Business

Kodiak fishermen intercepting UCI salmon, say studies

Two studies commissioned by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game that were released last month examine the genetic makeup of salmon harvested in the Kodiak Management Area from 2014-2016 and show that a substantial number of sockeye and chinook salmon bound for Upper Cook Inlet are being intercepted by Kodiak fishermen.

The studies show that over the course of those three years well in excess of 1 million sockeye and chinook salmon were harvested in KMA that were bound for UCI, with 626,473 sockeye in 2015 alone.

Owners of empty LIO building take $37 million claim to court

Owners of empty LIO building take $37 million claim to court

By Elwood Brehmer

Morris News service - Alaska

The owners of the former Anchorage Legislative Information Office building took their $37 million contract claim against the state Legislative Council to court Dec. 20 after more than a year of wrangling over the Downtown office space.

716 West Fourth Avenue LLC filed the appeal to a Nov. 21 Legislative Council decision to deny the group’s claim in state Superior Court.

New method leads to lower oil production predictions

By ELWOOD BREHMER

Morris News Service - Alaska

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the State of Alaska’s closely monitored oil production forecasts.

A new method should mean more accurate forecasts; but future production estimates will likely be lower as a result, according to the state officials compiling the data.

The Department of Revenue used to farm out the semi-annual oil production forecasts published early each spring and late each fall to an outside consultant.

SPH offers telemedicine to help stroke victims

South Peninsula Hospital now offers telemedicine that saves time and lives.

Every minute counts when someone is experiencing stroke symptoms. And now, South Peninsula Hospital offers web-based telemedicine to allow a consulting neurologist to get their eyes on a patient within minutes of their arrival to SPH’s Emergency Room.

Offered through the telehealth program at Providence Alaska Medical Center, tele-stroke uses an electronic Internet platform and portable equipment to connect stroke patients and the hospital’s ER doctors with a neurologist in Anchorage or Seattle.

Cleanup now under way at Tesoro spill in Nikiski

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating the cause of a recent oil spill near the Tesoro Refinery in Nikiski.

On Dec. 18, the facility operator noticed blackened snow near the wastewater tank at the Tesoro facility during a nightly inspection, according to a Dec. 27 situation report from the Department of Environmental Conservation. The company estimated that approximately 165 gallons of a crude oil and water mixture had spilled, according to the report.

Serenity House applies for detox center grant

Plans for the central Kenai Peninsula’s first medical detox facility are underway.

Over the last several years, opioid addiction on the Kenai Peninsula and in Alaska in general has become a significant public health issue. Last May, the community coalition Change 4 the Kenai brought it to broader public attention with a series of highly attended town halls on the issue.

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.

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