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

and Associated Press 

News briefs


Valdez Star photo

Last summer's flowers struggled to shine as the season's snows and freezing weather settles in.

Waived fees

GCI customers with friends or family in New Zealand will be able to call home at no charge after a deadly earthquake Monday rattled the nation's South Island.

"...General Communication Inc. (GCI) is offering free international voice calls and texts for all GCI wireless and landline customers who are attempting to connect with loved ones in the country," the company said in a press release Monday. "GCI will waive fees through the end of November."

The company said: GCI customers are not required to make any action on their account; fees associated with calls or texts to New Zealand will be automatically waived. Customers with questions can contact GCI customer representatives.

Measure 1

(AP) Alaska voters have approved a ballot measure that would tie voter registration to applying for a check from the state's oil wealth nest-egg.

Under the measure, passed Tuesday, the Division of Elections would use data from applications for Alaska Permanent Fund dividends to register qualified Alaskans to vote. Those who do not want to be registered to vote would have to opt out of the process.

Supporters of the measure call it a government efficiency measure that could add about 70,000 citizens to the voting role in one year.

Critics contend the measure would be an unnecessary state expense.

The measure would keep in place the other means that already exist to register to vote.

Small shaker

(AP) A moderate earthquake was felt by residents in southwest Alaska Saturday afternoon, but there have been no immediate reports of damage.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the temblor had a preliminary magnitude of 5.2 and it was located at a depth of about 7 miles. However, the U.S. Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude at 5.5. It was recorded just before 1 p.m. AKST.

The quake on the Alaska Peninsula was felt in Dillingham and was centered about 35 miles south of the community of Pilot Point, or 400 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Election law

(AP) A federal court judge has rejected a challenge to Alaska's campaign finance laws.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess in a ruling a week ago Monday says the state provided justification for limits on contributions to candidates.

A lawsuit filed by three individuals and a district of the Alaska Republican Party challenged state law that prohibits an individual from donating more than $500 annually to a candidate.

The lawsuit also sought to overturn state law that sets limits on the amount a candidate can accept from non-residents and the amount a political party may contribute to a candidate.

The Alaska Department of Law says Judge Burgess found the limits are constitutional.

Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth says campaign finance limits were enacted to bolster public trust in elections while balancing first amendment rights.

Anti-Trump vigil

(AP) Dozens of people gathered in downtown Fairbanks on Sunday to peacefully protest the election of Donald Trump with a candlelight vigil.

More than 60 people of various ages and backgrounds attended the vigil, which was meant to show unity after a divisive national election, The Daily News-Miner reported. It was also meant to support the many groups who felt targeted by Trump's campaign trail rhetoric.

Steven Arturo Greenlaw, one of the event's organizers, said it was about the community and coming together in love and acceptance.

Many of the speakers expressed fear that Trump's election will be used as justification for individual acts of hate and violence throughout the country. Alyssa Quintyne recounted being targeted for harassment after the election, which she said she never experienced in the 14 years she's been in Fairbanks.

Teen killed

(AP) A North Pole teenager died Thursday night when his car slammed into a pickup parked along the Richardson Highway.

The crash killed 18-year-old Conner Wilhelm.

Fairbanks police shortly after 8:30 p.m. responded to a three-car crash on the highway just north of an entrance to Fort Wainwright, where a southbound vehicle struck two parked vehicles.

Family members of the driver showed up and parked a pickup off the northbound lane.

Police say Wilhelm, driving north, spun out of control and struck the pickup.

A police officer on scene rushed across the highway and found Wilhelm unresponsive. Wilhelm was pronounced dead at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

A passenger in his car suffered a leg injury and was treated and released.

Police say icy conditions were a major factor in the crash.

A pot shot

(AP) The state is advising marijuana shops to be cautious in how they conduct business after issuing a warning to an Anchorage business that allegedly violated pot regulations.

The Juneau Empire reports the Alaska Marijuana Control Board decided Thursday not to prosecute Arctic Herbery for the first alleged violation of Alaska's commercial marijuana rules. The shop's owner, Bryant Thorpe, said he was happy with the board's decision.

It comes after KTUU-TV reported in October that Arctic Herbery gave away free samples of its product before starting operations under an official license.

Thorpe had believed his actions were protected under Alaska's personal-use pot laws because the business wasn't yet active.

But board Director Cindy Franklin says Thorpe was determined to be an official licensee once his license was authorized.


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