Get out and garden!
March 20 was the first day of spring! Time to start thinking about your garden!

Dangerous interpretation
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said March 18, that "the government has room to scale back individual rights during wartime without violating the Constitution. The Constitution just sets minimums. Most of the rights that you enjoy go way beyond what the Constitution requires."

Calling all skate kids, parents, grandparents
I could not agree more with the Learn-To-Skate instructors: Juneau is incredibly blessed to have the new Treadwell Ice Arena. However, we are equally blessed to have the JDIA instructors themselves as a wonderful resource.

Clinging to old ways
In response to Bob Weinstein's column "One down and one to go" that ran in the March 9 edition of the Empire, I'm concerned about the Ketchikan mayor's perspective on how communities in the Tongass National Forest are going to "transition to a healthy new (my emphasis) economy" by clinging to the old economy.

Respect the track
I am writing to urge the operators of four-wheelers to respectfully avoid the groomed cross country ski track on Mendenhall Lake. The JNSC spend hours of volunteer effort to set track on the lake for the skiing community and it disheartens me to see it decimated by either thoughtlessness or ignorance.

Not really sanctioned by the White House
This is to let you know that the "presidential prayer team" refererence in Friday's My Turn ("A call to prayer in the time of war") was part of an Internet hoax.

Hospitality returned
In 1987 I received a phone call from a hockey player in Juneau. He had a motley crew of aging hockey buffs who needed a place to skate. His call fell on sympathetic ears as I too was accepting my call to "old-timers" hockey and the fact the Montreal Canadiens weren't likely to call requiring my services any time soon.

Ultimate user fee
I've been inspired by Gov. Murkowski's new focus on "user fees" instead of taxes to raise revenue. This gives an obvious solution to a problem that had baffled me. A tremendous amount of state revenue is spent to support our businesses and economy, but creating new jobs actually costs the state money, and gives nothing back to support these services.

Fool me once ...
A letter to the Juneau Empire on March 9, under the signature of Jeff Pomeroy of Eagle River, started out, "After all the empty talk in Washington about fixing important entitlements programs, something refreshing happened this week: The President delivered a remarkably sensible blueprint for fixing Medicare and dramatically improving the quality of health care for all seniors."

No more than needed
In a few months, our community will be deep in a divisive and needless debate over construction of a new high school. Unfortunately the debate will probably high-center on several emotional topics and fail to meaningfully address the legitimate educational requirements of the secondary students in Juneau.

Costco copter pad
Regarding the proposed heliport site, a study could be made for a pad behind Costco. The environmental impact statement could be made to save as many trees as possible on the hillside.

Human rights demands
Irene Khan, secretary general of the human rights organization Amnesty International, sent a letter on Wednesday to President George Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and President Saddam Hussein demanding a public commitment that their governments will adhere to their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws in this war.

Single-member districts have democratic benefits
I am writing in support of Assembly member Randy Wanamaker's call for discussion of single-member districts. I appreciate his concern for minority participation in the electoral process.

Rumble in the jungle
Once there was a 800-pound gorilla. A little 20-pound monkey bully sneaked into Kuwait, misbehaved and stole his banana. The big gorilla got all mad and rounded up a lot of supporters and they swatted the monkey down and made him promise to behave and obey. The monkey hated this but had no choice. He kind of faded away, but the gorilla never forgot.

Pro-tyrant protesters
Maybe I just don't have the right cable station, but I've seen people from almost every country protest this war, except for one - Iraq.

Keep Alaska pristine
What an injustice it would have been to Alaskans and the nation if Gov. Murkowski had his way in opening ANWR for oil exploitation. Alaska is the Last Frontier. Who cares what Saddam Hussein thinks about Alaska oil?

Quick, dirty, brutal
Owen J. Graham's letter of March 18 attacking Jim Mackovjak is nothing more than lip service for Sealaska Corp. Like so many others that represent Sealaska, Mr. Owen doesn't understand the connection between rural Alaskans and the land.

Fans of taxes
It doesn't surprise me that Republican Gov. Murkowski is for taxes. You only have to look at his daughter's votes in the state House to realize they have a family approach to pinching your paycheck.

Photos: Serving in the desert
Former Juneau resident Lui Fenumia'i' goes to war.

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

This Day in History
In 1959, a Fish and Game agent reported finding a moose in a tree.

Cash offered to children for showing what they've learned
A local man is offering up to $50,000 in cash prizes to students who can demonstrate they've learned something in or out of school. John Jensen, a clinical psychologist, long has had an interest in education and in 1999 published "Education Guaranteed," a book that explains his philosophy of "mastery learning."

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

Photo: Supporting U.S. troops
Gary M. Bowen waves to passing cars Saturday on Main St. as he demonstrates in support of American troops at war in Iraq. Behind him is a group attending a peace vigil.

My Turn: What hasn't worked and won't is appeasement, procrastination
I asked a Korean War and World War II veteran friend of mine, who is in his 80s, to give me a little history lesson. I am sharing this because it is a different look at the war.

Toe Cartoon

Empire editorial: Additional JDHS bond slated for special election
On Jan. 27, the Juneau Assembly passed a measure giving voters the chance to vote on a $60.8 million concept for the Mendenhall Valley high school. Voters already approved $48.2 million for the project in 1999. The special election scheduled for June 3 would ask for approval of an additional $12.6 million.

My Turn: Crushed by bid to close school
My name is Christi Scott and I am a junior enrolled in Alyeska Central School (ACS), a correspondence school run out of Juneau. This school has provided me, and continues to provide me, with an education, where my local school could not. The people of ACS have not only pushed me to excel but have given me the challenge I needed, and still need, to succeed.

My Turn: What we do is not the road to peace
In response to Murray Walsh's My Turn (Empire, March 20) yes, Murray, I do say continuing the inspections would have been better than invading Iraq. You say it would be expensive to do because "keeping troops in place and patrolling the no-fly zones is expensive and does nothing to end the problem."

What do you think?
The honorable governor should have mentioned all these program cuts when he was campaigning. Too many people depend on the Longevity Bonus to remove it.

Student, mentor share an outdoor rite of passage
When Evan Fritz called me and asked if I would be his ROPES coach for wilderness survival, I was happy to accept. After all, I had some training with the Juneau Mountain Rescue team and thought I could show him a thing or two about how ropes are used in wilderness rescue.

Facility takes the weather out of shooting
Winter winds, spring showers and fall freezes will soon be problems of the past for Juneau's hunter and firearm education programs. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, with some help from the city of Juneau, is spending $1.72 million to build the Juneau Hunter Education Facility on Montana Creek Road, next to the Juneau Gun Club. The building, which North Pacific Erectors expects to complete by July 1, will provide seven target lanes for indoor shooting and an area to be used for firearms-safety and hunter-education classes.

Scientists forecast good year for migrating gray whales
PORTLAND, Ore. - After enduring several lean, difficult years, the gray whale population is rebounding, looking fat and happy as their annual northern migration past Oregon begins. Between 1998 and 2002, emaciated whales were common, and a significantly high 600 whales were reported stranded along West Coast beaches. Biologists theorized that the whales had reached their "carrying capacity," - too many whales competing for the shrimp-like amphipods they dine on along the ocean floor.

Out and About
March 23: "Get Off Your Heels" adult telemark series, 1-4 p.m., Eaglecrest, $30 a session. Details: 790-2001. March 24-27: Eaglecrest progressive four-day ski and snowboard camps for ages 4 to adult, 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Details: 790-2001.

Snow report
• Eaglecrest Ski Area, Juneau: Platter, Ptarmigan and Hooter lifts operate about 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday through Monday, plus all of spring break. The tubing hill operates 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends and holidays, plus spring break.

Hydaburg boys, Kake girls claim Region V-2A crowns
The Hydaburg Warriors defended their Region V-Class 2A basketball title by beating the Skagway Panthers 86-74 in a high-tempo and hot-shooting boys championship game Saturday night at the Juneau-Douglas High School main gym. "It feels great, two-time champs baby," said Vinny Edenshaw. "I'm looking forward to state, hopefully we're gonna win it."

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

Hopes crash down
ANCHORAGE - With 3 minutes, 52 seconds left to play in the third quarter of Friday night's Class 4A state tourney semifinal game against the Wasilla Warriors, the Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball squad held a six-point lead and had dominated the state's top-ranked team. Then it all came crashing down. Juneau's Byron Wild - charged with keeping the Warriors' star 7-foot center Ray Schafer in check - hit the floorboards hard while battling for a rebound with Wasilla's Aaron Roth and had to be taken to the hospital with a nasty cut on the back of his head.

Four SE champs win on Roughhouse Friday
In a tuneup for next month's Southeast Showdown, four current and former Southeast Showdown champions won their bouts this weekend during Roughhouse Friday action at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. Three-time heavyweight champion Russ "Dirt" Stevens of Juneau had the toughest bout, winning in a unanimous decision over three-time Alaska state champion "Crazy" Eddie Cavette of Anchorage that was widely disputed by the crowd. Cavette send Stevens to the canvas in the second round, but Stevens, who won the first round, responded in the third round with a flurry of punches that kept Cavette on his heels.

Gold Medal Basketball Tournament opens for its 57th time today
There was a bit of sweating by the Juneau Lions Club earlier this year as construction dragged on at Juneau-Douglas High School, but everything is ready for today's opening of the club's 57th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at the JDHS main gym. "Everything's in place and it's ready to go," tournament co-chair Leo Houston said earlier this week. "The only thing we're worried about is if we go to war and they shut down the planes so teams can't get here."

Crown Craig Class 3A state champions
ANCHORAGE - All season long, the Craig Panthers boys basketball squad was a team on a mission. Mission accomplished. In a rematch of last year's state high school boys Class 3A championship game, the Panthers toppled the undefeated and top-ranked Valdez Buccaneers, 70-53, on Saturday to claim the 2003 state crown in Anchorage's Sullivan Arena.

State Briefs
State reaches tentative deal with unions; Police charge man in alleged theft;

Legislative roundup
Bills introduced last week.

House members to governor: Take your case to the people
House Republicans - far from giving Gov. Frank Murkowski's $113 million in tax proposals a rubber stamp - are telling him to take his case to the people. House Majority Leader John Coghill, a North Pole Republican, said the largest part of the governor's tax package would require the Legislature to choose between a seasonal sales tax or a $100 head tax on workers. Lawmakers want the governor to weigh in on the choice as well, he said. "What he did was to pass the pain on to the Legislature," Coghill said. "We're asking for some cover, and I think we are going to get it."

Feds pay out Glacier Bay compensation
After more than four years of waiting, fishermen, processors and communities affected by commercial fishing closures in Glacier Bay are getting their money. Altogether, they're splitting $23 million, as authorized by Congress. Some recipients say it isn't enough. "I had a $35,000-a-year job that's now gone," said Mary McConnell, who worked for Pelican Seafoods for 11 years, until 1996.

Silos slated to be on time
FAIRBANKS - A clock in Boeing's offices counts the minutes - down to the nearest tenth of a second - until Sept. 30, 2004. That's the date Boeing is scheduled to finish its work on the silos at Fort Greely that will house America's new missile defense system.

State's safety net may not help more seniors than currently
The state's safety nets for older Alaskans may not catch any more needy people than it does now if the longevity bonus program is eliminated. That's because the state has never counted the $100-$250 monthly bonuses in deciding whether someone is eligible for many programs that help low-income seniors.

Fish and Game takes step toward wolf control
ANCHORAGE - Employees of the Department of Fish and Game will conduct spotting flights near McGrath to provide trappers with information on where to find wolves, the agency said Friday, announcing a predator-control program for the Interior village. The flights are part of a plan to boost moose populations over a 520-square-mile experimental management area.

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