Daily Sitka Sentinel from Sitka, Alaska on August 3, 1994 · Page 3
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Daily Sitka Sentinel from Sitka, Alaska · Page 3

Sitka, Alaska
Issue Date:
Wednesday, August 3, 1994
Page 3
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UAA Prof Resigns as Credentials Looked Into . ANCHORAGE (AP) - A University of Alaska Anchorage professor hired as. an Alaska Native but who later turned out noj to be has resigned. John Smelcer quit Monday, while the university was in the middle of an investigation into his credentials. But the university's attorney said the investigation wasn't centered on whether Smelcer is an authentic Native. Rather, Jean Sagan said, the university js looking into Smelcer's claim about having had poetry accepted in The New Yorker Magazine and other publications. Smelcer could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He said in his letter of resignation that he was leaving to take another job. Smelcer has been the center of controversy since he was hired at UAA early this year. Some faculty members opposed his appointment because he was hired through a special process aimed at increasing minority staff. And then university administrators discovered he was not an Alaska Native as first was thought, but is the adopted son of an Indian. Smelcer had told university officials he was tribally affiliated with Ahtna. That's a regional Native corporation based at Glennallen. The UAA's Sagan said she became aware some of Smelcer's assertions regarding publications didn't appear to check out while she was looking into his ethnic status. In mid-June, she wrote Smelcer's lawyer, saying she had evidence he had given the university a falsified letter from The New Yorker's poetry editor. Smelcer had given the university a copy of a letter with a logo from the New Yorker at the top to document his claim the magazine planned to publish one of his poems. But the New Yorkers' poetry editor, Alice Quinn, sent the university a letter on letterhead different from the one Smelcer turned in. "I am very sorry to say that the letter you faxed me is not one I wrote ... V/e did not accept a poem entitled 'Autumn* by John E. Smelcer at any time," Quinn wrote. Dick Sutliff, Smelcer's lawyer, said his client denies having prepared the New Yorker letter. "We don't know who did," Sutliff said. "There were a number of people providing documents to the university and trying actively to get him fired. It's possible one of them did it But we don't know that." The university did not complete its investigation, and now that Smelcer has resigned the matter is moot. Layoffs Fewer Than Feared as State Copes with Budget Cuts JUNEAU (AP) -- Fewer than expected state workers are being laid off as the Hickel administration deals with the Legislature's budget cuts. Administration officials had predicted up to 125 employees statewide would lose their jobs after the fiscal 1995 budget took effect July 1. They now say the total will be closer to 70. Some employees who were to be laid off instead transferred to positions vacated by workers who retired or quit. A hiring freeze earlier this year had kept many jobs unfilled. Exact layoff numbers are unavail- Juneau Gives Funds to Fight Capital Move JUNEAU (AP) -- The Juneau Assembly has donated an additional. $129,000 ,to tiie- campaign against, moving the capital to Wasilia. The latest contribution to the Alaska Committee brings the city's total to about $150,000. Campaign manager Marilyn Heiman said the latest city contribution should last until September. The city contributed about $900,000 to help, keep the capital the last' time the issue went before voters in 1982. Alaskans will vote Nov. 8 on a measure that asks whether Wasilia, north of Anchorage, should be the seat of state government by January 1997. able because some agencies still are working on their plans for living under this year's budget The departments of Natural Resources and Health and Social Services are laying off the largest number of people, · state personnel director Kevin Ritchie said Monday. Natural Resources plans to drop 65 positions. Vacancies, retirements and the hiring freeze were expected to keep the number of people actually losing jobs to between 30 and 35, said Ellen Clothier, personnel manager for the department. So far, only 14 pink slips have gone out Only four people have been laid off at Health and Social Services, but 24 additional notices are being prepared, personnel manager Jo Olson said. Six layoffs are expected at the Administration Department; other departments expect to let go fewer .workers,Ritchie said. . : ... : : i.- The' total layoff estimate does not count jobs cut in the court system, university, Legislature and other state agencies with separate accounting systems, Ritchie said. Open Rec Set The Sitka Teen Resource Center will host open rec noon-5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at the center. Teens may play pool, fooz ball or board games. Supervision will be provided. For more information call Carisa or Rex at 747-3500. SAVE 25%-60%! Starts 8 a.m. Thursday ends 1 p.m. Sunday. Save on Rockport, Maine Woods, S.A.S., Aerosole, Life Stride, Naturalizer, Sioux Mox, Nunn Bush, Eastland all your favorite brands. Colliver Shoes Walk Rack · 2ND LEVEL BAYVIEW TRADING COMPANY Warm-Weather Bicycle Takes to Alaska Waters JUNEAU (AP) -- People get out of their cars and point when Jack Hodges is on the water off the north end of Douglas Island in Juneau. That's because Hodges is moving along the shore in something that probably no one else in the city has. It's a rowing shell, no, it's a kayak, no, it's just plain different looking. Actually, it's a water bike. Hodges, a kayaker and former powerboater, first saw the contraption at a beach resort in Mexico last year. He spent much of his vacation pedaling through warm Mexican waters. He was so impressed with the vehicle that he became the first and only Alaska distributor for the Aquatilus Water Bike, to the surprise of the manufacturer, EcoSports America Inc. of Petaluma, Calif. Hodges also owns two of them. "Silent, safe, environmentally correct," notes the brochure. Hodges said the water bike is faster than a kayak and gives more of a feeling of being part of the water. "I've had the salmon come right up to it following the lure," he said during a recent demonstration near the North Douglas boat launch. "It's just like a glass-bottom boat." A person also can propel the craft while keeping hands free to hold a fishing rod. Hodges, a biologist and pilot with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also appreciates the quiet of the water bike. His former powerboat contributed to air, water and noise pollution. The new craft does none of that. "It'd be great for day trips out of Juneau," he said. During a recent demonstration, Hodges' 14-year-old daughter, Kara, easily launched a water bike from a beach and the two raced each other in Auke Bay, with the Mendenhall Glacier as a backdrop. Sitting in a chair bolted to two 10- fpot-long polyethylene pontoons, the rider stretches his or her hgs to a set of pedals that powers a propeller just below the water's surface. The rider also can propel the craft by using its handlebars. Levers adjust the speed. Pedaling backwards puts the vehicle in reverse. The rider turns by angling the seat to the right or left, whbh shifts the stern end of the pontoons. The manufacturer claims the water bike can hit top speeds of over 8 knots, but Hodges said about 7 knots is more realistic. The whir of the pedal-driven propeller quickly brings a rider up to a cruising speed of over 3 knots. "The learning curve on this is about 30 minutes," Hodges said. He said he has had it out in seas of up to 3 feet, and said the pontoons slice through waves fairly well. EcoSports president Alan Noll said the water bike primarily has been marketed to balmy ocean and lake resorts. "(Alaska) was one of the last places we thought we would sell one," Noll said during a recent telephone interview. "We pretty much thought of this as strictly for warm weather climates." Noll and a partner have sold nearly 700 water bikes since they started in 1992. EcoSports is working on a two-person design and a sailing version. The current model weighs 90 pounds and comes in colors that include teal, banana and plum. It sells for about $2,000, with an additional charge to outfit it with fishing rod holders and storage shelves underneath the seat Hodges has yet to make a sale, but he has had the bikes in town for about a month only. Iditarod Musher Rejects Settlement Over Vaccine DENALI PARK (AP) -- Iditarod musher Bruce Lee has turned down a settlement offer from an Iowa drug company that he claims sold him tainted vaccine for his dogs. Lee says the vaccine from Fort Dodge Laboratories contaminated 27 of his 50 sled dogs, including his entire Iditarod team, with blue tongue ; virus, a disease normally found in farm animals. The vaccination, given in December 1992, was a booster shot required by Iditarod rules to prevent par- vpvirus, distemper and other canine ailments. Shortly afterward several of his dogs became ill. Blue tongue was discovered when one of his lead dogs died of kidney failure last January. Fort Dodge's settlement offer came after six months of discussions, Lee said this week. "They were offering us less than a sixth of our total loss and recovery costs," said Lee, 41, of Denali Park. "I felt it was an insult. "I told them, 'I feel like you're throwing a starving dog a bone and seeing if he'll eat it' 1 said, 'No way.' We're just going to go to court" David Hustead, Fort Dodge's director of professional services, wouldn't discuss the settlement offer. Hustead said several dozen pet owners had reported problems with the vaccine, but that none was similar to Lee's complaint Fort Dodge recalled a million doses of the vaccine and it paid for diagnostic testing of the dogs in Lee's kennel. Lee says he just wants to get back to where he was before his dogs got sick. "Since 1986, when I first started racing, the dogs always paid for themselves from racing," Lee said. "I finally earned a good dog food sponsor. Now I'm looking at no money coming in from the kennel and the possibility of no sponsorship on top of it It's a double financial blow." Lee finished 24th in this year's Idi- tarod Trail Sled Dog Race. He placed 10th last year and 12th in 1992. Before that, he finished in the money four times in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. Lee says, prior to the vaccine, his kennel paid for itself through stud fees and doe ' - . . - , . Blue tongue virus, never .before seen in Alaska, causes respiratory problems and can throw a dog's immune system out of balance. Tests through Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and Washington State University confirmed that the vaccinated dogs carried the blue tongue virus, he said. The dogs Lee didn't vaccinate remained healthy. The disease, normally found in cattle and sheep, is not contagious. Although Fort Dodge is not admitting Lee's problems came from the vaccine, the company asked him tally his losses. Lee wouldn't divulge the figure, but he said his calculations itemized lost earnings, fair market value of the dogs, loss of his dog food sponsor, and health care costs for the affected dogs. Caregivers Group to Meet The Caregivers Support Group will hold a general support meeting Thursday in Sitka Community Hospital's classroom, which is located in the basement of the hospital. A second meeting will be held August 18 at the same location. The ongoing meetings are open to adults providing direct care or arranging for the care of a family member who is experiencing a major illness or disability. DIMENSION ONE Spas Best Warranty Offered! Locally serviced by us! More jets per dollar Free delivery to your door Installation additional charge Special Introductory Offer Priced from $3399 to $5979 "~~ ' ^ Per complete details see us today! Southeast Diving Sports 203 Lincoln · 747-8279 Daily Sitka Sentinel, Sitka, Alaska, Wednesday, August 3,1994, Page 3 Dante II Climbs Hill in Volcano to Film View ANCHORAGE (AP) -- NASA's Dante II robot tiptoed up a hillock at the base of Mount Spurr's volcanic crater on Tuesday so that researchers could create a detailed video survey of the crater floor. Climbing the approximately 10- foot hill was the robot's most difficult feat so far, said David Lavery, manager of NASA's Telerobotics Research Program. "It was an extremely rugged obstacle, which involved gyrations of the robot to surmount," Lavery said. The robot was to begin climbing back up the crater wall Wednesday in what was expected to be a two-and- a-half day trip. Going up will be quicker than going down because the robot will spend more time on automatic pilot, Lavery said. "We'll just follow our footprints backup," he said. Dante II is a SI.7 million robot developed as a prototype for planetary exploration by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and built by engineers at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University. The eight-legged robot is about 10 feet tall and weighs 1,700 pounds. Its slow descent into jLhe crater has been partly automatic and partly remote- controlled by researchers in Anchorage and California. Researchers are testing the robot's ability to travel over terrain too dangerous for humans to tread and to send back detailed information. The experiment has highlighted ways in which engineers need to improve the robot's automation in order for a planetary mission to be successful, Lavery said. William "Red" Whittaker, head of the Carnegie Mellon team, said minor problems included a malfunctioning sensor that monitors the angle of the robot's tether and slippage in a.brak- ing mechanism on one of its eight legs. A secondary goal of the robot experiment has been to collect data for Alaska volcano researchers. .The robot on Tuesday visited four of several dozen clusters of vents that spew gas through the crater's crust, Lavery said. The gas was nearly pure steam with no measurable traces of sulfur. Lack of sulfur indicates a dormant volcano. But a conclusion about dormancy could not be made because most of the vents were not tested, Lavery said. No additional vents were to be visited before the ascent. Hunters Urged Not to Tar get Caribou Herd KING SALMON (AP) -- The state Department of Fish and Game has asked hunters to stop hunting animals from the Northern Alaska Peninsula caribou herd until biologists figure out why the herd decreased 20 percent in the past year. The nearby Mulchatna herd can stand up to hunting better because it is much larger, Fish and Game said this week in a news release. The Mulchat- na herd numbers 140,000 and is growing, while the Northern Alaska Peninsula herd numbers 12,000. The peninsula herd is reported down from 15,000 caribou last year. Dick Sellers, area biologist with the state Division of Wildlife Conservation, said the herd's status isn't dire enough to impose mandatory hunting restrictions, so voluntary limits were being sought. Native Leader Dies at Age 71 KOTZEBUE (AP) -- Thomas Richards, a veteran pilot and former Kotzebue mayor active in Native affairs, has died at age 71. Richards, who logged more than 39,000 flying hours, was among the first Alaska Natives to become a commercial jet pilot. He died Saturday after a long illness. He received the Purple Heart and other decorations during World War n, in which he served in the Coast Guard. He returned to Kotzebue after the war to take up a career as a commercial pilot ^Monday - Saturday 6:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m? Sunday 6:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. BREAKFAST * LUNCH * DINNER 2ND LEVEL BAYVIEW TRADING COMPANY V407 LINCOLN* 747-5440 MacDonald's Now in f progress! MacDonald's Ltd. » On Two Work Rugged Gear Store

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