Statewide Briefs

University Regents decry recent NCAA development

The UA Board of Regents unanimously
backed a resolution criticizing a change to the
NCAA’s Division II playoff format.
The change keeps Alaska and Hawaii
from hosting full eight-team tournaments. The
measure received Gov. Sarah Palin’s support in
a letter to the NCAA.
Regents say this change unfairly penalizes
the UAA’s women basketball team, which
advanced to the NCAA Division II Final Four last
The Regents also approved a resolution
that creates the Alaska Native Education and
Research Council; this comes in cooperation
with the state’s regional Native corporations.
The council will back vocational and
technical training, academic curriculum,
research and community outreach.

Anchorage cuts fire protection to save money

Anchorage’s budget woes are affecting the
municipal fi re department.
The Anchorage Fire Department closed
a station Feb. 20 to trim overtime costs. The
department also kept two other fi re engines out
of service.
City offi cials say they have a $17 million
shortfall tied to national economy problems.
Thirteen people on Friday were sick, on
vacation or on military leave. Fire department
managers said they could not afford to call in
off-duty personnel and pay the overtime.
Fire department offi cials say overtime is a
huge expense and the only area in which the
department can make a big cut.
Several other departments are eliminating
positions or simply not fi lling vacant positions.

Number of active oil rigs drops by 39

The number of rigs actively exploring for oil
and natural gas in the United States dropped by
39 this week to 1,300.
Of the rigs running nationwide, 1,018
were exploring for natural gas and 269 for oil,
Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Feb.
20. A total of 13 were listed as miscellaneous.
A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,771.
Of the major oil- and gas-producing states,
Texas lost 17 rigs, Louisiana lost nine, Oklahoma
and New Mexico each lost four, Arkansas, North
Dakota and Wyoming each lost two, and Alaska
lost one. California added two rigs. Colorado
was unchanged.
Baker Hughes has tracked rig counts since
1944. The tally peaked at 4,530 in 1981, during
the height of the oil boom. The industry posted
several record lows in 1999, bottoming out at

BIA provides emergency funds for Emmonak

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The Bureau of Indian Affairs says it will
provide emergency funding to residents of
Emmonak, an Alaska village struggling with high
fuel costs.
Niles Cesar, the BIA regional director for
Alaska, made the announcement Feb. 20 in
Bethel during a visit with U.S. Sen. Mark Begich
Cesar says the BIA has agreed to waive
eligibility rules so more people in Emmonak
can get up to $1,000, depending on a person’s
income. The average person will get about $500.
Begich says it’s not a long-term solution, but
a step in the right direction.
Cesar also said his offi ce is requesting
the wavier be made available to 56 villages
in Western Alaska and to 11 villages in the
Northwest Arctic.

Palin cuts veteran cemetery money

A Fairbanks lawmaker is upset after Gov.
Sarah Palin cut promised funding for a veterans
cemetery in the Interior.
State Sen. Joe Thomas (Democrat) says he
thought the project was fi nally moving forward
after fl oundering a few years. But then the
promised $250,000 was among the cuts Palin
made this week.
Thomas says he appreciates the fi nancial
situation the state is in, but didn’t understand
why some other projects — such as warm
storage buildings — weren’t cut.
Palin’s budget director Karen Rehfeld says
the governor supports the project, but thought
the funding could wait a year.
The state has planned to spend $250,000 a
year over the next three years. That money has
to be committed before the federal Veterans
Administration will free up the other 90 percent
of the project costs.