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

 
 

News Briefs

 


Mayor's Cup

The Mayor's Cup - the 200 mile snowmachine race that pays out $10,000 to winners - will feature a first-ever 100-mile snowbike race this year.

Registration for the races - including the pro, semi-pro, vets, women's, snow bike and vintage classes is at the Mt Sky Hotel Friday, between 5 and 7 p.m.

The races begin Saturday, with a mandatory racers meeting at 9:30 a.m. according to the Valdez Snowmachine Club's Facebook page.

Traffic is typically slowed on the Richardson Highway during the races, between the ball fields and the Glacier Stream Bridge.

Tax appeals

Do you think your property tax assessment for 2017 is not accurate? If so, the City of Valdez is notifying property owners that the deadline to file an appeal with the board of equalization is at the end of March.

Assessment notices were sent to property owners by the City of Valdez on March 1. The deadline to file an appeal is March 31.

"To appeal the assessed valuation of property, all appeals must be filed in writing on forms provided by the City of Valdez," the city's website states. "Appeal forms are now available at the front desk of City Hall, 212 Chenega Street, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday."

Pot inspection

Herbal Outfitters, the town's only legal commercial marijuana retailer and the first to open its doors in Alaska, was inspected by Valdez Police in late February - and met with the approval of law enforcement.

Chief Bart Hinkle said in a report to city manager Elke Doom that the store's management appeared to be in compliance with local and state laws during the one-hour visit by four police officers.

"The purpose of visiting Herbal Outfitters was multifaceted; there were Officers that had yet to enter the facility and did not know the manager or owner of the business," Hinkle said. "...it had been awhile since an inspection had been conducted and the Valdez Police Department was interested to see what kind of investigative leads could be gleaned from the label that is affixed to all purchases of marijuana from Herbal Outfitters."

Volcano spews

(AP) An Alaska volcano that's been active since mid-December has erupted again with an ash cloud that could have threatened airliners.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says Bogoslof (BOH-gohs-lawf) Volcano in the Aleutian Islands started erupting at 10:36 p.m. a week ago Tuesday and sent up an ash cloud to 35,000 feet.

The eruption was marked by seismic activity and lightning that subsided about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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

The observatory says the volcano spewed ash for about three hours.

The National Weather Service said trace amounts of ash could fall on the major fishing port of Dutch Harbor.

Obamacare

(AP) The state health commissioner says Alaska cannot absorb a shift in federal responsibility for health care costs back to the states, citing Alaska's multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

In a statement, Valerie Davidson says the expanded Medicaid program provides necessary treatment resources to help address opioid abuse in Alaska and is critical to efforts aimed at overhauling Alaska's criminal justice system.

Since the state expanded Medicaid in September 2015, more than 30,000 lower-income Alaskans have been covered. States had the option to expand Medicaid under former President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

Congressional Republicans are pushing to change the law.

Legislation proposed by U.S. House Republicans would end a higher federal match for Medicaid expansion beneficiaries starting in 2020. It also would overhaul the overall framework of the Medicaid program.

Crime bill

(AP) Alaska lawmakers are considering rolling back some provisions of a controversial crime reform bill that passed last year.

The Peninsula Clarion reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee this week heard comments on a senate bill that aims to fix problems members of law enforcement found in last year's Senate Bill 91, which scaled back punishments for a number of low-level crimes in an effort to reduce prison populations.

The Criminal Justice Commission is considering increasing the presumptive sentencing range for first-time Class C felony convictions from zero days to a year, among other increased sentences for some crimes. Committee members say increasing the penalties will give judges more discretion during sentencing.

In public hearings, supporters of SB 91 urged lawmakers to give the law more time to make a difference.

Opiate SOS

(AP) Gov. Bill Walker has introduced legislation to keep in place the public health disaster declaration he issued in response to rampant opioid abuse in Alaska.

Source: Valdez Snowmachine Club

The Mayor's Cup schedule published online by the Valdez Snowmachine Club.

The bill cites a state law limiting disaster emergency proclamations to 30 days unless extended by the Legislature. Walker signed his declaration Feb. 14. He is seeking a one-year extension.

Walker has said the declaration would allow the state to provide standing medical orders allowing for broader distribution of naloxone, which can be used to prevent opioid overdose.

He had proposed spending about $4.1 million in federal grants through August 2021 for a naloxone program.

The state's chief medical officer, Jay Butler, says the program would be on hold if a bill isn't passed. Or, he says, officials would need to find another administrative tool, such as memorandum agreements for each organization it is working with.

 

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