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Tuesday, January 28, 2003

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Issue won't go away
Subsistence has been mentioned since the first Legislature convened. Where has it gone, where is it going? Is it such a bear of an issue that it is in hibernation at all times? Is it a threat to let the indigenous people have the privilege that they have had for the last 10,000 years in Alaska?

Good time, good coverage
Thanks to the Juneau Empire for its coverage of the Inaugural Ball. Having attended several of the balls around the state, the coverage by other Alaskan media outlets has been disappointing.

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?

Inconsistency of DIA is appalling
The Douglas Indian Association (DIA) has yet again suspended Article III, Section 2 of its own constitution by failing to hold an annual election. The DIA constitution requires an election each year to seat four or five board members to a two-year term in order to maintain a council of nine members.

Photo: Digging out
Henry Jebe uses his four-wheel-drive tractor to clear snow off his North Douglas Highway driveway Monday afternoon. Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

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.

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

Photo: 1913 construction of Salmon Creek Dam
This photograph was taken Sept. 25, 1913, during the construction of the Salmon Creek Dam and Powerhouse. In 1914, in a high valley three miles above the current Bartlett Regional Hospital, Salmon Creek Dam came online.

AroundTown
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

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.

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.

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

Voters to get say on $60.8 million school
The Juneau Assembly on Monday decided to send local voters a $60.8 million plan for a Mendenhall Valley high school. In doing so, the Assembly approved the Juneau School District's schematic design for the school at Dimond Park, but cut the project budget by 2 percent, to $60.8 million. Voters have approved $48.3 million for the project. An election this spring would ask for approval of another $12.5 million at the most, schools Superintendent Gary Bader said. Under current plans, the school would open in 2006.

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.

Police look for a few good men and women
People looking to run toward danger, help the community and thwart the odd problem bear may want to apply to the Juneau Police Department. The department began its latest local and nationwide recruitment effort Jan. 13. Applications will be accepted until March 7, according to its Web site, www.juneaupolice.com.

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

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.

Mallott recovering from emergency surgery in New Zealand
Former Juneau Mayor Byron Mallott is recovering in a New Zealand hospital after undergoing emergency surgery Saturday evening to remove a blood clot from his brain. Mallott's brother-in-law, Larry Powell of Yakutat, said the surgery was successful and doctors expect a full recovery.

This Day in History
In 1925, the City of Juneau purchased its first combination grader and snowplow, costing $1,600.

Permitting shift could help Lake Dorothy project
The Lake Dorothy hydroelectric project could get a boost from the governor's proposal to make the state Department of Natural Resources the lead agency for permitting of development projects. Project developers had feared they would not win the support of the state Department of Fish and Game because the hydropower plant would divert water from streams inhabited by eastern brook trout, a non-native fish.

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

John William Elsner
Longtime Juneau resident John William Elsner died Jan. 25, 2003, at his residence in Juneau.

Eva Davis
Hoonah resident Eva Davis died Jan. 27, 2003, at her residence in Hoonah.

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.

My Turn: From outrage to guilt to shame
On Sundays, I like to loll on the couch, slurp coffee, and read the paper from front to back. It usually takes me the better part of an hour, and after the coffee kicks in, I get a good start on the weekly crossword puzzle before my wife starts preparing breakfast. I never peek at the answers until about Thursday, and then only if that particular puzzle cheats by loading up with the names of teeny-bopper pop stars, gay authors, or other such obscure personalities.

My Turn: Selectively applying science to politics
Recent appointments to the Board of Game have caused concern by some members of the public. Remember that five of the seven previous members were temporary appointments due to legislators' (elected by the same majority that elected Gov. Murkowski) refusal to confirm the Knowles appointments. One other term expires March 1.

Cavaliers 104, Clippers 100
At Cleveland, Ricky Davis scored 17 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter and hit the go-ahead jumper with nine seconds left to give Keith Smart his first victory as Cleveland coach.

Correction
In a Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball photo in Sunday's sports section, David "Tres" Saldivar III was incorrectly identified.

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

Dozens of Iditarod fans bid to ride along with mushers at race start
WASILLA - Martin Buser of Big Lake was a bargain at $1,500 when final bidding began in the 2003 Idita-Rider auction on Friday. "This is a four-time champ, you guys, and last year's winner," auction coordinator Deby Trosper told the 89 people vying by phone for a chance to ride in a musher's sled for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on March 1 in Anchorage.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pro-move group calls for new election
Legislative-move advocates are contesting the results of a failed ballot initiative to move the Legislature from Juneau to Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and are calling for a new election in 2004. Ballot Measure 3 failed by a 2-1 margin statewide in November, but initiative sponsor Alaskans for Efficient Government says the public was not fully informed of the costs of the move.

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

State Briefs
Snowmachine and cross-country trails ready for use; Panel to vote on Thane docks; Wayward puck leaves legislator in stitches; Murkowski reorganizes corrections; Labor Department creates grants division

Rokeberg backing two permanent fund measures
State Rep. Norman Rokeberg would like to increase the state's share of oil revenues that normally would flow to the Alaska Permanent Fund. Rokeberg, an Anchorage Republican, is sponsoring two pieces of legislation to make portions of the permanent fund available for state government spending. "It's the rainy-day fund, and it's raining," Rokeberg said.

Apartment worker saves hypothermic infant from flooding sink
ANCHORAGE - A maintenance worker looking for the source of a hot-water outage in a South Anchorage apartment building rescued a hypothermic infant from an overflowing bathroom sink Monday morning. The worker also found another child, age 4, on the living room couch and a 20-month-old in a bedroom. The worker couldn't find an adult and so called the property manager. Someone there called police at about 9 a.m.

Labor Department creates grants division
The state Department of Labor and Workforce Development is creating a division to deal with worker-training grants.

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