SE long-distance service disrupted
JUNEAU -- Long-distance telephone service was not available for several hours on Thursday afternoon because of a pulled fuse in the GCI system providing the service. Juneau residents trying to call Fairbanks or Anchorage got a recording that said, "All circuits are busy."
The outage lasted from 12:37 to 3:45 p.m., said David Morris, GCI spokesman. "It appears that Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell and Petersburg were affected," Morris said.
"The outage affected not all traffic but enough that direct-dial customers were affected. You could still use 800 numbers," Morris said.
"We were in the process of upgrading our switch for local telephone service in Juneau, which we plan to roll out in the first quarter of next year," Morris said this morning. "A third-party vendor pulled a fuse that brought the whole thing down."
Rebooting the large computer at the center of long-distance service can take several hours, which is the reason for the outage's duration, Morris said.
"There has been a series of meetings this morning in Juneau to ensure that this will not happen again," he said.
Gastineau gains science workshop
JUNEAU -- Gastineau Elementary School is one of five schools in the state this year to receive a scholarship for a week-long science workshop from the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska.
"We'll be getting a scientist for one full week to work with fourth- and fifth-grade students on a hands-on activity yet to be determined," said Bob Kuhn, a principal intern at Gastineau who wrote the grant application.
The workshop will take place in spring, Kuhn said. Until then, teachers at Gastineau will work with the center to design workshop activities suited to existing school projects and programs.
The Challenger Learning Center of Alaska, which opened in Kenai in April 2000, works to improve math and science education with space as a focus. It is part of an international network of 43 learning centers created in the wake of the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster.
The other Alaska schools receiving Challenger scholarships this year are in Delta Junction, Tyonek, Bethel and Goodnews Bay.
Ferry berth added in Ketchikan
JUNEAU -- Ketchikan and state officials on Wednesday celebrated the construction of a third berth at the ferry terminal there.
It will be used by the Inter-Island Ferry Authority's new vessel, Prince of Wales, which is scheduled to start runs between Hollis and Ketchikan Jan. 15.
Eventually, a state fast ferry also is scheduled to use the berth, which was constructed with $5.3 million from federal highway funds. South Coast Construction of Ketchikan was the general contractor.
IFA, a port authority established by municipalities in the southern Panhandle, has clashed with the state Department of Transportation over the agency's refusal to support deployment of a second IFA vessel to link north Prince of Wales Island with Wrangell and Petersburg.
A pending $10 million congressional appropriation specifically for that vessel, lowering Alaska's overall share of federal transportation funds, would be unprecedented nationally, said Bob Doll, Southeast region director for the state Department of Transportation.