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

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Changes announced for Governor's meet and greet

Same time and place but some changes have been made for Saturday event


Organizers of Saturday’s Meet and Greet for Gov. Bill Walker and first lady Donna Walker are encouraging everyone in Valdez to come shake hands with the first family.

The event will take place Saturday, January 3, from 1-3 p.m. at Gilson Middle School.

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and his wife Toni will not arrive in Valdez early enough to attend the event planned before the governor’s inaugural ball that night.

Organizer Sara Irwin-Goodreau said Friday morning on KCHUs call-in show Coffee Break that the Mallotts were indeed originally slated to attend the event, but travel arrangements from Juneau to Valdez would not allow the couple time to make it to Valdez in time for the event.

A round of children’s games during the event are also canceled she said.

The event was organized on the heels of a rapid sell-out of the Valdez inaugural ball that sold out before it could be publicized. This ruffled the feathers of many in Valdez who only heard of the event after the $50 tickets were no longer available.

The meet and greet, which is free open to all, is slated to take place from 1-3 p.m. at GMS.

Valdez is hosting the first of eight inaugural balls that will be held across the state.

“Inaugural balls are longstanding traditions and are typically held in several locations around the state,” said Lindsay Hobson, Walker’s daughter and a member of the nonprofit inaugural committee. “Eight inaugural balls were held for Governor Parnell, six for Governor Palin.”

Inaugural balls will also be held in Juneau (January 10), Nome (January 17), Fairbanks (January 24), Anchorage (January 31) Wasilla (February 6), Ketchikan (March 7) and Kenai, which had not yet announced a date as of Tuesday morning.

“The Walker Mallott inaugural balls and related expenses are funded through ticket sales and fundraising,” she said. “No state funds are used for these celebrations.”

Event funding could be a sticky issue for many across the state. Last week, Walker issued an administrative order directing all state agencies to stop non-obligated spending on the following six projects: Ambler Road, Juneau Access Road, Susitna-Watana Dam, Kodiak Launch Complex, Knik Arm Crossing and Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline Project. The move comes after Walker was forced to slash the state’s budget in all areas due to a budget crisis spurred by low oil prices combined with huge tax breaks for oil producers which have not significantly increased production, despite the repeal of ACES.

Any funds raised that are not used to directly pay expenses related to the balls will be donated to charity Hobson said in an email sent Tuesday morning.


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