Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, December 25, 2007

District to start classes later in '08

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JUNEAU - School will start 12 days later in 2008 than in 2007. The first day of school for first grade through 12th grade is set for Sept. 2. Preschool and kindergarten will start on Sept. 4. Accordingly, the last day of school will come on June 5.

New student registration begins Aug. 15.

The Juneau School District released the final calendar this week following a vote to accept the new schedule at the Dec. 18 School Board meeting.

Superintendent Peggy Cowan said there is a national trend to start school after Labor Day.

Students will have Veteran's Day, Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day off, along with the usual Thanksgiving and winter break.

Spring break 2009 will come one week later than in 2008 and is set for March 23-27.

The fully detailed calendar will soon be available on the school district Web site.

The first round of parent- teacher conferences for middle and high school are set for Oct. 9-10 with elementary school conferences scheduled for Nov. 10-12.

During conferences high school students will attend half-day sessions, and middle school and elementary students have conference days off.

Driver accused of nipping vodka

PALMER - A 39-year-old Palmer woman is accused of drinking vodka from a water bottle while driving with two children in her vehicle.

Laura M. Phillips is charged with drunken driving and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. She was arrested Thursday night and is free on bail.

Alaska State Troopers say Phillips almost hit a Palmer police cruiser when troopers tried to pull her over.

Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters says preliminary tests showed Phillips was nearly three times over the legal limit of alcohol to drive.

Phillips was pulled over by troopers on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway after the officers got a report of an erratic driver.

Borough studies recreation options

WASILLA - No private developer has appeared to cultivate recreation opportunities at Hatcher Pass so the Matanuska-Susitna Borough will try to jump-start a project.

The borough assembly has approved $50,000 to study recreation development options. Borough project manager Ron Swanson will lead the effort.

Borough officials hope that beginning preliminary planning work will help attract a developer, borough manager John Duffy said.

Winter opportunities at Hatcher Pass could include a day lodge, alpine ski area and Nordic trails, he said.

In addition to a development plan, the borough also has about $5 million to invest in the project, which could make it more attractive to potential developers, Duffy said. That money could be used to build cross-country ski trails and infrastructure such as paved or expanded parking lots.

"Personally, I like the idea of just developing a ski area," Assembly member Pete Houston said. "I wasn't really happy with the development of a residential and commercial area that was proposed in the past."

An alpine ski area could be anchored by a 12,000-square-foot day lodge, according to borough planning documents.

When it comes to downhill skiing and snowboarding, an alpine ski area could feature three lifts, providing access to a variety of terrain, according to planning documents.

Although the borough is investing time, money and staff to helping develop Hatcher Pass as a winter destination, it does not want to be in the business of running a ski area or other business, Duffy said.

Support for the Nordic portion of the project seems to be growing, Houston said.

"Everybody says that if we have nothing else, we need to have Nordic trails," he said.

Duffy said the borough's environmental and engineering studies for the entire project are expected to reach completion by next summer.

Juries convict three for sexual assault

ANCHORAGE - A jury convicted a man of sexual assault Friday, the third verdict in Anchorage in seven days on the charge.

After a two-day trial, jurors found Yosbany Moore, 24, guilty of nonpenetration sexual assault, attempted rape and misdemeanor assault, said Anchorage District Attorney Adrienne Bachman.

Trial prosecutor Brittany Dunlop told jurors Moore grabbed the woman and dragged her into an alley near her home. The woman resisted and screamed. A neighbor came to her aid and held Moore until police arrived.

Dunlop said Moore has a criminal record that includes felony drug convictions and could face more than 20 years in prison. Superior Court Judge Mike Wolverton set sentencing for April 18.

On Dec. 14, jurors convicted Mark Abrell of a March 2005 rape, Bachman said. Abrell had been convicted of multiple rape counts in a 1982 case.

In the current case, trial prosecutor Ben Hofmeister told jurors that Abrell, 49, raped a woman in a wooded area off Dimond Boulevard. A video surveillance camera recorded Abrell with the woman just before to the assault.

Superior Court Judge John Suddock set sentencing for March 21. Abrell is being held without bail.

On Dec. 13, another jury convicted Edrick Pointer of a June 20 rape, Bachman said.

Police said Pointer, 29, stole a vehicle, grabbed a convenience store employee and forced her into a bathroom, where he assaulted her. A police officer arrived in time to interrupt the attack. Superior Court Judge Phillip Volland set sentencing for March 27.

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