Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Fertilizer plant starts layoffs
ANCHORAGE - The Agrium fertilizer plant in Nikiski will lay off 65 employees over the next few months, the company has announced. The job losses amount to 22 percent of the work force, said general manager Mike Nugent. The downsizing comes despite a state lawmaker's attempt to help the plant.

New TOTE cargo ship makes first port of call
ANCHORAGE - The Midnight Sun, one of two newly built Totem Ocean Trailer Express cargo ships, made its first port call Saturday to Anchorage. TOTE, one of two major shipping companies that move goods by sea to Alaska from the Lower 48, spent $310 million for the Midnight Sun and her sister ship, the MV North Star, which is to begin service in August.

Good Samaritan
Last Friday I had my first flat tire in 30 years and with a bad back I knew I was in trouble. I tried flagging down passing vehicles and a fine gentleman by the name of Bruce Massey stopped and I told him my problem. He said no problem and took the time to change my tire and it wasn't an easy job.

Soldier coming home
Thank you so much for the wonderful article on the military families. I feel honored to have been featured in your newspaper, especially since we are fairly new here.

UA president's pay
Some quick research on the Internet revealed the following information: University of Alaska President and retired general Mark Hamilton receives annual compensation of $284,000, plus free use of a house.

Wolves need help
Wolves are being targeted in spotting scopes of aerial land-and-shoot hunters and urgently need your help. The state Legislature is advocating a measure that would permit the Board of Game to authorize same-day, airborne, predator-control programs without the backing of the governor or ADF&G.

Re: Sen. Cowdery's question
I guess the salary difference between Mark Hamilton and Colin Powell is sufficiently clear for me.

Even rural mines have city impacts
The Assembly should reject the proposed changes to the city mining ordinance.

More than the weather
I have an anthology of summer Sunday morning comments in order of their relative importance.

Worthy of praise
Congratulations to the CBJ, the Douglas Fourth of July Committee and to all of the private and public sector folks who helped get the Treadwell Arena online this winter.

Wolf killing is bad for tourism
Should the state be promoting shooting wolves from air planes and helicopters? This is exactly what is proposed under House Bill 208 and Senate Bill 155. What image does state-sponsored wolf killing portray to visitors?

City asks for U.S. review of Patriot Act
In a packed meeting room Monday night, the Juneau Assembly approved a resolution that outlines the city's approach to investigations under federal anti-terrorism legislation and sends a message to Congress asking the Patriot and Homeland Security acts be reexamined. "This is a very balanced resolution, and it's a positive approach. It states our support for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and respectfully asks Congress to revisit the Patriot Act," said Assembly member Mark Wheeler. "I believe that Congress didn't take its usual deliberative approach. I do think this reflects the majority of the citizens of the city and borough of Juneau."

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

Fire rips through Hoonah's center
Public safety officials are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed three structures near the center of Hoonah on Saturday. Though no one was injured seriously, the fire caused at least $50,000 in damage and destroyed a historic home, officials said Monday. Hoonah, population about 1,000, is a village 40 miles west of Juneau on Chicagof Island.

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

Theater looking 'Up'
F rom 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, state employee Ed Christian, 49, told anyone who asked that he was happy to be "hanging in there." He sat in a paraglider's harness - taped into a lawn chair and hooked by a climbing rope into a concrete pillar on the fifth-floor of the Gross Alaska building - and dangled 40 feet above Front Street. He did what anyone would do at lunchtime. He ate a hamburger.

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

Photo: Lunch in the sun
Rainbow Foods employees Shirin Cruise, left, Linda Cohen, center, and Roz Cruise enjoy the view, their lunch and the sun at a curb on Seward and Second streets Monday.

VISTA means helping out - full time
When Heather Binkley graduated from college in Minnesota with a social work degree in the spring of 2002, she wasn't quite ready to take a regular job "I had done some volunteering in the past, as a live-in volunteer at a Catholic Working house in Minnesota ... and at a homeless clinic in Milwaukee, Wis..., and I really have enjoyed my experience with volunteering," she said. So instead of applying to graduate school, or looking for a paid, entry-level social worker position, she decided to look into volunteering options.

This Day in History
In 1930, the cornerstone of what is now the Alaska State Capitol was laid in Juneau.

The art of volunteering
The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council is a large part of why the film, fine arts and music community in Juneau is as active as it is. But the arts council can do only what it does with the help of its nearly 200 volunteers, members said. "Our executive director is already working 50 hours a week, and then we have all of these events going on. We need the volunteers to make it possible," said Steve Hamilton, a volunteer and member of the council's board of trustees.

Corrections
Due to a reporter's error, an article in Tuesday's Empire about Monday's Juneau Assembly meeting misspelled Assembly member Marc Wheeler's first name.

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

Photo: Making like it's summer
Keith Callister fishes for flounder Tuesday morning off the floatplane dock downtown.

Group lobbies for school bonds
A group has formed to support passage of two school bond measures in Juneau. Voters will decide in a special election June 3 whether the city should issue $12.6 million in bonds to pay for part of the planned high school at Dimond Park in the Mendenhall Valley. And voters will decide whether to issue $12.5 million in bonds to help pay for continuing the renovation of Juneau-Douglas High School and possibly other schools.

Photo: Northern lights over Douglas Harbor
The aurora borealis dances above Douglas Harbor early Monday. The northern lights have been visible most nights during the past week in Juneau.

Photo: Rotary Awards
Juneau Downtown Rotary Club presented its 2003 Vocational Service Awards for outstanding vocational service and contribution to the community last week.

Thank you
... for the cruise; ...For a great event.

Program helps seniors develop new skills
Jim has worked most of his life as a carpenter and hopes to get into a new career that is less physical. Sue worked for years in an office, using typewriters and dial telephones; after raising a family, she now wants to go back to work. Fred depended on the timber industry for his livelihood, but knows he'll need training in a new line of work. Mary worked as a nurse's aide for 30 years and fears risking injury as she gets older. These are typical scenarios of trainees involved in the MASST program.

Hall Talk: There's junk food on the school menu
Pizza, jo-jos, nachos or corn dogs - come and get 'em while they're hot. Get your soda, Popsicles or cookies. You'd think that you were at a baseball game, but actually this is what is served at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School during lunchtime. When your child says that he or she can get lunch at school, these are some of the choices. Nutritious? I don't think so. Well balanced? I think not. Tasty? Oh yeah!

Neighbors Briefs
NCAA honors Auke Bay's Hilary Turner; Davies family benefit Thursday evening; Juneau Co-op Preschool registration deadline; Engineering scholarships

Art that rocks
Ancient peoples all over the world created messages in the durable medium of rock. They used two methods: painting and pecking.

Pets of the week
Remember Delilah, the silky black cat with a white bib and whiskers? Well, somebody goofed: she isn't a girl, but a guy! Sunkist is an affectionate, spayed lap cat needs a new person to love.

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

Chuck Keen
Chuck Keen, 65, died April 4, 2003, at the Veterans Hospital in Seattle.

Richard H. Carle Jr.
Richard H. Carle Jr., 67, died April 2, 2003, at Seattle University Hospital.

Nadine V. Price
Former Juneau resident Nadine V. Price, 77, died April 24, 2003, at her home in Anchorage, following a 10-year struggle with ovarian cancer.

Harold 'Hal' L. Sewill
Longtime Juneau resident Harold "Hal" L. Sewill, 77, died April 18, 2003, in Juneau.

Carole A. Sims
Former Juneau resident Carole A. Sims, 64, died April 26, 2003, at her home in Michigan.

My Turn: Alyeska provides - by far - best home-school education
As Alyeska home-school parents, we are writing in reply to Mr. Clark's letter (Empire, April 23) regarding Alyeska Central School. As Mr. Clark said, education has changed in Alaska. The tightening budget has caused many school districts to look for money in other places and forming their own correspondence programs is one of the best scams going.

My Turn: Alaska cannot afford ASTF
The Alaska Science and Technology Foundation was founded in 1988 based on the assumption it would enable Alaska to be the world leader in Arctic research. ASTF was endowed with $106 million, which was to be used to issue "entrepreneurial and teaching grants". Obviously, these are noble purposes, which the Murkowski administration supports. The problem is the state now spends annually many more millions of dollars than it collects in revenue. The time has come to set priorities, which, incidentally, the Legislature requested of the last administration, to no avail.

My Turn: A veteran's perspective on the war
Almost 55 years ago I was drafted into the Army right out of high school. I served in France and in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium during the bitter winter of 1944-45. It was not a happy experience, but I was absolutely convinced, as were all of us, that our cause was just, and that we were fighting against a powerful and evil enemy, who without provocation, had attacked his neighbors and actually was a threat to world security.

Crimson Bears seek repeat
After two years of coming oh-so-close, the Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team realized its goal last June when it won the state championship. Now comes the hard part - repeating. The Crimson Bears open their season at 6 p.m. on Wednesday when they host the Ketchikan Kings in a Region V game at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park. The junior varsity teams play at 2 p.m.

Juneau softball team heads north for Fairbanks games
The Juneau-Douglas High School softball team is heading north to see its future. The Crimson Bears will make their first trip to Fairbanks to play a series of six games Wednesday through Friday against the six teams in the Fairbanks-based Mid-Alaska Conference. If Juneau does well on this trip, it could help the Crimson Bears book a return trip to the state tournament June 5-6 in Fairbanks.

Letter: An answer to the boxing controversy
Everyone should say they are sorry and forget about it. It's not like child abuse where someone needs to be prosecuted. The Duckworths should go back to Juneau and fight. Give the guy who cut his arm a chance to heal and everyone train. Give the Duckworths input on who the judges will be and find judges that both parties can agree upon.

Soccer squads head north for Anchorage test
The Juneau-Douglas High School boys and girls soccer teams know they will be playing a series of games in Southcentral Alaska this week. What they don't know is just where, when and how many games they'll get. Wet field conditions and tight schedules have wreaked havoc on the Crimson Bears' trips north this season. As of Tuesday afternoon, after a lot of legwork to set up matches, the Crimson Bear boys and girls each had two definite games and one "to be determined" game opening.

Correction
Due to incorrect information provided to the Empire, some details surrounding the origin of Melvin Park mentioned in Sunday's Gastineau Channel Little League opening day article were erroneous.

Juneau Jumpers ready to show their stuff
Juneau residents have one last chance to see the renowned Juneau Jumpers jump-rope squad in action this week before the team gears up for national competition. The Jumpers are holding a community show on Friday beginning at 7 p.m. at the Glacier Valley Elementary School gym. Tickets will be sold at the door and are $5 for adults, $3 for children and students or $10 for a family.

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

Fosket wins local table tennis tourney
Juneau-Douglas High School senior Matt Fosket claimed the title in the 2003 Open Table Tennis Tournament, beating Wei Sheng of Juneau 10-21, 21-18, 21-18 in Saturday's championship match at the Terry Miller gymnasium.

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

Senate adds to university funds
The state Senate gave preliminary approval on Monday to a $2.3 billion operating budget that adds $9.5 million for university funding and restores $44.8 million for the Alaska Longevity Bonus Program. The budget also cuts $4.2 million for student transportation and $167,000 for adult basic education but restores funding for Alyeska Central School in Juneau - less $1.2 million for ACS's summer school program.

Dozens testify against aerial pesticide spraying in hearing sponsored by Dems
Several dozen people from all over the state protested the use of aerial pesticides in a Tuesday evening hearing sponsored by Democratic legislators. The session was called after the Department of Environmental Conservation refused to hold hearings on its new draft pesticide regulations codifying standards for aerial pesticide use, which has been legal for 30 years. The state requires permits for aerial pesticide use and for pesticide use over water or on state land. The new regulations put in writing existing permitting procedures and requirements, said Kristin Ryan, director of DEC's environmental health division.

House OKs boost in car registration fees
The House passed a bill Monday that would boost registration fees for most vehicles by $10 to $15 a year. The measure still must pass the Senate. House Bill 170 would boost annual car and truck license fees to $50. Currently car registration costs $34 a year, and pickup fees are $39. Fees for motorcycles, taxis and other vehicles also would rise under the measure.

Statewide cruise-ship tax measure resurrects
Cruise ship passengers would pay a $50 tax and the industry would be held to tighter environmental standards under a ballot initiative proposal submitted to the state on Tuesday. The revenue generated by the tax would be deposited into a "Commercial Vessel Passenger Tax Account" within the state General Fund.

Political winds buffet exhibit on ANWR
WASHINGTON - The Smithsonian's decision to shift an exhibition of photos of wildlife in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to a less prominent location has prompted a senator and the photographer to question the museum's motives.

Senate approves operating budget
Senate Republicans signed off on a $2.3 billion operating budget Tuesday that restores some of the cuts in education proposed by Gov. Frank Murkowski. It sets the stage for GOP leaders in the House and Senate to begin negotiations on a final fiscal 2004 spending plan that passes muster with the Republican governor. But Democrats in the minority, who largely have been spurned during this budget process, vow to continue to push for funding in education and other areas.

House eyes sales tax to increase revenue
ANCHORAGE - House Speaker Pete Kott predicts a statewide sales tax proposal will emerge sometime this week in the state Legislature. Kott, an Eagle River Republican, said such as plan has "a good possibility" of success as lawmakers seek new revenues to reduce the state's budget deficit.

Democrats blocking governor's appointment
Gov. Frank Murkowski will have to wait a little longer to appoint the state's next education commissioner. The state Board of Education picked two former Alaska educators as finalists for the post on Tuesday. A spokesman for the governor said Murkowski had hoped to make his pick soon, but will be delayed by a bill to preserve their retirement benefits. House Bill 140 would have allowed the two candidates to return to state service without paying a penalty in their retirement benefits.

State Briefs
Ice Classic officials say breakup is near; Alaska Bush author Proenneke dies at 86; Anchorage airport fighting industry slump; Murkowski names two Interior judges; Anchorage bookstore owners honored

State Briefs
Cab hits wolf in Valley; Juneau celebrates the law; Soldotna water-thrower faces criminal charges; Man accused of defrauding Veterans Administration; At least 19 winners in Nenana Ice Classic

Bears rampage through exclusive fishing resort
ANCHORAGE - At least five marauding brown bears rampaged through the Katmai Lodge, a luxury fishing resort on the Alagnak River, over the winter, demolishing freezers and food stores after busting through a total of 53 doors in search of food. Lodge employees last week were buying up replacement doors as fast as they could find them in Alaska's largest city.

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