Sunday, October 26, 2003

Will to live triumphs in detailed Inupiaq tale
A review of the book "Winter Walk"

In the stacks: Several science fiction titles now available at the library
A look at new fiction at the Juneau library.

Cruise ship initiative unfair to lines
In your Oct. 15 edition you identified Joe Geldhof, a sponsor of the Cruise Ship Ballot Initiative, as a lawyer for the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association (MEBA). In so doing, the article suggested that Mr. Geldhof's sponsorship of the initiative is supported by and on behalf of the MEBA. This is not the case.

How much does Juneau need to spend on budget?
Fairbanks has a budget of about $97 million for their 83,000 people (under $1,200 per person per year). Anchorage's budget is about $350 million for their 260,000 residents (under $1,400 per person per year). Juneau's budget is $189 million, or $6,150 per person per year.

There needs to be a 'Please Slow Down' day
Everyone and everything seems to have a designated day now. I can think of one more which we may need to throw in the barrel. How about a first annual "Please Slow Down" day? Throwing a dart at my calendar, it looks like Thursday, Oct. 30, is up for designation. How appropriate, too. It always seems to snow or freeze on Hallow's Eve.

Cell phones lead to near misses
The letter written by Barbara Thurston in Wednesday's paper was very interesting. I don't think driving while talking on a cell phone is very safe. On two different occasions I was almost struck by drivers on cell phones.

Not speaking for the organization
Recently I was quoted in various newspapers as being critical of the cruise ship industry. The newspapers that quoted me, however, improperly attributed the statements I made in my capacity as an attorney for the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association; at no time was I speaking for, or on behalf, of the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association when I addressed cruise ship practices.

Don't use accident to push agenda
In her Oct. 23 letter, Ms. Thurston is asking that the Empire include in their accident reports whether cell phone usageis connected with an accident. It seems that after a tragedy we search for an answer, a reason for something that we can't understand.

A family's sincerest sympathy and prayers
From our family to Skyler's family, our sincerest sympathy and prayers. I have noticed a big difference in many drivers' attitudes lately and it is for the better. I walk a lot and take the city bus a lot, and have encountered so many close calls to being hit or run over by careless drivers. I am very cautious when I have to cross the highway or street and yet I still come close to being hit.

Remembering Skyler: Community shares thoughts on a young life
It's OK to laugh and OK to be sad, the Rev. Sam Dalin told about 500 people who gathered Saturday afternoon at Glacier Valley Elementary School to remember Skyler Lee Kim, the 10-year-old boy who died Monday in a traffic accident. "I cried. I wept," said Dalin, the Capital City Fire and Rescue chaplain. "I threw things on the floor - all the emotions you go through. I talked to the family in the middle of the night."

Glacier Valley ponders 'crossing assistants'
State officials don't recommend slowing down Mendenhall Loop Road traffic as children are going to and from nearby Glacier Valley Elementary School. But the school's principal believes students need help crossing the busy street. On Monday, fifth-grader Skyler Lee Kim died after he was hit by a pickup truck while crossing the street against the light, police said.

Correction
The photo caption about the Princess Sophia in Friday's Empire omitted a word, which changed the sentence's meaning. It should have read that the company's Juneau office was not alarmed because the weather in Juneau was calm.

Police & Fire
Reports from Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

Addiction centers do the cuts, feel the pain
Drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation centers in Alaska are starting to feel the pain of state budget cuts, with most clinics facing increased caseloads and others discontinuing some services altogether. A looming fiscal gap prompted Gov. Frank Murkowski to slash about $130 million from the budget this year through line-item vetoes.

Photo: Protesting the occupation
Rick Bellagh waves a rainbow-colored "One World, One Family, Peace for All" flag as part of demonstration against the occupation of Iraq held Friday at the corner of 10 Street and Egan Drive.

Around Town
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Juneau Recovery Hospital to open methadone clinic
The Juneau Recovery Hospital, a substance-abuse treatment facility within Bartlett Regional Hospital, will open an inpatient methadone detoxification program for opiate addiction. Hospital officials said the detox program will serve patients who are addicted to opiate-based street drugs such as heroin and prescription drugs such as OxyContin.

Thomas W. 'Tom' Freeman
Juneau resident Thomas W. Freeman, 79, died Oct. 19, 2003, at his home.

Robert 'Bob' James Austin
Former longtime Juneau resident Robert "Bob" J. Austin, 81, died Oct. 13, 2003, in Roseburg, Ore.

My Turn: Loop Road is a daily recipe for disaster
A delightful, bright 10-year-old child and a respected, responsible driver were the victims of a tragic accident last Monday. Unfortunately, the recipe for disaster will continue to exist each and every school morning along Mendenhall Loop Road, as it has for several years.

My Turn: Merit pay for teachers isn't answer to problem
A recent "My Turn" by Scott Granse argued for the use of merit pay(Monday, Oct. 20).While generally supporting education and teachers, Mr. Granse makes the assertion that perhaps one, or two or one-fourth of the teaching staff may currently think that "...there is no getting to them (the kids) anymore".The suggestion appears to be that Mr. Granse believes that a large number of teachers don't deserve pay increases. But to his credit, Mr. Granse also acknowledges the need for higher pay for teachers because ofthe "...seemingly widening gap between (teachers) and the school district" over pay.

Title
A local cartoonist's perspective.

Sitka sets seventh annual WhaleFest
Sitka will host its seventh annual WhaleFest on Nov. 7-9. It's a weekend of art, music, science and fun, organizers said. Ten marine scientists - including Mike Castellini of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, federal researcher Steve Amstrup, and Jan Straley of Sitka - will present seminars on bowhead whales, polar bears and humpback whales.

Yukon Expedition
Michael Crotteau of Juneau has been canoeing since he was a kid growing up in Minnesota. But it wasn't until he took a canoe down a portion of the Yukon River two summers ago that he discovered that floating down rivers was his passion. "Being in the wild like that, you're really able to take a step back ... and experience the pureness and goodness of what I think God created," said Crotteau.

Wildlife Corner: Alaska's peregrine falcons: stay or leave?
Silhouetted against an overcast autumn sky, the shifting V-shape of southbound geese embodies migration. Many of Alaska's hawks and falcons also migrate, but traveling singly or as small family groups, they don't advertise their departure from the north as dramatically. Alaska's peregrine falcons are among the world's greatest long-distance migrants, flying deep into South America. Peregrines from northern Alaska have been documented wintering as far south as Chile and Argentina. After a few months in the grasslands and pampas of South America, they return to the north, a round-trip journey of more than 17,000 miles.

Out & About
Upcoming outdoor events in Juneau

Sports in Juneau
Sports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Extra effort pays off
It was a smack that smacked of a championship game, or a state tourney berth on the line. Juneau junior Amber Johnson hit the hardwood floor hard during Friday night's home volleyball match on a successful dive to keep an out-of-bounds ball in play. That Johnson's extra effort came midway through a regular-season match against Sitka - with no postseason implications - speaks volumes about this year's team, Crimson Bear coach Sandi Wagner said.

AFN resolves to look at government relations
Alaska Federation of Natives delegates approved a resolution Saturday to create a commission to improve government relations and delivery of services to Alaska Natives. Resolution No. 1 requires that the commission submit a preliminary report to Congress by June 30, 2004, and a final report three months later.

This Day in History
This day in Alaska; in the nation; in the world.

Photo: Young drummers at the convention
Delwyn Akpik, right, sits next to David Elavgak, as they keep the beat with the adult drummers for the Barrow Dancers on Friday during the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage. The annual three-day convention draws Alaska Natives from around the state to discuss issues, pass resolutions and to get reacquainted with old friends.

DA to review Solie plea agreement
The District Attorney of Fairbanks will review a plea agreement prosecutors reached with outgoing Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblyman Rick Solie. Fairbanks District Attorney Jeff O'Bryant said Friday that he will review Solie's recent driving under the influence plea agreement and sentence after learning that Solie had a previous drunken driving conviction in Vermont.

Alaska Digest
News in brief from around the state.

'Phantom' tribal group defends its existence
The tribal president of a so-called phantom village said he objects to U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' suggestion that tribes like his shouldn't get federal money. Kanatak is a village on the Alaska Peninsula that no longer exists, but Terrence Shanigan said his tribe counts 130 members and has a budget of about $145,000. "To me a phantom is like some shadow-walker lurking in the bushes. That's not us," Shanigan said Thursday. "We are displaced, landless tribes, landless communities. We are not phantoms."

Senator Stevens take umbrage, says he is not a racist
An accusation of racism for a comment he made about tribal sovereignty "is a stain on my soul," U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens said Friday. In a videotaped speech to the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention here, Stevens said "to be called 'racist' after more than 50 years of dedicated service to Alaskans, particularly Alaska Natives, is something I will not forget."

Jurors deliberate in manslaughter trial of intruders' killer
Jurors deliberated Friday in the manslaughter trial of the Rev. Phillip Mielke, who is accused of shooting two intruders at his Big Lake Community Church last spring. Mielke, 44, is charged in the deaths of Chris Palmer, 31, and Francis Jones, 23. The case is being heard in Palmer Superior Court.

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