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Assembly approves COPS grant for additional officers

Posted: November 15, 2011 - 12:05am

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly unanimously approved funding for two new downtown police officers via a COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) grant at its meeting on Monday.

The Assembly approved $94,575 for the first six months of the three-year grant. By approving the funds, it also agrees to fund the extra positions for year No. 4 on its own.

Funding begins in January and the total grant is for $567,000 from the federal Department of Justice.

The Assembly asked what times the officers would be added to the downtown scene. City Manager Rod Swope said it will vary. Swope said some people downtown notice current officer patterns and refer to a downtown officer going off duty as “happy hour.”

Swope said the department will vary times between day and night shifts as well as weekday and weekends.

In other Assembly business, Mayor Bruce Botelho formally recognized Juneau’s national singing sensation Anna Graceman with a mayoral proclamation. Graceman made it to the semi-finals of NBC’s show “America’s Got Talent” and has more than 11 million YouTube hits on her videos.

Graceman is 11 years old and credits Montessori Borealis for its positive influence on her.

“Ms. Graceman found her musical gift at an early age: singing complete songs at 18 months; performing for audiences at the age of two; and playing the piano by the age of 4,” Botelho said. “At the advanced age of 6, she wrote her first song, entitled ‘So I Cried’; a song based on the experience of her brother being very sick when he was little.”

Graceman’s popularity on YouTube garnered her an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2009, and she was honored by the city in 2010 as a grand marshal for the 4th of July parade.

Botelho took the opportunity to recognize Graceman on Monday for her “commitment to excellence and urge our community to support her amazing accomplishments.”

Graceman’s great-grandparents attended Monday’s meeting and her great-grandfather Roy Varni spoke on her behalf.

“She’s on her way to Colorado where she will perform in the next few days at the Adoption Exchange charity benefit,” Varni said. “Even more amazing is her willingness and eagerness to uplift others by sharing her talent. She has asked I represent her tonight and express her gratitude.”

The mayor and Assembly also recognized the Juneau-Douglas Museum for an award it received — the Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History for its multimedia project “Juneau: Alaska’s Capital City Digital Stories Project.”

In Assembly action, it approved a request to hear an appeal for a Planning Commission decision on a conditional use permit for converting two single-family dwellings into accessory apartments. James and Linda Keikkala, owners of the property with the units, were granted the permit recently. The couple had converted the units into apartments before receiving the permit. Neighbors were opposed to the permit and are filing an appeal. The Planning Commission initially denied the permit for safety concerns, because the road to the property did not meet city fire code. It later approved the permit once improvement conditions to meet that concern were in place.

Botelho was appointed as the hearing officer.

The Assembly also approved $6.6 million in additional funding for the Juneau International Airport runway safety area project. The funding comes from the Federal Aviation Adminitration($6.3 million), Alaska Department of Transportation ($161,000) and the airport’s own funds ($170,000).

The FAA funding accounts for 95 percent of the project, with the rest of the match split between state and city.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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