Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ferry to make stop in Skagway today only

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JUNEAU - The Alaska Marine Highway System added a special stop in Skagway today for the fast vehicle ferry Fairweather. The ferry was scheduled to leave Juneau at 8 a.m. and arrive in Skagway at 11:45 a.m. after a stop in Haines.

The Hoonah boys and girls basketball teams were scheduled to fly to Skagway, but the flight was canceled because of weather.

Skagway was added to the regular run today only, said ferry system manager John Falvey.

"This will only add about an hour and a half to our schedule but would give us the opportunity to accommodate other travelers who may not be able to fly," Falvey said in a press release announcing the schedule addition.

The Fairweather has been running four days a week during the winter, with three trips to Haines and one trip to Sitka each week.

Supreme Court rules on cab permit vote

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that Anchorage voters be allowed to decide whether to substantially cut the cost and hardship of obtaining a local taxi permit.

The issue will appear on the April 3rd election ballot barring any legal blockades.

Permits are currently valued as high as $125,000 apiece and sold only at public auction. Also, the city has not offered any new general permits since the mid-1980s.

The Dec. 22 ruling by the high court is the latest turn in a legal wrangle over a voter initiative that began in 2002. A University of Alaska Anchorage student filed an initiative that year to force the city to issue taxi permits to qualified people who paid the permit application fee of $875.

Some current permit holders who invested tens of thousands of dollars said they would be ruined if the value of their permits drops that low.

"We paid top dollar," said Medzit Lena, an Anchorage permit holder and veteran cab driver who entered the business in 1973.

Lena contends that increasing the number of permits will make it difficult for everyone to earn enough money.

Initiative supporters said more competition will improve taxi service.

Paratrooper killed by roadside bomb in Iraq

FORT RICHARDSON - A Fort Richardson paratrooper and Kenai native has been killed in Iraq, military officials said Wednesday.

Pfc. Alan R. Blohm, 21, was killed when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Baghdad while on a security patrol Sunday, Army spokesman Maj. Kirk Gohlke said.

He was living in Kenai when he enlisted in September 2005. His family lives in Michigan. Blohm was assigned to the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

Blohm is the 11th from Fort Richardson to die in Iraq since the 3,500-member unit was deployed last fall.

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