Gas line could help RR upgrade
The Alaska Railroad Corp. says it would need to upgrade its track and traffic capacity to handle the heavy load of a natural gas pipeline construction project. But a spokesman says the railroad could help pay for upgrades by charging a fee to project developers in exchange for use of the railroad corporation's tax-exempt bonding status to finance the pipeline.

Fantasy simply a matter of perspective
With regard to the recent letters concerning Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, a very few fundamentalist Christians may object to these stories as inappropriate for children ...

Consider the source: Secondhand smoke kills
With regard to local efforts to protect the public and workers from the known hazards of secondhand smoke, Pete Rogers recently attempted to discredit the science that secondhand smoke is deadly.

The right to expression
I am troubled by Ms. Williams' letters which loudly proclaim human rights, but just as loudly deny those rights to those who do not share her beliefs. Apparently she is under the impression that no one else has "rights" but gays.

Utahan is concerned about lone wolf
Where is Jack London when you need him? Thank you for the pleasant and free access to your paper online. My concern is about a beautiful wolf at the glacier that is valiantly trying to find a pack and may be in danger of being "put down."

My Turn: It's a migration, not a brain drain
Thursday's front-page "Brain Drain" headline was alarmist and unnecessary. In my experience, it's normal that 40 percent of Alaskans in their mid to late teens in 1994 are still out-of-state 10 years later. It's too early for them to come back. We need between 10 to 15 years Outside before we complete our migratory cycle.

Election year resolution
I'm sure many of you have made New Year's resolutions. I think they are important and I hope you keep them. I, for one, have made myself a big resolution - I want to work to see that our court-appointed George W. Bush does not stay in the White House. We need a leader who is an asset to this nation and the world, not a liability. We need someone who can tell the truth.

Why teens are leaving
In your Thursday paper, I noted an article stating that a large percentage of teens are leaving Juneau after graduation. I would like to give my opinion as a 14-year-old as to why this might be occurring.

Advancing the cause of legalized marijuana
Thanks to Alaska, 2004 may be a significant year for credible drug law reform. Not only will Alaska citizens be able to vote for an initiative to make marijuana legal ("Leman puts marijuana initiative on ballot," Jan. 7) statewide, but on election day voters may be able to vote for a president who supports re-legalizing cannabis nationwide.

Federal lawmakers should avoid education
Sen. Lisa Murkowski told Alaska education officials Thursday that she will support legislation to change the federal No Child Left Behind Act. As a matter of fact, when it comes to education, it's the federal government that should be left behind.

Making Pledge inclusive
I would like to add my public thank you to all those others going to and owed to Logan Spencer and Patrick McGonegal for reminding us by deed and words that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.

Improvements at school worth a look
I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible to complete the construction project at Juneau-Douglas High School. It feels great to go to school in this wonderful building.

Pledge OK, but not on PA
In the recent debate on the Pledge in schools, one of the main issues is the line "under God." It has been argued that this is a breach of the separation of church and state. Others say

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

Pickup driver causes 6-vehicle accident in A&P parking lot
A man was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital late Monday afternoon after he apparently lost control of a pickup truck and caused a six-vehicle accident in the Alaskan & Proud parking lot.

Fiscal dilemmas hang over session
Even on a mostly perfunctory first day back to work for the Alaska Legislature on Monday, the issue of money loomed large. House Majority Republicans sparred with Democrats who wanted to override about $57.6 million in Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski's vetoes to senior citizen and local government programs from the budget passed last session.

Images from another time
Gov. John Franklin Alexander Strong, also known as J.F.A. Strong, takes the oath of office as the second territorial governor of Alaska on May 21, 1913.

Fence at governor's House toppled by man suspected of drunken driving
It wasn't the sort of excitement state officials expected Monday morning. While Gov. Frank Murkowski was at the Alaska Capitol for the first day of the 2004 legislative session, shortly after 11 a.m., a Chevrolet Blazer drove into the fence at his official residence.

Busing plans worry parents
Young children walking home from school in the dark. Parents paying for more child care because elementary schools open later in the morning. High school students and adults competing for gym space in the evening.

Commissioners named despite sentiment for other applicant
Nothing can be taken for granted, veteran Juneau Planning Commissioner Mark Pusich said Tuesday, the night after his reappointment.

Welcome to Lawmakers
Chellie Pennoyer of Creativation Events creates a reproduction of the facade of the Capitol on Tuesday at Centennnial Hall. Pennoyer was preparing for the Community Legislative Reception on Tuesday evening, when legislators were welcomed to the capital city.

Citizens question 2nd high school
More than three years after voters approved a new $63 million high school in the Mendenhall Valley, some citizens are questioning whether the city can afford it and if students' choices will be compromised.

Around Town
Today:Day of Quilting, Sewing and Good Fellowship, 10 a.m. every Wednesday, Resurrection Lutheran Church. Quilts donated to Lutheran World Relief. Details: 586-2380.

Mine wins financing; building could start this spring
Developers of the Kensington mine have obtained the financing needed to begin construction of the proposed gold and silver mine next spring, according to company officials.

Rokeberg named to city's capitol task force
One of the state Legislature's biggest opponents of Juneau as the capital has been named to a new city committee formed to explore building a new capitol here.

Cruise ship initiative won't make it to '04 ballot
Sponsors of a ballot initiative to impose taxes and tighter environmental regulations on the cruise ship industry missed the Jan. 12 deadline for collecting enough signatures to put the proposal on the November ballot.

Tourism businesses ponder 2 percent assessment
Juneau tourism businesses generally support the mandatory 2 percent assessment proposed by the Alaska Travel Industry Association, said Ron Peck, president and chief operating officer of the organization.

Due to incorrect information supplied to the Empire, the dates for the high school spring musical, "The Wizard of Oz," were misprinted in a Monday article. The play will be performed Feb. 13,14, 20 and 21.

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

Teen on probation for sex crime accused of abusing girl
A 19-year-old Juneau man placed on probation this summer after pleading guilty to third-degree sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl is accused of sexually abusing another girl in December.

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

Man in sex case pleads guilty to lesser crime
Nearly eight months after a jury deadlocked on seven felony charges against a Juneau man alleged to have had sexual activity with two 15-year-old girls, the case has been resolved with a misdemeanor sentence.

Program is for children helping children after a loss
At Hospice and Home Care of Juneau, our services are not just for those who are dying. Bereavement support is an integral part of hospice care and we are always striving to more fully serve those in need.

Pets of the week
Finley is an adorable, 4-month-old neutered male kitten. This little guy is dynamite! Buster is way, way laid back, fuzzy

Neighbors Digest
The Tongass Alaska Girl Scout Council's Cookie Sale pre-sales ordering will continue through Jan. 31.

By all accounts, Crystal Snow was an extraordinary Alaskan. She was born in Sonora, Calif., in 1884. She is one of the few women included in the 1977 volume by Evangeline Atwood and Bob DeArmond, "Who's Who in Alaskan Politics," and there she merits just as many lines of biographical information as missionary and education agent Sheldon Jackson.

Edward David 'Eddie' Jamestown
Edward David "Eddie" Jamestown, 76, died Dec. 5, 2003, in Seattle.

Combined Service
A combined memorial service will be held for these three members of the Dakl'aweid (Killerwhale Clan) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Salvation Army, 439 W. Willoughby Ave.

Matilda Katherine 'Tillie' French
Matilda Katherine "Tillie" French, 88, died Dec. 8, 2003, in Seattle.

Martha Bessie 'Marty' Kasko-Stewart
Martha Bessie "Marty" Kasko-Stewart, 69, died Dec. 6, 2003, in Seattle.

Coeur's mining claims leave out some important details
C oeur Alaska, an Idaho-based mining company recently promoted their new, environmentally friendlier Kensington gold mining project in the Empire.

Lakers win game, but lose Bryant to injury
The injuries just keep on coming for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant joined fellow superstars Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone on the sidelines Monday night, spraining his surgically repaired right shoulder in the Lakers' 89-79 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Mad cow scare impacts Yukon Quest mushers
Alaska mushers entered in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race are contending with restrictions on beef because of a case of mad cow disease found in a Washington herd.

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.

Carefree, freeskiing Lee
He's not making a living at it - yet - but Juneau's Elijah Lee loves what he's doing. Lee is participating on the World Tour of Freeskiing, and last weekend he posted his best finish in four years on the tour.

ASBN state prep basketball poll
The Alaska Sports Broadcasting Network high school basketball poll for the week ending Jan. 5.

Cavaliers' young guns lead way to victory over Sonics
SEATTLE - LeBron James went to work in the fourth quarter. So did Darius Miles and Dajuan Wagner.

Sports in Juneau
UPCOMING EVENTS Friday, Jan. 16 • Roughhouse Friday boxing - Bouts start at 8:30 p.m. at Marlintini's Lounge. Eight bouts scheduled. Must be 21 or older to attend fights. Tickets are $22 general admission, $32 ringside table and are available at Marlintini's Lounge. Info: Marlintini's Lounge, 789-0429 (office), 789-0799 (bar).

Juneau girls embark on season's first road trip
The Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team is sporting a new look, thanks to the return of some familiar faces.

Kleedehn wins Copper Basin 300
Canadian musher William Kleedehn crossed the finish line Monday to win the Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race.

This Day in History
In Alaska; in the nation; in the world.

Photo: Shrouded skyline
An Alaska Railroad brakeman rides a line of tank cars after throwing a switch at the Anchorage Yard on Monday in Anchorage. Fog rising from Ship Creek shrouds the city skyline.

USFS to cancel 20 timber sales
The U.S. Forest Service has offered to cancel 20 completed timber sales after the agency determined they were uneconomical. The agency determined that if the companies cut the timber in the Tongass National Forest anytime soon they would lose too much money under current market conditions.

Shaping the permanent fund's future
Gov. Frank Murkowski called for a conference Tuesday night to make recommendations on whether the state should use some income from the Alaska Permanent Fund to help pay for government.

Northwest Digest
News in brief from around the region.

Two survive week in Yukon after snowmobile stranding
ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man and his cousin nearly froze to death after being stranded for a week in the wilds of Yukon Territory with almost no food and little for protection but snowsuits while temperatures dropped below minus 40.

Dems reserve judgment on plan; GOP stresses spending limit
The governor's proposal for a process to determine whether to use part of the Permanent Fund income for state government is not the way Democrats would have handled Alaska's fiscal gap, but they are reserving judgment on the plan, minority lawmakers said Tuesday night.

Alaska Digest
Man indicted on assault charge JUNEAU - The grand jury has indicted a 25-year-old Juneau man on a charge of first-degree sexual assault.

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