News Briefs


Valdez Star photo

Valdez United Way held the kick off to its seasonal campaign with a bake sale Saturday. A lucky winner walked away with roundtrip airfare to Anchorage courtesy of Ravn. Others got to enjoy homemade goodies, courtesy of the organizations supported by the organization.

Shakers rock Valdez

Valdez residents were abuzz Thursday morning when a 6.25 magnitude earthquake was felt throughout the area. The Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer originally pegged the shaker at 6.1. It occurred at 9:51 a.m. It was centered 60 miles SW of Talkeetna and occurred at the Depth of 60.9 miles. Little damage was reported in Valdez, though reports of damage in Anchorage and surrounding communities was underway.

Valdez was in the center of the action Tuesday night when a 4.5 earthquake rocked the area just before midnight. The TWC said the earthquake was centered 25 miles NW of Valdez at a depth of 24.9 miles.

Fireman Explodes

The fishing vessel with the ironic name of Fireman exploded in the small boat harbor in Valdez Wednesday night.

The Fireman was berthed in the harbor near the Best Western Hotel at the time of the incident, which occurred shortly before 8 p.m. A lone adult was on board the boat and the survivor got off of the vessel under his own power sources said.

"The person on board the vessel at the time of the explosion was seen and released from the hospital shortly after the incident occurred," Deputy City Clerk Allie Hendrickson said in a written statement Thursday.

The US Coast Guard, which responded to the emergency along with the Valdez police and fire departments, said that after the explosion the boat was still "afloat with the majority of its wheelhouse torn apart by the explosion."

Crews from Harris Sand & Gravel removed debris in the water back onto the boat before city crews from the harbor towed it to the boat lift for extraction from the water.

Official sources are investigating the incident, which occurred when a propane stove was left unattended.

Super contract approved

The board of education for Valdez City Schools approved a contract for Superintendent Jim Nygaard Monday night. The three-year deal will pay Nygaard $135,000 the first year, $139,000 for the second and $144,000 for a third year. Nygaard was hired last spring as a temporary administrator to replace Lisa Stroh, the former superintendent. Stroh's brief tenure ended early before the end of the 2014 school year.

Xerox under fire

Xerox, the contractor blamed for long delays in Medicaid payments to healthcare providers is under fire after Gov. Sean Parnell announced Monday that the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) filed an administrative claim for breach of contract.

Delayed payments to healthcare providers has wreaked havoc the budgets of numerous agencies and health care facilities, including the Valdez Senior Center.

According to a press release issued by Parnell, the claim includes a request that Xerox remedy the shortcomings in the Medicaid Management Information System "on an expedited basis."

The system has allegedly been plagued with processing errors for Medicaid payments for several months.

"The State attempted mediation with Xerox as required by the contract, but the parties could not come to an agreement," Parnell's office said. "In compliance with the contract, DHSS has filed a contract claim with the Department of Administration."

DHSS claims Xerox violated the contract by failing to implement the system in a timely fashion or accurately pay Alaska providers who serve Medicaid-covered patients. The State sent notice to Xerox Friday that it was assessing $46.7 million in liquidated damages against Xerox in accordance with the contract terms.

DHSS says it expects the contract claim to be referred to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Photo courtesy City of Valdez

The fishing vessel Fireman lived up to its name last Wednesday when the boat exploded in a slip at the small boat harbor.


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