Valdez Star photo
Mayor Dave Cobb officially cut the ribbon Thursday to mark the opening of the new Gilson Middle School building. School started Tuesday in Valdez, a few weeks later than usual, to accommodate the completion date for the new building. It came in under budget (so far) and a year ahead of the original scheduled date of completion.
Popular swan euthanized after it was hit by truck
An adult swan that regularly raised a family with its mate in a pond at Milepost 6.5 along the Richardson Highway was euthanized in Anchorage Friday morning after it was hit by a truck while trying to cross the road with its mate and their four signets.
The swan suffered multiple compound fractures to its wings and breastbone according to officials at the Bird Treatment and Learning Center (TLC). It had also lost most of its blood and its injuries were considered too grave for successful treatment.
It is unknown if the injured swan was the male or female half of the breeding pair.
The accident occurred Monday and a large-scale rescue effort, which included flying in the director of TLC from Anchorage to Valdez was slated for Friday morning. On Thursday evening, passers-by found the injured bird on the side of the road and captured it. It spent the night at the Valdez Animal Shelter before it was flown to Anchorage Friday morning on a commercial flight on Ravn Alaska. The airline waived all fees associated with flying the injured animal to Anchorage.
Officials had decided to intervene on behalf of the injured swan because the large water fowl mate for life and will not migrate if one of the pair is unable to make the flight.
Valdez man Steve Revis, who organized Friday's aborted rescue mission, said he was angered by the incident because he had contacted local DOT officials asking for a temporary warning sign to be placed in the area to alert motorist to the presence of the swan family. Last year, the family lost all its signets when they were hit by a truck.
The day after Revis asked DOT for the swan signage, the duck crossing signs on the tide flats of the Richardson Highway were taken down by DOT.
Coasties cite rescued boaters
Coast Guard Station Valdez cited boaters for safety violation last Friday after the crew assisted the 20 foot aluminum skiff after it ran out of fuel.
Coast Guard crewmembers towed the disabled vessel to the small boat harbor in Valdez, along with five boaters who were stranded in Port Valdez.
The Coast Guard says it conducted a post search-and-rescue boarding and issued violations for insufficient personal flotation devices and for operating without registration on board.
Federal regulations require all recreational boats to carry one serviceable personal flotation device of the correct size for each person aboard the vessel.
Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders received notification that a skiff was disabled, out of fuel and drifting toward Valdez's main shipping channel according to a Coast Guard press release.
Mayors pan pot
(AP) The Alaska Conference of Mayors is taking a stand on the marijuana initiative before voters in November.
KTVA-television reports the mayors have passed a resolution opposing Ballot Measure 2, which would legalize recreational use of marijuana by people 21 and older.
The mayors conference is also donating $5,000 to the anti-initiative campaign, ``Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2.''
Bristol Bay Borough Mayor Dan O'Hara says mayors are concerned with the message that legal pot would send to youth.
Palmer Mayor DeLena Johnson says her community doesn't have the money for the extra patrols it will take to police legal marijuana.
Ballot measure supporters say Alaska could earn $20 million in state taxes in the first year of legalized pot.
Valdez Star photo
The injured swan in a pet carrier at the Valdez Animal Shelter Thursday night. The animal was euthanized Friday morning at the Bird TLC in Anchorage after it was determined its injuries were not treatable.
Ferry union, state reach agreement
(AP) The largest union representing workers on the Alaska Marine Highway System has ratified a three-year contract.
The state Department of Administration on Tuesday announced the ratification by The Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific.
Commissioner Curtis Thayer said the state looked forward to continuing to work toward ratification of new contracts with the other two unions representing ferry workers.
Earlier this month, one of the other unions, the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots, announced its members had rejected a tentative agreement that union negotiators reached with the state. Some members weren't happy with the proposed wage increases.