Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Illness reported among some 55 Norwegian Cruise Line passengers
SEATTLE - About 55 passengers and five crew members contracted a gastrointestinal illness during a seven-day Southeast Alaska cruise on the Norwegian Cruise Line vessel Norwegian Sky, the company said Monday. When the vessel docked in Seattle on Saturday, some people from a 376-member group traveling with Legendary Journeys tours were taken to the Marriott SeaTac south of the city near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, said the hotel's general manager, Sam Uchello.

Troubled seafood plant asks governor for financial aid
ANCHORAGE - The struggling Alaska Seafood International manufacturing plant in Anchorage is asking for millions of state dollars and subsidies to stay afloat. ASI is asking for $100,000 a month to pay utility, insurance and other costs associated with the upkeep of the state-owned building the company occupies. The business also wants the state to defer the $360,000 monthly rent payments on the 202,000-square-foot building for another nine months.

Conflicting interests
Let me see if I understand this correctly.Assembly member Randy Wanamaker, as board chairman of a Native corporation with mining interests, shouldn't participate in debate or decisions related to mining because he has a conflict of interest.

Our downfall
In the governor's "warning" to the legislators on May 17, it was stated the budget will be short $161 million if we do not institute a sales tax. The alternative is a list of proposed cuts that add up to more than $188 million. Even my 8-year-old is better at math than that.

Go slow on mine changes
Don Smith's editorial Sunday leaves little for one's imagination. There can be absolutely no doubt about his allegiance, dedication and keen interest in the corporate mining giants of the world. He unabashedly brings it all home to our little old city of Juneau. Personally, I like that. I know exactly where he stands on the issues.

Election questions
As a member of the Douglas Indian Association, I have some concerns. Why is the Bureau of Indian Affairs sponsoring another election? The tribe already hosted a fair and legal election on March 3 that abided by the tribe's constitution and by-laws. With the election of four new council members, a council of nine was seated and ready to do business.

Legislative reflections
I am very proud of Juneau's legislative delegates. Reps. Bruce Weyhrauch and Beth Kerttula and Sen. Kim Elton have been level-headed, effective legislators. Elton grabbed attention with his lone vote against another ANWR resolution. Some looked at it as an act of selfishness. I thought it was an act of conviction and resolution.

For graduated driver's license
I believe the graduated driver's license is a good idea because I think there are too many inexperienced teenage drivers on the road. I like the idea that you would need some time on the road, like a year, then take a test to get your driver's license. At least you would have some kind of experience on the road.

Fast or fair?
According to publisher-editorialist Smith, "At last Monday's Assembly meeting, representatives from the Greens Creek Mining Co. and Coeur Alaska, Inc., the operator of the Kensington Gold Project, asked the Juneau Assembly to make an expedient decision on the proposed mining ordinance."

Not fair to teens
I think the graduated driver's license is a bad idea. It's not fair to teenagers in Juneau. Everybody blames teens for the majority of crashes. Old people crash too! I think it will only cause a lot of chaos in Juneau because nobody will want to abide by that law.

Unfair labels
Many people are genuinely concerned about rolling back some of our city's oversight of mines. That does not make them anti-mining. They may be very much in favor of mining, if carried out with proper safeguards.

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

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

Assembly splits mining ordinance
The Juneau Assembly split the mining ordinance proposal into two parts Monday night and sent them back to the Planning Commission for review, allowing more time for the more controversial portion that would loosen city permitting requirements for rural mines. Ordinance 2003-UR would make rural mines that undergo state or federal environmental review allowable uses, and would bar the city from imposing permitting conditions that are covered by state or federal permits.

Parents concerned Dryden band could be reduced
Parents of eighth-grade band students at Floyd Dryden Middle School say a proposed cut in band classes will shut off some students from an important lifelong activity. But Principal Tom Milliron said all students who signed up for eighth-grade band can be accommodated in one large class. The elimination of one of two eighth-grade band classes is part of a reduction in staffing because of a tight budget districtwide.

This Day in History
In 1902, underwater prospector W.A. Boyce was trapped in a 2,000 pound diving bell for half an hour. While being lowered, the derrick toppled over and the bell's air valve snapped. Boyce was rescued due to heroic efforts and vowed to try again.

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

Absentee voting now underway
In-person absentee voting for Juneau's special school bond election opened Monday and will continue through June 2. Ballots are available between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at City Hall Room 224, or at the Mendenhall Mall near the Bullwinkle's Pizza Parlor entrance. Absentee ballots also will be available Saturday, May 31, at City Hall from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and at the Mendenhall Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 3 to 7 p.m.

Trial starts for man accused of raping teens
The district attorney told a Juneau jury Tuesday that a man on trial for rape took advantage of a runaway girl and a girl in foster care because no one would believe they'd been raped. But the man's defense attorney said the teenagers are lying and have ruined the man's life. Michael Roberts, 34, is charged with one count of first-degree sexual assault, two counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, both felonies, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor. The charges stem from incidents in May 2002 involving one of the 15-year-old girls.

This Day in History
In 1949, an ice jam caused the Yukon River to flood, marooning 182 people overnight on a small knoll near Fort Yukon.

District cutting back on teachers
The Juneau School District will reduce staffing by the equivalent of 4.75 full-time teachers, and plans to take other steps to balance next school year's budget, administrators said. Juneau-Douglas High School will lose the equivalent of two teachers, Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School one teacher, Floyd Dryden Middle School one teacher, and Riverbend Elementary School 0.75 teachers, said Superintendent Peggy Cowan.

Photo: Brown-bags and strings
Annaliesa Place plays the violin, Inessa Zaretsky plays the piano and Andrew Kim plays the cello during their Chamber Ensemble brown-bag show Monday at the State Office Building. Free brown-bag concerts will be held every day at noon this week as part of the Juneau Jazz & Classics festival.

Blood Bank of Alaska seeks donations to meet summer demand
Summer is the hardest time of year to get people to donate blood, said Gregg Shomaker, director of marketing and community relations for the Blood Bank of Alaska. "When it gets nice, people get out and enjoy the state and all it has to offer," Shomaker said. "Our donations go down, but there's more accidents and more usage of blood."

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

Exploring under Juneau: A tour of the past
"What's big and red and eats rock?" Kirk "Ziggy" Ziegenfuss asked eight visitors to Alaska last week as they stood at the entrance to the long-closed ore conveyor tunnel at the Alaska Gastineau Mill site. The group had no guesses. "A big, red rock eater!" Ziegenfuss answered, laughing at his own joke and transforming the nervous smiles of the tourists into genuine grins.

Dawn Miller named executive director of United Way Southeast
The United Way of Southeast Alaska has hired Dawn Miller to replace Marsha Riley as the agency's executive director. "Dawn's high energy, attitude, great credentials and excellent references made Dawn our pick out of a field of extremely strong candidates," said Rob Skinner, president of the United Way of Southeast Alaska board of directors.

Photo: A day to bike
Michael Hoskins, left, and Kevin Henderson arrive at the intersection of Main Street and Calhoun Avenue after a 42-minute bike ride Friday from the Mendenhall Valley to downtown. The pair was partaking in the annual National Bike to Work Day.

Juneau Soroptimists big on books
Being read to as a young child is an important predictor of later reading success. Soroptimist members collected and donated more than 1200 high-quality children's books to early childhood programs in Juneau this spring. The books were delivered to programs by NAEYC-SEA during monthly "toy-mobile" service, and were also distributed to early-childhood educators during literacy workshops.

Kazama, Weske to marry
Anne Kazama and Jeremy Weske of Juneau will be married in a ceremony planned for 6:30 p.m., June 6, at Douglas Island Bible Church.

Photo: A song for Cecilia Kunz
Cecilia Kunz is serenaded by friends and family during a potlatch in her honor last week at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. Kunz has been a Native leader and active in the cause of Native civil rights as a member of the Alaska Native Sisterhood.

Pets of the week
Jasper is a friendly family dog, a one-year-old yellow Lab who gets along well with children, other dogs and even cats. Jo Jo is a neutered male, goofy and affectionate. His sister Mayday is a petite, spayed female, loving and ladylike.

Thank you
...for helping AWARE; ...for help with the food drive; ...for help with Daffodil Days; ...thanks for helping AWARE with food drive; ...thanks to Evergreen Ford

My Turn: Targeted visitor taxes hurt Alaska businesses
Alaska's fiscal gap has moved to center stage and politicians and political activists across the state are rummaging to find new state revenue sources. One thing most of these efforts have in common is that they seek to make somebody else pay. Out-of-state visitors are favorite tax targets as legislators have pushed everything from new vehicle rental taxes to wildlife viewing fees, seasonal sales taxes and cruise ship passenger head taxes.

My Turn: Preserve Denali Kid Care
Alaska's Legislature recently passed Senate Bill 105, legislation that if signed into law will make it more difficult for children from low-income families to qualify for Denali Kid Care. This program originally was developed to reduce the number of uninsured Alaskans, and has been quite effective at extending health coverage to poor children whose families couldn't otherwise afford insurance.

My Turn: Mines need to pay their fair share
Mining in Alaska conjures up historical images of prospectors armed with pickaxes and gold pans, combing creeks and valleys in search of the next big lode. But today the picture of this industry is quite different. The lone prospector has been replaced largely by heavily subsidized, multinational corporations from Outside that use Alaska's natural resources for profit, then take the money and run when their mining operations close, leaving little in the way of compensation, jobs, or revenue to Alaska.

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

Correction
In the results from last weekend's Region V Track and Field Championships reported in Sunday's Empire, the boys 1,600 meters time for Gabe Hayden of Juneau was incorrectly listed.

Lena Loop Run
Results from the Southeast Road Runners club's Nugget Alaskan Outfitters Lena Loop Run and the Kids' Kilometer Fun Run, both held Saturday at Lena Beach. There was a 5-kilometer course for adult runners, and a 1-kilometer course for kids. The 1-kilometer race's times were not available.

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

Hits, cuts, dirt & dust
In more ways than one, the dirt fields of Southeast Alaska have left their mark on the seniors of this year's Juneau-Douglas High School baseball team. From the undulating outfield at Moller Field in Sitka, to the pernicious pebbles of Norman Walker Field in Ketchikan, to the dust devils at Juneau's own Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, playing baseball in Southeast forces players to develop rock-solid fundamentals and quick thinking. It also forces the development of cuts, scrapes and bruises.

Cougars will retire Brayton's uniform number
PULLMAN, Wash. - Chuck "Bobo" Brayton coached the Washington State baseball team through parts of four decades, to 21 league titles and into two College World Series. Now he is joining Mel Hein and Jack Thompson as the only Cougars to have their numbers retired.

Cavs hope luck changes in LeBron lottery
CLEVELAND - Everyone wants LeBron James, the projected No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. There's only one team and city that desperately need him. And that's Cleveland, just a 40-minute drive from his Akron home.

Spring King Salmon Derby Standings
Here are the standings in the Seventh Annual Spring King Salmon Derby, as reported at 11:57 a.m. on Tuesday, May 20. 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.

Spring King Salmon Derby Standings
Here are the standings in the Seventh Annual Spring King Salmon Derby, as reported at 2:36 p.m. on Sunday, May 18. 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.

Senate OKs public interest liability law
Public interest groups and citizens pressing for change could be forced to pay the state's legal costs if they lose cases, under a bill approved Tuesday by the Senate. House Bill 145 was approved 12-8 along party lines, with all Republicans in support and all Democrats opposed.

Phase-out of Longevity Bonus axed
The state House on Tuesday voted down a plan to phase out the senior citizens' longevity bonus program. But the issue could come up for another vote today, the final day of this year's part of the two-year legislative session. Only 13 of the 38 representatives present for the vote favored going along with a five-year phase-out of the program that sends monthly checks to eligible older Alaskans.

House bill will allow phone wars to carry on
The House threw a lifeline to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska on Monday, giving the agency that oversees utilities a four-year extension. But it ordered the embattled agency to make significant changes in the way it does business. During hours of contentious debate, lawmakers approved legislation that extends the sunset date of the agency that was set to enter a yearlong phase-out beginning June 30.

House OKS tax credits for oil companies
Gov. Frank Murkowski's proposal to provide tax credits for companies that explore for oil in Alaska passed the House on Monday. The bill has passed the Senate, but because the House made changes in it, the two sides will have to agree on a compromise.

Dozens of McGrath bears relocated
FAIRBANKS - Before they began catching and moving bears to protect moose calves near McGrath last week, state wildlife biologists started a pool to guess how many they would find. The crew of about 25 biologists, trappers and pilots each threw in $20 to guess the number of black and grizzly bears they would capture. The range of guesses for black bears was 34 to 85.

House approves increase in campaign contributions
JUNEAU - A bill to double the amount of money people can contribute to state political campaigns was approved 22-15 by the House on Monday. But it touched off bitter bipartisan complaints from members who argued it would derail campaign finance reforms imposed in 1996.

Correspondence school granted one-year reprieve
The Senate has given the state's only certified correspondence school just one more year of operation before being closed. The bill was approved Tuesday on reconsideration after a 12-8 vote for the measure on Monday. It calls for eliminating funds for Alyeska Central School's summer school program but letting the regular correspondence program continue for another year.

State Briefs
Woman fakes attack; Largest state workers' union ratifies contract; House OKs rental car tax; Bill would settle lawsuit in oil company's favor; Murkowski undergoes successful angioplasty; Jury selected in sex abuse case; Aniak man killed outside residence; Ketchikan aims to end winter 'ghost town' look; One killed, one injured in Anchorage shooting

Lawmakers wax philosophic on proposal to tax tire sales
A plan to raise $3.3 million by taxing tire sales passed the House of Representatives Monday, but not before a debate between Democrats and Republicans on their differing philosophies on taxation. The tax would institute a $2.50 fee on each tire sold in the state and an additional $5 on the sales of each studded tire. Jim Holm, a Fairbanks Republican, encouraged members to vote yes on the measure, noting the money would go toward $65 million needed this year to maintain the road system.

Democrats say Smithsonian censored ANWR photo exhibit
WASHINGTON - Democratic senators accused the Smithsonian Institution on Tuesday of self-censorship because it moved a photo exhibit of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to a basement hallway between a loading dock and a freight elevator.

Budget bill has money for fast ferries, roads
A public works projects bill that passed out of the House Finance Committee on Tuesday includes two appropriations of $5 million to study road, ferry and bridge projects in Juneau and restores $63 million to build two high-speed ferries for Southeast. The fate of the public works budget, also known as the capital budget, is uncertain due to Gov. Frank Murkowski's promise to cut up to $47.8 million from the bill through line-item vetoes. Murkowski's plan to cut the budget is in response to the Legislature's unwillingness to institute a 3 percent statewide sales tax.

Photo: Nearing the end
Reps. Mike Chenault, a Nikiski Republican, left, and Bud Fate, a Fairbanks Republican, talk during a break Tuesday in a House session at the Capitol.

State Briefs
Teachers willing to strike; Predator control bill passes House; Driver's license bill passes House; Senate looks at crab quota plan; Fire claims boat, possible arson; Earthquakes jolt Alaska

RCA battle heats up, spills into Senate committee
The long-running battle between the state's two major telephone companies spilled over into a Senate committee on Tuesday. The outcome of the most recent flap - just one day before the Legislature was to adjourn - could throw the state's regulatory agency into a winding-down period.

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