News Briefs


Source: Tsunami Warning Center Palmer

Light quake

(AP) A light earthquake was reported Friday afternoon in the Gulf of Alaska.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the magnitude 4.3 quake was centered about 160 miles (255 kilometers) southeast of Kodiak Island.

It was located at a depth of about 6 miles (10 kilometers). There are no reports of it being felt or causing damage.

The earthquake center said it was an aftershock of the Jan. 23 magnitude 7.9 earthquake that was widely felt throughout south-central Alaska and briefly prompted a tsunami warning.

Another light earthquake earlier Friday shook the Cook Inlet region of southern Alaska, not far from Anchorage.

The earthquake with a magnitude of 4.1 was centered about 23 miles (37 kilometers) north of Anchorage. The quake had a depth of about 29 miles (47 kilometers).

On March 27, Valdez and numerous Alaskans remembered the 9.2 Good Friday earthquake.


Down by one

(AP) One of only three marijuana testing labs in Alaska has shut down, leaving the state's cannabis growers with only two options for state-mandated testing.

The Juneau Empire reports Steep Hill Alaska, of Anchorage, declared in an Instagram post Thursday that the lab is "suspending cannabis testing operations on March 31, 2018."

The lab says it has to relocate after "Wells Fargo called in the loan on our building." The lab says the bank will foreclose the space if the lab does not move out.

Alaska Wells Fargo spokesman Brian Kennedy said by email, "It is currently Wells Fargo's policy not to knowingly bank marijuana businesses, based on federal laws under which the sale and use of marijuana is still illegal."

With Steep Hill's closure, Anchorage-based CannTest and Wasilla-based New Frontier Research now are the only available testing labs in the state.

No body cams

(AP) Alaska's two largest police agencies do not have any current plans to equip their officers with body cameras, officials said.

Officers with the Anchorage Police Department and Alaska State Troopers are not outfitted with body cameras despite the tool becoming increasingly common in law enforcement agencies in the state and across the country, KTUU-TV reported Thursday.

Anchorage police spokesperson Renee Oistad said the department did not have any updates on if the technology will be adopted. The department is focusing on developing its in-car camera systems, she said.

State troopers will not be equipped with the video-recording devices anytime soon, said Jonathon Taylor, state Department of Public Safety spokesman.

"Given fiscal constraints, our ongoing efforts to recruit and retain more troopers and to fill existing vacancies, issuing body-worn cameras is not being considered at this time," Taylor said.

Both agencies were involved in deadly shootings last weekend.

State lawsuit

(AP) The state wants the Alaska Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that cleared the way for independents to run in Democratic party primaries - an issue with implications for this year's elections.

In arguments before the court Thursday in Kenai, Laura Fox, an assistant attorney general, said it would be "confusing and also deceptive" to call a candidate nonpartisan if that person is a nominee for a political party.

Independent is a general term that describes individuals who are registered as nonpartisan or undeclared.

The court did not immediately rule.

The Alaska Democratic Party had challenged a state law requiring that primary election candidates be registered members of the party whose nomination they're seeking. Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg sided with the party, saying the state was restricting the party's attempt to appeal to independent voters by not allowing unaffiliated candidates to participate in Democratic primaries.

The decision applies to the Democratic primary, since that party changed its rules to embrace independent candidates.

Justices asked Fox if there was harm in letting the party allow independent candidates. Justice Susan Carney asked why the state cares.

Tony Gorman photo

The Torpedoes swim club hosted its annual Banana Meet last week, bringing young competitive swimmers to Valdez from around the state. Winners receive a banana and fun was had by all.


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