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

News Briefs

 

Tony Gorman photo

Pastor Christina Mauntel of Epiphany Lutheran and Episcopal Church officiated the annual Blessing of the Bikes on Saturday. The spring rite is held in faith that cyclists will be safe on the road. It is sponsored by ABATE.

Fly-in record

A new world record was set in Valdez last weekend when Frank Knapp landed a "Lil' Cub" airplane, and came to a complete stop at 10 feet, five inches.

The record-breaking feat occurred during the short take off landing (STOL) competition during the Valdez Fly-In and Air Show.

The event, now in its thirteenth year, attracts flyers and spectators to the airport in Valdez and features an array of aircraft that is ever-changing throughout the event. In addition to competitions, there are stunt plane exhibitions, flour bombing competitions and a large number of ground-based activities and vendors.

Sound of Music

Valdez High School musicians and singer performances earned superior rating from the judges at the State Solo and Ensemble competition.

Valdez honorees are:

Vocal quartet: Lexie, Haleigh, Jillian, and Caitlin. "Windflowers"

Vocal duet: Hali, Gabby, "Danny Boy"

Vocal jazz solo: Isaac, "Lush Life"

Instrumental jazz solo: Rylee, "I'm Gettin' Sentimental Over You"

Instrumental jazz ensemble: Jazz Band "Amazing Grace"

Vocal jazz solo: Devon and the Buc Band, "Satin Doll"

Percussion ensemble: Handbells, "John Williams Medley"

In addition, the handbell group was runner-up for Command Performance and Rylee Norris was the Command Performance for jazz solo.

Fish derbies

Few Alaskans will need reminding, but it's time to haul out your tackle and check your lines, the Valdez Halibut Derby begins this Saturday.

The 2017 halibut derby runs May 20 - September 3. The derby for silver salmon runs July 22-September 3.

Derby rules are pretty simple and the pay off can be huge.

Before hitting the water, purchase a derby ticket - for the day or for the season - and catch the largest halibut (or silver when in season) of the year and win $15,000.

There are also daily, weekly and special event prizes throughout the season, in addition to a women's derby and a pink salmon derby for kids later in the summer.

Bear aware

It's May in Valdez - and that means bears are out and about - and hungry.

Monday night, Valdez police issued an alert to residents in the 10-mile area that three brown bears were reported near the subdivision's fire station.

"Please use caution and keep the area around your home free of things that will attract a passing bear such as: trash and garbage cans, barbeques and smokers, bird feeders, dog food and fishing equipment and coolers," the alert said.

Residents and visitors to Valdez should always exercise caution during the summer months, when black and brown bears are commonly seen in all areas of town, not just outlying areas.

Cruise ship docking

Tour operators in Valdez are gearing up for a small cruise ship docking.

The MS Europa is slated to dock at the Kelsey Dock this Monday, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The MS Europa is billed as a luxury yacht and carries a maximum of 500 passengers.

Income tax

(AP) The Alaska Senate has voted down a proposed state income tax, making official the Republican-led majority's long-stated opposition to the measure.

Bills usually don't reach the floor if they lack support. But Republican senators said they wanted to leave no doubt in Alaskans' minds where the Senate stood.

Senate President Pete Kelly said the Senate would not "penalize Alaskans for having a job."

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon characterized the vote as a setback. Edgmon leads a House coalition that has seen a broad-based tax, like an income tax, as a key piece for a plan to address Alaska's multibillion-dollar deficit.

He says he thinks there might be room for negotiation on other revenue options.

The centerpiece of both the House and Senate plans involves structured draws from Alaska's oil-wealth fund.

Real ID

(AP) An Alaska House committee has advanced legislation aimed at bringing the state into compliance with national proof-of-identity standards, putting it one step closer to a floor vote.

The bill, from Gov. Bill Walker, would allow Alaskans to choose between driver's licenses and identification cards that are compliant with the federal Real ID law and those that are not. It advanced from the House Finance Committee Tuesday.

The state in 2008 passed a law barring state agencies from spending money to help implement Real ID. Some lawmakers saw the federal law as overreaching.

Alaska has gotten compliance extensions. The latest expires June 6.

After that, officials say the state risks having driver's licenses and state ID cards rejected at military bases immediately and for air travel requiring federal screening in January.

Taku for sale

(AP) No buyers have taken on the $1.5 million price tag for state ferry Taku, so officials are lowering its price.

The Alaska Marine Highway System put the ship up for sale in March, but no one had responded by the Tuesday deadline.

CoastAlaska News reports officials are lowering the price to a minimum $700,000 from its previous $1.5 million bid in hopes of making the 54-year-old vessel more attractive to potential buyers.

Taku, which has been docked since 2015, accommodates about 350 passengers and 50 vehicles. It has 40 staterooms, a cafeteria, observation lounges and a covered solarium.

The new deadline to bid on the ship is May 31.

Fake news

NOT REAL: Sarah Palin out of her coma, able to identify her attackers

THE FACTS: More than half a dozen sites have run the same verbatim account of a hit-and-run accident on California's Pacific Coast Highway involving the former Alaska governor, followed up by stories alleging Palin emerged from her coma to identify her assailants. A spokesman for Palin tells the AP the reports are "as fake as fake can be."

The sites report that the accident happened April 28, when Palin's Twitter and Facebook accounts were active. The 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate has been a target of hoax articles in the past .

This is part of an ongoing Associated Press effort to fact-check claims in suspected false news stories.

Alaska visitors

Tony Gorman photo

Whether you were taking off or landing, there was something for everyone at this year's Valdez Fly In.

A total of 1,857,500 million out-of-state visitors came to Alaska from May to September 2016, according to the Alaska Visitor Statistics Program 7 (AVSP 7), the most recently released report by the Alaska Tourism Industry Association (ATIA) and Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED).

This sets the record for visitor volume since the AVSP began in 1985, and it marks a 4 percent increase from the same period in 2015.

In summer 2016, Alaska visitors spent an average of $1,057 per person on their trip, which shows a 4 percent increase in spending from the previous year. Spending a total of $1.97 billion in the state last summer, tourist spending was up 31 percent from 2011. The significant economic growth is representative of an increase in per-person spending as well as the growth in visitor volume.

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