A year reviewed

Empire reporters put together a timeline of notable events in and around Juneau and Alaska during 2011.


• Jan. 9: Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, submits a bill banning cell phone use while driving

• Jan. 23: Women increase their numbers in the Alaska Legislature.

• Jan. 25: Legislative leaders rebuff Gov. Sean Parnell’s call for gas tax suspension.

• Jan. 30: Legislators debate merits, costs of shorter sessions

• Feb. 1: Legislators hurry to extend Senior Benefits authority.

• Feb. 9: Congressional delegation rips into Parnell’s gas tax suspension proposal.

• Feb. 23: Rep. Sharon Cissna refused to undergo TSA body search, wins support from fellow legislators.

• Feb. 24: Juneau’s PeggyAnn McConnochie is appointed to Alaska Redistricting Board

• Mar. 9. Rep. Cathy Muñoz publicly endorses Parnell’s call for oil tax reduction, warns pipeline may close in 10 years

• Mar. 10: Parnell proposes expansion of Southeast State Forest, committing more land to logging

• March 14: Steven Pfister took the reigns as Centennial Hall manager after a vacancy in the position.

• March 28: Kathrin Millhorn steps up as aquatic manager for both Augustus Brown and Dimond Park pools following the departure of Karin Jacobi, who resigned Feb. 10 after lifeguards brought pool safety and management concerns to the aquatic advisory board. Also, intern Michael Caulfield gets credit for only bill to pass so far in session.

• Mar. 29: With work dragging, legislators begin talking of special sessions.

• March 31: Parks and Recreation Director Marc Matsil resigned after a five-year tenure. Parks and Recreation Facilities Supervisor Brent Fischer replaced Matsil.

• March 31: The Juneau School District budget was finalized, dealing with a $4.5 million deficit that resulted in department shifts, staff cuts and class size increases.

• April 25: The Juneau School District Board of Education approved new graduation requirements, increasing the number of credits required to graduate.

• May 2: Senate releases operating budget, passes it to House of Representatives.

• May 17: The AJ Mine Advisory Committee shipped off its final report to the Assembly.

• May 22: Walter Soboleff dies. The Native leader and Presbyterian minister was 102. An overflow crowd attended his May 28 memorial service at Centennial Hall.

• June 1: Alaska Redistricting Board groups Petersburg, Tenakee Springs, Skagway and Gustavus into Juneau-based electoral districts.

• June 4: The U.S. Air Force landed one of its largest aircraft at Juneau International Airport — the C-5 Galaxy — which stopped by to drop off a special Coast Guard unit.

• June 6: Gabriel Carte, 19, is killed in a single-vehicle crash near Mile 32 of Glacier Highway. Ryan West, 25, has been charged with second-degree murder in his death.

• June 10. Sarah Palin fever strikes again, as national reporters flock to the Capital City for the long-awaited release of her gubernatorial emails.

• June 13: Two top Alaska Permanent Fund investment managers, Jeffrey Scott and Max Giolitti, leave the fund.

• June 17: Port Director John Stone retired to take a two- to three-year sailing trip around the world with his wife Nikki. U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Carl Uchytil retired from the Coast Guard and was selected as Juneau’s new port director.

• June 26: A special legislative session called to keep the state’s Coastal Management Program alive ends in failure.

• July 3: Public Works Director Joe Buck retired, Eaglecrest Manager Kirk Duncan stepped up.

• July 8: A Juneau man is arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of 4-month-old Rian Orr. Prosecutors allege Orr died from child abuse, while Paul’s girlfrind and the child’s mother has said the death was an accident.

• July 17: Dennis Wheeler, CEO of Coeur d’Alene Mines Corp., stepped down after 25 years in which he successfully developed the Kensington Mine.

• July 20: A glacial lake on top of the Mendenhall Glacier released, causing flooding at Mendenhall Lake and along the banks of Mendenhall River. Glacial icebergs were even seen flowing down the river. No significant property damage occurred and no injuries were reported.

• July 21: A Juneau man is killed while visiting family in Glen Rose, Ark. Three Arkansas boys face second-degree murder charges in the death of Kevin Thornton, 19.

• July 26: A developer touched off a clash with neighbors by proposing to develop the site containing two World War II-era Quonset huts as commercial property.

• July 30: A humpback whale struck and sank a sailboat in Icy Strait, but a passing vessel rescued the two occupants.

• Aug. 2: Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s top fisheries aide, Arne Fuglvog, resigns after admitting serious fishing violations.

• Aug. 5: Petersburg’s intention to form a borough is accepted by the Local Boundary Commission, touching off a battle by proposing annexation of land sought by Juneau and other neighbors. Also, former Juneau Police Department officer Brian Ervin pleaded no contest to one count of attempted interference with official proceedings, a class ‘C’ felony. As part of the plea agree ment,four counts of sexually abusing a minor were dismissed.

• Aug: 6: Parnell reins in his lieutenant governor, Mead Treadwell, warning him against overstepping his bounds.

• Aug. 12: A family of black bears is relocated from downtown to an area south of Juneau by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game.

• Aug. 21: While the nation battles high unemployment, Alaska reports an all-time high in employment at 355,000.

• Aug. 28: Juneau woman Brook Collins punches a black bear in the snout to save her dog, Fudge. Collins and Fudge quickly become international sensations.

• Aug. 29: The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly voted to leave the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial alone, after months of committee and department discussion and debate on whether and where to relocate the memorial if cruise ship dock expansion came to be. The memorial board preferred the memorial be relocated to Marine Park if the cruise ship dock project went forward because it believes the expansion will negatively impact the Blessing of the Fleet.

• Aug. 30: OfficeMax announces it will open a store in Nugget Mall. Petco follows suit on Sept. 26, bringing two new national chain stores to Juneau.

• Sept. 1: University of Alaska Southeast enrollment stays near record levels.

• Sept. 15: Parnell abandons Juneau Road appeal, agrees to redo Environmental Impact Statement.

• Sept. 22: Alaska Retirement Management Board gets a personal visit from Parnell, seeking help in addressing state’s $11 billion unfunded pension liability.

• Sept. 29: Author Joe McGinniss’ long-awaited book trashing Sarah Palin is released, gets trashed by reviewers itself.

• Oct. 1: Harbormaster Phil Benner resigned to return to family in Florida. Docks and Harbors employee Dwight Tajon is the new harbormaster.

• Oct. 15: Bartlett Regional Hospital moves forward with plans to build the Child/Adolescent Mental Health Unit. The project is estimated to cost $23 million, and Bartlett will have set aside $10 million. It is seeking funds from a temporary 1 percent sales tax extension and other sources for the remainder.

• Oct. 16: Following months of debate over where to build a new office building, state decides not to build one after all.

• Oct. 14: the Permanent Fund Division accidentally pays dividends which were supposed to be withheld, and then scrambles to recover the money.

• Oct. 23: Ground is broken for a new state Library, Archives and Museum building as supporters work to line up funding.

• Oct. 27: A Department of Labor & Workforce Development economists says Alaskan women are making very slow progress in equaling the pay earned by men.

• Nov. 1: Matt Lillard starts as Eaglecrest’s new director, coming from Londonderry, Vt.

• Nov. 1: Juneau approves an annexation petition that would counter Petersburg’s borough proposal. Juneau applied for an annexation to incorporate more lands south of its borders into the borough, including Hobart Bay.

• Nov. 8: State ferry Fairweather, undergoing sea trials following repairs in Juneau, interrupts its trip to pick up a woman stranded on a beach and brings her to Auke Bay for medical attention.

• Nov. 16: The Juneau School District Budget Committee takes a look at a looming $3 million to $6 million deficit for the fiscal year 2013 budget cycle. The committee will further work on the budget after the new year.

• Nov. 20: University of Alaska Southeast said it would no longer be offering a Masters of Business Administration degree as it focused on its more successful programs.

• Dec. 7: Lt. Gov. Treadwell certified Coastal Management ballot initiative for signature gathering. Also, a three-day hearing about the 2010 crash of a Sitka-based Coast Guard helicopter in Washington state begins in Juneau. Coast Guard Lt. Lance Leone, the aircraft’s co-pilot, faces negligent homicide charges, along with other violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

• Dec. 14: The Assembly narrowed candidates for city manager down to two: U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Norman “Buddy” Custard and Deputy City Manager Kim Kiefer. Manager Rod Swope is retiring March 31.

• Dec. 15: Parnell proposed restrained spending, while high oil prices pour money into state coffers.


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