Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Assembly asks ships to stay longer

JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly approved a resolution Monday urging cruise ships to extend evening hours at port.

The resolution came at the request of Galligaskins owner Rod Swope, who said his businesses has been hurt by cruise ships leaving town earlier in the evening. He said cruise hours changed after a head tax on passengers was put in place.

"Evenings are a very important time for business," he said.

Larry Spencer said fewer evening hours have hurt businesses that cater to crew members. He said a reduction in evening hours was one reason the Penthouse, a downtown dance club, closed. Spencer owns and manages the Senate Office Building, which housed the club.

Assembly member Marc Wheeler said the resolution put him ill at ease.

"I feel like we're playing into power politics. We pass the head tax, they reduce their hours. ... I hate to see us acknowledge punitive measures," he said.

Assembly member Ken Koelsch said tourism-related businesses bring in sales tax and employ young people. The resolution wasn't a response to punitive measures, he said.

"Vitality has been taken away from downtown at night," he said.

Kirby Day, director of shore operations for Princess Cruises and Tours in Alaska, said the cruise lines did not intend to hurt local businesses when they cut evening hours. He said the resolution was positive step, and his company would try to make changes this summer.

Health officials attack soft drinks

ANCHORAGE - Alaska Native health officials declared war on soda pop Monday, launching an effort to reduce what they describe as rampant overconsumption that is rotting the teeth of Native children.

The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, which provides health services to more than 110,000 Alaska Natives, said it will start by asking vendors at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage to stock their machines with healthier alternatives such as juice and water. The consortium will also ask store managers for their cooperation, said spokeswoman Joaqlin Estus.

The consortium is fighting an uphill battle, said Rowena Mandanas, a dentist with the Norton Sound Health Corp. Soda machines are in all the schools, she said. "I've had to pull permanent teeth out of 6-year-olds because of tooth decay," Mandanas said.

Aggravating the problem are contracts between Alaska schools and soft drink companies giving them exclusive rights to sell their products in the school buildings, said Michael Lengenfelder, president of the Alaska School Food Service Association.

The National Soft Drink Association did not immediately return calls for comment. The association's Web site says it supports new research that "confirms the soft drink industry position that soft drinks do not cause increased dental cavities in children or young adults."

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