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AK Beat: Authorities recover two bodies near Seward a week apart

Alaska Dispatch
Ken Werner photo

Two bodies found: A woman was found dead, washed ashore on the beach beside Fourth of July Creek, east of Seward across Resurrection Bay early Sunday, the Seward Phoenix LOG reported. A week before the woman was discovered, the body of 51-year-old Anchorage resident Patrick James Richard was found floating in the waters of Seward Small Boat Harbor on Jan. 19. Shortly after Richard’s body was recovered, Seward police and fire personnel combed the area for a companion, as the Anchorage man allegedly traveled south to Seward on the Kenai Peninsula to spend a weekend aboard a “pleasure boat,” the Log reported. Police identified the missing companion as 57-year-old Billie Hawk of Palmer. However, Seward Police Chief Tom Clemons said his department hasn’t identified the newly discovered female body. Both victims are being examined at the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage. Clemons said both cases are still being investigated.

JBER paratrooper collapses, dies after jump: An Anchorage-based paratrooper collapsed and died shortly after completing a jump Thursday, according to a U.S. Army press release. The U.S. Army Alaska Command said the soldier had completed his jump and packed away his parachute before collapsing at the Malemute Drop Zone on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Thursday afternoon. The soldier died about 8 p.m. at Providence Alaska Medical Center, after  emergency surgery. Army officials said the soldier’s name is being withheld pending notification of his next of kin. “There is no indication the soldier had a hard landing or any equipment malfunction in the jump he had just completed before he collapsed,” the release stated. The cause of death remains under investigation.

Expect noise from JBER through Wednesday: People living near Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson can expect to hear loud explosions through Feb. 5, as the Army conducts artillery and other training. The U.S. Army Alaska Command said its troops would be using 105 mm howitzer cannons, mortars, helicopters and drones. The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division will also be using small arms and vehicles as it trains throughout the base, which occupies more than 64,000 acres of land adjacent to Anchorage, Chugiak, and Eagle River.

New DNA evidence offers a twist in tale of Baranof goats: In 1923 the territorial government relocated a small number of mountain goats to Baranof Island in an effort to expand hunting opportunities. But new DNA analysis suggests that when those goats arrived, they must’ve encountered another population of goats that were native to the island, though unbeknownst to its human occupants at the time. According to an Associated Press report, the data was collected by state wildlife biologists, who are trying to protect the island’s population from declines such as the one witnessed in the area outside Yakutat. The AP report is based on a more in-depth piece on the subject from Sitka-based KCAW, Raven Radio, which includes a fascinating account of the biologist’s sometimes-harrowing efforts to collect tissue samples they needed -- including darting goats from a helicopter hovering just above the island’s mountain ridges.

Pies and pancakes: Two travel pieces from Outside publications take up Alaska subjects, but instead of the predictable and well-covered tourist attractions, these pieces both tackle homelier fare. Literally; they address the home-style cooking one encounters en route to more spectacular destinations. In a piece in the Chicago Tribune, travel writer Jay Jones ditches the expected  pilgrimage to Denali National Park and instead lingers over the remarkable pies at the Talkeetna Roadhouse -- pies so good that, as Jones points out, the Alaska Railroad offers a “Talkeetna Pie-Making Package” during the winter. Meanwhile, USA Today contributor Larry Olmstead headed toward Girdwood and Alyeska Resort, but instead of focusing on the world-class skiing, turned his attention to the Sourdough pancakes at the Bake Shop. He offers readers a history of sourdough’s arrival in the 49th state that will no doubt already be familiar to Alaska foodies, but the real focus is the food, including the Bake Shop’s famous sweet rolls, which one Anchorage tourism executive called a “mandatory” part of any trip to Girdwood.