Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Juneau looks into DUI law revisions

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JUNEAU - A law that could criminalize driving when people have taken depressants or stimulants was referred to another committee for further review Monday by the Juneau Assembly.

The law would broaden the city's Driving Under the Influence law and would model an ordinance in place in Anchorage. It would provide flexibility to charge drivers with DUIs who might have used drugs that are not yet considered a "controlled substance" but could still cause a person to drive unsafely.

Assembly Member Jeff Bush proposed limiting these drugs only to prescription drugs.

Mayor Bruce Botelho said he didn't think the Assembly should make changes "on the fly" to criminal statutes.

The Committee of the Whole will now review the implications of proposed changes made by Bush.

Bartlett smoking ban passes city assembly

JUNEAU - As of June 1, the entire Bartlett Regional Hospital campus will become tobacco-free, the Juneau Assembly decided Monday.

The law was already adopted as a hospital policy in December 2006. That policy prohibited all smoking and use of smokeless tobacco products anywhere on the hospital campus, including the parking areas and the streets and sidewalks adjacent to the hospital buildings. It was adopted to reduce health risks related to using tobacco and the possible effects on patient care and treatment.

Included in the ban will be the Bartlett House, the Juneau Medical Center and most areas of the Wildflower Court nursing home. Violation of the city ordinance will be punishable by a fine of $50.

Golf course use permit extended

JUNEAU - A proposed golf course for North Douglas received a time extension on its conditional use permit from the Juneau Assembly on Monday.

The permit was set to expire in September 2007, but now has an expiration date of 2010.

The extension was requested by Totem Creek, the non-profit corporation that hopes to lease city land near Peterson Creek to build a golf course. The non-profit's board President Peter Metcalfe said that it needed more time to be able to ensure it has all its funding in place.

The public golf course has been in the works since the 1980s, when local golfers pushed for a course. It wasn't until the early 1990s, however, that the city re-zoned the property for golfing.

Totem Creek formed as an off-shoot of the Juneau Golf Club and was selected to develop the land. Controversy has surrounded the project because of the potential negative impacts on surrounding wildlife and habitat.

Miller wins bid for school upgrade

JUNEAU - The Juneau School District has recommended to the city Engineering Department that the bid for improvements on Floyd Dryden Middle School be awarded to Miller Construction Co. of Juneau.

Miller Construction was the low bidder on the project at $410,350, about 3.7 percent above the engineers' estimate. The project involves improvements to the courtyard area next to the school's main entry, including covered bicycle storage, concrete paving and site drainage improvements.

A new LED reader board sign at the school entry and additional parking area lighting is also included in the project.

Superintendent of Schools Peggy Cowan said she was "pleased that the project would be able to move forward with the construction happening over this summer."

Additional components of the project include covered seating for the courtyard area, but were not awarded at this time because of funding.

Senate prepares for next year's session

JUNEAU - The state Senate on Monday approved changes to the legislative schedule to accommodate a 90-day session that begins next year.

Voters last August approved slicing a month off what is currently a four month session.

Under the Senate version of the bill, the yearly session will begin in the second week of February.

Senate State Affairs Chairman Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage, said the committee was trying to find a happy medium that would comply with voters' wishes and work with the lives of citizen legislators.

Lawmakers agreed February would avoid the worst of Juneau's winter weather, which has resulted in airplane delays and flyovers for lawmakers trying to reach the capital, she said.

It also was thought that a later date would compel lawmakers to finish their work more quickly to avoid having special sessions spilling into summer, McGuire said.

The bill passed the Senate by 17-1. It now goes back to the House for concurrence. The bill is House Bill 171.

Steamship Wharf public parking closed

JUNEAU - Public parking at the Steamship Wharf, or Marine Park Plaza, will no longer be available, and the entrance and exit areas will be blocked off starting at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, according to the city.

Vehicles remaining will be impounded.

A few other parking sites available for use include the Subport parking lot off Egan Drive, the Willoughby lot and the shopper's lot at the corner of Main Street and Egan Drive.

Campground opening delayed until May 15

JUNEAU - The Auke Village Campground opening, which is normally May 1, will be delayed until May 15 for reconstruction.

Due to heavy winter snows, a reconstruction project has not been completed.

The Alaska State Parks campground at Eagle Beach is scheduled to operate from May 15 to the end of September. There are two other private RV parks also open for summer camping.

For specific information on the Juneau Ranger District campgrounds, call 586-8800 or visit the district office at 8465 Old Dairy Road.

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