Housing puzzle
Higher wages, stagnant housing prices and record low interest rates have combined to make housing in Alaska the most affordable it's been in 10 years, according to a recent report from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

North Douglas rezoning efforts questioned by area neighbors
Part of the city's plan for increasing affordable housing is increasing density in some of the areas served by its water, sewer and road systems. But neighbors of a 90-acre area recently rezoned in North Douglas are concerned about potential risks: a possible decrease in their property value and increases in traffic, pollution and water runoff, as well as adverse effects on wildlife and area atmosphere.

Claims by Palin in memoir raise local questions
Former Gov. Sarah Palin, who has had a rocky relationship with the state's capital city, says in her book there were some ugly threats made against her daughters while they were attending Juneau schools.

Photo: Tasty abode
Recent Juneau-Douglas High School graduate Andrea Axmann carries a gingerbread house through the school Friday afternoon. Her sister, Melissa, had made the house in gourmet class at JDHS and it had to be taken home by the holiday break.

Though Mendenhall River Community School teacher Jane Canaday's kindergarten class became the first to use inflatable ball seats when she incorporated them into the classroom last February, Janalynn Ferguson's second grade class at Glacier Valley Elementary has been using the balls since October.

Police & Fire
Juneau police and fire officials reported:

Around Town
Today, Dec. 20

Mount Edgecumbe Hospital dietitian earns CDE credential
SITKA - Jennifer Skoog, a patient services dietitian at the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital in Sitka, has earned a Certified Diabetes Educator credential from the National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators.

Hopefully I'll be home for the holidays
Sgt. First Class Arturo Bautista, of the Alaska Army National Guard, is hoping to return home to Juneau in the next two weeks, but there are no guarantees when your living in Iraq.

Senior menu for the week of Dec. 21-25
Monday, Dec. 21

Searching for the way up this Christmas
Fans of contemporary jazz music will instantly recognize the memorable title of Pat Metheny's 2006 Grammy Award winning album "The Way Up."

Photo: 'Tis the season
Floyd Dryden Middle School student Rebecca Erickson plays violin Tuesday evening during the "Music of the Season" concert presented by the FDMS string orchestra and choir.

The National Student Exchange will announce at its annual Placement Conference in March that Keith Underkoffler, on exchange during the 2008-2009 academic year from Iowa State University to the University of Alaska Southeast, is one of two winners of the Bette Worley NSE Student Achievement Award.

Seeking simplicity for the holidays
We are not big holiday shoppers. With a few exceptions, I like handmade gifts (upcycled are even better). I had hoped that handmade would also inspire simplicity in gift-giving, but every year I seem to set the bar higher and higher for myself, making a longer and longer list of necessary handmade gifts.

Government seeks access to naughty or nice database
We're at DefCon 4. It's time for Santa to cough up what he knows about who's naughty or nice. It's a matter of national security.

Government seeks access to naughty or nice database
We're at DefCon 4. It's time for Santa to cough up what he knows about who's naughty or nice. It's a matter of national security.

Dzantik'i Heeni wins first annual United Way Challenge
In another partnership between the Juneau School District and United Way in the 2009 Live United Campaign, staff at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School won the first annual United Way Challenge for having the greatest number of donors.

Dzantik'i Heeni wins first annual United Way Challenge
In another partnership between the Juneau School District and United Way in the 2009 Live United Campaign, staff at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School won the first annual United Way Challenge for having the greatest number of donors.

The true meaning of giving
On Wednesday, Juneau-Douglas High School students came together to spread holiday cheer to the less fortunate. Members of the Mental Illness Teen Health Club (MITH Club), sponsored by National Alliance on Mental Illness-Juneau, went down to Polaris House and handed out holiday gift bags.

Humanities council announces three new board members
JUNEAU - The Juneau Arts and Humanities Council is pleased to announce three new board members now serving as Trustees on the Council.

Thanks for donating to Juneau Adventist Christian School
The students and board of Juneau Adventist Christian School would like to thank the following businesses and individuals for their generous donations and loving support for our annual fundraising auction. Because of your kindness, we were able to raise more than $3,600 for our new boiler and spring trip. Thank you so very much to:

H1N1 flu vaccine available for all SEARHC patients
SITKA - When supplies are in stock, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium now is making H1N1 (swine) flu vaccine available for all of its patients.

Thanks for making our annual raffle a success
Alaska Youth Choir would like to extend our thanks to the Juneau community for helping to make our annual raffle fundraiser a great success.

SEARHC EMS offers ETT and EMT 1 recert class in Angoon
ANGOON - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Emergency Medical Services department will offer an Emergency Trauma Technician course that also includes a recertification Emergency Medical Technician 1 curriculum this February in Angoon.

Meals on Wheels gift wrap fundraiser held through Christmas Eve
JUNEAU - The annual gift wrap fundraiser sponsored by the Gastineau Channel Senior Centers' Advisory Board is being held through Christmas Eve at the Nugget Mall.

17th annual Polar Bear Dip to take place on New Year's Day
JUNEAU - The 17th annual Polar Bear Dip will take place at 1 p.m. on New Year's Day at Auke Bay Recreation Area, main shelter.

Strike it rich and Hit the JACC Putt
There is no Tiger, no Phil and no Annika (Woods, Mickelson and Sorenstam to those not up to the greens) at this golfing layout. But there is a Wii, just not Michelle Wie, and it is at the JACC, not Jack Nicklaus, but the Juneau Arts and Cultural Center.

Thanks to Skinner service customers
To our service customers, some of whom have remained loyal for more than 30 years, thank you for your support. Your faith in us and dedication to us did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

Thanks, Costco, for helping our Fun Run
The Gastineau Marathon Club would like to thank Costco for helping make our Fun Run on Nov. 13 successful. Knowing that there were ample food and sports drinks available at the end inspired more than 30 runners to brave the snowy trails and run from one to three miles. We appreciate the support.

Douglas Indian Association declares five seats open
JUNEAU - Five Douglas Indian Association Council seats are up for election. Enrolled Douglas Indian Association tribal members ages 21 years and older are eligible to vote.

Local charity seeks turkeys for holidays
A local charity is in dire need of donations for its annual Christmas baskets and Adopt-A-Family program.

Get your glitter fix without the mess
I love glitter - tiny sparkly specs of sunshine that light up the wintertime and make the holidays twinkle. And crafters worldwide agree, as they break out their tubes of the glitzy stuff starting each December.

Smith, Bruce wedding
Megan Smith, of Orangeville, Ontario, Canada, and Jarel Bruce, of Orofino, Idaho, were married Nov. 15, 2009, at Skater's Cabin in Juneau.

Bressette, Peterson wed
Kristen Bressette, of Juneau, and Darwin Peterson, of Anchorage, were married Oct. 22, 2009, on the Grand Lawn at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort in Poipu, Hawaii. A reception followed in the Resolution Gardens at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort.

Lake, Thibodeau wed
Melody Lake, of Evergreen, Colo., and Kyle Thibodeau, of Juneau, were married Sept. 5, 2009, in Evergreen. A get-together to welcome the bride and groom will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 29, at Chapel by the Lake. All friends and family are welcome.


Brewery donates tips to food bank
Juneau's own brewery recently donated more than $10,000 - in tips - to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank.

Stanley P. Harris
Former Juneau resident Stanley P. Harris died Dec. 6, 2009, in El Centro, Calif. He was 84.

Charlotte T. Pape
Longtime Juneau resident Charlotte T. Pape died Dec. 15, 2009, at Bartlett Regional Hospital. She was 70.

Rose Marie Ragone
Juneau resident Rose Marie Ragone died peacefully in her sleep on Dec. 19, 2009. She was 79.

James Edward Douglas Jr.
Juneau resident James E. Douglas died suddenly on Dec. 14, 2009, at home. He was 66.

Guantanamo north?
The Obama administration is right to continue its steady march to close the detention facilities at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But it will undermine the benefits of a closure if it merely moves detainees from one place to another without changing the policies that led to international condemnation of the prison.

Outside editorial: Taxes and death
The old saw about the only certainties in life being death and taxes isn't quite right: We'll also always be arguing about the taxation of death. Because of squabbling in the Senate over the estate tax - one of the nation's most controversial levies - taxes will rise for thousands of middle-class heirs while falling for a small number of the very wealthy.

Debunking the climate conspiracy that isn't
I cannot condone some things that colleagues of mine wrote or requested in the e-mails recently stolen from a climate research unit at a British university. But the messages do not undermine the scientific case that human-caused climate change is real.

Americans seem stuck in the spend cycle
During the next week, millions of Americans will shop in a mad dash to beat the holiday finish line. The seasonal chaos will ring up billions on credit cards, as our stockings are once more stuffed to bursting. It's the most wonderful time of the year, to be sure.

Toe Toon
This week's toe toon.

JDHS trounces Tok
After crushing the Tok Wolverines the first night by a score of 11-0 on Friday, it took Juneau-Douglas about three minutes to go up 2-0 Saturday, and the Bears rolled to a 10-0 win at Treadwell Arena.

Bears blanket Falcons
The scoring came early and often at Juneau-Douglas High School last night. But unfortunately for Thunder Mountain, it was one-sided in the Crimson Bears' 85-21 girls' basketballvictory.

JDHS rolls in first-ever matchup
Juneau-Douglas rolled to an 82-16 win over the outmatched, outsized and undermanned Thunder Mountain Falcons on Friday in the first-ever girls' basketball meeting between the new cross-town rivals.

Pollock harvest lowest in 32 years
ANCHORAGE - Federal fisheries managers have set the allowable catch for pollock at 813,000 metric tons for 2010, the lowest in 32 years for the multi-million dollar fishery.

Christmas trees showing up with live 'ornaments'
ANCHORAGE - Forget the plastic icicles, brightly colored balls and tinsel.

Beetle in Alaska equipped with natural antifreeze
FAIRBANKS - When Kent Walters decided to study an obscure Alaska beetle for his doctoral research project, even he admits the idea didn't sound especially sexy or groundbreaking.

2nd highest three-day snowfall in history hits Valdez
ANCHORAGE - Depending on whether they like snow, residents in Valdez either enjoyed or endured the town's second highest three-day snowfall on record.

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