Port rankings show real costs of cruise legislation
An important public policy discussion point seemingly omitted in our continuing debate over the 2006 cruise ship ballot measure is Alaska's new position within the marketplace. Concentrating Alaska's debate to just one aspect of the measure's result, the $50 head tax, misses a central outcome in this public policy discussion: our new cost ranking among competing North American cruise ports.

Thanks, Sen. Begich, for stand on health care
I've been watching Alaska's senators closely as health care reform moves forward, and I would like to express my thanks to Sen. Begich for voting 'yes' on an amendment that will improve preventative health coverage for women. The amendment requires health plans to cover with no cost-sharing requirements women's preventative care, including cancer screenings, improved access to contraception and other needs unique to women.

City should do more to entice tourism
Because independent travelers stay overnight, rent cars, eat, shop and spend time in Juneau, their contribution to our city's treasury is significant. But did you know that 30 percent of independent travelers to Alaska were first exposed to our state on a cruise ship?

Don't just assume homeless didn't try
I'm writing this letter to voice my thoughts about the homeless situation. One thing people need to remember is that we don't know what led to most people being homeless.

Skinner closes Southeast stores
Skinner Sales and Service of Juneau closed its doors for good at 5 p.m. Friday.

Uprooting without roots
Homeless Vietnam veteran Keith Fuller just wants to be left the hell alone.

Former JDHS coach arrested on sex assault
Former longtime Juneau-Douglas High School basketball coach James M. Hamey, 62, was arrested Friday on one count of felony sexual assault.

Students traverse the continent on traveling map
Students from five different Juneau schools traveled all over North America last week. Some went to Maine. Some went to Canada. Some went to Mexico.

Advocacy groups: Spotlight on sexual assault long overdue
Imagine a room full of 10 women. Now imagine that three or four of those women are victims of sexual assault. It's only then one can begin to understand the magnitude of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska, said Saralyn Tabachnick, executive director of Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies, a Juneau-based shelter.

Photos: Decking the halls
Caroling, choir and candy canes all a part of Friday's Gallery Walk

Photo: Mirroring the snow
Frost-covered branches sparkle through the window of the Juneau Dance Unlimited studio Sunday as dancer Misha Culver stretches in her snow costume during a dress rehearsal for "The Nutcracker Ballet." The performance, which features two guest dancers from the California Ballet Co., will be held December 11 through 13 at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. A preview story on the performance will appear in Tuesday's Empire.

Santa Claus came to town
"Santa, hammer now!" 3-year-old Gavin Garrison commanded, as Santa Claus helped him put together a fire station. Then he changed his mind. "No, no, I do it."

Around Town
Today, Dec. 7

Photo: Clear skies
Commuters make their way down Egan Drive Friday morning. Clear skies and cold temperatures are forecasted for the remainder of the weekend and the early part of the week with daytime temperatures hovering around freezing and nighttime temps dropping into the teens.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

Around Town
Today, Dec. 6

Police and fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

Take 'em, pass 'em on
Over the next several months, some 110 colorful, cloth-bound sketchbooks may circulate Juneau. If you receive one, don't panic. Here's what to do:

Thanks to Girl Scout Troop 13 for making hats for AWARE
Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies Inc. thanks Girls Scout Troop 13 for their warm generosity and handicraft. On Nov. 25, the Girl Scouts delivered a box full of beautiful and warm hats they made especially for the women and children residing this holiday season in the AWARE shelter.

Thanks to the Chicks vs. Geezers Hockey Challenge from AWARE
Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies' Girls on the Run program received funds from the annual Chicks vs. Geezers Hockey Challenge, which was held Nov. 28 at the Treadwell Arena. This annual event pitted young, strong women, some in bows and veils, in a hockey game against not-as-young (over 50), strong men with curious names to have fun and raise funds for a worthy cause.

Thanks to those who helped Operation Christmas Child
"Think Inside the Box" is what hundreds of Southeast Alaskans did this year to help support Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse. More than 2,300 shoeboxes were filled with gifts, but most of all they were filled with love, joy and hope for children living in poverty and desperate situations overseas.

Thanks for providing job-shadowing for Career Connections
On behalf of these students and their teachers, the Career Connections staff would like to thank REACH and their staff for providing a job-shadowing experience to a student, which helped her explore careers while learning the traits necessary to become a good employee.

AWARE families, individuals invited to holiday party
JUNEAU - Families and individuals who have used AWARE's services in the past year are invited to its annual holiday party on Friday, Dec. 18, at Mount Jumbo Gym.

Widowed Persons Program to hold monthly brunch
JUNEAU - The Widowed Persons Program will hold its monthly brunch at noon today at the Baranof Hotel.

Juneau Fourth of July Committee selects 2010 Grand Marshals
JUNEAU - Coinciding with the 2010 Juneau 4th of July parade theme, "America's Kids," the following have been selected as the 2010 Juneau parade grand marshals: Anna Graceman, Russadell Buzard and Nicole Nelson.

Cancer survivor to begin Alaska tour in Juneau
To Los Angeles singer songwriter Charlie Lustman, the call to make music about his experience of surviving cancer seemed almost ordained. Not to mention, he now sings better than ever after cancer forced him to get a new upper jaw.

Juneau World Affairs Council to host next speaker, Andrea Baker
JUNEAU - Sponsored by the Juneau World Affairs Council, Andrea Baker will present on the subject of "Innovating Bureaucracy: Getting Government to Share" at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center.

Methodist camp now accepting reservations for winter use
JUNEAU - Eagle River United Methodist Camp is now accepting reservations for winter use. The Lodge and four rustic cabins are available, December through April. ERUMC, located out the road in Juneau at 27.5 mile, is a nonprofit year-round community camp and retreat center open to all. Eagle River Camp is an accessible but remote location for your small or large group camp or retreat, including school or family camps. In the winter, it is ideal for meetings or events, planning sessions plus winter activities such as hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

Local child center releases worship CD as fundraiser
As a recent fundraiser for Juneau's Child Advocacy Center, program manager Brian Messing decided he'd produce a worship CD.


Remembering Gambier Bay
"We recognize your sacrifice" - these are the words we spoke as we read the names of the 129 sailors and aviators who died in the sinking of the U.S.S. Gambier Bay at the Battle of Samar, in the Philippines, during World War II.

There is more to the story
First, let me make it very clear that I think any time a family comes to church is a good thing. Having said that, I'd like to share a conversation I had this past summer with a thoughtful young man.

Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School staff recently celebrated students being named to the first-quarter honor roll.

University graduates six from nursing program in Ketchikan
KETCHIKAN - A formal pinning ceremony for University of Alaska Anchorage Associate Degree Nursing Program in Ketchikan graduates will be held at 6 p.m. today at the Sunny Point Conference Center.

Senior menu for the week of Dec. 7-11
Monday, Dec. 7

Rayola Bradshaw Nichols
Juneau resident Rayola Bradshaw Nichols, formerly of Ashton and Parker, Idaho, died Dec. 2, 2009, at Wildflower Court nursing home in Juneau. She was 64.

Marc Livingston
Former Port Alexander and Juneau resident Marc Livingston, of Bellingham, Wash., died Nov. 28, 2009, after a brief illness. He was 63.

Anne Lois (Pusich) Lafavour
Lifelong Juneau resident Anne Lois Pusich Lafavour died Nov. 13, 2009, while surrounded by family in her winter home in Peoria, Ariz., after a three-year battle with cancer. She was 71.

My Turn: Moments of truth while shopping in Juneau
Customer service experts have coined a term called "moments of truth," where the interaction between customer and the shopping experience determines whether the customer sees the experience as helpful or a hassle. We've all interacted with the surly cashier that acts as if he or she is doing us a favor by taking our money. These decisive moments of truth are where the customer walks away satisfied or walks away and doesn't come back.

American forces will leave Afghanistan a better place
I was driving home from work last Tuesday afternoon listening to KTOO, and was pleased to hear President Obama addressing the cadets at West Point with his long-awaited decision on what to do with the dire situation in Afghanistan. Things appear to be going from bad to worse with increasing casualties, loss of confidence in the legitimacy of the government, and, some would say, the inherent futility of the mission.

Alaska Editorial: Regents focus budget request on a new life sciences facility
The University of Alaska Board of Regents couldn't have been more clear Nov. 30 - its top priority for construction funding in the coming year is the new life sciences building at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

My turn: Hidden costs, missed opportunities
Reading the Dec. 2 Juneau Empire article reporting the reconsideration of development in West Douglas was extremely disappointing. What a mistake it would be for CBJ and us to allow this to happen! The primary objections have to do with the ongoing sustainability and resiliency of the city.

Alaska Editorial: Pipeline decline requires special attention, too
We've previously urged the Alaska Legislature to create a special committee to report to the state's residents on the status of the proposed North Slope natural gas pipeline.

Good riddance to Uh-Ohs
A few days from now and not a moment too soon, we say farewell to the Ohs.

Obama supporters receive a dose of reality
Some parishioners in the Church of Obama discovered last week that their spiritual leader is a false prophet.

Toe Toon
This week's toe toon.

Man arrested on weapons charge
JUNEAU - A Juneau man was arrested Friday after firing a gun in the 9000 block of Glacier Highway, police said.

Wood smoke ban declared Sunday
JUNEAU - The City and Borough of Juneau declared an air emergency in the Mendenhall Valley at noon Sunday, placing a ban on wood stove burning.

Local mother charged with child endangerment
JUNEAU - The mother of a 17-month-old girl has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child in the second degree after her daughter was found outside by herself Friday night.

Board seeks more regulatory protection for Bristol Bay salmon
ANCHORAGE - The Alaska Board of Fisheries is planning to ask legislators to consider more protection for Bristol Bay salmon.

Funeral held for Mitch Demientieff
NENANA - A funeral has been held for Mitch Demientieff, the former Tanana Chiefs Conference leader who died at age 57.

Lawyers seek 3-month delay in Wade trial
ANCHORAGE - Lawyers for a man accused of murdering a nurse who lived next door are asking for a delay in his trial.

Parnell orders flags lowered for Pearl Harbor Day
ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sean Parnell has ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff Monday for Pearl Harbor Day.

Anchorage film fest expands to 14 days
ANCHORAGE - The Anchorage International Film Festival is expanding to 14 days and five venues.

Anchorage man convicted of murder
ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage jury has convicted a 37-year-old man of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a friend six years ago.

Court hears former stripper's appeal
ANCHORAGE - Lawyers for a former stripper convicted of a murder conspiracy asked the Alaska Court of Appeals to overturn her conviction because a jury was allowed to read a victim's "letter from the grave."

N. Alaska quake a 'quiet event'
CHALKYITSKI - The U.S. Geological Survey says it has not received any reports of damage from an early morning earthquake in a remote area of northern Alaska near the Canadian border.

Slim-Fast products recalled in Alaska
JUNEAU - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has informed the public of a voluntary recall of Slim-Fast ready-to-drink products in cans because of a possible contamination with Bacillus cereus.

Critic files complaint against Palin aides
ANCHORAGE - A longtime critic of Sarah Palin has filed an ethics complaint alleging past aides of the former Alaska governor misused state resources during her run as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

High winds topple 110-foot crane at Dutch Harbor
DUTCH HARBOR - Winds as high as 125 mph toppled a 110-foot gantry crane at a shipping facility in Dutch Harbor.

Iowa stop spurs talk of presidential run
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin greeted hundreds of admirers in Sioux City on Sunday, fueling speculation about a possible presidential run in 2012.

Four Falcons state-bound
The first year of Thunder Mountain wrestling could not be going much better for coach Chad Requa and his Falcon squad as they prepare to send four grapplers to the state meet inAnchorage.

North Pole takes out JDHS in 2 games
Treadwell Arena was packed once again for the second night of Juneau-Douglas' two-game series against North Pole, but the Patriots ran away with a 7-2 win after a four-goal third period that put the Bears away for good.

Photo: Falcons boys' hoops kick off season with scrimmage
Thunder Mountain Falcon boys' basketball standout Cody Grussendorf shoots over teammate Jazz King during an intersquad scrimmage Saturday night.

Sports in Juneau

Palin's book hints at true feelings about Juneau
In Sarah Palin's first year as governor, she said she couldn't spend the summer in Juneau because her Capitol office was being renovated. The next summer she said she couldn't be in Juneau because the plumbing at the Governor's House was being repaired.

Oil pipeline decline spurs tax debate
Flow through the 800-mile trans-Alaska pipeline has diminished as the huge Prudhoe Bay oil field ages.

Drug testing planned for Iditarod mushers
FAIRBANKS - The Iditarod plans to test mushers for drugs and alcohol in March, a change that many mushers don't have a problem with unless one asks three-time champion Lance Mackey.

New Web site will serve rural Alaska teens with STDs
ANCHORAGE - Alaska village teens who might be too embarrassed to talk about sexual diseases at a local clinic will be able to go online to order condoms or home-testing kits for chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Report favors smaller of two hydro projects
ANCHORAGE - A state-funded study finds that a multi-billion-dollar Susitna River dam makes less sense for Alaska than a smaller hydro project at Chakachamna Lake across Cook Inlet from Anchorage.

Ketchikan store manager: economy was 'one factor'
KETCHIKAN - Undisclosed financial difficulties shut down Skinner Sales and Services dealerships in Ketchikan Friday, putting about 20 people out of work.

Lawmakers ask Parnell to review Alaska oil tax
ANCHORAGE - Fifteen state representatives have asked Gov. Sean Parnell to take another look at a 2007 increase in Alaska's oil tax.

Veterans volunteer perseveres despite terminal cancer diagnosis
WASILLA - Maurice Bailey lives each day like it could be his last - because it might be.

UAF ends Susan Butcher Institute
FAIRBANKS - The University of Alaska Fairbanks has halted work at the Susan Butcher Institute, named for the four-time Iditarod champion musher who died of leukemia in 2006 at age 51.

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