State briefs

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Fred Meyer gas station OK'd

JUNEAU - The Fred Meyer store will soon add gasoline to its list of amenities for consumers.

The Juneau Planning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit Tuesday night allowing a five-stall, 10-pump gas station and cashier kiosk to be added to the southeast portion of the existing parking lot near Glacier Highway.

Developers for the project will have to incorporate several conditions imposed by the Planning Commission into the design of the project before they can obtain a building permit. These conditions include repainting traffic lines on the pavement in the parking lot nearest the gas station, constructing a new pedestrian sidewalk linking the bus stop on Dairy Road to the Fred Meyer storefront, adding directional signs to gas station exits and entrances and submitting a lighting plan.

Further, the commission ordered Fred Meyer owners to maintain fire hydrants on the property and to maintain the gas station's oil/water underground separator tank by emptying it once a month or after a heavy rainfall

City drops trespass charges against 'banner' student

JUNEAU - The city has dropped criminal trespass charges against Joseph Frederick, the Juneau-Douglas High School senior who was suspended last month for displaying a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" during the Olympic Torch Relay.

Frederick was arrested Jan. 30 for trespass after allegedly violating an order barring him from the grounds of the high school or the adjacent Marie Drake building for the duration of his 10-day suspension.

City Attorney John Corso said the location of the incident seems to have not been on school grounds. "It appears that the incident in question involved a vehicle parked in a lot more closely associated with the (Augustus Brown Swimming) pool," he said.

Corso said there is a continuing investigation into other possible violations.

Cut in child health program faces opposition

JUNEAU - A proposal to drop the number of Alaskans eligible for a state health insurance program drew fire Tuesday from health-care providers and those who would be affected by such cuts.

Rep. John Coghill, a North Pole Republican, is sponsoring a bill to lower the income level at which families qualify for Denali KidCare, a program that provides health insurance for kids and pregnant women. People can qualify if their income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level for Alaska. Coghill said that means a family of four earning $44,160 a year would qualify.

That is too generous, he said, especially since the state is projected to have a billion-dollar budget hole this year and next and legislators are talking about raising taxes. Coghill proposes to limit the program to those making 150 percent or less of the federal poverty level.

All those testifying before the House Health Education and Social Services Committee on Tuesday opposed the change.

State Health and Social Services Commissioner Jay Livey said the 200 percent level was initially chosen based on the availability and relatively high cost of private insurance policies. Making the change would cause 3,800 children and 722 pregnant women to lose coverage, he said. The change would save about $5 million a year, Livey said.

Gay Wellman, testifying by teleconference from Glennallen for the Copper River Native Association, said Denali KidCare helps fund a fetal alcohol syndrome program there.

She also talked about her own family's trouble finding health care several years ago, despite making more than $44,000 a year.

Compiled from staff and wire service reports.

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