Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Photo Web site funded through 2005

JUNEAU - A popular privately owned Web site that features Juneau photos will operate through 2005, its owner said.

Pat Costello, a state employee who takes photos on the side, said he has received enough paid members to justify continuing the Web site.

The site, at www.juneauphotos.com, has been on the Internet since 1997.

Last week, Costello had been on the verge of shutting down the site because he was far from his goal of 400 paid members. The annual membership fee is $25.

But on Tuesday, Costello said he was just 36 members from his target and more memberships are coming in. He has received about 100 new memberships since an article appeared Thursday in the Empire.

"So it's rolling," he said. "I'm happy to be going at it for another year."

His first new photos are of the recent snowfall.

School district sets calendar for next year

JUNEAU - Next school year will start Wednesday, Aug. 24, and end Thursday, June 1, the Juneau School Board decided Tuesday.

Kindergartners will begin school Monday, Aug. 29.

The calendar for next school year is very similar to this year's calendar.

But next school year, for the first time, the calendar recognizes Veterans Day as a school holiday, at the request of some veterans. Alaska Day, on Oct. 18, will not be a school holiday.

The calendar sets the days for parent conferences for elementary and secondary schools to overlap, a parent preference, said district officials.

Winter break, including weekends, will run from Dec. 17 to Jan. 1. Spring break will be from March 25 to April 2.

26,000 ballots not returned

ANCHORAGE - State election officials aren't sure why so many voters went to the trouble of getting absentee ballots for the 2004 general election, but never returned them.

Election officials say about 26,000 absentee ballots were never returned.

The low number of returns raises some questions. Did voters change their minds and vote at the ballot box or by fax? Did they decide not to vote? Did large numbers get ballots too late? There is some evidence for all three explanations, according to an Anchorage Daily News report.

Lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Loren Leman now are looking at changing the absentee system to help ballots get to voters faster.

"As far as I am concerned, one person who didn't get his or her ballot is too many," Leman said.

A total of 58,559 absentee ballots were mailed to voters and 32,075 were returned by the Election Day deadline, according to elections officials.

In the previous presidential election, a much larger proportion was returned. More than 31,000 Alaskans sought absentee ballots in 2000 and 24,756 were returned.

Names of missing crabbers released

ANCHORAGE - Authorities on Tuesday released the names of two of three men missing since their crab boat sunk in the Bering Sea, killing two other crew members.

There is one known survivor - 30-year-old Cache Seel of Kodiak - among the six-man crew of the 92-foot Big Valley, which sank in stormy weather Saturday.

Among the missing was a Louisville, Ky., man who went to work on the 92-foot Big Valley to make money so he could distribute a film he made about the fishing industry. Aaron Marrs, 26, owner of Paper Jack Films, went to Alaska earlier this month, said his friend, William Wallace of Louisville.

Also missing was Josias Hernandez Luna, 48, with Kodiak and Anchorage addresses, according to Alaska State Troopers. The third missing man was Gary Edwards, 46, skipper and owner of the Kodiak-based boat.



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