Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Alaska cruise tax should be lowered
Gov. Sean Parnell is right to call for a reduction in Alaska's steep $46-per-head tax on cruise passengers because of the harm it has done to the state's tourism industry (March 21, "Parnell wants cruise ship head tax reduced"). In 2008, while worldwide cruise travel was up, cruise lines made cuts in their trips to Alaska.

Troxel's closing is a loss to community
It was a sad day last week when we gathered in Troxel's for the last time and wished the establishment well in whatever future it has. This, however, has deeper meaning for the people of Juneau and too many of us don't realize what exactly is happening here.

Capital Transit should expand early morning service
I am writing in regards to the public bus system not providing a 7:50 a.m. bus from the Mendenhall Valley to downtown Juneau in the mornings. I use the Wal-Mart bus stop in the morning and I go to school downtown. If I catch the 7:20 a.m. bus, I'm an hour early to school. The next bus is 8:20 a.m., an hour later. If I catch that bus, I'm a half-hour late to school.

Larsen should be commended for his work at ADF&G
Doug Larsen deserves appreciation for a job well done as director of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Wildlife Conservation Division. I've dealt with Larsen in both his role as Southeast regional supervisor for the division and his capacity as division director. HE has impressed me with his friendliness, professionalism, conscientiousness and willingness to listen.

Parnell right to roll back cruise ship tax
Gov. Sean Parnell's decision to reduce the cruise ship head tax as a way to encourage cruise lines to move their ships back to Alaska was one of the most heartening statements Alaskans have heard in years.

An open letter to UAS Board of Regents
I read this morning of the appointment of Pat Gamble as the new president of the University of Alaska system. As I perused the article, it seemed like his credentials were certainly impressive.

Kudos to McGee for thoughtful My Turn
Many thanks to Jack McGee for his thoughtful and well-written My Turn ("Privileged or hard-working?") about how we decide what to offer in schools to our young people.

Obama plan will bring needed change
A lot of people are against President Obama's health care reform plan, mostly because they think it costs too much. They've got a very good point, but that's really all they talk about - how much President Obama's plan will cost. Ask them about their plan and you find out that they don't have one.

Episode opens eyes to end-of-life issues
I am responding to Sidney Heidersdorf's March 17 letter to the editor, "Presenting an assisted suicide on TV is simply wrong."

Assembly, hospital board to discuss Rainforest
The Juneau Assembly is scheduling a joint meeting with the Bartlett Hospital Board of Directors, and though the timing of the meeting was inspired by complaints about Rainforest Recovery Center, Assembly member and hospital liaison David Stone said the two entities meet annually and "the sky is the limit" for topics they might discuss.

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

'Train the trainer' class offered
JUNEAU - The Alaska Office of Economic Development is inviting the public to attend an AlaskaHost customer service "Train the Trainer" class today and Thursday.

Juneau Travel Fair being held April 10
JUNEAU - The 8th annual Juneau Travel Fair will be held April 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Nugget Mall.

JCVB seeks volunteers
JUNEAU - The Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau is seeking some new volunteers to share their knowledge of the community.

Bye-bye books?
Yaakoosge Daakahidi sophomore Staci Taylor took a trip to the Capitol last Tuesday. The reason? To help advocate for the Association of Alaska School Board's request for an additional $10 million for its Consortium for Digital Learning, a one-to-one laptop program in which Yaakoosge has been participating since 2006.

Officials extend Airport Dike Trail closure
JUNEAU - Airport officials have extended the closure of the Emergency Vehicle Access Road, commonly referred to as the Airport Dike Trail, for two weeks to make sure the trail's alignment is complete before it is reopened.

Alsup named JDHS principal
The Juneau School District has chosen Ryan Alsup of Castle Rock, Colorado as the next Juneau-Douglas High School principal.

ATIA marketing bill in trouble
Republican lawmakers who support the governor's move to cut cruise industry taxes said Monday the idea is attached to the wrong piece of legislation.

Attitude is everything to hard-working grandma
"I try to take the positive attitude, and I don't take it personally. I tell the customers when they're upset, 'We just need to solve this problem.' Sometimes they'll come to the counter and I'll say, "What can I do to make you happy today?' And they'll say, 'Well, give me service.'"

Photo: Spring snowman
Steven Rosenblad, 16, left, his sister, Rose Jaynes, 12, and friend Samantha Olson, 12, pose with their 8-foot-tall snowman they built in front of their Long Run Drive home Tuesday with Rose's father, Steve Jaynes. Rose said they didn't plan on it being that big. They had to use a ladder to get the head on.

JDHS honored at Academic Decathlon
The GCI Alaska Academic Decathlon was held recently in Anchorage, and the Juneau-Douglas High School state team brought home numerous awards.

Photo: Buoy barricade
U.S. Coast Guard Station Juneau BMC John Moreland secures an anchor chain on a bar buoy for placement Monday in Gastineau Channel. "We make sure everything is accounted for," Moreland said. "We just make sure anchors are attached and replace markings, that kind of thing." The Coast Guard will use its 15-foot safe boat ELD-Tac 1 to place the buoys in the channel from the AML Terminal to the back side of the airport on Tuesday. The 18 bar buoys are replaced each spring and each fall.

State encourages schools to publicize US census
The State of Alaska is encouraging all Alaskans to participate in the 2010 U.S. census. Schools can help publicize the census with "All Alaskans Count" posters available from Ingrid Zaruba at the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. She may be reached at 465-2439 or Ingrid.zaruba@alaska.gov.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

Board of Education to hold work session March 25-26
The State Board of Education & Early Development will meet on March 24, 25 and 26 in Juneau. On March 24, the board will meet with legislators and participate in ethics training. The board's work session and business meetings on March 25 and 26 will begin each day at 8 a.m. The meeting will be held in the state board room on the first floor of the Goldbelt Building at 801 West 10th St. The public is invited to attend.

Juneau Douglas Drama, Debate & Forensics team wins state title
On March 4, the Juneau-Douglas High School Drama, Debate & Forensics team took East High School in Anchorage by storm. The team participated in a statewide DDF competition, organized by the Alaska School Activities Association, vying for placement in a variety of theatrical and oratory contests. On March 6, they took home the state drama trophy.

Gardinier appointed curator of Alaska State Museum
The Alaska State Museum in Juneau has announced that Paul Gardinier, long-time exhibits specialist at the museum, has been named curator of exhibitions. In his new position, Gardinier is responsible for the museum's temporary exhibition schedule as well as maintaining and upgrading the permanent installations of the museum's collection. He replaces Bob Banghart, who recently moved into the position of chief curator.

Correction
A caption for a submitted photo on page C3 on Sunday misidentified the bank providing students participating in the voluntary drug testing program with gift cards. The bank that has supplied the $50 Visa gift cards is Alaska Pacific Bank.

Photo: Rain exchange
Foreign exchange students enrolled in Anchorage area high schools sightsee around downtown Juneau on Tuesday. The group is on a three-day visit to the capital.

Photo: Hazardous waste round up
Ben Stovall and Louie Thomas of PSC Environmental out of Anchorage stack and separate batteries as part of a hazardous waste disposal effort on Monday. Over 500 public vehicles brought waste for free disposal on Sunday and about 45 commercial companies Monday. The waste will be barged to Seattle and then trucked to Kent, Wash. "It is better than putting it in a land fill," said PSC Environmental foreman Gene Jansen.

James L. Larson
Juneau resident James L. Larson died March 9, 2010, in Juneau. He was 56.

Wray Bradley
Former Alaska state Sen. Wray E. "Brad" Bradley died March 20 at an assisted living home in Sand Springs, Okla. He was 86.

Esther Lindoff Kaze
Sitka resident Esther Lindoff Kaze died March 9, 2010, in Sitka. She was 77.

Christina Nicole Gibson
Juneau resident Christina Nicole Gibson died March 18, 2010, while visiting Tuscan, Ariz. She was 23.

Investing in ourselves: Securing energy for Alaska
In a speech on March 12, former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens offered his assessment on the prospects for the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, or AGIA. His verdict: AGIA will fail to produce a large natural gas pipeline to the Lower 48 because a market for Alaska gas no longer exists. At the same time, Sen. Stevens advanced a course of action that mirrors a key platform in my campaign for governor: build a natural gas bullet line from the North Slope to Fairbanks and Southcentral to deliver affordable, reliable natural gas to Alaskans.

Outside editorial: The next big thing
The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

Defining responsible development in Alaska
Our elected and business leaders are always quick to point out that they support responsible development that also protects the environment. This is the case whether the development project is oil, mining or timber.

Under one roof? It's getting crowded
First, there were hammers banging. Then paint brushes. Then carpet. Soon, we had a new room above the garage.

Certificates of Participation appropriate for new buildings
Gov. Sean Parnell's proposal to pay for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Life Sciences Classroom and Lab Facility and the Anchorage Crime Lab with Certificates of Participation is the right funding mechanism considering today's fiscal climate.

Sitka fishermen prep for herring opening
SITKA - Herring fishermen in Sitka are on notice that their annual fishery could be opened by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game with only two hours warning.

House Dems warn against rush on energy tax bill
JUNEAU - Weeks after key senators warned that Alaska could lose billions in revenue if it didn't change its system of taxing oil and gas production together, House Democrats said the opposite may be true.

Alaska Permanent Fund dividend deadline looms
ANCHORAGE - State Revenue Department officials are reminding Alaskans that they have nine more days to apply for Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.

Marshals nab Alaskan fugitive in McVille
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The U.S. Marshals Service says it has nabbed a fugitive from Alaska on a ranch in eastern North Dakota.

Legislature to bid on Chevron building
JUNEAU - Alaska lawmakers have authorized a bid to buy a Chevron Corp. building in Anchorage to secure more office space for themselves.

AT&T issues a paperless challenge
DALLAS - AT&T announced last week a new challenge for AT&T customers to go paperless. With the help of the Arbor Day Foundation, AT&T will have a tree planted in honor of each customer who signs up for paperless billing, with up to 1 million trees being planted this year.

Co-op offers to buy, partner on Alaska LNG plant
JUNEAU - A new Alaska cooperative, the Natural Gas Supply Co., is offering to buy or help reinvent a liquefied natural gas plant near Kenai.

ConocoPhillips names new head of Alaska operations
JUNEAU - ConocoPhillips has named a new president of its Alaska operations.

Board says mayor should have had disclosed conflict
ANCHORAGE - Anchorage's municipal Ethics Board says Mayor Dan Sullivan did not properly disclose a potential conflict in his dual role as mayor and administrator of a trust for his late father.

Feds seek limit on Yukon-Charley wolf hunting
ANCHORAGE- The National Park Service is calling for an emergency closure of all sport wolf hunting and trapping in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve.

Commuter plane crashes at the Homer airport
ANCHORAGE - Alaska State Troopers said three people survived the crash of a commuter airplane at the Homer Airport.

Mat-Su Borough puts 2 buildings up for sale
WASILLA - The Matanuska-Susitna Borough is looking for buyers for a pair of Palmer buildings that have seen better days.

House Finance holds scholarship hearing
JUNEAU - A committee with significant say over a crucial part of Gov. Sean Parnell's merit scholarship bill - the money - is taking its first shot at the proposal.

Anchorage police charge 4 in pizza robbery
ANCHORAGE - Two men and two juvenile girls have been charged with robbing and assaulting an Anchorage pizza delivery man.

United Way launches $3 million effort
ANCHORAGE - United Way of Anchorage says it is investing nearly $3 million on various community projects.

Fairbanks man who beat wife sentenced to prison
FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man accused of brutally beating his wife last month has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and been sentenced to six months in prison.

Alaska Airlines announces marketing leadership changes
SEATTLE - Alaska Airlines has announced a realignment of its marketing, sales and online commerce groups.

Chenault pushing in-state gas measure
JUNEAU - House Speaker Mike Chenault says involving the Alaska Railroad Corp. in an in-state natural gas pipeline is a good idea.

Kake loses by double digits
Sitka stormed to a 21-5 lead in the early going before holding off a late Kake rally to win their Monday evening C Bracket matchup 88-78 in first-round action.

Metlakatla mauls Kake in slugfest
Metlakatla broke open a 12-12 game at the midway point of the first half and the Merchants rolled to a bruising 102-61 B Bracket win over Kake on Tuesday in a game that saw the teams combine for 49 fouls.

Hoonah advances to semis
Juneau's size was no match for Hoonah's hot shooting as the Huna Totem made eight 3-pointers en route to a 72-57 win over Filcom to earn a spot in Thursday's C semifinal round of the 64th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament.

Angoon runs wild
In the afternoon's most anticipated matchup, Angoon displayed precise shooting and unmatched team speed on their way to a 111-102 victory over Hydaburg in B bracket action Monday.

Sitka edges Juneau in M Bracket
Tuesday's M Bracket opener was a game of runs, with both teams holding double-digit leads before trading buckets down the stretch and the Sitka Moose edging the Juneau Old-Timers 67-65 to advance to Thursday's semifinal round.

Tension high in Monday's first game
The first game of the day between Yakutat and Hoonah in the M bracket set the stage for a full day of basketball as Hoonah escaped with a win in the final seconds in what was a competitive, spirited affair between the two sides.

Photo: B bracket
Angoon's Curtis Lane, 20, buries a jump shot over the defense of Hydaburg's Vinny Edenshaw during Monday B bracket action in the 64th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.

Photo: C bracket
Kake's Rudy Bean tries to steal the ball from Sitka's ball handling wiz Rich Krupa during C bracket action Monday night in the 64th Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at JDHS gym.

Legislators endorse cruise tax settlement
There's been little courtroom action as part of the cruise ship industry's legal challenge to Alaska's cruse passenger "head tax," but the lawsuit has got the attention of legislative leaders and Gov. Sean Parnell.

Natives losing political influence
Federal Voting Rights Act provisions aimed at ensuring representation of Alaska Natives in the Legislature may not be enough to stem the slide in Native political influence driven by this year's census.

Palin targets Dems over health care vote
Sarah Palin plans to use her political action committee to win for "Commonsense Conservatives" 20 seats held by House Democrats who voted in favor of the federal health care overhaul.

Survey notes untaxed cabins on Palin property
ANCHORAGE - Two cabins on backcountry land partially owned by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have been appraised for property tax purposes for the first time since their construction began several years ago.

Program aims to limit accidental salmon catch
ANCHORAGE - A program is expected to be in place by 2011 to cap the number of king salmon that can be accidentally caught in the Bering Sea pollock fishery and for the first time subject the nation's largest fishery to the possibility of a complete shutdown.

State to produce $100,000 video on wolf control
ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is planning to spend $100,000 on a video meant to explain the state's controversial wolf-killing program.

Chitina dip-netters fail to win higher priority
FAIRBANKS - Chitina salmon dip-netters will remain classified as personal-use fishermen.

Former wildlife employees seek to oust agency head
ANCHORAGE - Dozens of former state employees are seeking to oust Alaska's new wildlife director, saying in a letter sent Monday to the governor that the man who listed Sarah Palin's parents as references lacks the education and scientific training for the job.

State AG reviewing health care legislation
Gov. Sean Parnell calls newly passed federal health care legislation unconstitutional and "public policy at its worst." His attorney general is reviewing the measure to determine if the state may join others in suing over the issue, though a Department of Law spokesman cautioned against a rush to judgment.

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