Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Something isn't right
I’ve been hearing a lot about Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s draft Sealaska Lands Bill, and the language in the draft bill itself doesn’t jibe with Murkowski’s spin on the legislation. It seems to be nothing but another big giveaway of public lands and assets.

Standing on the side of love
I read the column about marriage written by Bishop Edward Burns (“Defending marriage” in Sunday’s Empire) and I appreciate the clarity and sincerity of his position. As a Unitarian Universalist minister, I just want to point out that not all communities of faith and religious leaders share his opinion. Many people of faith support the right of all loving and committed couples to marry. Unitarian Universalists have long advocated for the rights of gay and lesbian couples to be able to experience the covenant and sanctity of marriage just as their heterosexual friends and neighbors do. As it was so poetically stated by Rev. Bill Sinkford, the former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, “We stand on the side of love.”

You're for, or against
On the opinion page in Sunday’s Empire, the diocesan Bishop of Juneau and Southeast Alaska took an outrageous religious shot at homogeneous marriage by stating that marriage is between a woman and a man and then he followed by saying that this was, “...in no way meant to demean members of the gay and lesbian community — they are our brothers and sisters.” Well, great Reverend, but you can’t work it at both ends to the middle — for in the long haul you are either for or you are against same sex partners in or out of marriage. You just can’t have it both ways in the 21st century.

JSD board sends final budget to Borough Assembly
The Juneau School District board sent a $90 million budget to the Borough Assembly with a 4-3 vote Tuesday night after reinstating Extended Learning positions in the elementary schools and trimming three Extended Learning classes at the high school level. The budget also means slightly higher class sizes in third-to fifth-grade classes.

Ageless skier challenged by youthful foe
Each race the competitors seem to get younger, faster, and stronger for Dean Williams.

Big plans unveiled for downtown Willoughby Ave. area
The sprawling area that will hold the new State Library Archives and Museum facility and assorted civic improvements would turn into a mixed-use neighborhood with new streets and new housing under an ambitious plan unveiled last night before the City and Borough of Juneau’s Assembly Committee of the Whole.

Yerkes gets top job at Dzantik'i
It took a nationwide search before the Juneau School District hired a candidate from its own back yard. Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School has a permanent principal now with the hire of assistant principal Molly Yerkes, who has served as interim principal since August.

Boraas takes over as Trail Mix executive director
Erik Boraas has taken over as Executive Director for Trail Mix, Inc.

Photo: Spring song
Katie Bachman, 13, right, sings as her friend and classmate Abagail Buffington, 12, plays her flute downtown Monday. The pair attend the Juneau Community Charter School.

Photo: Decommissioned cutter
The 67-year-old United States Coast Guard cutter Acushnet is shown while visiting Juneau in February. The Acushnet was decommissioned during a ceremony Friday in Ketchikan. The Acushnet was originally commissioned as a diver class fleet rescue and salvage vessel, USS Shackle for the U.S. Navy on Feb. 5, 1944. The Acushnet has been designated as a tug, an oceanographic vessel and a medium endurance cutter during her service. As a medium endurance cutter, the Acushnet served in the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean. Primary missions included search and rescue, homeland security, maritime law enforcement and environmental protection. The Acushnet was crowned “Queen of the Fleet” after the decommissioning ceremony of the Coast Guard cutter Storis on Feb. 8, 2007. That moniker will now pass to the Cutter Smilax, a 100-foot inland construction tender commissioned in 1944 and based in Ft. Macon, N.C. During the course of the cutter’s service, Acushnet crews have received the following awards for exemplary service: World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, two Coast Guard Unit Commendations, five Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendations, seven Coast Guard “E” Ribbons, Navy Occupation Service Medal, three National Defense Service Medals, two Humanitarian Service Medals and two Coast Guard Special Operation Ribbons. As of this month no cutter has been named to replace the Acushnet in Ketchikan and none was expected due to economical impacts. The crew of the Acushnet will be ‘cross-planked’ to other vessels and assignments. The loss of 80-plus crew and family to Ketchikan will be felt. The Kodiak-based cutter Munro will continue missions in the Gulf and Bering seas. Sen. Lisa Murkowski stated “the Achushnet’s absence would make it exceptionally difficult for the Coast Guard to meet an already challenging mission it faces in Alaska.”

Correction
In a March 11 story about the AJ Mine review, Mike Satre was incorrectly identified as an Echo Bay employee. He works for Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company.

Police & Fire
This report contains information provided to the Empire from law enforcement agencies. This report includes arrest and citation information, not conviction information. Anyone listed in this report is presumed innocent.

Police & Fire
This report contains information provided to the Empire from law enforcement agencies. This report includes arrest and citation information, not conviction information. Anyone listed in this report is presumed innocent.

Sylvia Mina Carlsson
Sylvia Mina Carlsson, 76, of Anchorage died unexpectedly of an illness on Jan. 23, 2011, in Anchorage.

Barbara Tomlinson Greening
Barbara Tomlinson Greening died March 12, 2011 at her home in Juneau.

My Turn: Take a look at the wild side
Sealaska Timber Corporation says again and again that they are good stewards of their lands and protectors of the environment. And they have produced a poll that says a majority of Southeast Alaska citizens support their land exchange bill. I do not know the specifics of the poll but a good poll would ask first, “have you seen their and other native corporations’ past logging practices?” If not, it would have been best, before you gave an answer, to take a look at what the native corporations have done to their lands. Also for comparison, take a look at the lands untouched by logging. To note a old cliché, but a true one, seeing is believing. So take a look at the wild side and then compare it with the dark side.

Outside editorial: Immigration, state by state
The following editorial first appeared in the Los Angeles Times:

Leave safe cell phone use up to drivers
The phrase “Hang up and drive” has been employed more than once on the roads of Alaska, but soon it may have the force of law. The leading cell phone regulation bill making its way through the Capitol would ban motorists from using all but hands-free devices.

EPA's Bristol Bay study a good start
In August 2010, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson stood in the same gym where we grew up, winning and losing basketball tournaments, celebrating graduations, and gathering to discuss important issues in our communities. Jackson heard a unanimous message from our region that day: “Use your power under the Clean Water Act to protect Bristol Bay, our fishery, our water, our people.”

Personal responsibility as a matter of honor
Brandon Davies’ suspension from Brigham Young University’s basketball team resulted in shock ... and respectful awe. Davies, a sophomore, had been starting center for the BYU Cougars, who were in the midst of one of their best seasons in decades and hoping for a big finale come NCAA tournament time. Davies’ violation of the school’s honor code not only cost him the rest of the season, it could cost the Cougars dearly in postseason play.

My turn: Unimak wolf decision
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game is disappointed in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s No Action decision regarding wolf control on Unimak Island.

Title

Yearly Denali road clearance to begin
DENALI NATIONAL PARK — A National Park Service crew is scheduled to begin plowing Denali Park Road on Wednesday to get it ready for visitors in the coming tourist season.

DCCED taps local experience for position
The state Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development added more home-grown expertise to its staff recently with the hiring of Glenn Haight, who was appointed development manager in the department’s Division of Economic Development.

Copters rescue 3 injured hikers in Chugach Park
ANCHORAGE — Helicopters rescued three hikers injured in separate accidents Sunday in Chugach State Park.

Committee considers flame-retardant ban
JUNEAU — Lawmakers have begun considering a ban on flame-retardant chemicals that have been linked to degenerative diseases.

Fate of Ice Alaska site may be up to Legislature
FAIRBANKS — The fate of the Ice Alaska site in Fairbanks may be determined in the last few weeks of the legislative session.

Newspaper ads sagged to a 25-year low in 2010
SAN FRANCISCO — Newspaper advertising has sunk to a 25-year low as marketers shift their spending from print to the Internet.

Moose attacks 6-year-old boy in Anchorage
ANCHORAGE — A moose attacked a 6-year-old boy after he got off a school bus in Anchorage.

Teen charged in Ketchikan stabbing homicide
KETCHIKAN — A Ketchikan teenager has been charged with second-degree murder in the stabbing death of a man outside the man’s home.

Parnell plan to suspend gas tax sputters
JUNEAU — With just weeks left in the legislative session, Gov. Sean Parnell is again asking lawmakers to suspend the state motor fuels tax for two years. It doesn’t look like it will happen.

Wasilla man accused of using fake bomb as threat
ANCHORAGE — A man accused of leaving a fake bomb in the driveway of an acquaintance in Wasilla is facing a felony charge of making terror threat.

Senate joins House in pat-down resolution
JUNEAU — The Alaska Senate has joined with the House in calling on the Transportation Security Administration to reconsider its use of full-body pat-down searches.

U of Alaska researcher faces sex charge in Utah
FAIRBANKS — A University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher is facing a sex abuse charge in Utah involving a teenage boy.

Pipeline proposal may fall to wayside this session
JUNEAU — A proposal to ditch a state-sanctioned effort to build a natural gas pipeline in Alaska absent proof it’s economic could fall to the wayside this session as debates over spending and whether to cut oil production taxes take center stage.

Committee to hear bill to ban robocalls
JUNEAU — Robocalls, those automated phone calls often used in political campaigns, would be banned under a proposal being considered by an Alaska Senate committee this week.

Begich, Hurley to be featured at Democrats' Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner
Juneau Democrats are planning their 2011 Jefferson Jackson Day dinner for March 22, which will feature keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

GCI offers free calls to Japan
General Communication, Inc. has announced that residential customers with land lines or cell phones can call Japan for free in order to contact loved ones who may have been affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

No radiation from Japan expected in Alaska
ANCHORAGE — Alaska and federal officials expect no radiation from stricken Japanese nuclear plants to reach the state.

Palin Noir: Slick design for new Palin biography
NEW YORK — Call it Palin Noir.

Riverbend candidate pool expanded
An additional candidate for principal at Riverbend Elementary was added and interviewed on Monday.

Fairbanks is host to Tanana Chiefs conference
FAIRBANKS — Hundreds of delegates to the annual Tanana Chiefs conference are arriving in Fairbanks to elect officers, discuss key issues and hear from Alaska political leaders.

Bill to expand mandatory attendance age advances
JUNEAU — A bill that would require students to attend school from age 6 to 18 has cleared another legislative hurdle.

Henderson looks back on difficult senior year
This week’s local athlete spotlight features someone who hasn’t played a single game for the Crimson Bears all season.

JDHS faces tough task in Round 1
The Juneau-Douglas boys’ basketball team tips off in its sixth straight state tournament appearance Thursday, but the Crimson Bears haven’t exactly had the best of luck in recent years.

Hurtte takes leadership role
The roles of individual players on a basketball team are ever-evolving entities, especially when you consider how fleeting a student-athlete’s varsity career can be.

Alaska has considered nuclear power options
A nuclear disaster in Japan may have some in Alaska rethinking the state’s own extremely tentative plans to bring the industry to Alaska.

Weyhrauch gets suspended sentence
JUNEAU — A former Alaska lawmaker was given a suspended three-month jail sentence and fined $1,000 Tuesday as part of a plea agreement that will spare him from a federal corruption case.

Baker wins in record time
NOME — John Baker’s win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was more than just one man finally achieving his lifelong dream. It was also a victory for Alaska Natives.

Legislator hopes to address Navy SEAL's PFD eligibility
Rep. Eric Feige, R-Chickaloon, wants to show our nation’s military members that Alaska cares as much about them as it does its politicians.

State addresses nonresident worker issues
The state has responded to letter from Sen. Albert Kookesh addressing employment issues for rural areas and Alaska residents. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development states the issues raised by the senator are already among the top priorities.

Survey: Native and American Indian firms increase
ANCHORAGE — Businesses owned by Alaska Natives and American Indians have shown some growth, but the increase has failed to equal more jobs, according to the latest findings in a survey conducted every five years by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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