate about how many schools in Alaska might qualify.

Suspect in critical care after shooting

FAIRBANKS - A man shot in a gunfight with an Alaska State Trooper remained in critical condition Wednesday, suffering from a wound to his lower abdomen and severe hypothermia.

Timothy "Chad" Lobdell stuck a sawed-off shotgun out of a car window and shot at Trooper Michael Wery early Monday morning, officials said. Wery returned fire and wounded Lobdell, who then fled into the wooded hills north of the city limits.

Lobdell, 24, was found suffering from the gunshot wound, hypothermia and frostbite about 90 minutes later. The temperature was 35 below zero.

Trooper Scott Johnson said officers tried yelling at Lobdell to persuade him to give himself up, but he refused to answer. Lobdell is on probation but had stopped meeting with his probation officer. A no-bail warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Wery, 41, was not injured but was placed on administrative leave for 72 hours under departmental policy.

Compiled from Associated Press reports.

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