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

News briefs


Photo courtesy Linda Guthrie

Fourth-graders from Hermon Hutchens Elementary School watch as a helicopter takes salmon roe from Solomon Gulch Hatchery to the Esther Island Hatchery.

Arch is placed

The arch greeting motorists as they head into town from the Richardson Highway was installed Friday.

The arch spans the Richardson Highway and is backlit with the words "Valdez, Alaska."

Mayor Ruth Knight was slated to "flip the switch" to illuminate the blue lettering Tuesday night, after the Valdez Star went to press.

The full horizontal span is approximately 62 feet according to the City of Valdez and allow for 20 feet of clearance for vehicular traffic.

Vehicles that require a higher clearance while traveling into town can detour down Chitina Street or Pioneer Drive.

Hatchery tour


Fourth-grade student

On October 19, 2016 Ms. Guthrie's class went to the Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery for a tour. The hatchery manager, Rob Unger, showed them around the fish hatchery. It was a particularly busy day, because they had just harvested two million silver (Coho) eggs for the Esther Island Hatchery and were transporting them by helicopter. Students observed the egg-take and watched the helicopter land and take off.

Every year the Solomon Gulch Hatchery harvests and hatches two million Coho eggs. This year they supplied the Esther Island Hatchery with four million Coho eggs.

Students learned that about 15 years ago they started selling their salmon carcasses to "Yummy Chummies" to prevent waste.


(AP) Alaska's unemployment rate inched up to 6.9 percent in September, hitting its highest level since the summer of 2014.

The state labor department says last month's preliminary seasonally adjusted rate was up from 6.8 percent in August and 6.5 percent in September 2015.

The national unemployment rate stood at 5 percent last month.

Alaska's rate has slowly grown throughout the year after starting 2016 with 6.6 percent unemployment.

The last time Alaska's unemployment rate was 6.9 percent was in August 2014.

Tribal know-how

(AP) Tribal knowledge will be included as much as possible in federal land and water management decisions under an Interior Department order.

The order announced Friday tells the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Reclamation to pursue tribal partnerships where possible, reported the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell said during the Alaska Federation of Natives annual convention that everyone could learn from tribal ecological knowledge that stretches back a millennium.

``We will be requiring tribal ecological knowledge, practices and concerns be integrated into the management of these lands and waters in the future. Our goal is to enhance land management decision-making to ensure a continued connection between tribal communities and Interior-administered lands.''

Federation President Julie Kitka said the decision is historic.

The order covers tribal input but does not extend management authority, though Jewell said talks are underway to create a co-management agreement for Ahtna region game.

Fee refunds

(AP) Airlines would be required to refund fees when checked bags are "substantially delayed" under a proposal released Tuesday by the Transportation Department, one of a series of steps the Obama administration says it's taking to boost consumer protections for passengers.

The government already requires airlines to refund fees for bags that are lost, but the proposal would go a step further by including delayed bags. Transportation officials said they haven't yet defined what constitutes a substantial delay.

Congress directed the department in an aviation bill passed over the summer to require airlines to refund checked bag fees to passengers whose luggage is delayed 12 hours or more for domestic flights or 15 hours or more for overseas flights. However, the department has some flexibility in how it ultimately writes the regulation.

The department also issued several final rules aimed at giving passengers better information when they purchase tickets and for judging the performance of air carriers.

Bee a "spellebrity"

(AP) Even if you're not a champion speller, there's a way to win a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

For the second straight year, Scripps has launched its "Spellebrity" video contest.

Students who enter will produce videos about their love of reading. A panel of judges will pick the best 10 videos, and a public vote will determine the top five. The kids who make those videos will be invited to next year's bee, which will be held late May at a convention center outside Washington.

This year's contest was launched earlier to encourage more participation. Teams of up to four students have until Jan. 31 to submit videos.

No LNG plant

(AP) Nikiski residents say they've been left in limbo by the state and its partners' decision to suspend plans for a giant natural gas liquefaction plant in the Kenai Peninsula community.

Several homes in the area were razed to make way for the project.

The state's oil company partners - ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips - bought about 630 acres to build a plant where North Slope natural gas would be processed and exported.

But those plans are on hold after the oil companies announced they won't invest in the project's next stage. The decision was brought on by low oil and gas prices, Alaska's Energy Desk reported.

Valdez Star photo

Construction workers moving the arch from the Totem Inn parking lot last Friday.

To move forward with permitting the project, the state must prove to the federal government that it has access to the land, through ownership, a long-term lease or the option to buy it, said Larry Persily, an oil and gas adviser for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

"Without land, just like without a pipeline, without gas, without financing, you don't have a project," Persily said.

The state has released no details on how it plans to move forward. It's also unclear whether the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, which is heading the state's effort, has the money to buy nearly $30 million worth of land.

Corporation spokeswoman Rosetta Alcantra said in a statement the organization is in negotiations with the producers.


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