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

News Briefs


Fire hits home

A fire damaged a home at Valdez Mobile Home Park Friday - leaving a family of three in need.

The city's public information office said Monday that at "7:08 p.m. Friday, Valdez Fire and Police Dispatch received a report of a fire in a trailer home at Lot 207 of Valdez Mobile Home Park."

Emergency responders were on the scene in eight minutes the city said.

"Firefighters discovered and extinguished a small electrical fire in the closet of a back bedroom. All three residents, two adults and one child, evacuated the home prior to responder arrival," said Allie Ferko in press release. "No injuries were reported. Minor damage was reported to the trailer home."

The American Red Cross representative was called to assist the family until repairs could be made to the trailer's electrical system according to Ferko.

The incident remains under investigation.

No kings

The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game issued an emergency order Monday closing all of the king salmon sport fisheries in the Upper Copper River drainage for the 2017 season.

It also closes the dip net personal use fishery for king salmon.

The Glennallen subdistrict subsistence fishery has been limited to two king salmon for 2017.

"This EO (emergency order) also requires fish wheels to be closely attended while in operation," said the order, which is posted on the ADF&G website.

Per diem up

(AP) The size of the daily allowance Alaska legislators receive during session has risen due to an increase in the federal rate that the allowance is based on.

Jessica Geary is finance manager for the Legislative Affairs Agency.

She says on Wednesday, the daily rate for non-Juneau legislators rose from $213 to $275. For Juneau legislators, the daily rate rose from nearly $160 to $206.

The issue of the allowance, known as per diem, has gotten attention as lawmakers address Alaska's multibillion-dollar budget deficit.

A House subcommittee recommended cutting the per diem but House Finance Committee co-chair Paul Seaton said it's up to the Legislative Council to set per diem policy.

The council's chair has announced plans to review policy.

Half way

(AP) A state House leader wants legislators to pass next year's operating budget so they have time to address a long-term solution for solving Alaska's budget crisis.

Rep. Paul Seaton's proposal for a short-term fix would use earnings from Alaska's oil-wealth fund to pay for education and part of state government for next year.

The budget bill is still in committee and could face opposition from minority Republicans when it goes to the full House. The Senate also will have a say in how the final bill looks.

Gov. Bill Walker last year vetoed half of the amount available for the yearly oil checks residents receive, citing the lack of a fiscal plan.

Many consider use of earnings to help pay for government a foregone conclusion but differences remain over how that should be structured.

Selfie votes

(AP) It soon could be legal to post selfies of marked ballots in Alaska.

The state House on Wednesday passed legislation, 32-8, that would allow voters to share photos, videos or other images of their marked ballots with the public.

They could not, however, show videos or images of their or another person's marked ballot while in a polling place or within 200 feet of one in an attempt to get someone to vote a certain way.

The bill next goes to the Senate.

Existing state law prohibits showing a marked ballot, but Alaska's elections director has said there's no practical way to enforce that.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 15 states this year have bills addressing ballot selfies and the secrecy of the ballot.

Ferry repairs

(AP) A ferry that's been out of operation since January for its annual overhaul will return to service later than expected because officials say it needs additional repair work.

CoastAlaska news reported Friday that the Kennicott ferry will resume its coastal route from Washington state to Kodiak on March 30, two weeks later than planned.

Alaska Marine Highway General Manager John Falvey says the delay comes after crews found more work needed to be done on the Kennicott's engines.

At 20 years old, the ferry is among the youngest of ships in Marine Highway's fleet.

The Kennicott was sent to the shipyard for its annual overhaul later than scheduled so it could cover for other ferries needing repair.

The southwest Alaska ferry Tustumena will have its overhaul March 13.

Injuries up

Valdez Star photo

Despite the recent high winds and frigid temperatures, nature is preparing for spring - and the first pussy willow shoots are slowly emerging for the change of season.

(AP) State officials say there has been a significant increase in the number of intentional firearm injuries in recent years, marking a shift from when accidental shootings were more common in Alaska.

KTUU-TV reports that the chairman of the Alaska Trauma System Review Committee, Dr. Frank Sacco, says the number of intentional firearm injuries has nearly doubled in the last three or four years. He says those injuries have become more common than accidental and self-inflicted gunshot wounds, particularly in Anchorage.

According to the Alaska Trauma Registry, there was a 78 percent increase in total firearm hospitalizations in Anchorage from 2013 to 2015. With stabbings included, penetrating injuries accounted for an average 10 percent of all hospitalizations per year.

Sacco says the data helps medical professionals determine where resources are needed to care for patients.


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