Posted: Monday, February 05, 2001

Canadians complain about railway extension

WHITEHORSE, Yukon - The Canadian government has not yet been contacted about building a railway through the Yukon linking British Columbia with Alaska, Yukon Premier Pat Duncan says.

The issue of a northern railway was among the many she discussed during last week's trip to Ottawa to meet with Prime Minister Jean Chretien and several federal cabinet ministers.

"The federal government in the United States has not said anything to Canada," Duncan said during a press conference to discuss the meeting.

Former President Clinton signed legislation on the eve of his departure calling for a joint Canada-U.S. commission to study the railway proposal over a three-year period. Congress pledged an initial $6 million over six years to help finance the initiative.

The bill proposes creating a 24-member commission, with 12 members from each country, who are to be chosen based on their technical experience and past involvement with the railway industry. Officials said they expected the railroad initiative would wait until President Bush gets settled into office.

Sen. Frank Murkowski is sponsoring the railroad extension proposal. He hopes to link the Alaska Railroad to the Lower 48 by way of Canada. Murkowski believes that could help develop coal and mineral resources in Alaska.

The connection would require 1,150 miles of new track, from Eielson Air Force Base to either Fort St. John or Fort Nelson in northern British Columbia. Cost is estimated to run anywhere from $1.15 billion to $2.3 billion.

Kid Safe event planned for Saturday

JUNEAU - Kid Safe Saturday, a free safety celebration for children sponsored by Bartlett Regional Hospital, is Saturday at Centennial Hall.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., kids ages 4 to 14 can participate in activities teaching a variety of ways to keep out of harm's way.

Kid Safe Saturday takes the form of classes, most 25 minutes long. They run on the half hour, starting at 9:30 a.m. Police officers and other experts will teach classes covering topics such as bear, sports, gun and fire safety, protecting the eyes, proper use of the 911 emergency phone number, electrical safety and cold-water survival.

Kids can break from class for a free lunch at Zach Gordon Youth Center, which is just across the parking lot from Centennial Hall.

Fingerprinting and height and weight information can be taken, plus photo identification. For details, call Marijo Tone at 586-8488.

Hospital stresses no-fragrance policy

JUNEAU - Visitors to Bartlett Regional Hospital are being asked not to wear any perfume, cologne or aftershave when entering the facility.

Many visitors are not aware Bartlett has a fragrance-free policy, said Bartlett obstetrical nurse manager Nina Rajala, and that fragrance can be the straw that breaks the health camel's back.

"Patients with any kind of reactive airway problem, including asthma, can have their problems set off by perfumes and colognes," Rajala said.

Even pleasant fragrances, such as those from a dozen magnolias, can cause recovering patients to experience nausea and can increase sensitivity among patients with lung problems such as pneumonia.

"This is a very serious problem for us at Bartlett," Rajala said. "Even cigarette smoke on clothing and flowers with especially strong scents can be bad for patients."

Figures collected by the federal government show indoor air "pollution" can be four to 41 times that of outdoor pollution, because new, tighter building construction tends to hold pollutants such as household cleaners or deodorants inside.

Permanent fund grows in January

ANCHORAGE - The $27.4 billion Alaska Permanent Fund rose about $548 million in value last month as its stock and bond portfolio grew.

The oil wealth savings account's stock holdings totaled some $13.5 billion as of Jan. 31. That was up $341 million for the month.

Permanent fund officials said its U.S. stocks were up $202 million and foreign stocks were up $139 million. The fund's $11 billion bond portfolio grew by $207 million in January.

The fund also owns $2.7 billion worth of real estate, a figure that went unchanged for the month.

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