Friday, February 21, 2003

IRS offers tax help, amnesty
The Internal Revenue Service is offering new services to facilitate filing income tax forms. The deadline to file is April 15.

Business profile: Brady Deal
Title and company: Co-owner, Heritage Glacier Cafe

Inspecting for the unexpected
A person may want to pinch pennies when considering spending $200,000 on a house in Juneau. But spending an extra $300 to $500 on a home inspection before buying a home could save a buyer thousands of dollars after the sale closes. "If you go in with your eyes wide open, you'll be much happier coming out of it, said PeggyAnn McConnochie, owner of ACH Consulting, a real estate consulting company. "It's a small price to pay to know what you're buying."

On the Move
Alaska Pacific Bank has named John Robertson its senior vice president and chief lending officer. He will oversee the bank's commercial, mortgage and consumer lending.

Alcohol, drugs, tobacco, teens
Recently I sat in on an after-school court session doing research. Thirty-six youths were there for alcohol, drugs and tobacco-related crimes. I repeat, 36 youths. Now in 30 days that is 1,080 youths who pass though our courthouse doors and cost this city money.

Flawed reasoning
A recent letter writer suggested Sen. Elton would have been better off having abstained from casting a vote on the resolution passed by the state Senate regarding ANWR. The reasoning was Sen. Elton has constituents who favor opening ANWR, and therefore his vote didn't accurately reflect their position.

Tanks of thanks
Those of us who buy gas for our cars thank Fred Meyer for the price of their gas, and having owned three gas stations over the years, I am some what familiar with the gas pricing system.

It's a refuge
Ms. Hoffman needs to think again. In her letter (Empire, Feb. 19) she accused Mr. Elton of trying to turn all Alaska into a park. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is already a park, and that is what Sen. Elton was protecting in his dissenting vote.

Minority rules
In her letter to the editor of Feb. 19, Christina Hoffman suggests Sen. Elton should have abstained from voting on the recent ANWR bill in the state Senate, rather than having opposed it.

The trouble with winners and losers
Unlike Empire Publisher Don Smith (Feb. 14 editorial), I am glad Sen. Elton voted against the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge resolution and I am proud of him for having the courage to be the one vote of dissent.

Time to stop
I have watched gas prices in Juneau for a long time. They go up when the nation's prices go down. They charge more than other areas in the state when it costs the same to ship it in.

Seize the initiative
In the Feb. 17 edition of the Empire, a Petersburg resident wrote to express his concern for Russian processors buying fish from Alaskan fishermen. He summed up one of the basic problems in our salmon industry very eloquently when he said: "Russian fish brokers need to contact an Alaska fish processor for our product."

Smoke in the Valley
Wood burning and trash burning in the Mendenhall Valley need to be stopped. Too many residents live in close proximity to allow everyone that wants to burn to burn. It is well documented the carcinogenic nature of smoke: cigarette and the incidence of cancer in firemen.

Five reasons for working with the United Nations
The League of Women Voters urges President Bush to continue working with the United Nations to resolve the situation with Iraq. International cooperation is an essential element in guarding against terrorism and protecting all nations from attack, particularly those that may involve nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

All ice, all the time
My skill as a tennis player will never remotely approach my enthusiasm for the game, its strategies, great players, history and traditions. However, I join those who are delighted at the rumor that the city may decide not to convert the new ice arena into tennis courts during the summer.

Slick marketing ploy?
Wow, Don, you really got folks worked up! The letters to the editor seem to be running heavily against you at the moment. Still, I give you an attaboy for voicing the courage of your convictions, and printing so many of the negative responses your comments have generated. I just hope I'm not patting you on the back for a slick marketing ploy.

Photo: Mural controversy
Mike Brooks, left, and Chris Dowling of Dawson Construction install frames for new windows in the University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan's Robertson Building. The windows, which are being installed to let more light into the building, are part of a $4.5 million UAS Ketchikan renovation project.

Police look into more thefts, riflings
Whoever is committing the recent rash of thefts and vehicle riflings is getting more audacious, with the latest batch happening in daylight and including a home burglary. At least seven incidents of rifling or theft were reported Wednesday, bringing the total to 40 since Saturday, according to police. Officials said at least four of the thefts occurred before 5 p.m. Wednesday and a woman reported her Northland Street home was broken into sometime before 4:30 p.m. About $150 in change and a pottery bowl were stolen in that incident.

Ex-state worker pleads guilty to fraud, drug charges
A former state worker accused of stealing nearly $300,000 from the state Department of Education to fund his drug habit pleaded guilty to lesser charges today. Trial in the case against Gary Martin, 43, former procurement manager for the state library, was set for Monday. But Martin, who had three felony cases pending against him, pleaded guilty to one count each of fourth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance, scheme to defraud, and official misconduct at a hearing today in Juneau Superior Court.

West Egan options
The state has created four options to upgrade Egan Drive between Yandukin Drive and Industrial Boulevard. Riverside Drive would extend south of Egan in all four options.

Photo: Otter at Twin Lakes
A land otter investigates the ice at Twin Lakes on Wednesday. Three otters were seen in the fresh water lake. Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

Four options to improve Egan traffic
Plans for overpasses, interchanges and frontage roads on Egan Drive between Yandukin Drive and Industrial Boulevard drew lots of questions and discussion at a public meeting Thursday. More than 100 people showed up for an open house at the Mendenhall Mall about the state Department of Transportation's traffic plans for the area. Many took detailed maps home to study.

Police and Fire
Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers reported:

This Day in History
In 1924, Carl Ben Eielson flew the first official airmail in Alaska from Fairbanks to McGrath.

Chamber bookkeeper accused of cashing dead woman's check
An Alaska State Chamber of Commerce bookkeeper faces felony charges after officials uncovered an alleged embezzlement scam that included cashing a dead woman's check and pocketing the money. The check was written to Karen Brand, 33, the woman who fatally shot retired Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Glenn Godfrey, critically wounded his wife and then killed herself last August. Godfrey and Brand had had an affair.

Eaglecrest Ski Area reopens on Saturday
Despite thin snow on some trails, the Eaglecrest Ski Area will resume operations Saturday. The foot of snow at the base near the lodge, 5 feet on top of the mountain and 18 to 24 inches on most trails are enough to let skiers and snowboarders back on the slopes, said Eaglecrest Ski and Snowboard School Director Jeffra Clough. "It's not as much as we hoped for but it's enough," Clough said today.

Early school budget: Fewer kids, more money, no loss of staff
The Juneau School District anticipates fewer students next school year but is calling for a slightly larger budget and more city funds. The district wouldn't cut teachers or change the pupil-teacher ratio in staffing schools, administrators said. On Wednesday, the School Board and district administrators presented five Juneau Assembly members and city officials with preliminary figures for a budget for fiscal year 2004, which starts July 1.

Regents approve five new UAS programs
Alleyne Koyuk thought she would have to leave Juneau to further her education in computers, but a new degree program at the University of Alaska Southeast will keep her here. UAS officials hope that decision will be repeated many times as they begin to offer two new certificate programs and three new bachelor's degrees next fall in Juneau.

Around Town
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Correction
Due to a reporter's errors, the article in Thursday's Empire on the Rev. Robert Bruschi's suspension from duty at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity has the following corrections and amplifications.

This Day in History
In 1941, the filling of West Willoughby Avenue with waste rock from the Alaska Juneau mine began.

Police and Fire
Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers reported:

Episcopal Church diocese investigates allegations of wrongdoing against pastor
The Episcopal Diocese of Alaska is investigating "clear and credible complaints" the Rev. Robert Bruschi of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity in Juneau has engaged in sexual exploitation of parishioners, according to Mark MacDonald, Episcopal bishop for the state. "By 'credible' we're not saying it's true, but it has enough substance to it" to warrant an investigation, MacDonald said Wednesday.

Around Town
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Eaglecrest to reopen Saturday
Eaglecrest Ski Area will reopen Saturday. Snow is thin and some trails are closed to all but experts, but officials today decided there's enough white stuff on the slopes to let skiers and snowboarders give it a try.

FYI
Births

Teacher seeking teachers
Faced with a foreign culture, harsh winters, and in some cases a lack of basic necessities, many Lower 48 teachers who accept jobs in rural Alaska don't make it more than a year. That's why the state needs to attract Native students to careers in education, says Rhonda Hickok, manager of the federally funded Preparing Indigenous Teachers for Alaska Schools program at the University of Alaska Southeast. Hickok, 37, a former Juneau-Douglas High School history teacher, has headed the PITAS program since July of 2001.

Photo: Sunrise on a clear day
The sun rose over Gastineau Channel at 7:16 a.m. today. Clear weather is allowing Juneauites to enjoy the extra few minutes of light as the days grow longer. brian wallace / juneau empire

AWARE to honor women for community contributions
On Saturday, March 15 AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies) will hold its seventh annual Women of Distinction Dinner and Silent Auction at Centennial Hall. The event will honor four distinguished women who have made significant contributions to improving the lives of Juneau's women and children. Community members submitted nominations and the honorees were selected by AWARE's board of directors.

Thank you
...for the support; ...for the help.

Photo: Archery tournament
Four Floyd Dryden archers competed in the Alaska State Indoor Archery Tournament on Feb. 4. They will also compete in the Northwest Sectionals in March. Plans are being made to compete in the Western Classic National 3-D and the Alaska State 3-D in May. The archers practice during archery club, a 21st Century Grant Activity.

Neighbors Briefs
Daffodils available from Cancer Society; Science fair set

Remembering those with the biggest hearts
There are ghosts here. At the Wards Cove dock and offices at Lake Union in Seattle under the University Bridge, the seine boats and power scows are lined up ready to sail to Alaska, as far as Bristol Bay, to begin a new salmon season. Old man Brindle is moving about, his 5-foot, 8-inch frame a fit of nervous energy anxious to encourage his crews to start off for the north.

My Turn: No need to exempt state workers from downsizing
Southeast Alaska communities lost 3,000 jobs as the timber industry folded in the last decade. That includes Juneau and its Silver Bay logging. The Forest Service in Alaska is down to 474 staffers in 2003 from 700 in 1993. That agency has been reorganized to have one forest supervisor instead of three. The fishing industry also has suffered lost jobs and fishermen plus the shutdown of at least one major processor, Ward Cove Packing.

My Turn: Equal access to law is not a reality
After reading about the plight of the Hawkins family ("Family's possessions arrive in shambles," Feb. 12), I am saddened at their slim chance of recovering the losses caused by the damage to and the delay in the delivery of their belongings. If the Hawkinses were to have a successful legal case, an attorney would need to volunteer. Flaws in the legal system, however, mean people will continue to endure abuses at the whim of large corporations, even if adverse publicity forces Century Express Van Lines and Classic International to treat the Hawkinses with dignity in this instance.

My Turn: Does UFA still speak for fishermen?
While following the debate over the new administration's proposal to move the Habitat Division of ADF&G to the Department of Natural Resources, it has been interesting to note the public's dismay at hearing that fishermen's associations have endorsed the plan. Most understand that nothing should be of greater importance to fishermen than protection of fish habitat.

Juneau's Denton wins two alpine races at Alyeska
So who needs snow to train on? Not Juneau Ski Club member Heidi Denton. Even though she hadn't been able to train most of the season at her hometown Eaglecrest Ski Area, Denton posted the top overall female times in two downhill runs held Wednesday and Thursday as part of the Alyeska Cup at Girdwood's Alyeska Ski Resort.

Alaska State Basketball Polls
Here are the Alaska Sportswriters High School Basketball Polls, as voted on by statewide sports reporters and compiled by the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Red-hot Gatt
FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Hans Gatt won the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog race today, becoming the first musher ever to win the 1,000-mile race between Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and Fairbanks two years in a row. Gatt, of Atlin, British Columbia, reached the Fairbanks finish line at 7:12 a.m. behind a team of nine dogs. He completed the race in 10 days, 16 hours, 28 minutes.

It's Coppick vs. Duckworth, finally, at Roughhouse Friday
It took three years to come to fruition, but tonight local roughhouse boxing fans will have the opportunity to see two of Southeast Alaska's better middleweight fighters trade blows. Reigning Southeast Showdown middleweight champion Matthew "The Goat" Coppick of Sitka will face Ketchikan's Gabe "Steel" Duckworth in tonight's main event at this month's Roughhouse Friday boxing show. Doors open at 6 p.m. and fights start at 7:30 p.m. at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.

Bears prepare to host T-Birds
The basketball season is winding down, so the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team is thinking about positioning. The Crimson Bears host the East Anchorage Thunderbirds for two varsity games this weekend with game times at 8 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday at the JDHS main gym. As the last non-Region V games of the season, this is the last time this year where Juneau can improve its ranking in the Winning Percentage Index (WPI), the strength-of-schedule formula used to seed teams in the state tournament.

Sports in Juneau
Information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Tompkins now 13th in Disabled World Cup ski standings
Juneau monoskier Joe Tompkins moved into 13th place in the Disabled World Cup Alpine ski standings after completing his second series of races in Austria earlier this month. Tompkins, who was ranked 15th in the overall World Cup standings before this series, competed in a pair of slalom and giant slalom races Feb. 4-7 in Tirol and Wildschoenau, Austria. Tompkins finished 12th and 14th among the combined three classes of monoskiers in his two giant slalom races and was 19th and 23rd in his two slalom events.

Gatt can't explain his Quest success
FAIRBANKS - When musher Hans Gatt crossed the finish line of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race on Thursday, even he couldn't explain how he was able to lengthen a 90-minute lead in Dawson City, Yukon Territory, to a 12-hour lead for his second straight win. "I had a really lousy training year with lack of snow and other problems," Gatt told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner after his 7:12 a.m. finish. "I don't know why this happened, why it all came together."

Juneau Masters Swim Team takes third at state meet
Rick Wery broke four state records in the men's age 50-54 division last weekend, leading the Juneau Masters Swim Team to a third-place finish at the Alaska Masters Short-Course Yards State Swimming Championships held Friday and Saturday at Anchorage's Bartlett High School Swim Pool.

Sports in Juneau
Information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Former champ ponders retirement
CIRCLE - Two-time champion John Schandelmeier is contemplating making this 20th edition of the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race his last. After 12 Yukon Quests, including wins in 1992 and 1996, Schandelmeier, 51, has seen an evolution of the sport from an adventure to a race, from self-sufficient sled dog to the sleeker, fleeter smaller dog.

Report says Alaska gas line unlikely by 2020
ANCHORAGE - A new report from a prominent energy consulting firm says there is little chance that Alaska will see construction of a natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48 anytime soon. Massachusetts-based Cambridge Energy Research Associates concluded that in only one of four scenarios would a new Alaska gas line reach consumers by 2020. And that's only if gas prices stay high for 10 years.

Group wants to revitalize logging
KENAI - A nonprofit group on the Kenai Peninsula wants to revitalize logging and milling. Kenai Peninsula Timber Inc. was formed following an economic forum in January. The group has chosen officers and established some goals, including plans to use beetle-killed spruce trees as a source for marketing wood products, such as railroad ties and wood siding.

Study: Salmon industry revenue below other fisheries
The salmon industry is the largest employer among Alaska's commercial fisheries, but its laborers collectively earned only about 60 percent of what pollock industry workers earned, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pacific Seafood Processors Association. The study was prepared by Anchorage-based Northern Economics, using data from the state, primarily from 2001. The study is the first of its kind in the state in a decade, said Patrick Burden, president of Northern Economics.

Fund trustees call for oil probe
ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. is calling for an investigation into whether oil industry practices on the North Slope are shortchanging the state. Bob Storer, executive director of the fund corporation, wrote to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Wednesday, suggesting the commission take a look at whether the big oil companies are keeping smaller ones from developing Alaska oil fields.

Governor appoints G. Stevens to Senate vacancy
Kodiak Republican Rep. Gary Stevens is Gov. Frank Murkowski's pick to fill a state Senate seat vacated when Sen. Alan Austerman left his post to become the governor's fisheries advisor. Stevens, 61, will represent Kodiak Island and parts of the Kenai Peninsula in the Legislature. He will serve until a special election is held in 2004. The appointment creates a vacancy in the House Murkowski said he expects to fill within two weeks.

Former DOT officials favor moving Habitat
Four former transportation commissioners are supporting a plan to remove permitting duties from the state's Habitat Division. The commissioners - including retired commissioner Mike Barton, who was appointed this week to again head the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities - penned a letter in support of Gov. Frank Murkowski's plan.

State Briefs
Man found guilty in Coast Guardsman killing on St. Paul; Holloway to retire in March; Anchorage boy killed by teen; Free credit report bills scrutinized; Troopers continue trying to identify victim of serial killer; State Sen. Stevens called to testify

Participants in fiscal forum say more revenue measures needed for state
The budget deficit is the state's biggest problem and must be addressed before it is too late, Cliff Groh, who helped draft legislation creating the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend program, told an audience Thursday night at Centennial Hall. Groh, a former aide to Ketchikan Rep. Terry Gardiner and former special assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Revenue under Gov. Steve Cowper's administration, assembled lawmakers and economists to discuss the state's fiscal gap. The forum was sponsored by the nonpartisan groups Alaska Common Ground and the League of Women Voters.

State Briefs
Gov. wants to continue regulatory panel; West Egan Drive meeting tonight; Passenger fee collections up; Ice rink grand opening Saturday; Sen. Murkowski will back Iraqi invasion; Anchorage youth shot accidentally by teen

Administrative appeals change on the horizon
Senate President Gene Therriault is backing a plan to centralize the state's administrative appeals process. Therriault, a Republican from North Pole and chairman of the Administrative Regulation and Review Committee, is working on a proposal to change the way state departments review administrative appeals. He said he hopes to offer legislation this session.

University seeks smaller budget hike
FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska Board of Regents has submitted its annual budget request, asking for a $13.6 million increase in general state appropriations and $42.4 million more for capital projects.The $13.6 million represents a decrease from last year's $16.9 million requested increase and the previous year's $18.2 million requested increase.

New owner to take over Ketchikan seafood plant
KETCHIKAN - A Ketchikan fish plant scheduled to close this year will remain in business under the son of its founder. E.C. Phillips & Son announced Wednesday that Cliff Phillips, son of the company namesake, and associates have reached a purchase commitment with Wards Cove Packing for the former E.C. Phillips plant in Ketchikan and associated facilities in Craig.

Placer dome buys interest in Donlin Creek Mine
ANCHORAGE - Plans to develop Donlin Creek, Alaska's largest known gold deposit, got a big boost when mining giant Placer Dome announced plans to become majority owner and inject tens of millions of dollars into the project.

Trooper investigated for shooting disabled man put on desk duty
ANCHORAGE - An Alaska State Trooper under investigation for a fatal shooting on the Kenai Peninsula was taken off patrol duty Wednesday and placed in an administrative job at trooper headquarters in Anchorage.

Movies Where and When
"Gods and Generals," (PG-13) starts Friday, Feb. 21, and plays at 6:50 nightly at Glacier Cinemas, with matinees at 2 Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

What's up with that?
Q: Who's the Switzer that Switzer Creek and Switzer Village are named after?

An opera that chills
Henry James' serial "The Turn of the Screw" chills the spine like a proper Victorian ghost story with eerie candlelight in corridors, a specter in the garden and sleepwalking children who may or may not be possessed by evil sprits. Put to dark and spooky music, the opera by Benjamin Britten is enough to make a corset-wearing lady swoon. "Back before there was HBO, this is what people did. They sat around and made each other faint with fear, telling stories," said Joyce Parry Moore, artistic director of Opera To Go!, which will open a production of "The Turn of the Screw" this weekend.

What's happening
"The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)," presented by Theatre in the Rough, at 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday through March 8 at McPhetres Hall. Tickets $14 in advance at Hearthside Books, or $16 at the door.

Best Bets: It's February - time to go to the movies
Well, darlings, February does drag on, doesn't it? And, I know that after last weekend's entertainment blitz you are broke and eating SpaghettiOs until your paycheck comes. For this weekend, if you aren't watching yet another plastic surgery expose of Michael Jackson on TV, I suggest movies.

Diving into the past at Truk Lagoon
Near a pinprick Micronesian island, called Truk Lagoon, lie the submerged carcasses of more than 60 Japanese war vessels, sunk by U.S. bombers during World War II. Just this time last year, Channel Dive Center owner John Lachelt dove through an eerie Japanese ship's control room and stumbled upon human remains in a submerged warplane.

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