State Briefs

Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2002

Assembly to look at code enforcement

JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly on Monday will consider an ordinance that would establish new penalties for minor building code violations.

The proposal would allow the city to issue an infraction, which is similar to a parking ticket, for building code violations. Penalties would range from $100 to $300.

Currently, someone who violates the city's building code faces a misdemeanor charge, jail term and substantial fines. Citations must be served by a police officer and a defendant has a right to a jury trial and public defender. The requirements make enforcement cumbersome, according to the city.

The Assembly also is scheduled to review renovation plans for Floyd Dryden Middle School and change the zoning of the Alaska Club in the Mendenhall Valley from multiple-family residential to light commercial. The Juneau Planning Commission approved the change last month.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday in Assembly chambers at City Hall. Time has been set aside for public comment.

Man sentenced for filing false returns

ANCHORAGE - An Anchorage man has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for filing false tax returns.

Donald J. Briscoe, 40, was sentenced to 46 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick, who also ordered Briscoe to pay $10,490 in restitution.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Briscoe filed 25 false tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service and committed identify theft.

Briscoe was convicted of submitting the false tax returns and collecting refunds using names of people who were dead or incarcerated in the Alaska prison system in 1998 and 1999.

In a plea deal in October, Briscoe agreed to be sentenced based on the 25 false tax returns plus 23 counts of identify theft. The government said Briscoe's total theft through fraud was $272,500.

Clinic to offer Interior's only abortions

FAIRBANKS - Planned Parenthood of Alaska plans to open a clinic in Fairbanks next year whose services would include abortion, a procedure not available in the Interior since 1999.

Abortion opponents, however, are urging the pending landlord to break the lease at the Northern Lights Medical Center.

Services such as gynecological exams, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and treatment for infections also will be offered at the clinic. Treatment for men, such as non-scalpel vasectomies, is planned as well.

The opening in Fairbanks has sparked an outcry by the anti-abortion group Interior Right to Life.

"There are so many good options out there that don't bring grief and regret and sorrow," said Debbie Joslin, a supporter of the group.

Opponents have contacted tenants at the building to alert them of the new clinic and recommend they move.

Elective abortions stopped being offered in the region when the sole doctor who offered the procedure retired and no other physician filled the void.

Since then, women in the Interior and Northern Alaska have had to travel to Anchorage or Outside to have an abortion. Planned Parenthood has helped offset some of the travel costs.

Nenana schools seek payment help

FAIRBANKS - Faced with a drop in funding from the state, the Nenana City School District has asked the city to make the next two payments on the district's high school boarding home.

"Our student count has come in approximately 500 students lower than was predicted for the statewide correspondence program," Superintendent Ken Eggleston told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

That's about a third of the Cyberlynx correspondence program's enrollment.

Eggleston said that means a drop in revenue of about $915,000 for the $7 million budget the district started the year with.

The twice-yearly payments on the Nenana Student Living Center, which opened last school year, are $141,400 each.

Nenana Mayor Jason Mayrand said the city's $600,000 operating budget could not support the payments. But he said the city will try to come up with the funds.

The city is technically on the hook for repayment of the 30-year, $4.5 million loan that paid for construction of the center, which the city owns. However, Mayrand said the school district agreed to make the payments from its operating budget.

Eggleston attributed much of the enrollment drop to an increase in local and statewide correspondence programs. Nenana lost about 300 students to a new statewide correspondence program in the Yukon-Koyukuk School District, Eggleston said.

The Galena correspondence program allowed more students to enroll, and several local school districts improved their in-district correspondence programs, he said.

"There are only a certain number of students out there," Eggleston said. "Competition is getting really stiff, and it is becoming a shoppers market."

But he said the real financial challenge is that the district operates the center with only the regular state per-student funding and receives nothing extra to feed and house the students.

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