What's a $297 million city budget anyway?
The CBJ budget contains a budget philosophy page that ends with, "This annual budget is based upon citizen expectations, clearly articulated Assembly policies and Manager directives, maintenance of existing program levels, and expansion of health and safety services to protect life and property."

Is the Arctic big enough for wildlife and development?
The recent news about the proposed critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act for the threatened polar bear seems to come in the nick of time, but then disappointment creeped in when I saw the news that Shell Oil had been given approval to drill in the Beaufort Sea off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The drilling could take place right in the middle of the proposed polar bear habitat without fundamental information of the impacts on the Arctic environment.

Thanks, Empire, for reporting good news
I'm writing to let you know I appreciate recent efforts to balance your news stories. Earlier this year, I was frustrated with the lack of "good news" and a sensationalist feel to the paper.

Survey: 90-day sessions causing many 'problems'
Alaska's voters in 2006 narrowly approved shortening legislative sessions from the constitutionally mandated 120-day maximum to 90 days.

DZ students relive history in mock trials
A courtroom at the Dimond Courthouse transformed into a classroom this week as roughly 115 Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School students participated in mock trials that let them delve into American history.

Photo: Falcon teams tip-off
Thunder Mountain High School cheerleaders and students react to the boys team scoring over Petersburg Friday in the first night of home games for the Thunder Mountain High School basketball program. See results from Friday and Saturday's games in the sports section at juneauempire.com/sports.

Photos: Dancing a holiday classic

Photo: Honey hole
Ice fisherman Bud Benning catches a chinook salmon smolt on Twin Lakes Fridayafternoon. Benning and friend Chris Dreyer caught their limit in less than an hour after hand-augering a hole in the ice. "As soon as the hook is in the water they bite," Benning said. "The hardest part is cutting the hole."

Around Town
Today, Dec. 13

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fireofficials reported:

SmART funding
An arts advocacy group has teamed up with a Sitka-based chocolate company to sell candy bars to fund art scholarships for Juneau's graduating seniors.

Danial Ray Sypeck, a 2006 graduate of Juneau-Douglas High School, graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Benning, Ga. For nine weeks, he studied Basic Combat Training.

Alaska Pacific Bank hires vice president, mortgage manager
JUNEAU - Alaska Pacific Bancshares Inc. President and CEO Craig E. Dahl announced in September that Robert Mastrandrea was hired as vice president and manager of Alaska Pacific Mortgage, a division of Alaska Pacific Bank.

Assembly shows its appreciation to Capital City Celebrations
JUNEAU - At their Nov. 23 meeting, the Assembly presented city Certificates of Appreciation to the board members of Capital City Celebrations for their "dedication and hard work in furtherance of the 50th Anniversary of Alaska Statehood celebrations."

Thanks, Troop 4014, for spreading holiday spirit at AWARE
Girl Scout Troop 4014 came bearing gifts, lighting up the lights, setting up the tree and spreading the holiday spirit at the shelter on Dec. 3. Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies Inc. welcomed the team of Girl Scouts and moms who volunteered to set up the tree and decorate with festive lights and colorful bulbs. They came with gifts of baby blankets, varieties of hot chocolate mixes, bags of coffee beans and their fun spirited generosity. The atmosphere was filled with industrious teamwork, creative wiring and the aroma of cookies and hot chocolate which lingered with their bright spirit, long after they finished their task.

Senior menu for the week of Dec. 14-18
Monday, Dec. 14

Junior journey for the animals
In its first-ever such drive, a group of eight fifth-grade girls collected bags of used towels and blankets for a local animal shelter.

Thanks for Perseverance Theatre's Education Outreach Program
The Canvas art program at REACH offers a huge thank you to Perseverance Theatre for providing REACH artists the opportunity to learn about acting through the Perseverance Theatre Education Outreach Program.

Alaska Women Speak seeks prose, poetry from Alaskan women
JUNEAU - Alaska Women Speak is a quarterly journal currently soliciting prose and poetry from Alaskan women. The editorial staff is currently reviewing submissions of previously unpublished poetry, fiction, book reviews and essays to include in its upcoming 18th year of publication. Preference for submissions is 1,200 words or less.

Thanks for attending 2009 Trail Mix auction
Trail Mix extends its deepest thanks to the more than 200 trail lovers who came to our 2009 auction on Nov. 19. The evening would not have been possible without the wonderful support of volunteers, donors and friends, and we are in absolute awe of the generosity showed by Juneau's trail community.

SEARHC restructures leadership for more cohesive organization
JUNEAU - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium realigned several departments and made a leadership transition in October to bring together the health services of the organization and make SEARHC departments more of a cohesive health operations.

Cooperative Church Council to host annual Advent Luncheon
JUNEAU - The Cooperative Church Council will host its annual Advent Luncheon from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at Resurrection Lutheran Church. A lunch of homemade soups, breads and holiday cookies will be served. A donation is requested for the Glory Hole.

Thanks to Mendenhall Mall for donating space
Capital Kennel Club of Juneau would like to thank Mendenhall Mall for their generous donation of space to hold our annual winter fundraiser, Pet Photos with Santa and Holiday Pet Portraits. Mendenhall Mall has been a long time supporter of this event and we greatly appreciate it. This year's events were a big success thanks to the support of the Mendenhall Mall, Dave Gelotte Photography (use of a background stand), Juneau Empire, Mr. Santa Claus, CKCoJ volunteers and especially all the people who came to have their pet's pictures taken.

Widowed Persons Program announces Christmas Dinner
JUNEAU - The Widowed Persons Program announces its annual Christmas Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at the Baranof Hotel.

Leadership Juneau begins third year with focus on youth
JUNEAU - The United Way of Southeast Alaska recently announced the upcoming Leadership Juneau program, which will be offered to aspiring community leaders in early 2010. Any and all individuals interested in participating are encouraged to visit United Way of Southeast Alaska's Web site, www.unitedwayseak.org, to obtain detailed information and application material. If you have an employee, student or co-worker who is a strong candidate, you can also find a nomination form on the Web site. The application has been extended to Friday, Dec. 18, at 4 p.m.

Dr. Mitchell Wilkinson joins consortium Dental staff
JUNEAU - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium recently announced that Dr. Mitchell Wilkinson has joined the dental provider staff at the SEARHC Juneau Dental Clinic as the consortium's first staff prosthodontist in a couple of years.

Tree tips: Trimming for the over-thinker
Artificial or real? Douglas or Spruce? Store-bought or self-cut? White lights or multi-colored?


Brown, Belton wed
Theresa Brown and David Belton, of Juneau, were married Nov. 7, 2009, at Chapel by the Lake in Juneau. A reception followed the ceremony at the church hall.

Hogle, Hull wed
Regina Marie Hogle and Jesse Lowen Hull, both of Juneau, were married Dec. 1, 2009, at the Extended Stay Hotel in Juneau. A reception immediately followed.

Standing in line: A Christmas tradition
I stood in line for the Governor's Christmas Open House this year. We get so few opportunities to stand in line in Juneau - I just didn't want to miss it. Evidently some 3,000 of my friends and neighbors felt the same way.

University School of Nursing to hold ceremony for graduates
The University of Alaska Southeast and the University of Alaska Anchorage School of Nursing is holding a pinning ceremony for graduates of the associate degree nursing program at 1 p.m. today at the UAS Egan Lecture Hall in Juneau. Registered nurse Jean Ballantyne, from University of Alaska Anchorage, will be attending.

All I want for Christmas: A Lava lamp
I really want a lava lamp for Christmas. I wanted one when they first came back out, but there was no way I was going to shell out $30 for a lava lamp. Now they are cheaper, and I can justify $15 for a bit of nostalgia.

My turn: Opportunity in a post-Arctic world
With the Copenhagen climate summit now underway and President Obama planning to attend the final days of negotiations in the hope a presidential surge will help achieve a deal, the world's attention is keenly fixed on the normally quiet capital of Denmark.

A terrorist threat in our midst?
As alumni notices go, it was one of the more opaque:

Toe Toon
This week's toe toon.

AK man sought on sexual assault charge surrenders
NOORVIK - An Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman says a 26-year-old Kotzebue man sought in a sexual assault surrendered Friday night after four days on the run.

Anchorage convict accused of raping homeless men
ANCHORAGE - Police say a convicted sex offender would lure homeless men who were smaller than him into his home, get them drunk and rape them.

Palin makes surprise appearance on 'Tonight Show'
ANCHORAGE - Sarah Palin made a surprise appearance on "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" on Friday - and turned the tables on actor William Shatner.

School district starts e-mail newsletter
JUNEAU - The Juneau School District has started a new, e-mailed newsletter for those interested in receiving updates in their inbox.

Former JDHS coach Hamey indicted Friday
JUNEAU - A grand jury on Friday indicted longtime Juneau-Douglas High School basketball coach James M. Hamey on one count of felony sexual assault.

Man shot outside Anchorage nightclub
ANCHORAGE - A suspect in an early morning shooting has been charged with assault, weapons misconduct, resisting arrest and evidence tampering.

Tests show more wells tainted near Alaska refinery
FAIRBANKS - Tests have shown more wells have been tainted with an industrial chemical from a refinery near Fairbanks.

3 men indicted in motel shootout
FAIRBANKS - Three Alaska men have been indicted on robbery and drug charges after a shootout last October at a Fairbanks motel.

Council still working on pollock decision
ANCHORAGE - The North Pacific Fishery Management Council was expected to take final action on Friday and set the 2010 catch limit for Alaska pollock, but now the decision probably will come on Saturday.

Falcons soar past Vikings
The band was rockin' and the crowd -especially the student section - was pumped as prep hoops made its valley debut Friday, and Thunder Mountain fans did not leave disappointed.

Petersburg sweeps TMHS
The Falcons scored just one first-half field goal and five points as Petersburg cruised to a 49-20 win in the girls' basketball program's first high school game ever at Thunder Mountain High School.

Sports in Juneau

Arctic Ocean drilling draws disapproval
ANCHORAGE - While some federal agencies are expressing caution on Arctic development, the federal Minerals Management Service continues to forge ahead with petroleum exploration drilling off the shores of the remote northern Alaska coast.

Health reform may hurt seniors, Alaska economy
ANCHORAGE - Proposed health care reform bills that would extend insurance coverage to thousands of uninsured Alaskans may not be good for seniors or the state economy.

Parnell proposes road to foothills petroleum deposit
ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sean Parnell will ask legislators for $8 million for preliminary work that could lead to construction of a 90-mile road to oil and gas reserves in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range.

Governor to declare budget proposals
ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sean Parnell is expected to unveil his 2011 operating and capital budget proposals on Monday, but he did let one item on his list out of the bag this weekend: money for a new science building at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

Report: Student surge not all from rural villages
ANCHORAGE - When Anchorage school enrollment spiked last year, the superintendent and mayor told the governor they feared a wave of families was leaving rural Alaska.

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