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

News briefs


Source: City of Valdez

A rendering of areas that will be impacted this summer as work commences on improvements surrounding the Kelsey Dock.

What a blast

Blasting operations are set to begin to support the ongoing construction of the new small boat harbor.

"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."

The blasting is not part of the new construction set to begin in the uplands project near the Kelsey Dock.

As reported last week, after receiving a state grant for close to $2.5 million, the City of Valdez is moving ahead with the project that was slated to begin 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.

Drastic changes

(AP) Alaska child care providers are concerned drastic changes could be coming to preschools throughout the state.

The Juneau Empire reports a 51-page document outlining proposed changes from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Child Care Program Office says an administrator of a child care facility with current certification would need to have a bachelor's degree in a child care related field and in-service training, and an administrator without a current certification would need a master's degree in a related field and in-service training.

Teachers and administrators without higher education currently have the option of earning a Child Development Associate credential through the Council for Professional Recognition. This credential would no longer apply under the proposed regulations.

There is no timeline on when these changes could take place.

Huffing injury

(AP) A 14-year-old girl in a group of juveniles sniffing propane was injured when the propane tank caught on fire.

Alaska State Troopers say several juveniles gathered Monday morning to "huff" propane in the village of Alakanuk (ah-LAK-ah-nuk).

The propane tank caught on fire. Flames shot out of the top of the tank, injuring the girl.

She was medically evacuated to Bethel.

Troopers say earlier reports incorrectly indicated that the propane tank had exploded.

Alakanuk is a village of 700 on the major southern channel of the Yukon River about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from the Bering Sea

Woman killed

AP - Alaska State Troopers have released the name of a woman killed when her sport utility vehicle was struck from behind on the Parks Highway west of Wasilla.

The impact caused the SUV to roll late Tuesday afternoon and 71-year-old Pat Buchanan of Wasilla was ejected. She died at the scene.

A woman with a revoked driver's license was at the wheel of a sedan that struck the SUV.

Troopers say a warrant had been issued for the sedan driver for failure to appear for a hearing on an original charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Troopers impounded both vehicles.

Budget approved

(AP) The University of Alaska Board of Regents last week approved the university's operating and capital budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

The budget includes $327 million in state unrestricted general funds, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

This year's state appropriation is a $10 million increase from last year's state funding,

This is the first budget increase for the university in four years, University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen said.

"This is great news and reflects a vote of confidence in the university, in our plans and in our leadership for Alaskans and our state," he said.

The capital budget for fiscal year 2019 totals $5 million in unrestricted general funds.

This includes a $2 million appropriation from the Legislature and an additional $3 million the university expects from a separate deferred maintenance appropriation that was directed to the governor's office.

The capital budget and $40 million from the operating budget will work to address the university's nearly $1 billion deferred maintenance backlog, Regents said.

Johnsen also updated the board on Strategic Pathways, the president's plan to streamline university operations amid continual budget cuts over the past four years.

This included an update on the new Alaska College of Education based out of Juneau. Executive Dean Steve Atwater will begin his position as head of the college on July 1. The University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Anchorage are hiring directors to lead their respective education programs.

Confidence up

(AP) American consumers were feeling a bit more optimistic in May following a slight decline in confidence in April.

Tony Gorman photo

Local band Ten to Get In performed early during Saturday's Relay For Life – one of numerous events held to raise funds for the Cancer Society, which included a 5K run, special event for dogs and their owners and many more.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 128.0 from a revised 125.6 in April. That follows March's 127.0 and February's 130.0, which was the highest reading since November of 2000.

Despite wild stock market swings and ongoing U.S. trade disputes, the index came in about where analysts expected. Some analysts say it bodes well for the future as unemployment remains low and Americans have more money to spend after last year's tax cut.

The index measures both consumers' assessment of current economic conditions and their expectations for the future. Both categories rose this month, however, consumers' views of the current labor market were mixed. The percentage of respondents who said they felt that jobs were "plentiful" rose, as did the percentage of consumers saying that jobs were "hard to get."


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