By Lee Revis
Editor Valdez Star 

News Briefs


Photo courtesy Jan Whalen

Jim and Charlotte Shephard with the plaque commissioned by Gold Rush Days recognizing Jim for his decades of work identifying – and clearing for use - gold rush era trails. The plaque was placed a week ago Tuesday at the 1898 Historic Trail by Jim Whalen and Jim Kirkpatrick.

Valdez schools fully staffed this year

Superintendent Jim Nygaard says Valdez City Schools was fully staffed with teachers when the new school year began Monday.

Nygaard said the district is lucky.

A teacher shortage felt across the country has reached Alaska, and a number of school districts are beginning the school year short-staffed or have filled slots in the last days before the school year begins.

As an example, officials with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District said two weeks ago that it had 21 certified teaching positions to fill in time for classes to begin on Aug 19. By last week, only seven teaching positions were still open, but 52 support staff positions remained vacant, reported The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

School district spokeswoman Sharice Walker said unfilled support staff positions range from school nurses to kitchen workers. She said the number of openings is an unusual occurrence for this time of year.

As the 2014-2015 school year came to a close, Alaska schools were facing uncertainty with a likely multi-million dollar budget cut from the state's legislature. The Fairbanks school board subsequently began issuing notices to district staff members, telling them that they may no longer have jobs with the district for the following school year.


Fire season was second worst recorded

(AP) Officials say the Alaska fire season this year has seen more than five million acres burned and is likely to become the second largest wildfire season on record.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported last week that wildfires passed the 5-million-acre mark - or about 7,900 square miles - and by Sunday that number had already risen by more than 56 square miles.

This summer's total is only 13,000 acres sort of the acreage burned in 1957 - the second biggest season ever recorded.

Fires remained active in dry areas of the western Interior, southwest Alaska and the Seward Peninsula despite rain in most of the state.

Beyond Alaska's fires, fire managers are expecting a request for help with blazes in the Lower 48 as fires blaze across many states.


Alaska woman nominated to be on $10 bill

(AP) State officials are promoting an Alaska Native civil rights leader to grace the redesign of the $10 bill.

Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott sent letters nominating the late Elizabeth Peratrovich, a Tlingit, to be featured on the bill.

Peratrovich's testimony before the Alaska Territorial Senate is credited with helping in the passage of the territory's Anti-Discrimination Act of 1945, nearly 20 years before Congress approved the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Walker called Peratrovich a ``true hero of American democracy.''

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew wants to replace Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill with a woman.

Once a woman is selected, the agency will try to complete the redesign by 2020, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.


Two groundings in a week keep Coasties busy

US Coast Guard personnel from Valdez Marine Safety Unit have responded to two separate groundings of fishing vessels in less than a week.

The Coast Guard responded to a 111-foot fishing vessel Gladiator Friday after it ran aground in Prince William Sound.

"At approximately 9:00 p.m. Friday, the fishing vessel GLADIATOR ran aground on the East side of Bainbridge Island near Knight Island Passage with 5 people on board," a press release from Lt. Ben Bauman, public affairs officer. "No injuries were reported."

The press release said the "vessel's hull was ruptured in multiple places and proceeded to take on water, but remained afloat with the bow resting on the bottom. The vessel has a fuel capacity of 63,000 gallons and was not carrying any fish at the time of the grounding."

It was the second grounding in less than a week.

Last Monday, the Coast Guard reported that it had responded to the grounding of an 87-foot fishing vessel aground, the fishing vessel EGEGIK SPIRIT.

"At approximately 4:00 a.m. Monday, the fishing vessel EGEGIK SPIRIT ran aground in the vicinity of Olson Bay near Unakwik Inlet with 4 people on board," the Coast Guard said. "The nearby Good Samaritan vessel SHYPOKE safely brought all crewmembers aboard shortly after the grounding. No injuries were reported."

Both groundings are under investigation the Coast Guard said.

"A hole of approximately 2 square feet was opened in the engine room during the grounding," the Coast Guard said last week after the EGEIGK SPIRIT ran aground. "No harm was reported to the vessel's fuel tanks. The vessel has a fuel capacity of 7,500 gallons and was carrying approximately 94,000 pounds of fish at the time of the grounding."

Photo courtesy Brenda Kimble

This cow moose and calf were spotted on the Duck Flats last Thursday, a rare occurrence in this area of Valdez.


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