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

News Briefs


February 14, 2018

Tony Gorman photo

The Buccaneer cheerleaders were on point last week when Valdez hosted the annual Elks Tournament. See more sports action inside.

Nordic skiing

Due to race cancellations last week, the Valdez Buccaneers hosted an impromptu town race.

Seven community members - skiing both classic and skate Nordic styles – turned out for the last minute event according to the team's coaches.

The course began at the Cato Bridge.

Skiing two skate laps and finishing first was Josh Miller with a finish of 29:15. Sarah Carter was close behind with a strong finish of 30:08. Nasipbek kyzy finished skate skied both laps in 38:03. Emmie Swanson was the first finisher in the single lap division with a time of 22:27. Classic skiers, Michelle Cullen (24:36), Andy Shidner (24:39), Sharry Miller (29:53) and Mark Swanson (30:49) finished a lap on the cold and slow course.

Next week, the team travels to Soldotna for Regionals. In two weeks, Ben Swanson and Tolgonai Nasipbek kyzy will head to Fairbanks to compete in State Nordic Championships.

Lost jobs

(AP) More than 260 Alaska workers are expected to be laid off at the end of next month as the BP oil company ends a contract with Mistras Group Inc.

Alaska's Energy Desk reports the New Jersey-based contractor announced the terminations last month in a report sent to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The report says the layoffs include 236 workers at Prudhoe Bay. Of the total layoffs, more than 180 workers were union members.

The company performed inspections on pipelines and other infrastructure for BP.

BP officials say the contract was cancelled to reduce costs as oil prices remain low. BP awarded a new contract to Anchorage-based Kakivik.

Kakivik officials say the company will hire more than 200 workers to fill the contract and has reached out to the workers facing layoffs.

Lesser offense

(AP) A bill that Gov. Bill Walker has backed would make some of Alaska's hunting and fishing violations more like traffic tickets than criminal prosecutions.

The bill follows a trend in Alaska law of moving some misdemeanor-level crimes to the lesser "violation" category, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday.

"A criminal conviction is not always appropriate, nor is it necessarily the best outcome for the state or the offender," Walker said last spring. "By creating the option of a violation where the offender acts without any culpable mental state, prosecutors and law enforcement can more appropriately enforce the state's fish and game laws while maximizing public use and enjoyment."

The proposed law change would give new leniency to people who have licenses but don't have them in their possession when approached in the field by law enforcement. Hunters and fishers who receive a citation would have the option of bringing a copy of their license to court.

"This provision would prevent what may have been an honest mistake from turning into an unnecessary conviction," Walker said.

The bill does, however, call for increasing fines for commercial fishing violations and for the offense of unlawfully taking an animal. The fine for illegally taking a bison, for example, would more than double to $3,000. The bill would also allow the state to charge larger fines for hunters and fishermen who fail to buy licenses.

Court's short

(AP) Alaska prosecutors have asked for additional resources so they can hold more criminal offenders accountable.

The state has had upward trends in recent years with violent crimes and property crimes. The upticks come as the Department of Law's Criminal Division has been hit with deep budget cuts, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday.

The department said the circumstances have forced district attorneys to prioritize going after violent felonies ahead of any other cases, including non-violent felonies and misdemeanors.

"The offenses are still occurring, the crimes are still occurring," Deputy Attorney General Rob Henderson said. "We do not have the resources to prosecute all the offenses that come in the door, and so we have to prioritize."

In response, Gov. Bill Walker has asked the Legislature for more than $1.2 million to add five state prosecutors. Two would be based in Anchorage, and there would be one each added to the district attorneys' offices in Bethel and Kotzebue. The plan would also add support staff.

New Native corps

Steve Revis photo

The ski lift at Salmonberry Hill was in full operation Sunday – a popular recreation spot for Valdez families.

(AP) Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski says a proposed bill would give 100,000 acres of federal land in total to Native groups in five Southeast Alaska towns.

The Ketchikan Daily news reports the proposed legislation - also called the "Alaska Native Claims Improvement Act of 2017" - looks to mitigate issues with the original Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that was passed almost a half century ago.

A major component of the legislation involves the formation of Native corporations in five Southeast Alaska communities - Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee and Haines.

Murkowski says these five communities were never granted village or urban corporations.

The bill says upon incorporation, each of the five new corporations would receive "one township of land (23,040 acres)."


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