Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Healy coal mine says layoffs may be coming
Jeff Cornelius had told his wife, Linda, to quit her job as a bank accountant so the family could move from Fairbanks to Healy, where he works as a heavy equipment mechanic at Usibelli Coal Mine.

Statisticians boot 'tinned' salmon out of British shopping basket
The British government's Office for National Statistics has booted canned salmon from the "basket" of goods and services it tracks to compile a monthly Retail Prices Index, and Alaska marketers worry that the country's taste for the product is dying out.

Trouble right here in 'glacier city'
The paper does a great job of keeping local issues stirred up. The spicy contents of our community pot shouldn't be sticking in the craw of just one group.

Better solutions than downtown parking
As a life-long resident of Juneau and former resident of Thane Road, it interests me very much to see how the cruise industry is milking the city of Juneau for everything it's got. Did you know that Juneau is the second-most visited cruise destination, behind Miami? The $5 passenger tax is just pennies to the industry compared with the money that it rakes in each summer, with over 600,000 people coming to the capital on package tours.

Some taxes are more regressive than others
I'll take a stab at categorizing the effect of the various budget-balancing options on the poorest Alaskans. I'll call those options that have a proportionately larger effect on these Alaskans "regressive," as that is the conventional terminology.

Teen alcohol actions have consequences
On Monday, a dozen owners and managers of various liquor establishments met at the Hanger on the Wharf Ballroom to become trained in dealing with a new law which had passed last legislative session. The law, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Meyers, allows liquor establishments to pursue a $1,000 fine against minors who attempt to enter.

Work constructively
This is an open invitation to Don Smith, Kirby Day, Bob Jacobsen, Dave Fremming and others who have recently used this column to crow and call names.

Addressing trail safety
Regarding Richard Carstensen Outdoors' article of March 24, trails are created so people can enjoy walking on city, state and federal lands, which they own and pay taxes for and keep in public use and reserve. I understand there needs to be some land kept in a natural state, but not the entire borough. However any designated trail when traveled drives creatures away from the path and perhaps should.

Two questions
I have two questions. First, what is the difference between bus parking and bus "staging"? Second, a recent letter made reference to "the place formerly known as Marine Park." So what is it known as now? Let me make a suggestion: Private property.

The low price of alcohol
In a recent letter to the editor, Patrick McGonegal suggested we tax milk instead of alcohol. He may not know that beer is now cheaper than milk in Alaska. One reason for this disparity is that alcohol has not been taxed but once since statehood, and that was 18 years ago (1983).

Our cash cow
What's this? Has Lew changed his mind on the Ketchikan bridge? At least another old-timer sees things my way. Ketchikan has the airport ferries, and they are paid for. So they had to raise the fees to cross to the airport. With 9/11, you can't park in front of the terminal anyway, so why take your car? Seems someone should suggest a baggage cart, like that used on the state ferry system, be implemented for all that luggage and fish boxes we have to carry over to the airport on our way to visit friends and relatives in Seattle.

A state sales tax would hurt Juneau
The House Finance Committee is considering a 3 percent state sales tax. I agree that the Legislature needs to do something to solve our state's fiscal crisis, but this sales tax measure would only replace our current fiscal crisis with a fiscal crisis at the local level.

Upgrading Marine Park
According to Joanna Markell's Jan. 15 article, the "open water between the shore and Steamship Wharf" will be covered. According to Mr. Smith's editorial on March 20, there is no plan to "pave over Marine Park."

We got rid of them
Having been born and raised in Juneau and spending most of my life in the valley I can honestly tell you that we never had a bear problem until the "save the bear" mentality cropped up.

Road to good eating
Sleepless in Seattle now becomes Roadless in Juneau. If only Juneau had a road to bring in our outstanding Mat-Su Valley products. Air freight is so very expensive. A road could give Juneau delivery of fresh vegetables one day after picking - just like in the real world.

Persuasion please, minus labels
I know you, valley dweller! You sit there in your 1950s suburban utopia, still fuming over the navy homeport vote. Guided only by your wallet and your James Watt view of environmental stewardship, the world you care about ends at the paint on your walls, or at best the sturdy fence that marks out your personal territory.

Budget cuts and mental health services
I want to thank the Empire for the March 22 article regarding the effect of proposed budget cuts by the Legislature on mental health services in Juneau. However, some of the information was inadvertently inaccurate and I feel I need to provide corrected information in the interest of not frightening people any more than they already are.

Our economy needs to move forward
The Jacobsen family - the people, their businesses, and their employees - have for decades represented what many of us cherish about Juneau and Southeast Alaska. They are honest, hardworking individuals who make positive contributions to our community and the region.

Training in progress
Princess Tours is in the process of training its 85 local driver-guides in preparation for the 2002 tour season. These local residents are your friends, neighbors, firefighters, your children's teachers, and others from our community - many of whom have worked for Princess for several years.

District selects finalists for Harborview principal
The field of candidates to replace Harborview Elementary School Principal Bob Dye has been narrowed to three finalists, who will participate in public interviews next week.

Police and Fire
Reports from Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

Photo: Waterfront dredging
Secon Inc. dredges in front of the Steamship Wharf on Monday to make it deeper and easier for ships to dock. The project will remove 2,700 cubic yards of soil that will be used to fill in the Douglas Harbor Savikko Road project.

Forest Service extends copter permits
The U.S. Forest Service, unable so far to complete a new environmental impact statement, will renew the Juneau Icefield permits used by four helicopter tour companies at last year's landing totals.

Around Town
Listings of local nonprofit events.

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

City Manager Dave Palmer to resign
After seven years as Juneau city manager, Dave Palmer said today he's ready for a break and will resign effective the end of June. Palmer told city staff and Juneau Assembly members about his decision this morning. He has worked in local government for nearly 31 years, 20 in Alaska.

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

New meteorologist watches for wild weather
Did you hear about the high wind warning issued for Juneau last Thursday? If so, then Chris Maier has done his job well.

Juneau cops calm candy-bar confrontation on bus
A city bus driver, described as a "by-the-book kind of guy," called police last week after he spotted a woman eating a candy bar on board and she refused his orders to get off the bus. Jamila Glauber, who described her ethnicity as Middle Eastern, said she felt the incident involved the color of her skin more than her eating-on-board offense.

Teen suspects nabbed in Lemon Creek burglaries
Police on Saturday arrested a boy, 17, in connection with an alleged burglary and theft Thursday in the Lemon Creek area.

El Niño may bring balmier weather
History indicates that this summer in Juneau may hold better weather than usual because of the development of El Niño conditions a hemisphere away.

Antoinette 'Honey' Seward
Former Juneau resident Antoinette "Honey" Seward, 88, died March 14, 2002, at Stevens Hospital in Edmonds, Wash.

Norman Clayton Johnson
Former Juneau resident Norman Clayton Johnson, 58, died March 21, 2002.

My Turn: Pumping iron can increase bone density
While Ann Chandonnet's article "Women work out for comfort, not competition" (Empire, March 20) addresses some of the motivating factors women use for exercising, the benefits of lifting free weights verses using machine weights were skimmed over and when mentioned, misleading.

My Turn: To tax or not to tax, that is the question
Yes, an Alaska state income tax would provide revenue for the state budget, but what would such a tax cost? Well let's see, the state would have to create a whole new division within the Department of Revenue. This would mean more personnel, more office space, more office furniture, more computers, more telephones, more official cars, more travel, more forms, more office supplies, more utilities, more parking needs, and enforcement to force those who failed to file a state income tax return, to file and pay. But how much would it cost?

Word Of Mouth
Word of Mouth gives readers a forum to express opinions on a variety of issues by telephone. Call 586-4636 and press 8255 to leave a message. Be sure to leave your name and telephone number.

My Turn: Juneau's economy must diversify
There has been much "back and forth" over several issues (the wharf project most notably) in the past few days. Each side says the other is at fault for all of the shortcomings of our community. There are many who want to control how Juneau grows and how its commerce is developed in both camps. Both sides have valid concerns.

My Turn: Mental health field needs scientific objectivity
I differ from the opinion expressed in the March 21 My Turn, "Alternatives needed for cases like Yates." While I commend the author for bringing mental health to public attention as a source for social troubles, I suggest his data is much too partisan. The Yates woman, in being given life imprisonment, was obviously given more humane justice for her murders of five human beings - in a state that uses the death penalty all too often.

The PFD party's over, let's move on
I recently spoke at legislative hearing about budget cuts, and closed with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek offer for them to take back my permanent fund, but stop with cutting essential infrastructure and programs we need. I knew the budget hearing wasn't necessarily the right setting, but I meant it. Alaskans are not entitled to that dividend; we are just used to it.

Klawock, Yakutat fall in opening C Bracket rounds
Opening day of C Bracket games at 56th Gold Medal basketball tournament saw both teams that made it to last year's title game fall -- and one of those teams will be knocked out the tournament tonight.

Alaska dominates in Arctic Winter Games
Dylan Ashe of Juneau tied for the goal-scoring lead in the juvenile male division as he and Jamaal Bailey of Douglas helped Team Alaska claim the gold ulu in indoor soccer during the Arctic Winter Games, which took place last week in Nuuk, Greenland, and in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada (on Baffin Island).

Klawock-Prince of Wales smothers Angoon Kwaan
Three-time defending Gold Medal champion Klawock-Prince of Wales came out strong, defeating Angoon Kwaan, 92-40, Monday in the first day of the women's bracket action at the Juneau-Douglas High School gym.

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

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

Thibodeau leads local skiers in Buckwheat
Under partly sunny skies and on the deep snow of White Pass, nearly 200 cross-country skiers and snowshoers of all ages completed the 16th annual Buckwheat Ski Classic on Saturday just north of Skagway.

Haines Merchants open defense of B Bracket title
It took a brief while to shake the rust off, but the Haines Merchants were able to successfully open the defense of their B Bracket title in Sunday's opening day of the 56th Annual Gold Medal Basketball Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Youngsters make Gold Medal debut
It took 55 years before the middle schools were awarded a bracket in the Gold Medal Tournament. Juneau HoopTime coach Edd Webb hopes the new division will get more than one year to prove itself.

Gold Medal Boxscores
Monday's winners and losers.

Huna, Haines reach semifinal
When Huna ANB plays Kake Tlingit Heat in the B Bracket of the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, the fans usually get their money's worth.

Old Totems lean on Yakutat
After the Klawock Old Totems' win against Yakutat ANB on Monday night, one would wonder if the Old Totems have Yakutat's number.

Photo: Catch of the day
A winter king salmon rests on the scale as Homer Chamber of Commerce officials record its weight during the King Salmon Tournament on Saturday in Homer.

Photo: Hare scare
Frightened by the Easter Bunny, Hunter Blair, 2, of Kodiak reaches out for his mother, Joyce,who stands on the sidelines during a portrait session Saturday in Kodiak

State bill penalizes draft dodgers
Rep. Lisa Murkowski wants to provide young men with a potent reminder to register for the draft when they turn 18. She's sponsored a bill to take away their permanent fund dividend if they don't.

Senate cool to most revenue bills
A 3 percent state sales tax passed by the House Finance Committee on Monday does not have support within the Republican majority in the Senate, Senate leaders said this morning. Nor does a bill to tap permanent fund earnings for $300 million in the next fiscal year, said Senate President Rick Halford of Chugiak and Finance Co-Chairman Dave Donley of Anchorage.

Legislation to help former foster kids
Former foster children would get a little help making the transition to adulthood under a bill that passed the House on Friday.

Bill would raise fines for serious crimes, but will felons pay?
The maximum fines for certain criminal offenses would increase greatly under a bill given preliminary approval by the Senate on Monday. But the bill will be reconsidered in the Senate at the request of Sen. Kim Elton, a Juneau Democrat, who wanted the fiscal impacts on the state clarified.

Two Sitka men saved when boat sinks
Two Sitka fishermen were rescued when their fishing boat sank west of the southern tip of Baranof Island, the Coast Guard said Sunday.

Judge rules state's '98 English-only law violates free speech
ANCHORAGE - A law requiring government workers to speak only English when conducting public business violates constitutional guarantees of free speech and serves no compelling public interest, a Superior Court judge has ruled.

Priest dies in mountain plane crash
Crews were working today to recover the body of a 73-year-old Catholic priest killed in a weekend plane crash in Southwest Alaska.

Kenai residents wary of proposed large pig farm
KENAI - Kenai residents are concerned about the environmental impact of bringing a proposed large-scale pig farm to the peninsula. Project president Dick Metteer is proposing to use state money to fund a $400,000 feasibility study on a farm that would produce 600,000 pigs annually. The Legislature has not taken up the issue.

Diomede mail delivery remains an adventure
Years after man walked on the moon, walrus-skinned boats still delivered mail to Diomede.

State Briefs
Marine Park-Steamship Wharf meetings scheduled; Hazardous-waste date changed; Federal subsistence permits available at ranger offices; Fairbanks woman dies in fall down glacier crevasse; Dillingham snowmachiner dies in Monday accident; Homer angler wins $12,000 for record catch in tournament; Alaska bank changes name

Fish tracking may lead to watershed in sea research
For five months, the feisty 60-pound Pacific halibut with the nickname Lip roamed the Gulf of Alaska, its movements monitored by a tiny computer tag anchored below its dorsal fin.

Kotzebue wind generators honored
Kotzebue Electric Association received national recognition for its windpower plant, which has reduced Kotzebue's dependence on

Two accused in murder-for-hire plot plead innocent
ANCHORAGE - Two Anchorage residents charged by a grand jury with plotting to kill two federal employees and two other people, including a witness, pleaded innocent Monday in U.S. District Court.

High-tech sensors may solve mysteries of fish migration
Researchers hoping to unravel the mystery of salmon migrations in the northern Pacific want to build a high-tech fish-sensing network stretching thousands of miles from California to Alaska.

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