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

News Briefs


February 28, 2018

Library services

Limited library services will be available at the recreation center housed in the Teen Center (414 W Hanagita) as contractors give the main library on Fairbanks St. a well-needed makeover.

The library itself has been shuttered since Feb. 19 and will remain closed until the project is completed, which could be as late as May.

Free internet access will be available from 2-5 p.m. at the recreation center according the head librarian Mollie Good. Laptops are available, or bring your own device. Story times for preschoolers will also continue at the Hanagita site, Fridays at 11:15 a.m.

Visit the library website for more information.

UA breach

(AP) A data breach at the University of Alaska has impacted dozens of current and former employees and students, officials said.

A university statement said security officials first started looking into the breach when problems arose with password-protected accounts, KTVA-TV reported Thursday.

The university said the accounts of 50 people were impacted.

“The hackers had access to personal information through social media and other sources, which allowed them to answer security questions in the UA self-service password reset tool,” the university said. “Since these users had chosen to not provide any custom security questions, the hackers were able to use the tool to change passwords.”

The university system's Office of Information Technology is investigating the breach.

One fraudulent income tax return has already been reported to investigators, leading them to suspect employees' W-2 tax form information had been targeted.

The password system has been fixed to prevent a similar breach in the future.

“Those who were affected will be offered reimbursement insurance coverage in the event their data is fraudulently used and they suffer a loss,” the university said. “The university is working directly with affected employees to offer any assistance should they need it.”

Hemp legal

(AP) A measure that would legalize the production of industrial hemp in Alaska has passed the state House and Senate.

The bill awaits Gov. Bill Walker's signature before becoming law, Alaska Public Media reported Wednesday.

The legislation would allow registered participants into a pilot project to grow hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant that produces useful fiber, but almost none of the psychoactive compound that alters people's mental state.

Republican state Sen. Shelley Hughes of Palmer introduced the bill. Hughes said she was approached by local farmers in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough looking to grow hemp, which can be used as feed and bedding for livestock, as well as material to clean up oil spills.

“It was time to remove hemp from the marijuana statutes,” Hughes said. “There's no psychoactive impact from hemp. If you were to smoke acres and acres and acres of hemp, all you would get would be a sore throat and a cough.”

Hughes said if signed, it's likely that farmers could be growing hemp in Alaska by 2019.

Ember Haynes is among those interested in growing hemp to supplement livestock feed. But Haynes and her husband also want to grow it for use in products they sell through their Talkeetna-based Silverbear Sundries.

Currently, they have had to import hemp from the Lower 48 to add to their balms, salves and other natural body products.

“I just want to use Alaska hemp,” Haynes said. “It's been frustrating for us, just because our business is entirely made up of products that we wild-craft or grow ourselves. And so the hemp seed oil, that would just change everything for us, to have it completely Alaska-grown and made herbs and plants in our products.”

Harassment rewrite

(AP) A proposed rewrite of the Alaska Legislature's policies addressing sexual harassment would explicitly allow for outside investigations into alleged misconduct involving lawmakers.

The draft would let the Legislature's human resources manager decide if an independent investigator is needed in such cases and allow the parties involved to request through legislative leadership a third-party review.

Human resources manager Skiff Lobaugh says the existing policy - which has been criticized as vague - is silent on that issue.

A legislative working group that includes Lobaugh has been tasked with rewriting the policy amid a national debate about sexual harassment and misconduct.

The group will seek comments on the draft from legislative staff and from the National Conference of State Legislatures before it's ultimately sent to the Legislative Council for consideration.


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