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.

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.

Enough already
Charles Rohrbacher's letter of April 16 about the destruction of the National Museum and National Library of Iraq milked it for all it's worth and plenty more that it's not worth. Enough already! Liberally assuming the responsibility for these tragedies lie with the U.S. military is a weak stretch even for your anti-America, anti-Bush crowd. A healthier perspective with more integrity would explain the reality of the responsibility for these tragedies to be the murderous, despotic cowards who are being funneled through Syria to France as we speak.

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.

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.

Cut corrections budget to fund other needs
The Alaska Constitution tasks Corrections with isolating and reforming inmates. Isolation and reformation do not have to happen in penal institutions. This is good because prisons are very expensive. Data show that not every lawbreaker needs to spend time in prison. Recognized research studies reveal offenders who are prosecuted for drug and alcohol offenses only should be placed in restrictive treatment (not penal) settings. Most inmates eventually leave prison and return to live among us. So, we need to incarcerate appropriately and effectively. During incarceration, inmates should have meaningful educational or vocational training, drug and alcohol treatment, or sex offender therapy.

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.

No to gambling
Just say "No!" to gaming in Alaska. We've researched this issue for years and studied the costs and it isn't worth it. When gaming was approved in Colorado, it was one of the few reasons we moved our family out of there! Please, just say "No," Alaska!

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.

Officials plan for SARS and summer travelers
Health officials are preparing for Alaska's annual influx of summer visitors with a mindful watch on a mysterious and deadly respiratory illness that originated in Southeast Asia. No suspected cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, have been reported in Alaska. The new disease, which isn't completely understood by medical professionals, often includes a fever and respiratory symptoms. As of Thursday, the World Health Organization reported 3,339 suspected SARS cases and 165 deaths. No SARS deaths have been reported in the United States.

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 is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Teachers, district return to the negotiating table
The Juneau teachers' union and the school district will resume contract negotiations next week after resolving a dispute over how to choose bargaining teams. Negotiations broke off in late January, at the first session, when the Juneau Education Association objected to the district's effort to change its bargaining team without the union's consent.

Bilge fire in Auke Bay causes little damage
A barge at the Allen Marine dock in Auke Bay sustained only minor damage after a spark from a welder's torch ignited its bilge Wednesday morning.

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.

Photo: Rallying for children
Mila Cosgrove kisses her daughter, Natalie, 2, during a Child Abuse Prevention Rally on Thursday in the Dimond Courthouse courtyard. A pile of children's shoes at the rally represents abused children in Alaska. April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month and Month of the Young Child.

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.

Due to a reporter's error, an article in Wednesday's Empire incorrectly referred to James Onstott as having taken hostages when he fired a gun during a Juneau church service in 2001. Onstott was not charged with or convicted of taking hostages.

Sealaska distributes $3 per share
Sealaska, the Juneau-based corporation for Southeast Natives, will pay a total of $4.8 million in dividends to its shareholders today, company officials said. A dividend of $3 per share - $2.37 from the Sealaska permanent fund and 63 cents from Sealaska timber investments in 2002 - will be paid to urban and at-large shareholders, who make up 75 percent of the total number of shareholders. At-large shareholders are those who are not enrolled in either an urban or village corporation.

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.

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

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.

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

Fire damages 10 apartments
A mass of charred books, broken furniture and other ruined possessions Thursday littered the living room of a downtown Juneau apartment that caught fire Wednesday night while the 79-year-old resident was away. "This was everything he had in his life, and now it's all gone," Mark Kelley, 49, said in reference to the furnishings that belonged to his father, Daniel Kelley.

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.

$50 million in aid to boost fishing industry
About $50 million in federal funds will be pumped into marketing salmon nationally; assisting hard-up fishermen, businesses and communities; and fishing infrastructure in an attempt to revitalize the foundering industry, Gov. Frank Murkowski said Thursday. The money includes $35 million in recently appropriated fisheries disaster funds and $15 million that remains in the Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund. The governor said state agencies are in the process of determining how much money goes to each project.

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.

House passes anti-stalking bill
The House approved a measure this week aimed at closing a loophole in Alaska's anti-stalking laws. Someone threatened by an acquaintance can get a domestic violence protective order. But when the threat comes from a stranger, the legal system doesn't afford the same protection.

Photo: Learning about drugs
About 450 fifth graders from the Juneau School District celebrated their completion of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program offered through the district. Each student received recognition at a ceremony Thursday evening at Centennial Hall.

Ferry, air transport boards named
Gov. Frank Murkowski appointed 19 members to newly created advisory boards for marine transportation and aviation Thursday. The two boards were created in January as part of Murkowski's reorganization of the Department of Transportation. The boards are tasked with providing input on marine highway and aviation transportation to DOT Commissioner Mike Barton.

Police & Fire
Reports by Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

Eighty percent is good enough?
The students in my first gifted-talented class are turning 30 this year. During spring break I was invited to dinner with five of them in Seattle. After allowing myself some satisfaction about their achievements, I looked back at the routes they followed to become physical therapists, an engineer, an attorney, and a human resource specialist. Other former students came to mind, some who have accomplished much in various ways, and some who are living on the streets. It made me think of a dilemma regarding some of my current students.

Beedle, Rice to wed
Katy Beedle of Juneau and Jeff Rice of Bothell, Wash. recently announced their engagement.

Metlicka, Kikendall to marry
Holly Lynn Metlicka of Juneau and Jason Edward Kikendall of Twisp, Wash. will be married in a ceremony at 3 p.m., April 26, 2003 at Valley Chapel. A reception will follow at 4 p.m. at The Twisted Fish. Friends and relatives of the couple are invited to the wedding and reception.

First impressions
From the time of the Alaska Purchase in 1867 to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-98, there were few visitors to Alaska who were not dignitaries, government employees or tourists. Many of the dignitaries didn't venture far from boardwalks, steamer decks and tea parties in the best parlors. Despite their slight acquaintance, they might thereafter hold forth in the House or Senate in the District of Columbia as experts on the territory. Gov. Ernest Gruening deplored this kind of visitor, citing as one of the worst examples a senator who stopped in Sitka for a day and in Juneau only long enough to take a bath.

Thank you
...for the support.; ...for the kindness.

Births; Marriage Licenses; Business Licenses; Courts; Divorces and Dissolutions; Judgments.

Happy Spring Juneau!
Spring has bloomed, the tourist season is just around the corner, and it is time to think about the flower baskets that help to beautify our city. I am writing on behalf of "Friends of the Flowers" to request your support in continuing to provide color to Juneau.

Sailing to Southeast Alaska with explorer George Vancouver
Where do we begin? From our mothers and fathers and their forebears, we come from the Philippine Islands, from Europe and Africa, from the other 49 States, and closer to home, from Angoon, Hoonah, Kake and Klukwan. How do we define the place we live? One of the famous explorers was George Vancouver, who spent six years in command of the Discovery and Chatham, surveying the Pacific coastline from California to Alaska. He gave names to many of the places we know. He described how Joseph Whidbey led a small group of sailors in exploring nearby bays and coves.

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

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

My Turn: Education should be funded fully
Every election season we hear it. "I'm pro-education." "We need to fully fund education." These are promises that come easily to the lips of candidates for state office, and an easy claim for governors and state legislators once they are elected. They are strong phrases, rich in rhetoric without clean distinction of meaning. On March 5, Gov. Frank Murkowski presented a budget that proposed cutting $26.7 million from education spending. This is a 3.4 percent cut in the total funds available to staff and operate Alaska's schools. Then he told us that Alaska education is fully funded. He wants us to believe, just as the legislature wanted us to believe last year, that he is pro-education. But he doesn't back up it up with educational funding support.

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: Aerial spraying of pesticides is a bad idea
Pesticides widely sprayed in southeast Alaska? Possibly yes, if the state succeeds in its draft proposal that would allow pesticides to be aerially sprayed on federal, state and private land to kill unwanted plants like alder and salmon berry. These draft regulations, Alaska's first attempt to set the standard for pesticide use in forestry application, fail to protect our fish, game, and clean water that are so critical to the viability of our commercial fisheries and the health of Alaskans.

Sports in Juneau
TSports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

New look for the Crimson Bears
There won't be much to recognize when the Juneau-Douglas High School softball team open its season in Sitka this weekend with one game tonight and two games Saturday against the Sitka Wolves. The Crimson Bears only have four players back from last year's state championship team, and only one senior and two juniors. With a new head coach - longtime Midnight Suns program director and JDHS assistant coach Dave Massey - Juneau softball fans definitely will need a program to learn who's on the team this year.

The offensive wheels were turning for the Juneau-Douglas High School boys soccer team Thursday night against the Homer Mariners. And at the center of it all, of course, was an Axel. Senior Axel Thibodeau scored four goals and added an assist as the Crimson Bears defeated the Mariners 8-1 at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. Senior Lee Sullivan added a spectacular bicycle-kick goal for Juneau, which improved to 4-3 overall this season.

Juneau girls remain perfect with 7-0 victory
Nicole Lupro and Callan Janowiec each scored a pair of goals as the Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team defeated the Homer Mariners, 7-0, on Thursday night at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. The Crimson Bears improved to 5-0 this season. Homer was playing its first game of the season. The two teams meet again at 6:15 tonight and noon Saturday.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bill drops teenage wages
Alaska businesses would be able to pay anyone under 20 less than minimum wage under a bill approved this week by a House committee. The bill also would loosen rules on flex time arrangements and do away with some state rules governing when employees can be put on salary, instead of being paid hourly. Federal rules would apply instead. "I truly believe this will expand job opportunities for youngsters in the state of Alaska," said Rep. Norman Rokeberg, an Anchorage Republican who introduced the bill.

Native casinos face long odds at getting approved in Alaska
Legalizing video gambling machines would bring Alaska a step closer to allowing tribal casinos. But large hurdles would remain because of the unique status of most Native lands in the state. Federal law limits tribal gambling to games that are legal in the state where the tribe is based. Alaska law allows only bingo, pull-tabs and raffles to benefit nonprofit groups.

Wal-Mart, Boston's Restaurant coming to Fairbanks
Fairbanks is getting two well-known businesses. Wal-Mart plans to open a 150,000-square-foot store on the north side of town and Boston Pizza Restaurants plans to build a Boston's Restaurant & Sports Bar.

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.

Organic fish bill signed into law
Alaska wild-caught seafood finally can be labeled organic. President Bush has signed into law legislation that will allow Alaska salmon and other wild-caught seafood to be marketed as organic food. The provision was an amendment to the $78.5 billion emergency war appropriation he signed.

This day in history
In Alaska; In the nation; In the world.

Man acquitted in Anchorage murder
An Anchorage man has been acquitted of murder in the death of a 33-year-old woman whose body was found in a dilapidated Spenard shed. The jury's decision came after 10 weeks of witness testimony and arguments and a week of deliberations. Joshua Wade, 23, was accused of brutally murdering Della Brown, 33, whose body was found in September 2000.

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

Hitting a home run with 'Damn Yankees'
Attention extreme sports fans: Would you sell your soul to the devil if it would guarantee your team the perfect season? "Damn Yankees," the musical that opened this week at Juneau-Douglas High School, looks at what happens when Joe Boyd, an avid fan of the Washington Senators, does just that. "He sells his soul to the devil to win the pennant," said student director Elena Ruddy, 17. "Then he misses his wife and starts to regret it."

Tour guide training open to the public
The Juneau-Douglas City Museum will offer Juneau History and Culture Workshops to tour operators, guides and the general public. Local community experts will present workshops complete with fact sheets on Juneau, and resource information on specific topics discussed.

Tea and hempathy
Al Anders and I had been chatting for a few minutes when he pulled a box of coca leaf tea from his desk drawer like a businessman in a movie offering up a stashed flask of bourbon. "You should try some of this. It's perfectly legal. You can get it off the Internet," he said. "This is how cocaine would be consumed if it were legal."

America's love affair with GUNS
Bowling for Columbine," an Oscar-winning documentary about gun violence in America, will play at the Gold Town Nickelodeon in Juneau this weekend only. "I think this film will inspire some very significant and valuable discussions," said Sybil Davis, director of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, sponsor of the showings.

What's up with that?
Q: Why does the new rubbery surface cover only part of the Adair-Kennedy track? Q: Off of Otter Way past the ferry terminal is National Park Service Road - commonly just called National Park Road. What is the reason for this name? I don't imagine a national park being created on Indian Point. No one I know seems to know the origin.

what's happening
Theater; Dance; Events; Exhibits; Nightlife.

briefly: Bassett, Vance at Valdez theater conference
Oscar-nominee Angela Bassett and two-time Tony Award-nominee Courtney B. Vance will participate in this year's 11th Annual Last Frontier Theater Conference, June 19 to 29, at Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez.

movies where & when
Movie schedule

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