Juneau Digest

Posted: Sunday, February 25, 2007

Level B at Marine Parking Garage closed

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JUNEAU - Level B at the Marine Parking Garage will be closed for maintenance as of Monday, the city Parks and Recreation Department announced Friday.

Nonpermit parking on A Level, which serves the Juneau Public Library, won't be affected. Permit parking will be open on Levels C and D.

Parking in the structure will continue to be available through the maintenance and repair project, which is scheduled through mid-May.

Closures and designated parking areas will be announced and posted throughout the project, the department said.

Hospital entrance moves to other side

JUNEAU - Beginning Monday, Bartlett Regional Hospital is moving its public entrance to the side of the building facing downtown Juneau.

The entry is to the immediate right of the new ambulance bay. Signs will direct patients and visitors to the appropriate parking locations, the hospital announced.

The old main entry and lobby of the original structure is slated for demolition within a few weeks, according to hospital CEO Jim Richardson.

The renovation of the hospital is expected to continue for the next two years. The project began in August 2004.

A new wing was unveiled earlier this month. Richardson said the transfer of several hospital departments to the new wing will be completed within the next week to 10 days.

After that, the demolition phase of the project will begin.

Head Start opens meeting in Juneau

JUNEAU - Alaska State Head Start, which helps more than 3,600 poor children with education, medical and dental care, opens a three-day conference Monday at Centennial Hall, hoping to find funding sources during an era of rising costs.

A year of stagnant funding at the state and federal level have resulted in service and personnel cuts in recent years, the organization said in an announcement Friday.

Palmer, Kasigluk, Hydaburg, Noorvik, Seward and St. Mary's are among the communities that have lost Head Start services in the last five years.

The organization helps 17 grantees around the state provide health and education services. Last year, Head Start programs employed 926 people, and is an important economic driver in many small communities.

Minimum wage bill fails to clear hurdle

JUNEAU - An effort to raise the minimum wage for Alaska's lowest paid workers failed to get off the ground Friday after lawmakers and members of the public hotly challenged statistics and arguments from both sides of the debate.

The bill, sponsored by 10 House Democrats, would have raised the state's minimum wage of $7.15 an hour to $8 an hour.

The bill also would have added a yearly amount for inflation proofing and required Alaska's minimum wage to be at least $1 greater than the federal minimum wage.

House Labor and Commerce Committee Chairman Kurt Olson, R-Soldotna, instead proposed a compromise that he said would give the bill a better chance of moving out of committee.

It didn't.

The revised legislation would have raised the minimum wage to $7.65 if a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage prevails, but it failed on a tie vote after two hours of debate and testimony that appeared to sway no one.

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