Sound loses tireless environmental defender

Stan Stephens
From Stan Stephens’ journal on April 18, 1989:
“Today is absolute confusion. They found a lot of oil north of Perry Island in Wells Passage. Equipment is starting to break down. So there are less and less skimmers working. The oil is getting so spread out they cannot handle it. Here is a whole month gone by without a real understanding of those in charge how big Prince William Sound really is. I’m dedicating the rest of my life and spare time to the protection of the environment.”

Prince William Sound lost a passionate and dedicated defender on September 21, when Stan Stephens, Valdez resident and council board member since the organization started up in 1990, passed away. Stephens was 78.

Born and raised in Minnesota, Stephens was an Alaska resident since 1961. Arriving in April of that year, he first camped on vacant property, later purchasing the land and building his home in the North Pole area. Married in 1964 to Mary Helen, they raised their family of three daughters in North Pole.

Stephens was the owner and operator of Stan Stephens Glacier and Wildlife Cruises based in Valdez. The company, originally named North Star Marine Charters, began sport fishing charters in 1971 and over the years evolved into the sightseeing company it is today.

Read moreSound loses tireless environmental defender

Council meeting held in Anchorage

The council’s board of directors recently held a meeting at Embassy Suites in Anchorage on January 23 and 24.

Topics included:

  • A presentation by Alyeska on the tanker escort system in Prince William Sound
  • Discussion and approval of several reports, including:
    • Remote control of the Valdez Marine Terminal
    • Non-indigenous plankton in Prince William Sound
    • Analysis of biodegradation of crude oil
  • Update on Prince William Sound’s oil spill contingency plan renewal for the terminal
  • A discussion of the State of Alaska’s oil spill prevention and response fund
  • A report on incidents at the terminal during 2013

The agenda and meeting documents are available at the link:

Read moreCouncil meeting held in Anchorage

Long time volunteer retires from board

Marilynn Heddell
Marilynn Heddell

Marilyn Heddell has announced her resignation from the council’s board of directors. Heddell represented Whittier on the board since 1996. Heddell held several positions during her 17 years on the council. She was first elected as member-at-large on the council’s executive committee in 1996. She served as secretary from 1997 to 2001, spent two years serving as vice-president in 2003 and 2004, again elected as secretary from 2004 to 2008, and was elected to the position of treasurer in 2012 and 2013.

Heddell was an active member of the council’s finance committee. This committee helps the board to oversee the council’s financial affairs and ensure a balanced budget each year.

Heddell and her husband, Pete, owned and ran a gift shop in Whittier from 1988 until their recent retirement. Pete is a member of the council’s Port Operations and Vessel Traffic System committee. This summer, they bought a 50 foot Delta yacht and plan to begin exploring the San Juan Islands and Canadian waters.

“Thanks to staff, board, ex-officio and volunteers for the support of this fine organization,” Heddell said in her resignation letter to the board. “It was a tremendous privilege and honor to serve as the Whittier representative on the RCAC board all these years. I will cherish the memories.”

Marilynn and Pete Heddell
Marilynn and Pete Heddell

Whittier’s city council has appointed Andrea Korbe to replace Heddell. Korbe will be seated at the council’s meeting in Seward on September 19.

Citizens’ council board elects new officers, seats new members

The council’s board of directors elected its seven-member executive committee May 2 and 3 during a meeting in Valdez.

Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council's Executive Committee, 2013-2014
Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council’s Executive Committee, 2013-2014, left to right: Thane Miller, Diane Selanoff, Patience Andersen Faulkner, Amanda Bauer, Blake Johnson and Marilynn Heddell.

Amanda Bauer, who represents the city of Valdez on the board, was elected president. She succeeds Dorothy Moore, who also represents the city of Valdez.

“I welcome the opportunity to assist in upholding the mission statement of the council,” said Bauer. “As a consumer of petroleum products, I feel it is very important to contribute when possible to help keep Prince William Sound and the downstream communities as healthy and safe as possible for all users – industry, regulators and citizens alike.”

Besides Bauer, the executive committee, which will serve until the board’s May 2014 meeting, is as follows:

Thane Miller, representing the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation, will serve as vice president. Marilynn Heddell, representative of the city of Whittier, was elected as treasurer. Patience Andersen Faulkner, representative of the Cordova District Fishermen United will serve as secretary. The members at large are: Blake Johnson, Kenai Peninsula Borough; Diane Selanoff, Port Graham Corporation; and Steve Lewis, city of Seldovia.

The council also seated four new board members at the Valdez meeting. Jim Herbert now represents the city of Seward, replacing John French; Nick Garay now represents the city of Homer, replacing John Velsko; Robert Beedle represents the city of Cordova, replacing James Kasch; and Emil Christiansen represents the Kodiak Village Mayors’ Association, replacing Iver Malutin.