Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, December 14, 2007

Heating fuel tax relief proposal voted down

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JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly voted down a proposal to give a temporary tax exemption on sales of heating oil, propane and wood fuel during a special meeting Wednesday night.

The exemption was recommended to the Assembly by the Juneau Chamber of Commerce in late November. The Chamber sought the tax relief for the small-business community and said average heating oil prices have increased by 21 percent over the last two years.

Assembly member Bob Doll said with financial decisions such as funding school district athletics and activities, and avalanche forecasting in the near future, losing $360,000 of tax base did not make sense.

"Are we trying to insulate the community against inflation?" Doll asked. "It's a hopeless task."

An ordinance, if the proposal had been approved, would have allowed a two-month sales tax exemption on heating fuels in February and March.

With Assembly member Jonathan Anderson absent, the Assembly voted down the proposal in a 4-4 tie, not giving it enough support to pass.

Panhandle doe hunting season closing early

JUNEAU - An apparent scarcity of deer is ending a doe hunting season early in the northern Panhandle.

The state Department of Fish and Game has put out an emergency order to close Units 1 C - and all of Unit 4 in the northern Panhandle - as of 11:59 p.m. Friday.

The season was originally set to continue through Dec. 31.

State biologist Neil Barten says the significant mortality of Sitka black-tailed deer after last year's severe winter caused concerns for wildlife managers.

The season for bucks will run through Dec. 31 as scheduled.

Flags to be lowered for Judge Stewart

JUNEAU - Gov. Sarah Palin ordered state flags to be lowered to half-staff on Tuesday in honor and memory of retired Superior Court Judge Thomas Stewart.

Stewart died Wednesday night in Juneau. He was 88. He served in the territorial House of Representatives and served in the first session of the Alaska Legislature. He was the secretary of the Alaska Constitutional Convention in 1955 and 1956 and also served as Superior Court judge in Juneau from 1966 until his retirement in 1981.

"We lost a true visionary and a wealth of Alaska knowledge last night," Palin said in a release on Thursday. "We can forever hold on to Judge Stewart's Alaskan spirit and his guidance for the future if we abide by the constitution he helped create. Todd and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones."

Stewart will be missed in the legal community, according to a statement by Superior Court Judge Morgan Christen.

"To know Tom Stewart was to touch the Alaska Constitution," Christen said. "Through him, we experienced the delegates' work at the convention, and came to know the purpose and strength of the bedrock document they created. In the legal community, Judge Stewart was a compass. We revered him, and will miss him very much."

Stewart is survived by six children.

Kodiak Museum gets $1 million grant

KODIAK - The Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak on Thursday received a $1 million gift from the Rasmuson Foundation.

The money will be used to create the Alutiiq Museum Venture Fund at the Alaska Community Foundation.

The only string attached is a requirement that the museum submit a plan for the money's expenditure.

Museum Director Sven Haakanson called the donation "an amazing investment in the Alutiiq people."

He said the money will be used to strengthen the long-term success of the museum by helping to stabilize its income, and perhaps allow it to raise more money and solidify its staff.

Haakanson said the museum has worked with the Rasmuson Foundation for over seven years, and feels that the staff there recognizes the valuable work the museum is doing.

How the money will be spent will be decided by a committee formed with the help of Will Anderson, the president of Koniag Inc., the regional Native corporation for the Kodiak area, who is also the chair of the Alutiiq Heritage Foundation.

Less than two months ago Haakanson personally received a $500,000 "Genius Award" from the MacArthur Foundation.

More charges for machete suspect

ANCHORAGE - A 28-year-old Anchorage man accused of killing his father with a machete in Palmer is facing more charges.

Christopher Erin Rogers Jr. was indicted by an Anchorage grand jury Wednesday on 10 charges including murder and robbery in the Dec. 2 shooting death of Anchorage graduate student Jason Wenger.

He also is charged with attempted murder and assault in the shooting that evening of Elizabeth Rumsey, who survived. Other charges include attempted murder, robbery and vehicle theft in the Dec. 3 shooting and carjacking of Tamas Deak, and attempted murder against an Anchorage police officer, failure to stop for a police officer, and weapons misconduct.

Tourist season tops for Cook Inlet Region Inc.

ANCHORAGE - Cook Inlet Region Inc. says its tourism division had a record season this year.

The division of the Anchorage-based Alaska Native corporation provides tourism, lodging and dining in Talkeetna and the Seward area.

CIRI says its Kenai Fjord Tours had its highest single-day passenger count during the summer visitor season.

The company's Internet-based sales also were up, and most phone calls originated from Web searches.

Parvovirus found in Anchorage puppies

ANCHORAGE - Anchorage animal control officials say parvovirus was found in a litter of abandoned husky mix puppies.

Myra Wilson, manager of the animal control shelter, says three of the puppies had to be put down.

But others were adopted before the center knew the animals were sick with the sometimes fatal virus.

Officials say the new owners have been notified and no other dogs have been found to be ill.

Parvo is highly contagious. It causes intestinal bleeding, dehydration and severe diarrhea.

The virus often infects puppies and can take several days to show up on tests.

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