JUNEAU — As the sun creeps into the sleeping quarters of the Tustumena, passengers who take a second to look out the window wake up to volcanic topography, sky blue lakes and wildlife that looks extraterrestrial even to most Alaskans.
That ethereal experience only lasts a few seconds; the berth’s stripped-down bunk beds and dreary wallpaper quickly remind passengers they are sailing on a ferry that is almost 50 years old.
Prince William Sound is a busy place these days with three ongoing fisheries that are open entry, not requiring IFQ ownership or a limited entry permit.
Shrimp fishing with pots entered its third four-day period this week, with the first two periods producing about 11,500 pounds of spot shrimp out of a 66,300 pound quota.
Homer Eye Care will have a Designer Frame Trunk Show from 10 a.m.-7p.m. May 2 at its office in the Point of View Plaza, 3726 Lake St., Suite A.
The show follows Dr. Andrew Peter’s visit in mid-March to the International Vision Expo and Conference in New York and will bring new European vendors not yet discovered in Alaska to the Homer market, according to a press release from Homer Eye Care.
Some of the newest collections are Mad in Italy, an Italian company based in Alano di Piave in the Belluno province, and C-Zone Fusion Eye Fashion located in the Netherlands.
Homer Electric Association will provide public tours of its new Nikiski Combined Cycle Conversion Project from 1-4:30 p.m. May 1.
The tours will be approximately 30-minutes long and provide the public with an opportunity to get an up-close look at the new power generation facility. The plant is the cornerstone of HEA’s Independent Light program and will provide up to 80 megawatts of power when it comes on line later this year.
BANCHORAGE — A new non-partisan group seeking repeal of an oil tax cut says the measure approved by state legislators was a massive giveaway that will benefit major oil companies and hurt Alaskans.
Members of Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway on April 18 announced the referendum’s prime sponsors are former state Sen. Vic Fischer, former Alaska First Lady Bella Hammond, and former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor and state Rep. Jim Whitaker.
Fischer was part of the Alaska Constitutional Convention. He labeled the tax break “unconstitutional.”
ANCHORAGE — Just days after the Alaska Legislature lowered taxes on the oil industry, ConocoPhillips announced plans to boost investment on North Slope fields.
ConocoPhillips is planning to bring an additional rig to the Kuparuk field this spring and working with co-owners to fund a new drill site on the Kuparuk River field, the company said in an announcement April 17.
It’s also beginning the regulatory and permitting stage and starting engineering for the Greater Moose’s Tooth unit in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
Kenai Peninsula residents want more agricultural use out of their public lands, according to a recent Kenai Peninsula Borough land use survey.
Of the 1,172 surveys the borough received, 158 residents responded that they wanted public lands to be allocated for agriculture uses, said Marcus Mueller, borough land management officer.
“It’s very significant,” Mueller said.
As any boat owner knows, they are expensive. The Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s venture into large boat ownership gets more expensive by the day with no easy way out.
The borough released a statement March 29 that it received a bid of $751,000 from a Dutch company to purchase the M/V Susitna. With it currently sitting idle in Ketchikan, the borough is spending about $75,000 a month to harbor and maintain the 200-foot vessel.
On May 1, 2003, when Sallie Rediske started Homer Physical Therapy in a rented space on Pioneer Avenue in what’s now Refuge Chapel, she took a lunch break and walked across the street to another new business that also opened May 1, 2003, Cosmic Kitchen.
“I remember thinking ‘I hope we both make it,’” Rediske said.
Ten years later, both businesses are going strong.
The Kenai Peninsula’s Small Business Development Center will offer three workshops in Homer in May. They will be taught by Bryan Zak, director of the center.
• There will be a free “Starting a Business” seminar from 1-3 p.m. May 8 at the Homer Chamber of Commerce. Zak will answer basic questions about starting a business on the peninsula. Zak also will talk about the Small Business Development Center, its partner programs and its free counseling services. Registration deadline is May 3.
The American Hospital Association has announced that Bob Letson, CEO of South Peninsula Hospital, has been recognized as a “Grass Roots Champion.”
It is an award given each year to a state’s health care leader who “effectively and reliably delivers our collective message to elected officials, and who advocates tirelessly for the hospitals and patients they serve,” said Dale A. Kirby, executive director of AHA’s Region 9.
As of Monday, a trunk line to bring natural gas from Anchor Point to Homer is progressing with a crew from Chumley boring and laying pipe along the Sterling Highway from Baycrest to Homer.
A second crew will start working later this week, progressing toward Anchor Point along the Old Sterling Highway, beginning near the intersection with the Sterling Highway.
A third crew is scheduled to begin work near the end of May on the Fairview Avenue section of the trunk line route.
Fisheries projects throughout the state received a boost in the budget that passed the Legislature.
The budget is still subject to Parnell’s approval, so not every item is guaranteed yet.
The Legislature’s fiscal year 2014 capital budget included more than $12 million to study Alaska’s fisheries, much of it for work in Cook Inlet including drainages in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
The Pratt Museum will host the next Homer Chamber of Commerce mixer from 5-7 p.m. today at the museum.
All the museum’s exhibits and galleries will be open to visitors during the mixer. A variety of appetizers, plus the Pratt’s famous punch, will be served during the mixer.
Bear Creek Winery recently announced it now uses only American-made products for its bottling operations. The winery now buys all of its green glass bottles through Bennu Glass in Kalama, Wash. Corks for the winery come from South Carolina and all wine labels are printed in Homer at Superior Labels.
Alaska-grown fruits and berries are used for most of the winemaking.
Enstar Natural Gas has selected Utility Technologies Inc. to install the natural gas distribution mains and service lines within the Natural Gas Homer Special Assessment District, according to John Sims, Enstar’s manager of corporate communications and customer service.
“They have installed hundreds of miles of utilities throughout Alaska,” said Sims, of the company, who has offices in Anchorage, Wasilla and Washington state. “They are in the process of planning, training and mobilizing for the Homer project.”
Applications are slow, but promising, for the new residence halls at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus in Soldotna.
By mid-afternoon Monday, three people had completed applications and more than 25 people were on the waiting list, said Suzie Kendrick, advancement program manager for the college.
“The very first student who registered, registered at 12:45 this morning,” Kendrick said. “That person was excited and up and wanting to complete it.”
JUNEAU — Republican leaders hailed the just-ended legislative session as a success in which they accomplished some of their top priorities: addressing oil taxes and energy concerns and exercising fiscal restraint.
Minority Democrats, meanwhile, were much more somber in their assessment Monday. Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis called it the worst session in recent history for its long-term effect on Alaskans and the treasury.
ANCHORAGE — The U.S. Department of Energy and the state of Alaska will collaborate on future research of unconventional energy resources in the arctic, including abundant reservoirs of methane hydrate.
The DOE’s acting assistant secretary for fossil energy, Christopher Smith, and Alaska Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan announced the agreement Tuesday and spoke to reporters from Houston, Texas, where they are attending LNG 17, a natural gas conference.
In a community open house April 11, Wells Fargo officials presented more than $8,000 to four area nonprofits.
The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank was presented with $5,000; the Homer Council on the Arts was presented with $2,000; South Peninsula Haven House, $1,000; and 4-H, $400.