Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Health care reform is beneficial spending
I would like to offer a context for the economic and human impact of the health care reform legislation characterized by Gov. Sean Parnell as "forcing" people into a health care plan they don't want, and that the country can't afford ("State AG reviewing health care legislation," March 23).

Board of Game needs more oversight
Barring a completely new administration, wildlife management in Alaska is in desperate need of greater legislative oversight for appointments to boards, commissioners and wildlife policy decision-making. Although such legislative power exists, it hasn't been used enough or effectively. It is time for legislators to step up their role of providing such oversight.

Trustees for Alaska harm Native villages
Successful tribal communities recognize that each member who claims to speak on behalf of that community do nothing but harm that community.

Think before undoing daylight savings time
House Bill 19, a bill to repeal daylight savings time in Alaska, is rapidly moving through the Senate. It quietly passed the House at the end of the last session. It may sound harmless, but think for a minute about what this really means for Juneau.

State employees plead for retirement changes
Public employees who want the state to return to a traditional pension plan told concerned legislators Monday that Alaska will face a troubled future as it begins to lose its trained workforce.

Halibut opening a wild ride
Commercial fishermen and local processors report a rocky start to the halibut season, with prices for fresh fish soaring to all-time highs, then softening under pricing resistance.

Clarification
An A1 story in Monday's Empire should have specified that while members of the Young Democrats are generally aged between 18 and 35, members of Drinking Liberally, groups of young progressives that gather in bars to socialize and talk politics, must be 21 or older.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

State encourages schools to publicize US Census
JUNEAU - 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 907-465-2439 orIngrid.zaruba@alaska.gov.

2 reappointed to Postsecondary Commission
JUNEAU - Milton B. Byrd and Rebecca L. Huggins were reappointed to the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. The 14-member commission administers state student loan programs, and authorizes new facilities and programs for higher education in Alaska.

Deadline looms to support grant for Abreu Fellows
JUNEAU - The Abreu Fellows - postgraduate musicians, including Juneau teacher Lorrie Heagy - are in the running for a $250,000 grant from Pepsi. They have applied as a group and will split the money between their nine programs, leaving $25,000 to fund a 2010-2011 Abreu Fellow.

Montessori Borealis program hosts meetings
JUNEAU - For parents interested in enrolling their child in the free JSD Montessori Borealis Public program, two public information meetings will be held March 30 and April 15 at 6 p.m. in the Marie Drake building, located next to Harborview School.

Governor appoints several to Libraries Council
JUNEAU - Gov. Sean Parnell has appointed Nancy L. Bertels, Mary Jo Joiner and Arthur L. Walters, and reappointed Barbara M. Kreher and Kathryn J. Martin-Albright, to the Advisory Council on Libraries. The 12-member council advises the Alaska State Library Administration on the federal Library Services and Technology Act plan for the state, and on the development and evaluation of library services throughout Alaska.

United Way offers diversity workshop
JUNEAU - Racism was identified as a community issue in the Compass II survey conducted through United Way of Southeast Alaska.

State sues over fast-ferry flaws
Alaska is suing the manufacturer of its troubled fast ferries, which have been plagued by engine troubles and other breakdowns since joining the fleet in 2004 and 2005.

Icicle Seafoods donates $200,000 to UA
JUNEAU - Icicle Seafoods made a third donation of $200,000 in support of programs and scholarships at several University of Alaska campuses. The donation includes $85,000 to UAA's Institute of Social and Economic Research for the Icicle Fisheries Fund.

Accredited summer camps offered at Challenger Learning Center
JUNEAU - The Challenger Learning Center of Alaska is offering residential and non-residential summer camps for kids entering 1st through 12th grades.

Historical Records Board adds three
JUNEAU - Gov. Sean Parnell appointed Bridget J. Burke, and reappointed Zachary Jones and Laura Samuelson, to the State Historical Records Advisory Board. The board, with at least nine members, is responsible for reviewing grant requests from historical, archival, research, governmental and academic organizations, and helps plan for statewide records management needs.

Parnell names two to Workforce Investment Board
JUNEAU - Gov. Sean Parnell has appointed Ken J. Peltier and Pearl A. Strub to the Alaska Workforce Investment Board. The board develops and manages a comprehensive state human resource investment system, and promotes an efficient integrated system of employment education and training programs to help provide Alaskans the skills necessary to thrive in the state's evolving economy.

Annual travel fair slated for April 10
JUNEAU - The eighth annual Juneau Travel Fair will be held April 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Nugget Mall.

POW residents get second chance to speak on lands bill
Residents in small communities on northern Prince of Wales Island get a second chance Wednesday to voice their opinions on the Sealaska Lands Bill.

Photos: Legislative building dedication
Unveiling: Dean Williams and Caleb Stewart unveil a plaque in front of friends and family during Monday's dedication of the Thomas B. Stewart Legislative Office Building. A new committee room was also dedicated to William Beltz in the new building.

Sealaska announces distribution
JUNEAU - Sealaska Corp. announced a distribution to be paid to tribal member shareholders on April 9.

Photos: Trumpeter swan sighting

Fastenal opens Juneau location
National industrial supplier Fastenal will open a store in Lemon Creek next month.

First Friday art projects at Yaakoosge
Students at Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School are participating in this week's First Friday with murals, carvings, digital art, drama and more.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

Photo: Seasonal diving
A pair of mallard ducks enjoy a springtime swim and feed in waters near the Mendenhall Glacier on Sunday. Mallards mate seasonally and not always with the same partner or for life.

Paying for affairs
The following editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times:

Spring cleaning in Juneau is not for the faint of heart
They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but to me, this is an inapt metaphor. For one, lionizing a March as tame as 2010 has delivered a real slap in the face to the entire Panthera genus. Well, except maybe for that neutered, drugged-out lion they keep in the lobby of the MGM Grand Las Vegas, but even he'll maul a flamboyant Austrian trainer from time to time.

Sever all ties with TransCanada
In July 2001, I drove my rental car into the village of Little Buffalo, capital of the Lubicon Cree Indian Nation in the vast boreal forest of northern Alberta. They fed me lunch and never gave me a bill. Elder Renee Jobin gave me a tour of their lands. I met Chief Bernard Ominayak. And I learned of a nation under siege.

Outside editorial: More repression in Cuba
The following editorial appeared in the Miami Herald:

Why don't Republicans speak against hatred?
I was 15 years old the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. I was 19 when Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in Memphis, and 20 when Bobby Kennedy was shot in Los Angeles.

Outside editorial: End Haiti's despair
In March 1983, Pope John Paul II delivered a moving sermon in Haiti. Denouncing the "division, injustice, excessive inequality, degradation, misery, hunger and fear" he found in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, the pontiff made an impassioned plea for change.

Democrats should just call socialism what it is
I'm proud to hear that Sen. Max Baucus has finally come out with his admittance that the health care bill was about redistributing the wealth. Finally, it's out.

Scholar accused of fraud to change plea
ANCHORAGE - A former beauty queen and academic scholar accused of getting two Social Security numbers to obtain large student loans is changing her plea.

Johansen: Energy tax overhaul doubtful
JUNEAU - House Majority Leader Kyle Johansen doubts there's enough interest to overhaul Alaska's oil and gas production tax.

Avalanche slows traffic on Seward Highway
ANCHORAGE - The state Department of Transportation said an avalanche hit Alaska Railroad tracks along the Seward Highway at Mile 85.

House passes supplemental spending bill
JUNEAU - A $1.7 billion supplemental spending bill has passed the state House.

Fairbanks man accused of raping passed-out woman
FAIRBANKS - A Fairbanks man has been accused of raping a passed-out intoxicated woman on a downtown street.

Senators propose own head tax bill
JUNEAU - A Senate panel is proposing its own version of a reduction in Alaska's cruise ship passenger head tax.

Anchorage lags in mailing census forms
ANCHORAGE - The U.S. Census Bureau says Anchorage is lagging behind the rest of the country in mailing back census forms.

CSU campus in uproar over Palin's upcoming visit
TURLOCK, Calif. - The California State University, Stanislaus campus is in an uproar over Sarah Palin's scheduled visit to the school's 50th anniversary celebration.

Scientist marks 50 years of federal service
ANCHORAGE - Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are commending a Juneau scientist for 50 years in federal fisheries research.

Man draws 10-year sentence
ANCHORAGE - A 53-year-old Anchorage man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in connection with a federal weapons possession case.

Corporate campaigning bill bound for Senate
JUNEAU - The Senate Finance Committee has passed legislation aimed at addressing corporate campaigning in Alaska.

Historical group takes steps to protect dunes
KENAI - Sand dunes at the mouth of the Kasilof River may get help from an unusual source.

Repeat eluder sentenced to 9 years
ANCHORAGE - A man whom prosecutors say bragged about his skill at eluding Anchorage police has been sentenced to nine years and four months in prison.

Soldotna council mulls library funding
KENAI - The Soldotna City Council has approved an ordinance that would allow it to issue up to $2 million in general obligation bonds to help pay for an expansion of the public library.

Alaska shines in multi-state seafood investigation
JUNEAU - The National Conference on Weights and Measures announced the findings of a voluntary multi-state investigation Monday, revealing significant overcharges due to incorrect package weights on some frozen seafood products.

Palin backs Ward in Idaho's 1st DC race
BOISE, Idaho - Republican congressional contender Vaughn Ward has won an endorsement from a former vice presidential nominee.

State removes seniors from North Pole home
FAIRBANKS - The mayor of North Pole disagrees with the state's abrupt decision to close a local assisted-living center.

Marine from Aniak found dead
ANCHORAGE - A marine from the community of Aniak in western Alaska who was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California has died.

Photo: 2010 BANTAM STATE TOURNAMENT
The Juneau-Douglas Ice Association Black Bears took second place in the 2010 Bantam Tier III State Tournament in Anchorage during the weekend of March 19-22.

Photo: Taku Oil wins Masters championship
This photo was taken March 17 at the conclusion of the Masters Basketball Association season. Four teams of Juneau residents make up the league for players 45 and older, with a 30-game season and a "Final Four" tournament. Taku Oil won the league championship and the tournament. The players pictured front row first from left are: Remond Henderson, Mike Bavard, Steve Houlihan, Kevin Casperson. Row two from left: Chris Carson, Roger Calloway, Steve Rice, Jeff Hansen and John Greely. Not pictured: Dale Hicks, Bruce Scandling, Mark Heard, Steve Bavard and Tom Findley.

State to repay debt to itself
A combination of high oil prices and spending restraint has Alaska poised this year to do what few thought possible - repay billions the Legislature borrowed from the Constitutional Budget Reserve in recent years.

Vandal smashes window at Democrat headquarters
ANCHORAGE - A vandal smashed a window at the headquarters of the Alaska Democratic Party, and party officials suspect the incident is tied to violence that hit other offices following the health care vote in Congress.

Photo: Transferring the catch
Crew of the seiner Jean C. transfer their catch to a tender during the second opening of the Sitka Sound sac roe herringfishery Saturday near Middle Island in Sitka, Alaska. The seine fleet brought in an estimated 3,500 tons of herring, bringing the catch total to around 9,300 tons in the fishery, which has a guideline harvest level of 18,000 tons this year. Processors are paying $550 per ton of fish.

Rep. Austerman: 'Worst thing' state did was scrap income tax
Scrapping the individual income tax was the "worst thing" Alaska ever did, state Rep. Alan Austerman said Monday.

UAA researcher leads probe of contaminant
ANCHORAGE - A University of Alaska Anchorage researcher is leading a study into the effect of a chemical contaminant.

State lawmakers doubt chances for scholarship plan
A key piece of Gov. Sean Parnell's legislative agenda appears in jeopardy, with leading lawmakers casting doubt on the prospects for his $400 million merit scholarship program moving forward this session.

State pushing to prepare workers for gas line jobs
ANCHORAGE - When a North Slope natural gas pipeline is built, Alaska wants state workers on the job instead of too many nonresidents.

Interior Department nears offshore drilling decision
ANCHORAGE - The Interior Department is ready to announce its analysis and review of defects in a program covering lease sales off much of Alaska's coastline, including arctic waters, according to a legal filing Tuesday.

Senate passes state operating budget
With Senate passage Tuesday of an $8.1 billion state operating budget, attention is shifting to what could be a more controversial spending plan - that for capital projects.

Welding lights a spark for Palmer students
PALMER - Sparks fly when Josh Ray's around.

Woman, 60, proves not too late to graduate
KENAI - At 60 years of age, Denniece, "Miss Dee Dee," Lofgren, and her husband, William, are living the pioneers' dream in Alaska in a somewhat less-than-usual kind of way.

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