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Tuesday, March 8, 2005  9TH EDITION

Fairweather labor agreement hammered out between state and unions
A tentative three-year labor agreement has been reached with the state and the two remaining labor unions involved in operations of the fast ferry Fairweather.

The operating contract was approved by negotiators representing the Masters, Mates and Pilots and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association.

Terms of the contract allow for the Fairweather to be operated by a single crew four days a week during the winter months between October and May.

Two crews will man the vessel seven days a week during the summer months.

The contract also allows the Department of Transportation to determine crew levels for future winters.

John Torgerson, special assistant to the commissioner at the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities says the Fairweather could be back in service by March 24th.

The state pulled the Fairweather from service January 23rd after negotiations stalled. Shortly thereafter, the fast ferry went into drydock for maintenance.

While the fast ferry was out of service senior Fairweather crew members “bumped back” into the rest of the fleet.

Torgerson say they are now working to get the senior crew members returned to the fast ferry without disrupting other ferry operations.

Monetary terms of the three-year agreement remain confidential until they have been reviewed and approved by union membership.

One of the ferry's three crew unions, the Inland Boatmen's Union, reached a tentative agreement with the state last month.

The master contract covering all ferry crews will now go to the Legislature for consideration.

Personnel board drops complaint against Renkes
JUNEAU (AP) - A state personnel board ethics complaint against former attorney general Gregg Renkes was dismissed today (Tuesday).

Under a settlement reached by the parties involved, the files collected by an outside investigator hired by Governor Frank Murkowski will be made public.

The independent counsel hired by the personnel board will be able to complete his analysis of whether the K-F-x Incorporated stock Renkes owned was enough to be a conflict of interest.

Renkes, who resigned last month, owned more than 100-thousand dollars in K-F-x stock when his holdings in the company were revealed last October. K-F-x was included in an agreement between Alaska and Taiwan to market Cook Inlet coal for export. It was a deal Renkes played a major role in shaping.

The personnel board also will be able to give an opinion on whether Murkowski followed the proper procedure for investigating alleged ethics violations by one of his cabinet members.

The agreement released by the personnel board does not specify a timeline for delivering its opinions.

The complaint was filed by Democratic Representative Eric Croft of Anchorage and former Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin. Croft says the settlement satisfies the main objectives he and Palin had in submitting the complaint.

Crimson Bear's football coach passes away, services for Sunday at 2 p.m.
Juneau Douglas High School football Head Coach Reilly Richey died at his home in Juneau yesterday (Monday) afternoon from complications of liver disease.

In an e-mail message, Richey's wife Kathi Yanamura says the 51 year-old Richey peacefully slipped away, quietly and with dignity. And she thanks everyone for their prayers and support. 

This winter Richey completed his 7th year as the Bear's Head Coach.

Richey was the first coach to take the Bears to the Cook Inlet Football Conference playoffs in 1999.

He was also the 1999 CIFC "Coach Of The Year" and 1999 "Alaska Coach of the Year". He was awarded those honors again in 2002.

Last summer he was selected as Alaska's delegate at the NFL Youth Football Summit held at the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He has also been featured in an article in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes "Sharing the Victory" magazine.

He played college football at California State University, Humboldt. He was a three year starter at Defensive Back.

Karen Lawfer, the past president of the Juneau Youth Football League, called Richey a "class act" and someone who touched many lives in Juneau.  Richey coached her son, Brian Felix.  "We'll miss him deeply and never forget him."

Another former Juneau Youth Football League President is Steve White, who says Richey's passing is a great loss to the community, as well as the program.

He remembers the coach as very modest and the "perfect coach" for that position. " It was never about him, it always about the kids. Reilly always had the kid's welfare at heart"

White adds he's not sure anyone else could have carried the program from the coaching stand point

Richey was diagnosed with chronic non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 1989. He received a bone marrow transplant.

Years later, he found out that he had contracted Hepatitis C from the 1989 blood transfusion.

In 1989, blood was not tested for the disease.

Last October, doctors at the University of Washington hospital in Seattle discovered that the Hepatitis C had caused liver damage, which in turn damaged his kidneys.

He is survived by his wife Kathi Yanamura and son Naash.

Lawfer says services for  Coach  Richey will be at two p.m. Sunday at the high school.

Doors will open at 1 P.M. 

She says flowers are appreciated and may be delivered at Noon. Local florists have been notified.

A memorial in Coach Richey's name has been established at Alaska Pacific Bank.

High school conceptual design set for selection this week
There are several meetings this week that will culminate in the selection of a design for the new high school at Dimond Park.

Superintendent Peggy Cowan says it starts with a meeting this afternoon with high school staff.

She says they want to get feedback from staff on the four different conceptual designs.

Those designs will also be the subject of the School District's Facilities Committee meeting tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at 10:30.

The process will culminate with a High School Project Team meeting Thursday where a choice will be made on what design to move forward with.

The project team includes School Board and Assembly members.

The team meets at Noon Thursday in the School Board conference room.

Following its decision, Cowan says architects will move into the design phase of the project.

In addition, she says work will proceed on a cost estimate which is due by the end of the month.  The project team will then meet again to approve the budget.

Senators approve education funding fast track supplemental bills
The State Senate this morning (Tuesday) approved the House measure  that increases the base student allocation used in the formula for state funding of education.

The measure increases the allocation amount 341 dollars to $4,919. That level will boost education funding by 70 million dollars.

The vote was 17 to zero. House Bill 158 will now be transmitted to the Governor.

Senators also completed action on the fast track supplemental appropriation by a like vote on reconsideration.

The 244 million dollar appropriation bill includes seven million from Permanent Fund earnings to pay for part of the 28 million requested by various departments for gas pipeline preparation work.

Senate Bill 98 now goes to the House.

Sorlie first into Nikolai
Robert Sorlie has taken the lead on the Iditarod Trail.

He was the first musher into the Nikolai checkpoint at 11:16 this morning (Tuesday).

Ramy Brooks was second 12:12 this afternoon.  Four minutes behind him was Dee Dee Janrowe.

Twenty-nine mushers were on the trail between Rohn and Nikolai at this report.

Three mushers have now scratched. Two gave it up today.

Sonny Lindner pulled out in Rohn. Jacques Phillips called it quits at the Rainy Pass checkpoint.

G. B. Jones was at the Skwentna checkpoint Monday when he made the decision..

Seventy-six mushers remain on the Iditarod Trail.  

The next checkpoint down the trail from Nikolai is McGrath.

Lena Point Subdivision plat on Planning Commission agenda
The Planning Commission takes up a preliminary plat application for a 22 residential lot subdivision on Point Lena Loop Road at it's regularly scheduled meeting tonight. [Tuesday]

Access for the subdivision will be via Island View Drive , a new road off the NOAA access road for 14 or 15 of the lots, and via Point Lena Loop Road for 7 or 8 lots.

The NOAA access road was built to reduce the impact of additional traffic to the NOAA site on local residents.

The CBJ Community Development Department is recommending approval of the application with 12 conditions which include, a 25-foot wide, vegetative no-development buffer, adjacent to Point Lena Loop Road, grading plans and permits, and a detailed erosion-sediment control plan which identifies types and locations of control devices.

The Preliminary Plat approval is also subject to the Assembly adopting an ordinance addressing the maintenance deficiencies of on-lot sewage treatment systems, or until the developer reaches a binding agreement with CBJ, whereby city officials maintain and inspect the systems.

The Planning Commission meets tonight at 7 in the Assembly Chambers.

Police say they found suspected meth lab in Craig
CRAIG (AP) - Authorities say they found a suspected methamphetamine lab in Craig.

Alaska State Troopers and Ketchikan and Petersburg police cooperated on a search of an apartment in Craig yesterday.

Authorities were called to the apartment after neighbors reported a strong odor of ammonia coming from 35-year-old Patrick Jaynes' apartment.

Craig Police Sergeant Mark Habib says when officers arrived, Jaynes fled the apartment and has not been seen since.

Authorities say they found chemicals and equipment commonly used in the manufacture of methamphetamine.

House subcommittee recommends cuts to judicial council
JUNEAU (AP) - A House subcommittee has recommended cutting two staff members of the Alaska Judicial Council.

The House Finance committee today (Monday) approved an 81-thousand dollar incremental increase for the council, but then deleted 165,300 dollars from the council's budget.

House Finance Co-chair Mike Chenault says the cuts are meant to cut two of the council's seven staff members.

The recommendation goes to the full House Finance committee.

The council nominates people to fill judicial vacancies, evaluates judges' performances and researches ways to improve Alaska's justice system.

The cuts would immediately affect the council's operations, according to executive director Larry Cohn. He says a budget cut would hurt the council's ability to evaluate judges.

Chenault says the cut was not retribution for a dispute between Republican Governor Frank Murkowski and the Judicial Council on filling a judicial vacancy in Anchorage last year.

Group forms in Anchorage to challenge President's social security plan
ANCHORAGE (AP) - An Anchorage group is forming to oppose Social Security policy changes advocated by President Bush.

The Anchorage chapter of Democracy for America wants to change the president's plans to privatize Social Security.

About 12 people attended the group's first session last week, including former Alaska Attorney General John Havelock.

Rita Hatch -- a columnist for Senior Voice -- spoke at the meeting.

She says the president's plans to privatize Social Security would either increase the national debt by more than four (t) trillion dollars or require a massive reduction in benefits.

Hatch says Social Security is not in crisis, despite the president's campaign to create a national sense of urgency.

She says even if Congress does nothing, the Social Security trust fund would be able to pay projected retirement benefits through 2052.

She cites the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office for that conclusion.
(Anchorage Daily News)

Orcas' dine in Gastineau Channel
A pod of orcas', also known as "killer whales", swam up Gastineau Channel yesterday afternoon. (Monday)

The pod of whales, estimated at six or seven, were apparently dining on fish as the traveled up the Channel.

Commuters on Egan Drive began noticing the pod surfacing at about 2-30 this afternoon. Many turned onto Channel Drive near the Douglas Island Pink and Chum hatchery, to park and whale watch.

Former Anchorage Mayor Sharrock dead at 94
ANCHORAGE (AP) - Municipal flags in Anchorage are at half-staff in honor of former Mayor George Sharrock.

Sharrock died Sunday at the age of 94 at the Anchorage Pioneers' Home.

Sharrock served as mayor from 19-61 to 19-64 and began the task of leading the city into recovery after the 19-64 Good Friday Earthquake.

City officials say he was known as ``The Earthquake Mayor'' for his work in helping the city recover.

Sharrock worked as the manager of Pacific Northern Airlines in Anchorage and, after a merger, Western Airlines.

He retired in 19-72 to become commissioner of Commerce under former Governor Walter Hickel.

In 19-73, he was appointed by President Richard Nixon as chairman of the Federal Field Committee for Development Planning in Alaska.

Convention Center backers rake in money
ANCHORAGE (AP) - A group campaigning for a new convention center for Anchorage is raking in the bucks.

The group called Anchorage Civic and Convention Center Yes has raised nearly 147-thousand dollars in the past month. Most of the money is coming from developers that would build the center and the management company that would run it.

Finance reports made public yesterday show 25 donors. Banks, labor unions and tourism-related businesses are among them.

The money is being used to try and persuade voters on April 5th to approve raising the city's hotel tax to fund the 93 (M) million dollar project.
(Anchorage Daily News) 

Konica Minolta buys Frontier Business Systems
ANCHORAGE (AP) - Konica Minolta Business Systems announced today it has bought Frontier Business Systems.

The acquisition of the Anchorage-based business makes Konica Minolta of New Jersey the largest supplier of printer and copier products in Alaska.

Frontier Business Systems was founded in 1981 by Greg Niesen and his wife, Lenora. The couple operates four branches - in Anchorage, Kenai, Kodiak and Fairbanks.

Niesen will continue to head up Frontier Business Systems. He says the acquisition will help the company compete for business.

The company has 42 employees. Niesen says the employees should not feel a difference in how the company is run.


(Copyright ©2005 Alaska Juneau Communications - KINY Radio)