Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, November 09, 2003

Rep. Cissna diagnosed with breast cancer

ANCHORAGE - State Rep. Sharon Cissna said she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will undergo surgery Monday.

The Anchorage Democrat said a mammogram and several biopsies led to the diagnosis. Cissna is using her condition to call attention to the issue of health care access in Alaska.

She said the Legislature has ensured that funding is available for uninsured women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer, but added there are many other kinds of cancer. Cissna said she wants to see that all Alaskans have access to necessary medical treatment.

Cissna said she plans to continue efforts to coordinate a health care conference in Anchorage in December.

Alaska to get more money for security

FAIRBANKS - Alaska will be getting more money this fiscal year for homeland security. The $19.58 million is one of the smaller checks going to states.

The amount each state receives is based on population. The total for Alaska reflects a more than $1 million increase over the previous fiscal year.

The money will go toward preventing and responding to terrorist attacks, as well as equipment that can be used by firefighters and police for floods and fires.

"It does allow us to upgrade some of the existing equipment we have, like breathing apparatus, even down to some turnout gear," said Tim Biggane, director of emergency operations for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced this week $2.2 billion in funding from the fiscal 2004 budget to be used nationwide for aiding the emergency service workers first on the scene at a crisis.

California's $176 million is the largest allocation, said Rachael Sunbarger, a federal homeland security spokeswoman. The smallest amount, $5.81 million went to the territory of American Samoa, while Wyoming tallied the least among states, with $18.92 million.

The Alaska Division of Homeland Security plans to send grant applications for the money to communities throughout the state.

The funds Alaska will receive come from three grants, each with its own rules for how it can be spent. The largest chunk, nearly $14.9 million, is earmarked for local public safety and law enforcement.

Rangers consider closing Glen Alps gate

ANCHORAGE - Chugach State Park rangers are scratching their heads in disbelief after vandals struck recently at the Glen Alps trailhead.

Chugach managers are thinking of closing the gate at the popular park on the Hillside and nearby Flattop Mountain at night. Early last week, vandals removed an "iron ranger," a fee-deposit box, from the Glen Alps parking lot, said Mike Goodwin, the park's chief ranger.

The heavy iron box, one of two at the trailhead, was wrenched off its concrete foundation and carted away, Goodwin said. The thieves tried to remove the second box, leaving it bent half off.

Only a large truck or piece of heavy equipment could have found enough traction in the gravel while applying force enough to break the huge bolts, said park superintendent Jerry Lewanski.

The fee-deposit boxes, where visitors place day-parking fees, were installed at Glen Alps in 1998, but this was the first time one had been breached, he said.

The half-million-acre Chugach is unique as a state park because it's a mix of raw wilderness and urban rim, Lewanski said. Glen Alps, the most visited trailhead on that rim, sees 120,000 to 140,000 people each year, including 40,000 who climb Flattop, Lewanski said.

For the previous fiscal year, the cost of vandalism to all state parks was $24,000, including $5,000 to Chugach State Park, according to Pete Panarese, the chief of field operations for the Division of Parks.

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