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

News Briefs


August 24, 2017

Tony Gorman photo

Superintendent Jim Nygaard whooped it up Monday evening after Mayor Ruth Knight cut the ribbon officially reopening the gym at Valdez High School - and its long-needed and much anticipated brand new floor.

Assault alleged

An Arizona man is behind bars in Valdez after he allegedly sexually assaulted a female acquaintance in her sleep.

James Paul Lewis of Wellington, Arizona was arrested by Valdez police a week ago Monday and accused of second degree sexual assault, a class B felony.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled in Valdez Court for this Friday.

Lewis was being held in the Valdez jail without bail. A hearing on whether or not Lewis will be appointed legal council was slated for Monday.

Thirty inches

Valdez received 1.65 inches of rain last for the week of Aug 14-20.

According to Eric Cooper, who measures precipitation in Valdez for the Valdez Avalanche Center and reports to the National Weather Service, the town has received 30.02 inches of rain since Jan. 1.

Man missing

An Oregon man is missing in the area of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, near McCarthy according to the National Park Service.

Nick Larsen, a 34 year-old Oregon man was last seen Aug. 5 and authorities believe he was hiking towards the Nizina River, south of McCarthy.

"Unless significant information surfaces, we will scale down our search efforts," said Jamie Hart, an interpreter at the park.

Investigators began interviewing possible witnesses Friday and were on the ground near the Kennecott trail as of Monday.

"Investigators are seeking information to help narrow the search area, particularly the intended hiking route that Nick may have taken," the park service said Monday in a press release. " If you had contact with or have seen Nick, please call the NPS Tip Hotline at 1-800-478-2724."

Larsen is described as Caucasian male, 6'5", 190 pounds, brown hair, and hazel eyes. He has a brightly colored, full right-arm "sleeve" tattoo from his shoulder to his wrist. He is thought to be wearing a dark green, long-sleeved shirt, black pants or shorts pictured above, camping in a tan REI brand Half Dome 2-person tent, and may be carrying a light blue REI brand Flash day pack or 30-40L Osprey brand backpack.

Blocking users

(AP) The Alaska Legislature's Division of Legal and Research Services recently addressed legislator's right to block users or suppress comments on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that the request of Alaska Rep. Scott Kawasaki, Legislative Counsel Megan Wallace created a report looking into whether blocking a user or suppressing the ability for a user to comment imposes an unconstitutional restriction on that user's speech or ability to participate in a limited public forum.

Kawasaki says the issue is a constitutional gray area. He says because social media is a fairly new form of communication, the legal and research services cannot give a solid opinion until the courts look over it.

Wallace says there is no case law governing the issue in Alaska.

Walker defends pot

(AP) Governors in at least two states that have legalized recreational marijuana are pushing back against the Trump administration and defending their efforts to regulate the industry.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, a one-time Republican no longer affiliated with a party, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week asking the Department of Justice to maintain the Obama administration's more hands-off enforcement approach to states that have legalized the drug still banned at the federal level.

It comes after Sessions sent responses recently to the governors of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, who asked him to allow the pot experiments to continue in the first four states to legalize recreational marijuana. Sessions detailed concerns he had with how effective state regulatory efforts have been or will be.

Washington state also responded to Sessions this week. Gov. Jay Inslee said the attorney general made claims about the situation in Washington that are "outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information."

Tiny shaker

(AP) A small earthquake hit the Cook Inlet region of Alaska near Anchorage, the state's biggest city.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the magnitude 2.8 earthquake struck at 9 a.m. Sunday a spot about 13 miles (21 kilometers) southwest of Anchorage. The earthquake had a depth of 19 miles (31 kilometers.)

The center says several residents in Anchorage reported feeling the earthquake.

Truck in river

Photo courtesy Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve

Authorities from the National Park Service are searching for Nick Larson, who was last seen in McCarthy on Aug. 5 and considered missing.

(AP) A semi-truck that left the Glenn Highway and landed in the Matanuska River has been pulled back onto land.

Alaska State Troopers say the 40-year-old driver a week ago Friday swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle and left the roadway at Mile 70 near Sutton.

The driver was able to escape the truck before it went into the river and was not injured.

The truck was partially submerged.

Anchorage television station KTUU reports a towing company was able to pull the truck out of the river.


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