State and local briefly

Posted: Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Comment period open on cruise ships

JUNEAU -The public can comment on proposed voluntary changes in cruise ship operating procedures Wednesday.

A steering committee including cruise ship representatives and state and federal regulators will take public comments from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Centennial Hall. Among those expected to attend are Michele Brown, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation; Dean Brown of the North West CruiseShip Association; and Loren Gerhard, director of the Southeast Conference.

A draft report on air quality monitoring, oil spill response and other issues relating to the cruise industry is available online at A hard copy is available from Trish Tolles of DEC at 465-5337.

Written comments can be sent after the hearing to Michael A. Conway, director, Statewide Public Service Division, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, 410 Willoughby Ave., Suite 105, Juneau, AK, 99801.

Seal pups should be left alone

ANCHORAGE -People who find seal pups on Alaska beaches from now until mid-June should leave well-enough alone, a federal fisheries official said Monday.

The seal pups, born during the peak birthing period, may look abandoned but in most cases the mother is at sea feeding and will return to her young.

``Although their intentions are well-meant, individuals who remove seal pups from beaches may eliminate the possibility of a pup reuniting with its mother,'' said Kaja Brix, wildlife biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service Alaska Region.

It is better to not touch the pups or even approach them, Brix said.

People who harass a seal pup or any other marine mammal can be fined up to $10,000 under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Cuts prompt school to end early

FAIRBANKS - Students at Delta Junction schools will be released for the year Friday because of budget cuts.

The school year was scheduled to end May 25 but the Delta Greely School Board voted May 4 to close the school early.

Superintendent Dan Beck recommended the change to allow staff extra time to plan for the transitions necessary to close Fort Greely School. With enrollment and funding dropping, and the Fort Greely Army post slated to close, the district can't afford to maintain the school, which is about five miles from its other campus.

In the fall, all Delta/Greely students will be taught at the main campus, with modulars being pressed into service to help accommodate the estimated 250 students in grades four through eight that would have been at Fort Greely School.

There are some logistical problems to be worked out, such as how to feed all of the students in one cafeteria and how to schedule gym times for sports practices. But Sandra M. Hill, principal at Fort Greely School, said the school can accommodate the extra students.

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