Local Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Guard replaced with private airport security

JUNEAU - Private security officers are replacing National Guardsmen at Juneau Airport.

KnightWatch Security Services began providing security at Juneau's screening checkpoint Friday, Airport Manager Allan Heese said. KnightWatch officers will take the place of the National Guard until federal officers arrive, Heese said.

KnightWatch has five employees at Juneau Airport, and Heese estimates another five will be needed. The National Guard's last official day at the airport was Monday, he said.

City officials were concerned last month that Juneau police officers might be needed to fill in at the airport. Heese said the KnightWatch officers meet the requirements spelled out by the federal Transportation Security Administration.

The TSA is paying for the salary and benefits of the additional local officers until the new federal officers arrive. Heese said he didn't know when that would be.

In other news, a new rest room inside the departure lounge was opened to the public Monday morning, Heese said.

Alcohol tax hike passes

JUNEAU - An increase in the state's alcohol tax has officially made it through the Legislature.

The House on Tuesday agreed to go along with changes the Senate made in a bill increasing the excise tax on alcohol to about 10 cents a drink.

The Senate approved the measure on Monday.

But it added language expressing the Legislature's intent to use half of the money for drug and alcohol treatment. The House agreed to accept that language.

The Legislature cannot dedicate money for a particular purpose, so there is no guarantee future lawmakers will spend the money for that purpose.

Gov. Tony Knowles is expected to sign the bill, which will bring in about $20 million in additional revenues a year.

The increase will be 6.7 cents on a 12-ounce beer, now at 3.3 cents; 6.5 cents on a 5-ounce glass of wine, now at 3.5 cents; and 5.6 cents on 1-ounce of hard liquor, now 4.4 cents.

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