Coast Guard cutter open for tours
JUNEAU - The newest and most modern Coast Guard cutter stationed in Alaska is making its first port call in Juneau today.
The buoy tender Anthony Petit is scheduled to remain here through Friday. It will be open to the public 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the dock across from the National Guard armory.
The 175-foot vessel is stationed in Ketchikan. It's equipped with the latest in marine technology, the Coast Guard said, including the Dynamic Positioning System and electronic chart displays. It also uses an advanced propulsion system, the Coast Guard said.
Ferry director takes over Southeast DOT
JUNEAU - Bob Doll, who has run the state ferry system for the past two years, was named today as the new director of the Southeast region of the state Department of Transportation.
Doll, 64, is a 30-year U.S. Navy veteran. He was named operations manager for the Alaska Marine Highway System in 1997, which made him responsible for operations, scheduling, maintenance and marketing of the system's nine ships and 20 terminals.
As Southeast regional director, he will be responsible for all DOT facilities in Southeast as well as supervision of the ferry system.
George Capacci, the marine highway system's port captain, will succeed Doll as ferry operations manager.
The regional director's position became vacant when Bob Martin resigned in December to take a job with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Ice thin on Mendenhall Lake
JUNEAU - Warmer weather has thinned the ice on parts of Mendenhall Lake, leading to reminders that skiing and other activities may be unsafe.
Even when the ice is thick, the U.S. Forest Service warns people to stay away from the face of the Mendenhall Glacier. Signs posted indicate the most dangerous areas.
Juneau Ranger District staff, however, have little control over where people go on the ice. ``It's kind of a use-at-your-own risk situation,'' said Mark Rebella of the ranger district. ``We can't keep people off of there.''
James proposes state income tax
JUNEAU - Rep. Jeannette James has proposed a state income tax of up to 3 percent, but she acknowledged she doesn't plan to push the bill through the Legislature.
James, a North Pole Republican, held a hearing on House Bill 124 today in the House State Affairs Committee, which she chairs. ``I don't necessarily plan to move this out of committee,'' she said. ``My purpose . . . is to get some comments on this kind of tax.''
The bill would tax all income at half a percent and would tax income over $12,500 at an additional 3 percent.
People who pay property taxes would receive a credit on the half percent. That way Alaskans living in places where there is no local government and thus no property tax would pay for schools, while those already paying property taxes for schools would receive a credit, James said.
``It levels the playing field so everybody will be paying tax for education,'' she said. Retirement income, investment income and permanent fund dividends would be exempt from the tax.
Committee member Rep. Bill Hudson, a Juneau Republican, said the idea of some sort of broad-based tax is worth discussing because the state can't close its financial gap through budget cuts alone.
Juneau Democratic Rep. Beth Kerttula, also a committee member, said the bill, which is a flat tax, should be discussed along with other tax bills, such as one to change the way corporations are taxed.