State briefs

Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2001

Ghost Walk in Douglas canceled


JUNEAU - The traditional Halloween Ghost Walk sponsored by the Douglas Lions Club has been canceled.

"This would have been the 48th year of our carnival, held at the Mount Jumbo gym with judging of costumes of kids pre-school to elementary school," said Lions Club member Gerry Dorsher. "But due to the atmosphere and several conditions beyond our control, we are canceling."

Dorsher said "the atmosphere" included a national case of the jitters due to the terrorism of Sept. 11 and anthrax deaths. But he said there were "many other factors," which he declined to make public. "We had all our trophies and toys ready, but we decided to cancel," he said.

Three pesticides illegal in Alaska

PALMER - Three pesticides are now illegal to sell in Alaska because of concerns over possible impacts on groundwater, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

One of the pesticides, Cygnus 50 WG made by Scotts-Sierra Crop Protection Co., was denied registration by the state. The pesticide is a fungicide that is applied to leaves of ornamental plants to control mildews and rusts.

The manufacturer of the other two products withdrew their applications. They were insecticides used on vegetables, potatoes, cotton and tobacco.

After Dec. 31, it also will be illegal to sell pesticides for home use containing Chlorpyrifos except for ant and roach products in child-resistant packaging.

Pesticides must be registered with the DEC before they can be sold in Alaska.

Dividend checks on schedule

JUNEAU - The state has finished printing Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks and expects to get the last batch in the mail this week.

The first batch was mailed on Oct. 17 as scheduled and everyone should have his or her $1,850 check on or before the original Nov. 2 target date, said Paul Dick, chief of dividend operations for the Alaska Permanent Fund Division.

"I would estimate we have 120,000 checks in the mail and we have about 30,000 to go," Dick said today.

However, Southeast residents are among those receiving their dividends last because the agency is mailing the checks by zip code, starting with the lower numbers. Anchorage residents received the checks first because their zip code begins with 995 versus 998 for Southeast, he said.

"We send them out by zip-code order so we can take advantage of bulk mail" rates, Dick said.

Less than a third of recipients get their dividends by mail. About 70 percent of nearly 600,000 applicants received the money by direct deposit on Oct. 10.

Alaska Airlines adds flight to D.C.

SEATTLE - Alaska Airlines announced Wednesday that it is doubling the number of its daily, non-stop flights between Seattle and Washington, D.C., from one to two.

The company said it will offer flights to both Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport, starting Dec. 4.

The company originally introduced service to Reagan National on Sept. 4. When that airport was closed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Alaska transferred that flight to Dulles. The reopening of Reagan National will allow the carrier to resume service to that airport as well.

Alaska is healthier, study says

ANCHORAGE - Alaska has shown the most improvement in healthiness among the 50 states.

According to the United Health Foundation, a private organization, Alaska ranks in the middle for healthiness but has jumped more than 20 places in the past 12 years, from 45th place to 25th.

The nonprofit foundation, which just released the 2001 results of its annual state health rankings, said Alaska has the lowest rates of heart disease and cancer. But work still needs to be done to improve Alaska's unemployment rate, prenatal care and the large number of occupational deaths, it said.

But Alaska's health data may conceal some trends. For example, the state is seeing more and more people with risk factors for heart disease, such as being overweight and sedentary.

The state also has high rates of occupational deaths compared with other states, in jobs such as logging and fishing. But that situation is improving, the state said. In the past decade, the rate of occupational fatalities in Alaska has fallen from 29.9 per 100,000 workers to 13.4.

The United Health Foundation examines the healthiness of state populations by monitoring lifestyles, access to health care, occupational safety, diseases and mortality.

In 2001, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Utah were ranked the three healthiest states while South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana finished last. Alaska, Arkansas and Connecticut made the most improvements during the past year.

Alaska showed the greatest improvement overall in lowering the rates of infectious diseases and infant mortality. Today, Alaska reports 16.4 cases of infectious diseases per 100,000 people. The infant mortality rate is 5.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Alaska's violent crime rate, however, is going up, while the nation's has declined. The state's violent crime rate over the 12-year period ending this year jumped from 455 to 632 offenses per 100,000 people.

BP to study frozen gas with grant

ANCHORAGE BP is one of six recipients of federal grants to study the viability of energy production from natural gas hydrates, a frozen form of the gas.

BP will study recovering hydrates at three fields on the North Slope - Prudhoe Bay, Milne Point and Kuparuk - over the next two years. Natural gas hydrates occur in permafrost and in the sea bed under high pressure.

The U.S. Department of Energy will contribute $13.27 million to the project and BP will add another $8.05 million.

Other participants in the Alaska study include the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of Arizona and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The Department of Energy forecasts a potential demand for new gas reserves. Department officials say the U.S. might hold 322,000 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Maurer Technology of Houston, Texas, also won a grant. The company will spend $7.36 million to drill and test hydrate production on the North Slope over the next two years. Maurer's partners in the project include Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Engineering.

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