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Some Wide-Eyed Alaskans Bearly Eking Out a Living

April 15, 1986|JENNINGS PARROTT

--Figuring that polar bears can make life on a drilling rig a little too tense, at least one oil company in Alaska has turned to professional spotters to keep eyes peeled for the bears and scare them off. With a hair dryer to keep the windows clear and a small stove to ward off the Arctic cold, hunters Mel Keeney, 42, and Bob Jensen, 35, keep watch for bears from a shack near a man-made drilling island at Cape Halkett. The two work for Polar Bear Monitoring Services, a small business started several years ago by Fairbanks hunting guide Gary Wallace. Keeney said the firm now employs about a half-dozen monitors. Amoco Production Co. pays the monitoring firm $31 an hour to keep the bears away from its rigs. The animals are curious and totally unafraid, Keeney said, "and human beings must take care to stay out of their way. Remember, the things polar bears eat (seals) are about the size of people."

--Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of the late Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, has received permission to leave the Soviet Union 17 months after she returned from the West, Soviet journalist Viktor Louis said in Moscow. But first, Alliluyeva, 59, will make a final trip to the republic of Georgia, where she has lived with her daughter, Olga, since her return to the Soviet Union in November, 1984, Louis said. American-born Olga, 14, will leave Moscow on Wednesday for Britain, where she will attend a Quaker school.

--A Minnesota English instructor, a self-described "fat little boy" who was the son of alcoholic parents and nearly failed in school, was named the 1986 National Teacher of the Year. Guy Doud, a teacher for 11 years at Brainerd Senior High School in Brainerd, Minn., was selected for the honor from among the nation's more than 2.5 million elementary and secondary public school teachers. President Reagan brought Doud to the White House to present him with a crystal apple. "I am a teacher because of teachers," Doud said at a news conference. "They showed me that someone else than my mother could love me." The 39-year-old teacher said he came from an alcoholic home and that his father had dropped out of school at a young age to make a living. He credited teachers with transforming him from "a fat little boy with very low self-esteem" into an educator with a reputation for caring. "Unless you live your life in service to others, you're never truly happy."

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