Alaskans adjust work, lives to cope with ban on flying

Offices making arrangements for employees stranded in other cities, states

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2001

Dozens of Juneau residents are stranded within Alaska and Outside due to the grounding of flights nationwide, but they're not complaining.

Neil Nesheim, court administrator, was due back at the Dimond Courthouse on Wednesday from Anchorage but didn't make it, said Adam Fleischman, court clerk.

Nesheim is "doing court business, so he can work up there. He is still accessible to us," Fleischman said.

Kurt Parkan, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, is attending the International Conference for Airport Directors in Montreal, said DOT Special Assistant Dennis Poshard.

"He was supposed to be back in Anchorage on Thursday for a meeting. He is not 'stranded' yet. It's not a big deal if he stays over in Montreal an extra night," Poshard said.

DOT Commissioner Joseph Perkins was due to leave Juneau late Wednesday to be the keynote speaker at the Alaska Pedestrian and Bicycle Summit in Anchorage. "But it's not a huge deal. We can e-mail his remarks to somebody who can read them," Poshard said.

Ed Thomas, president of Tlingit-Haida Central Council, landed in Washington, D.C., at 8:20 a.m. Tuesday on his way to meetings about the Travel Energy Self-Sufficiency Act. "We are trying to figure out different ways to get him home," said Angela Weitzel, his assistant.

The state Department of Health and Social Services drew up a list of all employees who are traveling, so they could be sent extra money or reservations could be changed, said Julie Penn, special assistant to the commissioner. "We have 2,300 employees and we do a lot of traveling especially our social workers and itinerant nurses," she said.

DHSS found about 50 employees were traveling, seven from Juneau, Penn said.

Goldbelt President and CEO Gary Droubay and his wife, Georgette, were traveling on the East Coast. Gary was in Miami for meetings while Georgette is in Washington, D.C., where Goldbelt maintains an office, said David Goade, executive vice president of Goldbelt.

"She is safely in a hotel. She is hunkered down waiting to reunite with Gary," Goade said.

Juneau Racquet Club employee Jessica Menendez, undergoing rehabilitation for a knee injury in Santa Barbara, Calif., was scheduled to fly back to Juneau on Wednesday. "My employer is understanding, and I hope to get back to work by next Friday," Menendez said.

Her husband, Juneau attorney Louis Menendez, is stranded in Tampa, Fla., interviewing witnesses for an upcoming case in Ketchikan.

Possibly one of the closest Alaskans to Tuesday's attack on the Pentagon was Jennifer Jones of Anchorage, a public health staffer who had gone to Washington, D.C., for a national youth leadership conference.

"I understand she was near the White House when news of the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center became known," Penn said. "Our staff have been in touch with her and she is safe."

*****

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneau-empire.com.



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