Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, April 02, 2006

People support senior exemption

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JUNEAU - The city's senior sales tax exemption is more popular than possible alternatives, according to a member of the task force looking at options to eliminate the exemption.

About 75 people showed up to the first public hearing held Friday to discuss five proposed options, said city Assembly member Randy Wanamaker, who chairs the task force. The task force is looking at the possibilities of grandfathering eligible Juneau seniors, offering a rebate for eligible seniors, giving an exemption for low-income seniors, offering a rebate for low-income seniors, and replacing the exemption with payments to Juneau seniors. About 15 people spoke, he added.

"Most people said either go with the grandfather option or leave the exemption alone," task force member Lorilyn Swanson said. "There were people here who had signed a petition objecting to any resolution removing, or modifying the senior sales tax exemption."

Swanson, who is Juneau Committee on Aging Chairwoman, said the petition has nearly 800 names objecting to any potential change to the senior sales task exemption by the city. She said it is really important people show up for the meeting from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday in the Assembly Chambers.

Hearing requested over pesticide spraying

JUNEAU - More than 45 groups, towns and individuals asked Friday for the state to give them a hearing to contest the state's aerial pesticide spray permit for Klukwan Inc. on Long Island.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation granted Klukwan, the Haines-based Native corporation, a permit to spray pesticides on nearly 2,000 acres of its clear-cut land on March 1. The intent is to kill alder and salmonberry competing with trees.

The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council and the other groups have asked for a hearing on the basis that the DEC did not fully examine the potential effects of the chemicals, including pesticides Accord, Arsenal, and chemicals Competitor and In-place, which were added to the mixture to limit the spread of the pesticides.

The conservation council contends that DEC only examined the effects of the chemicals individually, and "not in a cocktail as Klukwan, Inc. will actually spray them." The spraying by helicopter is vigorously opposed by subsistence users of Long Island living in Hydaburg and Ketchikan.

Biologist recognized for fisheries work

JUNEAU - Juneau biologist Ben Van Alen has received a top award from the U.S. Forest Service's Alaska Region for his work in subsistence fisheries in Southeast Alaska.

Van Alen is a subsistence fisheries biologist for the Juneau and Yakutat ranger districts, as well as the Admiralty Island National Monument. He previously worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The Directors Award, given by the Wildlife, Fisheries, Ecology, Watershed and Subsistence division, is given annually to a single employee who is making significant contributions toward his or her field, community and the Alaska region's mission.

In announcing the award, division director Wini Kessler praised Van Alen for his "statistically sound" scientific projects and his extra effort to hire and train Alaska Natives and other subsistence users in fisheries projects, among numerous other contributions.

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