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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.

George Strait won top male vocalist and album of the year trophies at the Academy of Country Music Awards, while Alabama picked up its 13th award for top vocal group. "I love this. thank you," a delighted Strait told the audience at Knott's Berry Farm amusement park outside Los Angeles after winning his second Hat award of the evening for his LP, "Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?" Alabama, a perennial favorite of the academy, was named the top vocal group and holds the record for most music academy awards. Ronnie Milsap's "Lost in the Fifties," a nostalgic mix of country and doo-wop , won song of the year. Judy Rodman took the award for best new female vocalist. Her current song, "Until I Met You," is climbing the county charts. The mother and daughter team The Judds captured honors for top vocal duet. The Tex Ritter Award for top country motion picture went to "Sweet Dreams," a movie based on the life of Patsy Kline.

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