Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Earthquake rattles northern Panhandle

A 5.0-magnitude earthquake was felt in Juneau, Haines and Skagway early Tuesday evening.

The temblor, which occurred at 5:14 p.m., was centered 3 miles below the surface about 40 miles northwest of Haines, or about 110 miles northwest of Juneau, according to Paul Whitmore, a geophysicist with the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. No tsunami was generated.

The U.S.-Canada border crossing on the Haines Highway - including the U.S. Customs' Dalton Cache station - is located about 40 miles northwest of Haines.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Mike Lashinsky was manning the station when the quake occurred. Lashinsky described it as a "moderate shake," but said it did not cause any damage.

"It lasted two or three seconds," he said. "It was a significant jarring. ... It got you going."

Montessori expands

JUNEAU - The Juneau School Board on Tuesday approved a new elementary-age Montessori class.

The classroom, which will have at least 23 students, will be at Glacier Valley Elementary School. The school district's two current Montessori classrooms, serving 48 students, are at Harborview Elementary. The Montessori classrooms accept students from around the city.

The district will fund the new Montessori teacher from a pool of two open teaching positions it authorized for the upcoming school year.

Montessori parents and the Southeast Alaska Friends of Montessori had been planning for several years to expand the program. Thirty-eight students signed up this spring for a lottery for seven openings in the current program and 24 openings in an expected third classroom.

But the district said earlier this year it did not have the space for an expansion and could not afford to do so.

Some parents and teachers at Harborview, and some School Board members, also expressed concern that the Montessori program didn't adequately reflect the ethnic and income diversity of the district.

But Assistant Superintendent Bernie Sorenson worked with Montessori parents and school principals to find a way to expand the program.

The district also will develop a task force to address the concerns of the public and School Board about optional programs such as Montessori.

Third Native education forum scheduled

JUNEAU - The third meeting to discuss Native education issues in Juneau will be held from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, at the Tlingit and Haida Community Center at Salmon Creek, 3235 Hospital Drive.

The meetings are sponsored by the Sealaska Heritage Institute, Juneau ANB Camp 2, ANS Camps 2, ANS Camp 70, and the Tlingit & Haida Indians of the City & Borough of Juneau will host

The purpose is to come up with "specific, ambitious goals to transform the education system in Juneau and Southeast Alaska so Native students will stay in high school and succeed at all grade levels," organizers said.

The agenda will include follow-up discussions of issues from the first two meetings, on June 15 and July 13, as well as reports from the four work groups that were appointed at the July 13 forum.

Forum participants will adopt goals, objectives and action plans based on the work groups' reports and recommendations.

Lunch will be served. For more information, contact Ted Wright at

Three bears shot and left to rot in Katmai

ANCHORAGE - The National Park Service is investigating the shooting deaths of three brown bears found along a popular bear-viewing stream in Katmai National Park and Preserve.

The animals appeared to have been illegally killed near Funnel Creek about 12 miles south of Iliamna Lake, rangers said.

The animals were not gutted or skinned, a requirement for anyone shooting in self-defense, said state and federal officials familiar with the case. The area, about 120 miles west of Homer, is currently closed to state sport or federal subsistence hunting of bears.

An air taxi operator discovered the carcasses last week and reported them to rangers. Katmai wilderness district ranger Missy Epping flew from King Salmon and found a kill site along the creek about three-quarters of a mile downstream from Mirror Lake.

One bear was a 500-pound female. An estimated 300-pound bear, perhaps 2 to 3 years old, lay about 100 yards farther downstream and was slightly less decomposed. It wasn't clear to Epping whether the younger bear was the female's cub.

Rangers found the carcass of a third bear about half a mile farther downstream Saturday, Epping said. The animal also had been killed and left largely intact. It wasn't as decomposed as the first two.

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