Northwest Digest

Posted: Monday, September 11, 2006

Army boosts funding to Stryker Brigade

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FAIRBANKS - The Army has increased funding in response to the extension of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team's deployment in Iraq.

More than $5 million had been approved to come from the Installation Management Agency, which manages services, facilities and resources on Army installations.

The brigade was scheduled to return to Alaska in August after a yearlong deployment. But the Pentagon and Army commanders approved a redeployment of up to four months so the nearly 4,000 soldiers could be moved to Baghdad.

The funding is intended for various purposes on Forts Wainwright and Richardson, according to an Army press release.

Uses will include repairs and upgrades of the Family Assistance Centers and extending the vehicle and household goods storage contracts for deployed soldiers. The money also would go toward funding Child and Youth Services activities and funding civilian and contractor hires deemed necessary to support soldiers and their families.

The Family Assistance Centers at the two Alaska posts opened shortly after the extension was announced. The center on Fort Wainwright has received more than 650 calls and assisted more than 100 visitors, according to officials.

Seeking career shift, Enstar chief resigns

ANCHORAGE - The president of southcentral Alaska's largest natural gas utility announced his resignation on Friday, saying he is looking for another job in the state's energy industry.

Tony Izzo, 46, has resigned from Enstar Natural Gas Co. after leading the company as its chief executive for the past 5 1/2 years.

Izzo said he'll hand over the reins next Friday to Tom East, an executive of Port Huron, Mich.-based Semco Energy, which is Enstar's parent company.

Izzo joined Enstar in 1999 as vice president of engineering and operations. He was named president in 2001.

Izzo, who lives in Anchorage with his wife and two daughters, said he plans to seek another job in Alaska's energy industry, in either the private sector or state government.

He said he is interested in working on Cook Inlet's flagging gas supplies, which have bumped up local natural gas prices.

Izzo said he has agreed to serve as a consultant while the company seeks a permanent replacement through the first three months of next year.

War memorial critics say it's too early

SALEM, Ore. -- A grieving couple's attempts to memorialize their son, as well as other soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, has run into a thicket of criticism about the project's timing, aesthetics and politics.

As Oregon prepares to begin construction of the Afghan-Iraqi Freedom Memorial here, some people question whether it should be built while the fighting continues. Others find the memorial's scale daunting. And a panel of architects thinks it's ugly.

The project is the brainchild of Clay and M.J. Kesterson, who lost their son Erik, 29, an Army helicopter pilot in Iraq, in November 2003.

Designed by architect Jane Honbeck, a friend and neighbor of the Kestersons, the memorial consists of an oval pool with constantly moving water lined with a stainless-steel map of the world and an 8-foot bronze figure of a soldier down on one knee over the United States, with an arm outstretched.

It is to sit behind the Veterans' Affairs building, a quiet, parklike space five blocks from the Capitol. There are now four war memorials on the site.

In early June, the Fellows of the Portland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects sent a letter to Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, calling the monument "inappropriate and ill-conceived." It also expressed "dismay that the monument should be built while the conflict continues, and even as more Oregonians are being dispatched into the war zones."

The Oregonian, the state's largest newspaper, said in an Aug. 20 editorial that "It is dangerously presumptuous at best, and disrespectful to soldiers at worst, to memorialize a war before knowing how it ends."

Jim Willis, director of the Oregon Office of Veterans' Affairs and a Vietnam vet, doesn't see it that way.

"The status, the state of the war isn't relevant to honoring these men and women, these Oregonians who made the ultimate sacrifice," he says.

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