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Terrorist fears ground planes, close Juneau's Federal Building

Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Planes stayed on the ground, the Federal Building closed to the public and law enforcement agencies were on alert today in the wake of terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

City and state offices remained open but the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center closed. Border crossings near Haines and Skagway also remained open, but required a passport or birth certificate and photo identification for passage.

Juneau Airport spokeswoman Patty DeLaBruere said the airport is now under the direct supervision of the Federal Aviation Association indefinitely. Until further notice, all flights to and from Juneau are canceled.

"We are turning traffic away at the curb and telling people there are no flights today and we are essentially closed," she said. " There is also no movement on the tarmac. We were instructed that no aircraft make any move, not even to taxi."

Jack Walsh, spokesman for Alaska Airlines, said 540 flights were grounded today, nine of them flying in and out of Juneau. He said he couldn't give an estimate of how many people were affected.

Smaller air carriers said the flight ban would stop cargo runs to rural communities.

"It has some affects on customers and cargo shippers and of course revenue flow, but that pales in comparison to what's happened today," said Bob Jacobson, Wings of Alaska president. "It'll affect cargo shipments in that some people may not get their goods today, but it more than an inconvenience than anything else."

The Federal Building downtown was closed except to government employees, said Brian Pringle, a contract security officer for the Federal Building and a former Juneau Police Officer. The bank, child-care center and post office in the building were closed.

"The security level at this time is government employees with identification only," Pringle said.

Sheela McLean of the U.S. Forest Service's communications service said federal employees who are not essential to operations could stay home today.

"While officials do not consider Juneau a high-risk area for a terrorist attack, these measures are taken as precautions and in recognition of what has happened on the East Coast," McLean said.

Alaska State Troopers are on standby, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

"We are in contact with the federal emergency operations center at the National Guard Armory on Ft. Richardson. We are also in contact with the security people at Alyeska Pipeline in case extra security is needed," Wilkinson said.

A search-and-rescue effort on Mount Roberts diverted some Juneau police personnel, said Sgt. Jerry Nankervis, but otherwise the department is in a state of heightened awareness.

"We are also focusing on security at the schools, the Federal Building and the airport," Nankervis said. The department deployed three officers to roam downtown close to the Federal Building, and kept two officers on duty this morning after their night shift.

The Juneau headquarters of the 17th Coast Guard District is on its second highest level of alert, said Officer Chris Grisafe. "If aircraft is required for search and rescue (missions), we will be on the scene. We have heightened security awareness, but we are standing ready (for any local emergencies)."



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