News briefs

 

Photo courtesy Sharon Crisp/CVEA

Phyllis Johnson of Acres Beverage Center was the Valdez winner last week of a beater truck retired from CVEAs fleet during the electric cooperative's annual meeting.

CVEA winners

Copper Valley Electric Association held its annual Valdez meeting May 1.

CVEA spokeswoman Sharon Crisp says 188 people attended the Valdez meeting. The annual meeting for Copper Basin members was held May 3 in Glennallen and included a guest appearance by Sen. Dan Sullivan. The meeting attracted 275 attendees.

CVEA announced the winners in the race for its board of directors: Paul Kildal, Lon Rake, and Will Stark were all re-elected to three year terms.

Gloria Jacobson and Jared Bowden were each awarded a $1,000 educational scholarships, Aric Cox, Kathleen Hale, Bobbi Mott, and Aidan Hinkle were each awarded $500 scholarships, and Celia Chmielowski and Gaea Latta-Bard were both selected to attend the Idaho Youth Rally Leadership camp this summer.

Ninety-six door prizes were given out in each district. Grand prize winners Lisa Nicholai and Acres Beverage Center each won a CVEA beater, where the association gives away a car or truck that is retiring from the association's fleet. Winners of the ballot drawing were Bobby and Diane Gibbs in Valdez, and Nora and Richard Tombaugh in the Copper Basin; each couple will receive a $50 credit on their May electric bill.


Bill Johnson for Alaska House

McCarthy Road

(AP) State highway officials say they've opened the McCarthy Road for public travel.

The unpaved, 60-mile (96-kilometer) road runs between the communities of Chitina and McCarthy.

The National Park Service describes the road as "once the gateway to tremendous fortunes" in copper mining and now a gateway to spectacular scenery and vast wilderness within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities says conditions will remain "fair to difficult" on the road throughout the summer.

Officials say drivers can expect a 35-mph (56-kph) speed limit, rutting, road rocks, potholes and soft shoulders.

The road currently features icy spots, water on the roadway and a rough driving surface.

There are no services along the road.

O&G bonds

(AP) The Alaska House has passed legislation to allow for bonding to pay the state's remaining oil and gas tax credit obligations.

Gov. Bill Walker's bill would create a new bond corporation authorized to sell up to $1 billion in bonds to pay off outstanding credits.

It passed the House 23-15, and next goes to the Senate.

Supporters saw it as a way to honor the state's obligation. Critics cast it as risky.

There were legal questions raised with the bill, but Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth said she saw no constitutional problems.

In a legal opinion, she said the Legislature retains authority to decide whether to appropriate money toward paying debt service on the bonds.

Lawmakers last year voted to end the credit program geared toward small producers and developers, saying it had become unaffordable.

High pot taxes

(AP) The state collected nearly $1.1 million in marijuana tax revenue in March, a new monthly high.

Cultivation facilities pay the tax, which is imposed when marijuana is sold or transferred from a licensed grow facility to a retail marijuana shop or product manufacturing facility.

According to Department of Revenue data, there were 92 taxpayers in March, another monthly high.

Kelly Mazzei (muh-ZAY'), with the department's tax division, says the state has collected more than $7.5 million during the fiscal year that started July 1.

Alaskans voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana in 2014. Sales of legal cannabis in the state began in late 2016.

State law calls for half of the tax revenue to go toward programs aimed at reducing repeat criminal offenders.

Ice Classic

The tower fell on Ruth Pond April 29 at 8:30 p.m. – and Valdez man Rick Russell was lucky ticket winner who best guessed when the tower would fall in the Valdez fundraiser.

The Town Ice Classic is a joint fundraiser for Advocates for Victims of Violence (AVV) and the city's Parks and Recreation Department. Winners receive half of the proceeds from ticket sales, where the buyer guesses when the tower will fall through the ice on Ruth Pond. AVV receives 40 percent of the proceeds, with the remaining 10 percent going to the Parks and Recreation trail maintenance fund.

Russell was handed a check for $2,832.00 last Friday during AVVs annual meeting.

Wedding officiates

(AP) Elected officials would be able to preside over marriages in Alaska under a bill that passed the Legislature.

The bill, from Rep. Matt Claman, adds elected public office holders to the list of individuals who can perform marriages.

That list already includes ministers, priests, rabbis, marriage commissioners and judicial officers, among others. An adult can be a marriage commissioner with special permission from the courts.

The bill is intended to make it more convenient to get married.

Religious leaders and elected officials would not be obligated to preside over marriages under the bill.

The measure passed the Senate on Wednesday after earlier passing the House. It next goes to Gov. Bill Walker.

Suspicious fire

(AP) A 33-year-old Washington state man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and criminal mischief at a rural lodge.

Alaska State Troopers say Jayson Kapfer of Spokane was arrested after a fire Sunday that destroyed the hotel portion of the Cantwell Lodge.

Cantwell is a Parks Highway community about 100 miles (161 kilometers) southwest of Fairbanks.

The Cantwell Fire Department responded to the fire shortly after 3:30 a.m. and concluded it had been set.

Investigators confirmed the cause and learned Kapfer left just before the fire department arrived.

Investigators also learned Kapfer had damaged two vehicles belonging to hotel tenants.

Troopers on Sunday afternoon contacted Kapfer as he walked toward Fairbanks on Alaska Railroad tracks. After questioning, he was jailed in Fairbanks.

It's not known whether he has at attorney.

In the race

(AP) Alaska Republican gubernatorial contender Scott Hawkins says he has pancreatic cancer but will continue his campaign.

A release from Hawkins' campaign Thursday says Hawkins was diagnosed in February and has undergone "aggressive treatments" while maintaining his schedule.

The release includes statements from Hawkins' doctors.

A message was left with Hawkins' campaign.

Hawkins is one of the higher-profile Republicans to have announced plans to seek the GOP nomination for governor.

Another Republican, former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy, temporarily suspended his campaign last year for medical issues with his heart. In reviving his campaign in December, Dunleavy said his treatments were successful.

Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, is seeking re-election.

He announced a prostate cancer diagnosis in late 2016 and had what he described as successful surgery to treat the cancer.

Underage assaults

(AP) Army officials are now acknowledging they've investigated reports of child-on-child sexual assaults at bases in Alaska.

The disclosure comes amid an Associated Press investigation that found many sexual assault reports among children at U.S. military bases where service member families live have languished in a dead zone of justice, in which victims and offenders go without help.

Initially, Army's Criminal Investigation Command released a list of sexual assaults among juveniles that showed 223 worldwide since the start of 2007 - but none in Alaska. Meanwhile, state authorities tallied five cases.

After reporters challenged the Army data's accuracy, investigators released a list with 86 more cases. Among them were three that AP had not documented before.

That brings Alaska's total to at least eight cases, five of them at Fort Wainwright.

Photo courtesy Bonnie Woods

There was no relaxing on the porch Saturday for people in Valdez when at least 11 inches of snow fell over a 24 hour period – bringing a late blanket of white to the town.

 

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