Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2004

Homeless shelter asks potters to donate bowls

JUNEAU - The Glory Hole, Juneau's homeless shelter and soup kitchen downtown, is asking potters in Southeast to donate bowls for the first-ever "Empty Bowls" dinner, to be held in April.

At the fund-raiser, participants will pay $25 for a bowl and a meal of soup and bread. They'll keep the bowl, as a reminder of hungry people around the world, said Jetta Whittaker, executive director of the Glory Hole.

The bowl serves as "a statement of beliefs," said Whittaker. "It's a statement of positive change around the world."

So far, Whittaker has solicited about two dozen groups or individual potters for bowls. They include second graders at Auke Bay Elementary School, students in pottery classes at the University of Alaska Southeast and professional potters.

"We're hoping for 500 bowls, because we think we'll easily get 500 people to attend," Whittaker said.

So far, local potters have committed to donating about 350 bowls. Whittaker is relying on word of mouth to find people to make the remaining 150 bowls.

Whittaker also is searching for volunteers and for restaurants to donate vats of soup for the event.

The Empty Bowls dinner will take place on April 24 in Centennial Hall. For more information, call Whittaker at 586-4159.

Executive Director Miller to leave United Way

JUNEAU - After what she calls "the most challenging professional experience" she's ever had, Dawn Miller is leaving her post as executive director of United Way of Southeast Alaska.

Miller, who became engaged in August to a commercial pilot stationed in Texas, announced her resignation Jan. 22, almost eight months after accepting the position last May.

"I hate to leave things undone, but when your life changes this dramatically, it's hard to look a gift horse in the mouth," she said.

The umbrella nonprofit organization, which raises and distributes funds to 31 member agencies in Southeast Alaska, has begun the search for Miller's replacement, said Chuck Collins, president of the United Way board of directors. Listings for the position are on the state of Alaska Web site, as well as on the national United Way site.

Though the final numbers have not been tabulated for United Way of Southeast Alaska's annual fund-raising campaign, the agency most likely will not meet its goal for the second year in a row, Miller said.

In 2002, United Way of Southeast Alaska raised $480,000 - $120,000 short of its goal. This year the agency hoped to raise $625,000.

"We are definitely in a lull," Miller said. "And unfortunately ... the national trend is low donations."

But Miller has been impressed by the generosity she's witnessed in the past year, she said.

"I have learned that Southeast Alaskans care a lot about each other and that as far as programs go for human needs, that Southeast Alaska is very rich with folks that want to help," she said.

State accepts gas pipeline application

JUNEAU - The state has reviewed and accepted an application to build a gas pipeline submitted last week by a group of companies including MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., the governor said Wednesday.

MidAmerican submitted the application along with Cook Inlet Region Inc. and Pacific Star Energy, an Alaskan start-up that includes 12 of the state's 13 regional Native corporations.

The companies propose to construct an open-access, 745-mile, $6.3 billion pipeline extending from Prudhoe Bay to the Alaska-Yukon Territory border near Beaver Creek. There, the pipeline would hook up with a new Canadian pipeline possibly built by pipeline and power company TransCanada.

The companies are trying to begin operations of the pipeline in December 2010.

The acceptance clears the way for negotiations to begin on a draft contract.

Gov. Frank Murkowski said he hopes to have a draft negotiated in time for the Legislature to consider it before adjourning in mid-May.

The state announced last week that it had accepted an application submitted by the major North Slope oil companies: BP, Conoco Phillips and ExxonMobil.

Lawmakers bow out of vote on permanent fund

JUNEAU - Gov. Frank Murkowski excused state legislative leaders from voting during an upcoming three-day panel in Fairbanks to decide whether to use the Alaska Permanent Fund for state spending.

Lawmakers will still serve on the panel, but they asked to be excused from voting, said Murkowski spokesman John Manly.

"They requested that they didn't think they ought to be voting members," Manly said Wednesday.

As a result, the panel will grow from 55 members to 59 with all but the four lawmakers ultimately voting on whether to recommend using portions of the $27.9 billion permanent fund to close the state's budget gap.

Murkowksi had appointed House Majority Leader John Coghill and Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz to the panel along with Senate Majority Leader Ben Stevens and Minority Leader Johnny Ellis.

In assembling the panel, Murkowski cast it as a broad-based group of Alaskans who would resolve the politically sensitive question of using the fund for government.

Alaska has had a budget deficit for all but two years in the last decade. Administration officials expect the state deficit to be in excess of $400 million by June 2005.

The Legislature could use money from the permanent fund to close the structural budget hole, but has never done so. Politicians in the state generally regard such a vote as political suicide.



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