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

News Briefs

 

Steve Revis photo

Signs warning tourists away from the dangers surrounding the weir near the hatchery on Dayville Rd are routinely ignored by visitors. The site routinely attracts bears, especially brown bear sows and cubs.

Rain stats

Valdez received a scant .20 inches of rain last week, July 16 -July 23, according to Eric Cooper of the Valdez Avalanche Center.

In total, Valdez has had 23.16 inches of rain since Jan. 1.

Zook fire

Valdez Fire and Police Departments responded to reports of a commercial building structure fire in Zook Subdivision on Richardson Highway a week ago Monday afternoon.

"At approximately 2:56 p.m. Monday, Valdez Fire Dispatch received reports of an explosion and structure fire at 1350 Richardson Highway," said Allie Ferko, the city's public information officer, in a press release. "Emergency responders arrived on scene at approximately 2:59 p.m. and discovered the garage portion of the Geo Works heavy equipment shop fully engulfed in flames."

By 3:30 p.m., the fire Department personnel deemed "the fire under control and began overhaul efforts."

Equipment was heavily damaged in the fire but the garage involved was found to be safe for entry.

"I am continually impressed with the quality of work and professionalism demonstrated by our Valdez firefighters," said Fire Chief Tracy Raynor in the prepared statement. "After verifying no one was present in the structure, crews were able to not only quickly extinguish the fire, but also successfully prevent damage to adjoining and neighboring buildings."

Unemployment

Alaska's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in June, one-tenth of a percentage point higher than May according to Alaska Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development.

The comparable national rate was 4.4 percent according to ADL&W.

"June employment was down by an estimated 5,500 jobs, or 1.6 percent, compared to June 2016," the department said Friday. "The estimates suggest job losses are tapering somewhat. Over-the-year losses were as high as 9,000 in the fall of 2016, which equated to about 2.5 percent."

Health care, federal and local government, and leisure and hospitality were the only industries to gain jobs over the year. State government led employment losses (-1,500), followed by construction (-1,400), and oil and gas (-1,300 jobs).

June's not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.0 percent, up two-tenths of a percentage point from May. While a summer increase in the rate may seem counterintuitive, June's unemployment rate is frequently up slightly from May because the end of the school year brings an influx of entrants into the labor force, not all of whom find work right away.

Across the state, unemployment rates fell in 14 of 29 boroughs and census areas. Fishing and tourism drove the lowest rates around the state, with Aleutians East and Aleutians West at 2.7 percent and 3.8 percent respectively and Skagway and Denali Borough at 3.5 percent and 4.1 percent. Kusilvak Census Area continued to have the highest rate at 23.7 percent.

One-day session

(AP) The Alaska Legislature is coming back to the state Capitol in Juneau.

The Juneau Empire reports the Legislature will convene Thursday for what is expected to be a one-day special session to pass the state's capital construction budget.

The capital budget funds road construction and building projects across Alaska, and most of its funding will come from the federal government, but it - like the state's multibillion-dollar operating budget - was caught in the political divide between the coalition House Majority and the predominantly Republican Senate Majority.

An agreement between those two sides has now been reached.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche says the Legislature conducted a straw poll, and Thursday is the day the group will meet.

Driver killed

Steve Revis photo

The ample salmon run returning to the shores of Allison Point attract more than bears and birds, but also marine mammals, which sometimes leads to conflict.

(AP) Alaska State Troopers are investigating a traffic crash that killed a driver near Sutton in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Troopers say a vehicle traveling south near Mile 68 Glenn Highway left the road and struck a tree.

Troopers took a call on the crash after 10 p.m. Thursday.

The driver was the only one in the vehicle.

The name and gender of the driver were not immediately available.

 

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