Local Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2001

Elderly cruise ship tourist still missing

JUNEAU - A 79-year-old cruise ship passenger is still missing in Juneau.

Mitsuo Okazaki, a passenger on the Radiance of the Seas, was reported missing by his wife shortly before 5 p.m. Monday. The couple had gone to the top of the Mount Roberts Tramway on Monday, and Okazaki, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, wandered away.

Police, Juneau Mountain Rescue, Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search and numerous volunteers searched on Tuesday until about 7 p.m. As a noncommercial aircraft outside the ban on most flights, an Army National Guard helicopter was allowed to conduct an aerial search of Mount Roberts on Tuesday afternoon, said trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson.

George Reifenstein, manager of the tram, said there's a 50-50 chance Okazaki rode back down the tram.

"The dog didn't pick up anything. Visual searches and infrared didn't pick up anything from the helicopter. It's a crap shoot whether Okazaki is on the mountain or in town. We hope citizens of Juneau will keep a lookout," said Reifenstein.

The search will continue today, Wilkinson said. Police Sgt. John Boltjes said photos of the man have been distributed among taxi drivers and others downtown.

School Board OKs teachers' contract

JUNEAU - The Juneau School Board on a 6-1 vote Tuesday approved a two-year contract with teachers and other certified staff such as counselors and librarians.

School Board member Alan Schorr voted against the contract. He said after the meeting that previous salaries were reasonable and that increases in state funding this school year should have gone toward hiring more teachers.

The contract, which begins this school year, increases pay by at least 4.5 percent in the first year. The rates on the salary schedule increase by 1 percent in the second year, and teachers move up the schedule for more experience or college credits, making for 4 percent pay increase for most teachers.

Teachers ratified the contract last week. But teacher Patrick Moore told the School Board the vote was close and many teachers are dissatisfied with the contract.

About 350 people are covered by the contract.

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