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

By VALDEZ STAR STAFF
and Associated Press 

News briefs

 

Valdez Star photo

The bear standing sentinel over the Valdez cemetery has teeth - real teeth, according to the plaque at its base. The carving was created by the late Jerry Mehlberg.

Christmas tree

The community Christmas tree will be lit this Sunday. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. according to the city's Dept. of Parks and Recreation.

The mayor will start the festivities with a benediction and Mayor's Proclamation. Photos with Santa and ornament decorating will commence shortly after the mayor's words.

This is the 34th annual event, and was named for the late Patricia Haltness.

Gear swap

Got extra winter gear? Need some?

Prince William Sound College is hosting a gear swap next week.

The event will be held at the college atrium on Tuesday, November 29, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.

"Bring your unneeded outdoor sporting gear to swap or sell," Dawson Moore said in an email Monday. "Table set-up at 3:30; no businesses, please."

Contact the college directly for more information.

LNG project

(AP) Alaska's pipeline project is slowly transferring to state leadership but could reach its goal before next year.

The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported the $45 billion Alaska LNG Project would export natural gas.

Alaska Gasline Development Corp.'s board of directors heard an update on the project Nov. 10.

Corporation President Keith Meyer told the board that though a self-imposed deadline of Oct. 31 passed without a signed agreement, he doesn't see anything that will stop the process.

He said negotiations are continuing and a Dec. 31 goal is achievable.

BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil have partnered with the state on the project.

Most of the year has been spent working toward transferring to a state leadership model.

Coastie rescue

(AP) A Coast Guard helicopter crew has rescued four people stranded on an Alaska island after their boat capsized.

Petty Officer Jon Paul Rios says no one was injured in the Friday morning capsizing in Marsha Bay near Knight Island in the Prince William Sound area.

The Coast Guard was notified by a good Samaritan who heard a distress call stating the 28-foot boat was taking on water. Alaska State Troopers received an emergency beacon alert later.

The Coast Guard launched helicopter, HC-130 Hercules and boat crews to the site.

Rios says the Coast Guard boat crew could see the boaters, but the water was too shallow and the area too rocky for the crew to reach them.

The helicopter crew hoisted the stranded people and transported them to the town of Cordova.

Unemployment

(AP) Alaska's unemployment rate stood at 6.8 percent for the third month in a row in October. This follows an adjustment in the rate for September.

In a release, the state labor department says the rate for September, which preliminarily had been reported at 6.9 percent, had been revised down to 6.8 percent.

The preliminary seasonally adjusted rate for October compares to 6.6 percent in October 2015. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment remained at 6.6 percent from October 2015 through the first four months of this year and has slowly inched up since in Alaska.

Nationally, last month's unemployment rate stood at 4.9 percent.

Trumps tweet

(AP) Donald Trump's many promises on his way to the White House included a tweeted vow to change the new name of North America's tallest mountain back to Mount McKinley.

Last year, the Obama administration renamed the Alaska peak Denali in a symbolic gesture to Alaska Natives ahead of the president's visit to the state.

Alaskans long have informally called the mountain Denali - "the great one" in Athabascan.

But the federal government recognized the name invoking the 25th president, William McKinley, who was born in Ohio and assassinated early in his second term.

In his tweet, Trump called the name switch a "great insult to Ohio."

It's unclear at this early stage if Trump will take action. The federal board that oversees place names says changing the name would require a presidential executive order or an act of Congress.

Recalled toys

(AP) A consumer group is preparing to release a report about what it says is the continued availability of recalled toys.

The group MASSPIRG said its annual Trouble in Toyland report will focus on recalled toys from the past year, including those that researchers still found available for sale online.

The group is also cautioning parents and consumers to keep an eye out for recalled toys that may still be in homes. Many of toys were recalled for safety reasons.

The group plans to release the report Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the UMass Boston Early Learning Center in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston.

For more than 30 years, the MASSPIRG Education Fund has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to over 150 recalls over the years.

Drilling banned

(AP) The Obama administration is blocking new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean, handing a victory to environmentalists who say industrial activity in the icy waters will harm whales, walruses and other wildlife and exacerbate global warming.

A five-year offshore drilling plan announced on Friday blocks the planned sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska. The plan allows drilling to go forward in Alaska's Cook Inlet southwest of Anchorage.

The blueprint for drilling from 2017 to 2022 can be rewritten by President-elect Donald Trump, in a process that could take months or years.

Besides Cook Inlet, the plan also allows drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, long the center of U.S. offshore oil production. Ten of the 11 lease sales proposed in the five-year plan are in the Gulf, mostly off the coasts of Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Alabama.

Plant for sale

(AP) ConocoPhillips is looking to sell its Cook Inlet natural gas plant.

The Houston-based energy company on Thursday announced that it is putting its Kenai LNG plant up for sale, Alaska's Energy Desk reported.

ConocoPhillips spokeswoman Amy Burnett said the company wants to focus on operations in the North Slope.

"Our efforts to market the plant are consistent with our company's efforts to regularly review our assets to ensure we are optimizing our portfolio," Burnett said. "We believe the plant is a strategic asset that offers good opportunities for the right buyer."

Valdez Star photo

The plant operated for six months in 2015 and Burnett said the plant has not exported gas in 2016 because of market conditions but it is still operational and could start exporting again.

The Kenai plant, which includes a dock and loading facility, was the only export facility of domestic liquefied natural gas in North America for nearly 50 years.

This is the second year ConocoPhillips has looked to sell Cook Inlet assets. In 2015, it put its natural gas production assets up for sale. Hilcorp purchased ConocoPhillips' North Cook Inlet field in late October.

The company also sold its stake in the Beluga gas field to the city of Anchorage earlier this year.

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