State Briefs

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2002

Wasilla teacher motivates kids with 12-foot telescope

WASILLA - For science teacher Tim Lundt, the universe is as close as a small building a few yards behind his classroom at Burchell High School.

From there, just off the Parks Highway, he can see the distinct rings of Saturn, the vaporous clouds of the Andromeda Galaxy, and details of craters on the moon, down to the rough edges of the hills encircling the depressions.

A 12-foot telescope that is part of the school's new observatory is among the biggest telescopes for a high school in the country, said Stephen Maran, a spokesman for the American Astronomical Society.

Lundt didn't get the telescope for its size, but for his students. The observatory, which was finished this winter, is the result of nearly two years of work that started with Lundt thinking about how to engage his students.

The alternative high school is home to many at-risk students such as teen-age mothers and those who have dropped out of other schools. Astronomy was a way to hook teens, he said.

"Several kids mentioned they like the stars, and they'd talk about astrology," he said. "I just thought this may be a way to hook them into more."

Trails open to snowmachines

JUNEAU - The Lake Creek Trail off Back Loop Road and the Dan Moller-Treadwell Ditch Trail system above West Juneau have reopened to motorized use.

Enough snow fell to allow snowmobilers, ATV users and cross-country skiers back on the trails, Juneau District Ranger Pete Griffin announced Wednesday. Motorized users are encouraged to travel slowly, Griffin said.

Democrat Heyworth files for lieutenant governor

JUNEAU - The first Democrat to join the race for lieutenant governor filed for the seat Wednesday.

Scott Heyworth of Anchorage announced his candidacy, saying he would push for an all-Alaska natural gas pipeline.

Heyworth, 52, is also the sponsor of a proposed ballot measure to create a new state agency, called the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority.

The authority would acquire natural gas and build a pipeline to Valdez. If the state certifies the initiative petition, the measure will appear on the 2002 ballot.

"I might be running two campaigns," Heyworth said.

Heyworth has worked as a longshoreman for the Port of Anchorage the past 32 years. He said he ran for the Anchorage Assembly in 1999, but lost to incumbent Allan Tesche. He also ran for state Senate in 2000 but lost in the primary to Democrat Hollis French.

He said he is running for lieutenant governor because Alaska needs "fresh, new leadership."

"I'm tired of the bickering and partisan politics in Juneau. It's got to stop," Heyworth said.

Heyworth is the only Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor to step forward so far. Democratic candidates for governor include Bruce Lemke of Anchorage and Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, considered the frontrunner.

Alaska Democratic Party Chairman Scott Sterling said the party does not endorse candidates before the primary.

"Heyworth is a good Democrat, and I'm sure there'll be other good Democrats filing," said Sterling.

Other candidates for lieutenant governor include Republicans Gail Phillips of Homer, Sen. Loren Leman of Anchorage, Sen. Robin Taylor of Wrangell, and Sarah Palin of Wasilla. Alaskan Independence Party candidate Daniel DeNardo of Anchorage also has filed for the seat.

Board of Game tightens laws restricting wolf hybrids

ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Board of Game is taking a new approach to enforcement of state laws that prohibit owning or selling wolf hybrids.

The board on Wednesday made the trade of such animals illegal if they are advertised as wolves or wolf hybrids.

In an effort to gain cooperation from pet owners, the board grandfathered in existing wolf hybrids. Any wolf hybrid owner in Alaska can now make a pet legal by registering it with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game by July 1.

All wolf hybrids must also be spayed and neutered and implanted with a microchip by the deadline. Owners must license the animals, keep records of vaccinations and may not transfer pets to someone other than an immediate relative.

If the new regulation works, hybrids will become a thing of the past when Alaska's existing wolf hybrids die off.

"In the next decade sometime, it should be more or less under control," said Rick Sinnott, Anchorage area biologist for the Department of Fish and Game.

Hybrids have been the subject of debate in recent years, blamed for attacks by some and praised for their intelligence by others. State health officials have expressed concern about the large number of wolf hybrids in Alaska because there is no rabies vaccine that's proven safe and effective for them.

Compiled from wire service reports.

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