Ferries juggle schedules in June
JUNEAU - The state ferry Malaspina will be rerouted for two weeks this summer to accommodate repairs to the Columbia, officials said.
The Malaspina will start daily North Lynn Canal service on May 25 and remain on that schedule through its arrival in Juneau on May 29, when it will offload traffic and sail directly to Ketchikan. It will then sail from Ketchikan on May 30 and operate on the Columbia's schedule to Bellingham through June 13.
After offloading southbound traffic in Ketchikan on June 13, the Malaspina will go to Juneau to resume daily North Lynn Canal service on June 14.
Meanwhile, the LeConte will cancel Pelican trips on June 3 and 10 so it can provide Sunday service in North Lynn Canal. This will provide service six days a week between Juneau and Haines or Skagway.
The changes are needed because the Columbia is undergoing a $10 million electrical system replacement and passenger cabin improvements. The ship was damaged in a switchboard fire last June.
Cordova head tax recount today
JUNEAU - Cordova's election board meets today to recount the results of a March 6 cruise ship head tax election for the second time.
At last count, the $5 passenger fee was failing by one vote. Earlier last month, the tax was passing by one vote.
As part of the recount, Cordova City Clerk Dixie Lambert said the election board will look at an absentee ballot that was not counted before. She said the board will verify whether it was postmarked on the right date, received in time and whether it was properly signed and witnessed.
If the recount doesn't change the results of the election, Lambert said the tally will be the last. If the results do change, the election board automatically will have another recount. If the vote is tied, the head tax fails, she said.
Senate, House reject budgets
JUNEAU - The state House unanimously rejected the Senate's version of the operating budget Tuesday and the Senate rejected the House's spending plan.
The moves set the stage for a conference committee to begin working out differences between the two $2.2 billion packages for fiscal year 2002.
House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, an Anchorage Democrat, said anti-abortion language added to the budget by the Senate amounts to a blackmail clause that would shut down government. That measure calls for the Health and Social Services Department budget to fail if a judge rules the state must fund abortions for poor women.
Rep. Fred Dyson, an Eagle River Republican, defended the Senate's action, calling it an attempt to protect the separation of powers and the Legislature's constitutional authority to set policy.
The Senate's spending plan was voted down 34-0. Later, the Senate voted 14-6 to reject proposed House changes to the budget.
Valley skate park undergoing construction
JUNEAU - The Pipeline, the popular Mendenhall Valley skateboard park, is getting a facelift.
Christy West, recreation manager for the Juneau Parks and Recreation Department, which oversees the park, said half of the park is under construction by SimCo, which accounts for the yellow caution tapes in place and the occasional stray board with nails in it.
"We had a half pipe on one side and a street course on the other side. We are installing a bowl where the half pipe was," West said. "With skate parks, kids get tired of things. So we decided that while we were doing the final re-surfacing, we would put in a bowl some of them wanted." The resurfacing is being paid for with a grant from the Youth Activities Board, and volunteer labor is taking care of the rest, she said.
SimCo is waiting for a steel rim ordered from Seattle. When that is put into place, about two more weeks of construction will be needed. West expects the park to be open for business in full by May 1.
Police conduct 'rules of the road' classes
JUNEAU - Juneau police officers are conducting Bicycle Safety classes in local elementary schools this month.
The classes include information about bicycle helmets, lighting and reflectors, rules of the road, waiting for pedestrians, filing a trip plan and being alert for danger. Classes also will include what to do when chased by a dog.
Officers will be accompanied by Dick HofMann, a Juneau fisherman who sustained a serious head injury while riding his bicycle last summer. Doctors told HofMann that if he had been wearing a helmet, his injury would not have been life-threatening. HofMann will share his cautionary tale, stressing the importance of wearing a properly fitting, securely attached helmet.
Students can practice bicycle safety at Gear Heads' Swap and Shop, a fund-raiser sponsored by Bernie Sorenson and Jessica Menendez. The Swap and Shop is scheduled for April 14, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Glacier Valley Elementary. It features games and a bicycle rodeo.