Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Bear rules hearing Thursday

JUNEAU - The Mayor's Bear Advisory Committee will hold a public hearing Thursday from 6-9 p.m. in Juneau Assembly chambers.

"Everybody will have three minutes to speak and we're going to record everybody's comments," said bear committee Chairman Mark Farmer. "Ideas, pictures, anecdotal evidence, whatever people want to say."

The bear committee has met over several weeks and formulated fixes to Juneau's perennial bear problem that included mandatory garbage pickup, banned bird feeders and bear-proof garbage cans.

Public outcry recently caused the committee to back off the mandatory pickup.

"It should be a lively meeting," Farmer said. "People have been chewing my ear and the reactions have been 50-50: We're either jack-booted thugs or we're coddling the bears."

The committee was named by Mayor Sally Smith after last fall's city elections and includes Farmer, Arrow Refuse Manager Glen Thompson, state Fish and Game area biologist Neil Barten, city environmental zoning officer Dan Garcia, Police Chief Mel Personett, assembly member Marc Wheeler, and photographer Pat Costello.

Missing teen found, escapes

JUNEAU - Officials and the mother of a missing teen-ager are still searching for the local high school student.

Nicole Binkley, 16, was first reported missing Feb. 7, her mother, Angela Binkley, said today.

"She was seen Sunday night at the downtown movie theater, and the police located her and took her to Cornerstone (youth home) about 10 p.m.," Binkley said. "Then I got another call about 1 a.m. Monday that she had gone AWOL." Binkley registered another request to locate with police, she said.

Binkley said she put up posters describing her daughter Saturday. Nicole is 5 foot 8 inches, 130 pounds, with reddish hair.

Group wants redistricting count

FAIRBANKS - The Greater Fairbanks Military Retirees Council has asked the state to count all military personnel when it draws new election district boundaries for the Legislature this year. Ron Pierce, chairman of the council, presented a resolution to the Alaska Redistricting Board at its meeting in Juneau last week.

Thirteen Native organizations have asked the federal Department of Justice to block the state from counting nonresident military personnel during redistricting based on the 2000 Census figures. The Native groups say counting nonvoting military personnel isn't fair and will shift political power from rural areas to urban areas.

Pierce said, though, that excluding military personnel from the count would send an unfriendly message to those in uniform. "We are going to disenfranchise the very people who keep our rights safe," Pierce said.

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