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Thursday, May 15, 2003

Alaska Pulp settles labor case
ANCHORAGE - Some 95 ex-pulp mill workers will split $11.5 million now that the Alaska Pulp Corp. and the National Labor Relations Board have settled an unfair labor practices case stemming from a 1987 strike at the defunct Sitka plant. After nearly 16 years of litigation, the two sides reached what the labor board calls one of the biggest settlements in its history.

Fairest tax of all
Most of Gov. Murkowski's initiatives to increase industry and investment in Alaska are sorely needed. Unfortunately, the effect of his proposed sales tax will be detrimental to the goal of developing a strong resident economy.

Innovative thinking invited
The state of public transportation within our capital city has improved in recent years with the addition of new buses, new routes and more frequent service. We are slowly coming to par with other similar-sized cities in the U.S. in terms of accessibility, convenience and energy efficiency of the bus system. Of course, more progress needs to be made.

Too young to be safe
At first I was against the graduated license, then I learned more about the statistics. I know what most teens are probably thinking. They are probably trying to come up with reasons why they shouldn't pass this law. What if we have to do this or have to do that? Teens are probably asking questions, wondering and making statements against it.

Nonsense near and far
The Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History, has decided to rethink the pros and especially so, the cons, of its current exhibit on ANWR, while our always-issues-sensitive senior U.S. Sen. Stevens remarked it wasn't due to any pressure from him. Hmmmm.

Sixteen and unlicensed
I am a 16-year-old unlicensed girl and let me tell you a thing or two about how I feel about the graduated driving license. I would not feel very comfortable driving around with some 25-year-old. Not only would I be worried about statutory rape, but also it would be a lot easier to get away with buying kids alcohol because they wouldn't be suspicious of having older people with some teenager. The adult could also provide a place to party or other illegal substances.

Ashamed and outraged
Fairbanks Republican Rep. Holmes is so wrong! In case you missed it he said: "We must respect people's right to fail," and, "... if the state is not responsible for the fact that somebody abuses a substance, it is not necessarily the place of the state to bail people out."

No teen curfew, no driving restrictions
I strongly oppose the passing of House Bill 213, which is the proposed provisional driver's license bill. It seems outrageous that the government can parent every detail of American society.

Longevity bonus
Clifford Berg's letter in Friday's Empire hit the nail right on the head. The governor's decision to drop the bonus program is a bad idea and turns it into nothing more than another welfare program. I wonder if thought was given to the cost of auditing everyone who is not qualified to receive the bonus.

Undermining our values
A CBJ mining ordinance designed to eliminate existing local control over developments at Greens Creek and Kensington Mines is on a fast track to passage Monday, May 19.

The old shell game
The front page of Wednesday's Empire featured an article headlined "Funds cut for substance abuse program," wherein House Republicans saved $1.6 million by upping the matching cost for grants to substance abuse programs by 150 percent. The rationalization as to how this was good for the people in need was that it freed that money to fund smaller programs that didn't require a match for their grants.

Not a bad idea
I believe the graduated license proposal introduced by Bruce Weyhrauch will benefit young teen drivers and make our roads safer. It will give them more time to become familiar with driving without distractions.

Correction
Due to an editor's error, a Tuesday Empire photo mistakenly identified a walk organized by the Southeast Alaska Cancer and Wellness Foundation on Saturday. The walk was held to honor survivors of cancer in Juneau.

This Day in History
In 1939, noted musher Charles "Slim"" Williams began his trip from Fairbanks to the World's Fair in New York, traveling by motorcycle along the proposed route of the International American-Canadian Highway.

Photo: Catching the bus
A construction worker ties rebar together on the Steamship Wharf-Marine Park project as tourists off the cruise ship Veendam load onto a bus along Marine Way on Tuesday.

Tart-tasting rhubarb a good foil to berries and peaches
Watching the rhubarb grow around town these past few weeks, I have been struck by how much a rhubarb plant looks like it tastes: big, fast, almost wild. Rhubarb is as bitterly green as chard, as stalky as celery, and as pleasingly red as a strawberry.

City attorney finds Wanamaker's ties to mining a conflict of interest
Juneau Assembly member Randy Wanamaker's ties to the mining industry constitute a conflict of interest, according to City Attorney John Corso, who recommended Tuesday that Wanamaker be excused from voting on a proposed mining ordinance he helped draft. The proposed ordinance would distinguish between rural mines and urban mines, making the former "allowable uses," which carry fewer conditions than the "conditional use" permits all mines in Juneau must obtain now.

This Day in History
In 1941, a contract was approved for construction of the $42,000 Juneau International Airport.

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

Photo: Double duty
Rod Moline takes his dogs, Soofie, left, and Jack for a run Wednesday along Mendenhall Lake.

Juneau flasher faces another charge after serving time
A Juneau man who just served a sentence for indecent exposure faces another charge of exposing himself. Bryon Gutschmidt, 42, was charged May 1 with open lewdness, a misdemeanor. Gut-schmidt, an accounting supervisor for the Department of Labor, defense attorney David Mallet and city prosecutor Jim Douglas declined comment.

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

Home Depot eyes Kmart building
The Home Depot, an Atlanta-based home improvement retailer, is looking closely at opening stores in the former Kmart buildings in Juneau and Kenai, a company spokesman said Tuesday. "It's not a done deal, but we're interested in the sites," said spokesman John Simley.

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

Mines want a speedy decision
Greens Creek Mining Co. and Kensington Mine Project representatives want the Juneau Assembly to make an expedient decision on the fate of a proposed mining ordinance. If the Assembly adopts the ordinance, Greens Creek wouldn't have to apply for a new permit for its tailings facility expansion and Kensington could skip a permitting step in plans to open the mine.

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

School District, teachers at impasse in negotiations
The Juneau School District turned down the teacher union's final contract offer Tuesday afternoon, and the parties are at an impasse. The district and teachers have agreed to mediation, although no date has been set, Superintendent Peggy Cowan said. The executive committee of the Juneau Education Association will meet Thursday to decide whether to ask the full membership later this month to authorize a strike if a settlement can't be reached after mediation and arbitration, said union President Tom Gill.

Fields, McDonald to marry
Margaret McDonald of Seattle and David Fields of Juneau will be married in a ceremony planned for 4 p.m., July 26, at St. Peter and Paul Church in Grangeville, Idaho. A reception will follow at 5:30 p.m. at the McDonald ranch in Fenn, Idaho.

Pets of the week
Penny is an aristocratic beauty, a purebred Persian with a long, shaded silver coat. Jackel has a happy-go-lucky disposition and a beautiful, silky black coat.

Perkins, Hall announce engagement
Carl and Debby Perkins are pleased to announce the engagement of their daughter Shannon Lea, of Juneau, to Jeffrey Robert Hall of Springville, Utah.

Motorcyclist to go 'on the road to a cure'
Before March 2002, Teresa Gilbert didn't know how to ride a motorcycle. Now, she's planning to ride more than 1,200 miles to raise money to help eradicate breast cancer. Gilbert will take part in the Pony Express Relay, a fund-raising ride hosted by the Women's Motorcyclist Foundation, this summer. She hopes to raise at least $1,000 to contribute to the Komen Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises money for breast cancer research, education, screening and treatment.

Neighbors Briefs
Potlatch for Cecilia Kunz; Thane neighborhood meeting; Glory Hole dinner shifts

Photo: April landscape
A view of the Mendenhall Glacier seen on April 30 from an outlook on the East Glacier Trail.

Ward, Cadiente marry
Danielle Dawn Cadiente of Juneau and Matthew Lamont Ward of Seattle were married at 12:30 p.m. on April 11, 2003, at the Seattle Justice Center.

Thank you
...for help with the musical; ...Thanks for the doggy help; ...Thanks for helping swimmers

Friends and family of JDHS Class of 1993 asked to help in search
We are still looking to contact classmates for our summer reunion. If you are in touch with or have contact information for any of the following, please contact Betty Carlson Nelson at 364-3414 or carlsonb@gci.net.

My Turn: Della Brown was a victim of racism
In Anchorage, Native activist and former Juneau resident Desa Jacobsson is subjecting herself to a crucible of deprivation so that murder victim Della Brown is not forgotten. Jacobsson went on a hunger strike to protest the recent acquittal of Joshua Wade, who was charged with killing Brown.

My Turn: Good reason to support sales tax
A year-round sales tax is not part of the budget this administration proposed to the Legislature in March. Instead, we proposed either a seasonal sales tax, charged over the summer months, or re-instatement of the old school tax, a once-a-year contribution from everyone who works in the state.

Juneau softball squad wins 12th straight
Neither rain nor wind nor squall can stop the surging Juneau-Douglas High School softball squad. Lacking a full squad, but with plenty of hot bats, Juneau defeated Prince of Wales 11-3 on Tuesday in Craig to complete its road trip through southern Southeast with a 5-0 record - two wins over Prince of Wales and three over Ketchikan. Juneau (12-2 overall, 6-2 Region V) has won 12 games in a row.

Spring King Salmon Derby Standings
Here are the standings in the Seventh Annual Spring King Salmon Derby, as reported at 4:59 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14. The rankings include the angler's name, weight of the fish (in 10ths of a pound), date turned in and what station the fish was turned into. Ties are broken by the earliest fish turned in.

Three former champs in 2003 Great Alaska Shootout field
ANCHORAGE - Former champions Duke, Purdue and Seton Hall will play in the 2003 Great Alaska Shootout.

A different kind of handoff
Each fall, Juneau-Douglas High School football players run up and down the Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park field. This spring, five of them are running circles around it. Junior Brian Felix and seniors T.J. Mason, Ernest Monts, Toni Talamai and Leo Winn - all football players last season - will be helping lead the way in sprints for the Crimson Bear track team Friday and Saturday at the Region V Track and Field Championships on the Adair-Kennedy oval. A sixth gridder, senior Tevita Talamai, will join brother Toni throwing discus and shot put for Juneau.

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

Musarra, Ritter lead Tornado wrestlers
Sungie Musarra and Jake Ritter each won two titles to lead the Juneau Tornadoes Wrestling Club at the Alaska State Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling tournaments in Eagle River earlier this month. Musarra (112 pounds) and Ritter (215 pounds) each won their weight class in the cadet division at both tournaments on May 2-3. Both compete for the Juneau-Douglas High School wrestling team in the winter.

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

Spring King Salmon Derby Standings
Here are the standings in the Seventh Annual Spring King Salmon Derby, as reported at 5:25 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13. The rankings include the angler's name, weight of the fish (in 10ths of a pound), date turned in and what station the fish was turned into. Ties are broken by the earliest fish turned in.

Photo: Long days, little time left
State Reps. Max Gruenberg Jr., left, and Les Gara, both Anchorage Democrats, show the strain of long hours during a meeting of the minority Wednesday at the Capitol. The Legislature is trying to wrap up its work in the eight days left in this year's session.

Rep. Young wants changes in Patriot Act
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Don Young wants to start making amends for a vote he cast in a moment of anger 18 months ago. He is looking to dismantle parts of the USA Patriot Act, which he and most other members of Congress approved in the weeks following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Alaska Republican said he probably would co-sponsor a bill that would make it harder once again for federal law enforcement agencies to see library and bookstore patron records.

Photo: Early intro to the Legislature
Rep. Mary Kapsner, a Bethel Democrat, holds her newborn son, Matthew Van Kapsner, while attending a minority caucus Wednesday during her first day back at the Legislature since her son was born.

GOP, Dems meet to try to end session on time
Legislative leaders took the first tentative step Wednesday toward ending the session as House GOP leaders met with minority Democrats to forge a compromise that would allow the Legislature to adjourn in a week - on time. House Majority Leader John Coghill, a North Pole Republican, said Democrats were invited to begin negotiations on what issues will need to be resolved to win minority support for a budget-balancing three-fourths vote.

Senate axes recreation and sports liability bill
The Senate narrowly rejected a bill Tuesday that would have shielded Alaska sports and recreational companies and operators from liability lawsuits. The measure could be reconsidered. The bill sponsored by Sen. Ralph Seekins, a Fairbanks Republican, failed by one vote. It would have set out in state law that people engaging in sports or recreational activities should be responsible for the inherent risk associated with those activities.

Oil tax credit zipping through Senate
Despite some senators' nervousness about a potential cost to the state of as much as $100 million a year, Gov. Frank Murkowski's proposed tax credit for oil exploration could come up for a vote in the Senate today - three days after it was introduced. The bill would provide a severance tax credit of 20 percent of the cost of exploration wells drilled more than three miles from an existing well. Explorers would get a 40 percent credit for wells drilled more than 25 miles from existing oil production facilities.

Kenai teenager survives mauling by brown bear
ANCHORAGE - A Kasilof teenager on his first bear hunt near Bear Creek ended up being hunted by a bear.

Measure loosens lobbying limits
A bill that would allow lobbyists to spend 10 times as many hours with lawmakers before having to register with the Alaska Public Offices Commission is expected to be voted on today in the House of Representatives. Senate Bill 89 gives lobbyists 40 hours a month with lawmakers before having to register with APOC. Now lobbyists must register after spending more than four hours in a 30-day period.

Funds cut for substance-abuse programs
Drug- and alcohol-abuse programs will have to pay more to keep their doors open under a bill passed Tuesday in the House of Representatives. The proposal was introduced at the request of Gov. Frank Murkowski and increases the match that drug and alcohol programs pay to receive state grants. Treatment programs would have to match 25 percent of the cost of the grants instead of the 10 percent they pay now.

Senate OKs bill to curb credit rating effects
A bill passed Wednesday in the Senate would restrict insurance companies' use of a customer's credit rating in determining insurance rates or whether to insure the customer. Senate Bill 13 passed 19-0 and moves to the House. Companies that issue personal policies such as auto insurance and renter's insurance use a secret formula to evaluate a client's credit history. Known as "credit scoring," the practice is routine throughout the nation, said bill co-sponsor Sen. Kim Elton, a Juneau Democrat.

Seniors throw support to Longevity Bonus phase-out
Senior citizens groups have agreed to a five-year phase-out of the Longevity Bonus Program. The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill Tuesday incorporating the change. Marie Darlin of AARP in Juneau says the senior citizens group and the Pioneers of Alaska came up with the proposal as an alternative to losing the bonuses entirely this year or having the program become based on need.

State Briefs
Senate OKs permanent fund royalties bill; W. Valley rezoning eyed; New hotel wins approval; House passes teacher, nurse housing bill; Humane society sponsors trail cleanup; Fairbanks boy dies of injuries from bike crash

State Briefs
Murkowski travels to Seattle for heart tests; Assembly raises bus fares; City to perform noise tests with floatplanes; Bike to Work Day is Friday; Murkowski backing oil tax break; Senate approves timber as No. 1 use of forests

Mounties to increase scrutiny on the border
WHITEHORSE - While RVers, campers and outdoor enthusiasts pour across the Yukon-Alaska border this summer, a special unit of Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be searching among them for drug dealers, gun smugglers and border runners. In August, the Yukon was assigned an Integrated Border Enforcement Team, one of 19 created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. After the attacks, the Canadian federal government put more than a half-billion dollars into the RCMP to improve national security.

Hunters illegally take sows, leave orphaned cubs
KODIAK - In what authorities are calling an unprecedented number of illegal shootings, two Kodiak brown bear sows with cubs were killed this month and Alaska State Troopers are investigating a possible third. "In five years I haven't worked a bear-hunting season in which three sows with cubs have been shot," said state Wildlife Protection Officer Joanna Roop.

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