Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2007

Juneau teacher of the year announced

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JUNEAU - The Juneau School District announced Tuesday that Joyce Thoresen was named teacher of the year.

Thoresen teaches at Yaakoosge Daakahidi, the alternative high school.

"For nearly 15 years, Thoresen has dedicated herself to helping Juneau's teenagers prepare for the real world," said Scott May, 2006-07 teacher of the year.

Before joining the district Thoresen worked in government service and adult education.

Yaakoosge Daakahidi Principal Laury Scandling nominated Thoresen for the award.

"If there were one word to capture Joyce, it would be heart," Scandling said. "She puts her heart into excellent teaching, but most important, she puts it into loving students."

Palin's husband returns to North Slope job

FAIRBANKS - Alaska's first gentleman has returned to work for BP on the North Slope.

Todd Palin took a leave of absence from the company in January and went back to work late last month, according to Sharon Leighow, a spokeswoman for Gov. Sarah Palin, Todd's wife.

Todd Palin took the leave to deal with a hectic schedule and help take care of the family's four children, Leighow said, and not because of any conflict of interest.

The governor and state lawmakers are knee-deep in issues relating to the state's oil production tax and a wished-for natural gas pipeline. BP is one of the main lease-holding companies on the North Slope.

Gov. Palin doesn't see her husband's job as posing a conflict of interest because he's not in a position to affect decisions at the company, according to Leighow.

"He is not in management, and his position has no influence on decisions made by the company," she said. "He's a blue-collar hourly wage Slope worker."

The terms of Palin's leave of absence allowed him to keep his seniority at the company as long as he returned to work within a year, according to BP spokesman Steve Rinehart. Palin works as a production operator at a gathering center.

Soldiers charged in borrowing of excavator

FAIRBANKS - Two Fort Wainwright soldiers are facing criminal charges for allegedly borrowing an excavator without permission to free a small car that had become wedged in a muddy slough.

The problem is that Daniel Pescosolido, 20, and Steven Zimmerman, 22, freed the car but abandoned the borrowed excavator after it got stuck in the slough, according to police.

The soldiers are charged with first-degree vehicle theft, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The two did not have permission from Great Northwest Inc. to use the company's excavator, police said.

The excavator was parked on Fairbanks International Airport property. Great Northwest leases land from the airport, according to airport police.

The cost to repair and remove the excavator from the slough was $12,630.73, according to a claim Great Northwest filed with airport police.

Delta voters nix proposed new borough

FAIRBANKS - Plans to form a new borough in Alaska's interior were overwhelmingly shot down by voters when 90 percent nixed the idea along with its accompanying sales taxes.

"At that rate, there's no way," said Delta Junction City Councilman Lou Heinbockel. "Why beat your head against the wall any more? I'm glad it's over. I'm not going to waste any more of my time."

A 3 percent sales tax on fuel and a 10 percent tax on electricity would have been imposed under the plan, which failed Tuesday with more than 1,000 votes counted.

Heinbockel said the borough plan required both ballot measures - forming a borough and the taxation questions - to pass, and neither got more than 10 percent of the vote.

The proposed Deltana Borough would have been geographically larger than Connecticut, with 5,900 square miles. It would have absorbed the smaller government of the city of Delta Junction.

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