Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mayor asks board to reinstate snow dump

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JUNEAU - Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho asked the Docks and Harbors Board to reconsider its March decision to close tideland near the Juneau Yacht Club from commercial snow dumping this winter.

The primary reason for the closure is concern over pollution transported with the snow scraped off of parking lots, sidewalks and driveways building up in land that the board has sighted for future development.

Botelho pointed out that the city and the private contractors were unaware the decision was made until late November.

"I urge the Docks and Harbors Board to delay the implementation of the policy through the winter season," he said.

City officials have not had time to consider alternatives, and the ban has financial implications for private contractors that could affect public safety, Botelho said.

Jury convicts couple of firearms violations

JUNEAU - A federal court jury has convicted a Hoonah couple of illegally possessing firearms.

The jury found Rollin Lee Spencer guilty of two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and Suzanne Denise Rollier guilty of one count of being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm.

The U.S. Attorney's office says Spencer was convicted in Oregon in 1998 for first-degree sexual abuse, and Rollier is an alien from Canada illegally in the United States.

Chief Judge John W. Sedwick also ordered forfeiture of their 11 firearms.

Sentencing was set for Feb. 5.

Road project critics hold presentation

JUNEAU - Juneau resident Dean Willams will hold a presentation on the Juneau access road and ferry project from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Centennial Hall's Ballroom No. 1.

Williams will talk about the avalanche and rockfall hazards he believes are posed by the road and other concerns raised by a geology firm's report, called the Golder Report.

A 90-year resident of Juneau, Williams has been following the road issue for several decades.

Mountaineer Mike Miller also will provide information on 45 days he spent in the mountains surrounding Lynn Canal. There will be a showing of "Steep and Not Cheap," a seven-minute film about his adventures on the east side of Lynn Canal.

The presentation is partially funded by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, which also helped with outreach. Williams is not a member of the organization.

"We want to be sure that people are informed," Williams said. "A lot of people have never seen any pictures, and they should know about the dangers posed by this road."

The proposed 51-mile highway would run along the east side of Lynn Canal to a ferry terminal where passengers could travel on to Skagway and Haines. The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities estimates the road would cost $374 million, but says unknowns exist and the total price tag is unclear.

Education board seeks commissioner

JUNEAU - The State Board of Education and Early Development is looking across the nation for its next leader.

The board is accepting applications through Feb. 1 in the nationwide search for a commissioner.

Former Commissioner Roger Sampson resigned last August.

The board appointed then-Deputy Commissioner Barbara Thompson to the interim post for up to a year.

The board scheduled interviews with finalists on March 26.

Commissioners are selected by the board and approved by the governor.

State department hires new executive

JUNEAU - The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has hired Roger Wetherell as its new chief communications officer.

Wetherell replaces Mike Chambers, previously a spokesman for former Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Wetherell's career in media relations spans six years of service with the U.S. Navy and 14 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, according to the department. He also was a spokesman for law enforcement and oil-spill and search-and-rescue operations, including those connected with a TWA 800 crash off Long Island, N.Y., Rhode Island's largest oil spill and the sinking of the fishing vessel Arctic Rose, which claimed 15 lives.

A 10-year resident of Juneau, Wetherell was most recently the circulation manager at the Juneau Empire.

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