Business

Alaska USA members raise nearly $50,000 in food drive

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union members contributed nearly $50,000 to support community food banks during the annual Cash for Cans food drive. The credit union and the Alaska USA Foundation teamed up for the fundraiser, collecting cash donations at Alaska USA branches in three states.
The credit union's 64 branches collected the funds, which were donated to 16 food banks in Alaska, Washington and the High Desert region of California.

Shell to move its Arctic drill rigs to Asia for repairs

Shell broke its weeks-long silence on the status of its two Arctic drill rigs Feb. 11. The Kulluk and Noble Discoverer, two drill vessels used by Shell for its 2012, Arctic drilling, will be moved from Alaska to Asia for repairs, the company said in a statement late Monday.
The Kulluk, a conical drill vessel, was damaged in a grounding near Kodiak Island Dec. 31. Noble Drilling's drillship Noble Discoverer, under a long-time contract to Shell, is now in port in Seward due to an engine malfunction.

Home sales, prices throughout Alaska show increase in 2012

On the whole, Alaska's housing market remained stable in 2012, but energy costs and government regulations cloud the future, according to Alaska Association of Realtors President Michael Droege.
Statewide, combined single-family and condominium sales averaged $287,000 at the end of the third quarter of 2012, the latest data available from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Year-over-year sale price was up $17,000, or 6.2 percent.
Sales volume grew 8.5 percent over the same period.

Democrats make oil tax pitch for increasing production

JUNEAU — Minority Democrats in the Alaska House and Senate on Monday introduced their own plan for increasing oil production in the state, calling it their alternative to Gov. Sean Parnell’s oil tax “giveaway.”
Both the governor’s and Democrats’ plans are aimed at new production but take decidedly different approaches.

Alyeska looks at new ways to keep TAPS oil flowing

Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. is looking at ways to keep oil flowing through the trans-Alaska pipeline system as the amount of oil continues to drop.
Alyeska is now studying a "cold dry flow" procedure to remove water from crude oil shipped through TAPS to help manage a decline in throughput, the pipeline company's president told a state legislative committee Feb 5.

Chamber hosts 'Tech Talk'

There will be a "Tech Talk" with Ryan Ridge of Design-PT at noon Feb. 19 at the Homer Chamber of Commerce conference room. The brown-bag lunch and talk will focus on computer and Internet security. It is open to the public.
Also next week, the chamber mixer will be from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Elks Lodge. It will be hosted by Tom and Debbie Stroozas of Americas Cuisine.

State seeks to address rising health care costs

JUNEAU — State officials are looking at ways to lower the growth of Alaska’s health care costs, including an alternate retiree plan and developing an employee wellness program.
The path the state is on isn’t sustainable, Administration Commissioner Becky Hultberg and Health Commissioner Bill Streur told the House Finance Committee on Monday. Streur said he believes something can and must be done to address the issue.

Soldotna helps businesses spruce up their storefronts

The city of Soldotna approached local business owner Gary Hinkle with a proposal. It requested Hinkle improve the exterior of his River Terrace RV Park; it would help by reimbursing $5,000 of the project's total cost.
At first, Hinkle had reservations about the Soldotna Storefront Improvement Program. But after completing the project he's more than happy with the results, he said.
"I am very positive about the program, and I think it's a very reasonable program for the city to take on," he said.

State officials: Inlet has gas

JUNEAU — Cook Inlet may have plenty of natural gas for years to come, Alaska officials are telling lawmakers.

“There’s still large volumes of gas and oil, we believe, to be discovered,” said Dan Sullivan, commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources. Sullivan said companies are planning to spend millions of dollars to bring new Cook Inlet gas to market.

New chef at Beluga Bar and Grill trades Arizona desert for Homer flavors

While some winter-weary locals think of warmer climates this time of year — the desert sun in Arizona is a good example — Robert Isaly has done the opposite.

Formerly of Jerome, Ariz., Isaly has recently taken up a Homer address and, as the new chef at Beluga Bar and Grill, he’s brought the taste of the Southwest with him. 

“We’re anxious to be able to do some changing up on the menu,” said Beluga manager Diane Hively. “It’s a godsend to have someone willing to go some different directions.”

Recent decision could set in motion Augustine Island geothermal energy

By Brian Smith

Morris News Service - Alaska

A recently released document has given the thumbs up for companies to take the first step in a potential geothermal energy project on Augustine Island, which hosts the volcano of the same name.

A Jan. 14 document from Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil and Gas determined it is in the state’s best interest to investigate the island’s geothermal energy potential signaling the first regulatory step needed to see any future developments to fruition.

Buccaneer official: Still no firm date, but jack-up rig could start drilling in spring

The Endeavour-Spirit of Independence jack-up rig — idling at dock in Homer since late August — could start drilling after the snow melts, an official with Buccaneer Energy said Friday.

What was planned as a short eight-day stay in Homer before leaving to drill in northern Cook Inlet waters turned into a months and seasons-long marooning of the rig due to delays, repairs and permitting complications. Eventually, Buccaneer and the company hired to prepare and operate the rig, Archer Drilling, parted ways.

Alaskaloha shirts connect Alaska, Hawaii

On a blustery winter day with the temperatures dropping into the teens, the wind blowing 30 and the sun setting before 6 p.m., Alaskans look south — way south — and imagine themselves strolling a Hawaiian beach. Though thousands of miles apart and distant in latitude, we of the 49th state have deep connections with the 50th state.

That connection is the idea between Alaskaloha, a clothing line created by Homer entrepreneur Tiffanie Story. Her simple designs all feature the iconic Hawaiian state flower, the yellow hibiscus or pua aloalo.

Industry Outlook Forum comes to Homer

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District’s “Industry Outlook Forum” is coming to town, with a two-day event at Land’s End Resort on Jan. 31-Feb. 1. The forum’s theme is “Cook Inlet — Energy for All Alaska” and it is hosted by the KPEDD and the city of Homer.

Usually held in the central peninsula, this is the first time the annual forum has been scheduled for the southern peninsula.

USDA-funded program grows bond between local farms and restaurants

By Dan Schwartz

Morris News Service - Alaska

Cyndi and Craig Ramm opened the Corner Café in Soldotna not long ago. They said they want to use more than 75 percent organic ingredients and, when possible, buy local produce.

“We don’t want to support a big company out of Seattle,” Cyndi Ramm said. “We want to support the business down the road.”

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