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

News Briefs


Alaska's Obamacare site up

(AP) A federally run website signing Alaskans up for health care is making progress, according to brokers, counselors and others using it. launched Oct. 1 and experienced glitches. Enroll Alaska, a private broker, shut down for three weeks at the end of October after detecting an incorrect subsidy calculator for Alaska's health insurance exchange.

Enroll Alaska chief operating officer Tyann Boling said problems remain but enrollment numbers are rising dramatically. As of

Last week the company enrolled 86 people in Alaska's online marketplace and 36 apart from the website. Most were in recent weeks, Boling said.

``I would say on a scale of one to 10, it's operating at about a seven,'' Boling said of

The federal government operates the insurance marketplace for Alaska and 35 other states. Alaska is the only state in the northwest region to do so, said Department of Health and Human Services regional director Susan Johnson. Oregon, Washington and Idaho run their own websites and also have experienced problems.

State renews food stockpile plan

(AP) Alaska is renewing an effort to secure a massive stockpile of emergency food supplies to be ready in case a major disaster cuts the state off from supply lines.

Gov. Sean Parnell has promoted emergency preparations _ including urging individuals and families to make plans of their own - as part of a larger push to improve disaster readiness across Alaska.

The state ultimately hopes to secure enough food to feed 40,000 people three meals a day for seven days.

The state's Department of Military and Veterans Affairs last year issued a request for proposals to have two storage sites ready and one-third of the food supply in place by the end of 2012. But that never happened: the department received just one proposal, which ultimately was rejected when the contractor couldn't secure a performance bond in a timely manner, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the state's emergency preparedness division. The solicitation was canceled.

Just this week, however, the department issued a new, scaled-back request for proposals.

Valdez Star photo

The Shrimp Whisperer, aka Al Laudert, displayed note cards and other crustacean-oriented photography during the Emblem Club's Christmas Bazaar. The event, often considered the ultimate Valdez holiday shopping event, was held Saturday at the Elks Lodge and Eagles Club.

Bird disease found on Alaska shores

(AP) A disease has killed hundreds of seabirds on an island in the Bering Sea - the first documented outbreak in the state.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says avian cholera is to blame for the birds found dead on the beaches of St. Lawrence Island, 200 miles from the mainland. The Anchorage Daily news reports that while the disease is common elsewhere, including in California, Nevada and Texas, this is the first confirmed outbreak in Alaska.

The disease doesn't pose much risk to people.

Most of the birds turned up on a 10-mile beach frequented by seal hunters. Authorities credited the hunters for quickly reporting the issue.

Officials warn anyone touching a sick bird or animal to wear gloves and wash hands with soap and water, and to never eat meat from a sick or diseased animal.


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