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

News Briefs


September 20, 2017

Valdez Star photo

The Alaska flag flew at half staff Friday at the order of Gov. Bill Walker, honoring former Alaska First Lady Ermalee Hickel.

Flu shots

Free flu shots will be available to all people in Valdez for one night next month.

A mass inoculation clinic is planned for October 24 according to Allie Ferko, the city's public information officer.

The event will run from 5-8 p.m. that evening at Valdez High School.

"It's the same as we've done in the past," Ferko said. "We are practicing 'what if we have an epidemic.'"

The drill and inoculations are paid for by the City of Valdez, the Local Emergency Planning Committee, the State of Alaska and other entities.


Valdez received 1.54 inches of rain last week, September 11 -17. That is the word from Eric Cooper of the Valdez Avalanche Center.

The center records and reports rain and snowfall in Valdez and Thompson Pass for the National Weather Service.

In total, the center reports that for the year, Jan 1- September 17, the yearly precipitation is 40.46 - so far.

Judge Franciosi

A former lawyer from Valdez is now a judge in the Anchorage District Court.

Michael Franciosi was named to the post Monday by Gov. Bill Walker. Kari McCrea, an Anchorage magistrate, was named to fill a second vacancy on the court.

"My team and I interviewed many well-qualified applicants for the Anchorage District Court positions," Walker said in a prepared statement. "Michael and Kari are each involved with their communities and the judicial process. I am confident they will continue serving Alaskans well in their new roles as district judge."

Franciosi currently serves in Glennallen as a Magistrate Judge and Superior Court Master "where he has provided coverage for Valdez, Cordova and other areas in the Third Judicial District since 2014."

Franciosi practiced law in Valdez for 23 years before he was appointed magistrate in Glennallen.

"Mr. Franciosi's firm also provided pro bono assistance to victims of domestic violence," Walker said. " Mr. Franciosi graduated from Creighton University School of Law in 1991."


Alaska's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in August - up two-tenths of a percentage point from July according to numbers released last week by the Alaska Dept. of Labor.

The national rate was 4.4 percent.

"August employment was down by an estimated 1.4 percent, or 4,800 jobs, compared to August 2016," the department said.

It also reported that early estimates show job losses "spread across most industries, although the losses remain concentrated in industries closely tied to oil or oil revenue."

The numbers reported are: Oil and gas led employment losses (-1,000 jobs), followed by construction (-1,000), professional and business services (-800), manufacturing (-600), and state government (-600). Health care, local government, and federal government were all up slightly over August 2016 levels.

The not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for last month was 6.3 percent - down three-tenths of a percentage point from July.

"Although August is the tail end of summer, employment typically remains high as tourism, fishing, and construction continue to drive seasonal employment," the department said.

Unemployment rates fell or remained the same compared to July in 24 of 29 boroughs and census areas across Alaska.

Half staff

State flags flew at half staff across Alaska Friday by order of Gov. Bill Walker, honoring former first lady Ermalee Hickle.

Walker today ordered all Alaska state flags be flown at half-staff after the 92-year-old died Thursday.

The former first lady was married to former Governor Wally Hickel for 65 years until he passed in 2010.

"Alaska has lost a giant of history," Governor Walker said. "As Governor Hickel used to say, Ermalee Hickel was most beautiful as a butterfly, but tougher than a boot."

Walker ordered that all Alaska flags be lowered to half-staff immediately. Flags should return to full staff at sunrise on Tuesday, September 19.

Crime bill

(AP) Gov. Bill Walker has expanded the call for next month's special session.

Walker on Friday added Senate Bill 54 to the mix. Walker said the bill includes fixes to the 2016 crime overhaul bill that in intended to help stem the tide of rising crime rates in Alaska.

Walker said at a news conference is just one step in addressing the crime problem. He says this is an immediate step the state can take, but there must also be longer-term solutions.

The bill would allow courts to hand out jail terms to first-time Class C felony offenders or for those committing repeat theft offenses. Walker says it could act as a deterrent.

The special session starts Oct. 23 and will mostly deal with revenue measures.

Pot bars?

(AP) Alaska regulators in November plan to revisit onsite use of marijuana in cannabis shops around the state.

Alaska's Marijuana Control Board has gone back and forth on the onsite consumption issue, and will take up the matter at its meeting scheduled for Nov. 14 and 15 in Anchorage.

Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office director Erika McConnell said during the board's meeting in Nome Thursday that the November meeting will be held at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center.

Public comments will be taken through Oct. 27 on a proposal that would allow authorized retail marijuana shops in Alaska to provide a place for people to consume cannabis products they buy.

Made public

(AP) Loads of valuable information about seismic testing and exploratory wells in Alaska is being released to the public, giving scientists data they need to develop theories about geological formations and making possible oil spots known to drilling companies.

Alaska's Energy Desk reported Tuesday that the first of two data sets was released in 2016 and the second is scheduled to go public in the fall. The state started collecting the data in 2003 as part of a tax program created for companies to claim a credit in exchange for turning over seismic information and exploratory well data.

The state agreed to keep the data confidential for ten years.

At least one company is already using the data to plan a drilling operation in Alaska.


(AP) A Magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook Alaska about 135 miles (217 kilometers) northwest of the state's capital city Juneau.

Coincidentally, the City and Borough of Juneau's Disaster Preparedness Expo was winding down as the earthquake hit Saturday afternoon. No damage was immediately reported.

The National Weather Service stated there was no tsunami threat from the earthquake.

The quake was centered in the narrow sliver of British Columbia, which separates Southeast Alaska and the Yukon. It shook near the Eastern Denali Fault - the same area that experienced a series of larger earthquakes earlier this year.

That string of earthquakes topped out with a magnitude 6.3, which was 10 times stronger than the one felt on Saturday.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says an earthquake struck at 11:32 p.m. on Sept. 11 and its epicenter was 39 miles (63 kilometers) north of the town of Talkeetna, which has 876 residents. The earthquake had a depth of about 45 miles (73 kilometers.)

The center says residents of the region felt the earthquake, but there are no reports of damage.

Election news

Even though the primary election is still 11 months away, the Alaska governor's race was shaken up Tuesday with announcements from two Republicans from Wasilla.

Valdez Star file photo

Flu shots will be offered free of charge next month to all in Valdez.

State Sen. Mike Dunleavy announced that he was suspending his gubernatorial campaign to deal with an unspecified health issue.

At the same time, former state Senate President Charlie Huggins filed paperwork with the Alaska Public Offices Commission to run.

Other announced Republicans are Jacob Seth Kern and Michael Sheldon.

Kirk Wilson has also filed paperwork but didn't list a party.

Incumbent Gov. Bill Walker also has announced he's seeking a second term. As an independent, he wouldn't have a primary challenge.

There are no announced Democrats in the race, but former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has said he is considering a run.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019