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Friday, November 12, 2004 12th  EDITION


Fatal crosswalk accident probe wrapped up
Juneau Police say they completed their investigation earlier this week into the fatal accident at a West Juneau cross walk September 28.

Angela N. Bradley, 35, was killed when she was struck by a pickup operated by 44 year- old Peter J. Thibodeau.

The case has been forwarded to the District Attorney's Office for review and consideration of charges.

Police are not disclosing what the department is recommending.

Witnesses told police Bradley was in the crosswalk at the intersection of Douglas Highway and Cordova Street at the time.

Interior Department approves plan to develop "oil rich" field on North Slope
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Interior Department has given final approval to a plan by ConocoPhillips and partner Anadarko Petroleum Corporation to develop five tracts around the Alpine field on Alaska's North Slope.

The Interior Department gave the go-ahead Friday for the two companies to develop what's been described as an oil rich area in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska.

The department's Bureau of Land Management authorized the first commercial development of the N-P-R-A allowing the companies to go forward with developing the tracts, which are located in the northeastern corner of the reserve.

Production from these fields, which together hold more than 330 million barrels of oil, will start by 2006, according to the BLM.

They will supplement production from the Alpine fields, which hold 429 million barrels and have a daily oil output of about 100,000 barrels.

Environmentalists have criticized the plan to develop these Alpine satellite fields as a rollback of environmental protections promised during the Clinton administration.

The BLM said it modified the original development proposal to offer greater protection to wildlife and sensitive habitats in the reserve.

Some of the major changes include relocating portions of the gravel access roads and pipeline routes, moving power lines and raising pipelines an additional 2 feet to 7 feet to help migrating caribou.

The petroleum reserve, the size of Indiana, was set aside in 1923 for its energy potential, but until recently it has been ignored in favor of the region to the east, around the giant Prudhoe Bay field.

The Bush administration believes the new Congress next year will approve oil drilling in the separate Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which may hold up to 16 billion barrels

Project 2005 update provided after three months work
An update on Project 2005, Bartlett Regional Hospital's $40 Million dollar addition and remodeling project was provided on KINY's Capital Chat Friday morning.

The project includes the construction of a three story building which will allow for additional beds, renovation of current rooms to provide for private rooms and expansion of the O-B facility.

Hospital Administrator Bob Valliant, CBJ Project Manager Rod Wilson and Hospital Project Manager Bruce Hahnlen provided the update.

The project received its notice to proceed August 13th after multiple rounds of bidding. Wilson says they're three months into construction now.

He says the concentration during the initial steps has been removal of the old SEARHC wing which is in the foot print of the new addition. He says they're still doing underground work, including the construction of footings and utility installation.

It will be another two or three months before people will start to see a structure developing, according to Wilson, who says its not scheduled to be "completed out" until probably next August.

Valliant says the project is on budget and on time based on its reconfiguration which occurred in advance of the third round of bidding.  He says Project 2005 probably won't be completely wrapped up until 2008 now.

Valliant says there's a way to keep tabs on the project's progress. There's a web cam came on the hospital's web site at www.bartletthospital.org   Valliant says the web cam takes a still shot of the project every 15 minutes.

Juneau voters authorized a one percent hike in the sales tax in 2000 to help pay for Project 2005.

Public comment sought on methods to increase housing options in Juneau
The Community Development Department is working on two draft ordinances that would increase housing options in the City and Borough of Juneau.

The department's Nathan Bishop says the proposals recognize that Juneau has developed most of it's good low land, the flat areas that are easily and readily built on.

Now they're having to look for other areas that are cost effective to develop.

The first concept is what's called the cluster-conservation subdivision.

Bishop says it's an alternative way to take advantage of upland areas that are suitable for development, while at the same time preserving some of the more sensitive habitats and more difficult areas to subdivide such as wetlands, flood planes, and steep slopes.

The proposed ordinance would provide incentives for a developer to conserve special features of the land
since it might allow an increase in housing density if the developer sets aside a portion for open space.

Bishop adds that the open space must be deemed suitable for preservation and public use.

The second proposed ordinance provides for an alternative type of housing for infill lots.

The Cottage Housing ordinance would allow for very small housing, generally under 1,100 square feet, to be developed in concert with site amenities, such as a central common green, on small infill lots.

Bishop says these are lots that have been provided with sewer and water but haven't yet been developed.

He says they are suitable for a higher density than would typically be developed on them as the zoning allows now.

A series of public meetings is underway to discuss the proposed development ordinances and options. Bishop says they're looking for public participation to determine if they're headed in a direction the public deems suitable for the department should just stay the course and stick with traditional subdivisions.

There are three more meetings coming up this month.

Tuesday the 16th at the Douglas Public Library at 7p.m. Monday the 22nd at the Mendenhall River Elementary School library at 7 p.m. ; and Monday the 29th at the Auke Bay Elementary School library at 7 p.m.

Hoist of elevator motor to top of court building will close downtown streets
The lift of an elevator motor on to the roof of the Dimond Court Building by a Temsco Helicopter will shut down some downtown streets beginning at about 10:30 Saturday morning.

Police say they will establish a safety zone with will involve closing Main Street from 3rd to 5th Streets, and 4th Street from the State Office Building to Seward Street.

The motor will be sling hoisted by the helicopter from street level and placed on the roof.

Its expected the process will take about 15 to 20 minutes to complete.

Police say the operation is weather dependent. A final decision to conduct the operation will be made early Saturday morning.

Meeting of local governments wraps up
The Alaska Municipal League and the Alaska Conference of Mayors conducted a press conference Friday to announce their legislative priorities after wrapping up its week long meeting in Fairbanks.

We talked to Kevin Ritchie, the league's executive director, afterwards.

He says newly elected league president Pete Sprague of Soldotna, a member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly, outlined two key goals.

Ritchie says one is restoration or creation of a viable, long term revenue sharing program with municipalities.

The second is a resolution of the problem with funding the state retirement system which is impacting local governments across the state in a very huge and negative way, as Ritchie put it.

Ritchie says financial issues dominated the meetings this week including whether cities should get a piece of an expected state surplus. He says delegates were pleased that the Governor took the first step by announcing this week that he would support a supplemental appropriation for small communities that are in dire straits.

Skagway Mayor Tim Bourcy and Denali Borough Mayor David Talerico were elected as first and second vice presidents for the next year.

Juneau Mayor Bruce Botelho was re-elected to the league's board of directors. 

First interceptor phase complete at Alaska's Fort Greely
ANCHORAGE (AP) - A sixth ballistic missile interceptor has been installed at Fort Greely, completing the first phase of the nation's new national defense system.

Military officials say the 55-foot rocket was placed inside a silo at the Interior Alaska base yesterday afternoon.

The first two interceptors targeted for Vandenberg Air Force base in California at expected to go into existing silos later this month or early December, according to Missile Defense Agency Spokesman Rick Lehner.

Two more interceptors are scheduled to go in at Vandenberg next year and 10 more at Fort Greely. Lehner says the Missile Defense Agency is planning to ask Congress for additional funding to install another 10 interceptors at Fort Greely, bringing the total there to 26.

The plan for the missile defense system calls for the interceptors to be linked to a network of satellites, radars, computers and command centers.

Satellites would alert the Northern Command if there is an attack. That would trigger a response by interceptors topped with optical sensors called ``kill vehicles,'' while a complex radar system would track incoming enemy missiles.

The system has been criticized by Democrats and others for costing billions without adequately proving itself in tests.

Democrats sue Washington's biggest county over provisional ballots
SEATTLE (AP) - Democrats are suing Seattle-area election officials amid fears a ballot dispute could sink their gubernatorial candidate.

The state still hasn't finished counting ballots from last week's election.

Republican Dino Rossi leads Democrat Christine Gregoire (GREG'-wahr) by about 36-hundred votes out of over two-point-seven million counted. The closest gubernatorial election in the state's history could drag into next week.

The suit would block King County officials from tossing about 900 provisional ballots. The state Democratic Party chairman says the suit has ``one objective: count every vote.''

Counties estimate they have about 85-thousand ballots left to count. Most are provisional ballots.

Democrats are demanding the county give the party, and voters, a chance to fix technical problems like missing signatures on the provisional ballots.

Juneau youth taken to jail for failure to report on minor consuming warrant
An 18 year old Juneau woman was carted off to jail Thursday on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court on a charge of minor consuming.

Angelica L. Scharen was contacted by State Troopers at her residence and transported to the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on a $750 cash only arrest warrant. 

Vandalism involving peanut butter reported
Juneau Police received an unusual vandalism complaint late Thursday night.

A 21 year-old man told police someone had spread peanut butter on his vehicle.

The vandalism occurred on Amalga Street in the Mendenhall Valley.

Man rescued after breaking through ice
WASILLA (AP) - Alaska State Troopers say a Big Lake man was rescued Thursday after driving through ice on Knik Lake.

Troopers say 49-year-old Robert Blakemore left the Knik Bar and drove onto Knik Lake believing he was on the nearby highway.

His vehicle broke through the ice.

Troopers say the vehicle was submerged when Blakemore got out.

He was rescued by people on snowmobiles, taken back to the bar and then transported to Valley Hospital and treated.

After his release, Blakemore was charged with driving under the influence.

Bald eagle festival begins next week
JUNEAU (AP) - Some 3-thousand bald eagles are swooping into the Chilkat River flats this month for the last salmon run in Southeast Alaska.

They will be the focus of next week's Bald Eagle Festival in Haines, where hundreds of visitors flock to witness the spectacle.

About 300 people attended the festival last year. The Alaska Marine Highway System will provide fast-ferry trips from Juneau during the festival.

David Olerud, founder of Haines' Bald Eagle Foundation says he expects a larger crowd this year, and there will be new events and art centered on wildlife.

Ombudsman for elderly quits post
ANCHORAGE (AP) - Alaska's long-term care ombudsman has resigned his post as the watchdog of the rights of the elderly in nursing homes and assisted living homes.

Ron Cowan is the fourth person in five years to leave the position. He says the job was -- quote -- ``no longer a good fit.''

The 49-year-old Cowan was ombudsman for two-and-a-half years, and previously was a former nursing home inspector.

The ombudsman investigates reports of abuse, neglect or exploitation concerning residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities committed by staff or volunteers. The ombudsman also is supposed to resolve complaints related to the residents' health, welfare, safety or rights.

Cowan fought against proposed changes to Anchorage land use law that could restrict where homes for the elderly are allowed.

Suzan Armstrong-Silva, a former deputy ombudsman, says there were serious problems with investigations under Cowan. She has accused Cowan and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority of failing to check into reports of elderly people being mistreated.

Cowan says the accusations are groundless and he left because he wanted to.

State's health ranking improves
ANCHORAGE (AP) - Alaskans have gotten healthier over the past 14 years, a new report shows.

Alaska's healthiness ranking among states jumped from 46th in 1990 to 24th.

The report is based on measures such as public spending, the prevalence of infectious diseases and smoking rates.

The study was released by the United Health Foundation and backed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The improvement is based partly on lower rates of infectious disease and a big infusion of federal spending on health-related items, according to the study.

Since 1990, Alaska has improved its infectious-disease rates by 83 percent.

The state still has one of the highest percentages of adult smokers in the country, which pulled down the ranking.

Annual Girl Scout auction set for Saturday night at Baranof
The Tongass Alaska Girl Scout Council's annual auction is coming up Saturday night.

Gail Ford, President of the Board of Directors, says it starts at 6:30 at the Baranof Hotel. Auction items will be available for review beginning at 6 p.m. An appetizer buffet is provided as part of the ticket price which is $20 per person.

Tickets are available by calling the council office at 586-1710 .Tickets will also be available at the door, although Ford says they have sold out quickly in the past.

Ford says the auction is the council's biggest fundraiser of the year.

Fort Yukon man wins $25K award
ANCHORAGE (AP) - A Fort Yukon man has won a 25-thousand dollar award for his advocacy work on subsistence on the Yukon River watershed.

Clarence Alexander won the 2004 Buffett Award for Indigenous Leadership, which is given to Native people who improves the social, economic, political or environmental conditions in his or her community.

Alexander is a co-founder of the Council of Athabaskan Tribal Governments and the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council.

Spencer Beebe, president of Ecotrust, says Alexander has defended his traditional subsistence economy of abundance from the threats of globalization.

F-A-A tries to identify source of ice that fell through house near Seattle
KENT, Wash. (AP) - They know it came from above, but federal investigators want to know exactly where.

A suburban Seattle family came home to find a hole in the ceiling of a young daughter's bedroom -- and five chunks of ice on her bed, some ''the size of grapefruit.''

Three more chunks were in the back yard, all having landed while the family was away for the afternoon.

Federal Aviation Administration investigators are reviewing air traffic control tapes for planes that passed over the neighborhood at that time. An F-A-A spokesman says the ice probably formed on an aircraft and broke free -- potentially indicating a mechanical or design problem.

But the spokesman is sure the chunks were not what's called ``blue ice,'' which comes from leaky airplane toilets.

Borough raffles van to pay for scholarships
ANCHORAGE (AP) - A retired van belonging to the Aleutians East Borough has been raffled off to help some of the borough's students go to college.

The raffle raised 51-hundred dollars, enough to help five students' post-high school education, according to an announcement from the borough.

Scholarships from 750 to 1-thousand dollars are awarded to King Cove students every September and January from the Eddie Mack scholarship fund.

Amberly Weiss of King Cove won the 1994 Aerostar van after buying three 20-dollar tickets.



Copyright 2004 Alaska Juneau Communications - KINY Radio)