News Briefs


September 6, 2017

Valdez Star photo

Two vehicles were involved in a head-on collision Thursday on Pioneer Street in front of the Fire Department. The drivers knew each other and denied participating in what was believed to be a game of chicken according to the weekly police report.

Hiker dead

The body of a hiker reported missing within the Wrangle-St. Elias National Park early last month has been found according to the National Park Service.

On Wednesday, August 30th,

On August 30, search and rescue personnel located a body in the Nizina River that investigators believed to be 34 year-old Nick Larsen, from Oregon.

"The cause of death is pending determination by the State Medical Examiner Office," the Park Service said Wednesday. "National Park Service personnel and SAR Team members were searching for Larsen within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve."

Larson was last seen alive on Aug. 5 in McCarthy.

"The experienced hiker planned to backpack alone in the backcountry," the Park Service said. " A backpack was found on the Nizina River on Monday, August 28th and helped to narrow the search area."

It was a sad ending for the park service and Larson's loved ones.

"The National Park Service offers sincere condolences to the Larsen family and friends," the Park Service said. "The agency also wishes to thank the many individuals that helped provide information and those that provided assistance in the search."

Too chicken

Valdez police believe a game of chicken may have been the cause of a head-on collision on Pioneer Dr. Thursday morning - but the involved parties my have been too chicken to admit it.

"Two vehicles were involved in a head-on collision Thursday on Pioneer Street in front of the Fire Department," Valdez police said in the press release it issues weekly. "The drivers knew each other and denied participating in what was believed to be a game of chicken."

There were no injuries reported.

"One vehicle was inoperable and towed from the scene," police said. "Both drivers received citations for Negligent Driving. The second driver received additional citations for Expired Registration and Liability Insurance required."


More quaking

(AP) A magnitude 4.0 earthquake has hit central Alaska.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the earthquake struck at 7:21 p.m. Thursday about 33 miles south of Kantishna, an unincorporated community near Mt. Denali.

The center says the earthquake had a depth of about 82 miles (132 kilometers.)

There are no reports of damage or injury.

Sunday, a magnitude 3.3 earthquake has hit the Cook Inlet region of Alaska.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the earthquake struck at 6:11 p.m. , eight miles (13 kilometers) west of Tyonek, a village of about 190 people. The center says the earthquake had a depth of about 40 miles (63 kilometers). The magnitude and location may change slightly as additional data are received and processed.

This center says the earthquake was felt in Anchorage, which is about 50 miles west of the epicenter. There are no reports of damage.

Made in Alaska

(AP) The state-sponsored ``Made in Alaska'' program that allows a business to use a featured logo if its products are made in the state is accepting applications from marijuana businesses.

Marijuana businesses are still barred from using the official "Alaska Grown" label put on state agricultural products because that program receives federal funding, The Juneau Empire reported Friday.

But the "Made in Alaska" program, whose label features a polar bear and a black bear, does not receive federal funding, which is why it can be opened to marijuana businesses.

Cary Carrigan, leader of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association trade group, said the "Made in Alaska" decision matters because it's a sign the state is continuing to normalize its attitude toward marijuana and treat marijuana businesses the same as others.

In fiscal year 2017, 1,258 "Made in Alaska" certifications were issued, according to state figures.

Jennifer Canfield, one of the owners of Green Elephant Gardens in Juneau, agreed with Carrigan that the state's decision is good news, but said marijuana businesses still face obstacles that other businesses don't, particularly in the way that they're banned from the federally regulated banking system.

EVOS Preservation

(AP) The state of Alaska has bought 3 square miles (7.8 square kilometers) of land on an island north of Kodiak to preserve habitat for species affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

The state bought the land on the northwest coast of Afognak Island for $6.3 million through its Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported Friday.

The council has been purchasing land since the spill in 1989, using Exxon Valdez settlement funds as a way to preserve the habitats of wildlife that would be further affected by development or logging.

The newly acquired land is in the Thorsheim Lake drainage area, located on the shore of Paramanof Bay. It is home to marbled murrelets, bald eagles, sea otters, harbor seals, Kodiak bears and Roosevelt elk. A nearby stream and lake also support three species of salmon.

"For us, this is a wonderful project, because it's rare that you can protect almost an entire watershed," said Ellen Kazary, executive director of the Great Land Trust.

The land, which was purchased from Uyak Natives Inc., was scheduled to be logged until the state bought it.

Trans-Pac Alaska Limited Partnership had leased the timber from Uyak Natives and had already constructed a road to the edge of the property in preparation for logging operations, according to the Great Land Trust.

The company was due to begin logging in late 2017, Kazary said.

The state's purchase includes both the surface property from Uyak Natives and the timber rights to the property from Trans-Pac.

A conflict

(AP) The chairman of the board that regulates Alaska's legal marijuana industry is defending himself against conflict of interest questions.

Peter Mlynarik told Soldotna radio station KSRM he was involved in getting to the local ballot a measure that would bar marijuana businesses outside of cities in the Kenai Peninsula Borough. He said he does not believe that is a conflict.

Mlynarik, who chairs the Marijuana Control Board and is the police chief of Soldotna, participated in a call-in program in which some callers raised questions about that.

His involvement in signature gathering prompted concerns during his confirmation vote before the Legislature, though he won confirmation easily.

Borough voters will decide the ballot measure next month.

Mlynarik is one of five members on the Marijuana Control Board. The board currently is made up of two industry members and members representing public safety, rural Alaska and public health. Mlynarik holds the public safety seat.

Youth and pot

(AP) Analysis by a group of Washington state marijuana experts has found that youth use of pot and cannabis-abuse treatment did not increase after the state's legalization of marijuana for grown-ups.

The Seattle Times reported Friday that under the state's legal-pot law, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy is required to conduct cost-benefit analyses of legalization on issues ranging from drugged-driving to prenatal use of marijuana.

Adam Darnell, the state Legislature think tank's lead researcher, says there's not much evidence so far that legalization has caused changes.

Darnell says researchers have, however, found that adults consumed more pot in parts of the state with higher per capita sales.

The experts' report was released shortly after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions criticized implementation of legal pot in the state.

Photo courtesy Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve

Missing hiker Nick Larson was found dead last week by searchers last who were trying to locate the man on behalf of the National Park Service.


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