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VALDEZ SOFTBALL
Congrats to the Northern Exposure Men's Softball Team for placing third in the Mug Shot Softball Tournament in the Valley this past weekend! Additionally, Travis McCain, Tysen Blake, and Kris Albright were selected as Tournament All Stars and Darren Caudle earned the Tournament Golden Glove award! The Northern Exposure Men's team is comprised of Valdez Softball Association players from the Crowley, Hooligans, and Northern Exposure Co-Ed teams here in Valdez.

Photo by: Jena Devlin

Click to enlarge

Copper Valley Telecom 4G LTE Wireless Service Expansion in 2014

Copper Valley Telecom’s new 4G LTE wireless data service expansion project is complete and will provide data service with superfast (10-15 mpbs) speeds in the Copper Valley service area and beyond.
The new expansions, added to the 12 initial sites upgraded in 2013, include the following 4G LTE site locations: Tazlina, Tolsona Ridge, Willow Mountain, Nelchina, Chistochina, Glenn-Rich Silver Springs, Slana, Cannon Hill (Chitina) and Sourdough and McCarthy. To take advantage of the new higher speeds, customers will need to have 4G LTE-compatible handsets like the Samsung S5.

CLICK HERE to read press release from Copper Valley Telecom.

 
WOMEN'S DERBY EARLY REGISTRATION STARTS SATURDAY
The Valdez Prospector will host early registration for the Women's Silver Salmon Derby this Saturday. The theme of this year's event is "Fairy Tales" and there will be a costume contest Friday Night, August 8th at the Civic Center. Group participants will be allowed no more than 2 minutes to show off their costumes for a chance to win. There will also be an individual "Best Costume" winner. There will be prizes for the Top 50 fish caught and, in honor of the 10th Anniversary, the prize will be a fleece jacket.  The Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood will be crowned Saturday night.

CLICK HERE for Women's Derby Information

 
VALDEZ SOFTBALL
Congrats to the Northern Exposure Men's Softball Team for placing third in the Mug Shot Softball Tournament in the Valley this past weekend! Additionally, Travis McCain, Tysen Blake, and Kris Albright were selected as Tournament All Stars and Darren Caudle earned the Tournament Golden Glove award! The Northern Exposure Men's team is comprised of Valdez Softball Association players from the Crowley, Hooligans, and Northern Exposure Co-Ed teams here in Valdez.
Photo by: Jena Devlin

 
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.

CLICK HERE for the complete information sheet

 
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.

CLICK HERE for Women's Derby Information.
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.

CLICK HERE to read more.
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.
CAPSIZED VESSEL
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
10am-5pm


AGE DIVISIONS
5-7
8-10
11-13
14-16

FREE BBQ AND AWARDS
BBQ 5pm at  Dock Point
Awards at 5:30pm


CLICK HERE for more information or visit valdezfishderbies.com

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 crisp@cvea.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. 

CLICK HERE for more information.

 
NARCOTICS ARREST
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.

CLICK HERE to view the full press release.

 
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
* Plastics
* And Clothing
 
Items not allowed in Dumpsters, but accepted at the Baler at 500 S. Sawmill Road
* Wood
* Metal
* 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.

Click Here  to view the full press release.

 
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.
 
Click Here to view the full ballot information.

 
USCG SECURITY ZONES
With the summer officially underway, the US Coast Guard has posted the graphic zones for the surrounding water around Valdez.
 
CLICK HERE to view the security zone graphic.

 
2014 BITE BACK RACE RESULTS
 
Kids’ One Mile Run
Girls Winner:  Morgan Minor
Boys Winner:  Blake Minor
 
5K Race
 
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.

CLICK HERE to read the complete story.
 
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.
 
CLICK HERE to read the full press release.
CLICK HERE for May 30th press release for update.
 
STOLEN SNOW MACHINE
Decal #92787
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.
VHS LIBRARY
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 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.

 


 
PODCASTS

Faith Revell



Hannah Norris - Costa Rica


Listen to former Valdez High School student Hannah Norris on her endeavors in college, and latest trip to Costa Rica.

Sarah Histand Ski Challenge


The Wilderness Alaska Ski Challenge

Valdez weather