Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Juneau firefighters still need volunteers

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JUNEAU - The Juneau Fire Department needs more volunteer firefighters, but there's little time left to find them.

Today is the deadline to apply as a current volunteer and training begins on Wednesday.

The downtown area could use more volunteers, but help is needed most in the growing area northwest of Mendenhall Valley along Lynn Canal, according to Fire Chief Eric Mohrmann.

Beginner recruits must complete as much as 150 hours of training. They become certified in CPR and get basic first aid training, George said.

Applicants must be at least 16 and prospects to become actual firefighters must be at least 18. Applications can be picked up at the Downtown Juneau Station. For additional information call Volunteer Fire Chief Paul Smith at 586-0642.

Standoff in Wasilla ends without injuries

WASILLA - A woman who fired at least one shot at Alaska State Troopers was taken into custody Sunday without being injured.

Troopers took a call late Saturday night from a 47-year-old Wasilla man who said his daughter was depressed, suicidal and armed with several of his guns.

Troopers tried to contact her. However, she fired a round toward three officers as they approached her home, troopers said.

Over the next few hours, the woman repeatedly threatened that she would shoot officers if they tried to approach, troopers said. She fired eight to 10 rounds during the standoff.

With the assistance of several family members, troopers were able to talk the woman into coming out of the house.

The woman was taken into custody just before 1:30 a.m. Sunday. She was charged with three counts of assault, three counts of criminal mischief and weapons misconduct and was held without bail at the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, troopers said.

Energy czar rethinks rural Alaska's future

DILLINGHAM - In the home of Nels Anderson Jr., an inspection of the light fixtures won't turn up any of those technological dinosaurs known as incandescent light bulbs. Anderson has replaced them with the newer, efficient, compact fluorescent bulbs increasingly common in light sockets.

"We've got them every place in the house," Anderson said. "Every room's got fluorescent."

It's only fitting. As the state's first-ever energy policy adviser, Anderson has assumed the mantle of energy czar of the Alaska Bush. The growing energy crisis is "public enemy number one," he said. Former Gov. Frank Murkowski appointed Anderson to the energy post in October.

As energy czar, he is concerned with rethinking energy. Period. Conservation is central to his solution, which includes searching for alternative energy sources such as wind and geothermal. Even nuclear energy isn't out of the question, he said. These are all intended to achieve one thing: weaning villages from diesel - the rustic elixir of rural Alaska.

He works from his home in Dillingham, which has become a sort of "ground-zero" in what promises to be a long, slow campaign toward energy efficiency. Recently, Anderson covered the windows of his home with sheets of Visqueen to add an additional insulating layer. Two years ago he replaced the old furnace with a new, more efficient model.

"They're things that we just have to do because so much of what we've got goes into heating and lighting your home. Even with that, we're still paying too much for heat and lights," he said.

Underlying a discord present in rural communities, he said, is the high cost of energy. Rural Alaskans feel energy's pinch more than their Railbelt cousins. The nation as a whole will face similar energy questions, he said, because Americans in the future will never pay energy bills as inexpensive as those they're paying today.

"I think we're the canary in the mine shaft. A lot of people in Anchorage don't know the extent to which people are suffering out there. We're all in the same boat. They just don't know it yet," said Anderson, a former Republican state senator.

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