Group organizes more university workers
FAIRBANKS - A group backed by a state employees' union and the American Federation of Teachers is working to organize most of the remaining nonunion workers at the University of Alaska.
University of Alaska Staff United is coordinating a card-signing campaign among the university's administrative and technical-support employees. The group says the university has about 2,200 nonunionized support workers.
"We feel in order to have our concerns taken seriously and receive equitable treatment, we really need to form a collective bargaining unit," said Steve Bouta, the group's chairman. "Right now we are not true participants in the decision-making process."
Bouta said the group is looking to get at least 50 percent of the affected employees to sign cards requesting a union vote. After that, he said, they will request that the Alaska Labor Relations Agency hold an election.
Beth Behner, the university's director of labor and employee relations, said her department hasn't received any formal notification of the unionization drive.
"Until that happens there is no active role for us to become involved," she said. "We certainly (recognize) employees' rights to unionize if they choose to do so and it isn't our role to make that decision for them."
Transportation Dept. reconsiders road to Rampart
FAIRBANKS - The Department of Transportation is taking another look at a long-discussed proposal to build a 25-mile road linking the Yukon River village of Rampart to the Elliott Highway.
A survey of the route, expected to cost at least $150,000, was just opened for bidding. Rampart, about 80 miles northwest of Fairbanks, is a village of about 20 year-round residents.
"Last summer we got $500,000 from Sen. Stevens, and it is a governor's priority," DOT Northern Region spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy said. "We could see some construction from the summer of 2004."
Project manager Steve Henry said there is a track passable by four-wheel drive that stretches from the ghost town of Eureka about 13 miles toward Rampart. A dirt ATV trail stretches the last 12 miles.
"It's in pretty bad shape," Henry said of the route, though he noted it is driveable in the winter. If the DOT proposal goes forward, the track would be replaced by a 24-foot-wide gravel road, roughly the same specifications of the Elliott, Henry said.
An environmental impact statement has already been prepared, and Henry said the EIS identified no major problems. At a public meeting on the subject in 1999 in Fairbanks, most area residents and other speakers came out in favor of the project.
Linda Evans, president of the Baan O Yell Kon Corp., the village corporation for Rampart, said the majority of village residents favor a road, to cut down the price of bringing supplies to the village and perhaps to bring in a business or two. She said the only store in the village closed a few years ago, shortly after the school closed when it fell below minimum student requirements.
"The population's dropped a lot," she said. "Right now there's no business there, no store." Evans said people are concerned about changes brought about by being on the road system.
Two more reindeer die from shooting
PALMER - Two more animals on the Williams Reindeer Farm have died from gunshot wounds suffered in a Friday morning shooting, bringing the total number killed to five.
One of the two, an unnamed male, was not known to have been shot until the creature was found dead Saturday, said Gene Williams. A female named Vicki also died of wounds Saturday.
That makes a total of seven reindeer shot early Friday, apparently by someone riding past the Butte farm on a snowmachine, Williams said. Three reindeer died Friday, either immediately or in the hours after the shooting spree. Two of the seven shot are doing well and are expected to live, Williams said.
Troopers are pursuing several leads in the case, she said.
Meanwhile, the Alaska State Snowmobile Association is offering $1,000 to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who shot the animals.
GCI announces 2002 earnings
ANCHORAGE - General Communications Inc. expects to see revenue of $367.8 million for 2002, a 2.9 percent increase over 2001.
The company said in a press release Monday that earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization is expected to total $102.1 million, a 5.6 percent increase.
The company said fourth-quarter revenues were expected to total $92.3 million. That compares to $86.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2001, an increase of 6.3 percent.