Sunday, June 22, 2003

Thinking is patriotic
To add to the discussion of the "under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance in some recent letters, here is some historical information.

Reasonable priorities
Wow! What a breath of fresh air to read Cheryl Frasca's My Turn column on Friday, June 20.

The value of Americorps
I'd like to add another voice to the loss of Americorps for Alaska. Several years ago, I worked as an Americorps volunteer out in the Interior, providing GED tutoring to a wide range of folks from recent high school dropouts who were realizing their mistake to 80-year-olds who had hidden that deficit all of their lives.

Substance abuse cuts stop school program
The local nonprofit that runs substance-abuse prevention programs and assesses court-ordered offenders for treatment has taken a substantial cut in funding from the state. The budget of the Juneau chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence will drop from about $830,000 this past fiscal year to $500,000 for the year starting July 1, said its executive director, Matt Felix. Several members of the 12-person staff will be laid off.

Assembly ponders changes for downtown parking, taxis
More of downtown's parking spaces will become loading zones in the morning - and the price for parking illegally in a zone will be $100 - if the Juneau Assembly passes a loading zone ordinance Monday night. "The water side of South Franklin and Front Street is going to be reserved for loading between 6 and 11 a.m. with the exception of two 15-minute parking spaces in front of the Heritage Building," said Sam Kito Jr., Juneau's transportation development manager.

Harry Potter fans throng midnight book party
Matt and Michelle Shepardson, 8 and 10, are two of the most diehard Harry Potter fans at Mendenhall River Elementary School. Their mother, Widya, a Harry Potter fan herself, likes to show up early. So there they were, camped out at the back door to Hearthside Books' Nugget Mall location at 10:30 p.m. Friday night with school friend Veronica Buness, 8. They were the first in line to pick up a copy of the 896-page "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" at Hearthside's Harry Potter Magical Midnight Party. And they could hardly wait.

Correction
Due to editing errors, the column by Carl Leubsdorf in Friday's Empire omitted his first name.

A vessel serving veterans
John Wilkins Jr. and his wife, Connie Wilkins, bought their boat, the Lady J, because John wanted "a way out" when the couple moved to Juneau in 1997. "I told her, 'You've got two choices - a boat or a plane,' " John Wilkins said. The couple went with the boat. At the time, the Wilkinses didn't realize that their "way out" would provide a way back into society for many veterans in Southeast Alaska. Within months, the Lady J, a 39 1/2-foot Rough Water boat, became the "Vetboat" - part of a volunteer-funded and -operated mission to reach veterans who returned to Southeast after their service and never fully reassimilated into American society.

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

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

This Day in History
In 1949, favorable comments concerning Juneau's new parking meters were reported by Police Chief Bernie Hulk.

Photo: Flume fix-up
District Judge Peter Froehlich was one of several volunteers carrying lumber for the Flume Trail renovation Saturday. The project widens the trail and makes it more user-friendly.

Teacher named interim head at Glacier Valley
Ted Wilson, a teacher at Glacier Valley Elementary School, has been named interim principal for next school year while the school district searches for a permanent principal, officials said. Wilson replaces Bernie Sorenson, who was appointed assistant superintendent this month. Superintendent Peggy Cowan said there wasn't time to recruit a permanent principal before next fall.

What do you think?
We live in Sitka and really have no other means of going off the Island, other than Alaska Air, except the ferries. The ferry is more dependable than the airline because it will go no matter what the weather.

My Turn: Lines in the sand are not enough
To applause from most, the governor fulfilled his promise to reduce state spending. That applause was amplified by legislative reluctance to enact a broad-based sales tax. The only "spoil sports" not cheering were those directly impacted by program cuts and a few alarmists like myself who believe those actions, and non-actions, were little more than stutter steps on our inexorable march toward the brink of that yawning fiscal gap.

Empire editorial: Advisory Board identifies critical community issues
The Juneau Empire's Citizens Advisory Board met June 11 and welcomed new members Chava Lee, Peggy Ward, Margo Waring, Alan Schorr, Bill Heumann and Johan Dybdahl. They join mid-term members, Mario Lim, Bob Jacobsen, Sandy Williams, Richard Gummow, Becky Carls and Kathy Kolkhorst Ruddy.

Toe Cartoon

Let's put it to a vote
In my role as recipient of letters to the editor, I function as the point person for a plethora of pen pals. It's one of the best parts of my job. Filling the Opinion page is particularly challenging. It's a subjective exercise that requires fairness and balance. With rare exception, we devote only one page to opinion Monday through Friday. On Sundays, we spring for all or part of a second Opinion page.

Out and About
June 22: Public trap shooting at the Juneau Gun Club on Montana Creek Road, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Details: 789-9844. June 27: Jack & Jill Time Trial, 6:30 p.m., False Outer Point, 24 miles. Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club event. Details: www.juneau.com/freewheel/.

Big fish photos

Fish report
Juneau marine anglers continue to experience average catch rates for king salmon. Last week, it took the average sport fisherman 21 hours to land a king. The majority of chinook are being caught in the Auke Bay and Fritz Cove area. Kings were also taken from Point Bishop and Lizardhead. During the same week last year, it took 19 hours to land a king. The five-year average harvest rate for chinook is 20 hours.

Sperm whales awe and vex Alaska fishermen
Fisherman Sean Tracey was working aboard the Connie M when a sperm whale surfaced and settled in next to the boat. The 50-foot whale rested against the 42-foot fishing boat while three smaller whales picked black cod off the longline gear. "That one didn't ever dive. He just hung out while the others were eating," Tracey said. "It was just sitting at the surface, lying right up against the boat. I was cleaning the deck and I touched him with the broom handle. Then I started scratching him with the deck brush."

Landing three kings at one time
Having time to play with friends is usually a highlight of a kid's summer. But on June 9, Jacob and Benjamin Hotch, 11 and 10, passed up a chance to hang out with friends and became part of a very rare occurrence - a triple-header. Hooking up with one king is a feat. Hooking into two at the same time is rare, but catching three chinooks simultaneously and landing all of them is almost unheard of.

Hunter bags rare glacier bear
FAIRBANKS - It's not every day, year or decade that a hunter in Alaska gets a shot at a glacier bear. So you can imagine Lyle Correll's surprise when he got a second shot at what is considered, especially in the Interior, a rare bear.

Rainball 2003
Twenty-nine slow-pitch softball teams took to the fields at Dimond and Savikko Parks on Friday and Saturday for the 28th annual Rainball tourney.

Photo: Blackhurst at national trackmeet
Alaskan at nationals: Carl Blackhurst (2), far left, who grew up in Haines, runs in the middle of the pack during a preliminary heat of the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase at the U.S. track and championships on Thursday in Stanford, Calif.

Solo solstice success
HAINES - Scott Damman of Boulder, Colo., came to Alaska to get married. Along the way, he took a scenic 148.4-mile summer solstice jaunt on his bicycle and won the 11th Annual Kluane-Chilkat International Bike Relay on Saturday, becoming the first solo rider to win the race from Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, to Haines, Alaska. Damman won a three-way sprint to the finish line with Team Rotary International, a two-man team from Juneau, and Les Schwab One, a four-man team from Juneau, to claim the overall title.

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

Anger management: Stevens meets the Hulk
WASHINGTON - Around the Capitol, Sen. Ted Stevens is known as a man with a temper, a reputation he fuels by donning his Incredible Hulk tie for political battle. "When I see the Hulk tie on Ted Stevens, I know he's pumped up," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who described the Alaska Republican as "tenacious, pugnacious and ferocious."

State Briefs
Taku to resume its schedule Monday; Home Depot won't use Kmart site; Eagle injured by van; Ketchikan man accused of rape; Teen indicted in death of friend;

AG touts new fund-dividend formula
Attorney General Gregg Renkes issued a legal opinion Friday that could help Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend recipients weather bear markets. It resolves a disparity between state law and accounting principles that fund managers use to calculate the money available for dividends. Renkes ruled that fund managers should count only the real income and not the millions in unrealized gains or losses that the $25.3 billion fund routinely carries on its books.

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