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Monday, January 27, 2003

Randles throws readers in deep end of Alaska culture
Slim Randles can set one heck of a scene. In the first six paragraphs of his novel "The Long Dark," we find ourselves in fall, on the taiga, admiring a stack of firewood. Randles doesn't bother to define or describe the loons in the scene or the taiga, the velvet on moose antlers, the sticklebacks or muskeg. He just sinks you in there, and hopes you'll be willing to swim.

Rich fish and wildlife resources abound in southwest Alaska
From huge brown bears to some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, southwest Alaska has a wealth of wildlife and marine life.

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge lives on
Anticipating a renewal of the debate over whether to drill for oil in northern Alaska, The Mountaineers Books of Seattle plans in April to publish "Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Seasons of Life and Land."

New kids' books now available at the Juneau Public Libraries
Kids! Take a look at some of the new books for you at the Juneau Public Library:

Board's school is the better investment
Juneau should build the larger Valley high school recommended by the School Board. The School Board worked hard to make a good recommendation. The city staff has done a magnificent job of muddying the issues, but they haven't made a convincing argument against building the larger school.

Eliminating our forests doesn't protect them
Listening to Gov. Murkowski's State of the State speech, I was disturbed to hear him say the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's (ADF&G) Habitat Division will be consolidated with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Job well done
Gary Bader has served us well as school superintendent. His integrity and ability have permitted all stakeholders to trust district information as they negotiate solutions.

Governor stifles healthy dialogue
It seems ironic how Gov. Frank Murkowski seeks to reward commercial fishing and sportsmen's groups that helped elect him by muzzling their voice in the state permitting process. By transferring Title 16 permitting authority of Fish and Game to Natural Resources, Murkowski hopes to remove a perceived stumbling block to resource development. The truth is, the role of the habitat division has been to find ways to mitigate impacts to fish and wildlife, not block legitimate projects.

Nonpartisanship provides protection
The Republican Party of Alaska's current policy of contributions and involvement in nonpartisan elections negatively affects governmental processes and can harm its members. The Republican Party of Alaska should address this concern and enforce a policy that would encourage the integrity of truly nonpartisan positions within our government.

Actions without consequences
My jaw dropped when I read the article about Laura Stidolph in the Empire on Jan. 14. Here's a woman being charged with three counts of third-degree assault, failing to render assistance after an accident, drunken driving, refusal to submit to a breath test and disorderly conduct, and Judge Larry Weeks allowed her to go on a family vacation to Thailand for three weeks! Now there's a powerful message to potential drunk drivers in Juneau!

Regulatory review better than rubber-stamping
Mr. Murkowski's plan to switch many regulatory processes to the Department of Natural Resources should be of great concern to all Alaskans. The permitting process for development projects can be lengthy, expensive and frustrating. Its purpose, however, is invaluable. Permitting requirements are in place to protect Alaska citizens, fish and wildlife resources, and the habitats that support them. We are all dependent on healthy ecosystems and we must make ecosystem health the priority in the planning, proposing and implementing of development projects.

Education over recreation
Once again I find evidence of the rampant hedonism that exists among our leaders. "Several projects on the table including a Valley pool and recreation center."! Give me a break! The larger school is the one we need, and more, much more than any pool or recreation center! So we sacrifice the larger school to the almighty god of recreation?

Hospitality appreciated
The House of Representatives of the 23rd Alaska Legislature thanks the city of Juneau for its hospitality and offers special thanks to all of the many volunteers from the Alaska Committee, the City and Borough of Juneau, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Convention and Visitor's Bureau who made the welcoming reception such a success.

He's helpful around the house
Jadey Grimmett got out of bed early Thursday morning for some water. Twenty-five minutes later she and her new baby boy were crying on the bathroom floor. Just a week shy of being nine months pregnant, Grimmett - aided by her husband, Scott, and Juneau police dispatchers over the phone - gave birth to the couple's son while waiting at home for the ambulance.

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

1959 - Alaska's first state Legislature
Forty-four years ago today, on Jan. 26, 1959, the first Alaska state Legislature convened in Juneau. This photograph was taken of the 40-member House of Representatives, who were elected from 24 districts.

Anchorage Film Fest at Perseverance
Perseverance Theatre will show selections from the Anchorage Film Festival tonight and Tuesday.

JDHS home designers win award
A team of Juneau-Douglas High School students last week won second place in a national competition to design a home. Seniors Mary Wilcock, Garrett Paul, John Wagner and Taryn Bachman and freshman Tracy Lazaro had to modify base drawings for a two-story home for a hypothetical Las Vegas family that wanted certain options for a set price.

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

School plan's fate now with the Assembly
After weeks of heated public meetings, the Juneau Assembly will consider Monday night whether to approve the school district's plan for a $62 million high school in the Mendenhall Valley. Although that's more expensive than the school that voters approved in 1999, supporters say it will cost local taxpayers less than they agreed to pay at that time. Opponents say taxpayers could save even more with a smaller school and still meet Juneau's needs.

Bartlett considers overseeing Skagway health clinic
Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau is in discussions with Skagway officials about managing the town's medical clinic. The clinic, which has faced financial and staffing difficulties, is run by the nonprofit Skagway Medical Corp. and serves Skagway's 862 residents. A team from Juneau has been trying to visit Skagway to discuss a management transfer, but has been stymied by bad weather, Bartlett Administrator Bob Valliant said.

City looks to expand Dumpster provisions
Juneau's plastic Dumpster lids could be a thing of the past if the Juneau Assembly approves a rewrite of the city's garbage ordinance. City staff members have proposed several revisions to an existing law designed to limit bear and garbage problems in Juneau's neighborhoods. The changes should make the law easier to understand and enforce, according to City Attorney John Corso.

Snow causes Valley power outage
The Mendenhall Valley lost power for about an hour early this morning when heavy snow caused power lines to snap together, officials said today. Homes and businesses from the Fred Meyer store to past Auke Bay lost power around 6:15 a.m., said David Stone, vice president of public affairs for Alaska Electric Light and Power. Stone did not have an immediate estimate of how many people were affected.

Photo: Governor and friends at Inaugural Family Event
Gov. Frank Murkowski poses with Gina Del Rosario and her children, Gina Lyn and Jed, at the Inaugural Family Event on Saturday at the Nugget Mall.

AroundTown
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

This Day in History
In 1974, KTOO-FM, Alaska's first noncommercial, listener-supported radio station, signed on the air.

Activist speaks on Mideast conflict
Judith Kolokoff's political awareness began at an early age. Growing up in Chicago, Kolokoff cut her teeth on causes such as the anti-McCarthy movement and school desegregation. The 73-year-old Seattle grandmother's most recent cause, one she has been vocal about for close to a decade, is peace in the Middle East.

Inaugural bash
About 850 men and women, most of them fully decked in formal attire, braved the snow and wind Saturday night to attend one of the few events in Juneau where tuxedo pants outnumbered Carharts and high heels won out over Xtratufs. Gov. Frank Murkowski's fourth inaugural ball was held at Centennial Hall, Merchants Wharf and the Goldbelt Hotel. The first three balls were in Anchorage, Nome and the Alaska State Fairgrounds in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Ketchikan had its inaugural ball Sunday and others are planned for Kenai and Fairbanks.

Trapping, berrying: the stuff of science
Students from Juneau and Haines showed how to trap fish the old way, questioned whether berries were better preserved in a refrigerator than a bentwood box, and figured out why Tlingits would paddle all the way to California to get yellow cedar. Those topics and about 25 others, submitted by about 55 students, were presented Saturday at the Southeast Alaska Native Science Fair at the Tlingit and Haida Vocational Training Center.

Police peacefully end early morning standoff
After a three-hour standoff today, police nabbed a man threatening to kill himself and three officers, according to a police press release.

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

Helen G. Wright
Former Juneau resident Helen G. Wright, 79, died Jan. 7, 2003, in Anchorage after a sudden illness.

Dorothy (Marvin) Rhodes
Former Juneau resident Dorothy (Marvin) Rhodes died Dec. 26, 2002, at her home near Loon Lake, Wash. Medical reports indicated rupture of an intracranial berry aneurysm as the cause of death.

My Turn: New Valley high school supports all of Juneau
I was concerned by teacher Clay Good's commentary last week because it appeared to me Mr. Good felt the vote to build a Mendenhall Valley high school was somehow a vote against him and other teachers at Juneau-Douglas High School. As a citizen in support of a Valley high school, I want to assure Mr. Good, and other JDHS teachers, that citizen support of the high school in no way reduces community support for Juneau's teachers. The city Assembly is not weighing its support of teacher salaries and benefits at this time. Assembly members are being asked to make a decision about the proposed plans for the Valley high school (submitted by our Juneau School Board) or to disagree with those plans and supplant that project with a scaled down version of the high school developed by city engineering and planning staff. I see no relationship between the construction of the Valley high school and support of Juneau's teachers.

Empire editorial: Support district's design for new Valley high school
The Juneau Assembly Committee of the Whole met last Wednesday to continue discussion on the final concept for the Mendenhall Valley high school project. There are many complex issues to consider in making a final decision. Voters approved $50 million for a second high school in 1999 to begin construction in 2004. The time line for nailing down the final concept for the project has drawn out and now the opening date for the school has been moved back to 2006 providing that the project is approved soon.

What do you think?
A person with a perfectly clean driving record and who may have lost a business or employment causing creditors to take legal action to collect a debt should not be penalized by paying higher car insurance rates.

Toe Cartoon

My Turn: Juneau hospitality shines
Thank you to the hundreds of people and businesses that participated in last weekend's site selection visit by the Arctic Winter Game's International Committee.

Avalanche wisdom best way to avoid snowy death
OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. - One week before Christmas, backcountry skier Toni Piva cheated death in an avalanche. Caught in a snow slide while skiing with friends in an Idaho wilderness area near the Wyoming state line, Piva was buried for 12 minutes until his friends dug him out.

Snow report
Alaska and Pacific Northwest ski area Web sites.

Some trails began in mining days
A good definition of hiking is to take a long walk, tramp or march on a path or trail across a wild or unsettled region. In the early 1800s, lands in the vicinity of Gastineau Channel were basically wild, although not unsettled, as several Tlingit clans inhabited the area. That was about to change in October of 1880 when Richard Harris and Joseph Juneau returned to the area for the second time in search of gold. They discovered quantities of placer gold in a valley Harris named Silver Bow Basin, which lies just inland from what is now the city of Juneau. Because of their discovery and the ensuing gold rush in the area, we are now blessed with many trails into the woods and up to the mountaintops.

Chasing the aurora
Chicago-raised Michael Orelove remembers the first time he saw the northern lights after moving to Alaska. "It was just amazing," said Orelove, a Juneau stargazer and Marie Drake Planetarium volunteer. "Pictures do not do it justice because it does completely fill the whole sky. You have to turn your head to see the show."

Out and About
Jan. 26: 4-H Nordic Ski Club meeting. For location and activity, call the 4-H office, 465-8749. Jan. 27 & 29: Fly Fishing 101 workshop, 7-9 p.m., Floyd Dryden Library. Details and registration: 463-1717.

Sports in Juneau
Information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

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.

Photo: Middle school wrestling
Alex Hunt of Floyd Dryden Middle School, top, grapples with Ryan Mortensen of Ketchikan's Schoenbar Middle School on Saturday during their 85-pound match at a middle school wrestling tournament held at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School.

Back on track
The Service Cougars tried two different tactics this weekend to keep the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team stuck in its recent skid. Neither of them worked, as the Crimson Bears ended a three-game losing streak with a 76-49 victory on Friday and a 52-40 win on Saturday at the JDHS main gym.

Hawks 102, Cavaliers 101, OT
At Cleveland, Glenn Robinson scored 27 points, including six in overtime, to help Atlanta beat Cleveland.

Heartbreak: Bear girls let one slip away
For three quarters Saturday night, the Juneau-Douglas High School girls basketball team had the state's dominant program on its heels. But the bottom fell out in the fourth quarter for the Crimson Bears, as the three-time defending state champion East Anchorage Thunderbirds staged a late rally - keyed by star senior Ashley Mickens - for a 64-56 victory at the T-Bird Classic in Anchorage.

State Briefs
Weather could cause avalanches; Students wanted for conservation, civics course; NMFS says killer-whale petition may have merit; U.S. boats entered Russian waters

Gov.'s permitting plan once rejected by Hickel
Gov. Frank Murkowski's proposal to have Fish and Game Department habitat permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources is not new. Former Gov. Walter Hickel also considered doing so, but rejected the idea after his Fish and Game commissioner, Carl Rosier, recommended against it.

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

Photo: Decorated skiers
Bonnie Merkouris, left, and Hanna Johnson await the start of the seventh annual Alaska Ski for Women on Sunday at Kincaid Park in Anchorage. The two said they were dressed as American fairies.

Fairbanks examines time at school devoted to academic study
FAIRBANKS - Recess, assemblies, getting settled in the morning: School is full of things that aren't academic. Using data gathered this semester, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District aims to find out just how much time during the school year is spent on instruction and how much is spent on everything else.

Nome reindeer head for celebrity life in Alabama
About 30 reindeer from Nome made a stopover in Anchorage on Saturday afternoon, heading for a life of star appearances with Santas at malls in a region where snow is nearly as rare as reindeer.

Smallpox shots to start in February
The state plans to start vaccinating civilians for smallpox next month in Anchorage. The move is in response to an executive order issued by President Bush on Dec. 13. The vaccinations will be given only to selected people, most of them medical personnel.

Governor aims to link permanent fund investments to in-state development
Gov. Frank Murkowski wants to use the muscle of the Alaska Permanent Fund's $23 billion investment portfolio to open corporate doors for Alaska. In what would be a significant policy shift, Murkowski said he will appoint members to the board of trustees willing to leverage the power of the fund to attract jobs to Alaska.

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