News Briefs


November 16, 2017

Valdez Star photo

A juvenile bald eagle guards a frozen meal from more agile adults - and a few magpies - on the banks of the Lowe River.

Tuition hiked

(AP) Tuition hikes have been approved for University of Alaska campuses - including Prince William Sound College in Valdez.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports the UA Board of Regents on Thursday approved a 5 percent tuition increase at the main campuses in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau for two academic years starting next fall.

The board also approved a 10 percent increase for Kodiak College and Prince William Sound College to begin next fall and a 9.5 percent hike for those colleges for the academic year 2020.

UA President Jim Johnsen says the larger increases are aimed at bringing the community campuses up to the same tuition rate.

Regents approved a 25 percent tuition discount for occupational certificates and endorsements.

Regent Dale Anderson voted for the increases, saying that no additional cuts could be made without devastating the university.

DC exhibit

Panoramic photos of Port Valdez and Jack Bay from the early 20th century are part of an exhibit on display at the National Archives facility in College Park, Maryland.

The once-lost images are part of an exhibit showcasing the work of a little known topographer, James W. Bagley, working for the US Geological Survey from 1910-1932.

The photos were reproduced from archived nitrate-based negatives, which are highly flammable.

A preservationist for the National Archives, Richard Schneider, discovered that what at first appeared to be random photos from USGS were in reality stunning panoramic photos of Alaska.

"Bagley was a pioneer of using aerial photos for mapping," Schneider said. "After his work with the USGS, Bagley joined the Army in 1917, went to France, and participated in the Great War, where he put his photographic and topographic skills and knowledge into practice. He was a pioneer of using aerial photography to map enemy entrenchments and gun emplacements."

Fishing up

(AP) A state report says more people worked in commercial salmon fishing in south-central Alaska in 2016 than in 2015.

The Peninsula Clarion reported Tuesday that the number of commercial fishing jobs did, however, drop by about 5 percent statewide - despite the region's increase.

The report was done by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. It states that for salmon harvesting jobs, the statewide number from 2015 to 2016 dropped by about 6.4 percent, while the south-central region slightly increased.

The reports states that Southeast Alaska saw declines in employment in all of its fisheries, with the largest in salmon.

Ash plume

(AP) An ash plume drifting from a Russia volcano has prompted flight cancellations in northern Alaska.

William Walsh, a spokesman for Ravn Alaska, says the airline canceled flights Wednesday to and from Kotzebue and Deadhorse, the supply hub for the Prudhoe Bay oil fields.

Alaska Airlines officials say no flights were immediately affected.

Dave Schneider with the Alaska Volcano Observatory says the cloud originated from the Sheveluch Volcano on Russia's Kamchatka

Peninsula, which erupted a week ago Tuesday, sending an ash cloud about 26,000 feet into the atmosphere. The plume drifted over parts of northern Alaska on Wednesday.

The volcano is about 1,350 miles (2,172 kilometers) southwest of Kotzebue.

The ash plume prompted the National Weather Service to issue volcanic ash advisories in Alaska.

Ash clouds above 20,000 feet (6,100 meters) can harm aircraft.

Missile defense

(AP) President Donald Trump's administration has asked Congress to fund a fourth missile defense silo field at Fort Greely in Alaska.

Trump wrote a letter to Congress on Monday requesting $200 million to build the silo field, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Fort Greely is home to most of the United States' ground-based midcourse missile interceptors, which are designed to protect the United States by intercepting long range missiles as they fly outside the atmosphere.

"This request supports additional efforts to detect, defeat and defend against any North Korean use of ballistic missiles against the United States, its deployed forces, allies or partners," Trump wrote.

Fort Greely has three silo fields with a capacity of 40 interceptors. The United States has four more silos at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Trump's request is part of the $5.9 billion Trump wants added to this year's budget, $4 billion of which was requested for missile defense and North Korea-related military spending.

Alaska's three-member Congressional delegation praised Trump's proposed missile defense increase.

Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska said he believes Congress will add the additional defense funding to its budget.

"Missile defense has now become a very bipartisan issue," Sullivan said. "You look at the history of it and it's pretty much been a partisan issue, the Reagan 'Star Wars,' and even some of the missile defense capabilities we had in Alaska under George W. Bush."

Barrowing up

(AP) American consumers increased their borrowing by $20.8 billion in September. It was the largest gain in 10 months and was led by a sharp increase in borrowing for auto and student loans.

The September increase followed a gain of $13.8 billion in August and marks the largest monthly increase since a $24.5 billion jump in November 2016, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday.

The category that covers auto and student loans rose by $14.4 billion, nearly double the $7.6 billion gain seen in August. The category that covers credit cards increased $6.4 billion, slightly better than the $5.5 billion August increase.

Consumer borrowing is closely watched for clues about the direction of consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic growth.

The September increase pushed total borrowing to a fresh record of $3.79 trillion.

The Fed's monthly borrowing report does not cover home mortgages or other loans such as home equity loans that are secured by real estate.

The U.S. economy grew at a solid rate of 3 percent in the July-September quarter after advancing at a 3.1 percent pace in the second quarter. It marked the first back-to-back quarterly gains of 3 percent or better in three years. Much of the strength in both quarters came from solid consumer spending.

Photo courtesy US National Archives

A panoramic view simply titled: Port Valdez District.


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