News Briefs


Steve Revis photo

Valdez welcomed rare visitors Monday when a trio of moose pawed through the snow near milepost 4.5 of the Richardson Highway - a fourth moose was spotted on the road before disappearing into the brush across from Eagles Rest apartments.

Music Fest best

Valdez hosted 475 students last week from 16 schools during the Aurora Music Festival.

Students participated in Mass and Honor Bands and Choirs which culminated in a finale concert on Saturday afternoon. An army of student, community, and school staff volunteers made the festival a success according to organizers.

Students from Valdez presented solos and ensembles and the following were graded as "Superior" and qualify for the ASAA State Festival: Gabby Franklin - Vocal solo; Band members - Handbell ensemble; Rowan Miller - Clarinet solo; Isaac Fannin - two vocal solos; Jared Bowden - Piano solo;

Christopher Cummins - Piano solo; Jazz Band Devon Price - Jazz Solo;

Hali Baczuk, Gabby Franklin - Vocal duet; Sara Bauman - Vocal solo; Rylee Norris, Johnathan Banner, Christopher Cummins, Jared Bowden - Brass quartet (Command Performance at the festival); Haleigh Ficek, Lexie Henderson, Caitlin Mond, Jillian Fleming - Vocal quartet.

First chair awards: Soprano 1 - Gabby Franklin; Alto 1 - Hali Baczuk; Trombone - Rylee Norris; Euphonium - Johnathan Banner; Tuba -Christopher Cummins; Percussion - Jared Bowden.

Participating schools were Tok, Glennallen, Glacier View, Delta, Houston, Anderson, Tri-Valley, Nenana, Steller, Grace Christian, Anchorage Christian, Cordova, Whitestone, Su-Valley, and Valdez.


(AP) Alaska's unemployment rate held at 6.4 percent last month, the same as February.

The preliminary, seasonally adjusted number for March is down compared to a year ago, when it stood at 6.6 percent.

The state labor department says preliminary estimates indicate there were 7,100 fewer jobs in March when compared to March 2016.

The department, in a release, cited continued losses in several sectors, including the oil and construction industries and state government.

It also noted that job losses don't necessarily lead to higher unemployment rates. To be considered unemployed, the department says a person must remain in Alaska and actively be seeking work.

Nationally, the unemployment rate last month stood at 4.5 percent.

Small shaker

(AP) A minor earthquake has hit central Alaska, near the town of Talkeetna.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the magnitude-2.9 earthquake hit 14 miles southeast of Talkeetna, which has a population of about 900, at 12:13 a.m. Saturday. The earthquake had a depth of 28 miles (44 kilometers.)

There are no reports of injuries or damage.

Big grant

(AP) Alaska is set to receive a $2 million federal grant to help fight addiction to heroin and other opioids.

The funding is part of a larger disbursement of grants for prevention and treatment efforts across the country.

Gov. Bill Walker says the funding will be critical to ongoing state efforts to fight opioid abuse.

In a release, Walker's office says it is assessing which programs and services it will direct the funding.

In February, Walker declared rampant opioid abuse a public health disaster and proposed spending existing federal grants on a multiyear program for naloxone distribution. Naloxone is a drug that can help prevent overdose.

Rather than just extending the declaration for another year, the Legislature approved allowing a standing medical order for the naloxone program through June 2021.

PFD eligibility

The Alaska House passed legislation Monday that will allow anyone found wrongfully imprisoned to be able to collect back dividend payments.

According to a press release, incarcerated Alaskans currently forgo their Permanent Fund Dividends to the State of Alaska.

" House Bill 127 seeks to repay PFD's to Alaskans whose convictions were vacated, reversed, or dismissed," the press release says. "If HB 127 is signed into law, those eligible must apply for the PFD within one year following the new judgment or within one year of the effective date of the bill."

Tug sinks

(AP) Emergency responders have placed containment and absorbent booms near a tugboat that sank in southeast Alaska.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation says the Powhatan, owned by Samson Tug and Barge, sank Wednesday night while docked at Staffigavan Bay about 7 miles (11 kilometers) north of Sitka.

The tug after it sank shifted downslope 1,083 feet (330 meters), moving from a depth of 49 feet (15 meters) to 197 feet (60 meters). Divers confirmed the location.

Samson estimates the tug carried 325 gallons of lube oil, 12 gallons of diesel and possibly sludge. Neither the amount released nor the cause of the sinking is known.

The DEC says a spill could affect salmon fry and herring larvae.

Tony Gorman photo

Dozens joined in the Fun Run Saturday that marked the end of the 2017 Healthier You challenge. The program, sponsored by Parks and Rec, encourages folks to get fit during the new year.


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