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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Marine Highway needs more consideration
We need to talk about the Alaska Marine Highway System. Judge John Sedwick halted the Juneau road project and reminded me that I believe the Alaska Marine Highway System receives too little consideration in the transportation infrastructure plans for Alaska.

The Marine Highway is safe and reliable
Ferries are the only safe, reliable access to Juneau and elsewhere in Southeast Alaska, particularly in the winter. Access to the Juneau airport and medical care facilities is a necessity - not a luxury - to those of us who live in Southeast communities outside of Juneau.

ExxonMobil should stop being a scrooge
ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, just posted record profits of $8.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 2008 and $45 billion for all of 2008. It has not participated in distributing discounted oil to Citizens Energy Corp.

Road ruling leaves uncertainties
Juneau Legislators are saying Friday's court ruling against the Juneau Road may set the project back for years, if it goes forward at all.

Mine construction suspended
Redfern Resources Ltd. has suspended construction on the Tulsequah Chief mine indefinitely, but says it will continue its permit process with state agencies to use a hoverbarge on the Taku River.

Schools brace for $2 million budget shortfall
The Juneau School District is anticipating a $2 million budget shortfall for the 2009-2010 school year and its volunteer review boards tasked with recommending cuts to make up for it reported Tuesday that there's little to trim aside from personnel.

Bill could ban young drivers' cell phone use
A bill likely to be taken up in the Legislature next month aims to ban anyone under age 18 from using cell phones while driving.

Scientist to speak on Arctic climate change in lecture
Although most people will never see the Arctic in their lifetimes, their daily actions still have an effect on the region, said Neil Hamilton, director of the World Wildlife Fund's International Arctic Program.

Hundreds honor civil rights leader
While many in the capital observed President's Day on Monday by taking the day off of work, a standing-room only crowd packed the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall to honor Alaska Native civil rights leader Elizabeth Peratrovich with songs, dances and speeches.

Photo: Board meeting
Maren Brantner snowboards back to the chair lift Monday as she gets ready to head up the mountain one last time at Eaglecrest Ski Area. Eaglecrest was busier than normal because students and many state and federal employees had a day off for Presidents Day.

Frustrated lawmakers want longer session
Two years have passed since Alaska voters decided the Legislature should complete its business in 90 days, and some lawmakers are saying it's time to go back to the old 120-day schedule mandated by the state Constitution.

Photo: Not quite a lunker
Lyman Austin pulls a small king salmon out of a hole in the ice Sunday as his father, Brad, watches at Twin Lakes. The two fished for half an hour before they caught the salmon, which they said they planned to fry up for dinner.

Photo: Winter inspiration
Roland Lumbab stands Tuesday next to his snow sculpture of Jesus in front of his home on Oday Street. His other sculpture is of a sphinx, with a body of a lion and the head of a man. Lumbab, who works for the Alaska Marine Highway System, said he has been out of work but loves sculpting snow.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials and state police reported:

Photo: Wax on, wax off
Student instructor Kathy Hocker, center, calls out punches and kicks to the youth class of the Juneau Shotokan Karate Do Club Tuesday night. The youth class, with ages up to thirteen, meets Tuesdays and Thursday with adult classes meeting dirctly after.

Around Town
Tuesday

Photo: Staying on track
Sheila Zagars and her husband, Dick, venture out oncross-country skis Tuesday in tracks set near the Skaters Cabin and Mendenhall Lake. The street was full of parked cars and trucks with a steady stream of skiers coming and going as outdoor enthusiasts enjoyed a warm, sunny day.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials and state police reported:

Corrections
In Monday's photo of Teresa Busch's "Pieces of Peace" dress at the Wearable Art Show on Sunday, the model was Kendra Lien, not Courtney Wendell.

Around Town
Today

Alice Mae (Brown) D'Cafango
Longtime Juneau resident Alice Mae (Brown) D'Cafango died the morning of Feb. 12, 2009, at home. She was 69.

Outside Editorial: U.S. needs foreign support to solve its 'Af-Pak' problem
Just in case he had any doubts about the challenges ahead, U.S. envoy Richard C. Holbrooke was welcomed to South Asia last week with a bomb in the Pakistani border city of Peshawar and coordinated attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul that left 26 dead.

Alaska editorial: State should ensure good students can afford education
Hammered markets make this a rough time for endowments, but state Sen. Johnny Ellis has the right idea in trying to create one for hard-working Alaskans who want more education after high school.

Spend, baby, spend
Most reporters covering the Capitol in Juneau avoid budget subcommittees. Listening to bureaucrats explain why they need more money is not the raw material of stories that advance a reporter's career. But every year at this time it's my beat, and this year the beat has been, as Alaska Budget Report editor and fellow subcommittee denizen Rebecca Braun observes, "subtly enlightening."

My turn: Symphony musicians not only skilled - they're amazing
"Kudos" isn't really the word here. In fact, I'm searching for a word that might cut it, and while the colorful nouns and adverbs (I'm French, you know) normally issue forth from my mouth to the utter annoyance of all, today all I can say is - well, wow.

Our need for heroes, flaws and all
Michael Phelps smokes pot. A-Rod took steroids. What's next? Will U.S. Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger get busted too?

Let us see the high cost of war
Maybe now we'll see what we have not been allowed.

Biography about Palin to be released today
JUNEAU - A new biography about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will be released today. The book, "Trailblazer: An Intimate Biography of Sarah Palin," was written by People magazine assistant editor Lorenzo Benet.

KTOO now broadcasts on digital TV channel 3
JUNEAU - KTOO-TV is now broadcasting on digital TV Channel 3, and has also added digital TV service for Lemon Creek. PBS and Alaska One programming is available on DTV Channel 3.1, while 360 North and Gavel to Gavel Alaska programming is on DTV Channel 3.2.

Board of Regents to meet in Juneau
JUNEAU - The University of Alaska's Board of Regents are slated to meet for two days this week in Juneau.

Four pipe bombs found in car during routine traffic stop
ANCHORAGE - Anchorage police said four pipe bombs were found inside a car during a routine traffic stop.

Murkowski begins weeklong state tour
JUNEAU - U.S. Sen Lisa Murkowski kicks off a weeklong visit throughout Alaska.

Sitka man named in Alaska Marketplace's 30 finalists
ANCHORAGE - Thirty finalists from across Alaska, including Robert Hoffman, of Bridging Culures with Crest Art in Sitka, were selected to advance to the next round of the fourth Alaska Marketplace competition, where they will vie for a portion of nearly $300,000 in award money for business project ideas. Last year's competition awarded more than $300,000 to 11 entrepreneurs with the best ideas for stimulating Alaska's rural economies.

Begich conducts second veterans meeting Thursday
FAIRBANKS - U.S. Sen. Mark Begich will meet with veterans in Alaska during this week's congressional break.

City emergency manager Mike Branum to resign Feb. 27
JUNEAU - Juneau's Emergency Management Director Mike Branum is leaving his city job for colder grounds.

Eight seek Superior Court judge post, one slot available
FAIRBANKS - Eight attorneys are vying for one slot available on the Superior Court bench in Fairbanks.

Minor earthquake felt in Talkeetna
FAIRBANKS - An earthquake with a magnitude of 3.7 was felt in the Talkeetna area, about 113 miles north of Anchorage.

Palin speaks at Fairbanks dinner
FAIRBANKS - In keeping with the Lincoln Bicentennial theme, Gov. Sarah Palin was introduced with a revised, Alaska version of the Gettysburg Address at the Lincoln Day Dinner hosted by Fairbanks Republican Women.

Troopers review sex offender registry
ANCHORAGE - Alaska State Troopers say they found 12 people out of compliance with the state's sexual offender registration laws.

Mushers deliver thousands of pounds of food for Iditarod
ANCHORAGE - Tens of thousands of pounds of dog food and supplies were being sorted Tuesday for delivery to race checkpoints as mushers and race officials prepare for the upcoming 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Accident kills Kenai woman and injures several others
ANCHORAGE - Alaska State Troopers said a Kenai woman was killed Monday afternoon when the driver of a Ford Windstar fell asleep and crashed into a one-ton truck at Mile 88 on Sterling Highway.

Les Schwab feeds Subway a donut
Tami Watts and Kristina Weltzin broke a scoreless tie for Les Schwab with a goal apiece during a seven-minute span of the second period, and Subway fell in a 2-0 loss Sunday in Juneau Adult Hockey Association Women's Tier action at Treadwell Arena.

JV Bears take Delta's Dean S. Cummings title
The Juneau-Douglas High School girls junior varsity basketball team swept through three games of the Dean S. Cummings Sr. Tournament in Delta Junction over the weekend, topping the Point Hope Harpooners 57-45 in Saturday night's title game.

Southeast Middle School Wrestling Championships

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
13.5

Falling oil prices may be a chink in Palin's armor
ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sarah Palin's first two years in office have been called a time of milk and honey, when the resource-rich state was flush with wealth from record oil prices.

Fund managers seek more transparency with state's money
The state of Alaska's top money managers are moving toward more openness with their hedge fund and other secret investments.

Ted Stevens' prosecutors replaced
ANCHORAGE - The Justice Department said Monday it has removed the legal team that prosecuted former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens from further post-trial proceedings that concern allegations of government misconduct.

U.S. Supreme Court to hear Alaska man's DNA appeal
Even the defense says it was a brutal crime. On a cold night in March 1993, a prostitute got into a red Nissan with two men and agreed to oral sex at a spot nearby. Instead, she was taken to a park, where she was raped, beaten, shot, buried in the snow and left for dead.

Bristol Palin wishes pregnancy came later
ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sarah Palin's 18-year-old daughter, an unwed mother, said she believes teenagers should avoid having sex.

TSA security plan worries aircraft owners in Alaska
A new Transportation Security Administration proposal has Alaska pilots and aircraft owners concerned that their aircraft will be overregulated, and may force them to quit flying and scrap their planes.

High court to hear Valdez tax case
ANCHORAGE - The city of Valdez and an oil tanker operator will face off before the U.S. Supreme Court over the city's right to assess property taxes on ships coming to Valdez to pick up cargo.

Group to plead guilty for alleged role in scam
ANCHORAGE - The biggest loan fraud scheme ever to be prosecuted in Alaska may never see the courtroom.

Airline holding group agrees to buy Era Aviation
ANCHORAGE - Aviation company HoTH Inc. will purchase Era Aviation Inc. for an undisclosed sum and operate the company under a single airline called Frontier Alaska.

Begich pays back taxes on city car
ANCHORAGE - U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is one of seven senators who has paid back taxes after reporting mistakes to the IRS, according to a survey by political Web site and newspaper Politico.

Photo: Fueling the race
Cameron Alter, 13, stacks a bag of Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race supplies bound for Kaltag during the food drop Tuesday in Anchorage. Volunteers help mushers go through the process of ensuring that food drop bags are sorted, stacked and prepped for shipment to each checkpoint along the Iditarod Trail. About 70 mushers will begin the sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome on March 7.

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