{News Briefs}

More helicopter assistance in fighting Kenai fires

A second Alaska Army National Guard helicopter joined the ongoing fire fighting situation 100 miles south of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. The Alaska Guard operates 24 Blackhawk helicopters from locations at Fort Richardson, Fairbanks, Nome, Bethel and Juneau.

The first Alaska Guard UH-60L Blackhawk helicopter was sent with crew to fight the fires in the Kenai Lake area. Six additional air teams have been certified to assist in fighting the Kenai fires.

 

Critical breast & cervical cancer bill gets the Governor's stamp of approval

Gov. Tony Knowles signed into law a measure that will provide immediate medical treatment for many Alaska women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer. According to the governor, House Bill 65 will take advantage of a new federal law giving states the option to help women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to purchase personal health insurance. Federal screening programs would diagnose some women's cancer but would fail to provide provisions to pay for treatment. The state's cost for the HB 65 program is $175,000 and is estimated to help 40 women battle cancer.

 

Psychiatric facility soon to be new and improved

The current Alaska Psychiatric Institute building was built 40 years ago and was never intended to be a psychiatric hospital, but rather a 200 bed surgical hospital. To provide the best possible care for Alaska's mental health patients, Gov. Knowles recently signed House Bill 76 into law. HB 76 authorizes the state to issue $16 million for a new, modern and more efficient API building. Scheduled to open in 2004, the new 80,000 square foot facility will house up to 72 patients, providing the critical safety net supporting community mental health services. The $16 million from HB 76 will be added to $19 million already appropriated for the facility along with $3 million for partisan support. HB 76 received bipartisan support in the legislature from The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, Providence Alaska Medical Center and the University of Alaska in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services. The Municipality of Anchorage will oversee permitting of the psychiatric facility and has provided additional support.

 

2001 Great Alaska Shootout lineup

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The 2001 Shootout scheduled for Nov. 20-24 at the Sullivan Arena will include Gonzaga, Indiana, Marquette, Oregon State, St. John's, Tennessee, Texas and host UAA. Gonzaga and Indians are confirmed for the women's tournament. The women play Gonzaga Nov. 20 while the men open on ESPN against Indiana Nov. 21. The 2001 Shootout marks the 17th year of ESPN coverage and the 12th appearance for UAA on national television.

 

The University of Alaska savings plan launches new program with new benefits

The University of Alaska College Savings Plan announced acceptance of its first contribution approximately two weeks after President Bushed signed the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Act of 2001 into law. The tax act provides benefits to participants in college savings programs. These benefits, which become effective after Dec. 2001, include tax exempt distributions for qualified educational expenses, increased allowances for room and board and non-taxable transfers between qualified state tuition programs for the benefit of the same beneficiary. Investment options for participants include enrollment-based portfolios, static portfolios and Advance College Tuition Portfolios. Participants can invest up to $250,000 for each future student and accounts can be opened with a little as $50 a month. This plan provides parents, grandparents or anyone else the opportunity to financially prepare for a child's college education and obtain valuable tax benefits at the same time. For information about the University of Alaska College Savings Plan visit the web site at or call 1-866-277-1005. For additional information call Linda Milliken at 907-474-5927.

 

Alaska flag lowered for former Supreme Court judge

Gov. Knowles ordered the Alaska flags to be lowered to half-staff for a week in June in honor of retired Supreme Court Justice, Jay Rabinowitz who died at age 74. After being admitted to the Alaska Bar Association in the late 1950's Rabinowitz went to Juneau and served as Deputy Attorney General. He was appointed Superior Court Judge in Fairbanks in 1960 and five years later was sworn in as an Alaska Supreme Court Justice. Rabinowitz served 32 years on the Supreme Court and served as Chief Justice for four terms. By the time he retired at age 70, Rabinowitz had written more than one thousand court opinions.

 

Gov. Knowles signs education bills

Gov. Knowles signed four education bills Friday, July 6 at West High. Senate Bill 174 will provide more money for classroom instruction. House Bill 234 and SB 90 will provide dollars for necessary construction and repair of school facilities around the state. SB 133 provides fairness and a more responsible timeline for Alaska's graduation exam.

 

Victim's Rights

Gov. Knowles signed legislation Thursday, July 5 that will shift the burden of collecting victim restitution payments to the Department of Law. The bill shifts the burden of collection by allowing victims to receive court-ordered restitution directly from the state through funds collected from prisoners for violation of bail or conditions of release. The bill also creates an Office of Victim's Rights to advocate on behalf of victims and act as a liaison between victims and state agencies.