State and local briefly

Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Ferry support measure fails again

JUNEAU - At its sparsely attended Feb. 7 meeting, the Juneau Assembly grappled with a resolution that would have endorsed Gov. Tony Knowles proposal to put fast ferries in Southeast service. The measure, introduced by Frankie Pillifant, could not garner the five votes necessary for passage of a motion.

The debate continued at Monday night's session with seven members present - two more than a week earlier. But the resolution, amended and re-amended, failed again, by a 4-3 margin.

``We wanted to give the administration a clear signal that we supported his actions to provide a convenient, reliable ferry service,'' assembly member Jim Powell said.

``The question is, how many times do we have to hit the wall on this?'' he said.

The assembly had supported a road access option to connect Juneau with Haines and Skagway - over a fast ferry plan - with a resolution a year ago, said assembly member Dwight Perkins. ``I personally support the road, but what the governor is doing with ferries makes sense, too.''

Perkins said he though that the resolution would fail again with the full assembly in attendance - this time by a 5-4 margin.

Douglas fire investigation continues

JUNEAU - Three recent fires are still under investigation, said fire investigator Mike Tagaban.

The fire in a duplex on Fifth Street in Douglas broke out early Monday, apparently near a microwave oven in a kitchen on the upper floor, which is at street level.

``There are still a couple of interviews I want to complete,'' Tagaban said. The cause of the fire appears to have been ``an electrical problem dealing with some kind of appliance,'' he added.

A fire in a trailer at Kodzoff Acres Mobile Home Park on the evening of Feb. 5 started in the bathroom. Damage was estimated at $25,000. In his investigation of this blaze, Tagaban is waiting for results of analysis of evidence.

The largest fire of late was in a six-plex under construction on Gastineau Avenue on Jan. 30. Finished cost of the structure, due to be completed in April, was $600,000.

The structure was covered by insurance, Tagaban said, and he believes there are plans to re-build. Owners of the structure, Alphonso and Nenita Soriano, could not be reached for comment.

Eddie Bauer won't commit to Juneau store

JUNEAU - Juneau is next in line in Alaska for an Eddie Bauer sportswear store, but that decision is at least two years off, says a corporate executive.

The Redmond, Wash.-based chain recently announced the imminent opening of a store in Fairbanks and an upgrade at the existing Anchorage outlet.

Meanwhile, Juneau has received ``a very preliminary look,'' said Mark Comstock, director of leasing for Eddie Bauer. ``We're a bit concerned from a population standpoint.''

But Comstock said he expects a store in Juneau eventually. If, through the Fairbanks store, company officials ``can get comfortable with a smaller prototype,'' that improves the prospects for Juneau, he said. The city's income, education and employment statistics are encouraging, as are local Eddie Bauer catalog sales, he said.

Meanwhile, Eddie Bauer public relations staff aren't saying whether Juneau remains an option for a photo shoot for the winter catalog. A 14-person crew did a week-long shoot in Juneau last month as the beginning of the creative process for developing the catalog. But none of those photos are expected to end up in the catalog, and the company says that for competitive reasons it's unwise to say where the final photos will be taken this summer.

Coast Guard stops local boats

JUNEAU - In the past week, the U.S. Coast Guard has ended the voyages of two boats in waters near Juneau.

The voyages were terminated for unsafe boating and violating federal safety regulations.

About 2 p.m. Feb. 8, a 17-foot pleasure boat with two Juneau residents aboard was stopped near Portland Island so a safety equipment check could be conducted. The vessel lacked flares, among other items.

``We terminated the boat's voyage,'' said Chief Petty Officer Roger Wetherell of the Coast Guard. ``Although there were two people on board, only one of them had a personal floatation device, and there was no fire extinguisher. It just wasn't safe,'' Wetherell said.

About noon Saturday, a commercial fishing boat crew's operations in Stephen's Passage were ended. The Coast Guard stopped the 31-foot gillnetter Lil' Lugger. The boat carried only one immersion suit for three fishermen, and lacked fire extinguishers as well as sound-producing devices needed for signaling during distress situations, officials said.

These two terminations were part of the Coast Guard's ongoing mission to maintain safe operations on the high seas, Wetherell said today.

``We have the authority to stop vessels for safety compliance at any time,'' Wetherell said.``It's our daily job. We want to make sure mariners are safe when they go out.''

Mariners who are unsure whether they have the correct equipment aboard should contact Sue Jorgensen, the 17th Coast Guard District's Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator, at 463-2286.

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