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

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Photo courtesy Brandee Martel

The Lady Buccaneers cleaned up Friday in the first of two games held in Valdez last week.

Mold update

Health concerns surrounding reports of mold in the old section of city hall and specifically at the fire department are currently under control according to Jason Miles, the engineer who is director of the city's capital facilities.

"Indoor air quality is incredibly clean, and suitable for occupancy," he said this week in a report to council.

The information is based on testing done by White Environmental Consultants, the firm hired by the city to test air quality in city hall after black mold was found last year in area's of the fire department.

Business help

The Alaska Small Business Development Center will conduct a series of classes and provide advising to Valdez businesses this year according to the City of Valdez.

The city's website has a survey posted for business owners or prospective new businesses that it says will help the ASBD in its quest to aid business in Valdez.

"The survey results will help provide the maximum benefit to the business community as the feedback will be used to determine class topics and the best possible scheduling," the city said. "The survey will remain open through March 3."

Fishers flag state income tax problems

(AP) A trade group for Alaska commercial fishermen is flagging concerns with a state House proposal that would reinstitute a personal income tax.

United Fishermen of Alaska says many fishermen will have "major difficulties" complying with withholding requirements on payments to fishing crew.

Association leaders, in a letter to the House Finance Committee co-chairs, say withholding requirements would fall on skippers who don't have the information they would need to estimate a crew member's potential federal tax liability. The tax, as proposed, would be 15 percent of what a person owes the federal government in taxes.

They raised other concerns, too.

The association, which says it has not taken a position either way on the bill, suggested a fix that would treat fishermen the same as people who are self-employed.

Tok's pot plot

(AP) Alaska State Trooper investigators have seized marijuana with an estimated street value of more than $600,000 from an illegal grow operation near Tok.

Acting on a tip, Fairbanks troopers in the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit on Wednesday contacted the occupants of a home at Mile 1316 Alaska Highway.

Troopers say a suspected grow operation was on property next to the home.

The property owner gave officers consent to seize illegal marijuana plants.

Troopers seized 10 pounds of processed marijuana packaged in quarter-ounce bags.

In an old maintenance shop, they seized 296 marijuana plants in varying stages of growth.

Troopers estimate the value of the processed pot and plants at $604,000.

Recommended charges were forwarded to the district attorney's office.

Another eruption

(AP) An Alaska volcano that's been active since mid-December has erupted again.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says Bogoslof (BOH-gohs-lawf) Volcano in the Aleutian Islands erupted just before 10 a.m. Friday and sent an ash cloud to 25,000 feet.

Ash can harm and stop jet engines. Ash from southwest Alaska volcanos is a threat airliners operating between North America and Asia when a cloud rises above 20,000 feet.

After the eruption, the Aviation Color Code was raised from orange to red, the highest level.

The observatory says south winds are pushing the ash cloud north over the Bering Sea and no ash is expected to fall on communities.

The observatory says pulses of seismic activity continue and additional eruptions could occur.

The observatory said Bogoslof could have periodic eruptions for months.

Feds panned

(AP) More than a dozen environmental groups are seeking to join lawsuits filed by the state of Alaska over a federal ban on certain hunting techniques in national refuges and preserves.

The Peninsula Clarion reports the two lawsuits filed in January claim the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service illegally pre-empted the state's authority to manage wildlife by banning state-approved hunting practices.

The federal regulations prohibit the killing of black bears in their dens with the aid of artificial light and shooting brown bears over bait stations.

A motion filed earlier this month on behalf of 15 Alaska organizations asks the court to admit the groups as a party in defense of the federal agencies.

The environmental groups are opponents of the state's predator control efforts.

Sell quits

(AP) A supporter of Alaska's sweeping criminal justice legislation is no longer a member of a commission that has recommended changes to the law.

Juneau Police Department Lt. Kris Sell declined to comment after she resigned from the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission, the Juneau Empire reported.

Commissioners provided input for a law that focused on punishments outside of prison or jail time.

Sell was a vocal proponent of the legislation approved last year. She told a Senate committee Jan. 25 that her time on the commission helped shape her views on criminal justice and factor in underlying causes like mental illness and addiction.

Source: City of Valdez

The results of testing inside the fire department at city hall, measuring mold spores in the air.

"I had to come to a place in my own reasoning . where being tough on crime was actually just being tough on people and not treating the reasons they are committing more crime," she said. "The underlying cause remains unaddressed."

Sell acknowledged budget issues made the law's goals difficult to reach. "Things aren't in place yet," she said. "It's a rough time."

Juneau Police Chief Bryce Johnson said that although Sell was dedicated and did a great job as a commissioner, she resigned knowing her stance on the law differed from the department's view. "She knew that what we were thinking, and what she was thinking was a little bit different, and so she decided to resign," Johnson said.

The law raised concerns about sentencing options. ``It didn't make sense that there was no jail option,'' Johnson said of one of the sentencing provisions.

Changes to the legislation were introduced Jan. 30.

 

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