News briefs

 

Photo courtesy Ann Norris/VHS

Jared Bowden performing on the piano during the ASAA State Solo and Ensemble Music Festival.

Airplane crash

A student pilot died Saturday when the Piper PA 28-180 he was flying solo crashed near Whittier.

The Associated Press reports the unidentified student was flying the aircraft to Valdez where he planned to keep the aircraft over the summer. His body was recovered Sunday, after weather in the area hampered efforts to reach the wreckage Saturday.

The Rescue Coordination Center late Saturday morning notified troopers that an emergency locator transmitter had been activated in the Whittier area.

Crews on RCC and Coast Guard helicopters found the crash site and confirmed the pilot was dead.

Music honors

Seventeen Valdez High School band and choir students qualified and competed earlier this month at the ASAA State Solo and Ensemble Music Festival. Band instructor Ann Norris said all members earned "at least one superior rating."

Valdez students also earned the top combined academics rating.

And the winners are: Jared Bowden, piano solo, "Polonaise in A major" by Chopin; Isaiah Silveira, tenor solo, "Who Is Sylvia" by Schubert, accompanied by Bonnie Thiel; Chase Randall, baritone solo, "Evermore" by Alan Menken, accompanied by Bonnie Thiel; Ariana Alvarez Morales, Lexie Henderson, and Jillian Fleming, "One Voice" by Ruth Moody and accompanied by Mason Loftinon guitar; Jillian Fleming, "I've Got You Under My Skin," accompanied by Jared Bowden, Isaiah Silveira and Mason Loftin; VHS Choir, "I Believe" by Mark A. Miller: Savannah Jones, Hope Evans, Rowan Miller, Ariana Alvarez, Lexie Henderson, Caitlin Mond, Jillian Fleming, Sara Bauman, Chloe Miller, Veronica Tudela, Alexander Britton, Chase Randall, and Isaiah Silveira VHS Jazz Band, "Brouhaha" by Les Sabina: Grace Keller, Chloe Miller, Rowan Miller, Sam Norris, Mason Loftin, Jared Bowden, Alexander Britton, Chase Randall, Isaiah Silveira.


LIO closing

The Legislative Information Office (LIO) in Valdez will close for the season on June 1 according to the manager, Tony Gorman.

The Legislature gaveled out of session Sunday. The office will remain open the rest of the month to help anyone in Valdez who feels the need to communicate with legislators outside the session or may need help with other government business.

Election hackers

(AP) Alaska officials say a hacker gained access to a server that hosts the state elections website on the morning of the 2016 general election but did not manipulate any information.

Elections Director Josie Bahnke says the incident did not compromise any election functions and was quickly addressed.

The incident was first disclosed by the Anchorage Daily news, based on a public records request. The records also have been obtained by The Associated Press.

Election officials on Wednesday downplayed the incident, which was reported at the time to the FBI.

The officials say there are frequent hacking attempts but disclosing each one that poses no threat to voter information or election results would be counterproductive and never-ending.

LNG coming

(AP) The head of the Alaska LNG project said he's done trying to convince skeptics that the project is real and continuing to move forward.

Alaska Gasline Development Corporation President Keith Meyer told the audience at a public meeting in Anchorage last week that he's done "preaching to the non-believers," Alaska's Energy Desk reported Thursday.

Corporation staff members have been holding public meetings across the state to provide information on the natural gas pipeline project and to answer questions.

At the Anchorage meeting, Meyers told the crowd of about 200 people that the project is coming and the state has to be ready.

"We've got some time; we've got some lead time, but that's going to disappear very, very quickly," Meyer said. "And so every person, every small company, every large company in the state has got to get ready."

The 800-mile (1,287-kilometer) pipeline to connect Prudhoe Bay to Nikiski still has hurdles to clear and regulatory approval is a couple years away.

The corporation has estimated that the $43 billion project would create 12,000 jobs at peak construction.

The Anchorage audience had a cluster of people clad in orange shirts, member of the Laborers' Local 341 union. Christopher Coleman-Denomie, a union member, said he was skeptical when he first heard about the project.

"But nothing has been moved forward like it has now, so everything's falling into place and it's going to create a lot of jobs for everybody - and I'm going to be a part of that," Coleman-Denomie said.

Aid Backlog

(AP) The state ombudsman's investigation into Alaska's Division of Public Assistance has found that the agency is swamped with applications and has failed to meet state and federal mandates for processing them in a timely manner.

The investigation results released a week ago Monday found several major problems causing aggravation for Alaska residents, Alaska Public Media reported.

They have had great difficulty receiving responses to their questions and the division's processing for long-term care requests is "inefficient and ineffective," according to the report.

One of the most crucial recommendations in state Ombudsman Kate Burkhart's report is to add personnel to deal with the communication problems and a backlog of roughly 20,000 applications.

The report said the agency has already been working on many of the issues identified during the investigation, including streamlining its systems for processing applications and making plans to deal with documents more efficiently.

The Legislature including additional funding to address some of the issues before closing out its business Sunday morning.

Division Director Monica Windom said eliminating the backlog is unlikely without the addition of dozens of new positions.

Windom said she's aware that budget cuts in recent years have put an increased focus on reducing state government.

Courtesy Valdez Fish Derbies

The Valdez Halibut Derby begins Saturday - last year's winners know the importance of buying a derby ticket before dropping a line.

 

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