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

And Associated Press 

News Briefs


HAARP gives

The HAARP project, now run by the University of Alaska Fairbanks' High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, donated 30 fire extinguishers to the Gakona Volunteer Fire Department in August.

When staff at the Geophysical Institute last year assumed

responsibility for administration of HAARP, the new managers decided there were more of the 5-pound C02 extinguishers than needed.

"We're going to use some at the fire station for training and we're going to give some out in the community," Gakona Fire Chief Jason Severs said. "This being a rural area, there are people here that don't have fire extinguishers. Anything like this that they can put in their homes, workshops or garages is good."

Staff at HAARP have worked with with the local fire department before, Severs said. "HAARP is part of the community and we go up there and help them out any time we can."

The HAARP large antenna array, located about 10 miles north of Gakona on the Tok Cutoff, is used to study the properties and behavior of the ionosphere.

Big jump

(AP) More than 750 paratroopers will drop from the sky in a military training event next week near Delta Junction.

The Army in an announcement from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson says the jump Wednesday afternoon will be part of a mass airborne assault training event known as a "Joint Forcible Entry Exercise."

Most of the soldiers jumping will be from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the Spartan Brigade headquarters element.

They will jump from 11 C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force.

The jump will be the first of two airborne training events in Exercise Spartan Cerberus, a brigade-level field training exercise that begins Tuesday and concludes Oct. 28.

Dump Trump

(AP) Both of Alaska's U.S. senators are joining the ranks of Republican leaders who say they are dumping Donald Trump as the presidential nominee.

The pushback follows the release of a recording of Trump making lewd comments about women.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan said in a statement Saturday that he supports vice presidential nominee Gov. Mike Pence for president.

Sullivan released the statement after what he called reprehensible revelations about Trump.

GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is seeking re-election, said on her campaign Twitter feed that Trump "has forfeited the right to be our party's nominee."

A campaign spokesman confirmed the accuracy of the statement.

Trump has said he'll stay in the race.

PFD in court

(AP) Arguments have been scheduled for next month in lawsuit challenging Gov. Bill Walker's cut to this year's Alaska Permanent Fund dividend.

State court Judge William Morse generally agreed to a sped-up schedule requested by the parties. But he said a proposed decision date of Dec. 2 might not be achievable. He said he won't know for sure until motions of have been filed.

Arguments are set for Nov. 17 in Anchorage.

The lawsuit was filed by three current and former lawmakers. It says the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. was obligated by law to make available nearly $1.4 billion from the fund's earnings reserve for dividends, in spite of a Walker veto reducing that amount. The resulting dividend will be about half of what it otherwise would have been, $1,022.

Walker has defended his veto as necessary as Alaska grapples with a budget deficit.

Child porn

(AP) A man who has worked as a juvenile justice officer at the Fairbanks Youth Facility has been charged with three counts of distributing child pornography.

An Anchorage grand jury charged 34-year-old Henry Barker on Wednesday. He's accused of using an internet file sharing program to distribute three movies depicting the sexual exploitation of children.

According to court documents, Barker used a peer-to-peer file sharing network to offer three videos to other users.

Investigators say Barker's internet history showed he was using his home computer when not working the graveyard shift at the youth facility.

Barker is accused of sharing files, and authorities say he's denied any hands-on offenses.

Online court records did not list an attorney for Barker.

New oil rigs

(AP) Doyon Drilling Inc. has signed a contract with ConocoPhillips Alaska to build an extended reach drilling rig that can be used on Alaska's North Slope.

The rig will be used first on a field northwest of the Alpine field.

ConocoPhillips says the rig will increase the area that can be drilled from one site from about 55 square miles to as much as 125 square miles.

ConocoPhillips Alaska president Joe Marushack calls construction of the rig a potential breakthrough event that could increase production by reducing the cost of developing economically challenged or previously unreachable oil.

Current rigs drill to 22,000 feet. ConocoPhillips says the new rig will drill to more than 33,000 feet.

The company says there's enough work to keep the rig busy for more than a decade.

BIA is back

(AP) A yearly conference for Alaska Natives is set to kick off in late November after initially being canceled last month.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs' Tribal Providers Conference is scheduled to take place Nov. 29 to Dec. 2 at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says in a news release that the matter was resolved after she and her staff contacted Department of Interior officials following word about the cancellation.

Murkowski says the conference had been canceled because of "logistical problems with a contractor."

Murkowski says there couldn't have been a worse time for a cancellation. She noted the widespread interest in such issues as Alaska Native communities now being able place their land in federal trust.

The conference is in its 26th year.

Fishing ban

(AP) The United States is trying to broker an agreement between a host of nations to prohibit unregulated fishing in the international waters of the Arctic Ocean.

Such an agreement would expand on a non-binding agreement that the U.S. entered into with Norway, Denmark, Russia and Canada last year to avoid fishing in the area. The latest proposal would be binding and would include more countries.

Adm. Robert Papp, the U.S. special representative for the Arctic, says a binding, multinational agreement would prevent fishing in the Arctic high seas before scientists can determine what is sustainable. He says the issue is especially important as Arctic ice melts.

The regulation of Arctic Ocean fishing is one of many Arctic issues being discussed this week at a diplomatic meeting in Portland, Maine.

Pot labs

Photo courtesy Marty Karjala

Kerry Rogers, Glennallen's chief of the volunteer fire department, accepting the donation of fire extinguishers from UAF on behalf of the Gakona VFD.

(AP) Alaska is nearing its first legal sales of marijuana, nearly two years after voters approved the recreational use of pot by adults.

Retails stores are being permitted by the state Marijuana Control Board, and just a few hurdles remain until commercial sales begin.

The biggest obstacle is waiting for labs to test the raw product.

Two labs have been licensed by the state, both in Anchorage.

One of those, CannTest, should be open by mid- to late October, said co-owner Mark Malagodi. The facility is awaiting final inspection from the municipality and state and final approval from an accrediting lab.

"If we're going to start testing by definitely the beginning of November, I think it rolls in pretty well with everything else," he said.


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