Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Anchorage teachers approve one-year contract

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage teachers have approved a proposed one-year contract after a year of failed negotiations with the school district.

The deal still needs to be approved by the Anchorage School Board.

Members of the Anchorage Education Association - teachers, school nurses and counselors, librarians, and other school system employees who work with students - have been without a contract since June 30. In late August teachers overwhelmingly authorized a strike.

The threat of a walkout spurred both sides to try again and prompted the district to abandon its pursuit of a three-year deal.

Union president Rich Kronberg said 83 percent of those who voted Monday supported the contract.

"I think it's a good jumping-off point," said Jim Schewe, a fourth-grade teacher at Tudor Elementary School. "I think everyone's relieved we have a one-year contract. Now it's time to buckle down."

Many teachers said the one-year contract is a reasonable placeholder that will free up the union and district to pursue increases in state funding and, for next school year, a better contract.

Anchorage official wants to take gun permit rule off city code

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage Assemblyman Dick Traini wants to bring the city's gun laws in sync with state code.

Carrying a concealed handgun is technically against Anchorage law without a special permit, but the city stopped enforcing the requirement after the state passed a law in 2003 that said Alaskans no longer needed the permit.

Since state law trumps the city's, Traini said, his idea is just housekeeping.

Traini said he trusts people to meet the necessary requirements to carry a pistol - being 21 and a U.S. citizen, being clear of any felony or domestic violence convictions. Those who wouldn't meet the requirements would buy guns if they wanted them anyway, he said, illegally, without a permit.

Alaska Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, sponsored the 2003 anti-permit bill, citing frustration with constant fine-tuning of state gun laws. Getting rid of required permits, he said, would also help gun owners in rural areas where handgun safety courses, a requirement for getting a concealed weapons permit, aren't always available.

Croft's law didn't change prohibitions against carrying firearms into state courtrooms or court buildings, other justice-related agencies, school yards, the grounds of private child care facilities, bars, domestic violence shelters or the private homes of people who don't give permission.

Reports of weekend beatings in Fairbanks prove false

FAIRBANKS - At least two reports of beatings by bike-riding teenagers in Fairbanks over the weekend turned out to be false, police said.

In one case, an intoxicated man told officers he was beaten up, but witnesses saw him fall down and hit his head while struggling for a bottle of alcohol with another man, according to police chief Dan Hoffman.

"When he was confronted with the witness accounts, he changed his story and said he doesn't remember anything," Hoffman said.

The false reports followed the arrest of three teenagers Friday in the Sept. 11 beating of 50-year-old Ulak Hope, who was airlifted to an Anchorage hospital with serious facial injuries after he allegedly was kicked and beaten.

Emanual Itta, 19, and two boys, ages 13 and 14, were charged with first-degree felony assault. Police are investigating whether the three are linked to a series of similar beatings over the summer.

Weekend events raise $12,588 for hurricane relief

JUNEAU - Juneau residents raised more than $12,500 last weekend in two community fundraising events for Hurricane Katrina relief, according to a press release Tuesday from the Mayor's Task Force on Community Fundraising.

Donations at the Community Prayer Service on Friday at Centennial Hall and the Mardi Gras Tribute Party on Saturday at the Nugget Mall raised a total of $12,588.

Proceeds will go to the American Red Cross, United Way, Salvation Army and the New Orleans agency of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Members of the task force will meet at 2 p.m. today in room 224 at City Hall to discuss ways to address the ongoing needs of the hurricane victims. The public is welcome to attend.

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