Alaska Digest

Staff reports

Posted: Friday, February 11, 2005

Native groups speak out against mine

JUNEAU - The Taku River Tlingit First Nation in British Columbia and the Douglas Indian Association in Juneau issued a joint statement against the proposed Tulsequah Chief mine on Thursday.

Representatives for two tribes met for three hours on Tuesday in Juneau before attending a forum on the Canadian mine. At the meeting, the groups agreed to work together on their common concerns.

"We hope to establish regular meetings," said Ed White, an environmental planner for the Douglas Indian Association.

In a written statement, Taku River Tlingit First Nation spokesman John Ward said, "The Tlingit people on both sides of the border have a long-term commitment to the land while the mining company (Redfern Resources Ltd.) has only a short-term interest in this land. Their cash register is empty and they want to use our land to fill it."

Butch Laiti, of the Douglas Indian Association, said the tribe wants to ensure that commercial, sport and subsistence fishermen can continue to enjoy the "Taku's rich salmon runs, but are worried that the mine and road will jeopardize this."

SOB asbestos tests come up negative

JUNEAU - While workers at the State Office Building continued to clean up the mess created after a water pipe burst Monday morning, they didn't have to worry about asbestos contamination.

The broken water line above the eighth-floor Alaska State Library also damaged library storage on the seventh floor and a retirement and benefits office on the sixth floor.

Vern Jones, the state's procurement officer, said Thursday that air-quality tests didn't turn up asbestos from the ceiling's insulation, allowing things to get back to normal in the bulk of the building that didn't get wet.

Asbestos, which has been linked to lung cancer and the respiratory disease asbestosis, was commonly used for insulation when the State Office Building was built in 1973.

Thursday, the ventilation system could be turned on to circulate air in the building. Because of the damaged water pipe, plumbing was turned on in the building late Wednesday. For much of the day, workers in the building had to go elsewhere to drink from a fountain or use a restroom.

The main section of the state library remains closed until further notice after staff worked to save books from water damage Wednesday.

Vandal spree covers wide area in Valley

JUNEAU - Police took eight reports Thursday of vehicle windows being broken in what appears to be a single spree, despite the geography the reports covered, police Capt. Tom Porter said.

Reports came in from the 8100 block of Erin Street, not far from Glacier Spur Road, and the 9100 block of Ninnis Drive, near Mendenhall Lake, as well as Industrial Boulevard in the airport area. Others came from nearly as far away as Auke Bay.

"What we've seen in the past is young people driving around and committing acts of vandalism," Porter said. While he said he wasn't blaming the incidents on "kids," he said the vandalism appears to be random in nature.

Officers will be going over things they saw and people they talked to Wednesday night as the department looks for clues.

One incident reported Thursday may not be related, he said. At 6:34 a.m., a woman reported that all four of the tires on her vehicle were punctured in the 1800 block of Northwood Drive in the Lemon Creek area.

The next eight vandalism calls, from 7:55 a.m. to 2:36 p.m., involved smashed vehicle windows. One of the two reports taken from the 2400 block of Industrial Boulevard near the airport involved two vehicles.

On the other side of Egan Drive in the Valley, people reported vandals hit their vehicles in the 8200 block of Dogwood Lane and the 8400 block of Thunder Mountain Road.

Other incidents were reported in the 2800 block of Fritz Cove Road and 10900 block of Glacier Highway.

Rollover related to drunken driving

JUNEAU - Police have completed their investigation of a Jan. 30 rollover accident and have concluded it was alcohol-related.

Police forwarded drunken-driving charges to the city attorney to be filed against James Christopher Hilbelink, a 21-year-old local resident who was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital after Capital City Fire and Rescue crews pulled him out of the vehicle. Hilbelink has since been released from the hospital, police reported.

The 1994 Ford Explorer, which Hilbelink was driving, was totaled in the accident, which occurred at about 11 p.m. Hilbelink reportedly was driving away from the downtown area when the Explorer left the roadway. In addition to rolling over, police reported that the vehicle struck a utility pole.

Shooting range to suspend public hours

JUNEAU - Public shooting hours at the Juneau Hunter Education Indoor Shooting Range will be suspended until further notice after Sunday due to staff turnover, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced.

The range, adjacent to the Juneau Gun Club at 5670 Montana Creek Road in the Mendenhall Valley, has operated with hours for public "walk-in" use four days a week since late January.

A statement issued by the department said the Division of Wildlife Conservation lost a staff member critical to keeping the range open for public use. It is trying to fill a critical staff vacancy, the statement added.

Experts offer advice on college financial aid

JUNEAU - Juneau-Douglas High School will play host to the Alaska College Goal at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Financial aid professionals from the University of Alaska Southeast will join colleagues from around the country in helping prospective college students complete a document called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Parents and prospective college students should bring current income information, such as their most recent completed tax return and W-2 form.

At 6 p.m. Monday in the UAS Egan classroom wing, University of Alaska Vice President of Finance Jim Lynch, Smith Barney Investment counselor Peter Jurasz, and Jeff Southard of Northwest Education Loan will discuss long-term and short-term strategies for paying for college.

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