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

News Briefs


Tony Gorman photo

Gov. Sean Parnell and First Lady Sandy marched with supporters in Valdez Thursday during the annual "Choose Respect" march against domestic violence. Supporters marched from the Eagles Club to Valdez High School to bring attention to the issue. The event was organized by Advocates for Victims of Violence.

Classic on thin ice

The tripod on the Tanana River is on thin ice.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports ( there's only about a week left to buy tickets for Alaska's largest guessing game, the Nenana Ice Classic. The jackpot goes to the person who most closely guesses when the ice breaks up on the river in Nenana and drops the tripod.

Game manager Cherrie Forness says measurements taken Thursday indicate the warm spring might be taking its toll. The ice is the thinnest it's been at this time of the year since 2006.

She thinks it might be an early breakup. Or maybe not, when she remembers how a cold snap in April last year pushed breakup to May 20, the latest the tripod was up in the 97-year history of the game.

Shaker hit for real

A 4.7 magnitude earthquake shook central Alaska on Saturday.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake hit 80 miles northwest of Anchorage around 5:30 p.m. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

People on social media sites like Twitter and Reddit reported feeling the shake.

Crash kills Charles David

Alaska State Troopers say a 32-year-old Mentasta man has died in a single-vehicle crash on the Old Richardson Highway.

Charles David III was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash Thursday at Copper Center.

Troopers say David was heading north near mile 105 of the highway when his Chevrolet Monte Carlo left the roadway and overturned. David was ejected.

Troopers say it doesn't appear a seatbelt was used. Road conditions were dry at the time of the crash.

The state medical examiner's office will conduct an autopsy.

Smoking ban draws fire

(AP) A bill that would ban smoking in indoor work places and public places in Alaska has drawn opposition from some business owners.

HB360, from Rep. Lindsey Holmes, R-Anchorage, would ban smoking in most commercial buildings, including businesses, restaurants and bars. She told the House Health and Social Services Committee on Tuesday that her goal with the bill is to protect workers from secondhand smoke.

``House Bill 360 is the Smoke-Free Workplace Bill, or what I call the `Take it Outside Bill,''' she said. ``We're not with this bill trying to tell people whether or not they can smoke, we're trying to protect people who are in their own workplaces from having to breathe secondhand smoke.''

Some local governments already have bans of this kind, while other municipalities and unincorporated areas do not.

Holmes said the bill has the support of health-advocacy groups and hundreds of businesses.

Tony Gorman photo

Bill Walker was one of dozens of survivors of the 1964 earthquake who gathered on the old city dock Thursday for a moment of remembrance of the disaster. Flowers were quietly tossed into the water one at a time as the names of those who died were solemnly read. The Valdez museum opened its exhibit "A Moving Experience" and offered free admission in recognition of the anniversary.

But the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that most business owners who called in to testify on the bill were opposed to it. They said there are already choices between smoking and non-smoking establishments in many communities. Some also said government doesn't have a place in regulating restaurants on this matter.

Larry Hackenmiller, a member of the Interior Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant and Retailer's Association, called the bill an attack on freedom and personal choice.

``This bull about, well, the employees' safety, it's a matter of preference and an employee may not like the smell of smoke or whatever,'' he said. ``They keep on telling you that we have a right to smoke-free air, well, that's true, but you also have the right to smoke-filled air. Those rights exist for everybody. The Constitution doesn't restrict you from being stupid or smart when it comes to smoking.''

Several others testified in support of the measure, citing health concerns.

Committee members asked questions about enforcement. Holmes said she didn't intend to create a burdensome bureaucracy and was willing to work on the bill.

The bill was held for further consideration.

A companion bill also is pending in the Senate.


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