April 24, 2013 | Vol. 25 Edition 17

News Briefs

VHS eyes half-hour lunch period

Valdez Star file photo/ Tony Gorman
Dr. Elizabeth Balcerek, principal of VHS, is proposing a half-hour lunch period next school year, while keeping the campus open for students.

Dr. Elizabeth Balcerek, Valdez High School principal, asked the board of education to back her proposal to shorten the student lunch period to a half hour in the next school year. She told the board the campus would remain open. Two four-minute passing periods would be added to the lunch period, for a total of 38 minutes. The proposal will lengthen class periods throughout the regular school day.

A number of concerned parents and educators had approached to board of education earlier in the current school year asking the district to close the school’s campus during lunch to address a large uptick in alcohol and drug violations involving VHS students that occurred on and off campus last year.

Regional hoops tourney coming to Valdez

Organizers say they expect up to 500 extra visitors to Valdez this week when the school district welcomes 52 visiting basketball teams to compete in a regional tournament for fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders. Action begins Friday at 3 p.m. Seventh and eighth graders play at VHS, while lower grades will play at Hermon Hutchens Elementary School.

Teams are registered from Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla, Barrow, Glennallen, Houston, Cordova, Delta, Eagle River and Fairbanks. This is the third year Valdez has hosted the “Hooping for Spring” tournament.

Whooping cough cases up

(AP) Health officials say there's a rise of whooping cough cases in Alaska, following a trend moving up the West Coast from California. Adults immunized as children may need booster shots, which are available free this Wednesday and Thursday at the Valdez Public Health Clinic. The limited-time program began Monday and ends Thursday, April 25. Walk-in hours are 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Ellen Daly, a nurse at the Public Health Center in Sitka, told KCAW radio that immunization is the best way to combat whooping cough, a highly contagious bacterial infection.

Whooping cough, or pertussis, could act like a cold at onset with a sniffle and cough. But she says it's a good sign it's pertussis if the cough lasts seven days and if coughing ends with vomiting. Children as young as two months can be immunized, and it's part of the regular series of vaccinations. Adults around children also should be immunized.

Babies and small children are more vulnerable. And places where children congregate, like schools and daycares, have the highest rates of infection.

Chitina man shoots at truck

(AP) A Chitina man has been arrested for allegedly firing shots at another man's pickup truck.

According to the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska State Troopers arrested 25-year-old William Nelson. He is accused of firing a handgun Wednesday afternoon at another man as the man drove past Nelson on the Edgerton Highway, which runs along the Copper River and connects Chitina to the Richardson Highway.

Troopers say a bullet from Nelson's handgun hit the tailgate of the other man's pickup truck. No one was injured.

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