Thursday, April 17, 2003

BLM may relax drilling restrictions near NPR-A lake
ANCHORAGE - The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is hoping to loosen restrictions on oil and gas drilling in the wildlife-rich Teshekpuk Lake area. The targeted site is in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska west of Prudhoe Bay.

Telecommunications firms plan $170 million in capital spending
ANCHORAGE - Alaska's three big telecommunications companies plan to spend about $170 million on their networks this year, even as their Lower 48 counterparts are cutting back. The big spender will be Anchorage-based General Communication Inc., the state's biggest long-distance phone, Internet and cable TV company and a fast-growing player in local phone service.

No trespassing defined
It has been with great interest that I have read recent letters about having pride in our community and policing ourselves by cleaning things up to make Juneau presentable to its citizens as well as to visitors. I oversee a private facility and a road in close proximity to a public trail, which brings a lot of uninvited guests my way.

No contradiction
There is no contradiction between being anti-war and supporting the troops. The U.S. military fights to protect our freedom. An anti-war protest does not contradict the primary goal of troops (to protect our freedom), only the means by which it is accomplished (violence). Our troops actually fight for protesters'' right to protest.

Happy camper
To tell you the truth, I don't care when I get my Empire. I like it either way. It is nice to wake up in the mornings and have coffee and read the paper as it makes my day.

A good start
I oppose Bush's war... therefore, I am anti-war. But, I support our troops.

Darn good musical
"Damn Yankees," the JDHS spring musical, which just opened at the high school auditorium and runs through Saturday, is a world of fun and good music and I urge people not to miss it.

On to Damascus
To all those whiners and complainers who've been wringing their hands about the destruction over the weekend of the National Museum and National Library of Iraq - hey, there's a war on, and bad stuff happens during a war. Sure, it was a war that didn't have to happen, but we won, so quit bellyaching.

Before and after
To clarify my point in recent letters, I am not concerned with anyone's view on the war and I am not seeking to stifle debate. Right now, no matter if one is anti-war or pro-war, our troops are still fighting in Iraq, that's the bottom line.

Fire, water force residents out of downtown apartments
Tenants in 10 to 15 units of the Mendenhall Apartments were forced to find shelter Wednesday night after a fire broke out in an apartment on the 12th floor of the downtown building. All 132 units of the 12-story building were evacuated when the fire set off alarms at 6:30 p.m. The fire was contained to the living room and kitchen of apartment 1210 and no one in the building was injured, said Craig House, Juneau Fire Department station officer.

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

Hostage-taker gets month in jail, counseling
A man who held a church full of people hostage two years ago and recently threatened to leave a trail of "death and destruction from Juneau to Missouri" will spend one month in prison and up to one year in counseling. James Onstott, 63, was found guilty last week of violating the conditions of his probation, a misdemeanor. A second probation violation charge and a misdemeanor harassment charge were dismissed.

Local churches schedule Good Friday and Easter services
Most Christian denominations regard this week, Holy Week, as the most sacred time of the liturgical year, and several churches have been holding special services throughout the week.

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

Bridging the city fiscal gap
The city has filled a $2 million budget gap by paring department budgets and raising some fees. Staff members presented a $189 million draft budget for fiscal year 2004 to the Juneau Assembly on Wednesday. It includes more than $1 million in department cost savings and $190,000 in new fees. It adds funding for junk car removal, two more police officers and additional staff at the Treadwell Arena.

Van's politics draw unwelcome attention
A corporate spokesman for Fred Meyer says ex-Marine Kenn Magowan is welcome to bring his van - with its political and anti-war slogans painted on the side - to the Juneau store's parking lot and to shop inside the store anytime. Magowan says that's not the impression he got the last time he parked the van in the lot and went inside with a friend to shop.

This Day in History
In 1975, for the first time, Alaskans were able to watch live national TV news, when NBC began sending its nightly news program via satellite to Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage.

Photo: 1968 crash
A crashed Grumman Goose airplane is loaded on a barge in front of the Alaska Coastal Airlines hanger in 1968.

Photo: Building skills and houses
Owen Kelley, left, and Stephanie Hinckle show off their model house project to Stephanie's father, Steve, on Tuesday at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School. The work was the product of a five-week, model-home-building class offered to Spruce House eighth-grade math and science students.

Officials will rethink new high school timeline
City and school officials planning the Mendenhall Valley high school said Tuesday they will decide by mid-February whether construction would start in summer 2004, aiming toward an August 2006 opening. A recent professional review of the project described the design and construction schedule as tight but doable. But City Engineer Roger Healy said city staff felt it was "overly optimistic" to finish the school by summer 2006.

Photos: Topping that bonnet
Paula Alden holds onto her entry in the annual Easter bonnet contest Wednesday at the Juneau Senior Center. Alden won first prize for her "Cadbury Egg Farm" hat.

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

School Board holds off on pay changes
A recent study of support jobs in the Juneau School District suggests some workers are underpaid. But the School Board has put off proposed changes because of the cost. The Juneau Education Support Staff, a union representing about 285 school workers, said reclassifying jobs is necessary to pay people appropriately for the work they've been doing, and to attract new staff. The union said about three-quarters of support jobs have turned over in the past five years.

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

Kmart workers moving on
When Kmart Corp. told its local employees Jan. 13 that they had 90 days to find other jobs, Samuel Brewer headed for the Juneau Job Center. "I loved that job at Kmart," said Brewer, a former manager in the Do it Yourself Center at the store. "But nothing lasts forever." He started attending orientation sessions at the job center, using its computers to search for jobs around the country and its staff resources to help him create a resume.

Pet of the week
Portabella is a bit portly because of her laid-back lifestyle. This friendly, spayed female cat is a couch potato who loves to lounge about with aperson or two.

School program helps fend off bullying
When young children at Gastineau Elementary are by themselves on the playground, they're likely to see a friendly face with an offer to play tag. School counselor Victoria Porter, who created the Pals program in October, said it's children who are alone who get bullied. Under Pals, students in grades three, four and five offer to play with children from kindergarten to grade two. They also help young children in the lunchroom.

Interim pastor Jedele and wife to leave Juneau
Faith Lutheran Church interim pastor Charles Jedele and his wife Ann are set to return to their home in Colorado on Monday. The Rev. Jedele has been a Lutheran school principal for 40 years, and his wife an elementary school teacher. They have served as teachers in China and in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. This fall they will travel to Brazil to work in an orphanage, a school and a home for seniors.

MS walk this weekend
Juneau residents will walk or run this weekend to help raise money to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

A guide to home heating-oil fuel tanks
Fuel oil leaks can be messy, smelly, and hard on the environment and on the wallet. Every year the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation responds to dozens of home heating-oil fuel tank spills. In the past five years over 11,000 gallons of home heating oil have been released into the environment, maybe more.

Eleanor Leslie Kaye
Juneau resident Eleanor Leslie Kaye, 42, died April 11, 2003, in Juneau.

Kelly Anne Chalmers
Former Juneau resident Kelly Anne Chalmers, 31, died March 28, 2003, in Warrenton, Va.

Floyd Melvin Barton
Juneau resident Floyd Melvin Barton, 69, died April 12, 2003, at the Eagle River Methodist Camp in Juneau.

Jonathan Scott Reyes
Juneau resident Jonathan Scott Reyes, 18 months, died April 11, 2003, in Juneau.

My Turn: Here are some reasons to love this town
We had just left the Juneau-Douglas dance team show last Thursday, and had gone less than a block before we looked at each other and said, "This is a great town!" It is so obvious at events like that one - an evening dedicated to the dance team that drew a completely full house. We were squeezed in among a bunch of high school kids, but right behind us were full families, and up a little higher were some older folks who never miss a high school event no matter what. Cheek to jowl, everybody excitedly awaiting the evening's performance.

My Turn: Berners Bay, Juneau's Serengeti
Surrounded by ice fields, snow-capped peaks, and ocean waters dotted with islands large and small, Juneau citizens and visitors take pleasure in one of the most spectacular settings any town in the world has to offer. For those who enjoy boating, fishing and hiking or just working in the yard amongst so much scenic beauty, we are truly blessed to live in this amazing place.

My Turn: The cruise industry values health, safety of passengers
While Mr. Mitchell's concerns regarding SARS in the April 15 edition of the Juneau Empire are valid, he is not aware of the many steps the cruise industry is taking to protect the health and safety of its passengers. As an industry that is carrying a great percentage of Alaska tourists, we want to tangibly demonstrate that we are a partner with you and your community. The cruise industry's highest priority is the health and safety of our passengers and crew.

Valuable Veterans
For some teams, losing three all-state players - one of them the state player of the year - would be a disaster. For the Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team, it's an opportunity. This year's Crimson Bear squad features a number of seniors who spent their junior year in the shadow of standout players such as Robert Lossett, Jon Rue and Collin Daugherty. After waiting in the wings, the seniors are ready to take charge and show what they can do.

Girls face Mariners for first time ever
In the small world of Alaska high school soccer, first meetings have become increasingly rare. But the girls teams from Juneau-Douglas and Homer high schools will get to enjoy such an opportunity this week, starting today, as they face off for three games - the first time they've ever played one another.

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

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

Cavaliers close season with a win
CLEVELAND - Lenny Wilkens didn't dwell on his future in Toronto. Soon, he may not have to worry about it anyway. Wilkens, the NBA's career leader in coaching wins and losses, probably coached the Raptors for the final time Wednesday night in a 96-86 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Correction
Due to a reporter's error, a roundup of results from last weekend's Juneau Tornadoes wrestling meet that ran in Wednesday's Empire omitted the names of three competitors.

Alaska Swimming Junior Olympics
Results from the 2003 Speedo-Alaska Swimming Junior Olympics, held April 10-13 at Anchorage's Bartlett High School swimming pool. The team scores and individual point scores are listed.

Juneau swimmers sixth at Jr. Olympics
Juneau's Glacier Swim Club finished in sixth place at the 2003 Speedo-Alaska Swimming Junior Olympics held April 10-13 at Anchorage's Bartlett High School swimming pool. Anchorage's Alaska Pacific Swim Club won the team title with 2,917 points, followed by Northern Lights Swim Club of Anchorage with 2,901.5. Aurora Swim Team of Anchorage took third place with 2,157 points, followed by Midnight Sun Swim Team of Fairbanks at 1,885 points.

Juneau wrestlers prepare for state at local tourney
Several dozen young wrestlers from Juneau and Sitka faced off last Saturday in a tournament hosted by the Juneau Tornadoes wrestling club. "The tournament ran well," said Tornadoes coach Bob Mahon. "We had a lot of people watching. ... And the big thing is that the kids had a lot of fun."

State Briefs
Waterfront plan meetings start next week; JDHS musical opens tonight; Permafund trustees push for change; House bill pushes gambling as budget savior; House approves closed meeting provision; Sen. Murkowski gets ethanol exemption for Alaska

Habitat order takes effect; opponents rally
Gov. Frank Murkowski's executive order shifting the Department of Fish and Game's Habitat Division to the Department of Natural Resources took effect Tuesday. Conservationists marked the date with a protest rally outside the Capitol, and Habitat workers quietly prepared for the shift, which will occur May 1. About three dozen people attended the rally, two in fish costumes and many others holding signs that read: "Fish Don't Vote, But I Do," and "DNR doesn't know fish." Former Fish and Game Commissioners Frank Rue and Carl Rosier, who have vocally opposed the shift, spoke to the crowd, as did Sen. Kim Elton, a Juneau Democrat, and Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat.

U.S. Congress backs organic wild fish label; Stevens adds rider to war spending bill
ANCHORAGE - Congress has approved a provision to allow wild seafood to be labeled as organic. Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, added the rider to the $79 billion war spending bill approved last week. It directs the agriculture secretary to allow wild seafood to be certified and labeled as organic.

Critics say gambling could lead to greater social ills
Proponents of raising $52 million by legalizing electronic gambling and instituting a statewide lottery were met with sharp criticism Wednesday from lawmakers who said the state can't afford the proliferation of gambling addicts. Proposals in the House Ways and Means Committee would institute a statewide lottery to raise about $1.5 million a year and electronic gaming machines, also known as video poker, to raise about $50.5 million a year.

APOC overhaul
The government entity that oversees lobbyists and campaign contributions might not be killed by Gov. Frank Murkowski this session, but it could end up keeping watch over larger contributions and looser regulation of lobbyists. The Senate State Affairs Committee on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 119, proposed by Murkowski, that would overhaul regulations imposed by the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

State Briefs
JDHS dropout rate declines 0.9 percent; Murkowski signs cancer treatment bill; Seven arrested for trespassing at IRS; Wasilla chiropract indicted on tax charges; Care provider found guilty of infant's death; Gambell crew lands 1st bowhead of spring; Court clears way for retrial in collie case

Murkowski: No to Russian processors
Russian fish processors won't be allowed to process Alaska salmon this season, Gov. Frank Murkowski said Wednesday. The denial caps a four-month application period that began when Seattle-based Global Seafoods North America proposed to buy up to 250 million pounds of pink salmon for processing by Russian vessels and distribution in Russia and Europe.

House approves Permanent Fund royalty change
A bill to redirect millions in oil revenues from the permanent fund to state spending passed the House on Tuesday. The measure rolls back a decision made two decades ago by the Legislature to put more oil revenues into the principal of the permanent fund. It would generate millions for the state's general fund budget and have minimal impact on dividend checks, said its sponsor, Rep. Norman Rokeberg, an Anchorage Republican.

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