Jan. 13, 2010 — You might think a deal with the devil is the only way to avoid 5:30 p.m. weekday traffic on the Old Steese Highway.

But a deal among the city of Fairbanks, Alaska Department of Transportation, property owners and the Alaska Railroad might do the trick, too.

Albert Beck, engineering manager of DOT’s Northern Region, detailed several ideas for alleviating traffic near the retail store belt at Monday night’s City Council meeting.

The DOT is willing to invest $15 million in bonds to upgrade the area encircled by College Road, the Steese Highway and the Johansen Expressway.

Proposed solutions include roundabouts, elevated “fly-over” turn lanes, railroad crossings and road extensions.

“There definitely needs to be some solution there,” Councilman Chad Roberts said. “There is a problem there, and we have a local developer who is willing to work with the DOT, the railroad and the city to help solve it.”


Jan. 13, 1995 — A Superior Court judge has ruled that unmarried couples living together should be offered the same employee health benefits at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as married couples.

The Wednesday ruling by Fairbanks Judge Mary Greene could have implications beyond the UAF campus, possibly extending to all University of Alaska campuses and eventually to all state departments, said Assistant Attorney General John Gaguine.

Greene ruled in favor of Mark Tumeo, an associate professor of engineering, and Kate Wattum, a university public affairs assistant in Fairbanks. The two sued the university in January 1994 after being denied health care benefits for their same sex partners.

In a brief written statement Thursday, Tumeo and Wattum said they are pleased with Greene’s decision.

“We think that the judge endorsed the idea that there should be equal pay for equal work and that people should receive the same pay, regardless of whether they are married or single,” the statement said.

Tumeo and Wattum claimed they were discriminated against based on marital status since the university provides health care benefits to its employees’ spouses but not to employees’ domestic partners, regardless of sex. 

Greene agreed, saying discrimination against unmarried couples, even when they are of the same sex, constitutes discrimination based on marital status. But she stopped short of defining “domestic partner.”


Jan. 13, 1970 — The News-Miner learned late this morning that U.S. Secretary of Interior Walter J. Hickel reportedly plans to issue an unprecedented order which would bar the taking of wolves on federal lands in Alaska.

According to the report, the order was to be issued by the Interior Department later today.

The order, if it is issued, may be a reaction to the adverse national publicity which Alaska received recently through an NBC documentary film, “The Wolfmen,” designed to give the impression that Alaska’s wolf population was being rapidly decimated by aerial hunting.

Should the order issue, it would be the first time that the federal government has attempted to control an indigenous, or native, game species in any state, according to one source.

Normally indigenous game within a state are subject to management by state officials, even though they may inhabit or traverse federal lands in the state.


Jan. 13, 1945 — A two-year selective service manhunt that involved snowshoes, skis and airplanes at various times was ended this week, and Thomas Leonard Johnson, 21 is in the Federal jail awaiting grand jury action in the case.

Bearded and in tattered clothing, Johnson had been out of touch with civilization until a few days ago, after disappearing in October, 1942. He had lived off wild game while moving from cabin to cabin in the Chatanika river area and remembers seeing only three men before he appeared recently at Minto on the Tanana.

Johnson was arrested Wednesday by an FBI agent assisted by Leonard Bragg and Ray Woolford of the Alaska Game Commission, who flew to Minto after receiving word from C.W. Holland that a strange man was cutting wood in the area.

Officers had made sporadic searches for Johnson over the two-year period but never succeeded in getting sight of him. On two occasions they saw his tracks from the air but both times he had moved on before the spot could be reached on the ground. In the two years, never staying more than two weeks in one spot, Johnson had ranged over an area about 100 miles long and 50 miles wide along the Chatanika River and its tributaries.