State and local briefly

Posted: Sunday, April 09, 2000

Insurance levels higher than reported

JUNEAU - The state Division of Public Health says Alaska Natives have a higher rate of health insurance than indicated by a recent national report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, referred to in an article in the April 2 Empire, said 33.5 percent of Alaska Natives reported having no health care coverage, while 18.4 percent of whites had none.

Patty Owen, health program manager with the Division of Public Health, said the rate is actually higher. ``We consider Alaska Native services as health care services. Technically Indian health care service is not health insurance, but it is health care,'' Owen said.

In all, 9 percent of Alaska Natives report no health care coverage and 16 percent of non-Natives report no health care coverage in the 1997 survey - for a state total of 15.2 percent, she said.

Tour owner accused of worker fraud

JUNEAU - A Juneau tour owner suspected of bilking tourists has been charged with bilking employees.

Martin B. ``Ben'' Goenett, owner of Northgate Tours & Cruises, has been charged with 97 counts of wage and hour violations by the state Department of Labor.

``The charges range from labor violations involving minors to failure to pay wages to ignoring subpoenas,'' said Lynda Giguere, communications coordinator with the Juneau office of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. ``We chose to press charges because he was totally uncooperative.''

``Charges were actually filed Oct. 20 when we didn't know where he was,'' said Giguere. Goenett was located in Anchorage last week and arrested. He is now free on bail, Giguere said.

Preliminary figures show $7,000 in unpaid wages, but there will be about $15,000 in penalties added to that amount, Giguere said. These figures are based on the ``incomplete records'' provided by the Goenett, she added.

Goenett's trial is set for June 13.

Grant will help preserve Native films

FAIRBANKS - The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded the University of Alaska Fairbanks a $70,000 grant to help preserve old films documenting Alaska Natives, their activities and their settings.

The university's grant was one of 295 such awards totaling some $30.5 million. The UAF award includes $10,000 in one-to-one matching money and will be used to preserve and catalog 132 reels of film dating from 1927 to 1965.

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