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

News Briefs

 

November 1, 2017

Tony Gorman photo

No injuries were reported and no citations were issued Sunday after this side dump truck turned over on private property on the Duck Flats.

Big dump

A large side dump truck turned over on its side Sunday - narrowly missing a potentially disastrous plunge into the Duck Flats.

Valdez police dispatch received a call reporting the accident at 4:03 p.m. that day according to Allie Ferko, the city's public information officer.

The accident occurred on the unpaved road leading up to property owned by Roger Kipar, leading up to land near the Salmon Turnaround.

No citations were issued and no injuries were reported according to Ferko.

"As part of our standard practice, City contacted ADEC for follow-up on incident," Ferko said in an email. "ADEC came to the scene."

Precautions were taken to prevent water pollution and the truck was later up-righted.

Flight times

The only commercial airline serving Valdez changed it's morning scheduled flight times to and from Anchorage, beginning Wednesday, Nov. 1.

Ravn Alaska said it updated the flight times to accommodate seasonal maintenance requirements of Alaska Department of Transportation.

"Ravn Alaska's morning Anchorage to Valdez flight (7H 800) will now depart at 8:25 a.m. with a 9:10 a.m. arrival," the company said in a press release Monday. "Additionally, the return Valdez to Anchorage flight (7H 801) will now depart at 9:35 a.m. with a 10:15 a.m. arrival time. "

Ravn advised passengers affected by the change to contact the company's reservations department in Anchorage.

Millions lost

(AP) The Alaska Permanent Fund is worth $62 Billion, and it has paid a dividend to hundreds of thousands of Alaska residents each year since 1982.

But the Juneau Empire reports the Alaska Legislature this year flirted with the idea of yoking the Permanent Fund to the service of government.

Lawmakers, in an effort to avoid a government shutdown, even proposed having the Permanent Fund cover most state government expenses.

The Permanent Fund pulled billions of dollars out of investments to meet demands the Legislature might - but never did - make.

Instead of earning 12.5 percent interest from booming stock market investments, the Permanent Fund earned little on the billions it prepared.

It still is unclear how much money the Permanent Fund lost as a result.

Up and down

(AP) The state of Alaska anticipates higher-than-expected oil production this year but a continued budget deficit.

Revenue Commissioner Sheldon Fisher says even with additional expected revenue, the state faces a deficit of more than $2.5 billion.

Compared to the spring forecast, the unrestricted revenue outlook for this fiscal year is virtually unchanged and projected to be about $100 million higher next year at $2 billion.

Fisher says the forecast is preliminary and meant to help lawmakers, currently meeting in special session. A final report is due in December.

Gov. Bill Walker asked lawmakers to consider a wage tax, though there appears little appetite for that, particularly in the Senate.

There is general agreement about using Alaska oil-wealth fund earnings to help fill the deficit, but that isn't on the session agenda.

Opioid abuse

(AP) Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and the state's U.S. senators said they welcomed President Donald Trump's declaration of opioid abuse as a national public health emergency.

Walker's office says Walker was one of six governors at the White House for Thursday's announcement. Walker spokesman Jonathon Taylor says Walker was invited by the White House to attend.

Trump's declaration will allow the federal government to redirect resources and expand access to medical services in rural areas. The declaration will be effective for 90 days and can be renewed.

Walker has taken steps to draw attention to and to fight opioid abuse in Alaska.

U.S. Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski said they would work to provide needed resources to help. Sullivan says the crisis cannot be fought effectively without additional funding.

Shackling suit

(AP) An Alaska attorney has filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Public Safety and the court system in an attempt to end the practice of shackling defendants together in court.

Anchorage defense attorney Ember Tilton filed the lawsuit this week on behalf of state inmates Jason McAnulty and Toby Spece after their requests to be unshackled during summer court appearances were denied by judges, KTUU-TV reported.

Tony Gorman photo

No injuries were reported Sunday when this side-dump truck turned over on the inclined dirt road on the Duck Flats.

The suit calls for an overhaul of court shackling procedures by ending the chaining of multiple defendants to each other at routine state court hearings. It also calls for courts to presume the defendant should not be shackled when they appear in pretrial hearings, and a judge should decide on a case-by-case basis if a defendant poses a safety risk.

Tilton said the state has created an unfair system where defendants who can afford bail are allowed to be unshackled in court and appear in pretrial proceedings in plain clothes. Those who can't afford to post bail must sit in chains.

"It's a test of our civility, how we treat not just prisoners and people accused of crimes, the mentally ill and handicapped," Tilton said. "It's for our own dignity and our own character as a society that we treat these people well."

Department officials declined the news station's request for comment.

 

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