Alaska construction to reach $5.3 billion
Governments and private industries should spend $5.3 billion on construction in Alaska this year, a forecast by University of Alaska Anchorage economists says.

Learn rules of bridge
In response to portions of M.C. Birkner's letter on Wednesday, April 21; the writer seems to indicate that drivers coming off the Douglas Bridge should stop and back up traffic onto the bridge (which creates a traffic hazard) so that drivers from North Douglas can enter into the traffic pattern. That's as ridiculous as it is unsafe. Instead, be grateful the South Douglas drivers stop to let you in, which they should only do when the oncoming lane is clear. It's a courtesy, not a requirement.

A 60-year-old lie
Cigarettes, fluoride, discrimination, What's next? Let's add another dollar per pack tax on cigarettes. It will benefit out of state economies and decrease our city sales tax and state tax revenues.

Lane doesn't merge
M.C. Birkner's April 21 letter regarding driving was mostly spot on regarding the seemingly increasing behavior of inattentive or confusing driving, mostly the result of simply not knowing the rules of the road.

Using existing ferries
The delivery and acceptance of two new vessels for the Alaska Marine Highway System is cause for much celebration. When the M/V Lituya and M/V Fairweather start revenue service in a few weeks, residents of Southeast Alaska will benefit from long-needed transportation improvements. Next year, the delivery and deployment of a second high-speed ferry will enhance transportation in Prince William Sound.

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

In an April 21 Empire article about Tlingit weaver Jennie Thlunaut, some clarifications are needed. Her daughter, Agnes Bellinger, accepted a national award in Washington, D.C., in September 1986, in honor of her mother. The award included a $5,000 grant. The urine used to create dyes for Chilkat blankets, according to Bellinger, is collected from new infants.

Births, judgments and other local legal matters.

United Way names Jodi Kilcup new executive director
The United Way of Southeast Alaska fell short of its 2003 fund-raising goal by $200,000. Agency officials are hoping their new executive director, Jodi Kilcup, will prevent that from happening this year.

Police & Fire
Reprots from Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

City OKs maximum funding for schools
The Juneau Assembly has agreed to provide Juneau schools with the most operating funds that the state allows, commonly called the cap.

Man lands 1 year for boat sinking
A former charter boat operator was sentenced to one year in jail Thursday, agreeing he was responsible for putting a woman in a coma last September.

Thank you letters
Letters of thanks for local assistance.

Pageant recognizes Native leadership
Rose Natkong of Pelican won the 2004 Miss Tlingit Haida Youth Leadership Pageant that was held April 16 at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Juneau.

Doggie Dos: How to decipher canine body language
Dogs do speak - with their bodies. Close observation can tell volumes about their mood. No single cue is sufficient. Look instead for a combination of non-verbal signals. A wagging tail is not necessarily a sign of a friendly dog.

A little nautical history
There was an expression in the days of sailing that it was a time of iron men and wooden ships. But for a few brief decades, from about 1840 to 1880, the hulls of powered and sailing ships were made of iron. This was only a blink of time, in consideration of the centuries men have made wooden ships and since about 1880 large ships made of steel.

Nolder, Herbert marry
Donna Herbert of Juneau and Dennis Nolder of Des Moines, Wash., were married March 13, 2004, at Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, Ariz. Family members and close friends were in attendance.

Moore and Gray to marry
Tammy Rennee Moore of Prince Frederick, Md., and Jack Brian Gray of Juneau will be married in a ceremony planned for May 15, 2004, in Prince Frederick Md. A reception will follow at First Baptist Church of Calvert County.

Garlock and Rice to wed
Tina Garlock and Chad Rice of Juneau will be married at 2 p.m. May 8, 2004, at Eagle Beach. A private reception will follow.

Neighbors Digest
Community news in brief.

James 'Pat' Orme
Lifetime Juneau resident James "Pat" Orme, 58, died April 18, 2004, at Wildflower Court in Juneau.

David W. Spirtes
Former Southeast Alaska resident David W. Spirtes, 55, died from complications related to kidney and lung cancer on April 15, 2004, in New York.

Reed this: Music fest is cool
Popular culture tells us that high school band members are socially awkward, regaling us with tales of "this one time, at band camp ... ." It's a pervasive joke in a country that values individual and athletic achievement so highly. I've even called myself a band geek in this column.

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

Expos, Bentz suffer loss to Mets
Mike Piazza's move to first base paid off for the New York Mets. With a day game after a night game, Thursday almost certainly would have been a day off for Piazza last season.

Photo: Last meet of the season
Iris Neary, center, of Dzantiki'i Heeni Middle School races toward the tape during the 100-meter dash for sixth-grade girls during the middle school track meet Thursday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. Aleecia Moss of Floyd Dryden Middle School is right and Cassie Orbistondo of Juneau Christian School is left.

Leading by example
You can tell a lot about Alex Newton by what's missing. Namely, an armband - a badge of honor few soccer team captains would ever forget to wear in a game, let alone choose to forego.

Randolph wins Most Improved
Portland Trail Blazers forward Zach Randolph was disappointed when he didn't make the All-Star team. Winning the NBA's Most Improved Player award Thursday took some of that sting away.

Service-Juneau soccer rivalry makes return
For the first time in five years, Juneau fans will get to see one of the state's top soccer rivalries on the home turf. The Service boys will play Juneau-Douglas at 8 p.m. tonight and 2 p.m. Saturday at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. The Crimson Bears beat the Cougars 1-0 in last year's state title game, and Juneau also knocked Service out of the state tourney in 2002.

Alaska's top prep track and field times
The 2004 Alaska high school track and field season bests as compiled by Eric Smith of the Anchorage Daily News. Results are through meets of April 17. First names are not available for all leaders.

Senate OKs Murkowski's 2005 budget
Senate Republicans endorsed a $2.3 billion general fund operating budget on Thursday, granting Gov. Frank Murkowski much of the spending plan he had proposed for fiscal 2005.

Photo: Show of skill
Mount Edgecumbe's Aaron Dull stretches to kick a seal-skin ball 88 inches from the ground to win the Alaskan High Kick event in the Native Youth Olympics on Thursday in Anchorage. About 400 youths from across Alaska are in Anchorage to compete in three days of traditional Native games. The events are based on games that past generations of Alaska Natives played to test their hunting and survival skills.

Alaska Digest
News in brief from around the state.

Feds approve program to reduce costs of drugs in Alaska and 4 other states
The government Thursday approved a joint drug-buying program among five states - including Alaska - that has saved millions of dollars in prescription costs, a decision that could lead other states to form similar agreements.

House approves spending cap, debates altering permanent fund
The state House agreed Thursday to a constitutional spending limit and debated a constitutional amendment that could lead to spending Alaska Permanent Fund income on state government.

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