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

News briefs


Valdez Star photo

Mai Thai restaurant received special guests last week - five monks who are visiting Alaska - to spread the message of Buddha.

Fire follow up

Victims of the fire that destroyed two mobile homes at Valdez Mobilie Home Park two weeks ago say they are slowly getting back on their feet and are grateful for the help received by the community.

Amy and Daniel Bendel said they do not have children as stated in the story published June 22 in the Valdez Star. The children involved in the incident are the offspring of Amy Bendel's sister.

The mobile homes of the Bendels and Kerra and Gen Apolo were a total loss. Amy Bendel said the cause of the fire was likely electrical in nature.

Monks visit

Five Buddhist monks visited Valdez last week, creating a colorful spectacle while receiving a number of followers.

The monks, who are of Thai decent but are currently affiliated with temples in the Lower 48, were in Alaska for a dedication at the Anchorage Buddhist Temple.

Shed fire

Firefighters fought a large blaze last week when a storage shed in the Zook subdivision went up in flames.

Witnesses on the scene say a number of secondary explosions could be heard coming from inside the inferno.

City officials said there were no injuries from the incident.

"At approximately 1:48 p.m. Thursday, Valdez Fire and Police Dispatch received reports of a structure fire at 1422 Richardson Highway between the Duck Flats and Airport Road," City officials said in a press release Monday. "Fire department engines arrived on scene at approximately 1:56 p.m. Responders found a vehicle storage shed engulfed in flames and began work to extinguish the fire."

The fire was deemed under control at 3:12 p.m. the city said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Road work

The City of Valdez said road work will cease on the Pioneer Dr. during the Fourth of July weekend, but it is unknown if the road will be open to traffic.

"Pioneer Drive road closures will alternate between the east and west sides of the street through early to mid July," the city said in an update last week. "No through traffic or business access is allowed through Eagle's Rest RV Park. Business access will be maintained using the posted detour routes. It is not advised to use the pavement in front of the pharmacy as an access route. Continue using caution when driving in construction areas."

However, it did not address whether or not the road will be open.

"No work will accommodate the holiday weekend. Dependent on the condition of the road, Pioneer may or may not be open as a through street during that weekend."

The Pioneer Dr. road project is run by the City of Valdez. The two projects on the Richardson Highway are run by the State of Alaska.

Medicaid suit

(AP) A state judge has denied an attempt to prolong litigation challenging Gov. Bill Walker's authority to unilaterally expand Medicaid.

The Friday action stems from a lawsuit filed by the Alaska Legislative Council against Walker last summer. The case was dismissed by a state court judge in March.

The Alaska House subsequently gave notice it planned to keep challenging Walker's authority for the expansion. In early May, attorneys representing the council filed a notice of appeal on behalf of the House and said they planned to seek an order substituting the House for the council in litigation.

In Friday's ruling, Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner said the council had not presented any evidence that it transferred its interest to the House.

Young fishers

(AP) Alaska provides more than 55 percent of U.S seafood production but state leaders are worried about who is catching it.

Fewer young Alaskans are jumping into commercial fishing and it's having an effect on the state's coastal communities. In 1985, the average age of an Alaska permit holder was 40 and now it's 50.

Cultural anthropologist Rachel Donkersloot says commercial fishing is the economic backbone of rural coastal villages and when young people don't fish, it's a blow to village economics and identity.

A study she co-authored says the top obstacle to young Alaskans entering commercial fishing is the high cost. Fishing permits can cost more than a boat.

Some regions such as Bristol Bay are using grants to help young Alaskans get into the business.

PFD earnings

(AP) State government officials might be too optimistic about the market when planning to use money from the Alaska Permanent Fund to help pay for state government.

Steve Revis photo

This storage structure in the Zook Subdivision was destroyed last week, marking the second major fire in Valdez in as many weeks.

That's what the chief executive officer of the corporation that manages the Alaska Permanent Fund told both the editorial board of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on Tuesday.

A bill before lawmakers would take 5.25 percent of the market value, or about $2.5 billion dollars, to help pay for state government.

The fund's CEO, Angela Rodell, says she has concerns about the ability of the fund to keep up with that expectation year after year.

The fund's trustees currently have a goal of a 5 percent return with an additional 2.25 percent for inflation. The fund hasn't met those goals recently because of the market.

Lawmakers will reconvene in special session on July 11 in Juneau to take up the PFD bill and other revenue-generating measures to address the multibillion-dollar budget shortfall.


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