State briefs

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2002

Work set for Mount Roberts Trail

JUNEAU - Volunteers from the Mount Roberts Stewardship Program and Trail Mix plan a work day Saturday on the Mount Roberts Trail.

Repairs will be made from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on part of the trail above the large cross, which is above the Mount Roberts Tram's upper terminal.

Volunteers will meet at the lower tram terminal between 8:30 and 9 a.m. Those helping should bring sturdy boots, gloves, rain gear, a snack and plenty to drink. Tools will be provided, although volunteers can bring their own.

Work to improve the trail and protect nearby areas from damage by hikers has been an ongoing effort of the Mount Roberts Stewardship Program, which is affiliated with Trail Mix, a nonprofit trails group, and works with tram owners and the tour business Gastineau Guiding.

For more details, call 789-3236 after 5 p.m. today or check on the Web.

Construction to begin on fast ferry

JUNEAU - The state's transportation commissioner will travel to Connecticut next week to take part in ceremonies kicking off construction of the Alaska Marine Highway's first fast ferry, the Fairweather.

Commissioner Joe Perkins will travel to Derecktor's shipyard at Bridgeport, Conn., to participate in "a cutting ceremony."

That's the equivalent of a keel-laying ceremony, said Capt. George Capacci, marine highway general manager. A button will be pushed to start robot helium oxygen torches that precisely cut aluminum for the ship's hull.

For the past few months, Nigal Gee and Associates has been doing detailed design work and submitting those design drawings for approval by the Norwegian classification society and the U.S. Coast Guard. About 30 percent of the design has been approved and the project is ahead of schedule, Capacci said.

The Fairweather will make round-trip runs between Juneau and Sitka. The vessel's top speed is 32 knots, or about 37 mph, about twice the speed of the current fleet.

The fast ferry is expected to cost about $35 million, mostly in federal money.

Following construction of the Fairweather, the company will begin building the Chenega, which will operate in Prince William Sound between Cordova and Valdez.

Lauded Indian film showing this week

JUNEAU - "Monsoon Wedding," an internationally recognized film by Academy Award-nominated director Mira Nair, will show this weekend at the Gold Town Nickelodeon theater.

"Wedding's" exuberant story of marriage preparations in contemporary India has received nearly unanimous critical raves, and the film recently picked up the Golden Lion award at the 2001 Venice Award Festival. Nair's previous effort, "Salaam Bombay!," received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film.

Shows are at 7 and 9 p.m. today, at 4, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, and at 4 and 7 p.m. Sunday. "Wedding" is rated R for language, including some sex-related dialogue.

Poll workers get raise

JUNEAU - The state's 2,500 election poll workers will get an increase in pay this year.

Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer said the average hourly wage for election workers will go from $7.50 per hour to $9.50 per hour.

Ulmer proposed the raise and the Legislature appropriated $176,000 to cover the increase, which will be in effect for the primary election Aug. 27.

Ulmer said many election workers have been at the job for 10 to 20 years and have seen the pay rate fall behind inflation.

"These are dedicated citizens who have helped the state make a smooth transition from an outdated punch card system to 21st century optical scanning machines," she said.

Compiled from staff and wire service reports.

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