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Monday, March 10, 2003

Non-fiction videos: Edification and enjoyment in one little package
'Life Breath & CPR and CPR Review for Infants and Children'

Sensible seniors' plan
After all the empty talk in Washington about fixing important entitlements programs, something refreshing happened this week: The President delivered a remarkably sensible blueprint for fixing Medicare and dramatically improving the quality of health care for all seniors.

Bait and switch on education funding
No one understands better than school administrators - superintendents, business officials and principals - how difficult it is to balance a budget, and we admire Gov. Murkowski for his courage to propose drastic reductions in state spending.

To be continued ...
We thank Lowell S. Barrick for his kind letter and classic demonstration of that great liberal open-minded tolerance we keep hearing about.

Unanswered questions
It seems President Bush is determined to turn a deaf ear toward the growing chorus of doubt on Iraq.

A spoke in the wheel
In any military action against Iraq you will not see Bruce Willis, his ex-wife, nor any other star, manning the gun turrets in a race toward Baghdad upon orders from the commander-in-chief. The Black Sheep squadron of WWII will not control the skies, nor will John Wayne, Charlton Heston or Gene Hackman provide sea support. But I would wager their stand-ins in reality would do them proud, as will our military forces.

Who's playing games?
On Thursday, the Empire published a seven-paragraph letter by Axel Thibodeau. The letter criticized "peaceniks" and anti-war slogans.

Peddling influence
What makes an amateur into a professional? Standards are strict for athletes and hookers - accept money and you are a pro. So far Alaska is more lenient on lobbyists: A paid lobbyist can go to Juneau and lobby up to four hours per month before being declared a professional. As such, he must pay a $100 registration fee, and be subject to Lobbyist Regulations. A registered lobbyist can only contribute to his own district's legislators. Aye, there's the rub.

This is conservatism?
I have prepared my own report card for the Bush Administration.

Pen is still mightier than the sword
I am honored to have Jane Roodenburg quote from my poem, "Shoot-Out at the Bergman Hotel," especially since, to the best of my knowledge, she only heard it once at an open mike over five years ago.

Threats to world peace
An anonymous source within the CIA, the mother of all intelligence-gathering agencies, revealed to CNN yesterday that in the wee, wee hours of a recent morning during a brief stop between safe houses, Saddam Hussein took a moment to urinate on an American flag and wipe his behind with hundred dollar bills.

Respect land, people
A local woman writes a kind, non-confrontational letter in her local paper and gets blasted by an outsider shooting from the hip. Not in Juneau, right? Wrong.

President Bush is crippling democracy
Like many Alaskans and citizens worldwide, I am deeply concerned with the heavy-handed policies and blatant disregard for diplomacy that our current administration endorses. Our "elected" commander-in-chief is systematically crippling the foundation of democracy, the voice of the people.

A tax is a tax
Governor, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a gas tax. And, not everyone because of job requirements can ride a bus!

An abominable decision
The governor's proposal to terminate the longevity bonus for seniors reminds me of the comic strip Peanuts. Lucy promises Charlie Brown she will cooperate with him and allow him to kick the football while she holds it. Just as he runs close to the ball, Lucy yanks it away causing Charlie Brown to fall hard on his rear. Lucy's actions are deliberate and timely executed, yet Charlie Brown, who is a trusting soul, invariably falls for the trick. Most of us seniors, like Charlie Brown, want to trust our government because we feel that we are an integral part of it. Unfortunately, the governor's plan to eliminate the longevity bonus leaves us with a feeling that we have been betrayed.

Around Town
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Program targets attitudes about pregnancy, drinking
Alaska is on the forefront of states trying to create a systematic way of diagnosing and treating FAS, said Diane Casto, program manager for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' Office of FAS. The state began its concentrated effort at addressing FAS in 1997. "We knew we had a huge problem, we knew that anecdotally we had one of the highest rates of FAS in the nation, and we knew that our state was not doing enough to truly address this 100 percent preventable disability," Casto said.

Assembly may ease mine permit reviews
Randy Wanamaker's vision of Juneau's future is one of economic diversity, with mining as a key player. It's part of the reason why he's pushing to streamline the city's mining permit process. "Our economy really needs diversification, we have state budget cuts, we probably have state employee reductions coming and Juneau needs to have other opportunities," the Juneau Assembly member said. "These mining projects provide us with those opportunities. We can have the economic diversification without sacrificing any environmental quality."

Habitat Division layoffs made official
Layoff notices were sent to 22 employees at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Habitat Division on Friday. Seven jobs will be cut in Juneau, 10 in Anchorage, three in Sitka, and one each in Fairbanks and Ketchikan. An additional 12 vacant positions in Fish and Game will be eliminated. Seventeen of the jobs are classified permanent positions and five are nonpermanent positions.

Police and Fire
Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers reported:

Correction
The caption for Sunday's Page 1 Empire photo of the Hunt family incorrectly named Jake Hunt as the boys' father. The father's name is Lester Hunt. Also, due to a reporter's error, the origin of Lester Allen III's name was incorrect. He is named after his father, Lester Hunt, and the Hunt's oldest son, Lester Allen Hunt II.

Proposed mining-ordinance changes
What's in place now: The city's existing mining ordinance outlines permit procedures for small and large mines in Juneau. It requires the city to review whether local mining projects meet air and water quality standards; properly contain and dispose of sewage, solid waste, hazardous and toxic materials; minimize safety hazards; and protect historic sites.

Weekend shooting caused by anti-drug argument
An argument about drugs resulted in one man suffering a gunshot wound to his shoulder, according to court records released today.

This Day in History
In 1959, The Air Force launched an investigation into reports of the Explorer satellite exploding over Alaska. (It was either that or a UFO.)

Heliport EIS to broaden its focus
A pending environmental study should provide more detail about where a new Juneau heliport might go and what it would look like, city officials said. A massive federal appropriations bill approved by Congress last month sends $350,000 to the U.S. Forest Service and $1 million to the Federal Highway Administration to study alternative heliports in Juneau. In addition, the city set aside another $500,000 in cruise ship passenger fees last spring for alternative heliports and quiet technology.

Focusing on the hidden disability
When Margaret and Lester Hunt's five adopted adolescent boys moved into their home in 2001, four of them chose to take new names to symbolize their new lives. One no longer wanted to share an identity with his biological father, so he changed his name to Jake. Another wanted to assume the name of his adoptive father and grandfather and became Lester Allen III. "They wanted to leave their past behind," said Margaret Hunt.

Business financing workshop Wednesday
Financing Your Business, a seminar presented by the Juneau Small Business Development Center, will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Atlin retreat
Atlin, British Columbia, is situated on the shore of Atlin Lake and is about 100 miles north of Juneau, across the Juneau Icefield. The town can be reached by plane from Juneau, or by taking the state ferry to Skagway and driving 160 miles. The town was founded in 1898 when gold was discovered nearby; its name is from the Tlingit "Ã Tlén," meaning big water and referring to the long, narrow lake. Its year-round population today stands at about 450 residents.

AroundTown
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Police & Fire
Reports by Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

Longtime local teacher named Gastineau Elementary principal
Juneau teacher Angie Lunda has been named principal of Gastineau Elementary School, and California teacher Patricia Newman has been selected principal of Mendenhall River Community School. Their names will be forwarded to the Juneau School Board for final approval. They would start next school year.

Penny drive donation
Andy Macaulay, manger of the Nugget office of Alaska Pacific Bank, presents a check to Annie Eichorst during a ceremony at Resurrection Lutheran Church on Friday. Students from the Juneau-Douglas High School Choice program had a penny drive for St. Vincent de Paul Society to support job training for Eichorst. Eichorst, who has Williams syndrome, has been volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul for the past two years. Alaska Pacific Bank matched the donated funds, bringing the amount of the check to $644.54.

City, ANB Camp 2 working on pulltab tax payments
The new president of Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp 2 says his organization fully intends to pay more than $300,000 it owes the city in back taxes. "We're interested in taking care of everything that is owed," ANB Camp 2 President Andy Ebona told Juneau Assembly members last week.

Tourism fee plan opposed by industry
Some of Alaska's tour operators are crying foul at the governor's proposal to charge out-of-state tourists a $15 "wilderness conservation" fee, saying they would be more amenable to the plan if the money went to benefit the industry. Revenue from the pass, estimated at between $7 million and $8 million, would be deposited into the state's general fund, which is used for governmental operations. According to House Bill 163, some of that money could be used for fish and wildlife management, viewing and education programs.

Carl F. Nickel
Former Juneau resident Carl F. Nickel, 66, died Feb. 21, 2003, in Mesa, Ariz.

Denise L. Fletcher
Juneau resident Denise L. Fletcher, 46, died Thursday, March 6, 2003, in Sitka.

Empire editorial: Thumbs, some up, others down
Thumbs up to Juneau-Douglas High School's student-scientists. Experiments presented at the Southeast Alaska Regional Science Fair in Juneau earned the top awards and trips for four students to Cleveland, Ohio, to compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

What education priority?
Gov. Frank Murkowski said during last year's campaign that education is his top priority. After hearing his budget plans..., we can't wait to see how he treats his lower priorities. Here's what the governor said during the campaign:

My Turn: Expanding DNA databases will save lives
Alaska has the highest percentage of reported rapes per capita in the United States and has held this ranking for 19 of the last 26 years. Anchorage currently ranks fifth out of 274 metropolitan areas of reported rapes, half of which are reported by Alaska Natives.

My Turn: Avoid temptations of 'divide and conquer'
I have some obsessive traits - nothing psychotic but I tend to focus strongly on things that catch my attention. Mostly this is shunted into work, greatly assisting my employment and physical survival over the years.

Don't slash valuable school
Last month, as a student with Alyeska Central (correspondence) School (ACS), I participated in the Close Up program in Washington, D.C. It was a wonderful program for students to learn about how our government works. I have also attended the Academic Decathlon on the ACS team for my entire high school career. We placed fourth in the state three years in a row. Correspondence study is a type of schooling where all student-teacher interaction is through mail, telephone or Internet. I have been home-schooled through correspondence study with ACS for my entire life, and am now a senior.

My Turn: What do you need from the Tongass?
There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot." When Aldo Leopold penned those words, the future looked a little bleak for wild things and wild lands. It seemed as if the 20th century would end with no place that hadn't been paved, roaded, tamed.

My Turn: One down and one to go
T he U.S. Forest Service just released its decision recommending that no more wilderness be added to the Tongass National Forest. I believe it was the correct decision. Here's why.

Toe Cartoon

What do you think?
No, from the Brotherhood Bridge to Eagle Beach is the area that needs improvement.

My Turn: For Alaska, the rainy day has arrived
This letter is in response to a belief apparently held by the majority of Alaska voters and most recently expressed in a Letter to the Editor that threatened a recall vote should the Legislature consider using our Permanent Fund to help pay education expenses in Alaska.

Helping kids discover Southeast
On a recent Thursday, two Discovery Southeast naturalists led students from a fourth-grade class on a two-hour outdoor winter field trip to study adaptation as part of the Nature Studies program. Led by Steve Merli and Darren Snyder, half of Greg Beck's Mendenhall River Community School class bundled up in sleeping bags under a tarp, writing and imagining they were hibernating. The other group hiked off through a labyrinth of trees, over snow-covered logs, off the trail and into the forest to learn how the animals of Southeast adapt to winter.

Out and About
March 9: Smallbore rifle silhouette shoot at the Hank Harmon Rifle Range, 8:30 a.m. registration, shoot at 9:30 a.m. Details: www.go.to/jrpc/. March 9: 4-H Nordic Ski Club meeting, 1:30-3 p.m. For location and activity, call the 4-H office, 465-8749.

Touring the solar system on foot
Taking a tour of the solar system is as easy as taking a walk. At Twin Lakes, the one-mile paved walking trail has been painted with the sun and the nine planets, incorporating their relative size and relative distance apart.

Hunting education course offered by Department of Fish and Game
A hunting education program required for anyone younger than 16 who wants to hunt waterfowl unaccompanied on the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge is planned for 8 a.m. Saturday, March 15, starting at the Education and early Development Department board room in the Goldbelt Building downtown.

Eaglecrest schedules skiing, boarding, telemark clinics
Eaglecrest plans clinics for telemarkers, downhill skiers and snowboarders who want to improve their skills. The "Get Off Your Heels" adult telemark series of classes runs from 1 to 4 p.m. today and the next two Sundays, March 16 and 23. Cost is $30 a session.

Snow report
• Eaglecrest Ski Area, Juneau: Platter, Ptarmigan and Hooter lifts operate about 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday through Monday. The tubing hill and terrain park are closed.

Sørlie, Brooks leading pack out of Kaltag
KALTAG - Norwegian musher Robert Sørlie was on the move and ahead of the pack again early today, leaving the Kaltag checkpoint at 4:41 a.m.

Juneau boys silence Sitka's victory bell
The Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team closed out its regular season with a sweep of the Sitka Wolves this weekend, silencing Sitka's victory bell and spoiling the Wolves' senior night party. The Crimson Bears won 53-41 on Friday and 52-46 on Saturday, as Juneau got early double-digit leads but had problems sustaining the margins in both games.

Right on cue
A smoky haze drifted near the ceiling of the Viking Lounge's upstairs pool room as the sound of pool balls colliding resonated throughout the bar. Even with the lights dimmed, all eyes were focused on the action at the bar's seven tables as dozens of Southeast Alaska's top pool players competed this weekend at the Capital City Classic, Juneau's premiere pool tournament.

Sports in Juneau
Information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Will LeBron save struggling Cavs?
It's so quiet inside 20,562-seat Gund Arena during Cavaliers' games that you can almost hear an NBA lottery pingpong ball drop. Not in Section 100, Row 12, though. There, "Ricky D's Renegades" are whooping it up while the NBA's worst team staggers toward another loss down below.

Arctic Man classic a go
While a lack of snow and warm weather around much of the state has forced the cancellation and relocation of many of Alaska's winter events, the Arctic Man Ski-N-Sno Go Classic Arctic will go on as scheduled. Organizer Howie Thies said there is more than enough snow to hold the annual event at Hoodoo Mountain 200 miles south of Fairbanks.

Student of the game
By day Tom Kitka is a drafting student at the University of Alaska Anchorage. At night, you could say Kitka is a student of the game of pool. Kitka, who grew up in Sitka and is a former Juneau resident, won the 9-Ball championship and teamed up with Juneau's Sonny Cortez to win the Scotch doubles title in Sunday's finals of the Juneau Billiard Association's Capital City Classic. Jim Scudero of Ketchikan won the 8-Ball crown.

Juneau girls wrap up perfect record in Region V play
It wasn't pretty, but the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team swept its two-game road weekend series against Sitka this weekend to post a perfect regular-season record in Region V-Class 4A play. The Crimson Bears beat the Wolves in a pair of low-scoring games, winning 35-26 on Friday and 41-30 on Saturday. Juneau (15-5 overall, 8-0 region) now has won eight games in a row as the team heads into next weekend's Region V-Class 4A tournament at Ketchikan.

Grizzlies 115, Cavaliers 89
At Cleveland, Pau Gasol scored 27 points, Mike Miller added 21 and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled to their most lopsided win this season.

King, Sørlie battling for lead
ANVIK, Alaska - Halfway into the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, yet another route change has occurred because of poor trail conditions, race organizers said Saturday. Race officials decided to drop the last leg of the route between Anvik and Shageluk late Friday night after trail breaking crews encountered impassable conditions, said Iditarod executive director Stan Hooley.

Sports in Juneau
Sports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Juneau Gun Club Trap League Standings
Standings after the eighth week of shooting in the 12-week Juneau Gun Club Trap League.

Utah claims NCAA ski title
LYME, N.H. - Utah's Lina Johansson won the women's slalom Saturday as the Utes took their first NCAA ski title since 1997.

Board of Game postpones predator control discussion
The Alaska Board of Game has postponed a discussion on predator control in the McGrath area that was originally scheduled for today.

State House passes $69 million supplemental budget
A $69 million supplemental spending bill to cover the costs of firefighting, natural disasters and other unanticipated expenses that sprang up this year was approved by the state House on Friday. If approved by the Senate, the House bill would drive up state general fund spending for the current fiscal year's budget to $2.4 billion. The fiscal year budget ends on June 30 and isn't related to the fiscal 2004 budget introduced this week by Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Company agrees to buy Wards Cove plant
ANCHORAGE - A Seattle-based company has agreed to buy the Wards Cove Packing Co. cannery in Naknek.

Low snow pack could mean early fire season
Alaska's minimal winter may lead to an early and more dangerous spring fire season. Sharon Alden, fire weather program manager at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, said a large area of the state has less than 50 percent of normal snow pack. Less snow may increase the probability of human-caused wildfires in upcoming months.

State Briefs
Man charged with attempted murder after Lemon Creek shooting; Holiday noise on Assembly agenda; Man gets 25 years for raping student; Avalanche danger in Hatcher Pass area deemed 'significant'; Young introduces bill to provide land for Native veterans

Suing over salmon
David Harsila says he and other Bristol Bay fishermen should have known something was wrong when raw fish prices for sockeye salmon soared to $2 per pound in 1988. Fishermen happily cashed in. But the high prices drove some processors out of business, transforming a broad competitive market for salmon into one dominated by a handful of large processors. And three years later, prices swung the other way - bottoming out at 38 cents a pound, eventually increasing to 70 cents after fishermen sat out part of the season in protest.

ACS reports loss of $185 m in 2002
Alaska Communications Systems posted losses totaling $185 million last year. Most of the loss was from the non-cash expense of acknowledging the fallen market values of the local phone companies it bought in 1999.

Free rabies shots
Michelle Seaman's kitten Butterbean finds a bit of comfort on Seaman's shoulder Saturday while waiting in line for a free rabies shot during a vaccination clinic at the Kenai Animal Shelter. Dogs far outnumbered the few nervous cats and one ferret in attendance.

Guv fends off budget critics
Gov. Frank Murkowski is defending himself against claims by Democratic lawmakers that he broke campaign promises by proposing taxes and user fees and didn't address resource development during last week's budget address. While Democrats have called the governor's 11 proposed revenue increases "a litany of taxes," Murkowski said only one of his revenue proposals could be classified as an involuntary, across-the-board tax.

Gunshots injure four in Anchorage
Four men survived gunshot wounds late Friday and early Saturday in three separate shootings. Anchorage police said two men, 23 and 20, were shot at 9:10 p.m. Friday as they sat in a Jeep near a strip club downtown. Several shots were fired from a small red car, police said, hitting one man in the head and the other in the back. Both were hospitalized.

Proposal to ax APOC sparks criticism
Critics are howling over Gov. Frank Murkowski's proposal to abolish the state agency that oversees campaign finance and lobbying activities in the state. Murkowski wants to abolish the Alaska Public Offices Commission and move its record-keeping duties to the state Division of Elections and its enforcement powers to the Department of Law.

Fairbanks-Frankfurt flights resume
Summer passenger flight service between Frankfurt, Germany, and Fairbanks by Condor-Thomas Cook Airlines will resume this year without a request for Alaska money to buffer the financial risk.

Rep. Don Young reintroduces Native work preference bill
U.S. Rep. Don Young has reintroduced legislation to force Alaska's federal park and refuge managers to contract out construction, maintenance and research work to Alaska Native tribes. The legislation by Young, an Alaska Republican, calls for 12 separate contracts over the next two years.

Coast Guard calls up 10 reservists for active duty
Ten members of the Coast Guard Reserve in Alaska have been called to active duty as reinforcements for homeland defense in the state. The Coast Guard, formerly under the U.S. Department of Transportation, is one of many agencies folded into the new federal Department of Homeland Security.

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