January 29, 2014 | Vol. 26 Edition 4

News Briefs

Valdez gets healthy

Tony Gorman photo
Fat Mermaid owner Karen Ables, right, was on hand with healthy food samples Saturday during the Healthier You kickoff event at the Valdez Civic Center.

It's not too late to kick off those winter doldrums and get healthy according to Wendy Clubb, who is a top organizer for the Healthier You program.

Now in its fourth year, the program offers incentives to people in Valdez to take better care of their health. The program is designed to be inclusive, so people that might need to lose weight fit right in with those who are already fit. If you missed the kickoff event Saturday, it's not too late to sign up for the program. Call 835-2531 for more information.

According the City of Valdez website, Healthier You is open to all participants age 5 years and older. Families are encouraged to participate together and form healthy lifestyles together. Participants can form teams which create workout groups that often outlast the length of the program. Each week Healthier You offers a special sponsored activity for the community free of charge. These activities range from sample workouts to health and wellness educational opportunities. Participants can also take advantage of free biometric screening, offered by SWAN at the beginning and end of the program as well as special one time Healthier You events such as clothing swaps, health coach workshops, and a 5K race. Healthier You participants earn points for their weight loss, physical activities and smoke free days. Recognition is given to the top point earners, as well, all participants that meet certain point threshholds are entered into the Grand Prize, Second Chance, and Over 25 Under 100 Prize drawings. Returning participants that meet maintained weight loss criteria are entered into the K-TWO (Keeping the Weight Off) Prize drawing.

Unemployment under 6.4 percent

(AP) Alaska's unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.4 percent in December.

The state labor department says the seasonally adjusted rate is down from 6.6 percent in December 2012. The November 2013 rate was revised from 6.5 percent to 6.4 percent.

Alaska started 2013 with a 6.7 percent unemployment rate.

Nationally, unemployment stood at 6.7 percent last month.

PFD applicants hit glitch

(AP) Some 16,000 applicants had difficulty with the new electronic signature feature when filing their Permanent Fund Dividend application online.

There were no problems encountered filing the application itself and being issued a confirmation number, the Anchorage Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1dVjL4S). But some people's computers froze when trying to submit the electronic signature.

And when some people exited the window, they didn't continue to the ``Pick. Click. Give.'' page to donate a portion of their return to one of about 500 nonprofits.

Officials said most glitches have been fixed, and people may log back on and go to the donation page.

The majority of problems filing occurred during the first three days of the application period.

March 31 is the deadline to file for PFDs, but people can add, change or delete a charitable contribution through Aug. 30. On the application page, a green button reads ``Add or Change Your Pick. Click. Give Donation.''

Officials recommend anybody completing the signature process use a computer rather than a mobile device. Officials said a problem encountered with mobile devices resulted in a number of people not seeing the button for the ``Pick. Click. Give'' option.

The state sent out an email to the 16,000 Alaskans who had not submitted an electronic signature page and included a reminder about ``Pick. Click. Give.''

In 2013, 83 percent of all applicants filed online.

School funding slow going

(AP) Gov. Sean Parnell's education proposal would increase the per-pupil funding formula by about $200 over current levels over three years, a level that critics say is insufficient to meet the needs of districts.

The bill would raise the base student allocation by $85 the first year, from $5,680 to $5,765, and then by $58 each of the next two years, bringing it to $5,881. Parnell's office, in a release, said the increase proposed was based upon percentage increases in recent public employee contracts.

The increase is part of an overall education proposal introduced Friday that includes changes that Parnell said are aimed at giving kids more opportunities and parents more choice in options in where to send their kids to school.

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