WOMEN'S SILVER SALMON DERBY MARKS 10th YEAR IN VALDEZ
This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Women's Silver Salmon Derby in Valdez. "Who would have thought that it would have turned into what it has", commented Derby Board Member Joe Prax. "Registration for the first year's event was held at the Prospector the first year and we expected maybe 20 to 30 participants". The first year, the store was crammed with close to 200 women. The 2nd year, registration was extended to a week-long period and an opening and closing event were held at the Civic Center. The event grew at least 100 participants a year until 2012 where attendance leveled out at just over 700 women. Valdez Fish Derbies has a simple mission, "to promote sport fishing in Valdez". Through sponsorships and ticket sales, the organization purchases marketing throughout Alaska and the Lower 48 to talk about Valdez and fishing. Valdez Fish Derbies is run by an all-volunteer board of seven community members, receives no public funding, and the weigh-in personnel as well as many of the event helpers are volunteers.
FREE SCHOOL BUS DRIVER TRAINING BEING OFFERED
The Valdez City School District is looking for people interested in driving students to activities and sporting events. There will be a free training course August 14th through August 19 in Valdez. In order to participate, students must have a CDL license or permit PRIOR to taking the class. This requires a DOT physical and a general knowledge test as a minimum to get the CDL permit. Those interested in beginning this process, call visit the Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles to begin process. Call the District offices at 834-4701 with questions or to sign up.
482 POUND HALIBUT Alaska Dispatch - What appears to be the largest halibut caught in the Pacific Ocean in at least a decade has been landed in the Alaska Panhandle port of Gustavus, but it will not be a world record. Seventy-seven-year-old Jack McGuire from Anaheim, Calif., lost the opportunity for the sport-fishing record book when his 482-pound halibut was shot and then harpooned before it was pulled aboard the charter boat Icy Rose.
MOORE SHOWCASED PWSCC Newsletter - PWSCC’s Dawson Moore, Theatre Department Coordinator and Community Relations Officer, has had a couple of recent successes outside of the college. First, his article on Alaska’s leading playwright, Arlitia Jones, was published in The Dramatist, the official magazine of the Dramatists Guild of America. A short film based on his play Six Dead Bodies Duct-Taped to a Merry-Go-Round, was recently shown as part of an evening of short films by Alaskans, Summer Solstice, at the Bear Tooth Theatre in Anchorage. Congratulations, Dawson.
THEATER CONFERENCE WRAPS UP
The 22nd Annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference was another rousing success, with over 200 theatre practitioners and enthusiasts visiting Valdez for the week. Some highlights included the presentation of the Jerry Harper Service Award to Mary Helen and Stan Stephens, the latter posthumously, for their long history of supporting the Conference with a donated cruise to Shoup Glacier for all participants. The evening performances included plays from past years of the Play Lab including Jaclyn Villano’s Unanswered, We Ride and Ashley Rose Wellman’s Gravidity. Both pieces were passion projects by people first exposed to the scripts at previous conferences. Cyrano’s Theatre Company presented Alaskan playwriting icon Dick Reichman’s The Audition, and PWSCC presented Eric Coble’s Bright Ideas, with the author attending as a featured artist for the first time. The Ten-Minute Play Slam again had a new captain, this time Anchorage’s Carrie Yanagawa, and the Monologue Workshop had its best year to date. Dates for the 23rd Annual Conference are tentatively set for June 14-20, 2015.
KATIE HARRIET DEWING
December 4th, 1916 – June 25th, 2014
Katie Harriet Dewing was born on December 4, 1916 and died June 25th, 2014 in Valdez, Alaska. She was the second of 8 children and the last to pass away. She moved to Seattle in 1938 with 25 of her friends via the Northern Pacific railway. In 1941 she married George Richard Dewing in Seattle, WA. In 1954 they joined George in Valdez, Alaska. Katie willingly volunteered her time and leadership to the Valdez PTA, the Valdez Senior Citizens, the Valdez Museum, the Epiphany Lutheran Church, the Valdez Public Library, and Harborview. She is survived by daughter Gloria (Tom) McAlister of Valdez, and son John (Judy) Dewing of Bellingham, WA. She is also survived by three grandchildren, David (SunMi) McAlister, Karin (Brian) Eckman of Palmer, Richard (Sheila Jordan) McAlister of Valdez, 8 great grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandsons.
Asphalt Specialists are In Town Now
* Sealcoating *
* Crack Filling *
* Patching *
Call Patrick Jennings 907-230-6124
Peter Daley – Master Roofer
* Cedar Shakes *
* Repairing & Treating *
* Flat Roof Specialist * 907-230-6124
NORTH PACIFIC FUEL/PETRO STAR
North Pacific Fuel is moving their office. They’re not moving far – from 201 Hazelet to 339 Hazelet. You’ll find the North Pacific Fuel Office in the green office building at the corner of Hazelet and Egan. They’re Just beside Valdez Office Supply, and beside Wells Fargo Bank. Now, that you know where they are, stop by to pay a bill, call in an order or just check out the new location. It’s time for a change. North Pacific Fuel has moved to 339 Hazelet Street. Look for their new sign and stop by between 8am and 5pm Monday through Friday.
KVAK DUCK WINS AGAIN!
This July 4th marked the second annual mascot race during the Fourth of July Parade. This year had a total of ten different mascots, including last year’s winner, KVAK the Duck. After a dominant performance last year, KVAK looked to retain his title as fastest mascot for a second year in a row. This year posed tougher competition, and the biggest threat being 4G LTE Man. After having a slow start, KVAK pulled out a narrow victory over LTE Man. When asked about the slow start KVAK the Duck replied; “I just wanted to win in dramatic fashion.” With that win KVAK is still the reigning champion of all mascots and looks to get a 3-peat in next year’s competition.
On the evening of July 4th a vessel capsized in the Port of Valdez. CLICK HERE to read the US Coast Guard Press Release.
7th ANNUAL KIDS PINK SALMON DERBY July, 19th 2014
Valdez Fish Derby Weigh-in Station
FREE BBQ AND AWARDS BBQ 5pm at Dock Point
Awards at 5:30pm
LAST YEAR KIDS DERBY SUMMARY
VALDEZ, Alaska – Nearly 300 kids converged on Valdez for the 6th Annual Kids Pink Salmon Derby. More fish were weighed in this year than last but the fish were not as big as the large pinks brought in during the 2012 derby. To get in the Top 10 for Pink Salmon ever caught in the Kids Derby, the fish would have to weigh at least 6.91 pounds. This year’s top fish tipped the scales at 5.38 pounds.
Kyle Eames of Anchorage brought in the 5.38 pound pink salmon to take top honors and win the 1st place prize in the 11 to 13 age division. Jace Branshaw of Valdez won the 5 to 7 year age division with a 5.1 pound pink. Penelope Porres of Palmer took top honors in the 8 to 10 year age division and Jeni Wolter of Fairbanks garnered 1st place in the 14 to 16 age division with a 4.94 pound pink salmon. All the 1st place winners took home a Longboard skateboard from Bahama Hawks. The 2nd place winners got a skateboard from Bahama Hawks and the 3rd place winners took home a fishing pole from the Prospector.
BLASTING AT ALLISON CREEK CONSTRUCTION SITE
Copper Valley Electric Association will begin blasting activity at the Allison Creek Hydroelectric Project construction site as of tomorrow, Saturday, June, 21. Blasting will be intermittent throughout the next sixty days.
Please be advised that warning sirens may be heard and blasting may be heard or felt in certain locations of the Valdez community.
If you have additional questions, please contact Sharon Crisp at 835-7005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU PUT IN YOUR TRASH CAN
The City of Valdez Baler Facility would like to remind you what can go into a dumpster verses what must be brought to the Baler Facility. Dumpsters are for household waste like kitchen trash, food waste, paper products, plastics and clothing. Items not allowed in Dumpsters, but accepted at the Baler at 500 S. Sawmill Road are: wood; metal; oily waste and hazardous materials.
Hazardous waste means waste that is capable of causing injury, disease or impairment of health or property damage, including but not limited to, poisons, pesticides, acids, caustics, infectious or pathological waste, radioactive materials, explosive or highly flammable materials, oil and petroleum products, batteries and burning or smoldering materials, or any item which – when disposed of into landfill – will cause contamination of groundwater or cause the groundwater to not meet state drinking water standards.
Please call the Baler at 835-2356 with any questions.
ALASKA INTERNATIONAL SENIOR GAMES
The Alaska International Senior Games are for those 50 and above. The games will be held in Fairbanks August 8th through the 17th, and these games are qualifying events for the 2015 National Senior Games to be held in Minneapolis next July. There are opening ceremonies, a dance social, and even a celebration of athletes on the Riverboat Discovery. Mark your calendars for the Alaska International Senior Games August 8th through the 17th. Registration closes July 31st. Laurie Prax will do an interview with 93-year-old competitor Bettie Upright that will air in our Good News program this Friday.
On June 12th Thomas “Tommy” Watson (DOB 10.15.81) was arrested and charged with 1 count of Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance in the 3rd degree a Class B Felony and 1 count of Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance in the 4th degree, a class C Felony.
VPD officers received “Crime Stoppers” type “tips” that Thomas Watson has been receiving narcotics through the mail and then selling them in Valdez. The tipsters specified that Watson was selling multiple drugs to include Marijuana and Methamphetamines. A subsequent investigation determined that Thomas Watson was in Valdez and had possession of methamphetamine which he was actively trying to sell. As a result, Valdez Police Officers arrested Thomas Watson, and seized approximately 6.5 grams of methamphetamine, having an estimated street value of $1,500 dollars. Police also seized a handgun, vehicle, and $250 in cash.
The Valdez Police Department considers this an ongoing investigation and expects further charges to be filed.
Thomas “Tommy” Watson is currently jailed at the Valdez Jail Facility and has a bail amount of: $10,000 and court approved third party.
12 TIPS TO WARD OFF MOSQUITOES
Insectshield.com wrote some easy tips to help deal with the annoying pests of mosquitoes.
Mosquito Prevention Techniques
1.) Water: Eliminate standing water which acts as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. (flower pots, children’s pools, watering cans, gutters etc.)
2.) Trash: Remember to keep the lids on trash cans to keep out the rain.
3.) Puddles: Cover up or fill in low places in your yard where puddles can develop.
4.) Gutters: Keep gutters cleaned out so water does not build up inside and become a mosquito breeding ground.
5.) Drains: Make sure all drains on your property are also cleaned out without leaves blocking them up so water can drain effectively.
6.) Pipes: Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
7.) Toys: Empty plastic wading pools at least once a week or store in a position that water will drain.
8.) Pools: Make sure your backyard pool is maintained properly.
9.) Holes: Fill in tree rot holes and hollow stumps that hold water with sand or concrete.
10.) Bird Baths & Planters: Change water in bird baths and planter pots or drip trays at least once a week.
11.) Grass: Keep grass cut short around the house, so adult mosquitoes will not hide there.
12.) Insect Shield® Clothing: Reduce the number of mosquito bites you get by wearing insect repellent apparel such as Insect Shield.
and by using topical insect repellents when outdoors.
CLICK HERE for more information and to view the Insect Shield Website.
THE LAST FRONTIER THEATER CONFERENCE
Last Sunday was the tip-off of PWSCC’s 22nd annual Last Frontier Theater Conference. The conference was underway through the whole week and concluded on the evening of Saturday, June 14th. Throughout the week actors and playwrights rushed into Valdez participating in various types of workshops, play readings, and events around town, while also seeing evening performances each night at the Civic Center. On the final day the participants performed their final monologue’s, songs, and a mass group performed for the Ten-Minute Play Slam. During the evening the actors and playwrights congregated one last time for an evening reception and Gala where they honored the legacy of Stan Stephens and his family, and awarded them the Jerry Harper Service Award.
ALASKA STATE FAIR UPDATE
The state fair has just added four new names to the AT&T Concert line – up. The All-American Rejects Bachman & Turner with Blue Öyster Cult KC and the Sunshine Band, Michael W. Smith Palmer, Alaska – The Alaska State Fair welcomes The All-American Rejects, Bachman & Turner with Blue Öyster Cult, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Michael W. Smith as the latest additions to the 2014 AT&T Concert Series line-up. Tickets go on sale to the general public at noon on Friday, June 13. Fair members can reserve tickets early. All shows take place at the Kendall Toyota of Anchorage Borealis Theatre.
CITY OF VALDEZ TALKS TRASH
The City of Valdez Baler Facility wants to remind you what can go into a dumpster versus what must be brought to the Baler.
Dumpsters are for household waste only:
* Kitchen Trash
* Food Waste
* Paper products
* And Clothing
Items not allowed in Dumpsters, but accepted at the Baler at 500 S. Sawmill Road
* Oily Waste
* Hazardous Materials CLICK HERE for more information on what hazardous waste is.
Cindy Rymer and the gang at Public Works want to thank Valdez for their help with keeping the dumpster doors closed to help with birds and bears. For more information or questions, call the Baler at 835-2356.
ALASKA JUDICIAL COUNCIL
The Alaska Judicial Council recently wrote press release about their recent meeting to evaluate the performance of judges standing for retention in November of 2014.
A STORY WRITTEN BY CHILD ADVOCATE FOR COMPASSION INTERNATIONAL SHERI BECK
An African Proverb states, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, spend the night in a closed room with a mosquito.” Folks in Alaska understand this concept well. One irritating buzz from a quick maneuvering mosquito can drive you crazy! Although the inevitable bite is bothersome, it has never been deadly to me.
That’s why I’d like to thank the people of Valdez for supporting the Bite Back Run for the last four years. Rain or shine, runners and walkers have shown up to participate in this race that has earned money for Compassion International’s Malaria Fund. This year alone our community raised enough money to buy 140 insecticide treated nets for children living in areas with the infected anopheles mosquito. One bite could mean death or at the very least debilitating symptoms for its recipient. For the 2,000 children that die each day from malaria a lifesaving net can change the story. Thank you Valdez for making a difference in the lives of hundreds of children!
And there’s more good news! “Worldwide between 2000 and 2012, estimated malaria mortality rates fell by 45 percent in all age groups and by 51 percent in children under 5 years of age, and most of them (3 million) were kids,” according to the World Health Organization’s 2013 Report. Our town’s contribution has contributed to cutting malaria’s mortality rates in half in the last 12 years! That’s something to celebrate! What could we accomplish in the next 12 years? Sydney Haase commented, “Africa puts a whole new perspective on things that are easily overlooked when you have medical services at your fingertips. I’m very grateful that this is something my home town supports. It makes me very proud” I agree! We really are changing the world, one child at a time. Malaria Bites! Bite Back!
STATE ELECTION INFORMATION
Information has been released for Alaska’s election ballot in the fall. The election is scheduled to be held on August 19th and includes: the vote for Ballot Measure 1, and the election of the State Governor.
Kids’ One Mile Run
Girls Winner: Morgan Minor
Boys Winner: Blake Minor
Overall Fastest Times for 5K Race
Men: Sergei Wegner 18:52
Women: Lindsie King 22:17
12 and Under
Girls: Caitlin Mond
Boys: Wyatt Cummings
Ages 13 - 19
Women: Sammi Allen
Men: Sergei Wegner
Ages 20 - 29
Women: Katie Valentine
Men: Dan Harwood
Ages 30 - 39
Women: Lindsie King
Men: Bart Hinkle
Ages 40 - 49
Women: Tabitha Gregory
Men: Dean Cummings
Ages 50 - 59
Women: Julie Haltness
Men: Dave Winney
Ages 60 and Up
Women: Bonnie Cudnuhufsky
Men: Bob Engebretson
This year the 2014 Bite Back Run raised $1,286 for Compassion International's Malaria Fund. The money raised will be used to buy treated mosquito nets, provide education about malaria prevention, and treatment for those suffering from malaria.
STRONG COPPER RIVER RED SALMON RUN PROMPTS ALASKA DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME TO ADD BONUS FISH
Anchorage Daily News reports a strong, early push of red salmon in the Copper River has prompted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to open the Chitina dip net fishery ahead of its normal June 10th start while adding bonus fish to the catch.
CITY TO COMMIT PUBLIC DOLLARS TO BUILD NEW HARBOR
The City Council will review an agreement that gives the Army Corp. of Engineers the go ahead to start work on the Federal portions of a Harbor project to the tune of $21 million dollars. According to a memorandum from City Manager John Hozey, the total project is expected to cost upward of 60 million dollars, which leaves a balance of 40 million dollars for Valdez taxpayers to come up. The memorandum states, “Approval of agreement just commits us to doing the project; however the City might choose to finance it. Approval of this agreement will trigger other actions in the near future necessary to prosecute such a major project in the time provided”. It is unclear at this time whether the public will weigh in on funding for the project.
HIGHLIGHTS OF HERMON HUTCHENS SCHOOL YEAR
Year-End Reports were presented at the Valdez School Board meeting last Monday night. The Elementary School report shares information about above state average test scores and shares the favorite activities and accomplishments for each grade.
CLICK HERE to see the complete HHES Year-End Report.
ALASKA ZOO, SAFE HAVEN FOR WOLF PUPS
A press release from The Alaska Department of Fish and Game wrote, (SOLDOTNA) – Responding to a report of an animal den with living occupants found in the smoldering debris of the Funny River Horse Trail Wildfire on Tuesday, May 27, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Jeff Selinger didn’t know what to expect. Firefighters who happened upon the scene had detected movement within, but the den was dark and the animal – or animals – inside could not be identified. Once he arrived at the fire-line site some seven miles up Funny River Road, the 6-foot-tall Selinger was unable to squeeze into the narrow, root-rimmed den. A much smaller firefighter was recruited to crawl in and five live wolf pups – four males and a female, all black in color – were handed up from the shadows, their eyes squinting in the afternoon light. A sixth pup was found deceased.
STOLEN SNOW MACHINE
Reward for information leading to the return of the sled.
Contact Marcus @255 8413
A blue Polaris RMK 700 snow machine was taken from the Loveland parking lot between May 20th and 23rd. This sled was not abandoned and was parked next to the owner’s vehicle when the theft happened.
GILSON MIDDLE SCHOOL YEAR END REPORT CLICK HERE to see the Gilson Middle Schools student and school statistics for the 2013-2014 school year.
The VHS Library was chosen to receive a copy of the 25 books nominated for the Young Adult Library Association's Teen's Top Ten Booklist! Look for the books to arrive and be available at the Valdez Consortium Library in mid-June and will be transferred to VHS in the fall CLICK HERE to read more.
UAF SURVEY SEEKS SHEEP HUNTER INPUT
Concern over competition, crowding and conflict among Dall sheep hunters, guides and transporters in Alaska is being addressed by a University of Alaska Fairbanks survey according to a release from UAF.“An increasing number of proposals requesting changes to sheep hunting regulations have been submitted to the Alaska Board of Game in recent years,” said Todd Brinkman, project leader and a wildlife biologist with the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology. “Many of the proposals have noted conflict among resident and nonresident hunters, guides and transporters. This is something most sheep hunters in Alaska are aware of.” CLICK HERE to read the full news article
MCCARTHY ROAD CLOSED
AT MILE .4 FOR REPAIR WORK
The McCarthy Road is Currently One Lane Due to Embankment Slide. The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) will be closing the McCarthy Road to all through traffic at mile .4 on Monday, May 19 at 7:00 a.m. Small vehicles will be able to use the road starting Tuesday, May 20 at 7:00 p.m. It is estimated that the road will be open to all size vehicles on Wednesday, May 21 at 7:00 a.m. Due to an embankment slide the road is currently one lane and passable only by small vehicles. The closure is necessary to rebuild the embankment and restore the road to normal width.
HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR CAJ ROHRER SIGNS WITH UGF
On the afternoon of May 12th, Valdez High School Senior Caj Rohrer signed his letter of intent to play college basketball at the University of Great Falls Montana. UGF competes in many different athletics including basketball at the Division 1 NAIA level where his older brother Glacier Rohrer also attends and plays. Caj said, “We’ve been dreaming about playing college ball together for the past two years, and as soon I found out he got in, I tried so hard to get accepted there and it’s just a dream come true. Rohrer’s senior year he averaged 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game which helped him lead the Buccaneers to a 4th place finish that nearly brought them to the state tournament for a second year in a row. When asked how it feels to be able to play basketball in college Rohrer said, “It is a privilege to be playing college basketball when I know that not many people can do that, and it’s a good feeling knowing I can continue sports with all the work that I put in.”
REMOTE CONTROLLED VESSELS TO INVESTIGATE ACIDIFICATION IN PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
Starting this week three unmanned vessels will assist researchers in understanding the effects of acidification in Prince William Sound reports, the Alaska Dispatch. Jeremy Mathis and Wiley Evans, scientists from the University of Alaska will lead the project, working with a tour ship out of Whittier from which they will deploy two “gliders,” which look like “yellow surfboards,” and one that travels under the water and resembles a submarine’s torpedo says to Evans. The report from the Dispatch explains that the team will be in Prince William Sound for five months gathering information on acidification, a process that “occurs as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans.” Mathis explained to the Dispatch that through acidification the planet’s oceans relieve some of the pressure on the climate, saying “The oceans are doing a great service to the atmosphere by taking up some of that carbon dioxide. Without the oceans’ absorption of that greenhouse gas, the world’s climate would be even warmer than it is now.”
However, it’s not all good news: by absorbing the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere marine water becomes more acidic which can potentially stress marine life, “especially any creatures that need calcium carbonate to build shells” reports the Dispatch, noting “Acidification is a particular problem in polar regions, where waters are colder and thus hold more carbon dioxide. Alaska’s relatively shallow seas and high abundance of marine life also contribute to the buildup of ocean carbon. And tidewater glaciers, like those tumbling into Prince William Sound, appear to be making the problem even worse for Alaska waters, according to research by Mathis, Evans and colleague Jessica Cross.” Mathis and Evan told the Dispatch they will gather data on how acidification is protecting the waters of Prince William Sound during the summer months when winds allow the glacier melt waters to accumulate within the sound before autumn winds flush them into the Gulf of Alaska.
To read the full story from the Alaska Dispatch, CLICK HERE.
RAVN ALASKA RECEIVES SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS FROM NTSB
An article from the Alaska Dispatch announced that the National Transportation Safety Board issued a pair of recommendations on Thursday directed at HoTH, Inc. - parent company of Hageland Aviation, Era Alaska and Frontier Flying Service – carriers that are currently in the process of rebranding as Ravn Alaska. According to the Dispatch, the first recommendation, which was marked as urgent, directs the FAA to “conduct a comprehensive audit of the regulatory compliance and operational safety programs in place at operators owned by HoTH, Inc." and to "ensure that permanent corrective action is implemented for all adverse findings.” The Dispatch reports that the second recommendation was directed at the FAA itself, instructing the organization to complete a comprehensive investigation of the its own oversight of HoTH, Inc., and the Ravn Alaska Air Group, including “a review of inspector qualifications, turnover, working relationships between the FAA and operators owned by HoTH, Inc., and workload to determine whether staffing is sufficient.” The report explains that both audits should be conducted by teams of investigators from outside Alaska “to provide a fresh look at the situation.” CLICK HERE to read the full story from the Alaska Dispatch.
2014 VALDEZ FLY-IN & AIRSHOW CLICK HERE to view to STOL competion results.
NEW COORDINATOR FOR TEN MINUTE PLAY SLAM
PWSCC announced last week that the Last Frontier Theatre Conference has secured a new coordinator for this year’s Ten Minute Play Slam. Carrie Yanagawa, an Anchorage based scenic designer, painter and director, currently working as the Scenic Change Artist for the Anchorage Opera, will fill the position.
LOCAL HELI SKI GUIDE INTERVIEWED FOR SKI CHANNEL
Heli Ski Guide, Adrian Ballinger was recently interviewed by Laura Thatcher of theskichannel.com. Ballinger works for Aplenglow Expeditions, a heli-ski company out of Squaw Valley that has partnered with Black Ops Valdez. In the interview Ballinger reflected positively on his experiences in Valdez saying, “Valdez is a unique place. It combines the heavy industry of Alaska’s oil pipeline; with a very important fishing industry; with skiers and tourists who come to see the incredibly beautiful mountains. At night that community comes together at dinner or in bars and gets along. In many small towns that have a lot of tourists, the locals might not welcome us. But in Valdez, tourists are welcomed. The oil spill created a very conscious awareness amongst the tourist community about their respective impact and footprint on the environment around them. It makes me as a heli-skier, think about the positives and negatives of our sport and the positives are that the mountains remain untouched – as an operation we are careful to leave no traces of our heli-ski operation. The common goal is to maintain a leave-no-trace ethic and keep the mountains clean and beautiful.” CLICK HERE to view the full interview
NEW POLL PUTS ALASKANS TIED FOR STATE PRIDE
An article from the Alaska Dispatch reports that according to a recent Gallup poll, Alaskans and Montana residents are most likely to say that their state is among the best state to live in. The poll also reported an interesting trend, reporting that high levels of state pride tend to correlate with cold, mountainous areas with small populations. The study explained, “ ‘Although it is difficult to discern what the causal relationship is between terrain and climate and positive attitudes, many of the top 10 states are mountainous with cold winters.’ Rounding out those top 10 were Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Colorado, North Dakota, Vermont, Oregon and Minnesota.” States with the lowest approval ratings were reported as Rhode Island, Illinois and Mississippi. CLICK HERE to read more from the Alaska Dispatch.
HISTORIC NEWSREELS PROVIDE EARLY LOOK AT
ALASKA’S TERRITORIAL DAYS
The archival company, British Pathé, has recently released news reel footage of Alaska’s territorial days to YouTube, reports the Alaska Dispatch. Internet users can now view footage of Mount Sparr’s 1953 eruption that blanked Anchorage in ash, “giant grizzlies” footage from the 1930s and films detailing work on the Alaska Highway and Alaska’s role in WWII. To read the full article from the Alaska Dispatch, CLICK HERE.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 email@example.com. 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 HEREto read the latestrelease from the City of Valdez.
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.
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
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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”.