Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Can cuts to veterans' benefits be criticized?
I am strongly dismayed by Rep. Bob Lynn's (R-Eagle River) claims that denouncing Bush is the same as denouncing the troops. ("Juneau rallies in support," March 30) Bush's choices have already directly led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, American and otherwise.

Chit chat down at the imperial garage
Brother, we sure havin' a hell of a time fixin' axles of evil lately. Them confounded mechanics, Dickie and Donnie, said no sweat. Truth is those danged axles come in metric and we usin' "Made in America" tools that just don't fit, know what I mean.

Hiding behind the pen
I was surfing the Web looking for something inspirational dealing with the support of our troops in Iraq to use in an employee newsletter. I cannot express to you how incredibly sad (not to mention furious) I was and am to find the letter, "Supporting our troops like supporting LAPD" (Empire, March 26).

Be quiet, grateful
I understand that the Iraqi people have a right to "chose" the way they live without foreign intervention but what "choice" have they really had?

Teens kick butts
More than 425,000 people in the United States will die this year from a tobacco-related disease. On April 2, "Kick Butts Day," kids from Juneau-Douglas High School are taking a stand to stop youth from getting hooked on deadly tobacco products. We know that 90 percent of smokers started using tobacco regularly at or before 19 years of age.

Responding to an inane letter
Congratulations Patrick McGonegal - you've accomplished what no other letter writer has in the last two decades or so: You peeved me enough to respond to your inane letter. In labeling Americans in uniform as "criminals" by their involvement in the current conflict in Iraq, you are "walking on the fighting side of me" to badly paraphrase a country tune. Being the peaceful-type of guy that I am, I'd gladly settle for a debate of these issues any time, any place, any stage or forum fully knowing that I'd be reducing myself, intellectually to the level of the truly clueless.

Wonderful, selfless gift
I have never been so proud of my community, or felt so completely connected to my community, as I did Friday at the rally for our troops. These are troubled times, and folks are rightly stirred to their very souls. Good people, thoughtful people have greatly different views on the war in Iraq.

Critical thinking requires courage
Richard Schmitz's recent characterization of liberal arts college faculty as "Bad Fairies" (My Turn, March 30) begs a response. As one of these so-called "Bad Fairies" myself, I might be able to shed a ray of light on one of the goals of a liberal arts education, a goal that is sometimes feared and misunderstood. That goal is critical thinking. This is not thinking that is by nature negative; it is thinking that attempts to close in on truth.

Following in the footsteps of Lincoln, not Rep. Lynn
It is Sunday evening, and your report of last Friday's rally in support of U.S. troops in Iraq has been on my mind all day. I did not attend the rally - at the time I was caring for the young child of a friend who did attend. The rally an opportunity for us to gather together to express our support for the men and women who put their lives at risk when ordered into battle. These men and women deserve our respect and our prayers for a safe return to their families. I feel this way even though I believe this war at this time is a colossal mistake with unimaginable and unnecessary human and political costs.

Thinking provoked
Please continue to publish all points of view. That is what the United States and the free press is about. In fact, it is what our military are giving their lives for, the freedom to disagree and all the other freedoms our democracy gives us. We have the freedom to be wrong, the freedom to say what we think about what our government is doing and we have the freedom to not let it bother us if it says something we don't like. Until we learn to listen to what opposite opinions have to say, we will never learn and will just remain in our own little stiff worlds. Thanks for printing such thought-provoking letters with different opinions.

Fables can't hide facts
"Once upon a time there were three bears..." Wait. Maybe there were four. Or were they little pigs? Hmmm. Oh, well. At least they all lived happily ever after. Unfortunately, their happy existence didn't come without a fight. It took a firm action against that big bad wolf to keep him out of Grandma's house. And whether the fable's author used twenty-dollar words to assure the reader of his superior knowledge of syntax and vocabulary or the simple grammar of children's prose, there is no way he can hide the fact that a struggle had taken place and casualties ensued.

Services set for Kenai Superior Court judge
Superior Court Judge Jonathan H. "Jon" Link, 59, died March 25 at Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna, after a short illness. A former sergeant with the U.S. Army posted at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, he was appointed to the Superior Court bench in Kenai by Gov. Steve Cowper in 1990, a position he held until his death.

Ocean Beauty to purchase fish plant
Ocean Beauty Seafoods plans to buy the Wards Cove fish-processing plant in Excursion Inlet, about 40 miles west of Juneau. The companies are in the process of finalizing the sale. If the sale is completed, the facility will operate during the 2003 season, company officials said. Tony Ross, spokesman for Ocean Beauty, would not comment further on the sale.

Planners of new school rethink union labor
Juneau's proposed Mendenhall Valley high school can be built on time and within budget, according to a recent professional review of its design. But reviewers said significant money might be saved if the city doesn't require all-union labor.

Body found in Tenakee
Search and rescue teams found a body in Tenakee Springs today, but town and law-enforcement officials will not say if the remains are of a Juneau woman who went missing last week. Teams of Tenakee residents have been searching since Friday for Margaret "Maggie" Wigen, 19, who last was seen walking with her dog on a trail leading into Tenakee around 3 p.m. Wednesday. The dog wandered into town Friday without Wigen.

AroundTown
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Stow your trash carefully: The bears are back in town
With the first bears of the season out and about in Juneau, state and local officials are stepping up trash education efforts. Neighbors reported a large bear in the Lemon Creek area last week and Juneau Police Department Community Service Officer Bob Dilley said he's seen signs of bruins getting into garbage in town. He's been writing trash tickets all winter.

Search called off for missing Juneau woman
Alaska State Troopers on Sunday suspended their search for a 19-year-old former Juneau woman who was reported missing Friday in Tenakee Springs, about 50 miles southwest of Juneau. But residents said today they are continuing to search for the missing woman.

Rally from illness
Juneau-Douglas High School musicians rallied from a gut-wrenching illness to score well Saturday at a music festival in Florida. The 38 students who traveled as the Festival Band to the Heritage Music Festival in Orlando scored the highest of three bands that participated, said officials from WorldStrides, the company that ran the event.

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

Correction
Due to a photographer's error, the name of a woman shown in Sunday's Empire holding a U.S. flag outside the Capitol was misspelled.

Panel to review no-dog trail plan
The new Rainforest Trail will be off-limits to dogs starting May 1, according to the city's Parks and Recreation Department. The city is implementing the change to protect wildlife and habitat, according Parks and Rec. The city trail, which is near Outer Point off of North Douglas Highway, opened in summer 2001.

This Day in History
In 1914, A meeting of the Juneau Draper Club decided to establish a public library.

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

United Way falls $120,000 short of goal for last year
The United Way of Southeast Alaska fell almost $120,000 short of its $600,000 fund-raising goal for 2002, leaving the nonprofit organizations it funds facing some "very hard times" in the months ahead, said Marsha Riley, outgoing executive director of the agency.

Capstone safety program takes flight in Southeast Alaska
L.A.B. Flying Service chief pilot Chuck Thompson and company operations director Lynn Bennett landed an aviation first when they flew a Seneca Piper II from Anchorage to Juneau on Friday. Two new computer screens in the cockpit and satellite-based technology helped guide the plane through Alaska's skies. The first-of-its-kind system, part of the Federal Aviation Administration's Capstone program, fared well in a typical tour of Southeast weather, Thompson said.

Child abuse awareness activities planned
On Thursday, parents in Juneau should take a walk with their kids and look at the clouds. The following Wednesday, they should tell a family story. On April 23, they should go to the public library together. Strengthening families is as simple as these and the 27 other activities listed in a family activity calendar published for the month of April by the Southeast Alaska Child Abuse Prevention Network.

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

My Turn: It's time we offered support for minimum-wage earners
Whatever our individual life circumstances may be and wherever we may find ourselves on the economic ladder, it's probably safe to assume most of us realize our income doesn't stretch as far as it used to. What may have been considered a decent wage and the beginnings of a prosperous annual family budget just a few short years ago may mean the bare necessities being met today.

My Turn: Several questions for Mr. McGonegal
OK, Pat, now its my turn. I congratulate you on at least making an attempt to do your research before you speak (The moral conundrums of attacking Iraq, Empire, March 30). On that note I ask you to do more. Here are the questions I would like you to take time to research.

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

Alaskans shut out of medals at Junior Olympics ski meet
Alaska Division skiers were shut out of the medals during two Western Region Junior Olympic ski meets that ended last week - for J-1/J-2 skiers at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., and for J-3 skiers at Big Sky Resort, Mont. The best performance of the week by an Alaskan came in a downhill training run at the J-1/J-2 meet, which Juneau Ski Club member Mark Harmon won on March 18. Harmon posted a time of 1 minute, 34.65 seconds to beat Danny Lear of the Far West Division (California) by more than a full second. Lear's time was 1:36.23. Richard Isett of Juneau took 12th place in the training run at 1:37.94.

Local Scores
The past winners of the state high school basketball championships. Before 1973, the all-Alaska basketball championships featured a best-two-games-of-three series between the Southeast and Western Alaska champions. From 1973 on, the tournament was sponsored by the Alaska School Activities Association and featured bracketed play with teams from four different regions.

Sports in Juneau
Sports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

CLASS 2A STATE BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT: Clutch basket lifts Hydaburg to state crown
Hydaburg boys basketball coach Jim Holien wasn't thrilled with the shot selection when junior George Peratrovich heaved a 3-point attempt with 48 seconds to play in Saturday night's Class 2A boys state championship game against Cook Inlet Academy.

Alaska's export revenue increases in 2002
ANCHORAGE - Alaska's export revenue for 2002 increased by $100 million over the previous year, with the state's two largest exports - minerals and seafood - showing gains. Exports as a whole saw an increase of 4 percent over 2001, rising from $2.4 billion to $2.5 billion, said Mark Edwards, an economist with the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

North Pole refinery to undergo inspection and maintenance
The Williams Alaska North Pole refinery will undergo a two-week shut down in May for a regular inspection and maintenance that could mean up to $2 million for Alaska contractors.

Photo: Training accident
Sitka Police Chief Bob Gorder looks at an overturned Public Safety Academy patrol car from his inflatable boat Sunday on Japonski Island in Sitka. A state trooper instructor drove the car over the embankment while demonstrating a high-speed maneuver.

Photo: Learning to save lives
Basic Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Instructor Kelly Leamer starts a simulated jet-engine fire during a training class Sunday in Ketchikan. Leamer and two other instructors taught a class to students from the Ketchikan Fire Department, the South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department and Ketchikan International Airport Rescue and Fire personnel as part of a mutual aid agreement between the city and the borough of Ketchikan.

Public Safety mulls agency merger
The Alaska Department of Public Safety might merge its two largest agencies. Commissioner Bill Tandeske said putting the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection under the same command as the Alaska State Troopers would eliminate some costs and improve communication between the agencies.

Man arrested for homicide in Anchorage
A 30-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the beating death of a man inside an east side Anchorage trailer over the weekend. Justin Beavers was charged with second-degree murder and was being held on $100,000 bail, Anchorage police said.

Sen. Stevens talks education
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens said he'll push for establishing regional learning centers and a statewide education standards system to help put Alaska in compliance with federal education reform laws. In an address to the state Legislature on Monday, Stevens said the No Child Left Behind Act passed by Congress in 2001 poses problems for schools in rural Alaska that have few teachers and are in communities not connected by roads.

Kodiak fisherman dies near Sitka
A Kodiak fisherman on a solo herring run apparently drowned near Sitka. Scott Maechtle, 46, was last seen leaving the Sitka harbor in his skiff at 11:30 p.m. Friday, Sitka police said. He was returning to the 115-foot fishing vessel Alicia Jean moored offshore.

Sponsor says lobbying law to undergo alteration
The sponsor of a bill to relax the state's lobbying law says he will consider the recommendations of the agency that oversees lobbying. Sen. Ralph Seekins, a Fairbanks Republican, said he plans to offer an amendment to the measure at a later hearing. Seekins is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which heard testimony on the bill Monday.

State Briefs
Murkowski declares Southcentral disaster; Soldotna restaurants go smoke-free; Funeral planned for Anchorage brothers; Air France Cargo pulls out of Fairbanks, bypassing Alaska; Congressional delegation announces new grants to Alaska; Grant to provide greater access to museum collections

Soldotna gets 8 acres from state
Soldotna just gained 8.11 acres of prime riverfront property. The city council voted last week to exercise an option to take over title of the former Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities maintenance site in the heart of town. The site is adjacent to the city's existing Soldotna Creek Park, which sits on a high bank above the Kenai River.

Sealaska seeks title to remaining ANCSA land
ANCHORAGE - Sealaska Corp. is seeking title to the remaining forest it's owed under the decades-old Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The Juneau-based regional corporation is working with the federal Bureau of Land Management to figure out exactly how much land it's entitled to.

This Day in History
In Alaska; In the nation; In the world.

University's new supercomputer lets users walk into virtual world
The Discovery Lab at the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center is opening up new ways of experiencing reality. The supercomputing center recently finished installing the lab, a Mechdyne MD Flex system, in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Rasmuson Library. The project was funded with a Next Generation Internet grant.

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