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Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Intercept drugs
Thank you to Riley Woodford and the Juneau Empire for the series on our town's drug subculture. My question is, where exactly are the coca and poppy fields in the City and Borough of Juneau? Homer has declared itself a Nuclear-Free Zone. Why can't Juneau declare itself a Drug-Free Zone? Setting aside the issue of addiction itself and the drugs that can be home-grown, home-manufactured, and prescriptions, we should be able to choke off the imported cocaine and heroin coming in by air and sea if we really want to.

Responsible reporting
Just because someone is a priest now days, it seems he is found guilty. Father Nash had not been investigated, tried or found guilty of anything and you print a front page story about him supposedly raping a young man.

Eternal enmity
It is heartbreaking to see you publicize, in bold headlines, the vile and uncorroborated allegations against my brother, Father Mike Nash. You have permanently and irreparably damaged the reputation of a good and holy man.

Local heroes
It was so nice to read about Summer Dorr in Friday's Juneau Empire. Thank you Julia O'Malley for writing such a thoughtful and positive story about a bright member of our community. Also thanks to the Empire for publishing this fine story.

Voter turnout in context
An Empire article about the November vote got me thinking: What really was our turnout in Juneau?

Not wasting anything
I am only in my first semester of secondary education, and in the words of Ken Dunker, my mind is still mostly "mush." This in mind, I still know how to speak, and I hope you will listen. The words of the young should not be so easily discounted. I agree that my experience is limited, and I also agree that it could distort my vision. However, I know I am not blind.

Bikes on the bridge
While crossing the Douglas Bridge last week on a typical dark, raining, windy evening, I noticed, thankfully, a person riding on a bicycle right next to my truck. You'd a thought the person, even with all the rain gear on, was out in the middle of a stroll down Sandy Beach.

The gift of wrestlers
Thursday I got a call from the activities office at the high school asking if I would be willing to house some wrestlers for the Pilot Invitational Tournament. Wrestlers? We know nothing about wrestling. My son was going to be in Haines for the weekend with the drama team. We were asking someone in Haines to house our son, so maybe we could help out.

Drugs of choice cycle in and out of popularity
Some drugs come and go like fashion trends. Others are steady and ever-present. "A lot of things are cyclical, we see decreases in LSD for while, then an upswing. It's the same with heroin," said Dean Guaneli, the state's chief assistant attorney general. "Alcohol is consistent and marijuana is consistent, too."

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

Weekend blaze destroys Valley home; damage almost $300,000
Fire gutted a Mendenhall Valley home over the weekend causing nearly $300,000 in damage. No one was home at the time, and no firefighters were injured during the blaze, Capt. Beth Weldon of Capital City Fire and Rescue said in a statement.

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

The New problem drugs: Meth
Methamphetamine, known as crystal, meth or crank, is the fastest growing drug problem in Juneau. "We're seeing a drastic increase in methamphetamine, in Southeast and Juneau," said Steve Hernandez, who heads up the drug unit for the Juneau Police Department. Based on seizures and police contacts with users, meth is becoming a primary drug of choice.

How drugs get into town: by land, sea and air
Coke has come to town on commercial airliners, heroin has come in the mail, and meth has been made right here in Juneau. When it comes to drugs, Juneau is a pretty accessible town. Barge lines and transport companies bring tons of legitimate goods and supplies to town, the Postal Service and package services deliver millions of letters and parcels, and the airlines and ferries bring in thousands of people.

City grapples with funds for big projects
The Juneau Assembly is exploring new ways to pay for harbor and utility projects approved by voters in a $15 million general obligation bond package in October.

Marijuana is smuggled both ways
Marijuana is one drug that is exported from Alaska as well as imported. Most is grown indoors in the Matanuska-Susitna region north of Anchorage. "Alaska marijuana holds the national record for THC content," said Zoran Yankovich of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. "Mat-Su bud is known throughout the West Coast. We've seen it exchanged pound for pound for cocaine in L.A. in operations there."

Some count birds on Thanksgiving
The Audubon Society is sponsoring a Thanksgiving Bird Count. Participants can choose the time for the one-hour count that best suits their holiday schedule. The count is made in a circle 15 feet in diameter. The circle usually includes whatever attracts birds - feeders, baths, or cover.

Students and officials discuss teen drug use
Like going to the prom or taking SATs, getting drunk or high is a teenage rite of passage, four Juneau-Douglas High School seniors said in recent interviews. "I smoke pot to let go, it is a good way to relax," said a bookish, 17-year-old male student, who admitted to habitual use. "It is the only way I enjoy watching television." The students, a young woman and three young men who spoke on the condition their names not be published, painted a picture of high school life where drinking and smoking marijuana are commonplace, and where harder drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy readily are available.

The New problem drugs: OxyContin
In the six years since it hit the market, OxyContin has gone from being a godsend for terminal cancer patients to a severely abused street drug. "OxyContin is definitely an issue here in Juneau," said Dr. Lindy Jones, a local family practitioner. "OxyContin was heavily marketed by the drug company for chronic pain, and all over the country people were finding it has significant abuse potential."

Police and Fire
Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers reported:

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

Elisabeth Jeanne Erbes
Juneau resident Elisabeth Jeanne Erbes (formerly Betty Fuller) died Nov. 15, 2002, at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Wash.

Seawolves host Great Alaska Shootout
Less than one week after the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks made history by winning their own Top of the World Classic, the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves will try to do the same by winning the Great Alaska Shootout.

UAF demonstrates Top of the World domination
Make your free throws. Nail your 3-pointers. Harass your opponent into 24 turnovers. Alaska Fairbanks used that formula to upset Weber State 77-65 Sunday night and win the seventh Top of the World tournament. Over four days, the Nanooks also defeated Wisconsin-Green Bay and Nebraska to become the first NCAA Division II school to win an eight-team tournament involving Division I teams.

Sports in Juneau
Information on upcoming sports and outdoors 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.

Anti-abortion group sues over campaign law
The Alaska Right to Life Committee has filed a lawsuit in federal court charging that some Alaska campaign disclosure laws violate the First Amendment.

Interior towns consider Yukon River highway link
Representatives from nearly every village from Manley to Unalakleet filled Galena's community hall last week to discuss a Yukon River highway to link Interior villages.

MADD faults AK's efforts to halt DWIs
Alaska has received one of the worst grades in the nation from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for its efforts to combat drunken driving. Only Montana did worse this year.

Driver who abandoned students tells his story
ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage school bus driver who walked away from unruly passenger last week has spoken out about his actions. Michael Hilborn said Monday he was frustrated by an alleged lack of support from administrators at North Star Elementary as well as bad behavior from students. Hilborn, 37, turned off his bus along his route on Nov. 20 and walked away, leaving about 18 students to walk home from a busy Spenard intersection.

Delta Junction gold mine likely to get approval
A draft environmental impact statement due in January likely will provide the go-ahead for the huge Pogo gold mine near Delta Junction, according to federal environmental regulators.

Higher oil prices could help fiscal gap a little
Higher oil prices and a possible war with Iraq will do some, but not much, to buffer the state's fiscal woes, state officials said today. The state is projecting that Alaska North Slope crude oil will average $22 a barrel in future years, as talk of a war with Iraq boosts prices. The long-term average had been $17.50 a barrel.

State Briefs
Woman sentenced for assault, DWI; Boy struck by van is in good condition; High winds limit flights in Juneau; Assembly works on lobbyist contracts; State flags lowered in memory of former legislator; Fairbanks man sentenced for choking his wife; Man dies after fight in Dillingham; Aniak man drowns in Kuskokwim River

Ulmer edges Murkowski in spending for governor's race
ANCHORAGE - Gov.-elect Republican Frank Murkowski spent about $13 a vote in his winning bid for governor, while Democratic opponent Fran Ulmer spent about $18.50 a vote. Ulmer slightly outpaced Murkowski in campaign expenditures, spending $1.75 million, while the winner spent $1.73 million, according to reports filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

Lack of snow halts snowmachine sales
You would think being in the snowmachine business would be a good gamble in Fairbanks. But this year the white stuff is scarce.

Report: Close fish farms to save wild salmon
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Salmon farms should be shut down temporarily to prevent a complete collapse of wild pink salmon runs on northeastern Vancouver Island, says a report released Monday. The Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council said the wild salmon are in crisis in the Broughton Archipelago, having decreased from 3.6 million spawners in 2000 to 147,000 this year.

Grant gives North Pole firefighters new gear
A $117,772 federal grant to the North Pole Fire Department will provide new equipment for the full-time and volunteer firefighters. "It's a very nice chunk of money," Chief Buddy Lane said. "We're very happy."

BP pulls out of ANWR lobby group
ANCHORAGE - BP is withdrawing from Arctic Power, the lobbying organization that is pushing to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and suspending its contributions to the group. But that doesn't mean it won't look at drilling in the refuge if the American people decide exploration should be allowed, said Paul Laird, a spokesman for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc.

Court upholds murder conviction
The Alaska Court of Appeals has upheld the first-degree murder conviction of Adam Hamilton in the 1999 stabbing death of a his best friend.

Kenai 'breakaway bolt' inventor travels tough road
ANCHORAGE - Clifford Dent is nearly broke because of his breakaway bolt system for highway sign and light posts. His ingenious fastening invention - able to hold up in hurricane-force winds but snap easily when hit by a vehicle - hasn't made him any money, even though the former Kenai resident thinks it has saved lives.

Alaska union leader resigns to take bigger job
Mano Frey, a leader of organized labor in Alaska for a quarter-century, is leaving the state to accept a more powerful job in Seattle.

Weekend rains flood Kenai Peninsula
Heavy rains flooded parts of the southern Kenai Peninsula over the weekend, damaging roads as crews finished repairs from October floods in the same area.

Tribal buildings in Sitka go smoke-free
Sitka tribal organizations have banned smoking in their buildings for all activities, including bingo and community gatherings.

New police dog helps fight drugs
Fort Yukon police have a new recruit named Raven, a 1-year-old drug-sniffing black Labrador retriever. In her first month on the job, Raven has proven herself in the village of 600, flushing out two people carrying marijuana on incoming flights. Charges have been forwarded to the district attorney in Fairbanks, said Police Chief Reginald Fleming.

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