News briefs

 

Tony Gorman photo

Mayor Jeremy O'Neil cut the ribbon on the newly opened Totem Inn – a brand new state-of-the-art hotel that was built over the winter to replace the original structure that was lost to fire in 2016.

Pringle crunched

The tent-like structure that for several years sheltered events on the Kelsey Dock has been dismantled and will be replaced with a permanent structure.

Affectionately called the Pringle, the tent has been dismantled as workers prepare the area for construction next month of a permanent Interpretive Center.

After receiving a state grant for close to $2.5 million, the City of Valdez is moving ahead with the project beginning June 4 according to a notice distributed by Allie Ferko, the city's deputy city clerk and public information officer.

The plaza and other areas around the dock will be closed to the public during the construction period, which will include blasting operations throughout the summer.

"Blasting operations will occur for short periods of time between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., seven days per week," the city said. "Most blasting will occur below the water line. Blasting mats and stemming material will be used to prevent flying rock."


Bill Johnson for Alaska House

Flaggers will control foot and vehicular traffic during blasting periods, and a tug "Hallie H" will broadcast safety warnings on VHF/FM Channel 16.

Relay For Life

The annual Relay For Life – a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society – begins this Saturday, June 2.

The day begins with the Colors of Cancer Fun Run at noon; later events include a carnival for kids and dog walk.

The opening ceremony, which includes a survivors walk, begins at 6 p.m. A luminaria ceremony marks the end of the event, and begins at midnight, with the closing ceremony slated for 12:45 a.m.

Trail planning

Valdez Adventure Alliance is asking Valdez to get actively involved in local trail planning management.

Organizer Lee Hart said the group is hosting an Open House this Saturday, June 2 at the Roadside Potatohead (Chitina Drive) to get "input on a draft Valdez Master Trails Plan."

All trail users – on foot, snow and motorized, are invited and urged to review the plan and "...in exchange for input and/or .gpx map files, enjoy a beer, soft drinks and snacks."

The draft plans are also available on the group's website.

The group is also behind the upcoming rock climbing festival that also features yoga, arts and crafts that will be held June 8-10.

Schally shortlisted

Judge Dan Schally, who presides over the Valdez Court as a district judge, was named to the shortlist of candidates nominated to fill a vacancy on the Kenai Superior Court.

Schally is one of two candidates whose names will go before Gov. Bill Walker, who will appoint one of hopefuls to the position.

Schally and Lance Joanis, who is an assistant attorney general in Kenai, were vetted by the Alaska Judicial Council and found to be the most qualified candidates.

Walker has 45 days to make the appointment and fill the vacancy.

Ferry update

(AP) Lawmakers have approved the Alaska Marine Highway System's budget request of $140 million.

Lawmakers OK'd the request earlier this month in their spending plan for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, CoastAlaska news reported Monday.

General Manager Capt. John Falvey said despite a small decrease in funding, the total time in service for ships will actually increase by eight weeks.

``That gives us about 345.9 weeks, a little bit more, technically, than last year because of different ship configurations,'' Falvey said. ``Some ships are more expensive or not than others to run. So, it gives us a nice mix for the upcoming year.''

The marine highway faced a shutdown in April when a little-known budget provision diverted ferry funding to cover Medicaid program shortfalls.

But Gov. Bill Walker replaced that money in a supplemental budget request, which the Legislature approved.

The ferry Matanuska tied up this month for a full engine-and-drive-system replacement. The work will continue through half or more of the next budget year.

Falvey said its Prince Rupert sailings are being covered by a similar ferry, the Malaspina.

Spam recall

(AP) The U.S. Department of Agriculture is recalling more than 228,000 pounds of Spam and another product made by Minnesota-based Hormel after four consumers complained about metal objects in the food.

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service says the canned chicken and pork in question was produced in February at the company's plant in Fremont, Nebraska. The agency says ``minor oral injuries'' have been reported.

The recall covers 12-ounce metal cans containing ``SPAM Classic'' with a ``Best By'' date of February 2021 date. Those products were shipped throughout the U.S.

The production codes are F020881, F020882, F020883, F020884, F020885, F020886, F020887, F020888 and F020889.

The recall also includes 12-ounce metal cans of ``Hormel Foods Black-Label Luncheon Loaf'' with a ``Best By'' date of February 2021. Those products were shipped only to Guam, with production codes F02098 and F02108.

Emergency order

(AP) A U.S. judge on Friday ordered Alaska corrections officials to provide Muslim inmates with nutritionally sufficient, pork-free meals when they break their Ramadan fasts at night.

U.S. District Judge H. Russel Holland said in a written order that fasting Muslim inmates must be given daily meals containing at least 2,600 calories during the religion's holy month of Ramadan, which began May 16 and is marked by fasting from dawn to sunset.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations Legal Defense Fund sued on behalf of two Muslim inmates this week, arguing that bagged meals the men received each evening range from about 500 to 1,100 calories, when they should be receiving 2,600 to 2,800 calories per day under federal health guidelines.

And some days the men held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex got bologna sandwiches believed to contain pork product that they cannot eat because of their faith, the lawsuit said.

An attorney for the state, Matthias Cicotte, said the prisoners were not deprived and pork wasn't being served at the jail.

The judge set a daily threshold of at least 2,600 calories in his emergency order.

Tony Gorman photo

Chris Coleman, former US Army Seargent, was honored in Valdez last week during the town's annual Military Appreciation Day. Coleman served from 1979-1994 and was the recipient of two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star with Valor. He received a ceremonial flag from Commander and Assistant Adjutant Brigadier General Joseph Streff of the Alaska National Guard.

 

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