Posted: Monday, September 20, 2004

NEA-Alaska throws support behind Knowles

ANCHORAGE - The state teachers union has decided to support former Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles in the U.S. Senate race, union officials said Saturday.

After interviewing Knowles and Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski, the 51-member political action committee of the National Education Association-Alaska voted Saturday to recommend Knowles as its preferred candidate.

The union, which represents more than 12,000 teachers and support staff throughout the state, does not consider its action an endorsement, only a recommendation, said NEA-Alaska spokeswoman Virginia McKinney.

NEA-Alaska president Bill Bjork said that choosing between the two candidates was difficult, but added that Knowles had demonstrated support from union members throughout Alaska.

"I believe what tilted the decision toward Tony Knowles is his excellent education record as governor," Bjork said.

For the first time, NEA-Alaska had required that candidates seeking a recommendation in a statewide race demonstrate that at least 100 union members were willing to work on the candidate's campaign.

Knowles had support from about 1,000 members and Murkowski from about 135, their campaign staffers said.

Earthquake measuring 6.1 shakes Aleutians

ANCHORAGE - An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 shook the Aleutian Islands on Sunday.

There were no reports of damage caused by the quake, but it was felt at military installations at the tip of the island chain.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Jamal Daniels, at the Coast Guard's long range navigation station on Attu, said he was shaving when the quake hit just before 12:30 p.m.

"You could hear it before you could feel it," Daniels said. "It was kind of like a pounding sound, like somebody was pounding on the wall with both of their fists. The mirror started shaking, and the ground started rolling."

The quake could be felt for 10 to 15 seconds, but its only affect at the Coast Guard station was to shut two automatic fire doors, Daniels said.

The 20 people at the Coast Guard station are the only inhabitants of Attu, Alaska's westernmost point more than 1,500 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The earthquake was centered 90 miles south of Attu in the Pacific Ocean, according to the West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Center.

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