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

News Briefs


November 8, 2017

Photo courtesy VFD

Firefighters in the aftermath of last week's home fire on Grand Rapids St. in the Corbin Creek subdivision


The Valdez Food Bank will distribute special Thanksgiving boxes to those in need next Thursday, Nov. 16.

"Once again the Valdez Food Bank will be distributing boxes containing a turkey and everything necessary to make a lovely holiday dinner," Lana Gheen said in a press release last week.

The boxes are available to anyone in need. Distribution will be on Thursday November 16 from 4:00-6:00 at the food bank located on the Richardson Hwy next to the animal shelter.

The food bank will be closed the week of Thanksgiving.

Fire damage

Fire gutted portions of a Valdez home last week according to the city's public information officer, Allie Ferko.

Ferko said members of the Valdez Fire Dept. responded to the fire in the Corbin Creek Subdivision Friday, just before midnight.

The responders of arrived on the scene at approximately 12:06 AM and discovered an active fire in the home," Ferko said Monday. "Firefighters verified residents were not present inside the building in began work to extinguish the fire."

The home was later determined uninhabitable. There were no injuries to the home's occupants, including two cats.

In the prepared statement, Mike Weber, a captain for VFD, said shut doors inside the home helped keep the fire from spreading and advised Valdez residents to keep as many doors as possible shut at night to help prevent the spread of fires.

Pot taxes

(AP) State revenue generated by Alaska's legal marijuana industry continues to grow.

The state says it collected more than $720,000 in excise taxes from cultivators in September, the most recent month for which data is available.

The tax is imposed when marijuana is sold or transferred from a cultivation facility to a marijuana retailer or manufacturing facility.

State statistics show that revenue generally has trended upward as the industry has become more established. Revenue generated by the tax dropped between December and January but has climbed since.

The state has collected a total of $3.7 million from the tax since October 2016, when the first retail shops in Alaska opened.

A criminal justice overhaul passed last year called for a portion of the tax revenue to go toward recidivism reduction programs.

Alaska sues

(AP) The state of Alaska is defending its calculation of family and medical leave for ferry workers on rotational shifts.

The state wants a federal judge to toss a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The matter focuses on ferry workers who are scheduled to work one to three weeks at a time and then are off for similar amounts of time.

The federal department, in its lawsuit, says weeks in which rotational employees are not scheduled to work cannot count against their 12-workweek entitlement of leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

The state contends that is a misreading of the law and would allow an employee who works one week on and one week off to get 24 weeks of leave.

State appeals

(AP) The state of Alaska is appealing a decision that would open Democratic party primaries to independents.

An appeal notice was filed Friday with the Alaska Supreme Court.

Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth disagreed with a superior court decision that found the state is restricting the party's attempt to appeal to independent voters by not allowing unaffiliated candidates to participate in party primaries.

Lindemuth says the case presents constitutional questions the high court should decide.

The Alaska Democratic party challenged a state law requiring primary election candidates to be registered members of the party whose nomination they're seeking.

Democrats wanted the law to be considered unconstitutional to the extent it restricts candidate participation to registered members, when party rules allow for non-member candidates. The state party adopted such a rule last year.

Crabs and acidity

(AP) Alaska researchers warn that the changing levels of ocean acidity could have grave consequences for red king crab populations in the Bering Sea.

The acidity of waters off Alaska could change dramatically over the next 50 years, leading to possible crab stock failure in about 100 years, said Robert Foy, director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center's Kodiak Laboratory.

Valdez Star photo

A helicopter returned a barrowed propane tank to Crowley Fuel last week, one of the many unusual sights that are common in Valdez as the town prepares for winter.

A change in pH, the scale of acidity, is occurring as more carbon dioxide is dissolved in the water, Alaska's Energy Desk reported . Researchers expect ocean acidification to occur faster at locations in high latitudes like Alaska.

Through long-term experiments at the lab, Foy has been studying the effects of ocean acidification caused by climate change for about a decade. On tests with red king crabs, Foy said most of the crabs don't make it past early life stages under water conditions similar to what researchers predict for Alaska.

"If the results in the laboratory are accurate, and there's no acclimation, you would see stock failure about 100 years from now," Foy said.

In more acidic water, crabs have a harder time to make and maintain their shells. While some of the crabs survived, indicating there could be the potential to acclimate and adapt, Foy said there might not be enough time for those survival traits to be passed on.


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