Business

Council allows sport guides to buy halibut quota

Culture shifts, as does policy.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, master of the nation’s most valuable fishing region, decided on Dec. 10 to implement a new plan that in some ways reflects changing attitudes and economies in the North Pacific and in Alaska.

The plan involves allowing guided recreational halibut fishermen to buy up commercial quota through a system called an RQE — a recreational quota entity. This differs from an existing program that allows sport guides to lease, but not buy, commercial quota.

Murkowski: House chose party over energy policy

Sen. Lisa Murkowski accused House leaders of forgoing negotiations on her overarching energy policy bill to begin holiday celebrations early.

Still steaming more than a week after it became clear her signature piece of legislation would die in the lame duck session of Congress, Murkowski said in a Dec. 16 interview that House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, chose to adjourn the House Dec. 8 to attend a holiday party in New York rather than round up votes for final passage of the final House-Senate conference committee version of her Energy Policy Modernization Act.

Walker renews push to use Fund earnings to fill deficit

Gov. Bill Walker called for continued budget cuts, more state wage freezes, fuel tax increases and again proposed using Permanent Fund income to shrink Alaska’s $3 billion-plus annual deficit in his 2018 fiscal year budget package released Dec. 15.

The administration’s $4.21 billion fiscal 2018 operating budget plan would modestly cut unrestricted General Fund, or UGF, spending by $47 million over the current, 2017 fiscal year budget.

RCA still counting deregulation votes

Ballot counting for an election to deregulate Homer Electric Association Inc. started Dec. 8 and is continuing. An independent accounting firm is counting the ballots, said Ann Wilde, a section manager with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

The RCA will certify the election no later than Dec. 27 and announcement of the results will be made in an order certifying the election.

Oxygen therapy being used to treat a variety of medical issues

Dr. Patrick Huffman and his staff joke that they may nickname the latest tool in their disease-fighting arsenal R2-O2.

The resemblance of the low-pressure hyperbaric oxygen chamber in Huffman’s Frontier Natural Health office in Homer to the beloved Star Wars’ robot character R2-D2 is hard to miss. The hyperbaric chamber is white and cylindrical and looks almost to have a face like R2-D2. Both have dials and gauges. Both are resourceful in the way they work — and, yes, both are a little tech-y.

South Peninsula Hospital joins statewide patient data network

South Peninsula Hospital now shares patient data on the statewide Health Information Exchange, which allows providers to easily access a patient’s electronic health records in the case of referrals, specialty consulting and emergencies, according to the Alaska eHealth Network website.

Erin Aklestad, an Alaska eHealth Network account manager, is visiting Homer to present what the exchange means for the Homer healthcare community to health clinics today.

Nutcracker Faire provides artisans place to sell wares

The Homer High School Commons buzzed like a holiday-themed beehive during the Nutcracker Faire sponsored by the Homer Council for the Arts on Dec. 3-4.

Craftspeople and a variety of other vendors packed booths into the Commons and the gymnasium at the high school, maximizing shoppers’ opportunities for finding locally made holiday goods.

Forensic nurse earns two state awards

Colleen James, a forensic nurse at South Peninsula Hospital, was honored at the Nov. 15 Lights in the Night Awards Banquet in recognition of her substantial and significant contribution to child advocacy in Alaska. This award was given to James at the 2016 Alaska Conference on Child Maltreatment in Anchorage by the Alaska Children’s Alliance, an accredited chapter of the National Children’s Alliance, according to a press release from South Peninsula Hospital.

Board denies most winter king proposals

Despite a number of proposals and public comments in favor, the Board of Fisheries made few changes to the Lower Cook Inlet’s winter saltwater king salmon fishery.

During its final Lower Cook Inlet cycle meeting Saturday in Homer, the board took up a variety of proposals related to the fishery, which typically takes place between Oct. 1 and March 31 in the saltwater south of Bluff Point.

Hospital welcomes new pulmonologist

South Peninsula Hospital welcomes pulmonologist Dr. Marek Martynowicz to the specialty clinic provider staff. His special medical expertise is in the management of interstitial lung diseases and special bronchoscopic techniques. He currently practices at Internal Medicine Associates in Anchorage.

Dr. Martynowicz attended medical school at the Silesian Medical Academy in Katowice, Poland. He completed his post-doctoral research fellowship at the Samuel Stratton Veteran’s Administration Medical Center and the Albany Medical College in Albany, N.Y.

Scotts pharmacy to host Saturday grand opening

After a soft opening in early October, Scotts Family Pharmacy plans to pull out all the stops for a grand opening celebration set for Saturday.

The event takes place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the pharmacy located at 4014 Lake St., Suite 101, in the building that many long-time Homer residents call the old blue bank building on the corner of East End Road and Lake Street.

Among the events planned:

• Lunch will be served starting at 11 a.m., while supplies last.

• Free consults and services will be offered.

• Hot beverages will be served.

Permanent Fund starts fiscal year with 3.86 return

Alaska’s money managers are off to a solid start in the first months of the state fiscal year.

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. announced Monday that it earned a 3.86 percent return, or $2 billion, in the first quarter of the 2017 fiscal year on its namesake fund, which had a total balance of $54.8 billion on Sept. 30. Of that, $9.7 billion was in the Fund’s Earnings Reserve account.

Borough plans sales tax workshops

The Kenai Peninsula Borough administration will explain upcoming changes to the sales tax code through several community meetings.

The borough assembly approved an ordinance with multiple changes to the sales tax code in September, including provisions requiring nonprofits with regular storefronts and vendors who do not accept food stamps but sell food to charge sales tax. The changes are set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

Chamber champions 'shop local' message; it's an investment in community you call home

Small Business Saturday is coming up on Nov. 26 to celebrate America’s small businesses. Small Business Saturday was started by American Express in 2010, and is now a recognizable day to observe similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The Homer Chamber of Commerce is championing this day and the “shop local” message all year.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) defines a small business as up to 500 employees or $7.5 million in average annual receipts. Most of our small businesses range in size from 1-300 employees areawide.

Forecast for 2017 Upper Inlet sockeye run bleak at best

Still reeling from back-to-back increasingly poor seasons, Upper Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishermen got more bad news: the commercial harvest forecast for 2017 is a paltry 1.7 million sockeye, and that is if it comes in as forecast. In 2016 the harvest was 26 percent below forecast.

The overall forecast is for a return of 4 million sockeye system-wide, 1.2 million fewer than the 20-year average, and the forecast for the Kenai River of 2.2 million sockeye is 1.4 million fish less than the 20 year average of a 3.6 million sockeye return.

New House Resource chairs ready to take on oil credits, AK LNG project

The shakeup in state House control seemingly gave Gov. Bill Walker allies in leadership positions on fiscal issues, but the upcoming session will still be an uphill battle on the Alaska LNG Project.

Anchorage Democrat Reps. Andy Josephson and Geran Tarr will co-chair the House Resources Committee, the first stop for any oil and gas tax bills on their way through the legislative process.

ConocoPhillips puts its Nikiski LNG plant up for sale

ConocoPhillips puts its Nikiski LNG plant up for sale

Plant’s sale won’t have

immediate effect on

Kenai Peninsula’s economy

By BEN BOETTGER

Morris News Service - Alaska

Amid a saturated liquefied natural gas, or LNG, market and falling prices, ConocoPhillips announced Thursday that its Nikiski LNG terminal is for sale. Officials say the local economy might not be greatly impacted in the short term, though.

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