State Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Out with the old, in with the new

FAIRBANKS - Soldiers at Fort Wainwright have a new look.

They now will wear black berets instead of camouflaged billed hats. The berets are intended to represent a sense of pride in a forward-looking Army.

"It's meant to create a visible appearance of an Army in change," said Lt. Col. Keith Richard, post plans and operations officer in charge of a ceremony Monday recognizing the new headgear.

On Oct. 17, 2000, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki made the black beret the standard headgear for everyone in the Army. But because an enormous amount of orders needed to be filled, the change has been implemented unit by unit.

Juneau-Douglas high school teacher's sabbatical approved

JUNEAU - The Juneau School Board reconsidered and approved on Tuesday a sabbatical request by Juneau-Douglas High School Russian teacher Janna Lelchuk.

Lelchuk's request to spend next semester to study at a university in St. Petersburg, Russia, was granted on a 6-1 vote, with Alan Schorr dissenting.

The sabbatical was not approved at a meeting last month. The vote then was 3-2 in favor, but a majority of the seven-member board was needed for passage.

Schorr challenged Tuesday's vote on grounds that the issue was already reconsidered once.

"This is an item we voted on two meetings ago," he said. "From my reading of Robert's Rules of Order, this is out of order."

Other board members said the item had not been sent previously for reconsideration - only from its first to its final reading and that the situation had been changed, with new requirements that the district approve Lelchuk's course of study.

"It's substantially different than the ... proposal we were voting on before," board member Stan Ridgeway said.

Schorr's protest was eventually voted down by the board on a 5-2 vote before the sabbatical was approved.

Board Vice President Chuck Cohen proposed an amendment to require Lelchuk to complete three years of employment with the district upon her return or repay sabbatical costs. It was defeated by a 4-3 vote.

Bill clarifies compensation for sexual assault victims

JUNEAU - The House has passed a bill clarifying that sexual assault victims are not to be blamed for their attacks when their cases come before the Violent Crimes Compensation Board.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Gretchen Guess, an Anchorage Democrat, said the measure corrects an unintended consequence of language in the law that set up the board more than 20 years ago.

The law called for the board to consider provocation, consent or any other behavior of the victim that directly or indirectly contributed to the injury. It also called for the board to consider the victim's social history.

The idea behind that language was that if someone started a bar brawl and got hurt, the board should consider that, Guess said.

But Guess said the language could also lead the board to deny funding for sexual assault victims if, for instance, they were drinking or using drugs when attacked.

House Bill 321 states that sexual assault or sexual abuse victims' claims may not be denied based on considerations of provocation, the victim's use of alcohol or drugs, or the victim's prior social history. The measure passed the House unanimously Tuesday. It now goes to the Senate.

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