News Briefs

 

Tony Gorman photo

The Easter Bunny did not forget about Valdez last week, and was on hand Saturday for "Beacon and Eggs" - an event held at the Salmonberry Ski Hill by Parks and Rec. The event combined avalanche and outdoor preparation training with an Easter egg hunt.

Fiber optics

Copper Valley Telecom - CVT- announced last week that it will resume its fiber optics upgrade project next month.

Last summer, CVT began the massive project in the subdivisions in town by laying the fiber optics in residential neighborhoods. The next phase of the project entails installing needed electronics in homes that will allow customers to tap into the fiber optics network.

After the conversion, CVT members will be able to take advantage of higher internet speeds and other improved services.

"Beginning May 8, Copper Valley personnel will call each resident in the Valdez core area to schedule a conversion appointment.," the company said in a press release last week. "The company expects to begin working in Mineral Creek Heights and then will continue through the community. Each appointment will take one to two hours and there is no charge for this conversion."

NYO Mini-meet

Valdez held a mini-meet last week for athletes in Native Youth Olympics or NYO. Qualifiers are eligible to participate in the statewide games in Anchorage April 27-29.

NYO is open to all students, but was created to foster traditional games and skills practiced by North American Natives.

Valdez students reported the following results for middle and high school participants - Kneel Jump: Boys- Josh Baczuk, Girls- Ariana Alvarez, Boys HS-Elijah Haase. Wrist Carry: Boys- Josh Baczuk, Girls- Anna Agcaoili, Boys HS- Isaac Clubb. Alaskan High Kick: Boys- Tate Chadwick, Girls- Faith Gray, Boys HS- Isaac Clubb, Girls HS- Chevon Oxford. Eskimo Stick Pull Girls- Faith Gray, Boys HS- Ricky Colapietro, Girls HS- Chevon Oxford. Scissor Broad Jump: Boys- Josh Baczuk, Girls- Arian Alvarez, Boys HS- Evan Alexander, Girls HS- Chevon Oxford. One Hand Reach: Girls HS- Chevon Oxford. Two-Foot High Kick: Girls- Anna Agcaoili, Boys HS- Evan Alexander. Indian Stick Pull: Boys- Tate Chadwick, Girls- Ariana Alvarez, Boys HS- Elijah Haase, Girls HS- Chevon Oxford. One-Foot High Kick: Boys- Tate Chadwick, Girls- Anna Agcaoili, Boys HS-Ben Kompkoff. Seal Hop: Boys- Tate Chadwick, Girls- Arian Alvarez, Boys HS- Isaac Clubb.

PFD update

(AP) The Alaska House has passed legislation calling for structured draws from the state's oil-wealth fund to help fill Alaska's multibillion-dollar deficit.

The House worked off a version of the bill that passed the Senate but made numerous changes, including to the size of the dividend Alaskans initially would receive from the fund and the calculation of future dividends.

The House also made the bill contingent upon legislative passage of a broad-based tax and the version of an oil tax and credit overhaul that passed the House.

House Finance Committee Co-Chair Paul Seaton sees the language as a way to try to coax the Senate into negotiating on a more comprehensive fiscal plan.

The bill, which passed 22-18, will go to a conference committee if the Senate disagrees with the changes.

Income tax

(AP) The Alaska House has voted to impose the state's first income tax in nearly four decades.

The House bill passed in a 22-17 vote on Saturday and now moves to the Senate, which has voiced opposition to the tax proposal.

Senate President Pete Kelly released a statement after the House vote calling bill "absurd."

"As I've said many times, the only thing standing between Alaskans and an income tax is the Senate," said the statement from the Republican lawmaker.

The tax proposal is intended to help close the state's $2.7 billion budget shortfall. It is expected to generate about $687 million, but the state would not benefit from the revenue until 2020.

Under the income tax plan, a single person making between $14,300 and $50,000 per year will pay 2.5 percent of adjusted gross income to the state. Alaska residents making more will pay a higher rate.

Tony Gorman photo

A group of Valdez men took a stand against domestic violence and abuse last week - in bright red high-heeled shoes. The event, dubbed Walk a Mile in her Shoes, raises funds and brings awareness to these issues and is hosted by Advocates for Victims of Violence.

Health care

(AP) Two federal agencies have recommended that Alaska repeal laws that the agencies say may limit competition in the health care market.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission weighed in on Alaska's so-called certificate-of-need laws at state Sen. David Wilson's request.

Wilson, a Wasilla Republican, has proposed repealing Alaska's certificate-of-need program.

Alaska's laws require health care providers to get state approval before spending $1.5 million or more to build a new facility or to expand services.

In a joint, 15-page statement released Wednesday, the federal agencies said the intent of such laws, in Alaska and other states, was to reduce health care costs. But, they said, such laws generally do not appear to have achieved desired results.

 

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