Some new titles 'yule' find in the bookstores in time for Christmas shopping
As the song says, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" - and that's also true on the "new fiction" shelf of bookstores, where novels by Anne Perry, Jude Deveraux and Debbie Macomber all have Christmas settings.

In the Stacks: This week offers tapes to listen to while wrapping gifts
What better way to keep yourself on track wrapping gifts and baking goodies than with a great book on tape? Here are a few ideas to get you started; all are unabridged.

Waiting for a road
I'm waiting for the Access Juneau Road Project!

The real health hazard
The Juneau Clean Air Coalition is pushing for "clean air?" It is actively going after local bars and their smoking clients as the cause for this unhealthy problem; they state that it is they who are causing all the health problems in the world.

Majority is right this time
Christopher, it is true that the majority is not always right, but this time they are! The only good thing that I have learned about cigarettes is that the tobacco in them can be blended with water, further diluted and then it becomes a great bug spray to protect your plants from insects.

Hold mine backers accountable
The currently closed Tulsequah Chief mine has been polluting the Tulsequah and Taku rivers with acid mine drainage since the 1950s with no cleanup efforts in place. With the proposal for Redfern Resources to reopen the mine, Alaska fishermen and state and federal fisheries officials have been concerned about the potential for even greater pollution by an active mining operation. Few of these concerns have been addressed by either the government of British Columbia or the mining company.

'Legal' smoking is a killer
In their Dec. 15 letter ("Smoking - or not - is a legal choice"), Judy and Rudy Ripley seem to believe that tobacco is perfectly legal.

Canada's flawed fish farms
I am writing this letter in regards to fish farms and their potential to negatively affect Alaskan sport, Native and commercial fisheries. The B.C. salmon farm industry is poised to expand open-net fish farms to the Prince Rupert area, which is situated right next to the Alaskan border. The industry has been plagued with job layoffs due to farmed Atlantic salmon die-offs from IHN disease, which we believe could cause catastrophic harm to both Alaskan and B.C. wild salmon runs in that region.

Should AML get the Permanent Fund?
Was anyone surprised when the Alaska Municipal League (AML) passed a resolution at their annual meeting in favor of raiding the Permanent Fund? After all, the AML represents local government entities in Alaska. They are constantly lobbying the Legislature for more money.

Laughing at life's misfortunes
I found Pat O'Brien's letter taking offense at the "Wizard of Id" kind of odd.

Pesticide spraying poses risks
As the owner of a sportfishing business in Juneau, I am very concerned about Alaska's new regulations allowing aerial pesticide spraying. Ernesta Ballard of the Department of Environmental Conservation, who is behind these rules, seems to have completely forgotten about the dangers pesticides pose to people, fish and Alaskan businesses. Because these new regulations do not require adequate public notice, most Alaskans will have no clue when or where toxic chemicals will be sprayed.

A fair comparison
The comparison of bestiality and homosexuality is a fair one in the Bible. It says that they are both worthy of death.

As society changes, so should rules
I grew up in a society in which most people smoked; as a child there was practically no way to get away from the smell of cigarette smoke - in the home, at restaurants, family gatherings and many public places. As that society became aware, by degrees, of the dangers of smoking, not just as a personal choice but to the general welfare, restrictions on smoking became more and more prevalent.

A new store
If you are looking for a real treat, wind your way to South Franklin and check out one of Juneau's newest stores: The Imaginarium. Owned and operated by a Juneau born-and-bred couple, this store is here to stay and we are the lucky ones. It is full of every imaginable thing to warm the heart of a child of any age. Not a catalogue in the world offers more.

Gays the same as everyone else
You know what I don't understand? I don't understand why all the sudden everyone feels that we have to team up on people's sexuality. I think people should be loved no matter how they choose to live. I mean, really, we have all these people going against gay people when they are no different then any of us. They just choose to fall in love with someone of the same sex. I think people need to learn how to be more accepting and get over the fact that not everyone grew up the same. I mean, really, you don't see people talking all this stuff about people of different colors the way they talk about people who are gay.

City to split high school construction contract
The city will split construction work on the planned high school in the Mendenhall Valley into two parts to attract more bidders, especially from Southeast, and gain some time in a very tight schedule for an August 2006 opening.

Holiday train rally entertains young, old
Younger visitors, though, were not as adept as multi-tasking. Kids as young as 3 stood mesmerized by the 15 working trains on display at the first-ever holiday train rally held at the museum. Many stood silent for minutes at a time, watching.

Police & Fire
Reports from Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

Around Town
Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Holiday services
Local times and locations for holiday services

SEARHC to build new health clinic in Klukwan
Some residents joke that you can't be very sick if you can get up the stairs at the Klukwan Health Clinic.

Bartlett expansion could cost more
The $40 million Bartlett Regional Hospital addition and renovation may cost more and be delayed. At issue are the cost of construction and whether to solicit bids for one job or divide it into three smaller projects.

Photo: Festival of Lights
Members of the Juneau Jewish Community gather at the Salvation Army on Sunday evening to celebrate the third day of Hanukkah. The Jewish festival, known as the Festival of Lights, began this year on Dec. 19 and lasts eight days. Hannukah commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Hellenistic Syrians in a revolt that took place over 2000 years ago. From left are: Becca Freer, Carin Smolen, Alexander Dolitsky, Alana Paul who is held by her mother, Shari, Lia Neifetz and Aidan Sabety-Moss.

Around Town is a listing of local nonprofit events.

Police & Fire
Reports by Juneau police, fire officials and state troopers.

Dreaming of a White Christmas
Though hundreds of Christmas songs are piped through stereo systems at retail stores this time of year, "Let it Snow" is the song of the season for some Juneau proprietors.

Juneau Color: Falcon breathes life into curmudgeonly puppet
Zach Falcon has appeared on stage in Juneau many times, but says he wouldn't want to tread the boards anywhere but here.

Glacier Valley still needs crossing guards
People around Glacier Valley Elementary School say slowing down the traffic on Mendenhall Loop Road is just one step toward making it safer for kids to walk to school.

City disputes state permit at HS site
The city is contesting a state fish-habitat permit needed to fill a pond at the site of the planned high school at Dimond Park.

Elizabeth Gharrett
Elizabeth Mary Campbell Gharrett, 87, died of natural causes in Seattle on Dec. 3, 2003.

Bertha Brekhus
Former Juneau resident Bertha Florence Brekhus, 85, died of emphysema and complications from pneumonia Nov. 25, 2003, at St. Tammany Hospital in Louisiana.

Toe cartoon
Cartoon by local artist Toe.

My Turn: Praying for a white Christmas
This last column for 2003 wishes all of our readers a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2004. Unfortunately, this holiday finds American young men and women again in foreign lands protecting our security.

My Turn: Pipeline spill-plan proposal a threat to environment
The Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. says it needs government approval to amend its oil spill prevention and response plan for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) before the end of the year. But critics, including a veteran Alyeska field worker and spill-response expert, believe the proposal is premature.

Southeast Wild: Population growth
Do you live in a community where moose outnumber people? For the winter residents of Gustavus the answer is a resounding "Yes!" In fact, there are about twice as many moose living on the Gustavus forelands this winter as there are human inhabitants. This hasn't always been the case, however, as moose have been known to occur in this area only for the last 40 years or so.

Outdoors Web links
Web sites of interest to local outdoors enthusiasts.

Playing reindeer games
Despite 20 years of recovery efforts, the last wild herd of woodland caribou in the Lower 48 states continues to struggle for survival. Only 41 of the caribou, a close relative of the reindeer, were counted in the 2003 annual census within the greater Selkirk Mountains north of Spokane.

Toadfish mating call a clue to fighting human muscular diseases
Web links The love song of the lonely toadfish is giving scientists new insight on fighting human muscular diseases. Blessed with a face that only a mother could love, some males of a type of toadfish called the plainfin midshipman work hard for a date, hiding under rocks in shallow waters and humming to attract egg-laying females.

Out & About
Upcoming local outdoor events.

Ski report
Saturday midday, there was 28 inches of snow at the Eaglecrest Ski Area lodge, and about 72 inches on top. It's a heavy wet snow. The groomed runs are soft snow turning, the ski area said. Fat skis and snowboards work best off the groomed.

Wildlife Notebook: Juneau's great blue herons stick around for the winter
On a recent winter morning, a great blue heron stalked the tidal flats at the mouth of Gold Creek. Wading carefully, the tall bird didn't make a single ripple in the shallow water. It paused, then plunged its dagger-like bill underwater and pulled out a wriggling fish.

Juneau boys finish sixth at Service tourney
The youthful Juneau-Douglas High School boys basketball team made progress this weekend, but not enough to keep from posting a 1-3 record in its season-opening road trip to Anchorage.

Sports in Juneau
Sports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Sports in Juneau
Sports in Juneau is a service provided by the Juneau Empire to provide information on upcoming sports and outdoors events in Juneau.

Cavaliers claim second straight win on the road
LeBron James did the No. 23 proud in his idol's house. With Michael Jordan watching from a skybox, James scored a game-high 32 points and had a career-high 10 assists Saturday night to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their second straight road win, a 95-87 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Three Juneau wrestlers win titles at West Christmas Classic
Three Juneau-Douglas High School wrestlers claimed titles in their respective weight classes Saturday night to lead the Crimson Bears to a fourth-place finish in the West Christmas Classic at West Anchorage High School.

Photos: Masters of the Holiday
This year marks the 11th run of the Holiday Cup indoor soccer tourney.

Juneau JV girls finish undefeated at Yakutat
The Juneau-Douglas High School girls junior varsity basketball squad finished undefeated at last weekend's Mount St. Elias Classic tournament in Yakutat.

Research team to study one of Alaska's ghost villages
Returning to King Island for the first time in three decades, Helen Pushruk was struck by the impossible layout of the crumbling Eskimo village where she was born. The homes, built high on stilts, clung to the steep, rocky faces of the island, battered by the Bering Sea.

Vegetation map offers unified look at Arctic
University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Donald "Skip" Walker and colleagues gathered for a conference in Boulder, Colo., 11 years ago and realized they faced a common problem in studying the Arctic region and its array of vegetation.

This Day in History
In Alaska; in the nation; in the world.

This Day in History
In Alaska; In the nation; In the world.

State distributes $9 million in grants for fish marketing
A $9 million package of state grants for fish marketing will help move hundreds of thousands of cases of canned pink salmon that have been gathering dust in Alaska warehouses, Gov. Frank Murkowski said Thursday.

Lawmaker wants to delay HS exit exams
State Sen. Gretchen Guess, an Anchorage Democrat, said she plans to sponsor legislation to eliminate the requirement for students to pass the state's high school exam in order to get a diploma. Students still would have to take the test, with the results still part of their record, but they could graduate without passing it.

Photo: Eagle on the mend
Heida, a female bald eagle, left, closes her wings as she perches next to an unnamed male eagle Thursday, at the Hutchinson (Kan.) Zoo. Heida a 20-something bald eagle from Sitka, made her debut at the zoo as she recovers from a neurological injury.

State of Contradictions
Leigh Ann Bauer, who has lived in Alaska for 12 years, calls herself a "big-time animal lover." She also considers herself "pretty pro-oil development." To many people in Alaska, those two things are not mutually exclusive.

Alaska Digest
News in brief from around the state.

Alaska Digest
Stories from around the state.

Stevens says he has done nothing illegal, unethical
ANCHORAGE - Sen. Ted Stevens on Friday dismissed calls from activist groups that he resign as chairman of the Appropriations Committee and disputed a newspaper report that said he used his powerful position to enrich himself and others.

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