Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Commission to review city parking garage

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JUNEAU - The Juneau Planning Commission will meet at 7 p.m. today in the Assembly Chambers and review a proposed downtown parking garage, the natural resources section of the city's long-term plan, and a revised wetlands management plan.

A consulting firm told city planners that to build the garage the city would need about $5 million in insurance to cover any liabilities from blasting.

The garage is being considered to relieve congested on-street parking downtown. The budget for the project, which would include a transit center, is $11 million to $16 million. The garage is tentatively planned for land up the hill from the intersection of Main Street and Egan Drive near the stairwell to Telephone Hill.

The project would require extensive blasting and removal of much of the hill.

The commission also will review a revised wetlands management plan that aims to bring city regulations in line with new stricter state laws.

The commission will continue to review the city's long-term plan update, called the comprehensive plan. The topics up for review include natural resources, parks and recreation and hazards.

To view the meeting agenda, go to

Group to protest lack of worker contract

JUNEAU - As many as 200 state employees are expected to participate in an informational picket at 12:15 today at the State Office Building downtown.

The Supervisory Unit of the Alaska Public Employees Association is asking the state for better contract terms, but state law forbids a strike. Binding arbitration begins today with the state Department of Administration.

Pickets are also being held today in Anchorage, Sitka, Ketchikan and Fairbanks.

The mid-level managers have been working for nearly five months under a temporary contract extension, said APEA contract negotiator Dean Williams. They are asking for "a wage that keeps up with inflation," he said.

An arbitrator will decide the terms of a contract.

Ordinance a boost for tech education

JUNEAU - A new city ordinance is working through the system to provide $72,000 in supplies and equipment for the Juneau School District Career Technology Education program.

The funding is part of a $3.5 million state Department of Commerce grant program approved during last year's legislative session.

The money will increase auto, wood and metal shop offerings and replace unsafe and outdated equipment.

Doll touts Salvation Army at Wal-Mart

JUNEAU - As part of the nationwide "Bells Ringing Across America" event, Rep. Andrea Doll, D-Juneau, will be present at 11:30 a.m. today at Wal-Mart to support the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.

In its second year, the "Bells Ringing Across America" event highlights the need to give back during the Christmas season.

Coast Guard rescues 4-man crew Monday

KODIAK - The Coast Guard lifted a four-man crew from a Homer-based fishing boat to safety Monday at Wide Bay on the Alaska Peninsula.

Deck hand Chuck Cress said the Lady Blackie was about to pick up a set when it lost power and drifted toward the rocky shore, where it ran aground and started taking on water.

He said the Lady Blackie stayed afloat for more than an hour after the accident. The crew abandoned ship, but was in a life raft for only about 30 minutes before being hoisted aboard the chopper.

The Lady Blackie is owned by Jason Koontz of Homer. Besides Koontz and Cress, there were two other unidentified crewmen and a dog named Tusk rescued.

Yukon Quest will switch race marshals

FAIRBANKS - The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race is switching race marshals.

Quest and Iditarod veteran Joe May of Trapper Creek is replacing fellow past competitor Dave Monson of Fairbanks.

Quest Spokeswoman Amanda Leslie says Monson recently decided to step down from the job he accepted earlier this year because of time constraints.

So far, 22 mushers, including three-time defending champion Lance Mackey, have signed up for the silver anniversary running of the race. The deadline is in January, ahead of the Feb. 9 start in Fairbanks. It will end about two weeks later in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Man facing trial on airport gun charge

RUTLAND, Vt. - A Mount Holly man is due to go on trial on federal charges he tried to board a commercial airliner with a loaded gun in his carry-on bag.

Sheldon Hochman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Prosecutors say that Hochman arrived at the Rutland airport on July 14, 2006, with a 9 millimeter pistol in a fanny pack that was in his carry-on bag.

Hochman told authorities he and his wife were on their way to Alaska and he had forgotten he'd packed the pistol in a bag that would be accessible during flight.

Jury selection for Hochman's trial is due to begin today in federal court in Brattleboro.

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