Fire season is here, and beginning today, the Alaska Division of Forestry will require central Kenai Peninsula residents to obtain free state permits before burning brush, grass or yard debris.
To keep the fire trucks from appearing in your yard, notify Forestry and the local fire department before you burn. All open fires must be attended at all times. If firefighters are dispatched to an unattended fire, they will put it out and charge the cost to those responsible for the fire.
For a burn permit, information about fire prevention or information about the FireWise program for making homes easier to defend against wildfires, call the Division of Forestry at 260-4222 in Soldotna or 235-7734 in Homer.
According to Forestry, the following present the greatest risks of starting a spring wildfire:
n Brush piles burned during winter in or near wooded areas may be still smoldering. Check piles burned during the winter to be sure they are out.
n Burn piles or campfires in tall dead grass are a common cause of grass fires. Dead grass exposed by receding snow dries quickly and becomes extremely flammable. Grass fires can spread with incredible speed. People who burn grass should establish adequate perimeters to prevent their fires from spreading.
n Fires started on tundra or moss may burn deep into the ground and smolder in roots and stumps. Smoke may not be visible, though there may be a hot ash pit several feet deep. Underground fires may spread to the surface during the fire season, and ash pits may severely burn people who inadvertently step into them.
n Burning brush piles or other debris on windy days is a common cause of wildfires. Check with Forestry to determine if it is a safe day to burn. If you have a fire and the wind comes up, put out the fire. When burning, have several people on hand with adequate tools and water. If your fire gets out of control, dial 911 immediately.
n Oversized burn piles also can cause trouble. Keep brush piles small and feed the fire as it burns down. That allows for quick extinguishment if the wind rises or fire behavior becomes erratic.
By DAN JOLING
Associated Press Writer
JUNEAU -- Republicans methodically rejected amendments offered by Democrats as the state Senate on Monday took up consideration of the proposed $1.3 billion capital budget.
The six minority members offered 19 amendments, including many of the same items rejected last week when the bill was considered by the Finance Committee, and they met the same fate before the full body.
Senate Bill 29 contains $939 million in federal money, $111 million in state general fund spending and $295 million from other sources such as Alaska communities and revenue-generating state agencies. More than two-thirds of the budget, $906 million, is devoted to transportation projects, especially roads.
The bill contains virtually no money for schools, leaving that to a bonds bill approved by the House, and Senate Democrats' first amendments on Monday proposed spending state general fund money for new schools and major maintenance projects listed by the Department of Education and Early Development.
Sen. Bettye Davis, D-Anchor-age, offered an amendment mirroring Gov. Tony Knowles' school construction plan: replacing four rural schools at a cost of $69.1 million and performing major maintenance at 46 mostly rural schools for $58.1 million.
''I think it's critical that we address the health-life-safety issues for school construction,'' said Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel. Ignoring major maintenance needs will mean higher costs because more schools will have to be replaced rather than repaired, Hoffman said.
Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell, said two of the new schools and top major maintenance projects were in a bond bill already approved by the House and under consideration later in the day in the Senate Health, Education and Social Services Committee. House Bill 234, paying for projects with bonds backed by tobacco settlement money, proposes new schools for Togiak and Golovin and 14 major maintenance projects, mostly in rural Alaska.
Taylor said majority members of the House and Senate have not yet decided how school projects will be paid for, but that it was unlikely that the money would come from the state general fund.
''Even the governor was not so bold as to suggest that,'' he said.
Senators rejected other amendments, such as $1 million to replace the Anchorage Pioneers' Home ventilation system and $2.5 million for classrooms at the University of Alaska Southeast, after Kelly said money for the projects was in other bills, such as the bonds bill or a reappropriations bill.
Kelly recommended rejecting other projects because they had not been thoroughly reviewed.
Kelly said senators worked on the capital budget by reviewing projects submitted by Knowles. After careful scrutiny, he said, senators lopped off some projects and added others. He recommended rejection of projects that came in later such as $2 million for a small boat harbor at Tatitlek in Prince William Sound, $500,000 for an all-tides cargo deck at Dillingham and $250,000 for airport improvements at Delta Junction.
Most projects offered by Senate Democrats would have spent state money, but Republicans also voted down a $33 million federal grant. The money was aimed at a Prince William Sound fast ferry that would have provided service between Cordova, Tatitlek, Valdez and Whittier.
Taylor said the state should order no more fast ferries until one proves its worth in Alaska waters. The state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities earlier this year rejected the only bid it received for design and construction of a fast ferry to operate in Southeast Alaska waters between Sitka and Juneau.
A vote on the entire capital budget is scheduled for Tuesday.
BYLINE1:By SHANA LOSHBAUGH
From graduate degrees to GEDs, dozens of Kenai Peninsula College students marked the culmination of their work Sunday evening.
The 31st graduation for the peninsula campuses of the University of Alaska Anchorage reflected the diverse student body, the school's personal touch and the university's significant role in Alaska.
University President Mark Hamilton made the opening remarks, calling the commencement exercises "this marvelous occasion."
He thanked the faculty for making meaningful education happen, the families for supporting the students and the students themselves for their perseverance.
"Many of you, across the university system, do this the hard way," Hamilton said, referring to the competing demands of work and family that many balance with their studies.
"You have been practicing what the real world is like," he said.
Shirley Warner, the Soldotna police chief, was the commencement speaker. She spoke briefly and informally of her experiences and shared advice.
"Every day counts," she said. "You do the best job that you can."
She advocated an attitude of caring and compassion as a way to excel, quoting an unknown wise observer of the human condition who said, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
Warner played for the audience a short video called "Celebration of Life" she got from the National Crime Prevention Council. It was compiled by senior citizens for volunteers and included text suggestions on how to live a happy and productive life. The advice, by turns profound and whimsical, was warmly received.
Warner ended by wishing the students, "Good luck in your careers. God speed!"
The valedictory speech by Anna Boutwell was short and sweet.
Boutwell, who is from Russia, addressed the auditorium in Russian and English. She said that although students in both nations are similar, the United States remains superior as a land of opportunity.
"I hope you will leave here today with a greater appreciation of your future," she said.
Boutwell received an associate of arts degree. She plans to study nursing in Anchorage, said Peter Larson, KPC council chair.
One person, Deanne P. Pokryfki, received a master of education degree.
Twenty-one people earned bachelor's degrees. Twelve were in education, four in business administration and one each in anthropology, art, biological sciences and technology. Many of the degrees reflected work taken at the university in Anchorage and in Juneau as well as on the Kenai Peninsula.
Associate of arts degrees were awarded to 32 people. Associate of applied science degrees went to three people for accounting, three for computer electronics, four for human services, one for industrial process instrumentation, two for office management technology, two for petroleum technology and 10 for small business administration.
General Education Develop-ment degrees, also known as GEDs, were given to 82 people.
Certificates were given to two people for office technology, three for mechanical technology, one for petroleum technology, three for small business management and 26 for welding, consisting of one for welding technology, 19 for structural welding under the American Welding Society Code DI.I and six for pipe welding under the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Section IX.
Several awards were given to outstanding students and staff at the ceremony.
David Ackerman from the University of Alaska Southeast presented the Bob Ellis Award for outstanding business students to Peggy Dye, citing her pioneering work with distance education.
Outgoing Student Union President Michael Woods presented campus awards. Anthropology Professor Alan Boraas was named Outstanding Faculty of the Year; facilities and maintenance worker Dave Vega was named Outstanding Staff of the Year; and the Outstanding Student of the Year was Betty Lee. In addition, the student union decided to give two awards this year to adjunct faculty. Those were given to Sherril Miller and Diane Taylor.
Edward Lee Gorsuch, chancellor of UAA, gave the closing remarks.
He praised the United States' commitment to universal education and urged Alaskans to support the state's university system.
"The investment in higher education is the best investment Alaska can make," he said.
College Director Ginger Steffy served as master of ceremonies. Other dignitaries who joined Steffy, Hamilton, Warner, Larson and Gorsuch on the stage and assisted with distributing the diplomas were Susie Kendrick, KPC council member; Michael Burns, chair of the university board of regents; and Joseph Usibelli Jr., member of the board of regents.
Mike Morgan played a musical selection on guitar. Pastor Jim Pearson gave the invocation and the benediction. Pianist Maria Allison played the processional and recessional.
The college commencement was held at the Kenai Central High School Auditorium. Following the ceremony, the college hosted a reception at the Kenai Senior Center, with the student union and Phi Theta Kappa providing refreshments.
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