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

Bill Johnson for Alaska House

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January 31, 2018

Tony Gorman photo

Healthier You is now Healthier Valdez – and plenty of folks showed up at Prince William Sound College Saturday to take the challenge to improve their health.

Get fit

Dozens of people signed up for Healthier Valdez last Saturday – the program formerly known as Healthier You.

The program is being run by Prince William Sound College this year, where it was originally run by the city's Dept. of Parks & Rec.

While the event's main sign up is past, it is not too late to join Healthier Valdez. And it is a great way to achieve goals health goals set for the new year.

For further information on Healthier Valdez, contact Chloe Whallon at 834.1684 or cswhallon@alaska.edu.

New pot head

(AP) A new chairman has been elected to lead the board that regulates Alaska's legal marijuana industry.

Mark Springer of Bethel was chosen to replace Peter Mlynarik (MLYN'-arh-ik) as chair of the Marijuana Control Board during a meeting Wednesday in Juneau. Brandon Emmett, who holds an industry seat on the board, was elected vice chair.

Mlynarik, who held the board's public safety seat, resigned earlier this month after the U.S. Department of Justice changed its policy on marijuana enforcement. He said the department's decision removed the underpinning on which Alaska's industry is based.

Gov. Bill Walker recently selected North Slope Borough Police Chief Travis Welch to fill the public safety seat. Welch was introduced as a board member Wednesday.

Retaliation?

(AP)The Alaska Senate plans to release a report on alleged retaliation by one of its members.

Senate President Pete Kelly recently told reporters that while Wasilla Sen. David Wilson was cleared of sexual harassment allegations, ``there was a retaliation.''

Kelly said Monday there was an official finding and the Senate plans to release the report, but he wouldn't elaborate.

A message was left with Wilson's office.

The Legislature's human resources officer found Wilson didn't violate policies against harassment when he placed a cellphone near the hemline of the skirt of a female House staffer trying to keep Wilson from listening outside a closed-door meeting.

The report was released at Wilson's request. However, he also asked the video be released, which the Legislature has not made available.

Roadless rule

(AP) Alaska is seeking to restore an exemption from a federal rule that has limited road construction and timber harvesting on national forest land.

In the State of the State address last week, Gov. Bill Walker said that his administration is petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture to open up a rule-making process aimed at restoring the exemption to the roadless rule.

The state is asking the federal agency to open the issue to more public discussion, said Chris Maisch, the director of the Alaska Division of Forestry. The process could take two or more years if it's approved, he said.

Opponents to the federal rule have argued that it has reduced access to logging and mining in southeast Alaska, endangering some jobs, Alaska's Energy Desk reported. If the rule was removed for the state, new roads could be constructed in the Tongass National Forest.

The current federal plan for the national forest makes the most sense, said Austin Williams, a director of law and policy at Trout Unlimited. He said the plan was created after years of community input, and the state's petition could "turn back the clock ... And really undo a lot of the good work that has been done over the last several years," he said.

Smoking ban

(AP)A proposal to ban smoking in bars and restaurants across Alaska gained wide support in the Alaska Legislature, but the bill's fate will again be decided by a single lawmaker.

Republican state Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux of Anchorage has given no sign that she has changed her opposition to the ban, the Juneau Empire reported Wednesday. LeDoux, the chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, killed the same bill in the 2015-16 Legislature. LeDoux is in a key position that allows her to decide whether it comes up for a final vote.

LeDoux, through a spokesman, declined to talk about her position.

Photo courtesy Ron Langseth

Buccaneer Linnea Langseth successfully tried out and won a spot on Team Alaska Volleyball, for the upcoming Arctic Winter Games – which some compare to a far north Olympics. Langseth was the only 3A player to make the cut.

If signed into law, the bill would restrict smoking in public places. It's being advanced by Republican state Sen. Peter Micciche of Soldotna.

Micciche said he believes the bill is a matter of public health and is about protecting employees in businesses that currently allow smoking.

"It's clearly a public health issue. No one disagrees there will be health benefits," he said.

Micciche, speaking to the House Judiciary Committee on Monday afternoon, said he refers to the bill as the "take it outside" act.

"It's complaint-driven," he said. "There's not going to be a group of people from (environmental conservation) or (state health) that is going around trying to catch you because you're trying to sneak a cigarette near the bathroom."

Bethel was the first city in Alaska to ban smoking in public spaces such as bars and restaurants. Its ban passed in 1998 and in the two decades since that vote, other cities have followed suit. Anchorage bans smoking in public and so does Juneau.

 

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