State Briefs

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

'Bowling For Columbine' held over for 2 nights

JUNEAU - "Bowling for Columbine," the Academy Award-winning documentary by Michael Moore, will be shown for two additional nights, tonight and Wednesday, at the Gold Town Nickelodeon Theater.

The film plays at 7 tonight and at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. Advance tickets are available at the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council office, 206 N. Franklin Street, or at the Nickelodeon box office during the movie's presentation.

Last weekend's screenings sold out, prompting the council's film series to add the additional nights. The theater is in the Emporium Mall down the hall from Heritage Coffee.

Assembly to discuss attorney recruitment

JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly on Monday began working to find a new city attorney.

Longtime City Attorney John Corso is retiring June 9. Assembly members decided Monday to meet again to discuss the qualities they'd like to see in a new attorney.

Mayor Sally Smith said she'd like to see the Assembly promote someone from within the city law department to the position, given the lengthy process it took to find new City Manager Rod Swope.

"My concern is not the length of time as much as in-house knowledge," she said. "To have a new city manager and to have a new city attorney leaves us a little bit more exposed than what we want to be."

The Assembly voted down a motion from Assembly member Randy Wanamaker to appoint a three-person committee to find a new attorney. Wanamaker said he expected it would take about four months to find someone to fill the job.

"I'm looking at the opportunity for diversity and I've heard nothing but good as for the possibility of the interim appointment of (Deputy City Attorney John) Hartle," he said. "We shouldn't be deterred by the thought of a long process. It won't be a long process."

Glacier center closes Thursdays, Fridays

JUNEAU - The Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center will be closed Thursdays and Fridays from now until May 5. The staff is offering educational programs to school classes and training summer workers.

The center is still open Saturdays and Sundays. The center will be open May 5 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. After May 5, the center will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Mining ordinance meeting tonight

JUNEAU - The Juneau Planning Commission will consider revisions to the city's mining ordinance today.

Under the proposal, a new rural mine would be considered an allowable use and wouldn't be subject to permitting conditions covered by federal and state environmental reviews. The changes also would allow summary approval to changes at an existing rural mine.

The Planning Commission could add conditions to new rural mine permits dealing with traffic, safety, noise, landslides, erosion and other issues.

If the draft ordinance is approved by the Planning Commission, the Juneau Assembly will meet in a work session May 5 to review the changes, Deputy Mayor Ken Koelsch said. The proposal could go to the Assembly for final consideration May 12, he said.

The Planning Commission meets at 7 tonight in Assembly Chambers at City Hall.

City meet on SARS

JUNEAU - Juneau's response to a suspected case of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, was the subject of a city-sponsored meeting Monday.

While no SARS cases have been reported in Alaska, Juneau City Manager Rod Swope said the goal of the meeting was to share information about the disease. SARS is a respiratory illness that originated earlier this year in southern China, Hong Kong and Vietnam. It can be deadly.

The meeting included representatives from Bartlett Regional Hospital, the Alaska Division of Public Health, Airlift Northwest, Capital City Fire and Rescue, the cruise ship industry, the Juneau Airport and city harbors.

SARS symptoms and risk factors include a fever at or above 100.4 degrees; coughing, shortness of breath and/or difficulty breaching; and travel from China, Hong Kong, Sinagpore, Vietnam or Toronto, or close contact with someone suspected to have SARS.

As of Monday, the World Health Organization was reporting 3,861 cases of SARS worldwide. The total includes 39 probable cases in the United States, under a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition.

School bond issue supporters meet

JUNEAU - Supporters of two high school bond issues appearing on the June 3 special city election ballot are holding a meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School commons area.

One of the bond issues seeks a $12.5 million authorization to complete the renovation project at Juneau-Douglas High School, including the parking areas, the athletic field, furnishings and security.

The second issue would effectively add $12.6 million to the budget for the Mendenhall Valley high school slated to be built at Dimond Park. Construction of a new high school in the Valley was approved by voters in 1999.

Anyone interested in supporting the school bond issues is invited to the organizational meeting, said organizer Jamie Parsons. More information is available from Parsons, 463-3488, Sally Rue, 789-5516, or Andi Story, 789-4292.

State considers ending subsidy on ethanol

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Frank Murkowski is proposing to cut a state subsidy of ethanol gasoline for Anchorage drivers that costs $2.5 million annually.

The proposal is among the budget cuts the governor is seeking.

Ethanol is added to gasoline in Anchorage from November to March to reduce the levels of carbon monoxide. The city used to regularly exceed federal clean air limits for carbon monoxide on a regular basis but hasn't done so since 1996.

The state gives Anchorage fuel dealers a 6-cent-per-gallon break on gasoline taxes for blending ethanol into the mix. If the state stops supporting the ethanol program, Anchorage residents could end up paying higher winter prices at the pump.

The state, however, believes Anchorage has cleaned up its air enough to skip ethanol. Otherwise, state administrators wouldn't have written the subsidy out of the state's budget, said Tom Chapple, state director of air and water quality.

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