News Briefs

 

January 24, 2018

Valdez Star photo

Dozens of women – and their supporters – combined forces Saturday to join the nationwide "Power to the Polls" march. For the second year in a row, the march was held to send a positive message regarding women's rights, encourage voting and resisting regressive social trends.

Senate seat

(AP) Republican state Rep. George Rauscher is among the finalists to replace Wasilla Sen. Mike Dunleavy in the Alaska Senate.

Republicans from Dunleavy's district met Monday to winnow down an initial list of 11 applicants to three.

Along with Rauscher, the finalists are Tom Braund and Todd Smoldon. Their names are being sent to Gov. Bill Walker, who will make the appointment. That appointment, however, is subject to confirmation by Senate Republicans.

Dunleavy resigned his seat to focus on running for governor.

Beautification

Downtown businesses, service organizations and other entities may be eligible for funds to help improve a building's curb appeal – thanks to beautification efforts by the City of Valdez.

The city is accepting applications for this year's Beautification Matching Grant Program.

The grant will match up to 50 percent of the costs to improve the esthetics of structures or property.

There are specific requirements and cost limitations to the grants, which are reviewed and approved or rejected based on evaluation by the Mayor's Beautification Task Force.

Applications are due by the end of the business day, March 15. Applications are available at City Hall or online at the city's website.

Unemployment

(AP) Alaska's unemployment rate crept up to 7.3 percent last month, its highest level since March 2012.

According to state and federal labor statistics, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate had held steady, at 7.2 percent, from August through November. The 7.3 percent rate for December is preliminary.

The unemployment rate stood at 6.6 percent in Alaska in December 2016.

Nationally, unemployment last month was 4.1 percent.

Gun deaths

(AP) Alaska had the highest rate of firearm deaths in the nation in 2016, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 177 firearm-related deaths in Alaska in 2016, the Juneau Empire reported Thursday. That's a rate of about 23 firearm deaths per 100,000 residents, which is nearly double the national average of 12 per 100,000 residents.

The figures show 113 of Alaska's firearm-related deaths were suicides, while 51 were considered homicides or justified killings. Those counts run parallel with an analysis published last year by the Alaska Section of Epidemiology, which found that 750 of the state's 1,000 firearm-related deaths between 2009 and 2015 were suicides.


Bill Johnson for Alaska House

Figures for 2017 are not yet available. The final results for 2016 show the nation's firearm death rate has risen each year since 2014. Alaska's 2016 rate is only slightly higher than it was in 2015.

Massachusetts had the lowest rate in the nation, at 3.4 firearm-related deaths per 100,000 residents.

Photo courtesy CB300

Musher Nicholas Petit won the Copper Basin 300 last week. Petit crossed the finish line first on Monday evening, Jan. 15, having completed the 295-mile course. Racers took off from Glennallen the previous Saturday.

 

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