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

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Photo courtesy Levitation 49

A fat biking competition is coming to Valdez this month.

Fat bike

Organizers of a new festival in Valdez is hoping to transform the way people think of fat biking competitions by putting an emphasis on adrenaline more than the more-common endurance-oriented races of the genre.

The headline feature of the three-day Chugach Fat Bike Bash, March 18 - 20 is what organizers are calling the world debut of a fat free-ride competition. A vertical venue on Thompson Pass is luring riders like Anchorage downhill specialist Kevin Murphy to test their riding skill on some of the steepest terrain ever biked on snow. Like the World Extreme Skiing Championships of the 90's that put Valdez on the map as the birthplace of big mountain skiing, the Fat Freeride competition will judge riders on a combination of time, creativity, and originality of line. A cash purse up to $2,000 is at stake.

The Chugach Fat Bike Bash is a production of Levitation 49, a non-profit sports commission dedicated to promoting mountain sports culture in Valdez. Proceeds from the event support L49 projects.

Scholarship open

The City of Valdez is offering graduating seniors of Valdez High School who plan to pursue full-time higher education the opportunity to apply for the All America City Scholarship according to the city clerk's office.

"In 2016, two All-America City scholarships in the amount of $2,500 will be awarded," deputy city clerk Allie Ferko said in an email last week. "The scholarship program was established in 1982 as a lasting reminder of the All-America City honor awarded to the City of Valdez in 1965 and 1981."

The city says the intent of the scholarship program is to encourage civic involvement among the youth of Valdez while encouraging continuation to higher education.

Any student wishing to apply should complete the application package, available on the City's website, city hall, or the High School counselor's office.

Energy Rebate

The Alaska Housing Finance Corp. is closing the waitlist for its Home Energy Rebate program, taking what a corporation spokeswoman called a responsible action given the state's fiscal situation.

The corporation says it will close the waitlist to new participants on March 25.

The state-funded rebate program provides homeowners with a rebate of up to $10,000 for pre-approved energy efficiency improvements. Corporation spokeswoman Stacy Schubert says the average rebate has been around $6,300.

She says the Legislature has been generous, contributing $252.5 million to the program since 2008. She says the program did not receive money last year but had enough to carry over.

Schubert says there were just over 110 individuals or families on the waitlist as of Jan. 15.

More cuts

(AP) A state House panel charged with making recommendations for the Legislature's budget has proposed furloughs for full-time legislative employees and cuts in the office accounts for House members.

Under the recommendations, fulltime legislative employees would have to take five-day furloughs and House office accounts would be trimmed from $16,000 to $12,000.

The House subcommittee also proposed eliminating or reducing certain dues, scrapping the final year of funding for a task force on unmanned aircraft systems and eliminating state agency performance reviews.

Not included in the budget for now is funding for the Anchorage legislative information office. Legislators are weighing how to proceed on office space in Anchorage.

The recommendations will be sent to the House Finance Committee for consideration as it drafts a version of the state operating budget.

Photo courtesy Robert Huston

Grace Keller's toothpick tower held a whopping 1,250.75 pounds and did not break last week during Mr. Huston's yearly project at Gilson Middle School. It is used to teach student what steel brought to the Industrial Revolution. Huston said this was the best year ever, with two other teams towers holding over 600 pounds.

Fraud worries

(AP) The head of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association says fraud and abuse provisions in a bill aimed at containing and curbing Medicaid costs could create administrative burdens for health care providers.

Becky Hultberg says provisions allowing a private citizen to bring a fraud claim against a provider and receive part of a monetary judgment could encourage frivolous lawsuits. Hultberg says providers may incur legal and administrative costs even if lawsuits don't proceed.

She told the Senate Finance Committee her group supports the bill's approach to payment reform and delivery system changes. She suggested the fraud and abuse provisions be handled separately.

The bill includes reform ideas from Gov. Bill Walker's administration and Sen. Pete Kelly. Health commissioner Valerie Davidson has said she's pleased with the bill.

 

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