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News
WORKSESSION TO ADDRESS CUTTING OF WOOD ON CITY PROPERTY
The Valdez City Council will meet in a work session tonight at 6pm to bring forward a potential ordinance addressing wood harvesting on City property. City Community and Economic Development Director Lisa VonBargen says, "informal firewood harvest is no longer a viable option on City land because of the abuse of the policy".
The report says, "Staff has not seen any instance of a single person harvesting a few trees for personal firewood. Instead, several groups of people have been harvesting large amounts of wood in a short time, likely as a source of income. Residents of Robe River call the City to complain weekly, and when City staff does an inspection of the forest the damage that is being done to public land is beyond reproach. In one week, staff counted over 25 stumps taken, and recently wood harvesters have begun to fell live trees".
A resolution will be voted on during tonight's meeting that makes it illegal to harvest firewood on City lands without a permit and authorizes the police department to enforce a $200 fine. The ordinance also includes posting of signs at entranced to Robe River forests, hiring a professional to remove dangerous stumps and working with the state forester on a fair way to conduct a firewood harvest.


 

SUBSIDY APPROVED FOR REFINERIES IN VALDEZ, NORTH POLE & KENAI
At 2:30am this morning the State Senate approved a bill that will grant subsidies of up to $20 million a year to Petro Star refineries in Valdez and North Pole and up to $10 million to the Tesoro refinery in the Kenai reports the Alaska Dispatch. According to their report the 40 percent tax credit subsidies will be offered for five years and will be paid in the form of refunded taxes or cash payments to the companies in exchange for “infrastructure expenditures” at the refineries. The financial aid plan, requested by Petro Star after the shutdown of the Flint Hill refinery was approved in a 14-6 vote, explained the Dispatch. The same legislation made waves last week after receiving approval from the House Finance Committee, reports Liz Ruskin for Alaska Public Media. Although lawmakers on both side of the aisle express a desire to see Alaskan refineries succeed, Ruskin reports that some question the bill’s methods, including Anchorage Representative Les Gara saying, “It’s a bailout, it’s a giveaway, it’s poorly crafted,” Gara says. “It costs the state $150 million over five years, and it gives $50 million to Tesoro who doesn’t even want the money. At a time when we can’t afford our schools we need to come up with smarter solutions than just giving money to companies.” According to the report supporters like, North Pole Representative Steve Thompson believe the bill will not only help Alaska refineries but will keep other institutions such as Eielson Air Force base in business. Some representatives expressed concerns that the bill was presented with more detailed financial information from Petro Star saying no “meaningful analysis.” In the words of Representative Alan Austerman of Kodiak, “We’re just going based upon, a company come(s) to the state of Alaska saying that ‘we’re going to go out of business if you don’t give us some money.”
CLICK HERE to read the story from the Alaska Dispatch
CLICK HERE to read the report from Alaska Public Media
 
HIGHWAY NEIGHBORS MEET IN VALDEZ
Tourism industry folks from Valdez, Glennallen, Tok and other areas on the road system met in Valdez last week for an information sharing event called "Highway Neighbors". The Valdez Convention and Visitors  Bureau hosted the event that included "Meet and Greet" events as well as presentations from the Department of Transportation, the Alaska Tourism Industry Association and Alaska Fish and Game. Industry leaders are expecting this year's tourism season to be strong. Alan LeMaster of Gulkana Fishing Charters addressed the group saying "I think they're coming and they're coming in good numbers". Laura Saxe of Eagles Rest RV Park said reservations are looking very good for the summer and she is also anticipating a good year.

 
RELAY FOR LIFE HELPS LOCALLY
Last year Natalie Lawrence was recruited to volunteer for Relay for Life. Shortly after taking on the position of Sponsorship Chair, her father John Parish was diagnosed with cancer. "It became personal", said Lawrence. John Parish lost his battle with cancer this year but Natalie knows first hand why she wants everyone to support the American Cancer Society (ACS) by participating in their Relay for Life event here in Valdez. "ACS gave to my family when they needed it and made fighting cancer a bit easier to deal with", said Lawrence. ACS is a national organization but Lawrence said her family was not the only one to benefit from the many services they provide in Valdez and Alaska. In the Valdez-Cordova area in 2012, ACS assisted 28 people with fuel assistance and seven with financial assistance. Lawrence said ACS also provides funding for screenings to detect cancer, research and finding a cure. Relay for Life is a fundraiser for ACS, but it is also an occasion every year to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and empower communities to fight back against a disease that takes too much from too many. Valdez Relay for Life starts Friday, June 6th at 6pm and runs through Saturday. You can find more information at www.relayforlifeofvaldez.org. KVAK will feature information about ACS in the next few weeks and Natalie Lawrence will join Margaret Henry on Good News, Friday, May 9th to share more of her story and explain how ACS works in our community.


 
HEALTHIER YOU 2014 ANNOUNCES WINNERS
Healthier You announced their 2014 winners on Saturday during their Finale Event. Youth Grand Prize winners included Owen Watson, Kali Petersen and Samantha Lemieux. Jimmy Barlow  on the adult Grand Prize $1,000 cash and Jacob Hebert took home a brand new bike. Winners from all the HY 2014 age and prize categories can be found HERE. Additionally the organizers announced that during the 2014 Healthier You, Valdez lost 1,147.5 Lbs, 2014 logged 57,213 activity points, and avoided tobacco for 91days.

 
BILL PASSES ALLOWING NON-ALASKANS ON STATE GAS LINE BOARD
House Bill 383 passed in the State Senate last week clearing Parnell-appointed Richard Rabinow of Texas to serve on the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation reports the Alaska Dispatch. According to their report, the bill would “allow AGDC to have out-of-state appointments, and to backdate that permission to Rabinow's September appointment.” The article details a variety of reactions from lawmakers and politicians ranging from support, such as Sen. Cathy Giessel response saying the bill was to fix an “ambiguity” in the law, not simply appoint Rabinow, to comments from independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker, saying: “The fact that our governor, who has also worked as a lobbyist for ConocoPhillips, would change the law in order to have an Exxon man negotiate for Alaska is further confirmation that Parnell is not wearing the people's uniform.”
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch


 
MISS LAST WEEK’S LUNAR ECLIPSE? VIEW IT HERE!
Valdez’s typical cloudy skies may not have made for ideal viewing of last week’s lunar eclipse and “blood moon,” however Valdezeans can get a good look at the event with these photos from the Alaska Dispatch.


 
BEAR HIBERNATION NEARING AN END
With summer on its way Valdez’s bears will soon be emerging from hibernation. CLICK HERE for a receive a reminder on general bear safety practices in town and in the backcountry from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

$8.7 BILLION IN FUNDING FOR USCG PASSES HOUSE
The House passed legislation authorizing $8.7 billion in discretionary funding to US Coast Guard reports the Cordova Times. The bill, H.R. 4005 known as the Howard Coble Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act will now move to the Senate for consideration. The funding will support USCG operation, acquisitions and research for the 2015-2016 fiscal year reports author Margaret Bauman. The bill passed with bipartisan support and according to Representative Don Young  features “significant provisions affecting Alaska that would repeal overbearing rules and regulations on fishermen and vessel owners, work to replace and modernize aging USCG assets including our icebreaker fleet, and improve land and housing infrastructure across the state." Young told Bauman that he worked with the legislature to include “permanently exempting owners of fishing vessels and small commercial vessels from having to obtain a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permit before discharging rain water runoff, air conditioner condensate and bilge water from their vessels.”
To read the full article from the Cordova Times CLICK HERE


 
 
BILL RAISING ALASKA MINIMUM WAGES PASSED BY HOUSE
The House approved a measure that would raise Alaska's minimum wage to $9 an hour starting July 1st, reports the Alaska Dispatch. According to their report the measure was narrowly approved in a 21-19 vote and will now proceed to the State Senate. Should the measure also clear the Senate it will remove an existing initiative from the statewide August ballot seeking to raise the minimum wage to $8.75 starting next January. According to the Dispatch, opponents of the bill are suspicious of the timing of its introduction, worrying that it will remove the issue from the ballot and then be reversed by the legislature.  A report last week from the Fairbanks News-Miner explained that this would not be the first time such a thing has occurred citing an incident in 2002 when lawmakers revoked new provisions regarding the minimum wage from a similar bill a year after the law took effect. According to the Dispatch, allowing the issue to be decided by statewide vote would protect the measure from changes for two years, a restriction that does not apply to acts of the Legislature.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Fairbanks News-Miner


 
VPD TO CONDUCT TRAINING AT VALDEZ CITY SCHOOLS
The Valdez Police Department will conduct A.L.I.C.E. training at Valdez City Schools today. According to Bill Comer over the VPD, A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate) is a response system for handling armed assailants or violent intruders in the schools. The VPD will also provide bullet proof whiteboards throughout the school system. The VPD will also present A.L.I.C.E. information at tonight’s School Board meeting.
CLICK HERE for more information on A.L.I.C.E.


 
LOCAL WOMAN COMPETES IN AK WILDERNESS SKI CLASSIC
Sarah Histand, PWSCC Health and Fitness Center Coordinator and Valdez resident, ranked among the 19 participants in this year's Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic, a race known for being the longest unsupported ski race in North America. According to a report from PWSCC, Histand competed with her brother, Ben Histand, as part of a two person team covering approximately 200 miles of terrain on skis with a route that gained a total of 15,000 feet of vertical gain through the Wrangell St. Elias Mountains. Starting in McCarthy, Sarah and Ben reached the finish line at mile 94.5 of the Tok Cut Off Road in 7.5 days. "Some days we had really good traveling conditions," Sarah told her colleagues adding, "we would ski for long days (13 hours or more) and make big miles - up to 40. Other days were through much more difficult terrain, and after putting in the same long days we'd only get 15 to 20 miles." Sarah related stories of extreme windy days that pushed the pair backwards on their skies, forcing them to put on skins or remove the skis entirely. Wilderness Classic competitors choose their own routes working through various kinds of terrain including rivers, mountain passes, glaciers, brush and valleys. Histand detailed the team's gear set up in the PWSCC report explaining that she and her brother traveled with ultralight winter camping gear, skinny metal edged cross country skis and food supplies, weighing approximately 40 pounds at the start of the race. Histand told PWSCC that she entered the Classic even though she wasn't sure she was "up for tackling all of its challenges," but with the successful 200 mile trip behind her she reported experiencing a "great sense of strength and empowerment," adding, "It was truly life changing."


 
NY TIMES ARTICLE LOOKS AT GENDER DIVIDE IN VALDEZ HELI-SKIING
Author Cindy Hirschfeld, said of planning an all-girl getaway: “Invite your friends to a ‘girlfriend getaway,’ and most people envision spas or beaches or maybe a lost weekend in Las Vegas. It does not conjure up the idea of going heli-skiing in Alaska,” adding “what we wanted was sisterhood, which is in short supply in many heli-skiing locations.” In her article, “A Sisterhood of Snow in Alaska,” published in the NY Times, Hirschfeld explains that the idea for a women only adventure came after her friend Nina Quiros made a trip to Valdez and noticed the lack of women on the slopes. Hirschfeld writes, “After hearing that the few women who came to ski Valdez were almost always accompanied by a male partner, Nina vowed to return the next winter with a group of game-for-adventure women — friends and friends of friends — in tow.” Quiros and nine friends did just this – tackling the slopes of the Chugach mountains with H2O Guides. Though Hirschfeld expresses a positive impression of the experience, she doesn’t shy away from sharing her doubts wondering: “Was it possible that because of our group’s gender makeup, we were getting heli-skiing lite?” Hirschfeld’s conclusions on the subject and overall impression of the sisterhood’s adventure can be found in the full article on the New York Times website, HERE.


 
BENNETT SAYS THANK YOU
Hermon Hutchens Elementary School Principal, Christopher Bennett, said thank you to HHES parents and students in a letter released on Friday. Bennett will transfer to a position in the Aleutian Islands for the upcoming school year.  In the letter Bennett expressed gratitude and offered personal reflections saying, “Ever since I was eight years old, all I wanted was to live in a log cabin in the mountains.  Valdez gave that to me.  In my professional life, all I’ve wanted was to be the principal of a loving school with sweetheart kids.  Valdez gave that to me as well.”
To read the letter in full, CLICK HERE.


 
VCS FORMING COMMITTEE FOR PRINCIPAL SEARCH
Valdez City Schools is forming a committee for a principal search. This committee will review applications, participate in interviews and make recommendation to the Superintendent. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please complete the application on the School District’s Webpage or the Valdez City Schools page on kvakradio.com and return to fstuparich@valdezcityschools.org. Deadline to apply to be on the Valdez City Schools principal search committee is Thursday, April 10th at 5pm


 
ALASKA TEACHER OF THE YEAR PROGRAM SEEKS NOMINATIONS
The Alaska Teacher of the Year program is currently seeking nominations from school districts throughout state. According the materials published by the TOY program, the organization aims “to honor a teacher who provides exceptional service to the students of today, the leaders of tomorrow.” “Often times we don’t take advantage of the opportunity to let teachers know how valued they are and that their hard work does not go unnoticed,” said Atiya Barlow, Coordinator of the Alaska TOY program, adding “Last year, out of approximately 8,000 certified and employed teachers in Alaska, only two applications were submitted.  This means only 2 of 56 districts were represented in the TOY pool.” The recipient of the award will not only receive recognition for their work but will also receive technology for their classroom, a scholarship to pursue an advanced degree and the chance to meet the President of the United States. To nominate a teacher from your school district see the information below.
CLICK HERE to view the Alaska Teacher of the Year nomination guidelines.
CLICK HERE to view the Alaska Teacher of the Year nomination form.


 
STRATEGIC "DOING" PROJECT IN THE WORKS
In addition to creating an Economic Diversification Commission, the City provided direction during their work session March 6th to schedule an introduction workshop on "Strategic Doing," schedule a time to have initial discussion about the UA Center for Economic Development  and to bring back options regarding additional staffing requirements (both contract and employee).
A workshop with the Council is slated for Monday, April 14th and on the morning of April 15th there will be a 4-hour community introduction workshop.
CLICK HERE to read "Strategic Doing" overview


 
 
CITY WANTS COMMITTEE FOR ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION COMMISSION
The City of Valdez put together a list of categories of people who could be appointed to an Economic Diversification Commission and will have a 2nd reading to put the commission together this evening. CLICK HERE to see the format for the commission.


 
TEAMS COMING TO VALDEZ FOR HOOPING FOR SPRING TOURNAMENT
The Valdez Youth Basketball league is preparing for the "Hooping for Spring" tournament slated for April 25th and 26th in Valdez. The tournament brings to Valdez 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grade players from Barrow, Fairbanks, Delta, Glennallen, Cordova, Eagle River, Palmer, Wasilla, Colony, Anchorage and Houston. The tournament has grown from 37 teams the first year to 50 teams participating last year.


 
VALDEZ MAYOR JOINS OTHERS TO REQUEST INCLUSION IN GASLINE DISCUSSIONS
Mayors from Valdez, Kenai, North Slope and Fairbanks joined forces last week sending a letter to Govern Parnell in response to his creation of Municipal Advisory Gas Project Review Board, a council to address “the potential impact and benefits of a major natural gas project on communities throughout the state.” The mayors thanked the Parnell administration for the creation of the board but expressed concern saying “there is currently no mechanism to allow the board to participate in the negotiations or to even offer suggestions to the administration regarding the proposed, confidential terms of any agreements reached between the administration and the producers.” The Fairbanks Newsminer picked up the story following the Mayors to the House Resources Committee where they testified on Tuesday. According to the Newsminer the mayors explained “their concerns about taxation powers and guarantees that alternative payments could adequately cover the impact the pipeline could bring.”
CLICK HERE to read the Press Release from the Mayors
CLICK HERE to read the coverage from the Fairbanks Newsminer


 
 
THREE INSERVICE DAYS NEXT WEEK
The School Board voted awhile back to add three new in-service days to the school calendar: April 14th, 15th and 16th. The State Board of Education approved the addition and the school calendar has since been officially updated.
CLICK HERE to view the school calendar. Remember, school won't be back in session until after Labor Day also to accommodate opening of the new middle school at the start of the year.


 
CHANGE OF DATE FOR LOCAL ELECTIONS
The Valdez City Council will continue discussion tonight about moving the General Election from October to May 2015. According to City Manager John Hozey, public input has been positive. “Originally we were planning the change for April, but after Valdez City Schools expressed concerns that April would be too early for their budget cycle, the City changed the proposal to the first Council meeting in May. If the new election date passes, the current City Council and School Board members and those elected this October will have their terms shortened by six months to accommodate.


 
OIL TAX REVENUES COULD DECREASE BY “HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS” DURING GAS LINE CONSTRUCTION
An article, published in the Alaska Dispatch, cautions that construction on the natural gas pipeline project could decrease state oil tax revenue. The drop could be anywhere from “$250 million to $375 million a year during gas pipeline construction,” say legislative consultants. According to the Dispatch, the cause of the reduction stems from tax law that makes the construction costs deductible against the state oil taxes for production of both oil and natural gas. “The way the legislation is written at the moment, all upstream costs, regardless of whether they are for oil or for gas, are deductible against the oil production tax,” said Janak Mayer, a consultant for the Legislature. Dermot Cole, author of the article, says that currently the Parnell administration has declined to share details of how much construction at Point Thomson would cost the state in lower tax revenues calling the information “not public.” According to Cole, Parnell’s administration says that oil tax reductions “would be more than offset” by income from the natural gas pipeline, but did not provide numbers to back up the claim. In the article Cole explains Mayer and enalytica’s analysis saying, “His presentation said oil revenues would fall about $250 million a year from 2020-2024 if Point Thomson development costs are in the $3 billion range. If Exxon spends $4.5 billion on Point Thomson, the annual reduction for those four years would be about $375 million. He also said that it is far too early to know what the real numbers will turn out to be as the engineering work on the pipeline has not taken place.”
CLICK HERE to view the full article from the Alaska Dispatch


 
PETITION PROMOTING ALASKAN SECESSION GAINS SIGNATURES
Alaska has been making national news with the recent post of a petition to secede from the United States and re-join Russia. According to Fox News the petition, posted on the White House website, originated with “S.V.” of Anchorage and as of last Wednesday had gained nearly 30,000 signatures. According to their report the White House typically issues a response to petitions that receive over 100,000 signatures in 30 days, adding that should S.V.’s petition reach 100,000, it will likely receive the same response as Texas’s 2012 secession petition: “Our states remain united.”
CLICK HERE to read more from Fox News.

 
HOUSE REPRESENTATIVES CONSIDER ROLE OF TRANSCANADA IN LNG PIPELINE DEVELOPMENT
Despite senate approval of Bill 138, the involvement of TransCanada still remains an topic of debate among representatives from the House reports the Alaska Dispatch.  Under Bill 138 TransCanada is granted a role in Alaska’s share in the project, says the Dispatch, making some lawmakers question including the company. But according to representatives from the Parnell administration Alaska needs TransCanada. “Alaska will have to borrow billions of dollars to pay for its share of the project, but with oil revenues declining it may find financial markets reluctant to lend at attractive rates. ‘The state may start hitting its debt limits pretty quickly without TransCanada, or (another) partner, or trying to go it alone,’ said Deepa Poduval with Black & Veatch, the consulting firm with which the Department of Natural Resources contracts, ” explained the Dispatch. According to their report, if Alaska decided to seek a LNG partner to replace TransCanada the state might run into trouble first from cost setbacks incurred by going out to bid and second from possible damage claims form TransCanada based on a provision in AGIA contract.
CLICK HERE to read the full story from the Alaska Dispatch.

 
BUILDING MORATORIUM EXPIRES FOR OLD VALDEZ
Valdez residents are familiar with the quiet beauty of the tidal flats in Old Valdez. Newcomers to the community might find it hard to imagine development at the east end of the Port, but with the end of a 50 year building moratorium on the site, expiring at the end of March, Old Valdez could be in for future changes. Lisa Von Bargen, head of Valdez’s Department of Community and Economic Development, recently spoke with the Alaska Dispatch regarding the end of the Old Valdez building ban saying, “Just because the condemnation is gone doesn’t mean the seismic or geological hazards go away,” adding, “The old town area is subject to liquefaction at any time, without any seismically-induced event.” The Dispatch’s report cites the 1983 DOWL Engineer’s report that divides the Old Valdez area into three regions subject to different safety evaluations: “Zone A”- the 471-acre waterfront heart of old Valdez, considered the most dangerous area with a “high” likelihood of deaths and total loss of all economic property in the event of a future large earthquake. “Zone B”- a little more than 1,000 acres of property inland that already has some development including Mark’s Auto Repair and the  Paw Power Kennels. The study rates Zone B as “moderate” with the warning that some economic property could also be subject to total loss. Still further inland is “Zone C,” where more building has been allowed and the risk has been rated as “low to moderate”. Von Bargen explained to the Alaska Dispatch that developers seeking to build in the Old Valdez area would likely be dissuaded by insurance concerns. However, according to the Dispatch one local institution, the Valdez Museum, has expressed interest in seeing a portion of the land preserved as a heritage site.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch.

 
ALASKA SHIELD EXERCISE FINISHES OPERATIONS
With the Alaska Shield Exercise wrapping up this afternoon, Valdez’s emergency responders can look forward to relaxing. “It’s been really long and really tiring,”Jennifer Weber, a member of the Fire Department’s Backcountry Rescue Team told KVAK with a smile. Despite the challenge of the Alaska Shield training, which consisted of three full days of earthquake and tsunami drills, Valdez’s emergency responders seemed pleased with the opportunity to practice and better prepare for future emergencies.  The exercise included tsunami and earthquake simulations and involved City of Valdez employees, Providence Valdez Medical Center staff, the US Coast Guard, and the National Guard Units at the local and state level. “It’s very seldom that that just one agency has all the necessary resources to perform a rescue,” said Captain Mike Weber of the Valdez Fire Department. Weber added that the Alaska Shield Exercises have helped Valdez’s emergency responders work through command and control structures for an emergency, “The routing of resources, the technical on the ground things we can practice every day but these events really help us coordinate with that incident command.”
“In terms of planning, it’s all of the partnerships you need to develop in advance,” said MerSry Carlson, the Section Chief for Emergency Programs within Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Service’s, “and that you want to develop in advance. You can’t do all of these things last minute and do them well, so you have to work together. So the work that you spend doing the exercise planning, is actually the work you are doing for future response.” Those interested in reviewing the events from Alaska Shield can access
all the press releases distributed by the City of Valdez as part of the exercise on the KVAK website. CLICK HERE to view the press releases and more information on Alaska Shield.

 
DEVENS SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN PRISON
On March 25th Jacob Devens of Valdez, DOB 6/16/95, was sentenced to 10 years in prison with four years suspended. Devens pled guilty to one count of unlawful exploitation of a minor which is a Class B felony. Devens met girls through internet and photo sharing sites, obtained photos and threatened to post on social media sites. KVAK Radio sat down with Valdez Police Officers Dan Mott and Bart Hinkle to discuss this case and other cases involving youth and the internet. The interview can be heard during the 9am, noon and 6pm news hours on 93.3FM and 1230AM. The interview is also posted as a podcast on the www.kvakradio.com homepage.

 
 
VCS SUPERINTENDENT RESIGNS
On Friday, March 28, 2014, Dr. Lisa Stroh submitted her letter of resignation effective
June 30, 2014, to the Valdez City School District Board of Education. The Board will hold a Special Meeting, Monday, March 31, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room of the District Office to discuss and take action on how to proceed in selecting a superintendent for the District.

 

ALASKA SHIELD EXERCISE
FRIDAY, MARCH 28th through MONDAY, MARCH 31st

The City of Valdez will be participating in a state-wide training event. This is Alaska's opportunity to exercise for a catastrophic South Central earthquake.
CLICK HERE to read the latestrelease from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read the latest press release from JIC
CLICK HERE to read the 12th release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read the 11th release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read the 10th release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read the 9th press release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read latest release. City is simulating a Tsunami Saturday morning
CLICK HERE
to read the 7th press release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read the 6th press release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read the 5th press release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read the 4th  press release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read the 3rd press release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE for the 2nd press release from the City of Valdez.
CLICK HERE for the inital press release.

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EXPECT TO SEE EMERGENCY VEHICLES, HELICOPTERS, EMERGENCY AND MILITARY PERSONNEL, AND MOCK RESCUES OF ACTUAL PEOPLE WITH SIMULATED INJURIES THROUGHOUT THE EVENT. THE EXERCISE WILL BE CONDUCTED AS IF IT WERE AN ACTUAL EMERGENCY WITH SIRENS ON AND PARTICIPANTS ACTING THE PART.

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE EXERCISE
-Simulated search and rescue efforts will take place in Port Valdez
- Sat. March 29th: tsunami siren will be activated as part of the event
- Providence Valdez Medical Center to set up an alternate care site for patients once the hospital meets capacity
- Mock injuries will be visible during the drill
- Patients will be transported from the Valdez Airport to Fairbanks
- Back country rescue at the Valdez Glacier to take place on Sunday, March 30th

CLICK HERE for more information on the Alaska Shield Exercises
CLICK HERE for a map of Alaska Shield Exercise locations

HHES and GMS WILL PARTICIPATE IN AK SHIELD EXERCISES ON FRIDAY, MARCH 28th
- Shortly after 1pm on Friday a public announcement will be made indicating that HHES and GMS are closing and requesting parents to pick up their students immediately

-For this drill HHES parents should go directly to student homerooms, without stopping in the office, to pick up students. GMS parents should go directly to the GMS cafeteria, without stopping in the office, to pick up students

-Students will only be released to parents or people listed as emergency contacts. Parents will be asked to provide photo ID

-For Alaska Shield purposes, schools are asked to operate as if landline telephone, cell phones and the Internet are out of service. Therefore, schools will be unable to either call parents directly or use the automated emergency calling system to notify parents of the school closure

- Valdez High School will NOT participate in the Alaska Shield Exercise and will maintain a regular school schedule

CLICK HERE for more information

 VALDEZ WINTER GAME RESULTS
Valdez Parks and Recreation hosted their Valdez Winter Games over the weekend.
CLICK HERE to view the results

 
SUPERINTENDENT STROH ASKING FOR RELEASE OF CONTRACT WITH VCSD
Superintendent Dr. Lisa Stroh will be asking the Valdez School Board to Approve her release from the second year of her contract with Valdez City School District if she is offered a position with a different school district. Stroh is currently a finalist for the Superintendent position in Petersburg. Without approval and a release from her contract with Valdez City School District, it is questionable whether another School District would hire her. This request comes on the heels of letters of resignation from HHES Principal Christopher Bennett and H.S. Principal Elizabeth Balcerek.

 
ELEMENTARY PRINCIPAL TURNS IN LETTER OF RESIGNATION
Teachers and parents signed a letter of support for Principal Christopher Bennett after finding out he received a letter of non-retention last week. In an interview with KVAK Friday morning.  Bennett said,“If I had been given the honorable opportunity to resign, I would have done that”. Bennett’s name was left off the list of recommended Tenured Teachers, Director and Administrator contracts presented by the Superintendent during the February 24th meeting. The School Board did not approve the list during the February 24th meeting and did not provide direction on how they would move forward with hiring.
Stroh stated at the February 24th School Board meeting that she had put together a list of employees she had confidence in and said she would not go into detail regarding issues that prompted her to take Bennett’s name off the list. She said that personnel issues would, most likely, need to be discussed in Executive Session.
Bennett said he was not “told straight up” he would not be retained so, despite the fact that he did not have support from the Superintendent, he did not submit his letter of resignation prior to receiving his letter of non-retention in mid March. Dr. Stroh met with Bennett Friday afternoon and gave him the opportunity to resign and Bennett said he turned in his letter this morning.
“We had a nice discussion and we have philosophical differences”, Bennett said. “We agreed we wanted things to be peaceful for the community and the kids”. “We just have two different approaches and neither one is wrong”. Bennett said he and the Superintendent love kids and both want to work in schools and said they disagreed on some things they probably didn’t need to. Bennett said the two actually have a lot of common ground. “We came to an understanding Friday afternoon and Stroh said she would write a positive letter of recommendation for me so we are parting ways in peace”. Bennett said. “If I go or if she and I both go, it will be positive”.

 

VALDEZ MAKES ATTEMPT AT WORLD RECORD

Valdezeans met at the Sea Otter RV park on Friday in an attempt to break the world record for most snowmen built in one hour. The event was organized by Valdez Parks and Recreation and has been in the works since last summer. According to P&R Recreation Activities Coordinator Sarah Jorgensen-Owen, 1,092 snowmen were built within the one hour time limit. Unfortunately for participants the number did not break the previous world record held by Salt Lake City in Utah of 1, 279. Photo provided by Joe Prax.
CLICK HERE to view more photos of the event.

 

 VALDEZ CHEER TEAM RETURNS FROM STATE
Valdez High School traveled to Anchorage last week to compete in the State Cheerleading completion.  "State cheer is different from basketball as teams compete against other teams of similar size, not school size.  The Buc team of 14 girls and boys competed in the large varsity coed division against Dimond, Juneau Douglas, Metlakatla, Palmer, Kodiak and West Anchorage, " explained Cheer Coach Tina Fifarek. According to Fifarek, Dimond High placed first with Juneau Douglas taking second place during the competition. Juneau Douglas also took first place in both the sideline cheer and dance competition  with Kodiak & Colony placing second respectively.
  "Although we did not bring home a trophy the kids were very pleased with how they performed and had a wonderful time, " said Fifarek. Two Buccaneer cheerleaders, Chloe Snow and Reggie Radotich were selected for the all tourney cheerleading team. The Valdez Cheer Team also cheered during three State basketball games with Lauren Overduyn, Reggie Radotich, and Chloe Snow being selected as Cheerleader of the Game for each of those performances.
CLICK HERE to view video from the competition

 
CANADIAN REPRESENTATIVE ASK US LAWMAKERS FOR MORE ALASKA HIGHWAY FUNDING
Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski came to Washington last week to ask US lawmakers to pay for US roads, explains the Alaska Dispatch. According to their report, since 1977 the US and Canadian governments have agreed to share the costs of maintenance and improvement of the Alaska Highway, at least until lawmakers eliminated the US’s share of the funding from our last annual budget. Pasloski points out, "Canada, the Yukon and British Columbia have put nearly $1.5 billion into the Alaska Highway, while the United States has provided about $460 million, so that’s a little less than 25 percent," adding “I tell the senators and members of Congressmen: `Look, you have invested approximately 25 percent of the money spent on the road, but 85 percent of the traffic is U.S. traffic.” According to the Dispatch Paskloski says he has received letters of support from the Teamsters and the American Trucking Associations but doesn’t expect to hear from US lawmakers for at least 2-3 month.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch.


 
RETURN OF EL NINO COULD MEAN MORE WARM WEATHER FOR ALASKA
According to North Carolina’s Climate Prediction Center, El Nino could be back in 2014 after a four year hiatus and meteorologist speculate that its return could spell warm weather for Alaska, says the Alaska Dispatch. El Nino “generally means warmer -- but not necessarily drier -- weather across the state,” reports the Dispatch adding “If El Niño develops, the effect on Alaska will be most noticeable in winter,” meaning the winter of 2014-2015 could bring more meltdowns for normally snowy slopes.
CLICK HERE for the full article from the Alaska Dispatch.


 
LNG PROPOSAL MOVES FROM STATE SENATE TO HOUSE
Senate Bill 138, Governor Parnell’s legislation for an Alaskan Natural Gas treatment plant, pipeline and liquefaction plant passed in the state Senate on Tuesday in a 15-5 vote reports the Anchorage Daily News. In five hours of debate on the Senate floor lawmakers discussed controversial elements of the bill including the state partnering with BP, Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips and TransCanada Corp as well as an option allowing the state to turn over its 25 percent share of the project to TransCanada and later buy back up to 40 percent of this quarter share explained the ADN report. Bill 138 moved next to the state House for a resource committee meeting on Wednesday.
CLICK HERE to read the full story from the Anchorage Daily News.


 
VALDEZ SCHOOL DISTRICT NOT OVER BUDGET AS PREDICTED
A brief review of the Valdez City School District 2014 Budget at the February 24th regular meeting noted that 60 percent of funds for the district had been expended and they were on track to finish the year within budget.  A $500,000 shortfall was anticipated, but Administration reported they budgeted within available funds for 2014 and do not anticipate a shortfall for the 2015 budget.
CLICK HERE to view the FY15 Budget Presentation
 


 
OPENING DAY FOR SCHOOL MIGHT MOVE TO SEPTEMBER 2nd
The motivation behind Superintendent Lisa Stroh requesting a later start date for school is so Middle School students can attend the first day of school in the new middle school building next year. Construction of the Middle School is way ahead of schedule. CLICK HERE and scroll to the last page to view the VCS Calendar for 2014-2015 with proposed changes.


 
SCHOOL BOARD ANNOUNCES SPECIAL MEETING IN STATEMENT FROM ACTING PRESIDENT
The School Board will meet for a special meeting on Tuesday, March 18th starting at 6:30pm. Acting School Board President, Dawn Farmer, released the following information regarding School Board activity: “The Board meeting of February 24th proved to be challenging for the Board, individual Board members, the Superintendent and those in attendance. The Board recognizes that advice and counsel regarding the conduct of Board meetings and the role of the Superintendent and Board may be helpful to reestablishing the orderly conduct of meetings and facilitating the business of the Board. Toward this end, the Board will have a special meeting on March 18, 2014 at 6:30 p.m. which all Board members have agreed to attend and will include discussions with the Executive Director of the Association of Alaska School Boards, Mr. Joseph Reeves, and Board Attorney John Sedor. The Board will consider legal responsibilities, options and opportunities for it to improve the climate of the District and keep and maintain focus on the educational services provided to the Students of Valdez. It is anticipated that the meeting will include executive sessions appropriate to the situation and allowable under Alaska law."


 
SEARCHING FOR CLUES TO PAST EARTHQUAKES AT THE BOTTOM ON EKLUTNA LAKE
Alaska residents know that their state is a hotspot for seismic activity. But with accurate historical records going back only approximately 200 years researchers need to investigate other avenues for information on the earthquakes that took place in Alaska’s past. A recent article from the Alaska Dispatch details one such operation at Eklutna Lake. According to Rick Sinnot, lake sediments can provide paleoseismologists with a way to measure the magnitude and timing of historical earthquakes. According to Sinnot, “Seismic shaking causes subaquatic landslides that generate well-defined deposits of sediments on the bottom of the lake. These are easy to differentiate from annual sediment layers in glacial lakes, which consist of fine-grained sediments deposited in winter and coarser sediments in summer. In cross section annual sediment layers look like tree rings, and the chronology of large seismic events can be aged much like a forester can document past wildfires based on burns buried deep inside a tree trunk.” Sinnot’s report details that samples from Eklutna Lake show evidence of the 1964 earthquake and with further examination could help “untangle the seismic history recorded during the past 5,000 to 6,000 years.” According to Sinnot’s report, such sampling could even help generate approximate reoccurrence intervals between large earthquakes, estimates that could help residents of South Central Alaska better prepare for the more seismic activity in the future.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch.


 
ALASKA TEAMS UP FOR RELIEF FROM JONES ACT
According to a report from the Fairbanks Newsminer, lawmakers from Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam met last Thursday to discuss working together to pressure the US Government for relief from the Jones Act. A maritime law originally passed in the 1920s, the Jones Act  was “designed to protect the domestic shipping industry. It states that only ships made in the U.S. and flying the country's flags can deliver goods between U.S. ports,” says the Newsminer. The article explains that under the Jones Act foreign vessels cannot deliver cargo from one US port to another. The representatives from Alaska, Hawaii and the territories argue that the law contributes to the high cost of living in their districts as all are dependent on shipments from the lower 48. According to the Newsminer, Hawaii’s state senator Sam Slom provided an example to the financial burden the Jones Act levies on shipments saying “it costs about $790 to ship a 40-foot container from Los Angeles to Shanghai, but it costs $8,700 to ship the same container from Los Angeles to Honolulu.” Limiting shipments to US ships only is also hindered by the high cost of ship building in the US, says the Hawaii Shipper’s Council.  According to the Shipper’s Council president, the cost of building a vessel in the US is five times higher than in Japan or South Korea and as a result less ships are being produced in the US. According to Alaska State Senator Fred Dyson, "The general population is utterly ignorant of either the Jones Act or its implications for us," Dyson said. "We have a job to do to explain what the savings would be."
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Fairbanks Newsminer.


 

VHS CHEERLEADERS HEAD TO STATE AFTER 1ST PLACE WIN AT REGIONALS

The Valdez Buccaneer Cheer team recently came home from a regional competition in Delta victorious with a first place finish. At the event the Valdez team competed against Hutchison, Delta, Eielson and Monroe being judged on their game time cheering as well as a performance dance/cheer piece, explained Cheer Coach Tina Fifarek. Valdez placed first with Hutchison’s team taking the 2nd place spot and Eielson following in third. The regional win will propel the VHS Cheerleaders to the State competition coming up on Tuesday, March 18th in Anchorage. According to Fifarek 14 cheerleaders, including 11 girls and 3 boys will be traveling to the event to compete against like sized teams in the co-ed division. Teams from Dimond, Kodiak, Metlakatla, Palmer and Barrow are also expected to attend. “While there we will have three separate competitions,” explains Fifarek, “a  one minute sideline cheer that involves the crowd, transitions and stunts, a one minute sideline dance that also involves transitions and stunts and the main 2:30 minutes performance piece.  This piece can only have 90 seconds of music.  We have been working on this competition piece since December.  There are multiple stunt sequences in both the crowd cheer and dance.” Fifarek offered personal reflections on the event as well saying, “Cheer competitions at the state level are a tremendous amount of fun.  Everyone cheers and supports everyone else.  Kids get to meet people from other schools and parts of the state that we will never travel to, friendships are forged.  This competition is what we work for each year.” The 2014 VHS Cheer Team includes Reggie Radotich, Gabriele LaBonte, Christian Delay, Chloe Snow, Lauren Overduyn, Mariana Princz, Sammi Allen, Tiffany Duarte, Patrick Conner, Madeline Hogarth, Joy Shumate, Taylor Anderson, Milky Moreyra and Anujin Bayartaatar.

Pictured above: The VHS Cheer Team performs at a home basketball game.
Photo provided by Joe Prax.


 


 MAYOR’S CUP 2014
The Valdez Snowmachine Club held their annual Mayor’s Cup on Saturday. The 2014 race marked the 17th annual Mayor’s Cup in Valdez and offered riders a challenging technical course thanks to this winter’s wild weather. “The course was more technical than past years due to the dozens of washed out creek channels that bisected many areas of the course caused by the heavy rains and warm temperatures at the end of January. The following six weeks of light snowfall further complicated matters, as Mother Nature did not fill in the creeks with fresh snow,” explained Scott Benda of the Valdez Snowmachine Club.
According to Benda the Mayor’s Cup course is known as one of the roughest and most unique cross country courses in the state. “Unlike other XC races the Mayor’s Cup features a little bit of everything from the hill climb and decent on Hogsback, ditch running along the highway, very high speed sections on the lake, swamp, Dump Road and Glacier stream and technical sections though the woods to connect everything together,” said Benda, “If you never tried racing, you owe it to yourself to enter the Mayor’s Cup at least once. There is nothing quite like being able to legally ride as fast as you can for hours on end and actually be encouraged to do so!”
George Ingebo, a Past Mayor’s Cup winner from Valdez, won first place in the 2 man class with a time of 1 hour, 23 minutes for the Vintage class event, a new class for 2014. Benda took home third place in Veteran’s Class and provided a full summary of Saturday’s races including the 2014 winners and spotlights on racers from Valdez.

CLICK HERE to read Scott's report and view photos.
Correction: The attached file lists that Kenny Lares came in 9th place in the Semi Pro race, however his final time put him in 8th place.

CLICK HERE for more race results.

Pictured above: Three racers battling it out as they go over the bike path next to the Glacier stream bridge. Photo provided by Scott Benda
 


 
LADY BUCS QUALIFY FOR STATE
The Valdez Buccaneer teams met with teams from around Alaska over the weekend for the 2014 Aurora Conference March Madness regional games co-hosted by Delta and Galena. Both teams started the tournament with games against Hutchison. The girls came off the court with a victory and the boys taking a loss. On Friday during match ups with Galena the Buccaneer boys gained a hard fought win 74-71, with a 3 point buzzer beater from Caj Rohrer. The Lady Bucs played a close game ultimately losing to Galena 69-60. Both teams went up against Hutchison again on Saturday. The boys team played a tough game but couldn’t pull out a win with a final score of 83-72. Later that day the Lady Bucs took a 15 point lead to win against Hutchison, 51-36, securing 2nd place in the tournament and a place at State coming up March 21-22nd.

 
PFD APPLICATION REMINDER
The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend deadline is Monday, March 31st, 2014. Applicants can apply for their PFD online at www.pfd.alaska.gov and receive instant confirmation of receipt or can submit a paper application. Applicants using paper forms should allow 6 weeks to confirm receipt and should retain proof of mailing.
CLICK HERE for more information.

 
USCG TO CONDUCT FISHING VESSEL INSPECTIONS IN CORDOVA
With fishery openings around the corner local Coast Guard forces will be traveling to Cordova to inspect fishing vessels. Mariners can schedule free commercial fishing vessel safety exams “to improve preparedness and ensure they are in compliance with current regulations” says USCG representative LT Allie Ferko.  The USCG Marine Safety Unit will send a team of commercial vessel examiners to Cordova for the inspections starting April 18th and running through the 23rd. “A successful exam will earn the vessel a Coast Guard commercial fishing vessel safety decal. Some vessels, including those used to pursue halibut individual fishing quotas, are required by the National Marine Fisheries Service to have a valid decal prior to carrying their mandatory NMFS observer aboard, ” reports Ferko. According to Chief Petty Officer Steve Blythe, "Having a decal will reduce the scope of future boardings by Coast Guard law enforcement personnel. Coast Guard policy states that vessels with a decal can receive a spot check of certain safety items. Boarding teams may also focus on vessels that have not already been visited by the Coast Guard if numerous vessels are fishing in an area."
Mariners wishing to complete their annual exam in Cordova should contact MSU Valdez examiners before April 16, 2014 either via email (pwsfish@gmail.com) or telephone (907-255-8724). Information required to schedule an exam include preferred date and time, slip number, type of vessel (ie, bowpicker, seiner, etc), size, name, and color of vessel, and owner contact information.

 

PARKS AND REC ANNOUNCES ZIPFY RACE WINNERS

Levi Clubb, Liam Palmer, Issac Clubb and Justin Prax, members of Team Prospector (pictured above) took home the top honor for fastest team time during the 2nd Annual Parks and Recreation Zipfy races with a time of 2 minutes and 13 seconds. Parks and Recreation’s director, Darryl Verfaillie, achieved the fastest  track time of the day with a course time total of 27 seconds. Pictured above: Team Prospector with the winning thophy. Photo provided by Wendy Clubb.
CLICK HERE for more zipfy race results.
CLICK HERE for more pictures from the zipfy races

 

DOUGLAS EVANS CHARGED WITH SEXUAL ASSAULT

VALDEZ - On February 21, 2014, the Valdez Police Department received the report of
possible sexual assault of a minor. A subsequent investigation determined that Douglas J. Evans (DOB 06.19.1968) was sexually assaulting an underage female. The victim disclosed that she had been sexually assaulted multiple times over the span of several years. Statements made by witnesses corroborate those of the victim. On March 1, 2014 the Valdez Police Department arrested Douglas J. Evans. Evans has been charged with 4 counts of Sexual Assault of a Minor in the 1st degree and 1 count of Sexual Assault of a Minor in the
1 is an unclassified felony. SAM 2 is a “B” felony. The Valdez PoliceDepartment considers this an ongoing investigation and expects further charges to be filed. Douglas J. Evans is currently jailed at the Valdez Jail Facility and has a bail amount of: NO BAIL


ARVIDSON AND WEBER HONORED AT FIREMANS BALL
March 1 the Valdez Fire Department held their Fireman’s Ball. The “Volunteer of the Year” award went to Brad Arvidson and the “Firefighter of the Year” award went to Mike Weber.  Fire Chief George Keeney said, "These two contributed lots of hours and dedication to our department and we all should be very proud of these two for all they do for their community. I appreciate all our members and the time and dedication they all give to our community".

PWSCC ANNOUNCES ACCEPTED PLAY LAB PLAYS
The Last Frontier Theatre Conference announced on Friday that the 2014 play lab selections have been finalized. Sixty-seven plays were chosen from a total of 397 submissions, a record breaking number of submissions for the third year in a row reports Dawson Moore of PWSCC. "The invited 67 plays include writers from across the United States and internationally from the United Kingdom. There are 8 Alaskans invited to present their work, including 3 from Anchorage, 2 from Juneau, and 1 apiece from Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Valdez" explained Moore. The accepted plays will be read at the Play Lab to be held at the 22nd Annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference, June 8-14.
CLICK HERE to view a full list of the accepted plays.

 
GIANT ALASKA LANDSLIDE CAPTURED BY NASA
“Alaska has long been known for sizable geological events -- particularly the 1964 magnitude-9.2 Good Friday earthquake, the second-largest ever recorded, and the 1912 eruption of Novarupta, the largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. Earlier this month, Alaska added to the list another notable event on a massive scale, an immense landslide that tumbled loose in Southeast Alaska, perhaps the largest natural landslide on Earth since 2010,” reports the Alaska Dispatch.
CLICK HERE to view the photos and read more.

VCS VOLLEYBALL SPRING FLING TOURNAMENT RESULTS
The Valdez Huskies Volleyball team competed in the Spring Fling tournament with the Varsity and Junior Varsity teams taking 3rd place in the event. Valdez player Kaylee MacDonald made the varsity sportsmanship team with teammates Carlee Fleming and Linnea Langseth making the all-tournament team for varsity.
CLICK HERE for more tournament results

CHILI COOK OFF WINNERS
The 2014 Frosty Fever Chili Cook Off served up lots of scrumptious chili at PVMC and dished out prizes for best Alaskan chili, best vegetation variety, family favorite recipes, best cornbread and more.  Robert Deaver took home 1st place in the All-Alaskan category and Tairel Rowley's chili recipe came in first for people's choice.
CLICK HERE to view the full list of Chili Cook Off winners.

THREE MEN RESCUED FROM SINKING BOAT
According to the Anchorage Daily News the USCG has reported that three men were rescued Wednesday when their vessel, the Belltech 5 landing craft sank in 1,200 ft of water. ADN reports that the three men were initially picked up by the 36ft Miss Jana and were then transferred to the 50ft Equinox when the Miss Jana began having engine trouble. The Coast Guard intercepted the Equinox en route to Valdez and picked up the three men taking them the rest of the way to Valdez to be examined by medics.
CLICK HERE for more information from the Anchorage Daily News.

FROSTY FEVER EVENTS RAISE MONEY FOR CHARITY
Twenty eight beautiful cakes filled the KVAK office last Monday in preparation for the annual Frosty Fever Cake Auction. The delicious desserts went fast with generous bidders giving a total of $3,012 for the 2014 auction’s designated charity: the Back Pack Buddies program from the Valdez Food Bank. Back Pack Buddies program began in December 2013 and is for children who need assistance with meals after school and through the weekend. The Valdez Food Bank reports that the program is confidential and provides children with kid friendly items that are ready to eat or can be heated in a microwave such as crackers, peanut butter, jam, pre-cooked meals such as beef stew, tuna, mac and cheese, oatmeal packets, ramen noodles and fruit. To view a full list of recommended donations for the Backpack Buddies program click here
The Cake Auction was not the only Frosty Fever event raising money for a good cause. In conjunction with their annual Chili Cook Off Providence Valdez Medical Center held a Dessert Auction and Bake Sale to support Relay for Life. Over $700 was raised at the Chili Cook Off for a total of $832 when combined with other PVMC Relay for Life fundraisers. Organizers from both the Relay for Life fundraiser and the Cake Auction thank all the bakers and buyers who took the time to help support the Valdez Food Bank and Relay for Life.

 
PWSCC PRESIDENT RESIGNS
The University of Alaska System has announced that PWSCC President Jacob Ng submitted his resignation effective Friday, February 21. Patrick Gamble, the University of Alaska System President has confirmed that Christopher Washko, PWSCC vice president of student learning and academic affairs will serve as acting president of PWSCC.
CLICK HERE to read President Gamble’s statement.

HIRING DECISIONS CAUSE DEBATE FOR VCS
Elementary School Principal Christopher Bennett, whose name was not on the list, addressed the board, stating “Dr. Stroh is trying to get back at Dr. B (High School Principal Liz Balcerek) and I for disagreeing with her. If you agree, you keep your job. If you don’t, you get fired”, Bennett said. First Grade Teacher Mary Kathryn Ade addressed the board in support of Mr. Bennett. “With someone who has been so great to our school and our staff I don’t know why someone would not put him on that list”. Ade said she would like to know the reasons why Bennett’s contract was not recommended for renewal. When pressed for details, Stroh said “I put together a list of people I have confidence in for you to vote on and I’m presenting it for approval or disapproval tonight”.

Later in the meeting, Stroh asked for approval to hire a high school counselor and a few other positions that have become vacant. School Board Member Joe Prax and Alan Sorum were in support of letting Stroh do the hiring, saying they had recently lifted the hiring freeze and voted to give Stroh the authority to hire replacements for funded positions without waiting for Board approval. Board member Dolores Gard said she wanted to approve every position. Kathy Todd argued that the 2014-2015 budget was not final yet so all positions should be considered new and be brought to the board for approval.  The Board did not vote on this issue because it was not an action item, did not come to consensus nor give direction.
 
A follow up e-mail to School Board President Anita Fannin Tuesday asking for clarification on when, how and who would handle the Administrator contracts was answered via e-mail, “Dr. Stroh will be involved in future discussions about administrator contracts. As to when that will happen, I have no idea but would presume and suggest it is on the next school board meeting which is after Spring Break”.
 
In order to find some clarity, KVAK found that Alaska State Statute AS 14.14.130 says, “If the district employs a chief school administrator, the administrator shall select, appoint and otherwise control all school district employees that serve under the chief school administrator subject to the approval of the school board”. 
 
It would appear that the Superintendent presenting a list of District employees to re-hire has been tradition, but generally the administrators are on a separate list than the tenured teachers. Lance Bowie, who was VCS Superintendent from 2004 through 2009 said he used to present the list to the board in three parts: A tenured teacher list; List of Administration; and the list of non-tenured teachers.

While Bowie was Superintendent, the Board asked to pull two Administrators off the list against his recommendation. “At that point it becomes the employees responsibility to contest the decision.
 
Bowie said one of the employees who was taken off the list by the school board requested a public hearing on their dismissal. The School Board did not choose to have the public hearing and the employee retained their job. Another employee chose not to request a public hearing and did not retain their job. “The Valdez School Board’s job is to create policy. Administration’s to is to create procedures to carry it out”, Bowie said. “The only person the Board can evaluate is the Superintendent. They don’t have the credentials to evaluate teachers and principals”, he said. “If the School Board is going to hire employees for the School District, who are those employees going to be accountable to? Bowie took it a step further saying, “If that’s the case (School Board takes over hiring employees), the employee is working for the School Board and will come to them anytime something is not going their way. What is the chain of command? If you do it this way, you don’t need an administrator”.
 
While direction in Monday nights meeting was a bit confusing, Superintendent Stroh on Friday said she is looking to put together a team of dynamic people working toward quality education in Valdez. “We’ve got some quality educators in our district,” Stroh said. “Some of the best I’ve seen. We need to support these people and move forward academically as well as get kids connected with the school system. We need a common vision and we all need to work together. It’s going to take a lot of work to get there, but we can’t settle for anything less than the very best for our kids”.

 
THEME ANNOUNCED FOR 2014 WOMEN’S SILVER SALMON DERBY
Proud members of the silver salmon sisterhood get ready… start stitching your costumes and get your group acts together because the theme of the 2014 Women’s Silver Salmon Derby will be: FAIRY TALES. The 2014 Women’s Derby is scheduled for August 9th with opening ceremonies starting August 8th.
CLICK HERE for more information



 
HEATHER JOHNSON RECEIVES AK SPIRIT OF YOUTH SCHOLARSHIP
The name Heather Johnson will likely be familiar to Valdez residents who listen to Good News with Margaret Henry. Heather came on the program last year to discuss her novel, Hidden Voice, with KVAK’s own Margaret Henry and the young author is making news again as the recent recipient of the AK Spirit of Youth scholarship. According to Heather’s publicist, the Alaska Spirit of Youth Scholarship Award in the category of Government and Business was awarded to her for novel and work effectively helping her peers deal with the bullying issues. Her publicist adds that the Mat-Su School District is preparing to buy Hidden Voice for their Anti-bullying curriculum.
CLICK HERE to listen to Margaret’s Good News interview with Heather



 
GOOD NEWS FOR VALDEZ: SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS 2006 TAX RATE
The Supreme Court decided on Wednesday, February 19th to uphold the Superior Court decision to regarding the tax value of the trans-Alaska pipeline, reports the Alaska Dispatch. According to the Dispatch the original ruling took place in 2009 when then-Superior Court judge Sharon Gleason put forth a decision that set the tax value of the pipeline at $9.89 billion for the 2006 tax year, substantially higher than $850 million value championed by the oil companies. The ruling is a victory for Valdez and the other municipal governments that contain sections of the pipeline.
“ ‘The owners’ argument implies that because the Superior Court assessed the pipeline’s value as a vessel for transporting oil reserves to market, the Superior Court improperly imposed a tax on the actual value of those oil reserves,’ the Supreme Court said. The court rejected that argument, saying the value of the reserves came up only in the context of providing an explanation that money collected for shipping oil is not the real value to the companies of the property,” explained the Dispatch. It remains to be seen how additional court cases currently battling for decisions on TAPS tax values after 2006 will be affected by the ruling.
CLICK HERE to read the full story from the Alaska Dispatch.



 
VCS RELEASES APPROVAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TENURED TEACHERS, DIRECTOR, AND ADMINISTRATOR CONTRACTS FOR 2014-2015 SCHOOL YEAR
Valdez City Schools released a list from the Superintendent’s recommending that contracts be offered to the listed director, administrator, and tenured teachers for the 2014-2015 school year. The Superintendent also provided an approval recommendation for Frank Satterwhite as the Independent Itinerant Psychologist for the 2014-15 school year for the Special Education Program.
Both of these approval recommendations can be found in the School Board meeting packet.
CLICK HERE for more information.



 
FIVE BUCS SKI STATE
Story Provided by Coach Toye
Junior Stephanie Allen’s performance  was certainly the highlight of last weekend’s Nordic Ski Championships for the Valdez team. Allen finished 36th out of 103 racers in Thursday’s 5K freestyle race and only 5 seconds out of a 3rd place medal for 3A. Allen’s time was 9th fastest in our region and 4th fastest in 3A. Freshman Rylee Norris had a great race in her first state meet finishing a very impressive 46th overall which was 16th fastest in our region (last week her time was 23rd fastest at regions) and 5th fastest in 3A. Junior Sergei Wegner was top boy performer finishing in 57th position, out of 117, in the boys 7.5K event. His time was 13th fastest in our region (18th last weekend in regions) and 6th fastest in 3A. Wegner was followed by senior Nathan Albright and Sophomore Stuart Relay.
CLICK HERE to read Coach’s Toye’s full State coverage
CLICK HERE to read Coach Toye’s Regionals summary

 
FROSTY FEVER EVENTS AND DEALS ARE HAPPENING ALL WEEK LONG!
CLICK HERE for more information
VALDEZEANS SAY THANK YOU FOR AVALANCHE CLEAN UP
All the work done to dig Valdez out from under the avalanche did not go unnoticed. Here’s what your friends and neighbors had to say:

Wow!! DOT what an AWESOME job you did to get our roads open so quickly and they look great too!! My friends in the lower 48 want your help down there!! I tell them our plow people are the best I have ever seen!!!! Thank You, Thank You again, our town is lucky to have so many who care. :-) - Dawn Koscielski
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Biiiiggggg KUDOS to Lynden Transport for all the extra trailers full of goods sent on the ferry as well as big thanks to Curt Wilson and crew at Wilson Brothers for keeping the goods coming and getting to the stores:)  -Suzie Hill Koklich
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What a monumental job the DOT did along with Harris Sand and Gravel to clear that avalanche. Amazing! Safeway kept the groceries coming and the Alaska Marine Highway added extra runs. ERA Aviation added extra flights. Barges brought in trailers full of supplies. KVAK gave wonderful updates to keep the community informed. Thank you to all who contributed. And a special shout out to Mother Nature who provided all the sunshine during this event! – Linda Brandenberg
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Thanks to everyone-state, city, ferry workers, grocery workers and anyone we forgot for all your extra work to keep things rollin'. – The Hawkins Family
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Thank you for your hard work!- Debbie
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I just want to thank the City of Valdez for keeping us all informed in a timely manner. I want to thank the ADOT crews for their hard work in this extremely challenging situation. And, of course, I want to thank KVAK for keeping up to date with the latest breaking news. – Joshua Buffington


 
PWSCC RECEIVES OVER $20,000 FROM UNITED WAY
In their monthly newsletter Prince William Sound Community College announced their recent award of over $20,000 from the local United Way chapter. According to the newsletter $10,000 of the funds will go toward general operating expenses  of the Adult Basic Education program, $6,000 will purchase a new recumbent bike for the Health and Fitness Center and $4,000 will support Maxine and Jesse Whitney Museum’s upcoming Community Science Night.


 
VALDEZ IMAGINATION LIBRARY CELEBRATES 1st BIRTHDAY
In celebration of their first birthday the Valdez Imagination Library is asking enrolled children and their families to show their love of reading. Families are encouraged to post photos of their children reading their favorite Imagination library book to the organization’s Facebook page as part of the “For The Love Of Reading Photo Challenge".
Families have until February 25th to post photos. All who participate in the photo challenge will be eligible for three prize drawings held at the Mighty Mites playgroup session on Wednesday Feb 26th. Participants need not be present during the prize drawing to win. Winners will be posted on Facebook.
CLICK HERE to visit the Valdez Imagination Library Facebook page.


 
WENDY GOLDSTEIN ELECTED TO W.I.S.E. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
PWSCC announced Thursday that Wendy Goldstein, Coordinator of the Whitney Museum, has been elected to the Wrangell Institute for Science & Environment Board of Directors. WISE is based in Copper Center and aims to provide resources for learning, and support to all age groups for scientific research and science and environmental education. In response to the election Goldstein said, “I am completely honored to join this organization, which I respect greatly.” WISE first became aware of Goldstein through her work with the annual Community Science Night.
CLICK HERE for more information on WISE


 
FIRING OF TAPS ASSESSOR COULD MEAN CHANGE
IN TAX REVENUE FOR VALDEZ

According to a report from the Alaska Dispatch, Governor Parnell has fired Marty McGee, a longtime member and chairman of SARB, the State Assessment Review Board. SARB determines the tax value for the Trans-Alaska pipeline, a decision which impacts intake of state property taxes and  tax revenues of the three local governments that contain sections of the pipeline (including Valdez). Tensions between the Parnell administration and McGee began last spring, according to the Dispatch, when the Governor’s administration sided with the oil companies siting a conflict of interest and requesting that the other board members disqualify McGee. “The other board members rejected the argument and allowed Marty McGee to participate, declaring that he had shown himself to be fair and impartial during his years on the board,” explains author Dermot Cole. Parnell removed McGee from his position in late January 2014. According to Cole’s report McGee says he received no explanation for his removal and believes Parnell’s administration is “stacking the board in favor of industry.”
At the heart of the issue lie the competing interests for pipeline appraisal. According to Cole, “The industry has argued the assessment board has valued the pipeline billions too high. Last year the board set a value of $11.9 billion on the pipeline, while the industry argued for $2.3 billion. McGee said the oil industry failed to get a lower pipeline assessment from the board, which in the past has been staffed chiefly by Alaska appraisers and assessors, but “now they’re trying to replace the board members and see if they get a different result.” Attorney Bill Walker, who has represent Valdez in the pipeline valuation cases commented that he was disappointed with Parnell’s removal of McGee calling it “shocking the influence the North Slope producers have over this administration.” The Dispatch’s article states that Governor Parnell’s office has not responded to repeated requests for comment on McGee’s removal. Parnell has announced his new appointments for to SARB, Bernard Washington of Anchorage and Dennis Mandell of Salinas, California.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch.


 
SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT DISCUSSES VCS CURRICULUM
During an interview last Thursday, Valdez City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Stroh and Curriculum Director Melissa Reese discussed how Valdez City Schools will implement new state standards in Valdez The interview is recorded as a podcast at www.kvakradio.com. A brief synopsis from the state explains methods to be used to implement shifts in  English/Language Arts as well as mathematics.
Alaska English/Language Arts:
1. Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction.
2. Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from text- both literary and informal.
3. Regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary.
Mathematics:
1. Focus: in each grade or course, focus deeply on 2-4 topics.
2. Coherence: Think across grades and link to major topics within grades.
3. Rigor: In major topics, pursue conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and application with equal intensity.
Listen to Dr. Stroh and Melissa Reese discuss curriculum development for Valdez Schools HERE and check out the link to the Alaska Standards for more information.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Alaska Standards

 
ALASKA STATE TROOPERS PROVIDE DETAILS ON AVALANCHE ARRESTS
“They were concerned about the safety of their personnel, as well as the safety of these two people,” said State Trooper Tony Beck regarding ADOT’s call to the Troopers on January 25th. ADOT explained that all work on the avalanche had been halted due to two people walking through the road closure. Donny Carlson and Kristina Clark had been told to turn around Beck said, adding, “If the two people were allowed to continue walking, it would have taken them 10-12 hours to cover 38 miles, and DOT would have had to wait this entire time.”  While Clark and Carlson were focused on getting their sick cat to a vet, the Troopers were considering what kind of impact walking could have on Clark and Carlson’s health with one crossing snow in tennis shoes and both approaching an area flooded with icy water. “There is a high probability they would have had to deal with hypothermia issues,” said Beck, “for their own good, and safety, they were presented with the option of turning around or being arrested, we could not allow them to continue walking.” Beck explained that when presented with the options of heading back to Glennallen or being transported to Valdez and arrested Clark and Carlson choose Valdez and were flown out of the avalanche clean up zone by helicopter at DOT’s expense.


 
ALASKA SEALIFE CENTER AWARDS STAN STEPHENS
The Alaska SeaLife Center recently announced that the prestigious Walter J. and Ermalee Hickel Lifetime Achievement Award has been posthumously awarded to Stan Stephens. The Walter J. and Ermalee Hickel Lifetime Achievement Award is part of the Sealife Center’s Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards. According to the SeaLife Center the Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals “who has made exceptional contributions to the management of Alaska’s coastal and ocean resources over a period of 20 years or more.” Stan Stephens passed away last year on September 21 after years of working as an advocate for the protection of Prince William Sound’s marine life and ecosystems.  The award will be presented at the Alaska Marine Gala on February 15, 2014 at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage, Alaska.
CLICK HERE for more information.


 
NEW RAIL LINE COULD PROVIDE BOOST TO TRANS ALASKA PIPELINE
Proponents of a 1,600-mile railroad from Fort McMurray, Alberta, to Delta Junction say it “could inject up to a million barrels a day through the pipeline down to Valdez” according to the Fairbanks News Miner. The project is being proposed by G7G Railway Corp. based in Vancouver. “The railroad would primarily transport bitumen from Alberta's tar sands to Delta Junction, where the project's creators hope to tap into TAPS, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System,” said the News Miner. Their article explains that the project is currently still awaiting a “pre-feasibility study” and still needs to address safety concerns associated with shipping crude oil by rail. Additionally the News Miner's report that during a presentation to the transportation committee, Representative Eric Feige questioned whether the pipeline could handle the addition of a million barrels of bitumen a day and suggested they consider running a rail line directly to Valdez or do some  pre-refining to reach a consistency  TAPS could better accommodate.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the News Miner


 
BUC SKIERS COMPETE AT MATSU BOROUGHS
VHS Ski Coach Pete Toye provided a rundown of the Buc's recent cross country ski meet in Matsu noting highlights from the two day event including
junior Stephanie Allen’s tie for 3rd place in the field of 37. Junior Sergei Wegner was the top finisher for the boys placing 8th in the field of 45. Toye also included a shout out for former Buc skier John Snelders won the boys championship in both events.  Toye added an “Editor’s Note” saying:
“I’m not sure how many folks can truly appreciate the quiet strength, courage, and toughness these kids demonstrate each week as they compete with the cantankerous Alaskan winter at both practice and races. Last Friday was a perfect example as they plunged head on, without complaint or hesitation, into numbing wind chills wearing only their thin nylon race uniforms. The rest of us had on all the clothes we brought and were still cold! Combine that with the nuances of a relatively unknown race course, and ever changing snow and temperature conditions, and you have the most unique and challenging sport that I have ever experienced.”
CLICK HERE to read Coach Toye’s full report


 
JANUARY SETS WEATHER RECORDS
According to NOAA, January 2014 was the 4th warmest on record. In addition all the  precipitation received during the month placed it second with a total of 13.90 inches, slightly lower than January 2001 which holds the record at 15.18 inches. January 2014 also put a new record in the books for most precipitation received in one day with 3.18 inches, set on the 24th of the month, the same day Richardson Highway was blocked the avalanche.


 
MILE 12-18 OPEN
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities has announced that mile 12-18 of the Richardson Highway is now open. Drivers are encouraged to use caution while driving near snow removal equiptment.


 

Richardson Highway to Open 3pm Wednesday


Richardson Highway to Reopen Wednesday Afternoon

(VALDEZ, Alaska) – The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) will reopen the Richardson Highway at milepost 12-18 to all traffic Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 3 p.m. This follows a nearly two-week closure after multiple avalanches blocked the highway Jan. 24.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area until tomorrow’s opening and to respect all posted road closures. The public is not permitted past the avalanche gates. 

ADOT&PF has performed multiple stability tests to ensure the roadway can support heavy loads and equipment. Test results have determined that the roadway is in good condition and can support both commercial and passenger vehicles.

The state ferry M/V Aurora will resume its previously posted schedule, available at FerryAlaska.com

# # #

CLIMATOLOGIST EXPLAINS WEIRD WINTER WEATHER
Plenty of people have been expressing confusion over the fact that Alaska is receiving warm weather while the rest of the country appears to be locked in chilling temperatures, but climatologist Brian Fuchs explains the connection in an interview with NBC News. Fuchs, who works for the National Drought Mitigation Center, explains, “As we're seeing, the warmth and dryness in the West has implications all the way up to Alaska and also in areas to the east.” According to the article, the warmth in Alaska and cold snap in the lower 48 are due to a high-pressure ridge locked in place over the American West, causing a kink in the jet stream, bringing warm marine air up from the Pacific to Alaska and sending America's heartland cold Artic air. “This winter is exceptional because the Western ridge has been locked in for so long, says author, Alan Boyle adding that relief is in sight in the short term but that there is talk among meteorologists of the ridge reforming in the upcoming week.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from NBC News.


 
CORDOVA PREPARES FOR ICEWORM CELEBRATIONS
The road out of town may still be blocked but Valdezeans looking to travel can still make it to Cordova just in time for their annual Ice Worm Festival. The fifty three year old festival will kick off this Friday, Feb 3rd and will run through February 9th celebrating with events like the crowning of Miss Iceworm, the annual Oyster Shuck and Suck, survival suit races, the Iceworm fireworks spectacular and more. According to the Cordova Times the festival was originally formed to relieve the winter blues and has since turned into one of the most successful festivals in Alaska. The Facebook page for Cordova, Alaska offers details on the upcoming event along with a slogan Valdez might find encouraging in our current state: “No road, No problem!”
CLICK HERE to view the Iceworm Festival Facebook Page
CLICK HERE to view the full article from the Cordova Times.


 
CONDITIONS IN KEYSTONE CANYON CANCEL VALDEZ ICE CLIMBING FESTIVAL
Keystone Canyon took a hit from the recent rain and warm weather and Valdez’s ice climbing community is feeling the effect. “We are quite sad to announce the Valdez Ice Climbing Festival has been cancelled. There is no ice left in the canyon and the river is wide open,” the festival organizers announced on their Facebook page. The festival was originally scheduled for Feb 14th through 17th. “Trust that we will spend the next year planning and designing a world class festival,” wrote the organizers adding, “We already have the support of some of the biggest outdoor companies in the industry. Our hope is to make this a festival worthy of attracting people from all over the world.”
CLICK HERE for more information.


 
AVALANCHE UPDATE
DOT crews worked through the weekend continuing to clear snow from the south side of the road closure. The road could reopen by Thursday DOT indicated saying, “At this point, we estimate it will take 3-5 days from the start of operations (Friday 1/31) to completely remove the estimated 100,000-500,000 cubic yards/snow,” in a Facebook post shared on Sunday. According to updates on their website DOT plans to continue 24 hour snow removal, adding that initial highway stability tests indicate that the road is stable. DOT says to expect additional testing to be done and that the highway will be re-opened after they have determined that the roadway is stable and can safely support commercial and passenger vehicles. Until then mile 12-18 of the Richardson remains closed.
CLICK HERE to view the most recent press release from the City of Valdez.


 
AVALANCHE UPDATE
FROM THE CITY OF VALDEZ
Friday January 31, 2014

5:00 PM
 The Richardson Highway from Mile Posts 12 – 18 remains closed at this time.  Based on aerial observations, the City’s estimate is that the Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon will remain closed until at least Monday, February 3rd or possibly Tuesday February 4th, depending on the condition of the road surface once snow is removed. Please refer to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) website for all official estimates of when the road may open.
 
ADOT&PF has begun snow removal at Keystone Canyon. Crews from ADOT&PF and Harris Sand and Gravel mobilized equipment on the south side of the closure yesterday evening (January 30th) and began 24 hour snow removal operations this morning (January 31st). ADOT&PF are performing tests to evaluate highway stability in the area. It was also reported that water on the north side of the slide has now completely receded.
 
The National Weather Service calls for a forecast of continued clear, dry weather through next week which will provide favorable conditions for the road cleanup efforts.
 
To assist in current transportation issues, the Alaska Marine Highway System has added an additional ferry from Whittier to Valdez scheduled for Monday February 3rd. For reservations please visit ferryalaska.com or call 907-465-3941.
 
The City will be monitoring the progress of snow removal efforts in Keystone Canyon throughout the weekend. As a safety precaution, the Valdez Police Department will continue to station an officer at the road closure gate until further notice.
 
Due to progress reports received today, the City of Valdez will discontinue regular incident management meetings. From this point forward, city press releases will be issued only as needed.  
 
The City of Valdez wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable weekend.  

 
AVALANCHE UPDATE
FROM THE CITY OF VALDEZ
01-31-14 10am

The Richardson Highway from Mile Posts 12 – 18 remains closed at this time.  The City conducted aerial surveillance of the avalanche area yesterday. Based on those observations, the City’s estimate is that the Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon will remain closed until at least Monday, February 3rd or possibly Tuesday February 4th, depending on the condition of the road surface once snow is removed. Please refer to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) website for all official estimates of when the road may open.
 
The situation in Keystone Canyon continues to stabilize. Equipment is being mobilized to the canyon this morning to begin removal of snow and debris. At this time, the City has no other updates. Another press release will be posted at 5:00 PM with any new information received throughout the day today.


 

CITY ESTIMATES KEYSTONE CANYON WILL REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL AT LEAST MONDAY


AVALANCHE & RICHARDSON HIGHWAY CLOSURE UPDATE - FROM CITY OF VALDEZ 
Thursday January 30, 2014 - 5:00 PM
 
The Richardson Highway from Mile Posts 12 – 18 remains closed at this time.  The City conducted aerial surveillance of the avalanche area today. Based on those observations, the City’s estimate is that the Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon will remain closed until at least Monday, February 3rd or possibly Tuesday February 4th, depending on the condition of the road surface once snow is removed. Please refer to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) website for all official estimates of when the road may open.
 
ADOT&PF reported that the water in the flooded area behind the Keystone Canyon avalanche continues to recede. The flow through the old highway tunnel has stopped and it appears that the river is mostly back within its banks. ADOT&PF performed avalanche mitigation work today in Keystone Canyon and as a result have reduced the avalanche risk to moderate. ADOT&PF crews have begun clearing ice and snow debris deposited on the northern part of the highway left behind from the receding waters. This will help the department continue to monitor the amount of water that may still be impounded by the avalanche.  Clearing of the snow and debris may begin on Friday.
 
The flash flood watch through Keystone Canyon has expired and will not be reissued unless the situation changes significantly.
 
The remote camera at the western end of Keystone Canyon that was set up to provide live monitoring of the Lowe River has been discontinued as of this afternoon.
 
The Valdez Police Department will continue to station an officer at the road closure gate until further notice.
 
The weather has become dryer and cooler and should remain as such throughout most of next week. This favorable change in conditions is beneficial to the process of clearing the roadway.  
 
The City of Valdez will provide another press release at 10:00 AM tomorrow (January 31st) unless there are significant changes to the situation.
 
Posted January 30, 2014
Holly Wolgamott, Deputy City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez
AVALNANCH UPDATE
PRESS RELEASE

FROM THE CITY OF VALDEZ
 Thursday January 30, 2014
10:00 AM
 
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) has reopened mileposts 18-42 of the Richardson Highway as of yesterday afternoon.  The Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon is still closed and is expected to remain closed until at least this Sunday, February 2nd.  The City will be conducting aerial surveillance of the area today and hopes to provide an update of this unofficial road closure estimate. All official estimates for the road opening will be provided by ADOT&PF.
 
ADOT&PF reported that the water in the flooded area behind the Keystone Canyon avalanche continues to recede. The flow through the old highway tunnel has almost stopped and it appears that the river is mostly back within its banks. ADOT&PF crews may begin cleaning ice and snow from the roadway on the north side of the Keystone Canyon avalanche area as early as this afternoon. Removal of this debris will help crews better determine the receding water levels and estimates of the amount of impounded water on the roadway. ADOT&PF also plans to do more avalanche mitigation in the Keystone Canyon area this morning (January 30th).
 
The weather has become dryer and cooler which is reducing the water flow behind the blockage and helping to stabilize the snow still in the mountains. This favorable change in conditions is beneficial to the process of clearing the roadway.
 
The flash flood watch for Keystone Canyon is still in effect until 4:00 PM today (January 30th). Though the City advisory for a voluntary evacuation of the subdivisions in the 10 mile area has been cancelled and the City provided shelter at the Teen Center has been closed.
 
The Teen Center is now being used for normal operations, though they are not scheduling special or pre‐planned events.
 
The local post office received 4000 pounds of mail yesterday and is expecting an additional 5000 pounds today. They are working to get all mail sorted as quickly as possible. All types of mail are accepted at the post office and are being sent via air service.
 
Safeway remains well stocked and is expecting another barge of food and supplies on Saturday afternoon.
 
The City of Valdez will provide another press release at 6:00 PM this evening (January 30th) unless there are significant changes to the situation.


 
PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Wednesday January 29, 2014 - 6:00 PM
 
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) has reopened mileposts 18-42 of the Richardson Highway as of this afternoon.  The Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon is still closed and is expected to remain closed until at least next Sunday, February 2nd.  This estimate will be updated tomorrow.
 
ADOT&PF continues to monitor Keystone Canyon, including the water level behind the dam created by the avalanche which is still receding at a rate of 3 inches per hour. They are also monitoring stability of the snowpack to determine when it is safe for crews to perform snow removal. ADOT&PF plan to do more avalanche mitigation in the Keystone Canyon area tomorrow (January 30th).
 
Images of the Lowe River flow continue to be monitored live through the Valdez Police Department (VPD) Dispatch.
 
The flash flood watch for Keystone Canyon has been extended until 4:00 PM tomorrow (January 30th). However, the City advisory for a voluntary evacuation of the subdivisions in the 10 mile area has been cancelled and the city provided shelter at the Teen Center has been closed. Should residents within the watch area have shelter needs they may call Valdez Police Dispatch at 835-4560 and actions to reactivate the shelter will be initiated.
 
The Teen Center is now being used for normal operations, though they are not scheduling special or pre‐planned events.
 
The local post office is now accepting and sending all types of mail via air service. This will remain in effect throughout the road closure, though delivery times could be affected due to weather conditions that might prevent flight operations.
 
Safeway is expecting another barge of food and supplies on Saturday afternoon. For specific needs for businesses, please contact Matt Ficek, Store Manager, at 461-3300 to make arrangements. 
 
The City of Valdez will provide another press release at 10:00 AM tomorrow morning (Thursday, January 30th) unless there are significant changes to the situation.
 
Posted January 29, 2014
Holly Wolgamott, Deputy City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez

AVALANCHE UPDATE 1-29-14 - 10am


Wednesday January 29, 2014 - 10:00 AM
 
The northern section of the Richardson Highway that was previously closed has opened, however the closure from mile posts 12 – 42 remains in effect. The Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon is expected to remain closed until at least next Sunday, February 2nd.  This estimate will be updated tomorrow.
 
ADOT reported this morning that drainage of the lake continues but the rate has decreased to about 2 inches per hour.
 
The flash flood watch for Keystone Canyon is expected to be extended until 4:00 PM tomorrow. However, due to the overall drop of water levels in the canyon, the state’s hydrologist considers the threat to the Alpine Woods and Nordic Subdivisions to have decreased significantly. Therefore, the City advisory for a voluntary evacuation of the subdivisions in the 10 mile area has been cancelled. Consequently, the city provided shelter at the Teen Center will be closed as of noon today.  Note that nobody chose to use this shelter at anytime during this event. However, should residents within the watch area have shelter needs they may call Valdez Police Dispatch at 835-4560 and actions to reactivate the shelter will be initiated.
 
Images of the Lowe River flow continue to be monitored live through the Valdez Police Department (VPD) Dispatch. Due to the current circumstances, the VPD will not be conducting their weekly siren test normally scheduled for today (January 29th) at 5:00 PM. Weekly siren testing will resume following this event.
 
The local post office is now accepting and sending all types of mail via air service. This will remain in effect throughout the road closure, though delivery times could be affected due to weather conditions that might prevent flight operations.
 
Safeway is expecting another barge of food and supplies on Saturday afternoon. For specific needs for businesses, please contact Matt Ficek, Store Manager, at 461-3300 to make arrangements. 
 
The City of Valdez will provide another press release at 6:00 PM this evening (Wednesday, January 29th) unless there are significant changes to the situation.
 
Posted January 29, 2014
Holly Wolgamott, Deputy City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez

AVALANCHE UPDATE 1-29-14 - 10am


Wednesday January 29, 2014 - 10:00 AM
 
The northern section of the Richardson Highway that was previously closed has opened, however the closure from mile posts 12 – 42 remains in effect. The Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon is expected to remain closed until at least next Sunday, February 2nd.  This estimate will be updated tomorrow.
 
ADOT reported this morning that drainage of the lake continues but the rate has decreased to about 2 inches per hour.
 
The flash flood watch for Keystone Canyon is expected to be extended until 4:00 PM tomorrow. However, due to the overall drop of water levels in the canyon, the state’s hydrologist considers the threat to the Alpine Woods and Nordic Subdivisions to have decreased significantly. Therefore, the City advisory for a voluntary evacuation of the subdivisions in the 10 mile area has been cancelled. Consequently, the city provided shelter at the Teen Center will be closed as of noon today.  Note that nobody chose to use this shelter at anytime during this event. However, should residents within the watch area have shelter needs they may call Valdez Police Dispatch at 835-4560 and actions to reactivate the shelter will be initiated.
 
Images of the Lowe River flow continue to be monitored live through the Valdez Police Department (VPD) Dispatch. Due to the current circumstances, the VPD will not be conducting their weekly siren test normally scheduled for today (January 29th) at 5:00 PM. Weekly siren testing will resume following this event.
 
The local post office is now accepting and sending all types of mail via air service. This will remain in effect throughout the road closure, though delivery times could be affected due to weather conditions that might prevent flight operations.
 
Safeway is expecting another barge of food and supplies on Saturday afternoon. For specific needs for businesses, please contact Matt Ficek, Store Manager, at 461-3300 to make arrangements. 
 
The City of Valdez will provide another press release at 6:00 PM this evening (Wednesday, January 29th) unless there are significant changes to the situation.
 
Posted January 29, 2014
Holly Wolgamott, Deputy City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez

Tuesday - 6pm AVALANCHE UPDATE


AVALANCHE UPDATE
Tuesday January 28, 2014 - 5:45 PM

The flash flood warning remains in effect at this time. Images of the Lowe River flow continue to be monitored through the Valdez Police Department (VPD) Dispatch. Should the water level in the river become a concern, VPD dispatch will take appropriate action. Due to current circumstances, the VPD will not be conducting their weekly siren test normally scheduled for Wednesday at 5:00 PM. During this event, siren activity is designated for mandatory evacuation of residents in the 10 mile area unless other emergencies warrant its use.

The local post office is now accepting and sending all types of mail via air service. This will remain in effect throughout the road closure, though delivery times could be affected due to weather conditions that might prevent flight operations. 

The Richardson Highway remains closed from mile post 12 – 64. The Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon is expected to remain closed until at least next Sunday, February 2nd. 

Jason Sakalaskas, maintenance engineer with Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT), reported that there is an increased flow of water within the Lowe River on the south side of the avalanche which means water is moving out from behind the blockage. This water level continues to recede at about 4-5 inches per hour. Mr. Sakalaskas reported that as of yesterday there was still about 10 – 12 feet of water on the roadway which must recede before work to clear the road begins.  It will likely take several more days before the water level is low enough to begin clean-up operations. 

Mr. Sakalaskas was not able to provide a definite timeline for opening the road; however he did state that once they begin the process of removing snow and debris, they could have the area clear in approximately 3-4 days. He also noted, however, that there are many unknowns in this process. 

Safeway is expecting another barge of food and supplies on Saturday afternoon. Matt Ficek, Store Manager, wished to inform local businesses that Safeway is able to help coordinate supplies on the barge coming in this Saturday, if specific items are needed please contact Mr. Ficek at 461-3300 to make arrangements.  

The City will work with the Alaska Marine Highway System as needed throughout this event to make sure that transportation needs for Valdez are addressed while the road is closed. The City of Valdez encourages the public to visit ferryalaska.com for details and to obtain the current ferry schedule. Era Alaska has reported that they are willing to add flights to their regular schedule on an as needed basis. Please contact ERA for more details at 835-2636.

For residents in the 10 mile area (Nordic and Alpine Woods subdivisions), the voluntary evacuation advisory is still in effect until further notice. The shelter established at the Teen Center will remain open as long as needed. Those who need to temporarily shelter pets are asked to contact the Valdez Animal Shelter at 835-2286 to make arrangements. 

The City of Valdez will provide another press release at 10:00 AM tomorrow (Wednesday, January 29th) unless there are significant changes to the situation. 

Posted January 28, 2014
Holly Wolgamott, Deputy City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez

City of Valdez - 10am 1-28-14 Avalanche & Road Closure Update


PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Monday January 27, 2014
   10:00 PM
 
The Richardson Highway remains closed from mile post 12 – 64. The Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon is expected to remain closed until at least next Sunday, February 2nd.
 
Mayor Pro Tempore Wells called a special City Council meeting last night to have City Administration brief the City Council and the public on the current situation surrounding the avalanches in Keystone Canyon.  Jason Sakalaskas, maintenance engineer with Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT), reported on his findings after his review of the area yesterday. He determined that there is an increase flow within the Lowe River on the south side of the avalanche which means water is moving beneath the snow and back into the normal river channel. The water level in the lake is now receding at about 4-5 inches per hour. They expect that rate to increase a bit as the river thaws out more. Mr. Sakalaskas reported that there is still about 10 – 12 feet of water on the actual road way which must be completely gone before work to clear the road may begin.  It will likely take several more days before the water level is low enough to begin clean-up operations.
 
Mr. Sakalaskas indicated that the snow on the roadway is approximately 20 – 40 feet deep. The total area affected by these avalanches is approximately 1000 – 1500 feet in length.  Their efforts to begin cleaning up of the roadway will likely be to start on the north side of the avalanche before the lake has completely subsided. Once the lake has subsided, they will clean up the avalanche from the south side. Mr. Sakalaskas was not able to predict a definite timeline for opening the road; however he did indicated that once they are able to start moving snow and debris, they could have the area cleared in approximately 3-4 days. He also noted, however, that there are many unknowns in this process. Another area of concern is the condition of the road once they are able to reach it. They expect that the road will be largely intact but there may be various repairs that will have to be made before the road can be reopened.
 
In conjunction with Copper Valley Telephone and ADOT, the City of Valdez established a cellular based remote camera at the western end of Keystone Canyon yesterday to provide real time monitoring of the Lowe River.  Images are being monitored through the Valdez Police Department (VPD) Dispatch. Should this water level in the river become a concern, VPD dispatch will take appropriate action.
 
The City Manager spoke with the state’s hydrologist again yesterday who reiterated that catastrophic failure of the snow dam is still considered very unlikely. The main concern at this point is the possibility of some localized flooding just west of the Canyon.  However the flash flood warning remains in effect until further notice.
 
Safeway has stocked most items received via barge on Monday (January 27th). They are expecting another barge on Saturday afternoon. Matt Ficek, Store Manager, wished to inform local businesses that Safeway is able to help coordinate supplies on the barge coming in this Saturday if there are specific items needed. Please contact him at the store at 461-3300 to make arrangements.  As long as the road remains closed, Safeway will continue to barge food into Valdez as needed.
 
The City of Valdez encourages the public to visit ferryalaska.com for details on the increased ferry schedule. The City will continue to work with the Alaska Marine Highway System throughout this event to make sure that transportation needs for Valdez are addressed while the road is closed. Era Alaska has reported that they are willing to also add flights to their regular schedule on an as needed basis. Please contact them for more details at 835-2636.
 
Alaska State Troopers are working with ADOT and the residents at 19 mile to make sure they have plenty of supplies and food while the road is closed. Alyeska Pipeline sent a helicopter with supplies to the area yesterday and will continue to monitor the needs there.
 
For residents in the 10 mile area (Nordic and Alpine Woods subdivisions), the voluntary evacuation advisory is still in effect until further notice. The city provided shelter established at the Teen Center will remain open as long as needed. Those who need to drop off pets at the animal shelter please call 835-2286 to make arrangements.
 
The City of Valdez will provide another press release at 6:00 today (Tuesday, January 28th) unless there are significant changes to the situation.
 
Posted January 27, 2014
Holly Wolgamott, Deputy City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez
 

Monday 1-27-14 - 6pm AVALANCHE UPDATE


AVALANCHE UPDATE - Monday January 27, 2014  6:00 PM
 
The Richardson Highway remains closed from mile post 12 – 64. The Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon is expected to remain closed until at least next Sunday, February 2nd, but may be longer.
 
The City Manager, Police Chief, and Fire Chief conducted aerial reconnaissance via helicopter today (Monday January 27th) and reported that water is flowing very strongly through the old tunnel and is moving underneath the snow pack. This is exactly what needs to happen to drain the lake that is built up behind the avalanche in a controlled way.  They also reported that the areas of Alpine Wood Subdivision, Nordic Subdivision, the 12-mile dike, and the 6-mile subdivision all appear to be in good shape. The Police Chief indicated that due to individuals walking past the gates of the road closure, they will station an officer there to help prevent people from entering the area. This is being done as a safety precaution as the area is considered to be unstable and dangerous.
 
Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT) is monitoring the water level of the lake behind the avalanche and reports that it is receding. The water level has to be reduced to point where it is not covering the road before they can safely begin to move snow and debris. It could still take several days for this much water to drain out.
 
ADOT brought in a maintenance engineer to assess the situation in Keystone Canyon. A report of his findings is expected by mid day tomorrow (Tuesday January 28th).
 
The City Manager spoke with the state’s hydrologist again today who reiterated that catastrophic failure of the snow dam is considered very unlikely. The main concern at this point is the possibility of some localized flooding just west of the Canyon.  However the flash flood warning remains in effect until further notice.
 
The local post office has reported that priority and express mail is being delivered via airplane. Packages are not being accepted at the post office at this time unless they are to be mailed via express mail.  FedEx reports that they will be sending a plane this evening to deliver and pick up packages mailed through their company.
 
Safeway has reported that they have already stocked the majority of the freight received this morning. Produce and dairy is back to full capacity. The remainder of the items received will be on the shelves by early afternoon tomorrow (Tuesday January 28th). They are expecting another barge in on Saturday afternoon. Matt Ficek, Store Manager, wished to inform local businesses that Safeway is able to help coordinate supplies on the barge coming in this Saturday if there are specific items needed. Please contact him at the store at 461-3300 to make arrangements.  As long as the road remains closed, Safeway will continue to barge food into Valdez as needed.
 
Village Pharmacy reported that they are fully stocked and have not been affected by the road closure since there has been no interruption in air service.
The City of Valdez received an updated ferry schedule from the Marine Highway System to increase ferry traffic to Valdez while the road is closed. The revised ferry schedule is available by visiting ferryalaska.com. The airport and port facilities remain fully functional.
 
For residents in the 10 mile area (Nordic and Alpine Woods subdivisions), the voluntary evacuation advisory is still in effect until further notice. The city provided shelter has established at the Teen Center and will run for as long as needed. Those who need to drop off pets at the animal shelter please call 835-2286 to make arrangements. The City of Valdez asks residents in both of these subdivisions to be prepared to evacuate immediately in the event of the siren going off in that area.
 
The City of Valdez will provide another press release at 10:00 AM tomorrow (Tuesday, January 28th) unless there are significant changes to the situation.
 
Posted January 27, 2014
Holly Wolgamott, Deputy City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez
 
PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND “BLACK SWAN” EVENTS DISCUSSED FROM AN EARTH SCIENCE PERSPECTIVE
The Alaska Marine Science Symposium, which met last week in Anchorage, looked into the lessons gained from “black swan” or extremely rare and disastrous events in the history of Prince William Sound: the 1964 Earthquake and The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, reports the Alaska Dispatch. Speaking about the 1964 Earthquake, geologist Peter Haeussler said: “When it happened, scientists did not understand why. There were no seismic fault lines visible at the earth’s surface, he said, yet the ground in Southcentral Alaska moved substantial distances -- up, down and sideways.” The review of the damage from the 1964 confirmed then-new plate techtonic theories Haeussler said, adding, “All of the giant earthquakes are now understood in the shadow of the earthquake in 1964.”
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch.


 
 
VALDEZ LITERACY COUNCIL SPONSORS CONCERT
Eric Ode, well known children’s author and songwriter, will present an Interactive Concert for Valdez families Tuesday evening, February 4, 6:30-8:00 at Hermon Hutchens Elementary. This event is sponsored by the Valdez Literacy Council, Federal Education Grants and Valdez Reads in partnership with Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. Books and CDs will be available for purchase and may be autographed by Ode.


 
TRAP INFORMATION FOR DOG OWNERS
Pet owners can now receive video instruction from the Department of Fish and Game on how to remove a pet from a trap. The video series details how to release different kinds of traps including body-grip traps, coilspring foot hold traps, and long spring foot hold traps with videos on releasing jump traps and snares coming soon.  Chapter 9.38 of the Valdez Municipal Code does not permit trapping within 1 ½ mile in any direction of any occupied subdivision, the Duck Flats, and Mineral Creek Park. Issues regarding trapping regulation and education came before the Valdez City Council last January after City Council Member Chris Moultin’s dog was caught in a trap while on the pack trails in Keystone Canyon. 
CLICK HERE to view all the trap release videos
CLICK HERE for more information on Trap Safety for Pet Owners.

 
TWO ARRESTED TRYING TO CROSS AVALANCHE ON FOOT
Two pedestrians were arrested on Saturday, January 25th while attempting to cross over an avalanche and walk to Valdez according to a report from the Alaska State Troopers Office. The pedestrians, identified as Donney Carlson and Kristina Clark of Valdez, had driven from Glennallen to mile 39 where they were stopped by an avalanche blocking the road. They then exited their car and began proceeding to Valdez on foot over the avalanche reports State Trooper Tony Beck. At the time DOT was conducting avalanche control operations using explosives in the area and contacted the State Troopers when they spotted the couple. The DOT advised Clark and Carlson to turn around but the couple did not listen, report the State Troopers. “It shut the entire operation down,” said Tony Beck, explaining that the DOT could not resume avalanche control activity until the following day. Clark and Carlson were transported to Valdez via helicopter and subsequently arrested and charged with charged with Obstruction of Highway and Disorderly Conduct.


 

Monday - 10am UPDATE On Avalanche - Era Adds Flights


KVAK TO BROADCAST SPECIAL AVALANCHE SITUATION MEETING TONIGHT
6pm on 1230AM or www.kvakradio.com

The Valdez City Council will receive an update on the Avalanche situation tonight at 6pm in a special meeting to be held at City Council Chambers. KVAK Radio 1230AM will carry a live broadcast of the meeting beginning at 6pm tonight. The meeting will also be streamed LIVE on www.kvakradio.com for those who want to listen on their computer from anywhere in the world. City Clerk Sheri Pierce said experts will be on hand to explain what they have seen in Keystone Canyon. The meeting is open to the public.

FLIGHT ADDED AND FERRY SCHEDULE EXPANED
Era Alaska has notified us that they will be adding a flight today at 4:15pm from Anchorage to Valdez. Returning Valdez to Anchorage at 5:20pm. There is space on this flight at this point. Era Alaska can be reached at 835-2636. Valdez Manager Sally Williams said Era Alaska will try to add flights as needed. If people call to get on a waiting list, Era will try to add flights to accommodate said Williams.
The City of Valdez has confirmed that the Marine Highway System will increase ferry travel to and from Valdez on the following dates.
 Tuesday 1/28/14 departs Valdez 10:30am to Whittier then turns around and comes right back to Valdez arriving at 10:45pm and departs 11:30pm to Cordova
Thursday 1/30/14 departs Valdez 7:15pm to Whittier
Friday 1/31/14 departs Valdez 10:45am to Whittier
The ferry will return to a regular schedule on February 2nd
The City says these new dates and times will be available on the Marine Highway System website as soon as possible.

AVALANCHE UPDATE
From the City of Valdez
:
Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT) has reported that a maintenance engineer arrived in Valdez to assess the situation surrounding the avalanches in Keystone Canyon. ADOT expects to report on his findings sometime this afternoon (Monday January 27th). The Richardson Highway remains closed from mile post 12 – 64. The Richardson Highway through Keystone Canyon is expected to remain closed until at least next Sunday, February 2nd, but very possibly longer.

The City Manager, Police Chief, and Fire Chief are conducting aerial reconnaissance via helicopter today (Monday January 27th) to better assess the situation.

The City Manager has been advised by the state’s hydrologist that catastrophic failure of the snow dam is considered very unlikely. The main concern at this point is the possibility of some localized flooding just west of the Canyon. The water behind the avalanche has receded since 6:00 PM last night by 18 inches and is flowing beneath the snow pack as well as through the old tunnel.

Safeway has confirmed that 6 trailers worth of supplies and food arrived this morning (Monday January 27th). They are working to unload and stock produce and dairy products first and those items should be available this evening. They will work to restock remaining items over the next few days.  If the road remains closed, Safeway will continue to barge food into Valdez as needed.

The school district has reported that they will be operating on a normal schedule and normal operations this week and do not foresee any issues at this point.  

The City of Valdez continues to work with the Marine Highway System to increase ferry traffic to Valdez while the road is closed. If additional ferry schedules are coordinated, they will be made available to the public as soon as possible. The airport and port facilities remain fully functional.

For residents in the 10 mile area (Nordic and Alpine Woods subdivisions), the voluntary evacuation advisory is still in effect until further notice. The city provided shelter has been moved to the Teen Center and will run for as long as needed. Those who need to drop off pets at the animal shelter please call 835-2286 to make arrangements. The City of Valdez asks residents in both of these subdivisions to be prepared to evacuate immediately in the event of the siren going off in that area.

Mayor Pro Tempore Wells has called for a special City Council meeting to be held this evening at 6:00 PM in the City Council chambers for City Administration to brief them on the current situation. This meeting is open to the public.
The City of Valdez will provide another press release at 6:00 PM this evening (Monday, January 27th) unless there are significant changes to the situation.
Posted January 27, 2014
Holly Wolgamott, Deputy City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez

AVALANCHE UPDATE - Sunday 6pm 1-26-14


MAINTENANCE ENGINEER COMING TO VALDEZ, ADOT EXPECTS TO REPORT ON FINDINGS TOMORROW AFTERNOON

CITY OF VALDEZ - Sunday January 26, 2014 - 6pm

In response to the avalanches that have occurred at Snow Slide Gulch in Keystone Canyon, the Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT) has reported that a maintenance engineer is scheduled to arrive in Valdez this evening to assess the situation. ADOT expects to report on these findings some time tomorrow afternoon (Monday January 27th). The Richardson Highway remains closed from mile post 12 – 64. The Richardson Highway will likely remain closed for at least one week, but very possibly longer. 

The City Manager, Police Chief, and Fire Chief will attempt to conduct aerial reconnaissance via helicopter on Monday January 27th to better assess the situation. 
 
VALDEZ - In response to the avalanches that have occurred at Snow Slide Gulch in Keystone Canyon, the Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT) continues to conduct avalanche control measures to assure the entire area is stable and safe for clean-up operations. The water build up behind the avalanches is still occurring, though some pressure is being relieved through the old tunnel south of the highway. Due to the severity of the situation, and the amount of snow, water and debris involved, the Richardson Highway will likely remain closed for at least one week, but very possibly longer.
 
The City of Valdez is aggressively working with the Marine Highway System to increase ferry traffic to Valdez while the road is closed. The airport and port facilities remain fully functional. The City of Valdez has confirmed that there is plenty of gasoline and heating fuel oil in town to serve local needs during an extended road closure. Should fuel run short at any time, it will be barged in as needed.
 
The City of Valdez has also confirmed with Providence Valdez Medical Center that they have sufficient staff and supplies on hand to maintain normal operations throughout this road closure period.
 
Safeway has confirmed that food trucks are in route to Valdez via barges arriving today (Sunday January 26th) and then again tomorrow (Monday January 27th). Safeway staff is prepared to work through the night to stock shelves as food and supplies arrive. If the road remains closed they will continue to barge food into Valdez as needed. Some items may take time to be restocked but food and supplies will be available on a regular basis.
 
For residents in the 10 mile area (Nordic and Alpine Woods subdivisions), the voluntary evacuation advisory is still in effect until further notice. As of 4:00 PM Sunday (January 26th), the city provided shelter will be moved to the Teen Center and will run for as long as needed. Those who need to drop off pets at the animal shelter please call 835-2286 to make arrangements. The City of Valdez asks residents in both of these subdivisions to be prepared to evacuate immediately in the event of the siren going off in that area.
 
Throughout the course of this event, the City of Valdez will send out updates at 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM each day with the current information. Should anything significant happen between those two designated times, additional releases will be provided.
 
Posted January 26, 2014
Holly Wolgamott, Deputy City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez        
 
 

Pictures of Keystone Canyon Avalanche



VOLUNTARY EVACUATION



FLASH FLOOD WARNING CANCELLED - Saturday, January 25th
Just got off the phone with the City of Valdez and the flash flood warning has been cancelled for 10 mile and Alpine Woods. A shelter was set up in town Friday night but was not utilized by anyone so it will be shut down tonight. At this time it looks like it's safe for residents to go home but there are concerns about localized flooding in Alpine Woods. 

The City is currently assessing the situation and will be getting an update out on that situation shortly
VOLUNTARY EVACUATION NOTICE FOR RESIDENTS OF ALPINE WOODS SUBDIVISION/10 MILE AREA
 
A flash flood warning is in effect for Keystone Canyon due to the avalanche which occurred earlier today. Residents of Alpine Woods/10 Mile are advised that the City of Valdez and the National Weather Service have issued a flash flood warning for Keystone Canyon. As a precaution, the City of Valdez is issuing a voluntary evacuation notice to all residents of 10 Mile and Alpine Woods Subdivision. The voluntary evacuation notice will remain in effect until further notice.
 
Residents are advised that an emergency shelter has been activated at the Valdez High School Gymnasium. The Valdez animal shelter will provide temporary shelter for pets. 
 
The City remains in contact with the Alaska Department of Transportation and the Alaska Department of Emergency Services for updates.
 
Posted January 24, 2014
Sheri L. Pierce, City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez

VOLUNTARY EVACUATION


FLASH FLOOD WARNING IN EFFECT FOR KEYSTONE CANYON
VOLUNTARY EVACUATION NOTICE FOR RESIDENTS OF ALPINE WOODS SUBDIVISION/10 MILE AREA
 
A flash flood warning is in effect for Keystone Canyon due to the avalanche which occurred earlier today. Residents of Alpine Woods/10 Mile are advised that the City of Valdez and the National Weather Service have issued a flash flood warning for Keystone Canyon. As a precaution, the City of Valdez is issuing a voluntary evacuation notice to all residents of 10 Mile and Alpine Woods Subdivision. The voluntary evacuation notice will remain in effect until further notice.
 
Residents are advised that an emergency shelter has been activated at the Valdez High School Gymnasium. The Valdez animal shelter will provide temporary shelter for pets. 
 
The City remains in contact with the Alaska Department of Transportation and the Alaska Department of Emergency Services for updates.
 
Posted January 24, 2014
Sheri L. Pierce, City Clerk/PIO, City of Valdez
FLOOD WATCH ISSUED FROM NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE 1/24/14 - 6:57pm
Flash flood watch is in effect through late Sunday morning along the Richardson Highway from Keystone Canyon through Milepost 5.
*Another avalanche has blocked the Lowe River in Keystone Canyon causing a large backup of water behind it. This new lake is filling rapidly and is already larger than the one on Friday. A flash flood may occur when the avalanche dam releases. This may occur with little or no warning.

ANOTHER AVALANCHE COMES DOWN IN THOMPSON PASS
UPDATE FROM CITY OF VALDEZ - Saturday 6:40pm

According to City Clerk Sheri Pierce, the Department of Transportation was working to try to clear the massive avalanche that came down in Thompson Pass and another avalanche came down. No one was hurt, but according to Pierce the 2nd avalanche was even larger than the first. The City is opening the School Shelter in town for those in Alpine Woods wanting to voluntarily evacuate. Animal Shelter open for pets. Pierce explained that water is building behind the 2nd avalanche, "and basically we're in the same position we were in last night".




 TOO MUCH WATER TO BEGIN MOVING SNOW AND DEBRI
THOMPSON PASS CLOSED AT A MINIMUM THROUGH SUNDAY
Saturday January 25, 2014

Alaska Department of Transportation (ADOT) reports that the water that is backed up behind the avalanche has receded to some degree. However, there is still too much water to begin moving snow and debris at this point. The road will remain closed at a minimum through tomorrow. The City remains in contact with the Alaska Department of Transportation and the Alaska Department of Emergency Services for updates. 

Safeway has reported that their food truck is scheduled to come in tomorrow morning (Sunday January 26, 2014) on the ferry. Due to the road closure, they have missed one delivery. Certain foods are running low at this point but most should be replenished some time tomorrow. 

ROAD CLOSURE UPDATE FROM DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION - 1-24-14 (4:20PM)
 
*UPDATE* The highway will remain closed until Saturday, January 25, when we will reevaluate the situation. Thank you for your patience. 

ROAD CLOSURE:
The Department of Transportation has announced that
mile 12-45 of the Richardson Highway have been closed due to avalanche activity and extreme weather until further notice. Stay tuned to KVAK 93.3FM & 1230AM for updates.

 
MUSHERS FINISH RACE IN GLENNALLEN
Allen Moore crossed the Copper Valley 300 finish line first at 2:05pm on Tuesday, January14th wining the grand prize for the competition’s 25th annual race. He was followed by Nicholas Petit and Gerry Willowmitzer who finished the race at 2:10pm and 3:23pm respectively. Thirty-one of the original 45 mushers completed the race with 12 dropping out along the way.
CLICK HERE for photos from the race.
CLICK HERE to view the full list of finish times.

 
2013: RECORD SALMON SEASON
According to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) 2013 saw the largest salmon harvest ever. The total harvest of more than 272 million fish was especially pink heavy, with the humpback salmon contributing to more than 80% of the total 2013 harvest estimate says ASMI. In monetary terms 2013’s catch was valued at $691.1 million. An amount  “second only to the 1988 harvest worth $724 million” says ASMI.


 
VALDEZ MAN SENTENCED TO 8 MONTHS
James Kramer, brother of former Tatitlek mayor, Sue Clum, has been sentenced to 8 months for failing to file an income tax return reports the YourAlaskaLink.com. According to the report, Kramer was also fined $2,000. According to prosecutors, Kramer received $20,000 from his sister, part of the $112,000 Clum had stolen from Tatitlek tribal funds, and then failed to report the money and his annual earnings for the 2009 income tax.
CLICK HERE to read the full report.

 
SKI TEAM COACH REFLECTS ON INVITE AFTER BUS ACCIDENT
In the wake of the Richardson bus crash on Friday, January 10th, the cross country ski teams proceeded with the Valdez Invite competition. Ski coach Pete Toye shared his thoughts on the event saying “The bus crash on the pass involving the teams from Kenai and Skyview was certainly a tragic and terrifying start to, what promised to be, a very competitive weekend involving 220 skiers from 10 high schools.” Coach Toye provided a full summary of the Invite as well as a recap of the weekend’s Kenai Classic meet. Click on the link above to read more.
The Cross Country Ski team will compete next on Jan 24 & 25 at the  Colony Invite in Palmer/ Government Peak.



 
PROVIDENCE VALDEZ MEDICAL CENTER RECEIVES OVER $9,000
The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority recently announced that they would be awarding a total of $9,561 to the Providence Valdez Counseling Center. Carley Lawrence of the Alaska Mental Health Trust explained the grant will “enhance the therapeutic, educational, and healing experience of new and existing clientele. Funds will increase the array of therapeutic activities and educational materials offered.”


 
ANCHORAGE BANS SPICE
The Alaska Dispatch reports the Anchorage Assembly unanimously passed an ordinance that will ban spice and other synthetic drugs such as bath salts and “K2”. According to the Dispatch, “The ordinance only makes civil penalties for the drugs, which are constantly being changed by manufacturers to avoid the Federal Analog Act. Anyone in possession of the drug would be charged $500 per packet, vial or tube. Violations would be handled in a manner similar to a parking ticket, Mew said. Non-payment could mean potential garnishment of Permanent Fund Dividends, and those fined would not be eligible for a court-appointed attorney. Both Mew and Franklin noted that the ordinance will not do enough remove Spice from the streets, but it's a step in the right direction.”
According to Officer Baczuk of the Valdez Police Department spice has made an appearance in Valdez. “We saw a significant use of spice for a while,” said Baczuk adding that since then usage has decreased but still pops up occasionally. With many spice users being youth under 30, Baczuk attributes much of the decrease in Valdez spice use to the work of the Valdez Youth Coalition in educating their peers. “We are definitely in favor of banning spice” said Baczuk, expressing hope that the new ban would be more effective than former regulations targeting specific ingredients.   
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch


 
SCHOOL BOARD ADDS INSERVICE DAYS
The School Board voted last week to add three new in-service days to the school calendar: April 14th, 15th and 16th. The State Board of Education approved the addition and the school calendar has since been officially updated.
CLICK HERE to view the school calendar


 
CITY TAX PAYMENT DATES TO BE SET FOR 2014
The City Council will vote Tuesday to adopt the following 2014 tax calendar
Jan 1 - Assessment Date
Jan 15 - Requests for Property Tax Exemptions Due
Jan 15 - Requests for Community Purpose Exemptions Due
Feb 28 - Assessment Notices Mailed
April 1 - Deadline for Appeals to Board of Equalization
May 5 - Board of Equalization Meeting
July 1 - Tax Statements Mailed
Aug 15 - May be Paid in Full Without Penalty or Interest On or Before
-OR-
TAXES MAY BE PAID IN TWO INSTALLMENTS THAT ARE:
First Half Due On or Before August 15, 2014 Second Half Due On or Before October 15, 2014


 
 
TWO HALIBUT LIMIT FOR 2014, ONE UNDER 29”
The International Pacific Halibut Commission announced the 2014 Halibut catch limits last Friday on their website. Area 3A which includes Valdez, Seward, Homer and Kodiak, will have a 2014 combined catch limit for both charter and commercial anglers of 9.43 million pounds. The Peninsula Clarion reports that not only is this number a decrease from the 2013 limit, but also details the 2014 restrictions for charters, “The charter share of the catch means that guided anglers will be limited to two fish when fishing out of Southcentral Ports this summer, with the second fish limited to 29 inches or smaller in length. Charter vessels will also make only one trip.”
CLICK HERE to view the limits posted on the IPHC website.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Peninsula Clarion.

 

 
CITY OF VALDEZ TAKES A STAND
The City Council packet this week contains a Memorandum opposing House Bill 77. According to the Memo, the City of Valdez believes the bill is not in the best interest of the public because it decreases public input and involvement in local government matters. Here are just a few of the concerns voiced in the City's Memo. "House Bill 77 would: reduce notifications regarding land disposition and water rights; deny the right to appeal from agency decisions to persons unless they are "substantially and adversely affected" in a direct "physical" or "Financial"; eliminate the current requirement that the state give the public notice and hold hearing on preliminary decisions on whether a giveaway of state resources is in the public interest and authorize "general permits" under which the state permitting agency can avoid addressing the specific damages to be caused by specific permits or hold any hearings at which local residents could comment.
CLICK HERE to read the Council Resolution on House Bill 77
CLICK HERE for link to House Bill 77 


 
CITY OF  VALDEZ PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
 Friday, January 17, 2014
11:15 AM
 
Due to current weather conditions, the possibility of avalanche is very high. The City of Valdez has blocked access to the area directly behind the high school for all public use until further notice. The City urges citizens to please use extreme caution when on or under loaded snow slopes. They City also asks that citizens beware of snow shedding off roof tops.
 
With the added rain on top of the existing snow the streets have become very slick. The Public Works Department is diligently working to keep streets clear and passable. The City asks that the public help in this effort by removing parked cars from streets and to avoid placing snow from private property into the middle of the street. Please place snow along the side of the street so it can be removed as the crew cleans your street.
 
The City of Valdez thanks Valdez citizens for their assistance in keeping our roads safe and passable.

 

Richardson Highway Open


Gilson Middle School & Hermon Hutchens Elementary are OPEN Friday

At 5pm, the Valdez Fire Department tested the air quality at the Elementary school and found the air to be within normal limits. Fire Department personnel did not feel that there were any safety or health concerns that would prevent the school from operating. Valdez City Schools hare therefore deemed it safe for normal operations and will resume regular operating hour on Friday morning. 

From Valdez City Schools
The boiler system at Hermon Hutchens Elementary School and Gilson Middle School is emitting an unusual fuel smell. All students are safe and appear to be doing fine. However, as a precautionary measure all elementary and middle school students will be released from school at 1:10 pm today and buses will at that time. Also, all after school activities scheduled in the elementary building are cancelled today. This only affects the elementary and middle school building. High school students will stay in school and will be released at the regular time. The high school buses will also run at the regular time.

 

WEATHER UPDATE

The National Weather Service (NWS) reports a series of fast-moving storm systems will move North across Southern Alaska the 2nd half of this week with origins in the subtropical Pacific Ocean. With each passing storm from Wednesday onward, warmer air aloft will continue to push further north and west into the state. A particularly strong and extremely moist storm system is poised to sweep across the state late Thursday through Saturday and will bring periods of heavy rainfall to the Gulf of Alaska and Prince William Sound Coastal locations.

According to NWS, temperatures are likely to rise well into the 30th and 40's as far North as the Alaska Range, peaking in most locations during the day on Friday and into Friday night., Strong winds along terrain gaps such as turnagain arm as well as higher elevations of Southern Alaska are also possible. NWS foresees the greatest potential impacts Thursday through Saturday will be related to rapid melting of snow as well as run off and ponding of water on top of ice. By Saturday night and Sunday, temperatures look to drop to near or just below freezing.

Please take caution while driving and stay tuned to 93.3FM and 1230AM to hear hourly local and marine forecasts
as well as the CJ's Winter Travel Forecast outlining weather and road conditions throughout the state every morning and evening.

TSAINA LODGE BEING PROMOTED BY NATURAL RETREATS CORPORATE TRAVEL GROUP
The Tsaina Lodge was recently added to the portfolio of Natural Retreats, a leisure travel company, reports Incentive Travel & Corporate Meetings. Matt Spence, Natural Retreats CEO, said they were proud of their new portfolio additions what he called, “the true ‘bucket list’ heli-fishing destination of Tsaina Lodge in Valdez, Alaksa .”[sic]
CLICK HERE to view the full article.  


 
UPDATE ON THERESA CASILLAS
Theresa was admitted to Providence in Anchorage just after Christmas and a kidney biopsy showed a diabetic kidney disease and possible lung infection. According to daughter Carly, she is getting her strength back and wants to go home to recover hopefully this week. "There are so many people to thank and my words saying "Thank You" I feel just aren't enough!" said Carly. Carly said donations are still continuing to come in through Wells Fargo & gofundme.com and she would love that to continue for as long as possible.


 
SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT STROH OUTLINES HER GOALS FOR DISTRICT
School Superintendent Lisa Stroh stated her four main goals to the school board at their last regular meeting in December.  
1. All students (K-12) will be taught a cohesive, sound curriculum which has been horizontally and vertically aligned with the Alaska State Standards, taking into account individual student’s needs, talents, and aspirations for the future, as measured by VCS district teacher opinions.
2. The budget will reflect the needs of the school district, will be transparent, and understandable to the common person, as demonstrated in community information meetings.
3. The middle school will be built in the most educationally conducive manner for today’s students, as well for tomorrow’s students, considering a variety of measures such as the budget, Alaska climate, and the desired culture of the school, as measured by self-evaluation.
4. Trust will be obtained among the various stakeholders (e.g. superintendent, school board members, city council members, teachers, community, parents, and students) – thus providing a sense of ease, calmness, confidence, and pride regarding the interworking’s of the school district, as measured by conversations with the various stakeholders. 
The School Board met in a work session December 18th to discuss the goals and decided to move forward with the plan as outlined by the superintendent.


 
MUSHERS ON THE TRAIL NEAR GLENALLEN FOR
COPPER BASIN 300 SLED DOG RACE

Forty-five mushers met in Glenallen on Saturday for the 25th annual Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race. Mushers set off at 10am from the American Legion Hall in Glenallen toward Crosswind Lake. The mushers and their teams will make their way to the finish line near the Hub and Old Path’s Baptist Church in pursuit of the $10,000 purse. The race is currently underway with the first finishers expected to be crossing the finish line around 1 or 2pm this afternoon.  Live tracking of the race is currently available on the Copper Basin 300 website and race winners will be posted once the mushers make it across the finish line.  
CLICK HERE for more race information.


 
CLUM SENTENCED 18 MONTHS IN PRISON
Former Valdez resident and Tatitlek president, Lori Clum (also known as Sue Clum and Sue Johnson) was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for misapplication of tribal funds reports the Alaska Dispatch. According to the report, Clum’s crimes included “double-dipping into the village's bank accounts, wrongful and inflated payments to herself, and outright theft of the village's money.” In addition to her prison sentence, Clum must repay Tatitlek $150,000. Clum is required to turn herself over to authorities on January 22ndto serve 18 months in prison.
CLICK HERE for more details on Clum’s trail and sentencing.


 
BUS CRASH ON RICHARDSON
A school bus from Kenai traveling to Valdez with students attending the Cross Country Skiing Invite collided with a semi-truck on the Richardson Highway near mile 55 last Friday. The Valdez Fire Department reports the driver of the bus was trapped for over an hour before rescue crews were able to free him and transport him to Providence Valdez Medical Center for treatment. The Kenai students were transferred to Hermon Hutchens Elementary School for triage; 28 of whom were later taken to Providence Valdez Medical Center for further treatment. Additionally, the fire department confirmed the bus driver and a student were medevaced to Anchorage.


 
THE CITY OF VALDEZ HAS PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING PRESS RELEASE REGARDING THE MOTER VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON THE RICHARDSON HWY:

PRESS RELEASE
January 10, 2014 - 1315 hrs
 
On January 10, 2014, at 11:50 a.m. Valdez Police and Valdez Fire Department EMS responded to a motor vehicle accident at mile 55 of the Richardson Highway involving a semi-truck and school bus with 49 students on board.  
 The Kenai High School students were travelling to Valdez to participate in a Cross Country Ski Team event scheduled for Saturday.
The driver of the school bus sustained serious injuries.  Four students were transported to Providence Valdez Medical Center for observation and treatment of minor injuries.
 The accident is under investigation by the Alaska State Troopers, Glennallen Division.


 
 
NORDIC TOWN SERIES RACE 3 RESULTS
CLICK HERE to view the results from the final race in the Nordic Town Race Series. An open 5.4K freestyle race for all skiers will take place January 11 @ 2:00 PM at the USCG Housing facility off Hanagita. The race will be a self-timer and the culminating event of the Valdez Invite.


 
UPCOMING TRAIL CLOSURES
Story provided by Pete Toye
The Valdez High School Ski Team will be hosting the annual Valdez Invite on January 10 & 11, 2014.  Over 200 hundred high school skiers representing 10 school s from Fairbanks, Kenai, and Matsu Valley will join the Valdez Bucs for this event.  Consequently, both the Mineral Creek Road and the entire upper canyon area will be closed to motorized traffic, hiking, and sledding all day Friday the 10th and Saturday the 11th until 5:00 PM. This closure is absolutely necessary for the preparation of the course and for the safety of the skiers. As always, we greatly appreciate your understanding and cooperation. The start /finish area for both days is at the U.S. Coast Guard housing facility off of Hanagita. Friday’s relay races begin at 3:30 and the main event races on Saturday begin at 11:00 AM.


 
SHOVELING ICE OFF ROOF MIGHT SAVE VALDEZ HOMEOWNERS EXPENSIVE REPAIRS
The City of Valdez Building Department is issuing a public service notice regarding ice damming. According to local contractor Scott Benzo “Ice Damming is a phenomenon. The extreme cold temperatures we had earlier this year caused ice to freeze at the edge of roofs. Now we are receiving rain and the ice is acting like a dam, holding the rain on the roof”. Several property owners are experiencing water damage due to ice damming. The Building Department is encouraging property owners to review the status of roof ice build –up and to have the ice cleared if possible. CLICK HERE to read press release from City of Valdez.


 
VALDEZ RESIDENT SHOWS OFF SKI DOO SETUP
Ashley Chaffin, owner of Sacred Grounds, recently shared an exclusive on her Renegade X set up with Ski Doo’s Mountain Blog. “Because I’m a girl and pretty petite, I often get asked about my sled set-up. Here’s how I make my Ski-Doo Renegade sled work for me” says Chaffin.
CLICK HERE to see Chaffin’s set up for yourself. 

 
ALPINE WOOD SEPTIC UPDATE
An update on the Alpine Woods septic program will be presented during tonight’s city council meeting.
CLICK HERE to view the report.


 
CITY COUNCIL TO MEET WITH LNG PROJECT MANAGER
The big players in the Alaska LNG Project announced Nikiski as their choice to build the Alaska LNG Plant, but local officials are hoping to meet with the Producers’ Project Manager Mr. Steve Butt this evening in a work session at 6pm to discuss the advantages of working with Valdez on the project. The meeting is contingent on the 5:50pm flight arriving. KVAK will broadcast the meeting live at 6pm on 1230AM and at www.kvakradio.com. City Manager John Hozey described this meeting as an opportunity to discuss the current status of the project with Council members, as well as Representative Eric Feige and City of Valdez Lobbyist Kim Hutchison. CLICK HERE for the original press release from early October that announced the lead site for a liquefaction plant and gasline terminal under this project as being in Nikiski, Alaska.
 CLICK HERE to view the work session agenda.


 
CITY ELECTION MIGHT MOVE FROM OCTOBER TO APRIL
The City Council will look at a report tonight at their regular meeting regarding the procedure and regulations associated with changing the date of the regular municipal election. “The Council Members are elected and as soon as they sit down, we put a 3 inch binder full of budget information in their hand”, said Hozey. “They have to build a budget just weeks after they are elected and that’s tough”. Changing the election from October to April might give Council members a chance to get acquainted with Council issues before building a budget, but it would also change the election for School Board members who are on an entirely different budget cycle. The topic is just a discussion tonight, but City Charter requires a full year of notice before implementing such a change according to Hozey, so the first election that could possibly change would be April 2015. If the change were to occur said Hozey, the Council members who had their term expiring in that year would serve an 18 month term rather than a two year term. Regular meeting begins at 7pm.
 CLICK HERE for more information.
CLICK HERE to view the Election Date Change terms of office.
CLICK HERE to view the Election Change calendar.


 

VHS WRESTLING RECAP
CLICK HERE to read Wrestling Coach Ken Deaton's summary of the 123A State Tournament

 
TOWN RACE 2 RESULTS
CLICK HERE to view the results from the second race in the Valdez Nordic Racing Town Series.


 
SNOW IS CANVAS FOR SNOWSHOE ARTIST
"The mountains improve the artwork," he says. "And the artwork improves the mountains” says Simon Beck, a snowshoe artist recently featured on npr.com.  According to the report Beck will walk for miles using the snow of the French Alps as his canvas to create huge, intricate designs in the snow.
CLICK HERE to see Beck’s creations.



 
PAXSON LODGE CLOSES
Travelers between Valdez and Fairbanks now have one less option for lodging along the road with the closure of the Paxson Lodge last week. The Alaska Dispatch reports that the Paxon Lodge, located at mile 185 of the Richardson Highway, cited possible high fuel costs as reasons for the closure. Located 15 miles south of Paxon, the Meier’s Lake Roadhouse on the Richardson Highway, remains open.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch.


 
CHANGES TO THE COLUMBIA  GLACIER CAPTURED

The Columbia Glacier has been called one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world and a recently released gif shows the glacier’s retreat from 1984 to 2011 in a brief four second span. For Colleen Stephens of Stan Stephens Cruises, and many other Valdez residents, watching the changes to the Colombia Glacier has been part of living and working in Valdez. “Watching the entire process of Columbia's retreat is truly watching history in the making.
 
We began tours to Columbia when I was seven - in 1978 - I feel so fortunate to have been able to watch the entire process of the retreat,” said Stephens. Stephens recalled first viewing Columbia from a distance. She explained that in the early 80’s as the glacier began to slip off its terminal moraine it began to release huge sections of ice. “Entire sections in excess of 1/4 mile wide and the entire face of the glacier high,” Stephens recalled, describing how these large ice sections then would become grounded on the terminal moraine creating a large barrier of ice blocking boats from approaching the face of the glacier.
 
“In 1996, in the fall, as we operated our final tours it looked like the large barrier bergs on the moraine were thinning,” Stephens said, “we could see that there may be a chance to make it into the unexplored forebay of Columbia Bay and to the face of Columbia Glacier. In late September early October when we were coming home from Whittier with no customers on board on the m/v Nunatuk.  I was cleaning the floor and then looked up and boom there was the glacier.” Following this event the Stan Stephens crew took a series of glaciologists out survey the glacier. “I often say if I could have one wish it would be for technology to advance enough in my lifetime to have my body preserved and brought back to life in 100 to 1000 years to see where Columbia is then and see what predictions of glaciologists came true,” mused Stephens, concluding “unfortunately, they are changing and I do not believe that a glacier like Columbia will ever be back where it was, sitting on the terminal moraine 12 miles south of today's location of its face.”  
 
A study out of University of Colorado-Bolder suggests that the iconic glacier should stop retreating by 2020. Until then Valdez residents and visitors to Prince William Sound can only track the changes to the glacier as new chapters in the glacier’s history are written.
Click on the picture above to view the gif.
CLICK HERE to read about the CU-Bolder study.


 
CHARTER PLAN COULD LIMIT HALF OF TWO HALIBUT LIMIT TO “CHICKEN” HALIBUT
According to the Alaska Dispatch in an effort to combat a declining halibut stock in Homer, the Alaska Charter Halibut Management Implementation Committee is proposing that the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council limit one fish of the two fish limit to a “chicken” halibut. “Chicken” halibut reference small flat fish under 30 inches. The recommendation came after biologist Scott Meyer, cautioned the group that “the charter-catch quota is no longer large enough to support the traditional two-fish limit.” The committee hopes that their plan with ward off a drop to a one fish limit. “With that on the horizon and the new catch-sharing rule moving forward, charter skippers say adopting a limit of one fish of any size and one fish 30 inches or less is the only way to maintain a two-fish limit in the state's largest and most-popular halibut sport fishery” says Craig Medred, author of the Dispatch story. According to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, if implemented this recommended limit would apply to all charters operating in the 3A South Central region including Valdez.  Final halibut catch limits for 2014 will likely be announced by mid January.
CLICK HERE to read the full story from the Alaska Dispatch.
BAGS OF LOVE GETS DONATION BOOST
The Bags of Love Program received a boost this holiday season with the help of 5th Grade Girl Scout Troop #524. The nine girls in the troop put together a donation and toy drive and received 67 stuffed toys; 84 other toys; 38 toiletry items; seven books; seven Subway cards and miscellaneous odds and ends. The donations ail benefit the Bags of Love program and Debs Campbell told the girls that they received so many toys that they sent a shipment to the village of Gakona. Savannah Cockerham, Cherubim Palomar, Reese King, Rylie King, Marianne Prax, Jessica Britton, Jana Allen, McKayla Buck and Paris Pennington will receive their bronze Girl Scout pin for organizing the project.


 
NORDIC TOWN SERIES RACE 1 RESULTS
Ski coach, Pete Toye reports: “We had a great time at our inaugural ski race of the season! The quality snow conditions were surpassed only by the quality of the company. As always, thanks parents, Marcie, and Parks & Rec! The VHS Nordic team wants to sincerely thank the townsfolk that came out and supported the team and their goal of getting faster each day! Also, the wax fund donations were most appreciated. We'll do it all again next Saturday, same time and place.”
CLICK HERE to view the race results.


 
VALDEZ FOOD BANK DISTRIBUTES DINNERS
On Dec. 19th the Valdez Food Bank served 66 families and 174 people, reports Marie Porritt. Over two days, approximately 21 helpers helped put boxes together and worked to distribute them, including one helper who stood out in the cold giving people hams and turkeys.
Additionally, extra food was passed out in anticipation of the Food Bank’s holiday closure.
No food distribution will take place this week.


 
LOOKING FOR NEW WINTER SPORTS TO TRY IN VALDEZ?
SNOW KAYAKING AND YUKIGASSEN COULD BE THE ANSWER

Valdez has long offered many excellent options for winter sports. But if you are tired of skiing and snowshoeing it may be time to add some new offerings to the mix. Snow kayaking or yukigassen anyone? According to the Anchorage Press and their recently published: “Top Ten Alternative Winter Sports” snow kayaking, which allows the adventurous to navigate mountain slopes in a kayak, and yukigassen or competitive snowball fighting could help chase away the winter blues. Yukigassenusa.com explains the sport as “snowball dodgeball” and reveals that the name, borrowed from Japanese means “snow battle.”
CLICK HERE to read the full list of Alterative Winter Sports from the Anchorage Press.
CLICK HERE for more information on yukigassen.


 
CONGRESSMAN YOUNG REACTS TO OBAMACARE ROLL OUT
In a story published in Congressman Young’s Washington Update Newsletter, the politician says, “What I’ve heard most from Alaskans is that this law needs to be delayed, repealed, and replaced as soon as possible; and I can assure you those are the steps I’m taking here in Congress.” According to Young those steps include cosponsoring the H.R. 3350, the Keep Your Health Plan Act, which passed the House last month. According to Congressman Young this Act will, “give Americans the right to keep the healthcare plans they like.”
CLICK HERE for more information on H.R. 3350.
FOUR  VALDEZ NON-PROFITS AWARDED GRANTS
The CVEA Community Foundation recently provided funding to four non-profit organizations and three others operating in the Copper Basin. According to Sharon Crisp of CVEA the local Valdez recipients include KCHU, the Valdez Torpedoes Swim Club, The Valdez Food Bank and the Valdez Imagination Library. KCHU will use their funding for an educational series of Coffee Break episodes. Funds given to the Torpedoes will go toward new flippers. The Food Bank plans to begin an education outreach with their funding to educate youth on hunger awareness and the Imagination Library will use their grant to provide 8 local children with one book every month for a year.
To read more about the recipients of the Community Foundation grants CLICK HERE.


 
 CHURCH RAFFLE SELECTS WINNERS

Jessica Liddell won $5,000 in the Saint Francis Catholic Church Raffle. The ticket was drawn Sunday from the 850 tickets sold. Jim McKay won 2nd place and $1,000 and Caleb Kompkoff won $500. Tracey Gerrard was the winning ticket seller. Proceeds from the raffle will go to the building maintenance fund said raffle organizer Christie Franklin. Franklin proudly announced to the congregation she had outsold Judy Londo by 10 tickets. Londo apparently owes her dinner.
Pictured above: Jim McKay, Christie Franklin and Jessica Liddell


 
STUDENTS SEE PROGRESS ON GMS BUILDING
Middle School Principal Rod Morrison reports that over 35 students toured the GMS building. Morrison said, “The new school building is taking shape on the inside. Students were able to walk through the classrooms, hallways, wood shop and the gym. This is going to be a wonderful building.”

 

 
TEEN CENTER REOPENS WITH CHANGES TO OPERATIONS
The Teen Center reopens this Friday but operations will be anything but business as usual. A scheduled closure for maintenance on the HVAC heating system allowed the Parks and Recreation department to renovate the interior and overall programming according to Viola Amberg, the new Teen Center Coordinator. The inside of the Teen Center now features bright colors, bean bag chairs, gaming chairs and a sectional sofa.  Teens will also see an updated menu that balances new healthier options with old favorites such as hamburgers. Some of the biggest changes to the facility include a new schedule and programming that aims to expand access and cater to new age groups. Amberg explains, “We are expanding the Teen Center’s access to Young Adults (ages 19-24).  In addition to weekly activities and events, our goal is to have at least one weekend event (dance, party, game night, etc) reserved for each age group: Middle School, High School and Young Adults.” In order to meet the needs of these different age groups two advisory boards are being created: the Teen Advisory Board and a Young Adult advisory board. “We understand there’s a serious vacuum in this community regarding this age group; and we’re hoping to be able to fill this void by offering activities and events specifically for their demographic,” explains Amberg. Additional the Teen Center will now operate 7 days a week.


 
VALDEZ SKI TEAM GIRLS STAND OUT AT LYNX LOPPET
According to Ski Team Coach Pete Toye, the Valdez team’s female skiers made an impact at this week’s Lynx Loppet in Kincaid Park. The Lynx Loppet is the largest ski race of the year for the Valdez team with over 700 skiers in attendance. Junior Stephanie Allen took 26th place overall in a competition against 84 other skiers.  Additionally, freshman Rylee Norris placed 19th in the classic and 10th in skate earning her an overall standing at 15th place from a field of 155.
CLICK HERE to read Coach Toye’s summary for more information on the team’s performance at the Lynx Loppet.


 
VALDEZ WRESTLING TEAM TAKES 3RD PLACE AT STATE TOURNAMENT

The Valdez Wrestling team wrapped up there season with a third place finish at the 2013 State Tournament over the weekend reports the Valdez High School. In addition, the team and their coach were both honored with awards; the wrestling team coming home with the sportsmanship award and coach, Ken Deaton, receiving the coach of the year award. Other competition highlights include: Isaac Deaton taking first place at 160, Austin Rake placing first at 170, Brain Allan taking second place at 145, Keefe McInstosh securing third place at 138, Adam Downing placing third at 152, Cody Green placing fourth at 126 and Kalin McIntosh taking sixth place at 160.
Pictured above: The 2013 Valdez Wrestling Team and Austin Rake


 
POOL ACCESS CHANGE
Patrons can now access the Valdez Pool via the High School utilizing “Trophy Hall” and the back “diving board door.” As always, shoes will need to be removed prior to walking on the pool deck to help keep it clean for the bare feet swimmers. A bench and a shoe shelf will be available.
CLICK HERE for more information.

 
PUBLIC NOTICE: BUS ROUTE 3 HAS CHANGED
Bus route 3 for bus carrot/orange has changed to increase the safety of students boarding and departing the bus.
CLICK HERE to see the route changes.


 
YOUTH ADVISORY BOARD TO BE CREATED FOR VALDEZ TEEN CENTER
A Youth Advisory Board is being formed to coincide with updates to the Valdez Teen Center.  Teens who are interested in being part of the project can sign up at the High School Library.  Teens can also fill out a survey on which activities and events they would like to see at the Teen Center. The survey can be found in the VHS Library.  The Teen Center is set to re-opening on December 20th.


 
VALDEZ LEGO ROBOTICS TEAM WINS FIRST PLACE

The "Valdez 1964" LEGO robotics team won first place on Saturday, December 7th at a "virtual qualifying" event.  In addition to the first place finish, the team took home an award for excellent research in their project event and earned $1,000 in travel funds from STEM-AK. The team earned a high score of 222 points on the robot challenge game in the competition against four rural Alaskan teams (Unalaska, Big Lake, Holy Cross and McGrath) conducted via the Polycom system at PWSCC. The  team included Joshua Baczuk, Cameron Bowden, Alexander Britton, Isaac Clubb, Wyatt Cummings, Trevor Hawkins, Hayden Howard, Sydney McKay, Paris Pennington, Jacob Porritt, Justin Prax and Marianne Prax. The team coaches, Cynthia Shidner and VPD Officer Baczuk said, “We are very proud of our team, and excited about our upcoming state-wide competition in Fairbanks on Feb. 1st.” The “Valdez 1964” LEGO team will compete against 30 teams at their next match in Fairbanks.


 
SKIERS SPRINT IN FAIRBANKS

Pictured above: Nathan Albright, Riley Norris and Stephanie Allen. Photos provided by Michelle Cullen.
Story provided by VHS ski coach, Pete Toye
The Buccaneer ski team finally got to race this weekend as they travelled to Fairbanks for a classic sprint competition. Originally, the team was supposed to race in Palmer but the rain wiped out their course and the race was cancelled early Friday morning. As the Birch Hill announcer aptly put it, “They (us) hit Glennallen and just kept heading north!” Due to our last minute entry, we ended up in the “B” bracket which was primarily junior varsity but our skiers attacked the course hard and that was the key to a great learning experience regardless of quality of competition. We don’t race individuals, we race the course! And the course bit us on the heals a time or two with a very tight, fast, icy hairpin turn coming off a steep downhill but it was a valuable (and painful for some) learning experience for all.
                In the women’s bracket, 33 skiers started in the quarterfinals and both of our entries had an outstanding day. Junior Stephanie Allen had a great day finishing 3rd place overall. Allen was leading throughout the championship heat but lost her balance on the aforementioned turn and recovered nicely for a strong finish. Freshman Rylee Norris made her Buc debut in style finishing 8th place overall in the competition. A great accomplishment for her first ski race!
                Junior Sergei Wegner had a very strong and dominating performance as he cruised to a 1st place finish in the field of 44 boys.  Wegner led in every heat throughout the day. Senior Nathan Albright also had a strong ski which earned him a 4th place finish overall. Junior Wesley Colapietro finished a respectable 10th for the day. Sophomore Stuart Relay skied well but missed the quarterfinal cut by one place and did not move on.
                The team next sees action this weekend at the Lynx Loppett which is the biggest race of the season featuring all Alaska high school ski teams that compete at state. If this race is canceled for lack of snow, we will race again in Fairbanks at a distance event.


               
CITY TO FINALIZE CITY BUDGET MONDAY NIGHT
CLICK HERE to see final version of City of Valdez Budget



 
GROWLER BAY BREWING COMPANY VOICES PLANS
FOR VALDEZ BREWERY

Rhonda and Paul Langley recently spoke to James Roberts of The Anchorage Press about their plans to open a brewery in Valdez next fall. Although still in the “start up phase,” the article reports that opening a brewery in Valdez has been a dream of Rhonda’s for eight years. Despite the work that still needs to be done to make the Growler Bay Brewing Company a reality, the couple has big plans. “I want to bring a taste of something different than what’s out there for Valdez to try. I’m not sure what our first beer will be. What people want, we’ll have, but I want to do specialty beers as well,” Rhonda said, adding, “Our main goal is just a brewery with a tap room and to participate in the PWS…We want to make exceptional beer with quality ingredients and processes. That’s where our heart lies.”
CLICK HERE to read the full story from The Anchorage Press.


 
MIDDLE SCHOOL CHANGES ADD COST TO PROJECT
ARCADIS, the company working to build Gilson Middle School, is making a request to the City Council tonight for an additional $188, 786 to cover work they have done outside the scope of the original contract. According to a letter from Kent Crandall, Senior Project Manager for ARCADIS to City Manager John Hozey, the additional services rendered are: Temporary football field coordination; High level of client service; Utilities coordination; Design Management of Track and Field scope revisions; Coordination of connex purchases and rental for extra storage; Crump warehouse rental least contract development, management and coordination; Involvement in early planning of maintenance buildings; Managing bus barn relocation and science modular salvage as well as planning, coordination, execution and supervision of move contractor for 5 moves.
CLICK HERE for more information.
CLICK HERE to read letter:
Find fees information HERE.


 

BIG WEEKEND FOR VALDEZ WRESTLING AT REGIONAL TOURNAMENT
Pictured above: the Valdez Wrestling Team and Coaches and Austin Rake with his award.
Photos provided by Lori Day.

The Valdez Wrestling team had a busy weekend at the 2013 regional tournament in Glennallen coming home with individual and team awards and multiple wrestlers on their way to state. Austin Rake was awarded Most Outstanding Wrestler at the tournament and coach Ken Deaton was honored with the Coach of the Year award. The Valdez Bucs crowned seven Regional Champions out of a total of 13 weight classes and captured the Denali Regional Championship Banner by outscoring Denali Region rival Eielson / Ravens – 167 to 161. Additionally the team will see 11 wrestlers heading to the ACS state tournament next weekend in Anchorage.
CLICK HERE to read a summary provided by wrestling coach Ken Deaton.


 
MOTORISTS CAUTIONED TO WATCH FOR MOOSE
“Decreased visibility due to lack of daylight, icy roads, and moose movement patterns all contribute to the increased collision rates we see at this time of year,” reports biologist Jeff Selinger in a recent press release from Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The ADFG warns motorists to be on the lookout for moose crossing onto the cleared roads to avoid deep snow drifts.  
CLICK HERE for more tips on avoiding moose collisions.

 


 
VOLUNTEERS BUILDING SCHOOL PLAYGROUND
As part of a HHES PTA initiative, the children of the community have been working with Leathers & Associates to create a one of a kind, state of the art playground that can be built by community volunteers. The PTA will unveil of the designs during their community “Design Day” celebration on Thursday, December 5th starting at 6:15pm in the HHES Cafeteria. The event will display the children’s drawings and provide a presentation about the project, including the design unveiling. The event will also feature complimentary refreshments, a Castle Bounce House and face painting. Students and their families are invited to attend.
CLICK HERE for more information.


 
VALDEZ CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT SEEKING APPLICANTS FOR COMMITTEES
The Valdez City School District is currently seeking applicants for two committees: the Board Policy Committee and the Teacher Evaluation Committee (see below for details). If you are interested in serving on either committee, please complete the application form and return it to the Valdez City School District Office, 1112 West Klutina Street, Valdez, AK 99686 or email to fstuparich@valdezcityschools.org. Applications may be downloaded from the links below or obtained at the Valdez City School District Office.
 
Board Policy Committee
The Valdez City School District is soliciting applications from people interested in serving on a committee which would provide a recommendation to the Superintendent regarding the implementation of the following board policies:
BP 5131.6 (a-t)  Alcohol and Other Drugs
BP 6145.2  Interscholastic Competition
CLICK HERE for the application.
 
Teacher Evaluation Committee
In 2012, the State Board of Education & Early Development adopted new regulations for educator evaluation.  During the redesign of its evaluation system, the district must consider information from students, parents, community members, classroom teachers, affected collective bargaining units, and administrators. For more information, visit http://education.alaska.gov and click the green Accountability star.
CLICK HERE for the application.


 
WORKFORCE INCREASE EXPECTED FOR LNG PLANT
Another field study will go into effect next summer for the North Slope gas pipeline reports the Alaska Journal of Commerce. According to the article, the workforce on the project will double putting more than 300 to work. One of the main concerns of the project under investigation involves unstable discontinuous permafrost soil conditions along the pipeline route through Interior Alaska. According to Steve Butt, the project manager, “Work is underway on pipeline designs that will keep the 42-inch buried pipeline stable through the freeze-thaw cycle of soil temperatures.”
CLICK HERE to read more from the Alaska Journal of Commerce


 
LNG WELL PLANNED FOR GLENNALLEN
According to a report from alaskapublic.org plans are in the works at Ahtna Incorporated  to develop natural gas wells near Glennallen. Unlike other natural gas projects making news around that state, the goal for the wells planned for Glennallen will not be commercial export but rather to provide energy to supply local communities. Ahtna land and resource manager, Joe Bovee explains, “It wouldn’t be a real money maker or lucrative to any company, but for our local demands it would probably offset our fuel costs 30-40 percent.” Ahtna reports that data from previous exploration indicates that there is enough gas in the region “to provide heat and electricity to the local area for 50 to 100 years at a minimum.” Although current plans only focus on a small pipeline to serve local communities, the Alaska Public story does suggest that the company is considering the possibility of eventually constructing a small LNG plant to provide gas for Valdez or Delta Junction.
CLICK HERE to read the full story at alaskapublic.org.


 
SATURDAY EARTHQUAKE IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
An earthquake shook Prince William Sound on Saturday, Nov.30th. According to the Alaska Earthquake Information Center the magnitude of the quake was 3.82. The AEIC reports that the epicenter of the quake was located 16 miles NNE of Valdez.  
CLICK HERE to read more.


 
GMS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
CLICK HERE to view an update on the Gilson Middle School construction project.


 
FAR FROM HOME SEAL FINDS NEW HOME

Found in a box on the doorstep of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices in Sand Point, an Aleutian Island community the fur seal pup was 200-300 miles from the nearest rookery, reports the Alaska Dispatch. A note attached to the box said that the seal’s mother had died giving birth. The little seal, dubbed Chiidax, was transferred to the Seward SeaLife Center where he has been recovering ever since. The National Marine Fisheries Service could not determine where the pup came from and therefore were unable to release the pup back into the wild. According to the Dispatch the SeaLife Center will continue to raise Chiidax for the present with hopes to eventually transfer him the New England Aquarium in Boston.
CLICK HERE to read more.

 
PWSCC OFFERS DEGREES IN FISHERIES TECHNOLOGY
In partnership with the University of Alaska Southeast, PWSCC will now offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in Fisheries Technology. National Geographic has called Alaska fisheries the best-managed in human history; and with a degree in Fisheries Technology you could become one of the 70,000-80,000 people earning their living in a fisheries job.
CLICK HERE for more information.


 
ARRT PLAN PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD OPEN
A public comment period has been opened for revision of a proposed Alaska Regional Response Team (ARRT) plan for mechanical oil recovery.  According to Mark Everett, USCG Co-Chair of the ARRT, “Revision to the plan would provide us the opportunity to regulate and ensure the availability of the equipment and training necessary while streamlining the process for the approval of the use of dispersants and ensuring we engage with the federally recognized tribes and stakeholders while following the incident command system."
The public comment period will remain open for open for three months. Written comments are welcome through Feb. 14, 2014.
Email comments to: James.D.Nunez@uscg.mil
Or mail comments to:
Commander (DRM),
17th Coast Guard District
PO BOX 25517,
Juneau, AK 99802-5517
CLICK HERE for an overview of the proposed changes to the ARRT plan.


 
AND THE MOONLIGHT MADNESS PRIZE PACKAGE WINNER IS…
Congratulations Alexander Britton! You have won the 2013 Moonlight Madness prize package valued at over $300! Be sure to stop by KVAK later this week during business hours to claim your prize.


 
2014 CITY BUDGET DRAFT AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW
The City of Valdez has posted the 2014 Draft Budget Public Review on their website as part of the City Council agenda packet. The draft incorporates all the changes requested by City Council to date. The public hearing for the draft will occur tonight during the City Council meeting.
CLICK HERE to view the 2014 Budget Draft


 
RESOLUTION TO NAME MOUNTAIN GOES BEFORE COUNCIL
The City Council will hear a resolution tonight to rename a local Prince William Sound Mountain after the late Carl Brady, a U.S. Army Aviator and instructor. According to the resolution Carl Brady was the first to bring helicopters to Alaska. The request to officially name the mountain was submitted by Sue Cogswell, director of the Prince William Sound Economic Development Council.


 
FERRY SERVICE TO WHITTIER RESUMES
A call to the local Valdez Ferry Terminal confirmed the reports are true; ferry service to Whittier is up and running again. According to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, the Alaska Marine Highway System announced in a press release last Thursday that repairs to the Whittier ramp were successfully completed, allowing ferry travel to the Port to resume. The Journal reports, “The M/V Aurora was scheduled to sail a revised four-sailing week out of Whittier Nov. 21-29 and resume its regular six sailings per week winter schedule Dec. 1.” More details regarding the initial breakdown and final successful repair operation can be found on the Alaska Journal of Commerce website.
CLICK HERE to view the full article.


 
RECORD SNOWFALL IN VALDEZ

The snowfall for the season may have just begun, but our most recent storm has already broken four weather records according to the National Weather Service. Friday’s snow broke the old daily snowfall record, last set in November of 1987, with a total of 20.4 inches of snow, beating the November record by approximately six inches. The rain received Friday also broke a previous precipitation record set in 2002. On Sunday, Valdez received 14.7 inches of snow breaking the old record of 10.4 set in 1993. Last but not least, this morning the National Weather Service confirmed over the phone that Valdez had received a total of 94.47 inches of snow so far this year beating the old annual record of 93.3 set in 1981.


 

Road Closure


RICHARDSON HIGHWAY CLOSED MP 12 to 45 UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

Just got word from DOT, the Richardson Highway is closed 12 Mile to 45 Mile until further notice. The closure is due to adverse weather conditions, including poor visibility and blowing snow. City of Valdez says they have crews out plowing and ask that you please drive safely and slow down as you approach intersections

ROAD CLOSURE
Due to adverse weather conditions, including poor visibility and blowing snow, the Richardson Hwy, mile post 12-82 has been closed until further notice. 
 For updates please call 834-1038, 511, or visit our State of Alaska travel website, 511.alaska.gov.
                                                         
 
City of Valdez Public Service Announcement:
NO STREET PARKING  DURING SNOW REMOVAL HOURS

The city would like to remind Valdez residents that parking on the street is not permitted during snow removal hours according to city code 10.12.030. Also all vehicles, boats, snow machines, trailers, basketball hoops and any other items must be removed from city maintained streets, sidewalks and snow lots. Any vehicle in violation of 10.12.030 will be ticketed or towed as per city code 10.12.040. For more information please contact the City Shop at 835-4473.


 
PWSCC SEEKS TO IMPROVE STUDENT
INVOLVEMENT WITH NEW PROGRAM

Prince William Sound Community College’s new student leadership initiative “STAR” hopes to increase student involvement and leadership within the community. According to materials published by PWSCC, the program includes two stages. Stage one: “Implementation,” in which a student council is formed, followed by stage two: “Students Lead”, in which the council forms various committees and task groups to lead and interact with the community in the form of service projects, forums and community cultural events. The program organizers hope that the STAR program will allow PWSCC to experience the “transformation power of learning” while building leadership skills in a way that mutually beneficial for the student and their community.
CLICK HERE for more information


 

MARGARET IN JAIL?!?!
KVAK’s own Margaret Henry was recently put behind bars in the Valdez local jail. What did Margaret to do to land in the big house? Mastermind a bank heist? No. It all started with a radio interview….
In a recent edition of Good News with Margaret Henry, Margaret was chatting with the Valdez PD about the behind the scenes action at the police station and Valdez jail. During the course of the interview the officers invited Margaret to come tour the jail and we saw a great opportunity for a Good News exclusive. We hope you enjoy the video of Margaret’s tour and would like to thank the VPD for giving us a behind the scenes look at the Valdez Police Department.


 
RURALITE COVER PHOTO WINNERS ANNOUNCED

CVEA announced the winners of their 2013 Ruralite cover photo contest on Thursday. The winners include Kathryn Hawkins, Bob Benda, Kaitlin Parker, Carol Taylor, Deb Yamakami, and Eric Scheidt. Each winner will have their photo featured on the Ruralite cover for one issue in 2014. The photos can also be viewed at cvea.org and on the CVEA facebook page.


 
COAST GUARD ISSUES SNOW LOAD WARNING
According to a recent press release for the USCG forces in Valdez, at least one boat in the Valdez Harbor is lost every winter due to unattended snow load.  In addition to conducting daily patrols of the small boat harbor, the Coast Guard a list of 8 steps that can help boat owners ensure the safety of their vessels.
CLICK HERE to read the full list.


 
VALDEZ-CORDOVA AREA RANKED 8th BEST BOROUGH
IN AK FOR JOB SEEKERS

Sit News out of Ketchikan recently published a list of the top boroughs in Alaska for job seekers as compiled by NerdWallet. The North Slope topped the list with Sitka and Anchorage following in the number two and three rankings.
CLICK HERE to read the full story .
CLICK HERE to view the study conducted by NerdWallet.


 
GMS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
CLICK HERE to read the most recent update on the Gilson Middle School construction project.


 
CITY SET TO INCREASE BUDGET BY 7.51%
During the final Budget Hearing last Tuesday, City Council members finalized discussions regarding City Departments and Organizations requesting public funding. The budget presented to Council by City Manager John Hozey came in at $45,758.814.  By the end of the budget sessions, the Council had expanded total expenditures to $46,109,829. The budget, as proposed, constitutes a 7.51% increase in spending over last year. The Council approved an additional 3.11 additional full-time employees.  The Council members voted to give the Valdez School District an 11.7 percent increase in funding over 2012, well over the 6.7 percent increase recommended by Hozey.
Despite the fact that the Council will need to dip into their reserves to fund an increased budget, there were no significant cuts. The closest the Council came to cutting was removing the Economic Diversification budget from the budget pending a work session to determine what exactly would be funded.
The final budget hearing will be November 25th. The budget will come up for a formal vote December 9th. If passed that budget will go into effect January 1st.


 
SHANNON MAHONEY IRISH AND COLLEEN MURPHY WINNERS AT WOMEN OF DISTINCTION BANQUET

Advocates for Victims of Violence held their annual Women of Distinction banquet on Saturday at the Civic Center. Young Woman of Distinction winner Colleen Murphy was swimming in the State Swimming Meet in Juneau and could not attend, but supporters carried a cutout with her picture on it and brought it to the stage to accept her award. When Dawson Moore announced Shannon Mahoney Irish as the Woman of Distinction winner, she explained to the crowd she hadn't prepared a speech because she didn't expect to win. Gianna Guisti was the emcee for the evening reading features about the nominees, hosting egg raffles and a silent auction. Last year's winners were Gail Richardson and Forest Masters. Pictured above: Shannon Mahoney Irish and Collen Murphy's cutout. Photos provided by Joe Prax.
 


 
TWO PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND RESIDENTS
ON THEIR WAY TO CARNEGIE HALL

Annie Carlson and Carl Ranney have been selected from thousands as finalist for the Carnegie Hall Performance Honors series reports Jennifer Gibbins of The Cordova Times. She reports, “the Honors Performance Series was created to showcase accomplished individual high school performers on an international level by allowing them to study under master conductors and perform in the celebrated venue, Carnegie Hall.” Carlson and Ranney both reside in Cordova and were among the 3,000 students invited to audition and both received notice on October 31st that they were one of the 300 finalists. Both will join the other finalists this February in New York City where they will learn from world class composers, work with other finalists and perform.
CLICK HERE to read the full story from The Cordova Times.


 
ACS WRESTLING TOURNAMENT RESULTS
The Valdez Wrestling team placed fifth out of 42 schools at the ACS Invitational Tournament November 8-9. Cole Phillips placed 6th at 113 lbs; Brian Allen placed 5th at 145 lbs; Kalen McIntosh placed 4th at 160 lbs; Cody Greene placed 2nd at 126 lbs; Adam Downing placed 1st at 152 lbs; Isaac Deaton placed 1st at 160 lbs; and Austin Rake placed 1st at 170 lbs.  Additionally, Isaac Deaton was awarded the “Outstanding Wrestler” award for the tournament.


 
NEW LOCATION FOR SNOWMAN STICK DROP OFF
Valdez Parks and Recreation is still planning on tackling the world record for most snowmen built in an hour this February during Frosty Fever, and with the help of the community, has been collecting sticks that will be needed for snowmen arms. Parks and Rec recently announced that they will be moving the drop off location for collected sticks from the comfort station in North Meyring to the Teen Center, where instructional signs are posted.  Guinness criteria for a snowman states that each sculpture must be at least 3 feet tall, be made of three balls of snow, have two arms, two eyes and a nose. In order to break the record this February the community will need to build more than 1, 279 snowmen in one hour. For more information on the record breaking effort contact Parks and Recreation at 907-835-2531.


 
PARTICIPANTS SOUGHT FOR 4-H TRIP TO JAPAN
According to the University of Fairbanks, local 4-H groups are planning an exchange trip to Japan and looking for participants age 13 to 18. The 4-H trip will take place July 11- Aug 9 and is open to all youth, even those not currently enrolled in 4-H programs. Those interested in participating can visit the 4-H Outbound site for more information or email japanalaska@gmail.com for more information.


 
WHITTIER FERRY DOCK CLOSURE FELT IN CORDOVA
Residents in Cordova are experiencing more than just a minor inconvenience due to the continued closure of the Whittier ferry dock, reports the Anchorage Daily News. According to their report, Cordova residents say their link to Anchorage has been cut, raising inflating grocery prices, disrupting school sports schedules and greatly increasing travel time.  According to Jeremy Woodrow, the spokesman for the Alaska Department of Transportation, the Whittier dock could reopen by early December. Cordova and Valdez residents who were originally told the repairs would be completed by mid-October or early November, will be left to wait until that time to see if this fix will be the one to get the ferry service to Whittier up and running again.
CLICK HERE to read the full story published in ADN

 
DENALI NATIONAL PARK TO OFFER WINTER TOURS ON TRIAL BASIS
According to the Associated Press reports out of Juneau, Denali National Park and Preserve is seeking to increase tourism during the slower winter months by allowing commercial vehicle tours into the park.  In February the park will plow the 92 mile Denali Park Road as far as the Mountain Vista Rest Area at mile 12. In the past plowing has never advanced past park headquarters at mile 3. Plans to plow to mile 12 will run on a trial basis for 3 to 5 years. The park is currently seeking applications to provide commercial winter vehicle tours from mid-February to May 10th.
CLICK HERE to read the full article from the AP.


 
GIRL SCOUTS JOIN FORCES WITH “BAGS OF LOVE”
Girl Scout Troop #524 is hosting a Bags of Love Donation Drive November 11th through 6th. Donations of new or nearly new personal and toiletry items will be used to fill bags full of things for children going into foster care and those in need. Donation boxes are at Valdez Office Supply, the Valdez Police Department and KVAK. The Girl Scouts will also be hosting a Toy Drive to collect toys for those in need this holiday season. A donation box for toys will be at Hermon Hutchens Elementary School December 18th through 22nd.
CLICK HERE to see a list of Donation Ideas.

 

GMS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT RESULTS
Story provided by Rod Morrison
On November 1st and 2nd, Valdez hosted the Valdez MS Invitational Basketball tournament. Teams played over 35 games in a busy two day tournament. Anchorage Christian, Grace Christian, Cordova and Valdez battled in girls and boys action for both Varsity and Junior Varsity divisions. All the teams played great basketball. The tournament featured many exciting matchups including Girls Varsity Championship game between Valdez and ACS going into double over times and in the end the local Huskies fell short by losing by a score of 29-31. The Valdez Boys Varsity defeated the ACS Lions to win the Boys Varsity Division. In the JV divisions the Valdez JV girls defeated Cordova in the Championship Game and in the boys Grace defeated ACS.
CLICK HERE for the tournament results.

 

GMS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
CLICK HERE to read the most recent update on the Gilson Middle School construction project.

 

TANANA 4-H GROUP PRESENT ANTI-SUICIDE PLEDGE
The Alaska Dispatch reports that seven children from a 4-H Group in Tanana took the stage at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention on Friday, October 25th and left as the beneficiaries of over $9,000 in donations. The children did not request money but instead presented stories of alcohol abuse and suicide that had touched their lives and led them to take a personal pledge: “I pledge to live, honor and protect myself from any harm, to love my life, my family, my friends and my village. Today we stand together to stop suicide in Alaska.” At the conclusion of the group’s presentation Rev. Helen Peters walked to the front of the stage and laid down a donation asking the rest of the audience to join in assisting the group’s efforts. Donations from the night totaled over $9,000; money that the 4-H group will use to bring their anti-suicide message to others in Alaska.
CLICK HERE to read the full story in the Alaska Dispatch

 

HUGE LATE SEASON KING SALMON REELED IN

“In more than a decade, we’ve not seen one this size in August" said Scott McKelvey, Operations Manager at Waterfall Resort regarding the giant fish reeled in by Virigina native Holly Cross Vagely. The Waterfall Resort reports that Vagely’s fish weighed in at 63.5lbs and was caught near South East Alaska’s famous Pineapple fishing site.  “I couldn’t believe my eyes when the creature caught my line,” said Vagely. “My boat mates and guide yelled, ‘Reel, reel! You can do it!’  After a 30 minute focused and tiring fight, the beautiful fish thundered onto the deck.  You don’t come across a mammoth like that very often.”

 

PWSCC ACCEPTING SUBMISSIONS FOR ADVENTURE FILM FEST
Prince William Sound Community College is now accepting submissions for their upcoming Valdez Adventure Film Night (VAFN) according to a recent press release. Submission guidelines state that films should be no longer than 10 min in length, must be received by 5pm on Nov. 29 and should be suitable for an audience comprised of both children and adults. The VAFN will kick off the Outdoor Leadership Program’s first Winterfest event on December 7th. Winterfest will include a day of safety demonstrations, vendor and organization booths and races followed by the VAFN premiere in the evening followed by feature showings of The Steep Life and High Ground.
For more information on the VAFN and Winterfest please contact DB Palmer at 834-1668 or dbpalmer@pwscc.edu.

 

CITY OF VALDEZ ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Energy Assistance Program offers an energy credit of $550 per household toward fuel or electric bill, or half toward each. The program is voluntary and requires pre-registration to be considered. Register at City Hall November 1st thru December 31st, Monday thru Friday, 8:30-5pm.
CLICK HERE for more information
CLICK HERE for the energy assistance registration form

 

CLIMATE & CONNECTEDNESS SURVEY
Valdez City Schools recently participated in the 2013 Climate and Connectedness Survey.
The study investigates school climate (the social and environmental factors that contribute to one’s subjective experience of school) and school connectedness (student’s perceptions and feelings regarding the people at school). Approximately 80% of Middle School students and 50% of High School students participated in the survey. The report covers the student’s view of bullying, adult expectations, concern and fairness as well as information about student drug and alcohol use.
The item by item report shows responses from the middle school, high school and the “whole sample” or the average answers from all 266 participating schools.
CLICK HERE to view the item by item report

 

LYONS AND STRANG HONORED SATURDAY

Coach John Strang and Coach Barb Lyons guided their teams through their last home games in Valdez over the weekend during the Valdez MS Invitational Basketball Tournament. Both Strang and Lyons will be retiring from coaching and teaching after this year. Strang has taught and coached in Valdez for the past 37 years with Lyons close behind at 31 years. “Valdez is a great place to teach and live. Lots of the kids I have now- I coached their parents. I’m on the second generation,” said Lyons in an interview with KVAK.  Lyons also called the 2013 Middle School championship game “one of her most memorable moments in coaching” and said that the 2013 team was “a joy to coach.” Despite retiring, Lyons still plans to remain an active part of the Valdez community. Strang said he and his wife Roz plan to move back to Washington to be with family. He said he will miss coaching and called working with the students a “privileged position.” Strang also commented on coaching the children of former students, saying it was an honor to be trusted with the next generation of their families. “Both coaches have dedicated their lives to helping the students of Valdez,” said middle school principal Rod Morrison.

 

WILD HORSE ADVENTURE COMES TO GLENNALLEN

Glennallen recently played a part in journey of Gunter Wamser in his two decade long trek from Argentina to Healy, Alaska on horseback. Marnie Graham of the Glennallen BLM Field office shared the story of what brought Wasmer, fellow rider Sonja Endleweber and their wild horses to Glennallen.
CLICK HERE to read more.
“KING OF THE MOUNTAIN” RESULTS

Picture and story provided by Ken Deaton. Pictured above: Cody Green
The Valdez High School Wrestling Team wrestled this past weekend in Seward at the annual “King of the Mountain Duals”.  Valdez was led by seniors Adam Downing ( 152lbs, 8-0), Isaac Deaton (160lbs, 8-0), Austin Rake (170, 8-0).  All were crowned “King of the Mountain” at their weights.  This was the 3rd year in a row for Deaton and Rake, to earn the crown.  They were closely followed by teammates Cody Greene (126 lbs, 7-1), Trevor Norris (132 lbs, 7-1), Keefe McIntosh (138 lbs, 7-1), Colbin Hansen (152 lbs, 3-0), Darren Allen (138 lbs, 6-2), Brian Allen (145 lbs, 6-2), Chase Smith (145 lbs, 6-2), Kalen McIntosh (160lbs, 4-2) and Cole Philips (113 lbs, 0-2). Greene, lost a very close battle with Skyview’s “Valequette”  5-4, Keefe McIntosh lost in overtime to Kotzebue’s “Woods”.   This week the Bucs travel to the annual “ACS Invitational” which is the largest 1,2,3A tournament in the state.  The Bucs are in hopes of improving upon last year’s 3rd place finish.

 

MIDDLE SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
CLICK HERE to read the latest report.

 

APP TO MEASURE HALIBUT IN THE WORKS
In a story from the Alaska Dispatch, a smartphone app could help anglers measure their halibut before bringing them into their boats. The app is being developed by Richard Yamada, owner of the Silver Lodge in Auke Bay. According to the Dispatch, Yamada has a background in computer technology and has received a grant from the Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program to make his app idea a reality. Such an app could potentially help reduce release halibut mortality. Yamada plans to use a measurement of the distance from the fish’s eye to a nodule on the gill plate to predict the size of the fish. He plans to collect a scientifically significant sample using the application and, provided the data proves an accurate predictor of fish weight, roll out a second version of the app that will translate the pixels on the screen to fish weight for charter operators by next autumn.
CLICK HERE to read the story from the Alaska Dispatch.

 

NEW SPEED LIMITS FOR PARTS OF GLENN HWY
Travelers on their way to Anchorage could encounter some new speed limits along the Glenn Highway according to Alaska transportation officials. The Anchorage Daily News reports that went into effect on Monday, October 21st changing the speed limit from mile 91 to Glennallen from 55mph to 65mph. Speed limits also changed around Caribou Creek at milepost 105.
CLICK HERE to read the full story from ADN.

 

YOU CAN GET INVOLVED WITH THE UNITED WAY
The four core areas of care defined for United Way are: Meeting the basic needs of people in crisis to promote wellness; promoting wellness and self-sufficiency; helping children and youth succeed; and supporting the elderly and people with disabilities. Valdez’ local United Way committee is comprised of unpaid volunteers and supports local agencies like: Cub Scouts, Valdez Food Bank, Native Youth Olympics and Valdez Arts Council. . If you or someone you know might be interested in running a United Way campaign or in donating, pledge forms are available at First National Bank and Providence Valdez Medical Center.

 

CITY OF VALDEZ ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Energy Assistance Program offers an energy credit of $550 per household toward fuel or electric bill, or half toward each. The program is voluntary and requires pre-registration to be considered. Register at City Hall November 1st thru December 31st, Monday thru Friday, 8:30-5pm.
CLICK HERE for more information
CLICK HERE for the energy assistance registration form

 



SCHOOL DISTRICT ENROLLMENT DOWN, FUNDING PER STUDENT CONTINUES TO RISE


         
Over the past nine years, student enrollment in Valdez City Schools has decreased by more than 140 students. There were 752 students in 2006 and the most recent count from Valdez City Schools has the enrollment at 606 students.
In contrast, the cost per student is on the rise. According to City of Valdez funding numbers the overall cost per student in 2006 was $14,803. If the current 2014 budget request from the School District passes, the amount Valdez City Schools will pay to educate a child each year will be $24,652. Funding from the state has remained relatively flat over the last nine years, while City funding, which does not consider the number of students enrolled, has increased (the amounts listed include money outside of the cap). Click on the links below to view the data presented in list form and larger copies of the graphs.
CLICK HERE to view the graph data in list form.
CLICK HERE to view a larger version of the graphs pictured above.

 

VALDEZ WRESTLING HOSTS “THROWDOWN IN SNOWTOWN”

Story provided by Val Hiebert, Photos courtesy of Lori Day.
Pictured above: the Valdez Wrestling team with trophy
Valdez HS Buccaneer Wrestling team hosted "Throw down in Snowtown" on Friday, 10-18 and Saturday, 10-19.  Eleven teams from ACS, Bethel, Cordova, Dillingham, Eielson, Glennallen, Grace Christian, Hutchison, Houston, Seward, and Valdez participated in the 2 day event.  There were a total of 133 wrestlers in the tournament.   As a team, Valdez secured a 2nd place finish.  The top 5 team finishes were #1 Bethel-160 pts, #2 Valdez-142.5 pts, #3 Houston-#140.5pts, #4 Dillingham-93.5 pts, and #5 Eielson-79.0 pts.
Valdez had 13 wrestlers in the tournament.  The wrestlers were seniors Brian Allen, Isaac Deaton, Austin Rake, Keefe McIntosh, Kalen McIntosh, Adam Downing, and Kaden Cullen; Juniors Trevor Norris, Cole Phillips, Chase Smith and Colbin Hansen;  and Sophomores Cody Greene and Darren Allen.
Valdez finishers were as follows.  1st place finshers were Brian Allen(145), Isaac Deaton(160), and Austin Rake(170).  Allen won by fall 2:33 over John Oulton of Bethel . Isaac Deaton(160) and teammate Kalen McIntosh(160) faced off in the finals match.  Deaton won by tech fall 17-2 Kalen McIntosh, placing Deaton in the 1st place and Kalen McIntosh in 2nd. Austin Rake(170) won by fall 1:14 over Josh Hamberger of Cordova.

3rd place finishers were: Cody Greene (126), Trevor Norris(132), Keefe McIntosh(138), Chase Smith(145) and Adam Downing(152).   Greene  won by decision 10-7 over Wesley Gilroy of ACS.  Norris won by fall 1:57 over Ryan Merriner of Grace Christian. Keefe McIntosh won by fall 3:43 over Nate Ezell of Eielson.   Chase Smith won by fall 1:16 over Adam Hanohano of Houston. Adam Downing won by fall 1:53 over Brandon Oulton of Bethel.
 
GMS CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
The Gilson Middle School Construction project is progressing with metal framing, insulation and sheathing going up on exterior walls and rebar and concrete slab installation inside according to the Construction Photo report No.13-18, released by Middle School Principle, Rod Morrison. The report details many of the projects underway at the GMS construction site.
CLICK HERE to view the full report.

 

ALASKAN TO CARRY OLYMPIC TORCH TO NORTH POLE
According to the University of Fairbanks, Pat Pitney, UAF vice chancellor and former Olympic shooter is undertaking the task of carrying the torch on the North Pole leg of the Olympic Torch Relay. Pitney, one of the 14,000 people who will transport the torch during its relay journey. The torch will travel 35,000 miles over 123 days to its ultimate destination: the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. According to Pitney, “It is humbling to be selected to represent the United States, Alaska, the Arctic, UAF and the Olympic movement.”
CLICK HERE for more information.

 

2 YEAR LONG EXXON VALDEZ OIL SPILL ARCHIVE PROJECT COMPLETED
“People around the world are going to want to know for a very long time what happened,” said Larry Hibpshman in an article for Alaska Public Media on Wednesday regarding the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Archive. For two years Hibpshman and his project staff examined over 3,000 boxes of documents relating to the spill, selecting items for permanent storage in the state archives. They hope that the archive will be a resource for scholars, historians and ordinary people who want to learn more about the events and aftermath of the Exxon Valdez Spill. According to Hibpshman, “Records are important because they document people’s lives. Archives are about people. The Exxon Valdez was an event of world significance.”
CLICK HERE to read the full article.


 

RENDEZVOUS HELI SKI GUIDES FEATURED IN POWDER MAGAZINE
In the article, available in the November issue of the magazine, Alexandra Meiners speaks with Powder regarding her father’s legacy and the future of the company he built. A Facebook post from the Rendezvous Heli Ski Guides regarding the article promises “If there are any questions about 2014, they should all be answered!!!”

 

FUNDS FROM SALMON ART AUCTION GO TO FOOD BANK

Darryl Verfaillie of Parks and Recreation and Laurie Prax present the Valdez Food Bank a check for $902.50. Valdez Fish Derbies auctioned off wooden pink salmon art cutouts during Women's Silver Salmon Derby. One thousand, four hundred and three dollars were also raised for Catch a Dream foundation.

 

E-NEWS CORRECTION:
The following story ran in the Oct 21st edition of the E-News with an incorrect link to the Museum report. The problem has since been corrected.

VALDEZ MUSEUM ANNUAL REPORT A WEALTH OF INFORMATION

If you want to know what is happening with the Valdez Museum and Historical Archive (VMHA), look no further than the Annual Report they submitted to Valdez City Council at the October 21st meeting. The Annual Report includes an accounting of the VMHA's $700,000 plus 2013 budget, pictures and information about programs offered, and plans for the future. A proposal at the end of the report outlines a proposal for the City of Valdez to partner with Port Valdez Company to build a Museum on Meals Hill.
CLICK HERE to read to Museum’s Annual Report

 

VALDEZ ANIMAL SHELTER STATISTICS
Adoptions at Valdez Animal Shelter at 93 for the Year. To read more statistics and find out what's happening at the Valdez Animal Shelter, CLICK HERE

 

REASONING BEHIND NIKISKI LNG SELECTION
Valdezeans left wondering why Nikiski edged out Valdez for the LNG plant and terminal can find answers from a recent article from the Alaska Journal of Commerce. According to Steve Butt, an ExxonMobil manager and senior project manager for the gas pipeline and LNG project, many of the factors that pushed Nikiski to the forefront were based on simple logistics. “It’s flat land, which means less civil work to be done. The weather allows construction 12 months of the year, and the existing infrastructure allows for good access,” Butt said. While Valdez offered an ice free port the mountainous terrain and heavy snowfall caused Butt’s group to shift their sites to the Kenai. Although LNG shipping to and from Nikiski will have to contend with winter ice and strong tides in the Cook inlet Butt says his team “has done substantial ice modeling for Cook Inlet and feels any problems can be handled.” Although Valdez is out of the terminal race Mayor Dave Cobb reportedly still has plans for a Valdez gasline connection. In the Commerace article Mayor Cobb explains his hope that a spur pipeline will be built from the LNG line into Valdez, Glennallen and Delta to provide heat for homes.
CLICK HERE to read the full article.

 

BUDGET WORK SESSION RECAP
The Valdez City Council kicked off a series of budget sessions last Thursday night in Council Chambers. City Manager John Hozey presented an operating budget up seven percent and said several organizations would be presenting increased budgets this year. Hozey said the School District request is up more than one million dollars. The City will be reviewing information put together by City departments and other entities requesting City funds the next few weeks. The Budget meetings are open to the public and broadcast live on 1230AM and www.kvakradio.com.

 

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
Submitted by Mel Bowden
THANK YOU to Everyone that was able to attend AVV's Candlelight Vigil during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
We hold this Vigil in Honor of Those that have survived, those currently living with and , especially those that have died due to domestic violence.
Thanks to those that spoke and shared your stories, lit candles and floated pedals in honor of this event it made it a very special evening.
Thanks to Pastor Phil for your reflection and blessing, Bruce Good for your musical talent, Sue Ellen for the flower pedals, and Karen Ables for the food.

 

SWIM MEET RESULTS
 CLICK HERE to view the results of the Valdez – East High – Bartlett Swim Meet.

 

NO SHUTDOWN FOR TSUNAMI WARNING CENTERS
There will be no closure for the nation’s two tsunami warning centers despite the national government shutdown, reports Rachel D’Oro of the Associated Press. These stations, one located in Alaska and one in Hawaii, will both remain fully staffed and operational, tracking “every possibility of an earthquake-triggered tsunami.”
CLICK HERE to read the full article.

 

HOME BREW COMPETITION WINNERS
CLICK HERE to view the winners of the 2013 Home Brew Competition

 

PROPERTY TAX PAYMENTS DUE
The 2nd half of tax payments are due TOMORROW, no later than 5pm. Payments may be made by check, money order, cash, or credit card at the front office of City Hall.

 

UNITED WAY CAMPAIGNS UNDERWAY
The local United Way committee kicked off their fundraising campaign the first week of October with a celebration at the Elks Lodge. Local organizations receiving funds competed in a dessert contest and shared stories of how United Way has assisted their organizations. The United Way of Valdez endeavors to support organizations that make lasting, measurable changes in community conditions that improve lives. If you or someone you know might be interested in running a United Way campaign or in donating, pledge forms are available at First National Bank and Providence Valdez Medical Center.

 

ALASKA AND HAWAII FORM “HISTORIC” SPACE TECH PARTNERSHIP
The Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC) and the Hawaii Office of Aerospace Development (OAD) have created a Memorandum of Understanding stating that the two states will work together sharing designs, engaging in business and marking opportunities and sharing designs, reports Brett Smith for redOrbit.com. According to Smith, “They may be America’s youngest states, but Alaska and Hawaii are starting to flex some serious technological muscles through a recently announced joint partnership to develop rocket, satellite and other space exploration equipment and programs.” Clark Campbell, president of the ACC, explains, “This is the century of the Pacific for the United States. Alaska and Hawaii are geographically situated to provide the most rapid, focused, and cost-effective aerospace services as our nation expands our interests in this region.” Campbell continued, “Alaska Aerospace Corporation owns and operates the nation’s most modern spaceport complex from Kodiak and works closely with the University of Alaska in developing aerospace capabilities. It is our expectation that this new partnership with Hawaii will significantly increase the interaction between our two states and provide enhanced capabilities for our nation by offering state-of-the-industry solutions within the Pacific Region to both government and commercial customers.”
CLICK HERE to read the full story.

 

ALASKA RANKED SECOND IN STATES HIT HARDEST BY
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

In a recent article in Forbes Magazine, Alaska was ranked second in states hit hardest by the government shutdown after Virginia. Other states to make the list included Alabama in third place, Washington D.C in forth and Maine in fifth place.
CLICK HERE to read the full article.

 

FORMER TATITLEK PRESIDENT PLEADS GUILTY OF EMBEZZLING OVER $100,000
The Anchorage Daily News reports that on October 2, 2013 Lori “Sue” Clum, former president of the Tatitlek Native Village, pleaded guilty to embezzling approximately $112,000 dollars from the village by writing checks to herself and taking cash advances. In addition to taking the money for herself, Clum also admitted to funneling $20,000 of the village’s  money to her brother, James Edward Kramer of Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read the full story.

 

NIKISKI FAVORED OVER VALDEZ FOR GASLINE
The Alaska Dispatch reports that Nikiski appears to be the leading choice for the site of a new gasline terminal and large gas liquefaction plant. The website reports that a Canadian pipeline builder and three of the largest oil corporations in Alaska are looking to acquire more than 600 acres of land in Nikiski, likely indicating that the pipeline will run along the Parks Highway. The purchase of the Nikiski site could end all hopes that the gasline terminus would join the pipeline terminus here in Valdez. The article states, “Nikiski's advantages over other potential sites include flat, solid land, a sizable airport and existing infrastructure such as industrial facilities and roads to provide access. The statement also said cost was a factor in the decision.” According to Steve Butt, the project's senior manager and an Exxon employee, “Assumptions that the cheapest gasline route is along the existing trans-Alaska pipeline right of way -- the route for oil carried from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez -- are not correct.”
CLICK HERE to read the full article.

 

3 HOMELAND SECURITY CALLS TO VPD IN 2013
Recent statistic reports from the Valdez Police Department show that in the past year the department has received 3 calls related to homeland security, 505 calls about security checks and 8 calls for child abuse or neglect and 38 calls for assault.
CLICK HERE to read the 2013 Arrest Report.
CLICK HERE to read the Jail and Dispatch Stats.
CLICK HERE to read the Law Incidents 2007-2013 Report.

 

CITY SEEKS INPUT ON HARBOR IMPACT SURVEY
The City of Valdez is encouraging Valdez residents to take some time to complete a harbor impact survey that will estimate the economic impact of harbor-related and harbor-impacted activity in Valdez. The City of Valdez has hired R&M Consultants and Northern Economics to analyze the information gathered from this and other surveys and assess the economic impact. All surveys must be completed and submitted by October 15th.
To participate in the survey click the links below.
Business and Lease Holders- CLICK HERE
Charter, Cruise & Tour Craft Operators- CLICK HERE
Commercial Fishing Vessels - CLICK HERE
Recreational Vessels Owners- CLICK HERE

 

SCHOOL BOARD, COUNCIL ELECTION RESULTS
Mike Wells, Ruth E. Knight, and Dennis Fleming won the open City Council seats in last Tuesday’s election. In the school board election Joe Prax and Alan Sorum were elected.

 

UNSAFE COOKING PRACTICES A LEADING CAUSE OF RESIDENTIAL FIRES IN ALASKA
A recent press release from the State Fire and Line Safety Public Information Office seeks to encourage fire safety in the kitchen in an effort to reduce unsafe cooking practices, a leading cause of residential fires in Alaska. Alaskans are encouraged to keep children away from the stove and not to leave cooking food unattended. Check out the full press release for more cooking tips.

 

NO FEDERAL PROTECTION FOR KITTLITZ’S MURRELET
The Kittlitz’s murrelet, a seabird who’s range includes Prince William Sound, has been rejected for endangered species status by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, according to Dan Joling of the Associated Press. Kittlitz’s murrelets often live in close association to tidewater glaciers where they forage in the glacier melt. According to the Center for Biodiversity the Exxon Valdez spill had a “catastrophic” effect on the Kittlitz’s decreasing as much as 10% of the world’s population.  According to Joling, despite acknowledging a 30 drop in the Kittlitz’s population from 1989-2000, the Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that recent demographic information indicates that they Kittlitz’s population has stabilized and will “undergo only a slow decline of less than 2 percent annually going forward.” CLICK HERE to read the full story.

 

WHITTER FERRY COULD REOPEN MID-OCTOBER
In an article published on October 3rd, the Turnagain Times suggests that the Whittier Ferry could reopen as soon as mid-October or early November if a temporary fix to the broken ramp is successful. According to the Times, “The Whittier dock is fitted with a specialized floating ramp that accommodates the unique design of the catamaran-style hull of the Chenega as well as accommodating the mono-hull Aurora ferry, which stopped running to Whittier Aug. 16 .” Until Whitter’s ramp re-opens for business the Chenega will continue to operate between Valdez and Cordova only.
CLICK HERE for more information.

 

STAN STEPHENS CELEBRATION OF LIFE
Last Friday, friends and family of Stan Stephens gathered to celebrate his life, watch the dedication of the Stan Stephens Harbor Plaza, and sample hundreds of chocolate desserts.
At the start of the day, Mayor Dave Cobb read a declaration that proclaimed the area outside the Best Western hotel as the Stan Stephens Harbor Plaza. Eventually, a captain’s helm with a plaque will be installed, along with several metal sculptures of some of the wildlife of Prince William Sound.
After the plaza dedication, people moved up to Civic Center hill to watch as Crowley tugs sprayed their hoses in the air for 15 minutes as a tribute. Friends and colleagues of Stan, some of whom had known him for 50 years or more, took to the stage and told stories of his youth, his wisdom, and his tireless efforts on behalf of Prince William Sound and its people. Many people had been asked to provide chocolate desserts for the reception, as Stan had a well-known proclivity for anything chocolate. As celebrants sampled sweets and exchanged anecdotes, PWSCC president Dr. Ng and PWSCC council chairwoman Pam Shirrell presented Mary Helen Stephens with a scholarship in her husband’s name. The scholarship will provide $500 a semester to a student who demonstrates a commitment to the environment and an interest in marine matters.

 

8th GRADE STUDENTS HELP WITH STREAM BANK RESTORATION
The Voice reports that students from Mrs. Warner’s Earth Sciences class recently stepped outside of the classroom for some field studies at the Crooked Creek salmon turnaround. The students assisted United States Forest Service employees to restore a stream bank while learning about erosion. The students planted native vegetation on the stream bank and spread soil, gravel and seeds. The USFS employees that worked with the students also took time to teach the class about erosion prevention and control.

 

DOE HUNTING SEASON ENDS EARLY IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
According to a report in the Cordova Times the doe hunting season will close October, 31st while the season for bucks has remained unchanged and will close on December 31st as originally scheduled.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced October 2nd that due to the extraordinary snowfall of the 2011-2012 the local deer population suffered a winter mortality of more than 50% in eastern Prince William Sound and 70% in western Prince William Sound. The ADFG explains that reducing the hunt to bucks only should help the population rebuild.
CLICK HERE to read the full story.

 

SEVEN PERCENT INCREASE EXPECTED FOR CITY BUDGET
The increased TAPS valuation, will likely result in a 7 percent increase in the City’s general operating budget for 2014 according to City Manager John Hozey. “We have held the line, without adjusting for inflation the last two years”, said Hozey. The City Council will meet tonight to set Budget Session dates and the meetings will be held throughout October. Hozey said, “I expect a big run on the City budget this year”. Hozey said that the School District, Museum, VCVB and others are all expecting to come to the City looking for more money. Even with more money coming in, the tax cap is set a 37.8 million said Hozey. He said money spent above the cap will have to be spent on debt service and not necessarily be used to increase operating budgets.
 
CITY BUDGET HEARINGS SCHEDULED
The City of Valdez will hold Budget Sessions:
October 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 29th, 30th, Nov 6th (if needed)
6pm to 9:30pm
City Council will vote tonight on whether to add a Budget Overview and Hearing October 15th 

 

SCHOOL BOARD Preliminary Election Results
PRAX & SORUM
29 Question & 71 Absentee Ballots yet to be counted
2 Positions Open on School Board

Joe Prax
Precinct 1 - 183
Precinct 2 - 121
Precinct 3 - 131
TOTAL - 435

Alan Sorum
Precinct 1 - 127
Precinct 2 - 76
Precinct 3 - 93
TOTAL - 296


Jessica Vincent
Precinct 1 - 116
Precinct 2 - 67
Precinct 3 - 74
TOTAL - 257

Steven Brockman
Precinct 1 - 81
Precinct 2 - 63
Precinct 3 - 58
TOTAL - 202

Billy "BJ" Williams
Precinct 1 - 83
Precinct 2 - 48
Precinct 3 - 44
TOTAL - 175

Question and Absentee ballots will be counted by noon Wednesday
Tune into 93.3FM or 1230AM for FINAL election results
 
AVV WOMEN OF DISTINCTION FINALISTS ANNOUNCED
Advocates for Victims of Violence, BP, the Alaska Tanker Company, the Valdez Emblem Club have announced the finalists for the Woman of Distinction and Youth Woman of Distinction for 2013.
Woman of Distinction 2013
Barb Bryson
Laurie Prax
Eva Dunning
Shannon Mahoney-Irish
Ann Norris
Lanette Oliver
Judith “DeAnn” Smith
Nancy Lethcoe
Joan Heikens
Youth Woman of Distinction 2013
Laianoralanaki Kuuipo “IPO” Kane
Sydney Haase
Colleen Murphy
The awards ceremony will be Saturday, November 9th at the Civic Center. Tickets are available through AVV – call 835-2980 for more information.

 

CITY OF VALDEZ PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:
Snow is coming!
Please remove any vehicles, boats, snow machines, trailers, basketball hoops, and any other items from the city maintained streets, sidewalks and snow lots. For more information call the
 City Shop at 835-4473.

 

STAN STEPHENS REMEMBERED,
PUBLICLY AND PERSONALLY

With the announcement of Stan Stephen’s passing last week news sources throughout the state published stories remembering his influential work in Prince William Sound. Such articles remember Stan as a “Giant of Valdez tourism,” “environmental steward,” founding member and former president of the Prince William Sound RCAC and “protector of Prince William Sound.” At the same time many took to the memorial website set up by Stephen’s family to post personal remembrances of Stan. These posts not only recall his influential career and conservation efforts but also speak of him as “a second father,” “first employer,” a man of passion and generosity, who “worked from his heart.” The stories include remembrances of working with Stan, watching his commitment to his family and our region, and stand as a testament to Stan’s lifelong dedication to Prince William Sound and its people.
To post a memory of your own CLICK HERE.

 

City Council Preliminary Election Results
WELLS, KNIGHT & FLEMING
29 Question & 71 Absentee Ballots yet to be counted
3 Positions Open on Council

Mike Wells
Precinct 1 - 175
Precinct 2 - 126
Precinct 3 - 98
TOTAL - 399

Ruth E. Knight
Precinct 1 - 141
Precinct 2 - 80
Precinct 3 - 98
TOTAL - 319

Dennis Fleming
Precinct 1 - 148
Precinct.2 - 76
Precinct 3 - 86
TOTAL - 310


Nate Smith
Precinct 1 - 116
Precinct 2 - 59
Precinct 3 - 73
TOTAL - 248

Karen Ables
Precinct 1 - 80
Precinct 2 - 68
Precinct 3 - 52
TOTAL - 200

Nancy Lethcoe
Precinct 1 - 56
Precinct 2 - 38
Precinct 3 - 35
TOTAL - 129

James "Hotai" Williams
Precinct 1 - 21
Precinct 2 - 17
Precinct 3 - 50
TOTAL - 88

Selah Bauer
Precinct 1 - 41
Precinct 2 - 27
Precinct 3 - 16
TOTAL - 84

Rich Long

Precinct 1 - 28
Precinct 2 - 28
Precinct 3 - 27
TOTAL - 83

Kyle Hoffman
Precinct 1 - 17
Precinct 2 - 17
Precinct 3 - 13
TOTAL - 47

Wanda Clark
Precinct 1 - 15
Precinct 2 - 15
Precinct 3 - 15
TOTAL - 45

Nicole Tifft
Precinct 1 - 10
Precinct 2 - 9
Precinct 3 - 16
TOTAL - 35

David Lyle
Precinct 1 - 4
Precinct 2 - 6
Precinct 3 - 6
TOTAL - 16
EXXON-VALDEZ “LONGEST-LASTING ENVIRONMENTAL
LITIGATION IN HISTORY”

A story in the Anchorage Daily News proclaims the Exxon- Valdez case the “longest-lasting environmental litigation in history.” The court room battles began in 1991 when Exxon settled their case with the state and federal government to the tune of $1.025 billion dollars to be used “primarily for restoration.” Litigation continued in 1994 when 32,000 private plaintiffs were awarded $287 million in actual and $5 billion in punitive damages. Most recently the Exxon court cases have involved a “reopener provision” that allowed the government to request an additional $92 million to fund a restoration plan for long term damage. According to author Rick Steiner, Exxon has still refused to pay the 2006 demand and state and federal government has not pursued collecting the money.
To read the full article CLICK HERE.

 

PERMANENT FUND DIVIDEND 2013 AMOUNT ANNOUNCED
Revenue Commissioner Angela Rodell announced on Wednesday, September 18th that eligible Alaskans would receive $900 from the 2013 Permanent Fund dividend. For more information about the PDF visit http://pfd.alaska.gov/.

 

NEW DINOSAUR FOSSIL SITE DISCOVERED IN AK

Photo by Pat Druckenmiller
Hind foot print of an herbivorous dinosaur.
“There aren’t many places left in the world where paleontologists can just go out and find thousands of dinosaur footprints. This is the kind of discovery you would have expected in the Lower 48 a hundred years ago." said Pat Druckenmiller, earth sciences curator for the University of Alaska Museum of the North. The fossils were found in Alaska along the Yukon river and include a great variety of dinosaur fossils, including both carnivores and herbivores according to the University of Fairbanks. The abundance of fossils at the site impressed the researchers who explained, “the tracks were so abundant along the Yukon River that we could find and collect as many as 50 specimens in as little as 10 minutes.”
CLICK HERE for more information on this story.

 

WHITTIER FERRY DOCK REMAINS CLOSED
According to a recent report from the Cordova Times, repairs to the Whittier Ferry dock will likely not be completed until mid-November. Currently the dock remains closed with ferry traffic being re-routed to Valdez. The ramp failure in Whittier that caused the shutdown occurred on August 30th as a contractor was working on the ferry ramp. “The ramp failure in Whittier is extremely unfortunate as it impacts numerous residents, businesses and tourists who rely on the Marine Highway for travel in Prince William Sound.” said AMHS General Manager Captain John Falvey.  According to Falvey, crews are working on implementing a solution “as soon as possible.”
CLICK HERE to read more.

 

VALDEZ MAN RESCUED BY NATIONAL GUARD HELICOPTER
AFTER CRASH NEAR PAXSON

Bad weather on the Richardson Highway near Paxson resulted in a car crash that left Steven Alley Sr. and his son Steven Alley Jr. of Valdez trapped in an overturned and partially submerged vehicle on Wednesday, September 18th.  According to the Fairbanks News Miner a National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk, returning from another rescue mission, noticed the truck in distress and sent down a crew to help. The guardsmen cut Alley Sr. and Jr. out of the vehicle and then hoisted them up into the helicopter. The News Miner reported on Friday that Alley Sr. had sustained 5 broken ribs and that his son suffered a broken neck and had been transferred to Providence Medical Center in Anchorage.
CLICK HERE for more information.

 

IT’S ALMOST TIME FOR LOCAL ELECTIONS…
GET TO KNOW THE CANDIDATES WITH KVAK

KVAK sent out questionnaires to our local city and school board candidates. We will read the candidates answers on air Monday, September 23rd through September 30th on 93.3FM and 1230AM during the 9am, noon and 6pm news hour. The responses will also be published on our website at www.kvakradio.com
 
MONDAY – September 23rd
City Council Candidate Biographies

TUESDAY – September 24th
School Board Candidate Biographies

WEDNESDAY – September 25th
City Council Candidate Question #1: What are the three main challenges facing the City of Valdez in the next five years? As a potential council member, how do you plan to address them?

THURSDAY – September 26th
School Board Candidate Question #1: What are three main challenges for Valdez City Schools in the next five years? As a potential school board member, how do you plan to address them?

FRIDAY – September 27th
City Council Candidate Question #2: The City of Valdez operating budget is more than 40 million dollars annually. What experience do you have with budgeting, investment, and finance?

MONDAY- September 30th
 School Board Candidate Question #2: What experience do you have with budgeting, investments, and finance?

 

VALDEZ SAYS GOODBYE TO STAN STEPHENS

Picture provided by Colleen Stephens
Valdez tourism pioneer Stan Stephens passed away on Saturday, September 21st at the age of 79.
A dedication of the Stan Stephens Harbor Plaza (located near the Best Western in Valdez) will be held on Oct. 4, 2013 at 3pm. Afterwards, a celebration of life and reception will be held at the Valdez Civic Center at 4:15 p.m. Celebrations will also be held in Fairbanks on Oct. 18, and in Anchorage on Oct. 19.  Time and locations will be announced at a later date.
 
More information, memory sharing and updates can be found at www.keeperofpws.com
 
In lieu of flowers, donations can be directed to the Prince William Sound Science Center www.pwssc.com, or North Gulf Oceanic Society, 3430 Main Street, Suite B1, Homer, AK 99603
 
CLICK HERE to read Stan Stephen’s obituary.

 

UNCOMMON BEAKED WHALES FOUND BEACHED IN PORT VALDEZ
PHOTOS BY SELAH BAUER

Pictured:Amanda Bauer & Colleen Stephens with larger whale as it becomes exposed by the low tide.

After observing two deceased beaked whales beached in the Port of Valdez, employees of Stan Stephens Cruises contacted the Marine Mammal Stranding Network and assisted biologists in the recovery of samples from the creatures on Tuesday, Sept 10th. The samples will be studied by biologists from Alaska Veterinary Pathology Services and the Alaska Sea Life Center in an effort to learn more about the whales and what caused their deaths. Amanda Bauer of Stan Stephens Cruises stated that currently the cause of death and exact species of the whales is unknown. Although initially thought to be minke whales, they are now believed to be Stejneger's beaked whales, an elusive species that tends to frequent waters of 2,000-5,000ft.

To read the full account of the recovery operation CLICK HERE.

 

 
BEAKED WHALE SAMPLES TAKEN TO PVMC FOR SCAN

Workers at the hospital assisted in analyzing recently recovered whale samples by running them through a CT scan at the Valdez Medical Center. Photo provided by Mo Radotich.

 

SCHOOL BOARD MEETS WITH SUPERINTENDENT TO DISCUSS GOALS
The Valdez School Board met Thursday night and again Friday from 9am to 4pm review District bylaws, check on progress, define roles and responsibilities, discuss communication and information flow as well as set board and Superintendent Goals and priorities. On Friday morning Stroh told the Board, "I feel like I am being micromanaged. I have a vision for this district, but can't follow it if I'm being micromanaged". Workshop coordinator Timi Tullis directed discussion throughout the day specific roles, responsibilities and duties of both the Superintendent and the School Board were discussed in depth. Following the workshop Friday, Stroh commented, "I feel very positive. The meetings were very productive".

 

CITY TO VOTE ON SPENDING $411,193 FOR
RUBBERIZED TRACK AT MIDDLE SCHOOL

The Valdez City Council will vote in their regular meeting on whether or not to approve a rubberized surface upgrade to the new track as part of the new middle school project. The item is under "New Business and would add $411,193 to the middle school project.
CLICK HERE to see the agenda item.

 

SEPT 6th POWER OUTAGE DUE TO HIGH WATER
Photos courtesy of Sharon Crisp, CVEA

When the power suddenly went out on Friday, September 6th for residents from Heiden View all the way to Copper Basin CVEA crews went out in search of the cause of the outage.According to Sharon Crisp of CVEA, it was determined that the flooding from the recent heavy rains had knocked out a transmission line near Heiden View where the Lowe river had changed course and water had eroded the land around the structure causing it to collapse. Power was later restored although the line in question remained out of service. On Friday, September 16th, CVEA reported that the line was back in service and once again generating “roughly 100% of its power requirements.”

 

 VALDEZ END OF THE ROAD FOR DECADES OLD PIPELINE PIECE
A 10 inch piece of steel used in the construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline system in the 1970s was recently discovered in a valve here in Valdez. Sean Doogan reports in a story featured in the Alaska Displace that the steel is believed to a threaded O-Ring that traveled more than  415 miles from its origin at a pump station south of Livengood to Valdez.
CLICK HERE to read more.

 

VALDEZ DOG & PUPPY PARKS OPEN FOR BUSINESS
On Saturday, September 14th Parks and Recreation officially opened two new parks that Valdez pups and pooches can call their very own. The Dog and Puppy parks are located at the old Harborview site between Providence and the Latter Day Saints church. Available parking is located on the side of the park closest to Providence and rules are posted at the entrance.  The Dog Park provides a safe place to run for adult dogs while puppies ages 4 months and younger can play in the Puppy Park.
For more information please contact Parks and Recreation at 835-2531.

 

ALBINO HUMPBACK WHALE IN AUSTRALIA

Prince William Sound was not the only body of water to receive a visit from a unique whale recently. Photos and video out of Australia made the news last week when the captured Migaloo, a white humpback whale thought to be the only albino humpback currently in existence.
CLICK HERE to see more photos.

 

CHECK OUT THE PWSCC HEALTH & FITNESS CENTER CLASS SCHEDULE!
The PWSCC Health and Fitness Center is back in its newly renovated location at the College and has some great classes on the schedule for September!
CLICK HERE to view the Sept. class schedule.

 

PARKS AND RECREATION ANNOUNCES HAWK WINNERS
Valdez Parks and Recreation have announced the winners of the Hike Alaska’s Wild Kountry (HAWK) program. Over 60 people participated in the hiking program, making them eligible for multiple prizes. The winners of the contest are as follows:
3 Trails winner: Sam Norris
5 Trails winner: Karisa Friend
7 Trails winner: Mindi Baczuk
8 Trails winner: Amy Williams
For more information about HAWK and how to claim your prize please call Parks and Recreation at 835-2531.

 

LABOR DAY FUN RUN RESULTS
Sixty-seven men, women and children got out in the rain to run in Parks and Recreation’s annual Labor Day Fun Run on Monday, September 2nd.
CLICK HERE to view the 1K, 3K and 5K winners and race results.

 

GOLDSTEIN II INDICTED FOR AUG. 31st STABBING
First Sgt. Bart Hinkle of the Valdez Police Department provided details on the stabbing that occurred on August 31st, reporting that when officers arrived on the scene outside of a local bar they encountered Robert Joseph Goldstein II and another man covered in blood. Goldstein II was disarmed and placed under arrest for Assault in the First Degree and Assault in the Third Degree. The stabbing victim was subdued after responding with hostility to the first responders attempting to care for his injuries which included multiple stab wounds to his face and upper torso  and a punctured lung. Both individuals were taken to Providence Valdez Medical Center for care, with Goldstein II later being transferred to Valdez Regional Jail. On Thursday, September 5th Goldstein II was indicted for a sole Felony Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance and for multiple Felony counts of Assault.

 

YOU MAY BE HAVING A BAD DAY, BUT AT LEAST YOU ARE NOT BEING “MENACED” BY DRUNKEN MOOSE…
In a story out of Sweden, a Stockholm man reports that a “mob of boozed up moose” had taken over his garden. The inebriated condition of the moose was the result of eating fermented apples.
CLICK HERE for the full story.

 

A NEW LOOK AT NEIGHBORING CORDOVA

A story out of the Alaska Dispatch provides a new perspective on Valdez’s Prince William Sound neighbor, Cordova. To watch the video click on the above screen capture.
CLICK HERE to read the full story.

 

GMS AFTER THE BELL PROGRAM
The Gilson Middle School ATB program provides supervised activities after school from 3:10 to 4:20 pm Monday through Thursday. Math Tutor, Language Arts Tutor, Open Gym, Board Games, Science Help and Social Studies Helper are a few of the activities that will be hosted. There is an ATB bus to transport student’s home at 4:20 pm at designated bus stops.

 

DONATIONS FOR BILL BLOM
On August 27th Bill suffered a heart attack and was medivaced to Anchorage. Donations are currently being accepted for Bill Blom at the First National Bank Alaska under the account William Blom.

 

JOHN KELSEY REMEMBERED

50th Anniversary of Statehood Celebration in Valdez. Picture of former Valdez Mayors. (From left to right: Lynn Chrystal, John Devens, Dave Cobb, John Kelsey, Bill Walker, Bert Cottle, and John Harris)
On Saturday, a large crowd gathered at the Civic Center to celebrate the life of John Thomas Kelsey. Kelsey's family and friends remembered him fondly with a slideshow starting with his early years in Valdez and ending with pictures of the many friends and family he made an impact on throughout his life.
CLICK HERE to read Kelsey's obituary

 

USCG LONG ISLAND RETURNS TO VALDEZ

LT. Allie Ferko of the USCG reports that the US Coast Guard Cutter Long Island has returned to Valdez after a six month dry dock in Ketchikan, AK. The 110ft vessel, known as the Coast Guard’s “northernmost cutter” is homeported in Valdez.

 

PWSCC DRAMA DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES UPCOMING PRODUCTIONS
Story provided by PWSCC
The PWSCC Drama Department has announced its two Civic Center productions for the 2013-14 academic year. Auditioning in September will be the children’s show for the year, a musical adaptation of Kenneth Graham’s classic The Wind in the Willows. In the spring will be Eric Coble’s dark comedy Bright Ideas. “I’ve never been more excited going into a season here at PWSCC,” says director Dawson Moore. “The Wind in the Willows has been one of my favorite stories since my mother read it to me as a small child, and Bright Ideas is one of the funniest plays I’ve ever read; I’ve been teaching the script for the past six years in my Contemporary Theatre class, and my students always love it.”
CLICK HERE to read the full press release.

 

15 YEAR OLD ALASKAN AUTHOR TO BE FEATURED ON “GOOD NEWS”
Heather Johnson, a 15 year old author of Hidden Voice will be featured on the September  6th edition of “Good News with Margaret Henry.” Hidden Voice was written for a middle school audience and focuses on self-discovery and overcoming low self-esteem and fears. To listen to Heather’s interview tune in to KVAK during the 9am, Noon and 6pm news hour on Friday, September 6th.

 

SUICIDE PREVENTION WEEK
Did you know that in the United States 50% more people die each year by suicide than by homicide? Experts believe that most suicidal individuals do not want to die. They just want to end the pain they are experiencing. When suicidal intent or risk is detected early lives can be saved. September 8th thru 14th is National Suicide Prevention Week. Please join Advocates for Victims of Violence in supporting suicide prevention. Contact AVV at 835-2980 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

 

PUTTING DRONES TO WORK IN THE ARCTIC
With the recent approval from the FAA of two commercial drone operations in the artic NBC News contributor, Jeremy Hsu looks into the future of drones in the region. “Such unmanned aircraft represent the first in a coming wave of Arctic drones that could watch out for oil spills, track ice floes and migrating whales, or help the U.S. Coast Guard in search-and-rescue operations.”
CLICK HERE to read more.

 

JOHN KELSEY PASSES AWAY

Valdezan John Kelsey, for whom the Kelsey Dock is named, has passed away at the age of 93. To celebrate John's life and accomplishments a memorial ceremony and reception will be held in Valdez, Alaska on Saturday, September 7th.  The memorial will begin at 2:00pm at the Valdez Civic Center, and a reception following at the Civic Center beginning at 6:00pm. The events are open to all friends and family. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the John Thomas Kelsey Memorial Scholarship Fund at First National Bank Alaska to assist Valdez high school graduates pursue higher education. 
CLICK HERE to read John Kelsey's obituary.

 

2013 VALDEZ FISH DERBY WINNERS

Halibut Derby Winners:

James Culley from Fairbanks, AK - 325.0 lbs.
Jeff Johnson from North Pole, AK - 208.6 lbs.
Beth Reagin from Fairbanks, AK - 178.8 lbs.
 
Silver Salmon Derby Winners:
Michael Freerksen from Valdez, AK - 16.92 lbs. 
C. Vernon Carlson from Fairbanks, AK - 16.72 lbs.
Stacey Mitchell from Valdez, AK               - 16.58 lbs.         
 
Big Prize Friday Winner: Michael Freerksen of Valdez, AK
Truck Winner: Lesley Rogers of Valdez, AK
$500 Captain’s Prize Winner: Dave Wiley of the Dan Orion and Michael Freerksen of Valdez, AK
$500 Ticket Seller Winner: Dave Wiley and Adam McDonald

For more information on the 2013 winners and Valdez Fish Derbies visit KVAK's Fishing page.

 

VALDEZ VS. EIELSON GAME RECAP
Sat. 24 Aug.
Game summary provide by
Coach Lea Cockerham
Valdez lost the conference opener against Eielson on Saturday, 68-0. Missed tackles and special teams plagued the young team for the second week in a row. Valdez fumbled two kickoffs that result in turn overs early in the game.
Eielson, the defending 3A state champions, had an exceptional day running the ball accumulating over 500 yards of offense. Valdez was held to under 200 yards of total offense. Despite the score the team played well throughout the game, especially the underclassmen. Valdez will go on the road this weekend to Homer to play Voznesenka on Friday night at 6:00 PM.
Stats and box score are not available at this time.

VALDEZ BUCS FOOTBALL SEASON SCHEDULE
August 31 - Voznesanka (away)
September 7- Monroe (home)
September 14 - Nikiski (home)
September 21 - Seward (away)
September 28 - Kenai (away)
October 5 - Barrow (home)
October 12 - Semi-Finals
October 19 – State

 

WOMEN IDENTIFIED IN CAR-MOOSE CRASH ON RICHARDSON HIGHWAY
According to reports from KTUU, State Troopers have identified Andrea Lee Conley as the woman who was killed when her car hit a Moose on the Richardson Highway near Tonsina on Wednesday, August 21st.
CLICK HERE for more information.

 

ALASKA IN POLL AS STATE WITH WORST FOOD
CLICK HERE to see how the rest of the states faired in categories like Worst Food, Weirdest Accent, and Most Beautiful Scenery.

 

515lb HALIBUT CAUGHT OFF COAST OF NORWAY

Last week, a 515 pound halibut was caught off the coast of Norway, setting a new world record.
CLICK HERE to read the article from the Huffington Post!

 

ENDUROCROSS WINNERS!

Sixteen competitors challenged each other in Parks and Recreation’s first ever Endurocross ATV Timed Obstacle Course Competition last Saturday at the Valdez Glacier. Participants competed on ATVs and dirt bikes for the fastest time with Matt Smelcer taking home first place in the adult motorcycle class and James Mahoney taking home first in the adult ATV class. Jess Shari took home first in the youth motorcycle class and Issac Watson came in first among youth ATVs. In the kid’s division Jeremy Mahoney came in first for the motorcycle class and Alex Buck place first in the ATV class.
CLICK HERE to view a full list of the 2013 Endurocross Challenge Results.

 

GET TO KNOW THE CANDIDATES WITH KVAK
KVAK will be sending out questionnaires to our local city and school board candidates for them to fill out and send back to us. These responses will then be read on air and published on the KVAK website. Stay tuned to KVAK and check your weekly E-News for this upcoming feature!
 
DON’T FORGET: THE GENERAL ELECTION WILL TAKE PLACE TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1st from 7am-8pm. For more information about the election and voting regulations contact the City Clerk’s office at 834-3408.

 

SMALL MARKET RADIO MAGAZINE HIGHLIGHTS LOCAL STATIONS
KVAK and Cordova stations KLAM and KCDV received mentions in a recent edition of Small Market Radio Magazine in contributor Roger Paskvan’s piece “Really Small Radio Market at It’s Best”
CLICK HERE to read the article.

 

EFFORTS TO REMOVE POLLUTION THREATS AROUND THE FATE HUNTER UNDERWAY

Photo courtesy of Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Valdez
“Following the grounding Sunday, the vessel’s owner contracted R&R Diving to place boom around the vessel, secure accessible fuel vents and recover three 55-gallon drums floating in the vicinity of the vessel.” reports LT. Allie Ferko of the USCG. Global Diving & Salvage naval architects are developing a salvage plan which will be submitted to the Coast Guard and ADEC for review and approval.
CLICK HERE to read more.

 

OVER 50 VOLUNTEERS COME TOGETHER TO CLEAN THE CHITNA RIVER

The volunteers gathered on August 3rd as part of the 20th Anniversary of Public Lands Day “Helping Hands for America’s Lands” initiative. The Bureau of Land Management reports, “Volunteers removed junked appliances, couches, chairs, broken vehicle parts, and heaping piles of twisted metal, tin and wood resulting in several pick-up and large trailer loads of metal debris and trash. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Youth Conservation Corp students, Chitina Village youth, and several non-profit partner volunteers cleaned 240 feet of the river front and adjacent roadway at the Copper River Bridge and an additional 2,685 feet of roadway in Chitina.”

 

MINERAL CREEK HALF MARATHON RESULTS

Photo and story submitted by race coordinator Aaron Brown
The third annual Mineral Creek Half Marathon featured competitors from four different states plus Italy. The hard rain falling the previous two days let up just in time for the race. Under intermittent light rain, 32 runners managed two stream crossings and multiple bear sightings en route to the finish line. Nives Carobblo, visiting from Bergamo, Italy with her family, took the women's division in a new women's course record of 1:38:50. Nives finished third overall. Other notable finishers include Nick Weicht in 5th place. Nick led the Valdez High School Cross Country team to their state championship in 2001, placing second as an individual in that race. Stu Brown, undeterred by coming off a 16 hour shift the day before the race and 40 straight days working 12 hours or more, finished second.
For more information on the Mineral Creek Half Marathon visit: www.jagostreet.com
CLICK HERE to view the race results

 

VALDEZ FOOTBALL SEASON UP AND RUNNING
Valdez lost the season opener 42-0 to non-conference opponent, Skyview. Coach Lea Cockerham said, “Special teams and missed tackles plagued the young team all day.” He added, “Valdez fielded the youngest team in its history starting four freshmen and two sophomores. The game, against a larger and older 4A school, provided a lot of learning points that are impossible to duplicate in practice.” Valdez’s next game will take place against Eielson on Saturday in Fairbanks at 1pm.
CLICK HERE to read Coach Cockerham’s summary of Saturday’s game.

 

ALASKA MARINE HIGHWAY CELEBRATES 50th ANNIVERSARY

Pictured: Kelsey Prax and Warren Williams

Photo provided by Joe Prax
On Saturday, the Alaska Marine Highway celebrated their 50th Anniversary in Valdez with a community celebration that featured a free barbeque, tours of the Aurora and a rain gutter regatta. Sam Norris of Valdez had the fastest time and won a $500 credit for the Alaska Marine Highway. The Richardson Highway Rendezvous was also at the Kelsey Dock Saturday from Noon to well past midnight featuring local bands and headliners from out of town.


 

LOTS OF CANDIDATES ON BALLOT FOR CITY COUNCIL
& SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION

Eighteen petitions total were turned into the City Clerk’s office by deadline on Friday, August 16. The candidates running for the 3 open seats on city council are as follows: James “Hotai” Williams, Mike Wells, David Lyle, Karen Ables, Nancy Lethcoe, Nicole Tifft, Wanda Clark, Nate Smith, Dennis Flemming, Rich Long, Ruth Knight, Selah Bauer and Kyle Hoffman.  Steve Brockman, Jessica Vincent, BJ Williams, Alan Sorum and Joe Prax all turned in petitions to run for the 2 open seats on the Valdez School Board.

 

HIGH 5 TRIATHLON RESULTS

Copper Valley Electric held its annual High 5 Triathlon on Saturday, Aug 3rd.
CLICK HERE to view the triathlon results.

 

WALKER TO STAGE RUN FOR GOVERNOR
Story courtesy of Anchorage Daily News
Anchorage attorney Bill Walker is dropping his Republican primary challenge to Gov. Sean Parnell and instead will run for governor in 2014 as an independent, he announced Thursday.
CLICK HERE to read more.

 

LOCAL SEABIRD SPECIES “NOT RECOVERING”
According to a recent article in the Alaska Dispatch, Prince William Sound pigeon guillemots are the last species of seabird listed as “not recovering” from Exxon Valdez oil spill 20 years ago.  Approximately 2,000-6,000 pigeon guillemots died during the spill according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council cites increased nest predation and reduction in forage fish, specifically herring and sand lance as additional causes for their decline. According to the Trustee Council pigeon guillemot populations are continuing to decline in both oiled and unoiled areas of Prince William Sound. U.S. Fish and Wildlife plan to reduce American mink populations, one of the pigeon guillemots top predators, within the Sound.
CLICK HERE to learn more.

 

THIS FRIDAY IS DEADLINE TO RUN FOR CITY COUNCIL OR SCHOOL BOARD
Who can Vote:
A person is qualified to vote who:
1. is a United States Citizen
2. is 18 years or older
3. Has been a resident of the State of Alaska and the City of Valdez for 30 days immediately preceding the election
4. is registered 30 days prior to the election as required under Alaska Statutes 15.07 and is not registered to vote in another jurisdiction
5. is not disqualified under Article V of the State Constitution
Where to Vote:
The City of Valdez consists of three election precincts for all regular and special City elections.
Precinct #1: that portion of the City of Valdez which lies west of Hazelet Ave. Polling place: the Teen Center
Precinct #2: that portion of the City of Valdez which lies between Hazelet Ave and a north/south line drawn through the point where Crooked Creek crosses the Richardson Highway (Salmon Turnaround). Polling place: City Council Chambers
Precinct #3: that portion of the City of Valdez which lies east of a north/ south line drawn through the point where Crooked Creek crosses the Richardson Highway (Salmon Turnaround). Polling place: Robe River Subdivision Fire Station
For more information contact the City Clerk’s office at 834-3408 or by email at spierce@ci.valdez.ak.us.
 
CITY COUNCIL ELECTION UPDATE
Here’s an update from the City Clerk’s office. As of this morning, Mike Wells, Nancy Lethcoe and Nicole Tifft have all turned in completed petitions for the City Council Election.
 
ASTROTURF FIELD APPROVED
According to the City Clerk’s office, City Council approved the implementation of a Astroturf football field. Funding for the Astroturf field will come out of the middle school construction funds.


 

65FT FISHING TENDER GROUNDED
NEAR SHOUP BAY


According to the USCG, the Fate Hunter ran aground Sunday Morning near Shoup Bay. LT Allie Ferko reports that no crew members were injured in the incident and no major structural damage to the vessel was reported. The USCG is currently monitoring the Fate Hunter in an effort to minimize any environmental impact the vessel’s 1,500 gal of diesel, 300 gal of hydraulic oil and 100 gal of lube oil could have on the surround area.

 

REGINA BLOOD CROWNED 2013 WOMEN’S DERBY QUEEN
Regina Blood of Valdez took home the title of Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood with the 15.68 pound silver she reeled in while fishing with friends. Sitting upon the throne set at center stage at the Valdez Civic Center, decked out her in pink Women’s Derby bathrobe and tiara, Blood remarked, “This tiara and robe go pretty well with my Xtra Tuffs.” While Blood was willing to comment on fashion, she wasn’t telling the crowd where she caught the big one. “A lady doesn’t give up her secrets.” Jamie Arciniega of Valdez reeled in a 14.96 pound fish that gave her a big fight to take 2nd place in the Women’s Silver Salmon Derby and Denise Carter of Fairbanks took 3rd place with a 14.92 pound silver salmon.
CLICK HERE to watch Regina’s Women’s Derby coronation

 

GOLD RUSH DAYS RECAP

GOLD RUSH DAYS 2013 PHOTOS

CLICK HERE to view photos from the 2013 Gold Rush Days celebration!
 
GOLD RUSH DAYS PARADE WINNERS
Best Organization Entry
1st place - Senior Center
2nd place - PWSCC
3rd place - Frontier Community Services
Best Group Entry
1st place - Valdez Imagination Library
2nd place - Eagle's Rest RV "Pot's of Gold"
3rd - VHS Pep Band
Best Individual Entry
1st - Zachary Buffington
2nd - Samantha Laudert
3rd - Mike Meller
Best Business Entry
1st - Wilson Brother's Distributing
2nd - ERA Alaska
3rd - Crowley Marine Services
 
GOLDEN ROCK AWARDS
2013 Golden Rock Winners are ……………….
Business - Downtown B&B
Beds and Boarders - Suzie Koklich
Yard Art - Debbie Gilson
Container - TC Greene
Vegetable Garden - Lavone & Gary Kennedy
Mommy and Me - Jen, Sarah Elaina Hanson
Overall Garden - Larry and Barb Sandvek
CLICK HERE to view Golden Rock photos.
CLICK HERE for a full list of winners including garden descriptions and honorable mentions.

 

BACK TO SCHOOL UPDATE
MONDAY, AUGUST 19th is the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!
GRADES 1-5 * School Begins:  8:15am and Ends: 2:50pm
GRADES 6-8 * School Begins: 8:10am and Ends: 2:55pm (CHANGE)
GRADES 9-12 * School Begins: 8:00am and Ends: 3:08pm
MONDAY, AUGUST 26th is the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL for KINDERGARTEN
GRADE K * School Begins:  8:15am and Ends: 2:50pm
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 3rd is the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL for PRESCHOOL
Preschool * School Begins:  11:45am and Ends: 2:50pm

CLICK HERE for Back to School Information on KVAK's Website

 

ELECTION INFORMATION
ABSENTEE VOTING
There are 4 ways Valdez residents can cast an absentee ballot for the City of Valdez Regular Municipal Election:
1. Voting by mail. Request an absentee ballot at www.ci.valdez.ak.us  at least 4 weeks prior to the election.
2. Absentee voting by electronic transmission (email or fax). Contact the City Clerk’s office for more information. Voters may request a email or fax ballot beginning Monday, Sept 16th.
3. Absentee voting through a personal representative. A qualified elector who is physically disabled may request an absentee ballot by mail OR apply for an absentee ballot through a personal representative Sept 16-Oct 1. This application form is available at the Clerk’s Office.
4. Absentee voting in person. A qualified elector may vote at the City Clerk’s office during regular office hours beginning Sept 16 at 8:30am until 5:00pm. The last day to vote before the City Clerk will be Sept 30th prior to 5pm.
For more information on absentee voting contact the City Clerk’s office at 834-3408 or by email at spierce@ci.valdez.ak.us.
 
CITY COUNCIL ELECTION UPDATE
On August 5th, James “Hotai” Willams has turned in his petition and no new applicants have picked up a petition to run for City Council. 

 

ADDITIONAL OPERATIONS COSTS HIT HALF A MILLION FOR NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL
Last week, City Manager John Hozey released the first estimate on operations costs for the new middle school. According to City Manager John Hozey, the additional costs to maintain, heat, and clean the new middle school will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $500,000. These numbers are being released in light of a request to upgrade the construction of the new football field from sod to Astroturf at an additional cost of half a million dollars. The funds to pay for maintenance (of facilities, fields, etc.) will come out of the City Schools Budget, not the City of Valdez budget. “We have to think about whether we will have that kind of money in 10 years” Hozey said, “It’s not easy for the City to just give more money. Because these are all operating costs and the City already funds the School District to the operating cap. We can’t give more money in that particular area so it will mean that these extra costs have to be made somewhere else within the operating budget.”
Valdez City Schools cut two teaching positions last year, but they are a far cry from balancing the budget. In fact, the School Board has already expressed an interest in re-hiring the position of shop teacher which is currently not filled this year due to retirement and the fact that there is no shop in which to conduct the class. While we do not have numbers on additional staffing and operations costs of the new middle school, last week a report was provided to City Council and the School Board outlining the estimated energy costs for the new building. Square footage for New Middle School building is more than double and annual estimated energy costs are up $115,000 a year.
George Gilson
23,200 -------------------------- Square Footage
119,546 -------------------- Annual Eui (btu/sq.ft)
2,773  Total Annual Energy Use (MMBtu)
$4.11 ---------------- Annual Cost ($/sq/ft.)
$95,352 ------------------ Annual Estimated Cost
NEW Middle School
56,759 --------------------------- Square Footage
71,269 ------------------- Annual EUI (btu/sq.ft.)
4,045 -- Total Annual Energy Use (MMBtu)
$3.74 -------------------Annual Cost ($/sq/ft.)
$210,988 --------------------- Annual Estimated Cost


 

HALF A MILLION DOLLAR ESTIMATE FOR ASTROTURF FIELD
CITY COUNCIL TO DECIDE TONIGHT WHETHER TO FUND THE PROJECT

The City Council and School Board are considering building an Astroturf field that could add half a million dollars to the tab for building the new Middle School in Valdez. Original construction estimates budgeted approximately $250,000 to build a sod field. Artificial turf would increase the cost by $611,000 according to Hozey, for a total project cost of $861,000. The football team has four home games scheduled this season, but none of them would be played on the new field until the New Middle School project is complete. The plan is to build a temporary field on the Valdez Park Strip at a cost of $50,000 to $60,000 for the 2013 season. If the decision is made to build an Astroturf field, it cannot be played on the first year so the temporary field would be used for both the 2013 and 2014 season Hozey said. The costs estimates for an Astroturf field are not in print, but Hozey said that while an Astroturf field would lower yearly maintenance costs, it would need to be replaced after 10 to 15 years. Hozey said the replacement cost would be $585,000. “And that’s in 2013 dollars,” Hozey added.
We’re not sure how it’s going to do in these conditions”, remarked Hozey. The actual yearly maintenance costs are not nailed down, but Hozey said the maintenance cost each year to maintain either field is expected to be tens of thousands of dollars. “What the City and School Board need to think about is what happens when we don’t have bond revenue down the road,” Hozey said. “The Council needs to weigh the benefits with the costs”.

 

Energy Use will be Up $115,000 for New Middle School


UPGRADE TO TURF FOR FOOTBALL FIELD TO BE CONSIDERED TONIGHT AT JOINT WORKSESSION HOZEY WARNS MAINTENANCE EXPENSES FOR NEW MIDDLE SCHOOL ARE UP

VALDEZ - Valdez City Schools and the City Council will be meeting tonight in a worksession at 6pm at City Council Chambers. The topic of the meeting is "Consideration of Design Changes for the Track and Field Portion of the Middle School Project. Work Session will be followed by a special meeting of the City Council. According to the Memorandum included with the Board packet, "Interested parties have expressed a desire to upgrade the current field desin from grass sod to artificial turf". Hozey says "To add suck a feature now requires a discussion between the School Board and the City Council. The packet provides no figures or cost estimates on the football field or track, but does say that "a turf field will likely cost tens of thousands of dollars more each year than staying with the currently designed sod field".

The report does provide figures for additional operational costs for the Middle School that were not available when the public voted to fund the project. The new Middle School has more than doubled in square footage and estimated energy costs are an additional $115,636 more per year.

Valdez Middle School – Energy Use Comparison

George Gilson
23,200     Square Footage
119,546 Annual Eui (btu/sq.ft)
2,773                     Total Annual Energy Use (MMBtu)
$4.11                     Annual Cost ($/sq/ft.)
$95,352                Annual Estimated Cost

NEW Middle School
56,759                   Square Footage
71,269                   Annual EUI (btu/sq.ft.)
4,045                     Total Annual Energy Use (MMBtu)
$3.74                     Annual Cost ($/sq/ft.)
$210,988              Annual Estimated Cost

CLICK HERE for City & School Board Worksession Packet for meeting tonight
 

STATE LAND FOR SALE


STATE LAND PARCELS FOR SALE
More than 2,600 acres across 378 parcels statewide are available for purchase in the State of Alaska’s Initial Over-the-Counter Land Offering. The application period opened to both residents and nonresidents at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, July 24 and will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 11. A drawing will be held the following week. Discounts for Alaska veterans and competitive in-house financing are available. Apply online at landsales.alaska.gov or contact DNR at 907-269-8400.

PROPOSED SPEED LIMIT CHANGE ON RICHARDSON HIGHWAY

The State of Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is proposing to change the posted speed limit on portions of the Richardson Highway between Valdez and Delta Junction. There will be series of Open Houses to discuss the proposed changes. On Tuesday, August 6th the DOT&PF will be at the Convention and Civic Center in Valdez from 5 to 7 pm.  Then on Wednesday, August 7th they will be at the Community Center in Delta Junction, also from 5 to 7 pm.  Stop by anytime to meet with the project team to discuss your concerns, questions, or support of the project.   More information can be found on the DOT website at www.Dot.alaska.Gov.  The project is listed under the Project Information, Northern Region section

Women's Silver Salmon Derby


WOMEN’S DERBY IS COMING AUGUST 9th & 10th
The Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby is coming up on August 10th. This year’s theme is Alaskan Woman. Women’s Derby events are ONLY open to women with a 2013 Women’s Derby dog tag; unfortunately, admittance to these events is not guaranteed due to space constraints. Women’s Derby registration costs $50, plus a daily Silver Salmon Derby ticket ($10). CLICK HERE for more information about the Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby!

SLOW START FOR OCTOBER ELECTIONS
Steve Brockman is the only person who has picked up a petition to run for School Board and while four people have picked up petitions to run for City Council, just one application has been turned back in according to City Clerk Sheri Pierce. James “Hotai” Williams, Mike Wells, and Karen Ables have picked up petitions to run and have until the August 16th deadline to get them back in. David Lyle is the only candidate to return an application.
A general election will be held on October 1st between 7am and 8pm to fill 3 positions in the City Council and 2 positions in the School Board, as well as Mayor. Applications are available at City Hall.

SALVAGE BEGINS ON VESSEL THAT GROUNDED 60 MILES SOUTHEAST OF CORDOVA

CLICK HERE to see video of boat aground - Scroll down to KVAK TV

VALDEZ, Alaska—The Coast Guard continues to monitor the integrated tug and barge Hook Point-Alaganik following the vessel’s grounding on the Gulf of Alaska coast, sixty miles southeast of Cordova, Alaska.

Alaska Marine Response, LLC personnel arrived at the site of the grounding via aircraft Thursday evening, offloaded response equipment, and began fuel removal operations on the tug and barge.
As of late Friday afternoon, all recoverable fuel and oil have been removed from the vessel, totaling 1,740 gallons of diesel fuel and 225 gallons of hydraulic and miscellaneous fluids. All fuels and liquids are being stored in containers above the high water line and both the tug and barge remain on the beach. No sheen has been reported since the original time of the incident.
“With the threat of pollution removed, Alaska Marine Response, LLC is working to assess structural damage and develop a salvage plan to remove the tug and barge from the beach,” said Lt. Keyth Pankau, response department head, Marine Safety Unit Valdez. “Due to the remote location of the grounding, salvage operations are anticipated to span several weeks and are dependent on equipment availability, weather, and tides.”
Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Valdez and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation continue to monitor response efforts.
The Hook Point-Alaganik, with two people on board, was working on a tsunami debris clean-up project on the Alaskan coast when they encountered heavy waves combined with strong currents and ice from the Seal River. Impact with ice broke the mechanical system holding the tug and barge together and heavy waves washed both up onto the beach Wednesday afternoon.
 
The Hook Point-Alaganik is homeported in Cordova, Alaska.
Press Release
Date: July 27, 2013                                                                                                             Contact: Lt. Allie Ferko
                                                                allison.e.ferko@uscg.mil
                                                                907-835-7209 or 972-533-8185

 

Murkowski-Energy Trust Fund


MURKOWSKI SEEKS COMMENTS ON DRAFT LEGISLATION TO CREATE AN ENERGY TRUST FUND
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released a discussion draft of legislation to establish an Advanced Energy Trust Fund, which would significantly boost domestic energy research and be funded exclusively with revenues from energy production on federal lands that are currently off-limits to development. Comments are due by Friday, Sept. 6, 2013.
 
“Our nation has tremendous opportunities to develop new energy technologies and increase federal energy production,” said Murkowski. “My draft Trust Fund offers a simple, straightforward framework through which we can take advantage of those opportunities, develop an energy policy that pays for itself, and generate enduring benefits for American families and businesses.”
 
The creation of a Trust Fund was one of more than 200 policy recommendations that Murkowski made in Energy 20/20: A Vision for America’s Energy Future, a comprehensive policy blueprint that she released earlier this year.
 
“This Trust Fund would strengthen our energy security and generate new economic opportunities across the country,” said Murkowski. “In combination with new federal energy production, it would create new jobs, enable scientists to develop new technologies, reduce the cost of energy, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil—without raising taxes or adding to the federal debt.”
 
Depending on which federal lands are opened to development, the Trust Fund could receive billions of dollars over time. Those funds would be applied to basic and applied research on the most promising technologies in the most promising energy-related fields, with at least 50 percent going to transportation-related technologies each year. Because the Trust Fund would depend on revenues from new production, it would under no circumstance add to the federal debt.     
 
The discussion draft released today would establish the Trust Fund itself. A finalized version will ultimately be paired with a second title, related to energy production, which would boost America’s energy supply and raise revenues for the Trust Fund. Murkowski plans to introduce both titles as part of one bill – named the “American Energy Innovation and Production Act” – later this year.
 
The document containing a list of design issues related to the Trust Fund, a summary of Murkowski’s discussion draft, and the full text of the discussion draft can be found here. Her request for comments is part of an effort to ensure a transparent, inclusive process that draws feedback from as many stakeholders as possible prior to the introduction of a Senate bill.  
 
Comments should be submitted to trust_fund@energy.senate.gov by Friday, September 6, 2013. Please include your full name, affiliation, and contact information with your submission. Comments should be formatted as plain email text or attached as a Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) document. Questions may be directed to Brian Hughes, a member of Murkowski’s committee staff, at 202-224-4971.
 
Murkowski is the senior Senator for Alaska and the Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 
VALDEZ, Alaska - The 30-foot pleasure boat "Falcon" was fueling up at the Crowley Fuel Dock at the sound end of the harbor and caught fire according the Mike Weber of the Valdez Fire Department. Valdez resident Tim Ellis said he was going past the harbor when he heard a big boom. "I turned my head and there was black smoke everywhere." Ellis said. According the Weber, there were five people aboard who all got off the vesset. Those aboard the vessel are currently at Providence Valdez Medical Center in Valdez being assessed. Weber said the boat is a total loss and the fuel dock has caught on fire and sustained damage. At one point the boat drifted away from the dock while onloookers watched in surprise. "With help from the Harbor staff, we got the boat secured". The fire has been extinguished.

2 Seats Available on School Board, 3 on Council


AUGUST 16 DEADLINE TO RUN FOR COUNCIL & SCHOOL BOARD
Nominations for Mayor, City Council and School Board members are currently being accepted for the 2013 October election. Petitions are available at the City Clerk’s office. All petitions must be received by August 16th at 5pm. To be eligible for City Council and School Board positions individuals must be a qualified elector of Alaska who has been a resident of the city of Valdez for no less than one year immediately preceding the date of filing.

TRANS-ALASKA PIPELINE CONTESTS PROPERTY TAXES


from the Alaska Dispatch
VALDEZ PART OF TRANS-ALASKA PIPELINE LAWSUIT
The owners of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System are suing various government entities in Alaska, arguing that they overpaid on property taxes on the pipeline -- which they estimate is worth about $7.5 billion less than state estimates. CLICK HERE to read the rest of the story from the Alaska Dispatch.
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20130719/big-oil-wants-big-refund-over-alaska-pipeline-property-taxes

FORMER VALDEZ RESIDENT CLAY STARBUCK SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON FOR MURDER

SPOKANE, Wash - A Spokane County judge has sentenced Clay Starbuck to life in prison without the possibility of parole for torturing and killing his ex-wife.  The 48-year-old Deer Park man was convicted by a jury last month and sentenced on Thursday. Starbuck was convicted of killing 42-year-old Chanin Starbuck in December 2011.
CLICK HERE for a story from KHQ.com
CLICK HERE to access Dateline Program on Starbuck Case

 
TRY THE WINNING PINK SALMON FESTIVAL COOK OFF RECIPES FOR YOURSELF!
On Saturday, July 6th Mel Bowden took home first place in the Cook Off competition with her Smoked Salmon Tacos. Diane Gibbs brought home the 2nd place prize with her Salmon Sensation and Jerry Huff took home the third place prize for his Smoked Salmon and Seafood Chowder.
CLICK HERE to see their prize winning recipes and try them for yourself!

 

SNOWMAN STICK COUNT
In an effort to break a Guinness Book World Record, the Valdez Parks and Recreation department has collected approximately 50 sticks for snowmen arms. The department is preparing for an attempt to break the record for most snowmen built in an hour this coming winter. Salt Lake City, UT currently holds the record with 1,279 snowmen. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, to be considered a snowman, the snow sculpture must be at least 3 feet tall, made with 3 balls of snow and have 2 arms, 2 eyes and a nose. The attempt at the world record will be held during the 2014 Frosty Fever festivities in late February (February 21st through March 2nd.
Sticks collected for snowmen can be dropped off at the comfort station at the end of Mendeltna Street. For more information contact the Parks and Recreation department at 835-2531.

 

FIREWEED 400 RESULTS
 Cyclists pedaled into Valdez on Saturday, July 13th completing the final leg of the Fireweed’s 200 mile cycling course. For some, Valdez was the last stop, but others turned around to ride back to Sheep’s Mountain lodge completing the full 400 mile race course.
CLICK HERE for race results.
CLICK HERE to see photos from the event.

 

CITY TRAVEL POLICY UPDATED
The City of Valdez travel policy for employees, City Council members and the City Clerk has been updated and City Manager John Hozey said in an interview with KVAK that he would be providing detailed reports of City Council and Clerk travel in a report to be put in the Council Packet quarterly.
The policy outlines that the City will pay up to $70 per day for meals and incidental expenses during official travel away from the Valdez area. In addition, personal incidentals associated with travelling on behalf of the City are authorized at a rate of $25 per day. Examples of approved personal incidental expenses were outlined in the policy as: room movies; dry cleaning; toiletries, etc. The City Manager is responsible for reviewing City employee travel. Hozey does not manage the City Council and the City Clerk works for the City Council, so the opportunity for oversight of the policy for these individuals rests with the public.

 

COMMERCIAL AND CHARTER INTERESTS COMPETE IN PROPOSED HALIBUT CATCH SHARING PLAN
The controversial Catch Sharing Plan, tabled in 2011, is back in consideration and up for public comment. NOAA reports that the CSP plan would replace the Guideline Harvest Program and divide the halibut catch limits for our area between the commercial and charter sectors, reducing charter catch limits from two halibut per season to one. The plan includes the provision that charter fisherman could buy an “extra” fish leased from the commercial fishing quotas, according to Rachel Barker, NOAA fisheries management specialist. The public comment period on the CSP plan ends August 12, at 11:59pm. Comment letters much be addressed to:
Mr. Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS,
Attn: Ellen Sebastian, and identified by FDMS
Docket Number NOAA-NMFS-2011-0180
Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
Electronic Submission:
www.regulations.gov Search NOAA-NMFS-2011-0180
Mail Comments: P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1688
Fax Comments: 907-586-7557
CLICK HERE to view the CSP information provided by the Alaska Charter Association.
CLICK HERE to view the Alaska Charter Association's letter to Glenn Merrill of the Sustainable Fisheries Division of the Alaska Region NMFS.
CLICK HERE for log book data from Whittier.
CLICK HERE for log book data from Seward.

 

VESSELS CAUTIONED TO AVOID SECURITY ZONES
Due to an increase in security zone violations over the past two weeks the US Coast Guard is working to remind commercial and recreational boaters to avoid the security zones. Three security zones are located in the Port of Valdez: the Alyeska Marine Terminal Security Zone, the Tank Vessel Moving Security Zone and the Valdez Narrows Security Zone. Boaters who enter security zones could face up to $32,500 in fines.
CLICK HERE to view the Valdez security zones.
For more info. contact the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Valdez at 907-831-0236.

 

PODCASTS

Devens verdict and youth internet safety


Laurie discusses the recent Devens sentence and internet safety with Officer Mott and Hinkle of the VPD.

Sarah Histand Ski Challenge


The Wilderness Alaska Ski Challenge

Good News: Community Orchestra


Margaret talks to Emily Doyel about Valdez's Community Orchestra.

Valdez weather