State and local briefly

Posted: Friday, April 21, 2000

Downtown library closed for repairs

JUNEAU - The downtown Juneau Public Library will be closed for carpet repairs from Sunday until April 30. Regular hours will resume May 1.

``The walk paths in the library are being done. We're doing some carpet repairs, particularly the seams,'' said information services librarian Kate Burnstead.

``People can still drop off their books at the drop-off (box) in the parking lot. We'll be checking them in during the week,'' she added. All other public libraries will remain open.

Threats evacuate two state schools

ANCHORAGE - The anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings was a busy time for Alaska school authorities, security guards and police. At least two Alaska schools were evacuated, and some parents in Anchorage kept their children at home Thursday in fear of possible violence.

Sitka High School was evacuated for an hour and a half at midday Thursday after an anonymous caller made a threat and referred to the shootings a year ago at Colorado's Columbine High School.

In Fairbanks, Ben Eielson Junior-Senior High School was checked by bomb-sniffing dogs after one student told another on Wednesday that he was preparing a bomb to be detonated Thursday. Superintendent Jim Holt of the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District said the number of copycat threats have decreased since last year, but the district still takes threats and jokes seriously.

In Anchorage, more than a third of the student body stayed away from Wendler Middle School, where rumors of violence surfaced last week and a couple of students appeared in trench coats, a symbol for the pair of students who shot up Columbine High, killing 13 other students and then themselves in Littleton, Colo.

East Anchorage High School had more than 200 absences, four times the normal number, and Service High School had 230 students out, about 100 more than normal, school officials told KTUU-TV. Dozens of officers monitored the schools to guard against problems on the anniversary.

Senate passes doctor negotiation bill

JUNEAU - Doctors could band together to negotiate fees and other issues with some health insurers under a bill passed Wednesday by the Senate.

Such group negotiation is illegal under state and federal antitrust laws designed to foster competition and prevent price-fixing.

Sen. Pete Kelly, who sponsored Senate Bill 256, contends the increasing size and power of health benefit plans has given them enough power in some areas to dictate the terms of the contracts they make with doctors.

Kelly said more is at stake than just the fees doctors charge, including what the health plans cover, and quality assurance programs.

The attorney general opposes the bill, along with a coalition of consumer groups and insurance companies. The bill is similar to a proposal pending in Congress, which is opposed by the Federal Trade Commission.

Kelly's bill passed the Senate 13-7 and now moves to the House.

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