Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, December 26, 2003

Assembly may add to museum collection

JUNEAU - The Juneau Assembly is considering appropriating $10,400 to buy five items for the Juneau-Douglas City Museum collection.

Funds would come from a grant from the Museums Alaska Inc. Art Acquisition Initiative Program. The program is intended to support practicing Alaska artists through museum purchases, enhance the permanent art collections of Alaska museums, and encourage the museums to develop formal collection policies.

The items are a Tlingit bear forehead mask by Michael Beasley; a Tlingit bear mask by Richard Beasley; "Dick and the Boys Narrowly Escape an Advancing Glacier," a photograph by Mark Daughhetee; a lovebirds bracelet by Johnny Avatock; and a raven sun bracelet by Gene Chilton.

The Assembly will take public comments and vote on spending the grant at its next meeting, on Jan. 12.

Some JDHS students yet to pass exit exam

JUNEAU - About one in five seniors at Juneau-Douglas High School have not passed the state exam needed to receive a high school diploma, the Juneau School District said.

The Class of 2004 is the first group of seniors that must pass the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Examination - composed of reading, writing and math tests - to receive a diploma.

Currently, 79 percent of the students in the JDHS Class of 2004 have passed all three portions of the exam, said Superintendent Peggy Cowan. That leaves about 75 students who must retake one, two or three of the tests in the spring. The school is offering those students counseling and after-school tutoring, she said.

Students who don't pass the exam will receive a certificate of attendance and can retake the exam twice a year, even after they leave high school.

Although this year's seniors are the first class to face the exam's mandate, students have been taking the test for several years, usually starting in their sophomore year. The passing rate has been improving at JDHS, Cowan said. The Class of 2003 had a 67 percent passing rate, and the Class of 2002 had a 69 percent passing rate.

Pilgrim family appeals case to higher court

ANCHORAGE - Lawyers for the Pilgrim family filed an emergency motion Wednesday in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to overturn a recent decision by a federal court judge in the family's legal battle with the National Park Service.

Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing the family, asked the appeals court in San Francisco to grant emergency access over a historic mining route to the family's property inside Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline ruled last month that the Park Service had the right to require a permit before the Pilgrims can use a bulldozer to haul supplies over the 14-mile road. The 17-member family, whose legal name is Hale, must go through the permit process, Beistline said.

The Pilgrims had sought emergency access as winter approached in early November, contending the park could not close the road.

Russ Brooks, a Pacific Legal Foundation attorney, said an emergency motion speeds up the normal court process, giving the Park Service eight days to respond.

"The situation is even more urgent now," Brooks said. "We're getting deeper into winter."

Federal attorney Bruce Landon said Wednesday he was aware of the motion, but declined to comment.

The legal foundation contends the Pilgrims have a right to their property under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, citing a passage stating that existing rights of access would be preserved.

The Pilgrims are backed in their fight by the American Land Rights Association, a property rights protection group based in Battle Ground, Wash.

Arctic Power hasn't given up on ANWR

JUNEAU - Arctic Power, an Alaska lobbying group, hasn't given up on its efforts to persuade Congress to allow oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The group has enough money to continue the fight when Congress resumes work next month, but it will need more money from the state if the Legislature wants the effort to continue after the November elections, said Al Adams, chairman of the Arctic Power board.

The group is funded primarily by the state of Alaska.

The Arctic Power board met in Anchorage last week and voted unanimously to go on with the lobbying effort, said Adams, a former state senator from Kotzebue.

The 10,000-member nonprofit organization's first hope is that the Senate deadlock over national energy policy legislation forces the bill back to a new conference committee in search of a compromise acceptable to House and Senate members, Adams told the Petroleum News.

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