Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Calendar for next school year released

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JUNEAU - In order to allow for "a long summer of construction" at Glacier Valley Elementary School and Thunder Mountain High School, the Juneau School District has recommended that the 2008-09 school year start on Sept. 2.

If the School Board approves, the school year will start after Labor Day and end on June 5.

"Many states are mandating calendars that start after Labor Day," Peggy Cowan, superintendent, said.

The draft calendar sets an additional staff work day to the beginning of the year and one on the first day of spring break in effort to end the school year on the earliest possible date.

The school district will take public comment on the proposed calendar through Dec. 12 for presentation to the School Board on Dec. 18 when the board is expected to decide.

The calendar includes Halloween off as a mid-fall in-service day. It seems like a good idea because Halloween has not always been a strong instructional day, Cowan said.

Firewood gathering allowed on state land

JUNEAU - The Alaska Division of Forestry is working to provide firewood on state land in Southcentral and Interior Alaska. People interested in cutting firewood on state land must first contact their local forestry office to obtain a permit. Commercial and personal use permits are available.

Quality firewood, such as trees burned in fires or beetle-killed, does exist on state lands, but road-accessible areas are limited. In areas where forest roads exist, drivers are asked to use caution. The roads are not maintained during winter months except by loggers at active timber sales. If you see a pile of logs alongside a road, please do not remove any of the wood as it may be part of a timber sale.

People gathering firewood on state land should consult maps and personnel at their local forestry office to ensure they remain on state land. Property lines are frequently unmarked and any permission obtained from the department to gather firewood is only valid on state land. Harvesting firewood without the landowner's permission is trespassing.

For information specific to the area you live in, contact your local forestry office. The northern Southeast area contact is Roy Josephson at (907) 766-2120.

Suspect in violent spree appears in court

ANCHORAGE - The man arrested in a day-long series of gun and machete attacks that left two dead, including his father, appeared in court for the first time.

Christopher Erin Rogers Jr. has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder.

Rogers told the court he couldn't afford an attorney and was assigned a public defender.

Rogers, who is very tall and lanky, rested his elbows on a lectern behind bulletproof glass as District Court Judge Brian Clark read off his pending court dates.

Rogers is the lone suspect in a day-long series of attacks that ranged from Palmer to Anchorage on Sunday and Monday.

Coast Guard rescues five stranded on ice

DILLINGHAM - The Coast Guard says it rescued five people after two skiffs became stranded on ice near Dillingham.

A rescue helicopter hoisted the five before dawn Tuesday. They were taken to Dillingham to be treated for hypothermia, but the Coast Guard says there were no other injuries reported. Officials say the temperature was about 16 degrees, and winds were blowing up to 23 mph.

One skiff was towing the other when they got stranded on ice.

Alaska voter rolls will be updated

ANCHORAGE - Alaskans who registered to vote before Jan. 1, 2004, but haven't voted will be contacted by the state elections division.

Officials say they'll try two times to verify these voters' addresses. Anyone who hasn't responded by March 3 of next year will be removed from voter records.

Officials say the division must perform yearly list maintenance to stay in compliance with federal and state laws.

Division Director Whitney Brewster is asking for people who receive a notice addressed to a voter who no longer lives there to mark "return to sender" and send it back to the division.

K9 handler, dog to receive bronze star

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE - A military K-9 handler and his dog will receive a Bronze Star for finding 2,000 pounds of explosives buried in eight locations in an Iraqi field.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Barker and his dog, Jack, will be honored Tuesday for finding the cache, which was set as a trap with an armed anti-personnel mine on top.

Military officials say finding the mine in June 2006 possibly saved the life of a soldier.

During their deployment, Barker and Jack conducted more than 350 hours of combat patrols, in which they located more than 3,000 pounds of explosives, 76 automatic weapons, and 16 cell phones used for improved explosive devices.

The Bronze Star is awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service.

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