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

Bill Johnson for Alaska House

News Briefs

 

Steve Revis photo

A pair of swans have been seen scouting out the nesting area commonly referred to as the swan pond, located near the Robe Lake Subdivision along the Richardson Highway. No swans nested in the waters last season due to road construction.

Water pressure

Experiencing low water pressure in town?

If so, chances are you are it is due to the fact the city is shutting down its water tank near the Mineral Creek Trail entrance.

The tank was set to be shut down last week for maintenance and is expected to be offline through June according to the city.

"During this time, well water will be pumped directly into the north part of the water system," the city says on its website. "Citizens may experience fluctuations in water pressure, but interruptions to water service are not anticipated."

The city also said the trail system will remain open but the parking area will be closed.

"Please use caution in the area," the city advises.

Utility meetings

Valdez members of Copper Valley Electric Cooperative (CVEA) will gather at the Valdez Civic Center this Thursday evening for the utility's annual membership meeting.

Registration begins at 5:30 pm according to CVEA, and members who register before 6 p.m. will recieve a $10 credit towards their electric bill.

The meeting comes one week before the membership meeting for Copper Valley Telecom.

CVTs annual membership meeting in Valdez is slated for Thursday, May 11.

Quake was 6.2

(AP) The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-6.2 earthquake has rattled the corner of British Columbia, near the boundary with Alaska.

Geophysicist Amy Vaughan says the shallow, early Monday (April 24) quake struck about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of the tiny Alaska town of Mosquito Lake and about 83 miles (134 kilometers) southwest of Whitehorse, Canada.

At least three aftershocks have been recorded, and Vaughan expected more.

She says this type of quake has the potential to cause damage but that the location dropped the chances of major problems. Vaughan says it would have jarred people awake and knocked items off shelves.

Jaimie Lawson, a 911 dispatcher with the Skagway Police Department, says the remote town 55 miles (89 kilometers) from the quake hasn't received calls about damage or injuries.

The geological survey website has recorded hundreds of reports of people feeling the shaking.

LIO costly

(AP) Alaska lawmakers have approved $3.5 million in renovations to be spent on renovations for their new office building in Anchorage.

KTUU-TV reports the Legislative Council approved the funding proposal on Thursday.

The committee chairman, Democratic Representative Sam Kito III, says the money will be used to update the facility and bring the building's features up to code.

The renovations will include heating upgrades, ventilation, electrical and plumbing projects.

Kito says construction will begin soon.

PFD fight

(AP) A former state senator is preparing to fight back against a bill that would restructure the Alaska Permanent Fund and reduce the dividends Alaskans receive from the oil-wealth fund each year.

Both houses of the Legislature have passed a version of Gov. Bill Walker's plan to use some of the fund's income to pay off the state's multibillion-dollar deficit, The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported.

If Walker signs off on such a bill, former Republican Senate President Clem Tillion said he will work to repeal it.

"If they change the law, we will change it back," Tillion said, adding that he is already getting financial commitments to back the effort.

Tillion, 92, was in the Senate when the constitutional amendment establishing the Fund was approved. He said he does not agree with current legislators and others who view it as a `"rainy day" fund.

Zika in AK

(AP) State health officials say an Alaska resident who recently traveled to Central America has tested positive for the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

But the state's top medical officer, Jay Butler, is urging Alaskans to stay calm.

In a release, Butler says people cannot spread the virus through casual contact. He also says it is transmitted by mosquito species native to warmer climates that do not live in Alaska.

The state health department says prior cases of Zika were reported in Alaska in 2007 and 2016.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many people infected with the virus will have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, pregnant women can pass the virus to their fetus, and infection during pregnancy can cause birth defects.

Pot taxes

(AP) An Alaska marijuana retailer's tax payment has been sent back to the business after the U.S. Postal Service refused to ship the money.

Rainforest Farms had recently tried to send a box full of cash to pay its taxes, but postal inspector Aaron Behnen said "any proceeds from the selling of (marijuana) is considered drug proceeds under federal law, so you can't mail that," the Juneau Empire reported Wednesday.

Tony Gorman photo

Anchorage Archbishop Paul D. Etienne blessed communion Saturday during Vigil Mass at St. Francis Xavier Catholic. Etienne, who was installed as the Archbishop of Anchorage last November, visited Valdez last weekend to celebrate Confirmation at the parish.

Ken Alper, Alaska's tax director, said the state needs to find a way for "these legitimate businesspeople to pay their taxes."

"We thought we had done that, and this throws a tremendous wrinkle into our processes," he said.

Rainforest Farms had been trying to send its tax money to Anchorage. And since banks have locked out the marijuana industry in fear of federal laws, the farm sent its payment in the form of a box full of cash.

Being locked out of banks, and marijuana being illegal federally, makes running the business a challenge, Barrett said. Mostly all dealings are in cash, he said.

State Rep. Don Young has created a Congressional Cannabis Caucus with fellow representatives to work on getting a bill passed to protect banks and credit unions that choose to service marijuana-related businesses.

 

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