Missing Since Christmas

Mary, Joseph and a Wise Man look over an empty manger in front of the Skagway Assembly of God Church. DL

Baby Jesus missing from manger scene

The lighted Baby Jesus went missing from his manger in front of the Skagway Assembly of God Church over Christmas week.
Rev. Steve Smith, who was out of town the week of Dec. 21-28, said he discovered the manger scene’s missing fixture upon his return.
“It plugs in so it couldn’t have been the wind, or even a dog,” Smith said. “I hope someone returns it. It’s possible it’s in a ditch somewhere.”
Smith didn’t file a police report and viewed the incident lightheartedly, sensing that it may have been a prank.
“Jesus is missing, where is he? I could build a sermon around that real easily,” he said.
Smith hopes the Baby Jesus will be returned, no questions asked, otherwise the church will have to find another one to match the manger scene. If anyone has information about the case, call Smith at 983-2350.
“I hope no one is vindictive about it, there were others (manger scenes) in town that weren’t touched,” he added. “If it is found, the reward will be more internal.” – JEFF BRADY

AP&T wants to link Skagway to the world
Fiber optic cable would unite Southeast with rest of Alaska

By DIMITRA LAVRAKAS
The people at Alaska Power & Telephone have a vision. It’s a mighty one. They want to link all of Southeast Alaska to Juneau, northern Alaska, the Lower 48, and the world with a fiber optic telecommunications network.
They’re starting by communicating with the governments in each Southeast town.
“We’re in the phase now that could be considered promotion,” said Bill Biery, director of business communications for the company. “What level of support do we have from communities?”
With the region moving away from a timber and natural resource economy, the company is looking to bolster it with a high-speed digital network that would run mostly under the ocean.
The new system will provide the necessary infrastructure and bandwidth for everyone in Southeast to access now- indispensable e-commerce economy.
The link would run from Haines – AP&T ran an optic fiber cable to Haines in 1998 – to Juneau, Petersburg, Ketchikan and Prince Rupert, B.C. All of the small towns in Southeast would hook up to the main cable.
“It’s like building a spur to a railroad,” said Biery. “The spurs would go out to the small towns.”
The company needs to show there is interest in the concept first. A subsidiary has been formed to cover this operation – South East Alaska Fiber Link Corp. When it has the letters of support it needs to proceed, the corporation will try for federal or state funding. Biery said they’d need some form of government support to complete the project.
Of course, the big question for consumers is, will rates increase?
I would hope not,” said Biery. “Now, there’s always going to be cost increases, but the initial efficiencies and speed would help contain cost.”
The other question is, particularly in the summer, will the new link help with the impact that credit cards and the Internet have on phone service here in the summer months?
“It would solve access problems out of Skagway the majority of the time, but it would not solve the problems out of Skagway when too many lines are in use,” said Stan Selmer, AP&T regional vice president.
In 1993, there were 60 long distance trunks out of Skagway, today that number has tripled to 180, said Dave Vogel, general manager for telephone operations.
“That means if 180 people are trying to make calls out of Skagway, whether it’s a merchant swiping a credit card or a crew member trying to phone home, the 181st person will not get through. The fiber optic link won’t make any difference.”
If AP&T needs more long distance trunks in the future, they have to go to AT&T ALASCOM, Selmer said.
Selmer said the problems from last summer with long distance telephone access had to do with AT&T ALASCOM’s radio antenna problems between Haines and Skagway.
“That equipment has been upgraded and the likelihood of losing of long distance completely has been diminished significantly,” said Selmer. “Radio equipment is still susceptible to Mother Nature.”
Because he doesn’t like all of his eggs in one basket, Selmer said, with AT&T’s radio service as the backbone of long distance communications here, AP&T is working towards “redundant protection.” That’s part of what the project is about, he said.
“We’re all pretty excited about it,” said Vogel.
Right now, AP&T is doing something that will excite Dyea Road residents. It’s relocating the antennas for the Dyea radio phones, and that will hopefully solve some of those “dead” calls on the radio phone when you can hear the person on the radio phone, but they can’t hear you.

Will the roadless ban affect proposed Juneau-Skagway road link?

President Clinton’s inclusion of the Tongass Forest in the ban on new roads in national forests may or may not have an effect on the proposed Juneau-Skagway road, said Pamela Finney, U.S. Forest Service regional communications spokesperson.
“It’s a two-edge sword,” she said by phone. “The area that runs from Berners Bay to Skagway is in the roadless moratorium, and it does fall under the President’s decision that would exclude roads being built. In that sense, yes, it is precluded.
“On the other hand, corridors were identified in that area that state or federal would want developed in the future. It could be built, but it would require extraordinary justification and compelling need.”
She said that goes for both sides of the Lynn Canal, as both were designated transportation corridors when the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities first considered alternatives for Juneau access. –DL

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