Monday, March 29, 2010

Thank you for passing health care
It took a century in coming, but thanks to President Barack Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, as well as many more, our fine nation has become part of the modern world. Access to health care as a basic right is affirmed.

Sarah Palin does not represent everyone
Former Gov. Sarah Palin does not represent me and has not represented Alaska since she abruptly left office in 2009 - so why should she now as a highly paid personality on the Discovery Channel?

Reject Board of Game appointee
Gov. Sean Parnell's recent appointee to the Board of Game, Al Barrette, has a conflict of interest that is cause for denial of his confirmation.

Putting Southeast's environment first
The recent public relations campaign against the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council by the Kensington Mine and groups such as First Things First uses myth and selfish appeals in its attempts to vilify environmentalists.

Predator control police is a shame
Regarding the erroneous killing of the National ParkService wolves: The confused state officials who are not able to handle complicated situations are those in which Alaskans who disagree with state predator control policies have repeatedly been asked to place trust and confidence. I could not do it before, and most certainly cannot do it now. This incident brings shame and disgrace, and in my humble opinion, is unforgiveable.

Urge Senate to move bill out of committee
The legislation to allow the Alaska Mental Health Trust to build a building on their land in the subport area is now in the last committee of referral, the Senate Finance Committee. It has been there since last session awaiting a hearing. This is a project of significant importance to Juneau and Southeast Alaska. Three departments of state government, a total of 500 employees, are proposed to be located at this site.

Future of Politics: Young Democrats 'Drinking Liberally' to help spark involvement
Illuminated by electric lanterns and Christmas lights, Alaska gubernatorial candidate Bob Poe stood in the back room of the Bergmann Hotel's bar last Wednesday to address a handful of people sitting on mismatched chairs. The group was Drinking Liberally - not because they were at a bar, but because they were young Democrats interested in re-starting Juneau's chapter of the Alaska Young Democrats.

Culture center planned to fill 'pit'
The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has got big plans for the hole in downtown.

Future of Politics: Young Republicans hope to gain momentum during state convention
Young Republicans hope the state Republican convention, to be held in Juneau this year for the first time in almost two decades, will help the organization "put the rubber to the road," said Juneau Young Republican Nick Henderson.

Lawmakers take aim at annual shoot
Normally straight shooters on the House and Senate floor, members of the Alaska Legislature looked a little more 'rifled' on the grounds of Saturday's 12th Annual Legislative Team Shoot at the Juneau Gun Club Range.

2 found dead at Douglas apartment
Two Juneau women were found dead Friday morning at a Douglas apartment complex, possibly from drug overdoses, according to police.

Glacier retreat to slow as terminus creeps onto land
Residents who noticed dramatic changes in Juneau's backyard glacier might be pleased to know its retreat will slow a bit over the next few years.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

Photo: Trikin' through the puddles
Three-year-old Hayden Soboleff rides his tricycle through water puddles along Glacier Spur Road on Sunday before his nap time. Weather for the next week will feature rain showers and mid-40s temperatures.

Photos: 'Managing Wildlife' rally at the Capitol
The Alaska Wildlife Alliance presented an event titled "Managing Wildlife in Alaska: Predators, Prey & Politics" which cumulated in a rally on the Capitol steps Saturday at noon.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

Fundraiser for the dogs
In its first-ever public event, Pet Nanny's Place will host a K9 Easter Egg Hunt as a fundraiser to purchase pet rescue and recovery oxygen masks to outfit Juneau's five front-line fire engines.

Photo: Bowling for kids
Teams from the Bowl For Kids' Sake event held March 13 at the Juneau Bowling Center pose after the six-week fundraising campaign to help match kids with caring adult mentors. The two teams shown are "The Fabulous Flossers" and "The Troublemakers," from Dr. Benjamin Gilbert DDS's office.

Senior menu for the week of March 29-April 2
Monday, March 29

Pets of the week
Annie is a 5-year-old blue-eyed beauty, silver and tan Siamese mix with Tabby markings. She lives for attention and loves to be petted. She enjoys rubbing up against everything, especially humans. She's looking for someone who loves to be loved and who will love her back with the same enthusiasm.

Thanks for making the Women of Distinction Dinner a success
AWARE's 14th annual Women of Distinction Dinner and Silent Auction on March 13 was a magnificent success. It was a privilege to recognize this year's honorees: Chris Ashenbrenner, Carolyn Brown, Bev Ingram and Helen Sarabia. Their unique contributions to our community and their words of wisdom and inspiration made this event an exceptional celebration.

Thanks for supporting the 2010 AEYC Early Childhood Conference
The Association for the Education of Young Children would like to extend a big thank you to all the people that made this year's Early Childhood Conference a success.

Money matters
The Alaska gold rush got people bustling with energy and dreaming of life with gold. People were willing to gamble their lives for a taste of the good life.

Venables to dress as William Seward in Tuesday program
JUNEAU - Monday is the celebrated Seward's Day holiday for government workers, but March 30, 1867, is the day that William Henry Seward finalized the contract to purchase Alaska from Russia, says historian John Venables, of Juneau.

Loophole closed to protect disabled public safety officers
JUNEAU - Alaska's public safety employees who become disabled in the line of duty will not have to worry about medical coverage thanks to the efforts of Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage and the Parnell administration.

Thanks for helping at the Legislative Employee Health Fair
The Legislative Employee Health Fair held at the Terry Miller Building on March 18 was a great success because of the committed volunteers who made it possible.

Senior Center hosts Seward's Day pancake breakfast fundraiser
JUNEAU - In a benefit for the the Senior Meal Programs, the Juneau Senior Center will host its annual Seward's Day Pancake Breakfast from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday at 895 W. 12th St., next door to the Mountain View Apartments, across from Harborview School's covered playground.

Juneau Fine Arts Camp to start June 7
JUNEAU - The Juneau Fine Arts Camp, sponsored by Juneau Dance Unlimited, will be held 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. June 7 to 25 at Harborview Elementary School, with an optional fourth week at The Canvas, held June 28 to July 2.

Thanks for supporting the 2010 AEYC Early Childhood Conference
The Association for the Education of Young Children would like to extend a big thank you to all the people that made this year's Early Childhood Conference a success.

State Museum seeks new docents, holds training workshops
JUNEAU - If you have you ever thought about volunteering in a museum and would like to help show off the state's extraordinary collection of historic treasures, the Alaska State Museum needs you.

Care-A-Van offers transportation for senior citizens
JUNEAU - The Care-A-Van Transportation Service is operated by Southeast Senior Services, a division of Catholic Community Service. Care-A-Van is designed to assist senior citizens (age 60 and older) and people of any age who are unable to use the Capital Transit bus due to a disability. Although the Care-A-Van is primarily funded through a contract with the City and Borough of Juneau, the service also receives financial support from Medicaid Waiver revenues, a grant from the Alaska Division of Senior and Disabilities Services, and passenger contributions.

State Museum appoints Gardinier as curator
JUNEAU - 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.

Thanks for getting in my announcement
I love my Juneau Empire. I have been a subscriber for more than 45 years. Recently I needed to place a public service announcement in the paper and had trouble sending it to the Empire via the Internet. So on Wednesday I brought in a "hard copy" of the Gathering of Women and Girls announcement for the events calender. Obviously that was too late for the column (I thought it was on Friday), but lo and behold there it was in the Around Town column the very next day. You simply didn't fail me. Thank you. Our gathering was a resounding success and an uplifting experience thanks to you.

Fish & Game celebrates recycling
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game recently organized a "Go Green or Get Pinched" recycling celebration that coincided with St. Patrick's Day. The purpose for the department-wide events were to raise awareness of ADF&G's new recycling efforts at their Headquarters and Region 1 offices.

Wehnes, Welch to wed
Yvonne Wehnes, of Sitka, and Sean Welch, of Manteca, Calif., will marry at 3 p.m. April 11, 2010 at 5310 Glacier Highway. A reception will follow at 4:30 p.m. at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School commons.

Brennan, Seris wed
Caryl Brennan, of Oakdale, Calif., and Dave Seris, of Greeley, Colo., were married March 24, 2010, at the Columns Hotel in New orleans, La. A reception followed.

FYI
Births

Celebrating the ordinary
There's a Christmas story about a little girl who wishes it would be Christmas every day. Her wish comes true, but after a few days of eating huge feasts over and over again, getting presents over and over again, and wearing elaborate party dresses each and every day, she realizes that what makes a holiday so much fun is that it is special.

Recognitions
Army Maj. Russell M. Price, the son of Mary A. Price of Haines, returned to Fort Richardson in Anchorage after being deployed to Afghanistan for one year. The soldier is one of 3,500 members of the 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division stationed at Fort Richardson. Airborne combat team members included soldiers assigned to one of six battalions and regiments of the 25th Infantry Division.

Photo: Kicking butt
Juneau-Douglas High School juniors, clockwise from left, Courtney Reeves, Kayla Erickson, Alina Sellers, April Conway and James Bryan, pose Thursday at their Kick Butts Day booth outside the Gold Medal Tournament at JDHS. In a rally against tobacco, the students displayed a body bag to represent the number of people who die from tobacco-related illnesses.

My Turn: Google R&D in Juneau
On March 16, the Federal Communications Commission unveiled the National Broadband Plan in response to Congress' recognition that high-speed internet connectivity is critical to our nation's competitiveness and that the "... United States is behind many advanced countries in the adoption of such technology."

Alaska editorial: Predator control must be well-managed
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game's wolf control program is controversial enough without killing collared wolves from packs being studied by the National Park Service.

Alaska editorials: Public use bill needs action
Many people tend to work better under deadline, and legislators are no exception. They have a small but important task to complete by the mid-April end-of-session deadline - the renewal of the Goldstream Public Use Area.

Outside editorial: Republicans chose politics over substance
The health care reform debate over the last year has been more about politics than policy, so it's not surprising that Republicans used the latest round - the Senate vote on a proposed reconciliation bill - to tee up talking points instead of trying to improve the newly enacted reforms. Nevertheless, the episode was disappointing in its cynicism. Given an opportunity to shore up weaknesses in the new law, Republicans sought to render it unworkable or force Democrats to cast votes that could be caricatured on the campaign trail.

Vanquishing violence is a matter of respect
Alaska is a land of extremes, end-of-the spectrum qualifications by which we identify ourselves, and terms by which others know us.

Stepping away from blame
Hi, boys and girls! As a public service, I've prepared the following statement for Republican leaders to use when some disgruntled opponent of health care reform injures somebody - or worse. Given recent reports of threats against Democratic lawmakers in the wake of last week's historic vote, that moment has come to feel inevitable.

My turn: Don't trade honor for politics
Recently, after reading that President Obama managed to change Ohio Sen. Dennis Kucinich's "no" vote on the president's health care bill, I again marveled at the "politics as usual" aspects of this current administration.

Toe toon

Alaska troopers grab suicidal man on bridge
FAIRBANKS - Alaska State Troopers said they held onto a suicidal man through a chain link fence for half an hour to keep him from plunging into the Chena River.

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.

Soldotna woman killed on Seward Highway
ANCHORAGE - A 21-year-old Soldotna woman has been identified as the victim in a fatal crash on the Seward Highway.

Anti-coal groups target Healy plant's debt
FAIRBANKS - Groups opposed to the restarting of an inactive coal plant in Healy are expressing fiscal concerns.

House deems May motorcycle and motor scooter month
JUNEAU - The House passed legislation deeming May "Motorcycle and Motor Scooter Awareness Month" in Alaska.

Begich amendment allows state to supplement Medicare
JUNEAU - A sleeper amendment in the federal health care bill gives states like Alaska the option of supplementing federal Medicare payments to physicians and other health care providers.

Ice Classic ice more than 50 inches thick
FAIRBANKS - The deadline to buy and enter tickets for the Nenana Ice Classic is fast approaching.

Fairbanks woman gets 3 years for crime spree
FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks woman pleaded guilty for her role in a crime spree she says she doesn't remember.

83-year-old man dies in Anchorage trailer fire
ANCHORAGE - An 83-year-old has died in a trailer fire in South Anchorage.

Nunam Iqua woman accused of attacking mom with ulu
NUNAM IQUA - A woman has been accused of attacking her mother with an ulu knife in the village of Nunam Iqua, which is on a south fork of the Yukon River, 500 miles northwest of Anchorage.

DEC to monitor Chukchi Sea water quality
ANCHORAGE - The state Department of Environmental Conservation will receive $2.25 million in federal revenue sharing to monitor water quality off northwest Alaska.

Alaska sues fast ferry contractor
ANCHORAGE - The state of Alaska has filed a lawsuit against the contractor responsible for the design and construction of the fast ferries Fairweather and Chenega.

Second person indicted in Goldstream killing
FAIRBANKS - A grand jury has indicted two people - one secretly - in connection with a fatal shooting in the Goldstream area this month.

Woman's body found in Anchorage Park Strip
ANCHORAGE - Police found a full bottle of vodka with the body of a woman discovered on the Delaney Park Strip in Anchorage.

Man sentenced for sexually abusing foster child
SOLDOTNA - A Soldotna man has been sentenced to prison for sexually abusing a foster child.

More PFD donors picking to click and give
ANCHORAGE - Nearly 7,900 Alaskans have agreed to donate all or part of their Permanent Fund dividend to charity this year through the Pick-Click-Give program.

Small earthquake felt in Anchorage
ANCHORAGE - A small earthquake rumbled the Prince William Sound area and was felt in Anchorage.

Woods resigns from Board of Fisheries
ANCHORAGE - A member of the Alaska Board of Fisheries has resigned after less than a year on the board.

Anchorage assault conviction in 3-strikes case
ANCHORAGE - Police say a robbery and assault conviction in Anchorage is the first "three strikes" case in the city.

Ex-soldier accepts plea in child porn case
FAIRBANKS - A former Fort Wainwright soldier accepted a plea agreement in which he will spend three years in prison for possessing child pornography.

Man's body found in mall trash bin
ANCHORAGE - The body of a man has been found in a trash bin at Anchorage's largest mall.

Klawock masters Hoonah to win M bracket crown
Hoonah had the speed and quickness but in the end, the size and experience of Klawock paid off in its 89-76 victory in the M Bracket championship game of the 64th Annual Juneau Lions Club Gold Medal Tournament at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Kake stops Sitka for C title
The old adage 'Defense wins championships' could not ring more true than it did in the C Bracket championship game Saturday evening at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Angoon holds off Haines rally for B Bracket championship
It's been 32 years, but Angoon is once again the B Bracket champion of the Gold Medal Tournament after holding on for a 104-96 victory in Saturday's finale over Haines at Juneau-Douglas High School.

Legislators look for path to cheap in-state gas line
Some Alaska legislators are promising big things by developing Alaska's natural gas for use by its citizens, but Gov. Sean Parnell and others are warning that such hopes may be overblown.

Pastor helps teens take flight
A rural Alaska pastor is on a mission to produce pilots and flight mechanics in a region where jobs are scarce and people fly everywhere.

Ketchikan truck tips with worker in bucket
KETCHIKAN - A Ketchikan Public Utilities worker went for a wild ride as he serviced power lines.

Maniilaq's hospital wing waits for state
ANCHORAGE - The Northwest Arctic regional health organization Maniilaq is facing a tough decision in coming weeks about the future of its partially completed long-term care and elder nursing wing at the Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue.

Lawmakers: Cut cruise head tax
Supporters of Gov. Sean Parnell's plan to roll back cruise ship head taxes say they doubt the taxes make much difference in visitors' travel decisions, but they still want a head tax reduction.

Retiring UA president doubts gas pipeline
FAIRBANKS - University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton has little hope for a major North Slope natural gas pipeline - something many Alaskans view as an economic savior.

Alaska considers US push to boost school standards
ANCHORAGE - Should Alaska's kindergartners be expected to learn to count to 20 or 100?

Much of pipeline project money restored in budget
Gov. Sean Parnell scored a win Friday, with a Senate committee restoring most of the $17 million he'd wanted for the upcoming fiscal year for work related to a natural gas pipeline.

Soldiers' return jolts Fairbanks economy
FAIRBANKS - The return of more than 4,000 soldiers from a yearlong deployment to Iraq has provided a needed boost to the Fairbanks economy.

Mine loses battle over pollution permit
ANCHORAGE - Alaska Natives living in two villages have won a battle against the world's largest zinc mine over a permit they said would have polluted an important fish stream that provides food and drinking water.

Photo: Catchin' some wind
Tyler Bidwell, left, and Jason Brooks snowkite across Rahoi Lake in Fairbanks. There usually is not enough wind in Fairbanks to generate much interest in the sport. The two have been out each evening this week taking advantage of the March winds.

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