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Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2004

KINY to broadcast fluoride discussion

Juneau - Coast To Coast, a radio program on KINY AM 800, will feature a segment on fluoride at 9 tonight.

Guest host is Lynne McTaggart, an investigative journalist and editor of the newsletter, "What Doctors Don't Tell You." She will discuss the "potential dangers of fluoride use that have been ignored by health professionals," according to the radio program website.

Free health screenings at Centennial Hall

JUNEAU - The Juneau Public Health Fair will offer free health screenings this week, including a body fat analysis, height and weight measures, vision, glaucoma, and foot and ankle screenings, blood pressure checks, hearing tests and more.

A complete blood chemistry profile, along with prostate and thyroid tests, are available for a nominal fee. The blood chemistry test requires 12 hours of fasting but participants can drink water. Diabetics should not fast. Prescription medications should be continued unless otherwise recommended by a participant's physician.

The fair will be held 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Centennial Hall. For more information, call 790-4072 or visit www.healthfair.ak.org.

The event is a collaborative effort of Alaska Health Fair Inc., Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Bartlett Regional Hospital and Curves for Women.

Graduation test faces legislative review

JUNEAU - Lawmakers will begin hearings this week on legislation that could address complaints that Alaska's graduation test discriminates against students with disabilities.

Sen. Lyda Green, R-Wasilla, is backing a bill that would provide another option for students with diagnosed learning disabilities who have not been able to pass the exam.

This is the first year passage of the reading, writing and math test will be required to receive a high school diploma.

"I see kind of a crisis or a train wreck coming here, and I want to avoid that," Green said. "For this discrete population, this needs to be looked at again and another method devised for testing these students."

Green is co-chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, a position that gives her considerable clout in the Legislature.

Earlier this year about 600 high school seniors still had not passed all three parts of the test. Results are not in from the latest administration of the test in February.

A proposed class action lawsuit was filed earlier this month by a California-based nonprofit law firm on behalf of Alaska students with disabilities, charging that the exam puts them at a disadvantage.

Stephen Tollafield, a staff attorney with Disability Rights Advocates, said Green's bill would address some concerns raised in the lawsuit because it gives students "meaningful access" to an alternative way to show their academic achievement.

But the bill does not address all the concerns raised in the lawsuit, he said. Tollafield contends students with disabilities should not be required to first take and fail the regular exam before they are allowed another option.

House nixes bid to arm child support workers

JUNEAU - A proposal to allow child support workers who investigate "deadbeat" parents to carry weapons was rejected by the state House on Monday.

Investigators with the state Child Support Enforcement Division already have limited police powers and at times wear bulletproof vests, supporters said.

"We are sending them into very high-risk situations," said Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage. "I think it is inappropriate to say you can't have a weapon, even for defense."

The Alaska Legislature has a "pro-gun" reputation and approved a bill last year to allow Alaskans to carry concealed weapons without a permit.

But House lawmakers from both sides of the aisle cringed at this proposal.

"We are talking about arming somebody with a firearm to go collect money," said Rep. Jim Holm, R-Fairbanks, who voted against the measure.

The House rejected the amendment proposed by Croft by a 15-24 vote. Six Democrats voted for the proposal and 18 Republicans voted against it.

Fairbanks woman sues over pipeline easement

FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks woman has filed a federal lawsuit contending the trans-Alaska oil pipeline trespasses on her property because an easement expired in January.

Shirley Butler says the agreement she made in 1981 granting the pipeline permission to cross her land was separate from the 1974 easement and therefore not covered in the pipeline renewal issued a year ago.

Attorneys for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which maintains the pipeline, said Butler's grant was an amendment to the original agreement and falls within the renewal.

But Bill Satterberg and John Athens, who represent Butler, argue that the 60-year-old woman's land doesn't fall within this new agreement and her easement expired Jan. 22.



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