Power outage linked to Snettisham
JUNEAU - Officials at Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. haven't determined the exact cause of this morning's power outage in Juneau, but have traced the problem to a generator unit at the Snettisham Hydroelectric Project.
The outage affected customers in the Mendenhall Valley, West Juneau and Douglas, AEL&P Vice President and Director of Consumer Affairs David Stone said. The power went out at approximately 10:20 a.m. Service was restored by 10:55 a.m., he said.
The Snettisham unit was out of service for annual maintenance and workers brought it back on line after Sunday's power outage, Stone said.
Bill boosts former governors' retirement
JUNEAU - A handful of former governors and lieutenant governors would see their retirement benefits go up under a bill by Juneau Rep. Bill Hudson that passed the state House today.
Hudson introduced the measure, saying about five former high ranking elected officials left office under an old retirement system that did not adjust for inflation.
His bill would increase their retirement benefits to 75 percent of the cost-of-living adjustments received by state employees under other retirement programs. The increase would apply to former governors and lieutenant governors who have not received a COLA for 10 years - currently about five people, said Hudson, noting it would cost the state an extra $47,000 next fiscal year.
Hudson initially penned in a $28,000 pay raise for the governor, who earns $81,648 annually. However, Gov. Tony Knowles apparently told Hudson he didn't want the raise.
"It turns out it was an unwanted advance," said Hudson. "Out of courtesy to the governor I removed that."
The bill passed 34-2 with Republican fiscal conservatives Rep. Vic Kohring of Wasilla and Rep. Scott Ogan of Palmer voting against it. It now heads to the Senate.
Berners Bay cabin converts to oil heat
JUNEAU - The U.S. Forest Service has converted the Berners Bay recreational use cabin to oil heat. The cabin, accessible by water, is about 40 miles northwest of downtown Juneau.
The agency decided to replace the wood-burning stove because it was getting harder for users to find downed trees for firewood.
Cabin users now will have to provide their own No. 1 stove (diesel) fuel. The agency recommends one to two gallons a day. The No. 2 diesel fuel sold at gas stations will clog the stove's fuel system, the Forest Service said.
The correct fuel is available at Delta Western, Taku Oil, Aurora Marina, Petro Marine and the Mendenhall Valley Tesoro service station.
To reserve the cabin, which rents for $35 a night, call (877) 444-6777 or use the Internet at www.ReserveUSA.com.
UAS picks dean of students
JUNEAU - The University of Alaska Southeast has hired Paul Kraft as the new dean of students and enrollment management. He replaces Bruce Gifford, who resigned after 13 years to accept a university position in Idaho.
Kraft was interim vice president for student affairs at Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D.
"Paul has a strong student services background, plus experience in strategic planning, budget oversight and teaching enrollment management courses," Chancellor John Pugh said in a statement.
Kraft will begin at UAS in July.
School board chooses Milliron
JUNEAU - The Juneau School Board on Tuesday approved the hiring of Tom Milliron as principal of Floyd Dryden Middle School starting next school year.
Milliron, who has been assistant principal at Dryden for two years, replaces Sue Clifton, who is moving to Wyoming. He was recommended for the job by the school's site council and Superintendent Gary Bader.
Teacher talks to resume
JUNEAU - The Juneau School District and the Juneau Education Association, the teachers' union, will resume contract negotiations later this month through a mediator.
The parties declared an impasse in mid-April over financial issues such as raises.
The federal mediator can't impose a contract, said schools Superintendent Gary Bader. Mediators generally meet with the parties separately and try to broker a deal. May 23 is the tentative date for the mediation.
Many of the school district's 350 teachers picketed outside the district's central office Tuesday before and during part of the school board's regular meeting. Teachers carried signs that read "Give us more or we're out the door," "Quality education = quality pay" and "Hawaii teachers' salaries up 5 percent - Aloha."
"The purpose was just to demonstrate to the administration and the school board the solidarity of the teachers - that we truly do represent all of the teachers and they are really serious about getting a better contract," said JEA President Sheryl Hall.
Assembly OKs school funds
JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly appropriated $17,430,500 in local school funding on Monday, with discussions about additional support to continue.
The Assembly is required by the state to indicate the minimum amount of funding it will give the school district by April 30. Historically, the Assembly has appropriated the minimum, increasing funding to the maximum local cap as the complete budget picture came together, according to City Manager Dave Palmer.
On a suggestion from Palmer, the Assembly unanimously approved maximum funding to the local cap now because no budget cuts are proposed this year.
The Assembly also listened to public comment about its fiscal year 2002 operating budget and capital projects.
Cindy Cashen and Matt Felix asked assembly members to set up a separate line item to assure approximately $65,000 in liquor license fees are used to prevent drunken driving and to enforce underage drinking restrictions. Felix said the budget should account for the money separately to assure it is used for its intended purpose.
Gastineau Human Services Operations Director Andy Swantson asked the assembly to set up a task force to focus on social problems in the community. Community members also voice support for increased bus service and dock upgrades.
Landlord charges dismissed
JUNEAU - A Juneau landlord accused in January of felony assault against a tenant has been cleared of all wrongdoing.
With guns drawn, Juneau Police arrested landlord Gary Wilkins on Jan. 8 for third-degree assault against his tenant, Jimmie Jenkins, 35. Jenkins also accused Wilkins of having drugs on his Glacier Highway property, but police did not find any when they used a search warrant.
"Dismissals were filed Friday afternoon, so all charges have been dismissed," Wilkins' public defender, David Seid, said this week.
Wilkins had asked Jenkins to leave his property Jan. 7. When Jenkins returned to get his things, Wilkins "found him snooping around his tools and his shed," Seid said. He confronted the man and ordered him to leave. Jenkins then told police Wilkins had threatened him with a pistol and a rifle. On the strength of that accusation, police arrested Wilkins and lodged him at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.
"Mr. Wilkins asserted his innocence from the beginning, and everything we investigated was consistent with that," Seid said. "He had kicked Jenkins out of his house, and maybe Jenkins didn't like that."