The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

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Sally Jorgens of Valdez has authored and published two new books aimed at the preschool set, which teaches youngsters how to avoid sexual abuse. Jorgens will host a book signing at Safeway April 18-19.

Economic doings

The Valdez City Council approved the formation of an economic diversification commission during its regular meeting Monday night as part of its long-term efforts to improve the city's economy. The ordinance mandates a number of commission seats be filled by business owners from across the broad spectrum of business interests in Valdez.

The city is also sponsoring an introductory workshop this Tuesday aimed at economic diversification called "Strategic Doing." The four hour even is run by Ed Morrison, the economic policy advisor at Purdue University. Information on the public workshop can be found in a city sponsored advertisement on page 6 of this newspaper.

Highway neighbors

The Valdez Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting a two conference for businesses in the Richardson Highway corridor it is calling Highway Neighbors. The networking conference begins April 16 but the main presentations, workshops and other activities will be on Thursday, April 17. Those not already familiar with the event can contact the VCVB through its website or call or drop in for more information.

Hooping for Spring coming

Organizers of the state's largest middle school basketball tournament, Hooping for Spring Youth Basketball tournament, received $1,324 of city funding to pay the school district for the added expenses it incurs hosting the event.

This year, 50 teams – along with parents, coaches and chaperones - are expected to converge on Valdez April 25-27.

"It's pretty big, it brings a lot of people here," organizer Casey Sodergren told the council when asking for the modest sum. "We are the biggest tournament" in Alaska for this age group.

Gasline bill moves forward

(AP) The House Resources Committee version of a bill to advance a major liquefied natural gas project was starting to take shape Saturday, as members dug into a thick stack of proposed changes.

The committee, with a reputation for finely parsing language, was making slow but steady progress in an amendment process that began Friday. The panel planned to resume work Sunday, after making a slight dent in the stack after hours of meeting Saturday.

Changes that had been approved included a provision to require negotiated contracts that must get legislative approval, such as marketing and transportation-services agreements, to be made public at least 90 days before the proposed effective date for the contract. Co-chair Rep. Eric Feige, R-Chickaloon, said the idea is to ensure there is adequate time to vet proposed contracts, months instead of a few days.

The committee also approved allowing for certain legislative staff members and legislative consultants to be part of confidential briefings on negotiations rather than only lawmakers. Another amendment required legislative briefings on project progress every four months, accompanied by a written report by the Department of Natural Resources on the amount of money the state may be obligated to pay TransCanada Corp. if a project were terminated before gas starts flowing.

The bill under consideration by House Resources, SB138, from Gov. Sean Parnell, would set state participation in the project, also being pursued by the North Slope's major players, TransCanada and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., or AGDC, at about 25 percent. It also is aimed at moving the project _ currently estimated to cost between $45 billion and more than $65 billion _ into a phase of preliminary engineering and design and cost refinement.

It is one of the biggest issues of the legislative session, scheduled to end April 20. House Resources is one of three House committees to which the measure has been referred, though House Speaker Mike Chenault has said the referral to Labor and Commerce could be waived, allowing for the measure to go next to House Finance.

Tony Gorman photo

The Valdez Torpedoes swim club hosted its annual Banana Meet last week. The Torpedoes, featuring a number of Buccaneer swimmers, won the meet. Winners are determined by counting accumulated bananas that are awarded to winners after each competition.

As proposed, TransCanada would hold the state's interest in the gas treatment plant and pipeline, with the state having an equity buy-back option. The arrangement has been cast by Parnell administration officials as a way for the state to not have to bear as much in upfront costs as it would on its own and as an amicable transition from terms under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, under which TransCanada had been pursuing a project for years. Parnell has said terms of the act do not apply to the project currently being pursued.

Questions have been raised over at what point the license with TransCanada under the inducement act expires. Natural Resources Commissioner Joe Balash said TransCanada has signed a letter, which he and the state revenue commissioner also intend to sign, clarifying the intent that the license would terminate following the execution of a new agreement, which would happen within 90 days of passage of the legislation currently under consideration.

 

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