Northwest Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Friday, March 31, 2006

Permanent fund dividend apps due

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JUNEAU - Applications for Alaska Permanent Fund dividends are due today from any eligible state resident seeking a share of this fall's disbursement from the earnings on the state investment account.

Applications must be postmarked with today's date or hand-delivered by 5 p.m. to an Alaska Department of Revenue Permanent Fund Dividend Division office, according to the division's Web site and application booklet. Those eligible to apply online and wishing to do so must apply before midnight.

Alaskans who were residents for all of 2005 and intend to remain in the state are eligible for the 2006 dividend. Last year's dividends were $845.76 each. The state will announce the amount of this year's dividend Sept. 20 and eligible applicants will receive payment on Oct. 4 if they applied online in January for direct deposit; Oct. 19 if they applied later than January or by paper and requested direct deposit; and Nov. 14 if they requested a check instead of direct deposit.

In Juneau, the division may be reached at (907) 465-2326.

Plein Rein to hold benefit for troupe

JUNEAU - The Plein Rein painters will hold a special sale for Theatre in the Rough from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at the Juneau Arts and Humanities council gallery, 211 North Franklin St.

Half of their proceeds from the day will go to the company, which lost many of its props and costumes in the mid-March fire that destroyed Holy Trinity Church and McPhetres Hall.

Eielson Air Force Base expands exercises

FAIRBANKS - Cope Thunder training exercises held annually at Eielson Air Force Base will expand and get a new name this summer.

The exercises, which bring thousands of personnel and dozens of jets to Eielson each summer, will share the "Red Flag" label used at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

The Air Force will enhance Red Flag Alaska to provide training similar to that offered at Nellis, according to Air Force headquarters in Washington.

Details are still being developed but it appears the main difference will be the addition of a fighter squadron whose sole role will be to play the aggressor in the war games.

In the past, the aggressor role has rotated between fighter squadrons participating in the exercises, said Master Sgt. Tim Hoffman, spokesman for the Alaska Command at Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage. Hoffman said he didn't know what type of aircraft or how many would be added.

Pacific Air Forces will direct the Red Flag Alaska exercise, Hoffman said.

In past years, the Air Force has held one cooperative Cope Thunder and two or three standard Cope Thunder exercises each year.

The cooperative exercises brought about 1,200 personnel to Eielson - 750 U.S. and 450 foreign - and about 50 aircraft. The U.S.-only exercises brought about 700 people and 60 aircraft to Eielson.

Kenai residents rally to support sick child

KENAI - Kenai Peninsula residents have rallied to support a 10-year-old Kenai boy diagnosed with a rare cancer that usually strikes adults.

Blood tests indicated Gabriel Boyle had acute myeloid leukemia, a blood and bone marrow cancer characterized by a rapid, uncontrolled growth of immature white blood cells. His parents, Maureen and Mike Boyle, on March 10 rushed their son to the Seattle Children's Hospital.

AML is a rare type of leukemia most commonly found in older adults and requires high-dose treatment that results in low levels of immune cells, red blood cells and platelets.

"AML is not common in kids and it's harder to treat," Maureen Boyle said. "Treatment for AML is intense. It's not like other cancers where you get a little break between things."

Gabriel will receive treatment for at least six months, with no opportunity to return home between treatments.

Shortly after the family departed, friends began brainstorming to help the Boyles cope with the hardships.

"It's so difficult to be there and take care of your home, too," said Kimb Remsen, a close friend of Maureen's. "And they have three other sons here."

She and other concerned friends arranged to meet one day at the Sears Elementary School library to discuss their ideas. Word spread about the informal gathering. To Remsen's surprise, more than 25 people attended and offered help.

Since then, the community has pulled together to gather donations and organize a fundraiser Friday night that will feature skits and an auction.

Summer primary on tap in Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Summertime - and thoughts turn to ... voting?

Gov. Chris Gregoire on Thursday approved an August primary election for Washington, starting next year.

The legislation, which Gregoire called the most significant election-reform bill in the wake of the much-criticized gubernatorial election of 2004, moves the primary forward a full month, from the third week in September to the third Tuesday in August.

Gregoire said the state's September primary, one of the latest in the country, has disenfranchised many military and overseas voters and hasn't allowed adequate turnaround time between the primary and general elections.

"County auditors have had to struggle for decades to hold a primary election in September only to have to turn around and rush to get ready for the general election in November," the governor said at a bill-signing ceremony.

The rush may have contributed to sloppiness and errors at times, she said.

Sen. Dave Schmidt, R-Mill Creek, the prime sponsor, said auditors have only 2 1/2 weeks between certifying primary returns and getting out general election ballots to absentee voters.

Woman indicted in U. Washington arson

SEATTLE - A federal grand jury has indicted a Berkeley, Calif., woman in an arson that destroyed a horticulture center at the University of Washington five years ago.

Briana Waters, 30, is the 14th person to be charged in Oregon and Washington with conspiracy to commit a series of ecoterrorist attacks in the West in recent years.

Waters pleaded not guilty in U.S. District Court here Thursday to one count of arson and one count of using or carrying a destructive device during a violent crime. If convicted, she would face at least 35 years in prison.

"This is just one step as we attempt to bring to justice those responsible for the UW Urban Horticulture fire," U.S. Attorney John McKay said in a statement.

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