The front page of the Juneau Empire on Dec. 4, 2005. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Dec. 4, 2005. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of Dec. 10

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Empire Archives is a series printed every Saturday featuring a short compilation of headline stories in the Juneau Empire from archived editions in 1985, 1995 and 2005.

This week in 1985, Mother Nature has thrown a one-two punch that is going to give many Juneau electric customers extra pain when they open their bill for November. Record-breaking cold temperatures as well as a record-length Mendenhall Valley wood-burning ban combined are producing the highest electrical consumption ever in Juneau, said David Stone, a customer service engineer for the Alaska Light and Power Co. At 6 p.m. Nov. 27, AEL&P’s 10,000 customers totaled more than 52 megawatts, topping a previous record of 51.7 megawatts last February. The system’s peak capacity is 77 megawatts, not counting two standby generators and the Gold Creek electric project. Cold weather and decreased daylight also pushed up electricity use, plus the 14 days of air emergencies when Mendenhall Valley residents couldn’t use their wood stoves.

Original Story: “Cold wave generates a peak power-use record,” by Chuck Kleeschulte. 12/4/1985.

This week in 1995, Juneau’s schools are beginning to make plans for a second high school. That’s because informal projections show enrollment at Juneau-Douglas High School could hit 2,000 by the year 2000. The JDHS building’s official capacity is 1,200, far below the 1,600 students now enrolled in the high school. About 100 students, however, attend an alternative high school in a separate building. Another 300 or so participate in alternative buildings out of the building at least part of the day, said Principal Ron Gleason. The consensus at a recent school board Facilities Committee meeting was that the best way to handle the expected growth is to put up a completely new building in the Mendenhall Valley. The Dimond Park area has been most commonly discussed as a school site.

Today what is now known as Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé has been joined by Thunder Mountain High School, which opened in the Dimond Park area in 2008. But Juneau’s student enrollment in all schools has dropped from a peak of 5,701 students in 1999 to Juneau’s schools has declined in recent years to about 4,100 now and is expected to drop to about 3,000 by 2032. As a result, officials are now talking about consolidation, including closing one of the two high schools.

Original Story: “More students, more schools,” by Cathy Brown. 12/4/1995.

This week in 2005, A gap is growing between Juneau gas prices and the national average, and Alaska residents are wondering when it will close. Juneau residents are paying at least 60 cents more than the national average of $2.12 per gallon, according to the travel club AAA and other sources. Alaska’s average is $2.57 and Juneau’s prices range from $2.75 to $2.85 for regular unleaded gasoline. The Alaska prices caught the attention of Bob Proctor, a Dayton, Ohio, resident who founded the website “I’ve been looking at that and it’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. Unlike months ago when Hurricane Katrina destroyed refineries on the Gulf Coast and there was a shortage of supply, “there’s a lot of gasoline sitting around right now,” Proctor said.

Today a recent survey of Juneau gas prices by the Empire showed they were anywhere from $0.45 to $1.45 above the nationwide average of $3.55. The dollar gap between the cheapest and most expensive local gas occurred at stations that obtained their fuel from the same wholesaler, which an analyst said might be due to contractual agreements each station reached with the supplier.

Original Story: “Juneau’s gas gap,” by Andrew Petty. 12/4/2005.

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