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Monday,  June 7, 2010  12TH  EDITION  7:30 P.M. 


Lighting sparks fire in Tongass near Groundhog Bay
Firefighters are battling a 10-acre fire on the Tongass National Forest near Groundhog Bay, on the southwest corner of the Chilkat Peninsula.

Judy Suing with the U.S Forest Service says the fire was started by lightning Sunday.

She says two private structures are within one-half of a mile of the fire. 

Twelve firefighters are working to contain the fire and a helicopter dropping water onto the fire.

She says two more crews will arrive Tuesday. 

Smoke from the Groundhog Bay Fire can be seen from Hoonah.

As of Monday evening winds are blowing the smoke to the west, carrying it away from the community. 

Crews will be camping along the beach as they continue to fight the fire.

Marshall replaces Griffin as Juneau Ranger
Marti Marshall is the new Juneau District Ranger.

She took over today (Monday) following last week's retirement of Pete Griffin.

Marshall returned to the Alaska Region just last year to serve as the ranger for the Admiralty National Monument.

She first came to Juneau in 1986 to work for the district here. Two years later she went to Sitka where she worked for the Tongass Supervisor's Office for 12 years.

Marshall came back to Juneau in 2002 and then worked for four years in the Pacific Northwest Office.

Assembly considers forming swimming pool advisory board
The Assembly tonight (Monday) is scheduled to take up a resolution that would create a board that would provide input on the operations of the city's two swimming pools

The Aquatic Facilities Advisory Board would advise the City Manager and Assembly on matters involving the Augustus Brown Swimming Pool and the new Dimond Park Aquatic Facility.

In other action, the Assembly will take up an  ordinance that  appropriates $5,009,000 from Bartlett Regional Hospital's fund balance  for the Medical Surgical Unit East Wing renovation project.

The project will complete the renovation of the existing patient rooms at the hospital.

An ordinance up for action tonight would appropriate a $133,180 grant from the state Department
of Natural Resources to fund improvements on the trail from the Eaglecrest Lodge to the bridge over Fish Creek where the Treadwell Ditch begins.

If there's any funds left over, they will be used to begin construction of a trail to Cropley Lake.

Assessment test results for Juneau students released
The Juneau School District has received preliminary data on the results for its students from the Standards Based Assessment Tests administered in April.

Students in grades 3 to 10 are tested.

The district's Kristin Bartlett says there was improving performance in both math and reading at most grade levels district wide. 
However, she says with the exception of fourth grade students there was a decline in proficiency levels in writing.

Bartlett says that follows a similar statewide trend in writing this year.

So she says writing will be an emphasis in their instruction next school year.

Bartlett says they're very encouraged by the math scores.

Results for individual schools will be released by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development in August.  

Federal judge blocks Alaska's wolf-kill plan
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) A federal judge has denied the state of Alaska's request for a preliminary injunction to kill wolves, a step it said was needed to protect a caribou herd on an island in the Aleutian chain.

The judge said that while sympathetic to the state's argument, he had to abide by law when ruling against the state's request to immediately conduct predator control in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge on Unimak Island.

The state argued that without emergency intervention, the Unimak Island caribou herd will continue to decline and die out.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would allow the state to relocate 20 bull caribou from another herd off the island to Unimak in hopes it would lead to better calf production in future years.

FERC clears way for Denali open season
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) Federal regulators have approved plans allowing a second gas pipeline project in Alaska to begin seeking shipping commitments.

Monday's decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sets the stage for overlapping open seasons by competing projects.

TransCanada began its 90-day open season April 30; it holds an exclusive license with the state that provides up to $500 million to advance a project.

Denali, which got the go-ahead Monday and is proceeding without the special state incentives, plans to begin its open season July 6.

The agency did require some changes, including deletion of a provision requiring bidders to resubmit bids and signed agreements if a revised open season is called.

Denali spokesman Dave MacDowell says none of the issues raised caused Denali any concern.

Pipeline moving over 600k barrels after shutdown
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) Oil flow through the trans-Alaska pipeline system is again over 600,000 barrels a day after a contained spill last month that temporarily shutdown the 800-mile line.

The pipeline was idled for nearly 80 hours after operator Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. said a power failure during a planned shutdown caused normally closed valves to open.

An estimated 5,000 barrels of oil spilled into a holding area.

The line restarted May 28.

In April, an average of 645,113 barrels of oil per day moved through the line.

On Monday, Alyeska spokesman Matt Carle said the rate was about 606,000 barrels a day.

He said a relief tank that overflowed remained off-line and that required, continual monitoring at the site continued.

2 extricated from wreckage of two vehicle accident
There was a head on collision between two pickup trucks at the intersection of Mendenhall Loop Road and Nancy Street at about 11 Saturday night.

Police say both drivers were trapped due to the extensive damage to the vehicles.

Investigation determined that a white 1996 Ford Ranger had been traveling toward the Mendenhall Glacier and a red 1986 Dodge pickup toward Egan Drive when the Ford crossed the centerline and struck. the Dodge.

The driver of the Ford, a 51-year old male, and the driver of the Dodge, a 44-year old male, were both extricated from their vehicles and transported the hospital.

The driver of the Ford was admitted for further observation and the driver of the Dodge was treated and released.

Their vehicles were impounded.

Through witness accounts and follow-up investigation, it was determined that the Ford had been driving erratically on Mendenhall Loop Road.

Police say it was also determined that inhalant used by the driver of the Ford was a possible cause of the erratic driving and subsequent collision with the Dodge.

Two search warrants were granted and executed on both the driver of the Ford and his vehicle.

Information gathered by the search warrants will be forwarded to the State Crime Lab for analysis and charges pending their result.

The man's name has not been released.

Hiker found okay in area near John Muir cabin
A lost hiker was located safe and sound in the Juneau area Sunday afternoon.

19 year old Jonathan Hays used his cell phone to contact authorities from an area north of the John Muir cabin.

Alaska State Troopers called in Juneau Mountain Rescue to help. A two person team along with an Alaska Wildlife Trooper fixed wing aircraft were sent to the area.

With the help of the aircraft, the rescue personnel were able to locate the hiker and escort him to safety. 

Bicyclist hit by car
Police are asking motorists to be aware of bicyclists on the roads as summer reaches it's peak.

Last Sunday afternoon at about 2-30 police received a report that a Volkswagen Jetta driven by a 22 year-old Juneau woman had struck a 10 year-old Juneau boy at the corner of Mendenhall Loop Road and Back Loop Road.

Forest Service officers were the first to arrive and found the boy conscious with scratches and bruises but no other visible injuries.

Capital City Fire Rescue responded however his parents declined transport and he was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital by his parents.

According to the police investigation the boy had been bicycling with a group.

When the group approached the crosswalk the Volkswagen paused for them as it approached to make a turn.

The boy was 10 to 15 feet behind the rest of the group.

Once the group passed, the Volkswagen made the turn and struck the boy.

According to police, the boy did not appear to be wearing a helmet.

The driver was given a citation for failure to show proof of insurance.
Now that summer is upon us there are more bicyclists on the road. Here are a few tips for bicycling safety provided by the Juneau Police Department. 

Avoid busy streets take the scenic tour through neighborhoods and streets with
less traffic.

Signal your turns Let motorist know what your intentions are. You are less likely to get hit if motorists know your intentions instead of catching them by surprise.

Ride as if you were invisible It's often helpful to ride in such a way that motorists won't hit you even if they don't see you. If you stay out of their way, then you won't get hit even if they didn't notice you were there.

Rethink music players and mobile phones It is more important to hear what is going on around you then talking to your friend or listening to your favorite song.

Cruise ship sanitized prior to making next Alaska cruise
Princess Cruises says a crew spent an extra two hours sanitizing the Sapphire Princess ship in Seattle on Sunday before passengers boarded for its next Alaska cruise.

The company's Julie Benson told KING-TV that 96 passengers who returned over the weekend from a seven-day trip sought medical attention for a norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea.

Benson says sick passengers were asked to stay in their rooms, and the crew took other precautions to prevent the illness from spreading.

Murkowski seeks to rein in EPA regulation
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is the leading sponsor of a resolution that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

The Alaska Republican says she wants to protect her constituents from the negative economic impact.

The resolution is scheduled for 10 hours of debate Thursday on the Senate floor.

Murkowski energy spokesman Robert Dillon says the resolution is not about debating the science behind climate change. Rather, it's about stopping an "out of control" government agency.
(Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Waterman trial delayed, will stay in Ketchikan
KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) The judge in the case of a young woman accused of conspiring with two former boyfriends to kill her mother has been delayed.

The judge in the Rachelle Waterman murder case set trial for Jan. 18, but says it will stay in Ketchikan.

The 21-year-old woman was 16 in November 2004, when prosecutors say she conspired to kill her mother, 48-year-old Lauri Waterman of Craig.

The two men, Brian Radel of Thorne Bay and Jason Arrant of Klawock, both then 24, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. They are serving long prison terms.

Waterman pleaded innocent and went on trial in January 2006, but the jury deadlocked.

The indictment was later thrown out. The state is prosecuting Waterman again.
(Ketchikan Daily News)

Hamilton ends command of university system this week
It's Mark Hamilton's last week on the job as president of the University of Alaska.

As he leaves, he's asking Alaskans to continue to support the university system.

When asked what advice he has given his successor, he said he told Patrick Gamble to pay attention to his staff, listen to them, respect them and they will do everything that needs to be done.

When asked what advice he may have given the Board of Regents, he said he told them the same thing. He also told them to call the president once in awhile and not be dissuaded by the thought that he's too busy.

He points to the Alaska Scholars program and the financial accountability the university has followed during his tenure as achievements of which he's particularly proud.

Officials, Iowa college seek to save AK school
BECKY BOHRER - Associated Press Writer

SITKA, Alaska (AP) One of Alaska's oldest schools is being sold off piece by historic piece in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.

The process began with Sheldon Jackson College's abrupt closure three years ago in Sitka. That has caused divisions in the fishing and tourist community in southeast Alaska.

Some want to see the campus left intact, remade perhaps into a tribal or community college.

But some school and local officials don't see that's possible.

Officials instead have been working on what could be their last, best option: a proposal by the University of Dubuque in Iowa that centers on Sheldon Jackson's hatchery, a small corner of the 230-acre campus at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. It also requires the clearing of millions more in debt by selling more assets.

Latest Public Safety graduates include four from Southeast police departments
Two members of the Juneau Police Department are among the latest graduates of the Department of Public Safety Academy in Sitka.

There were 21 graduates from eleven different municipal, state and federal agencies, as well as Samantha Cox who paid to put herself through the academy.

The JPD graduates are Brent Bartlett and Carl Lundquist.

There were also  graduates from two other  Southeast Alaska police departments.

They include Heidi Milazzo of the Sitka Police Department and Simon Ford of the department in Haines.

There were eight Alaska State Trooper and two Alaska Wildlife Troopers in this graduating class.

Feds: error didn't affect Kohring's conviction
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) Federal prosecutors say in court papers that the government erred in failing to turn over evidence favorable to former Rep. Vic Kohring before his corruption trial but the mistake didn't affect his conviction.

Kohring was convicted of accepting bribes in 2007. He was released on bail last year in the middle of his 3-year prison sentence while he pursued an appeal.

The Anchorage Daily News reports a new team of prosecutors made in a filing Friday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage. In papers, they say mistakes in handling discovery before the trial were "regrettable" but Kohring received a fair trial.
(Anchorage Daily News)

KidCare spent money on 'abortion related services'
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) The Alaska health department says 0.18 percent of a health insurance program for low income families was spent on "abortion related services" but it didn't have exact figures on how many abortions were performed.

Gov. Sean Parnell vetoed an expansion of Denali KidCare this week because he found out the program pays for abortions.

The Anchorage Daily News reports the health department on Friday said $384,000 of the program's $217 million budget last year went for "abortion related services" and 664 people received such services.

The department's deputy commissioner Bill Streur says that doesn't mean they all received abortions since that covers anyone who tells the program they are considering an abortion.

Streur says he's trying to confirm the actual number of abortions.
(Anchorage Daily News)

Contributions to Pick Click Give called "staggering"
Over 95 hundred individuals supported the causes they care about this year by participating in the "Pick Click Give" program on their 2010 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application.

Just over 927 thousand dollars was raised according to statistics released by the Rasmuson Foundation and Department of Revenue.

Qualifying non-profits, community foundations and University of Alaska campuses stood to gain from the program, now in it's second year.

Jordan Marshall of the Rasmuson Foundation says the total number of dollars given is staggering given the state of the economy these days.

He says the money has already been divvied up by the wishes of the individual donors.

Next year won't be the last for the program.

The Legislature in April voted to remove the three-year sunset date for the program and Governor Parnell has signed the bill.
(KENI - Anchorage)

JDHS claims baseball and softball state crowns, Sitka takes small school softball title
Juneau Douglas High School is home to the Alaska baseball and softball champions.

The Crimson Bears baseball team defeated defending champion Dimond 9 to 7 Saturday in Palmer.

The Gatorade Alaska player of the year, Dylan Baker pitched a complete game striking out 10 along the way.

He also went 1 for 4 at the plate and scored two runs.

The Lady Bears nailed down the state softball crown in Anchorage in Saturday, although it took two tries.

They lost to East initially 11 to 7 which forced a second contest in the double elimination tournament.

JDHS won in a romp in the second game 11 to 0 which was sparked by Taylor Larson's grand slam home run.

Sitka won the small schools softball title by defeating Ketchikan in the championship game 6 to 3.

Another Gastineau teacher selected to attend prestigious academy
A special education teacher from Gastineau Elementary School in Douglas will attend the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy this year.

Teri King is the only teacher from Alaska to be selected. She was selected from among more than 1,200 teachers nationwide.

She'll be one of 200 third through fifth grade teachers to attend the intensive week long program in July at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Gastineau Principal Angela Lunda says it's the second year in a row a teacher from her school has attended the forum. Fourth grade teacher Elissa Borges was selected in 2009.

Alaska Dome sports complex in bankruptcy
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) The nonprofit organization that operates the Alaska Dome indoor sports complex in Anchorage is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

KTUU-TV reports Anchorage Sportsplex Inc. made the filing as part of an effort to restructure its long-term debt. The Dome is expected to remain open during the process.

The organization says total annual expenses are exceeding revenue. Debt payments are especially difficult during the summer, when usage is down.

Illegal crab pots result in fines for Juneau man
A Juneau resident was issued four citations today (Monday) by Alaska Wildlife Troopers for operating personal use Dungeness gear that was illegal.

A Trooper dispatch says six pots were seized near Eagle Beach after an inspection found that the gear owned by 47 year old Joshua M. Sekona was not properly marked, contained no bio-degradable escape mechanism, and had smaller than required escape rings.

Fines total $440.

Yukon kings appear behind schedule
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) It appears Yukon River king salmon are running behind schedule.

The big fish should begin showing up any day now in the river.

As of Friday, biologists had not caught any kings or summer chums in their test nets at the mouth of the river.

Biologist Steve Hayes, who oversees the Yukon River king fishery for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says the fish are late. He says summer may have arrived early in the Interior, but that is not the case in western Alaska.
(Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Couple  in Fairbanks charged with dozens of car break-ins
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) A Fairbanks couple have been charged with breaking into dozens of cars last year and stealing mostly electronic equipment.

Police said 19-year-old Cristina Nicole Roselli and 22-year-old Michael Victor Wisel were charged with 17 counts of theft, tampering with a vehicle and criminal mischief.

Eight of the theft charges are class C felonies punishable by up to five years in prison.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that Roselli told police she blamed Wisel for the car break-ins and that he used a "window punch" similar to the spring-loaded device used by firefighters in emergencies.

Roselli and Wisel reportedly told police they are addicted to smoking Oxycontin, a powerful prescription pain reliever.
(Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Damp weather helps slow down wildfires
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) State fire officials say cooler, damp weather is helping slow wildfires in interior Alaska.

The Alaska Division of Forestry said Sunday that smoke jumpers have finished site protection work around a cabin threatened by the Turquoise Lake Fire near Nikolai. Pumps and sprinklers have been set up on the cabin site on Sheep Creek and on a couple of other sites on the west side of the fire.

Officials say that additional cabins on the west side of the fire may also be protected for the possible advance of the fire.

For several days, eight smokejumpers have been fighting a wildfire near Kwethluk.

The aim is to protect a U.S. Fish and Wildlife camp.

Bears in Alaska's largest city paying price for human encounters
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) The 2010 bear season is here and so far the bears are paying the price for encounters with humans in the Anchorage area.

On Friday, an Eagle River homeowner killed a young black bear that sneaked into a chicken coop and killed a bird. This occurred hours after a different bear "mouthed" the leg of a girl at a neighborhood playground near Elmendorf Air Force Base.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says so far six young bears have been shot in the municipality of Anchorage -- most of them in Eagle River -- over roughly the past two weeks.
(Anchorage Daily News)

Kodiak police seize 14 roosters
KODIAK, Alaska (AP) Police in Kodiak have seized 14 roosters they believe were being raised for cockfighting.

The roosters were found in a home Thursday after a noise complaint from a neighbor tipped police.

Police Chief T.C. Kamai tells radio station KMXT they also found paraphernalia indicating the roosters were being bred for fighting.

But he says there's no direct evidence that fights were being held in the home.

Kamai expects charges to be filed against at least one suspect next week.

Pitting animals in fights is a felony, punishable by a fine up to $50,000 and five years in prison.

The Kodiak Humane Society is caring for the roosters.
Information from: KMXT-FM

SeaWorld killer whale dies while giving birth
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Officials say a killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando has died from complications while giving birth.

The whale, a 20-year-old orca named Taima, died Sunday afternoon.

Park officials say Taima's fetus was in an unusual position during the delivery. Park veterinarians attempted to assist but the complications were too severe.

The calf was stillborn.

Taima was born at the park in 1990 and had given birth successfully to three calves before.

She was one of two orcas pregnant at the park. Another, 32-year-old Katina is expected to give birth in October. Both were impregnated by Tilikum, the whale who drowned a trainer in February.
(Orlando Sentinel)

Anchorage summer school helps new English learners
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) About 100 immigrant children are in summer school in Anchorage, trying to learn English.

After a successful pilot program last year, the Anchorage School District tripled the number of classes offered to these students.

Superintendent Carol Comeau says Anchorage is getting an increasing number of young kids who do not have any English skills. Many of the recent arrivals are refugees from Africa.

The Anchorage Daily News reports about 1,200 of the district's 50,000 students have been in the country less than three years. Many more still speak a language other than English at home.

Bilingual program supervisor Christine Garbe says 1 in 10 of the district's students are enrolled in English Language Learner services.
(Anchorage Daily News)

Alaska based soldier left Hollywood for Army
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) People join the Army from all walks of life, but few follow Scott Eberlein's path.

The Los Angeles native was an actor who had a small part in the film "L.A. Confidential" and larger roles in TV shows.

But Eberlein gave up the Hollywood life following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Now a captain stationed at Fort Wainwright , Eberlein had a role earlier this year in a Fairbanks Drama Association production. Eberlein, however, doesn't expect his acting career to include an encore.

He says he joined the Army because of 9/11, but he stays because of the bonds he's made and the friends he's lost in battle.
(Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

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