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

News briefs


October 31, 2018

Valdez Star photo

Valdez got its first snow of the season Friday, making roadways a slushy mess. Drive safely and defensively this winter season – and slow down to avoid accidents.

Shaker rocks interior

(AP) An earthquake has shaken several communities in Alaska's interior region, but no damage has been reported.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the magnitude 5.3 earthquake hit at about 9 a.m. Saturday approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers) from the village of Tanana. It was felt by residents in Fairbanks, North Pole, Healy and Manley Hot Springs.

The center says there were no immediate reports of damage.

Fairbanks is interior Alaska's largest city, with a population of about 31,000. It's roughly 360 miles (580 kilometers) north of Anchorage.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the quake struck at a depth of about 10 miles (16 kilometers).

Feds require physicals for Alaska Fire Service

(AP) People wanting to fight wildfires in Alaska will have to submit to a medical examination before working for the federal government's Alaska Fire Service.

The new requirement applies to those jobs with the federal Bureau of Land Management, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. The rule does not apply to the state emergency firefighter program.

Firefighters will be able to get free exams through a mobile medical team that plans to visit 28 villages, beginning in November. Huslia and Galena will be the first communities visited.

The federal medical requirement has been in place for two years, but Alaska had been exempt. The medical exams will be required every three years, beginning in 2019.

The exams include vision and hearing tests, a blood draw and a urine test, but not a drug test. There also will be a yearly health questionnaire.

The exams will be done in addition to the yearly pack test requiring firefighters to carry a 45-pound (20-kilogram) weight for 3 miles (5 kilometers).

Photo courtesy FNBA

ASAA Executive Director Billy Strickland (far l.) receives presentation check from (l. to r.)First National Senior Vice President Stacy Tomuro, Vice President Zac Hays and Executive Vice President Cheri Gillian at Division I First National Bowl championship game. Gillian holds the First National Bowl trophy.

"The reason why we're doing this is for firefighter safety," said Alaska Fire Service spokeswoman Beth Ibsen. "Nothing is worse than falling ill or having a medical condition when you're out on a fire assignment."

People who are prevented by health conditions from passing the medical exams or pack tests can obtain waivers if they can prove can do the job safely without endangering other firefighters or themselves.

Alaska bank funds school sports statewide

A local bank has put its money where its mouth is regarding Alaska's student athletes.

First National Bank Alaska continued its title sponsorship of the Alaska School Activities Association (ASAA) with a $75,000 donation for the 2018-19 school year. The bank also committed to another $75,000 for the 2019-20 school year, "marking 30 years of support for the organization" the FNBA said.

ASAA is the organization that sanctions school sports and statewide championships in Alaska.


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