State briefs

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2002

Fast ferry contract signed

JUNEAU - State and shipyard officials today signed a contract for construction of two new fast ferries for Alaska.

Gov. Tony Knowles, state Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe Perkins and Paul Derecktor of Derecktor Shipyards of Mamaroneck, N.Y., attended the signing of the $67.9 million agreement this morning at the Capitol.

Under the contract, Derecktor will build a Juneau-Sitka ferry plus a second vessel to run between Cordova and Valdez. Full funding for the second ferry has not yet been approved.

The state last spring rejected a bid by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders of Washington state, calling it nonresponsive.

President Bush plans stopover at Anchorage Air Force base

ANCHORAGE - President Bush is expected to make a stop in Anchorage on Saturday on his way to Tokyo.

He is expected to speak to military personnel at Elmendorf Air Force Base and attend a fund-raiser for Republican candidates at the Alaska Native Heritage Center. Bush's personal protection advance team visited Elmendorf and other locations on Wednesday, said Mike Sweazey, the Anchorage-based U.S. Secret Service agent in charge.

Bush's visit, expected to last a couple of hours, won't include any public appearances, according to Mark Mew, deputy police chief. City police have been asked to help with traffic and security.

The $1,000-a-head fund-raiser scheduled at the center is a benefit for the state Republican Governor's Fund, according to the invitations. Republican Party officials learned of the president's stopover "less than 10 days ago," according to state party chairman Randy Ruedrich. He would not discuss any other details of the event.

"This is all in the category of probable until the White House truly formalizes the plan," Ruedrich told the Anchorage Daily News.

Workshop held on Mideast conflict

JUNEAU - A workshop beginning Friday evening focuses on American response to the Middle East conflict by examining the region's people, history and religion.

The workshop is titled "The Middle East, Reconciliation and Non-Violence - A time of learning, discussion, expressing, food, fellowship, art, music and dance." The conference kicks off at 7 p.m. at Northern Light United Church with a lecture by Rich Bell, a professor of philosophy at The College of Wooster, Ohio, and an expert on the South African model of reconciliation.

It continues Saturday at noon with soup, bread and discussion and four afternoon workshops. Sunday evening at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, there will be a potluck, a discussion titled "No Easy Answers" and prayers for peace.

"I would like to see a broad cross-section of the community there," said organizer K.J. Metcalf of Northern Light. "While we advertised it for 'people of faith,' we know that some people of no faith are concerned with the issues. We think the issues are extremely important and we are concerned that churches have not been helping people to understand them."

Northern Light and Aldersgate are sponsoring the three-day conference.

Donations will be accepted. For details, call 586-3132 or 586-7837.

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