Saturday, February 22, 2003

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.

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.

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

FYI
Births

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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