Monday, June 23, 2003

Old computer parts still have usefulness
ANCHORAGE - Two piles of used floppy disk drives lie on the floor of a South Anchorage computer shop - one for functional drives, the other for broken ones. Bill Fulton has designs on each. "These are maybe 3 years old, and they still work," Fulton said, pointing to the larger pile. They'll be used in refurbished computer systems or sold separately for a few dollars each.

Heritage Coffee Co. hires new pastry chef
Heritage Coffee Co. has hired Sasha Bonk, a recent graduate of the University of Alaska Culinary Program, as its new pastry chef.

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.

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.

Another perspective: This is bear country
I recently read with much sympathy about the dog being taken out of its doghouse by a bear and subsequently dying. After reading the letter of complaint by the owner, I think another perspective should be mentioned.

Governor should try Kwethluk for a month
Due to the cuts being made all through Alaska, I think it is time for our governor to experience life in rural Alaska. He should try living in Kwethluk for a month. Kwethluk is trying to upgrade from well water and honey buckets to running water and sewer. It will be years before the installation of pipes and toilets in each house is complete.

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

This Day in History
In 1969, more than 2,300 acres of prime recreation forest was blackened by a fire in the Russian River area on the Kenai Peninsula.

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

Juneau fisherman looks for peace, memories in his work
When the countdown began, 10 seconds from the start of the 1st Annual Quick Draw Saturday afternoon at Centennial Hall, Juneau artist Mark Vinsel studied his photograph and steadied himself. "I was shaking a little bit," said Vinsel, 46, a four-times-a-week fisherman and the office manger for United Alaska Fishermen. "I had a cup of coffee this morning and no breakfast. The other reason was, I was just a little nervous doing something like this."

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.

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

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.

School district wants more repair funding
The Juneau School District is asking the Assembly to place bonds for three school renovation projects on the Oct. 7 city ballot. The district expects the projects to be eligible for state reimbursement at 70 percent of the bond debt. The district is requesting $4.7 million for further renovations of Floyd Dryden Middle School, $422,000 to replace water pipes in Harborview Elementary School and $153,000 to replace the gym floor at Auke Bay Elementary School.

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

Youth courts seek regular flow of funds
You don't see state Superior Court judges washing cars to raise funds to keep their courtrooms open. But Alaska's youth courts, in which teenage volunteers dispense justice to about 900 young offenders a year, aren't funded by the state. So far, the 15 or so youth courts in Alaska have relied on a mix of federal grants and support from municipalities, corporations and Native organizations, as well as car washes and other fund-raisers. Staffed by amateur teenage attorneys and judges, the courts handle first-time youthful offenders who have committed crimes such as underage drinking, vandalism and shoplifting. Punishments usually include restitution and community work service.

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

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

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.

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.

Photo: Sunday morning car fire
Six Capital City Fire and Rescure firefighters responded to this fire in a Chrysler LeBarron at 9:19 a.m. Sunday on North Franklin Street in front of the Baranof Hotel. The fire was contained to the engine a

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

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.

110,000 visit hatchery every year
On this overcast afternoon, most of the enormous tanks in the bowels of the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery are empty. The salmon that eventually will fill them are only a couple of inches long. The fish ladder, which will teem with chums and kings later in the summer, is quiet. A few salmon drift languidly in the outdoor pool. But inside the hatchery's aquarium and shop, dozens of tourists mill around, sampling the hatchery's own salmon products, watching king crabs scuttle in the tanks, and learning about the Alaska salmon industry. Over the course of a year, 110,000 people will visit the hatchery, on Gastineau Channel about four miles north of downtown off Egan Drive.

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.

Tracy Scott Pickerell
Former Juneau resident Tracy Scott Pickerell, 53, died in June from a heart attack.

Glen Rodger Crowe
Former Juneau resident Glen Rodger Crowe, 86, died on June 6, 2003, at Fairchild Medical Center in Yreka, Calif.

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

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.

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.

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.

Big fish photos

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.

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/.

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."

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.

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.

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.

A midnight run of fun
A three-headed monster and a three-month old - along with at least three streakers - came together on the summer solstice Saturday night for the 19th annual Only Fools Run at Midnight. Only the monster and the baby boy were among the 300-or-so official entrants in the joint 5-kilometer run and 1-mile walk, a fundraiser for the Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL). SAIL provides independent living services to people living with disabilities in Southeast.

Rainball 2003
Pat's Douglas Inn/Louie's repeated as champions Sunday in the Women's C Division of the 2003 Rainball slow-pitch softball tournament at Dimond Park. The team, a juggernaut in Juneau women's softball, won its seventh Rainball title in the last 11 years by beating Viking in an if-necessary game. Pat's/Louie's, coming out of the winners' bracket, lost the first game of the championship round against Viking, but rebounded to take the second.

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

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.

Villagers express concern about losing their VPSO
PORT GRAHAM - Older people in this remote Kenai Peninsula village can still remember what life was like before Seraphim Meganack put on a brown police uniform. They remember the drinking parties spilling out of houses, the stupid drownings, the drunken husbands beating wives. They say it was a godsend when the state started up the village public safety officer program. Meganack, a local commercial fisherman, went to work for the state in 1983, providing the first response to trouble.

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.

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."

Alaska officials dispute magazine's claims about halibut
ANCHORAGE - A consumer magazine hit the newsstands this month, telling readers not to eat halibut because a single meal a month has too much mercury, a toxin that can cause neurological and other health problems. Not so, say Alaska health officials. They've studied available data and concluded that any Alaskan - pregnant or not, young or old - can eat as much fish as they want, so long as it comes from Alaska waters. That includes cod, salmon, pollock - even halibut. "Alaska fish, by and large, have very low levels of mercury, especially Alaska salmon," said environmental epidemiologist Tracey Lynn. "They have some of the lowest levels that are ever recorded."

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;

State Briefs
Several McGrath bears return home; Exploration gold drilling to begin on Ester Dome; Troopers crack down on illicit drugs and alcohol; Delta Junction fire burns past Sand Creek; Hiker killed in fall on East Twin Peak

Corps seeks help in hunt for Agent Orange
FAIRBANKS - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants help from the public in its hunt for one of the world's deadliest manmade toxins. The toxin could be in Alaska soil that was once part of a Haines-to-Fairbanks military oil pipeline. The search was spurred by an official state request. Army correspondence surfaced in late 2002 confirming that the herbicide Agent Orange was sprayed on the 626-mile-long pipeline's right of way in the 1960s to clear vegetation.

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