Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2004

Barn dance set for Saturday night

JUNEAU - St. Ann's Catholic Church, at Fifth and Gold streets, will host a barn dance from 7:30-11 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17.

The Grateful Celtics will play, the caller is Kari Lundgren and admission is $7.

All dances will be called and taught. A partner and experience are not necessary. Please bring soft-soled shoes. For more information, call Sally at 586-5621.

ACS revamps itself in try for profitability

ANCHORAGE - Alaska Communications Systems is reshaping itself, and shifting its focus to customers instead of products, in an attempt to move the company toward profitability.

Executive Liane Pelletier said the Anchorage-based telecom company's management structure was changed to break down the walls between its operating units.

ACS Local, ACS Wireless, ACS Internet and ACS Long Distance are gone. Instead, all those groups will work together under management units focused selling all of what ACS has to offer, Pelletier said.

Pelletier, who took over as top ACS executive in October, has been charged with turning the struggling company onto a course to profitability. She was one of the main architects of a corporate overhaul at Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint.

ACS has yet to make a profit, losing money every year since it first sold stock to the public in November 1999.

Road network proposed for Ketchikan area

KETCHIKAN - By 2025, a trip out of Ketchikan might mean a drive to the north end of Revillagigedo Island, a ferry ride across Behm Canal and another drive across the upper Cleveland Peninsula.

The road network, dubbed the "East Highway," is one proposal in a draft update of the Southeast Alaska Transportation Plan currently under consideration.

"You would take a shuttle ferry from Wrangell to the South Mitkof ferry terminal and then drive from South Mitkof to the present Petersburg ferry terminal and get on a fast ferry to Juneau or Sitka," said Andy Hughes, regional planning chief for the state Department of Transportation.

The state's plan pushes more roads, faster travel and "waking hour" departures and arrivals on the Alaska Marine Highway System. But the improvements are also raising questions about cost, environmental obstacles and the need for so much change.

In the short term, the state would add more fast ferries. Some mainline service would remain, with two ferries traveling from Bellingham, Wash., through Southeast.

By 2010, mainline service to and from Prince Rupert would be replaced with a set of fast ferries.

10-year-old girl foils abduction attempt

ANCHORAGE - A 10-year-old girl foiled two men who attempted to snatch her off an Anchorage street, police said.

The girl was walking to school alone Wednesday when the attempted abduction occurred in an alley.

The child evaded her would-be captors and came away with good descriptions of the two men involved and the pickup they tried to pull her into.

The girl, a student at Denali Elementary School, normally walks to school with her brother, said police spokeswoman Anita Shell. But the brother was sick Wednesday morning, and the girl left her house at 8:30 a.m. alone.

According to police reports, the girl was walking on the right side of the alley when she saw a pickup idling ahead on the same side.

The girl began crossing diagonally left. As she was passing the truck, the vehicle pulled forward and over toward her, Shell said.

"The driver opened his door and the passenger steered the vehicle while the driver tried to grab her through the open door," she said. The girl, however, "dodged" the would-be abductor and jumped behind a large trash container, Shell said.

The child then ran back down the alley and was soon at her house, telling her mother the story, Shell said. The mother called police immediately.

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