Business

Despite slight increase, Cook Inlet belugas ‘are not recovering’

ANCHORAGE — The beluga whales that swim in Cook Inlet are continuing to struggle and appear headed for extinction if nothing changes, a government official said Friday.

A survey done in June found the whales “are not recovering,” said Julie Speegle, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We don’t know why.”

Cook Inlet belugas, considered genetically distinct, have been struggling and in decline for years.

State energy audit shows potential savings

An energy audit of Alaska public facilities uncovered some of the most, and least, energy efficient buildings in the state. The study, conducted by Alaska Housing Finance Corp., evaluated 327 investment grade audits performed on public facilities.

The study estimates there are 5,000 public buildings in Alaska, spending more than $641 million on energy every year. If appropriate measures are taken, the study calculates a potential energy cost savings of  $125 million yearly to the state.

Business Briefs

Youngblood recognized
for her volunteer efforts

Hours of volunteering at various real estate events and her work in the Homer area recently earned First National Bank Alaska Home Loan Specialist Karrie Youngblood special recognition.

Late last month, the Kachemak Board of Realtors named Youngblood its “affiliate of the year” for 2012.

“It’s a great tribute to Karrie to be recognized as someone who stands above others and really helps people out,” First National Assistant Vice President Marilyn Pipkin said. “I’m very proud of her.”

Homer artist’s bike jersey makes it to silver screen

By Mckibben Jackinsky

Staff writer

Who knew when Kathy Sarns put her gold rush license plate design on 50 bike jerseys in 2003 to see if they’d sell that her jerseys were destined for Hollywood? 

No one, that’s who. Including Sarns.

If you’ve seen “This is 40,” starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Albert Brooks, you’ve seen Sarns’ “California” shirt. In fact, if you’ve seen the movie advertised on TV, you might have caught a scene where Rudd is wearing the shirt. 

HEA predicts busy year ahead

Homer Electric Association will be “extremely busy” in 2013 finishing projects and preparing the utility for a looming shift that will place it in direct control of area power generation needs, a co-op spokesman said.

For several years HEA has been setting wheels in motion anticipating the severing of a decades-old agreement with Chugach Electric Association at the end of this year. Since the early 1960s, HEA has purchased most of the power local consumers
require — usually 58 megawatts with peaks at about 80 megawatts — from the Anchorage-based CEA.

Kids, elderly benefit from Pick. Click. Give. donations

As 2013 begins, Alaska residents gifted with timeliness will likely apply for their Alaska Permanent Fund dividends. During the PFD application period about 4 percent of eligible residents donate to charities through the Pick. Click. Give. program.

Many nonprofits operating on the Kenai Peninsula participate in the program. Donors cite ease of use as the main reason for participating in the program, said local nonprofit directors.

Three local nonprofits plan to fund educational programs with their received donations.

Sale of Parkside Plaza to The Center means other changes as well

Ripples from the sale of Parkside Plaza, 3665 Ben Walters Lane, are being noticed around town.

For starters, South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services-The Center purchased the two-story Parkside Plaza from Steve Yoshida.

“We bought it because we have outgrown the current facilities,” said Carla Meitler, SPBHS-The Center’s chief financial officer.

In-state gasline planners revise proposal

ANCHORAGE — A proposal for an in-state pipeline that could carry North Slope natural gas to communities from Fairbanks to southcentral Alaska has been revised to eliminate the transport of natural gas liquids, which will have the effect of lowering tariffs for customers in Fairbanks.

Carrying natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane and butane was previously considered desirable because they could be sold at a premium and used to lower the price of gas to Alaskans, said Frank Richards, the pipeline engineering manager for the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

Nancy Lander retires from hospital’s Long Term Care Unit

After 14 years as the social worker at South Peninsula Hospital Long Term Care Unit, Nancy Lander has retired. Her last day at LTC was Dec. 20. On Friday morning, Lander flew south to join her husband, Mark Robinson, former Homer High School choral director, in Ventura, Calif., and begin a new chapter of her life, dividing her time between the couple’s home in Homer and the second base of operations they are establishing near family in California.

Homer marine pilot honored for his role in Nome fuel delivery

With Sen. Tom Wagoner, R-Kenai, on one side, and Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, on the other, marine pilot Peter Garay of Homer received a legislative citation, accompanied by loud applause, during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Homer-Kachemak Bay on Dec. 20. The honor recognized the role of Garay and the Alaska Marine Pilots in the safe delivery of fuel to Nome almost a year ago, “the first historical winter marine delivery of fuel to Northwestern Alaska,” according to the citation.

Garay noted it wasn’t a one-person operation.

Legislative offices relocate to more visible space

On Friday, signs went up announcing new digs for the Legislative Information Office and the offices of Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, and Senator-elect Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna. Formerly located along the Sterling Highway, the three are now at the corner of Pioneer Avenue and Bartlett Street, in what building owners Clay and Joan Ellington refer to as the “Pioneer Building.”

“Everyone else used to call it the Job Center building,” said Joan Ellington, referring to the building’s most recent tenant, Homer Job Service. 

Hydro project planners submit environmental plans

ANCHORAGE — Alaska energy planners have taken a step toward licensing for the country’s second tallest dam by submitting a two-year plan for environmental work to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Alaska Energy Authority on Friday formally submitted its Revised Study Plan outlining 58 environmental studies over the next two years for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project, a proposed 750-foot dam and accompanying power-producing facility on the Susitna River, the nation’s 15th largest by discharge.

Southcentral gas supplies tight; producers to the rescue?

The weather has been cold and natural gas supplies in Southcentral Alaska are very tight. Enstar Natural Gas Co. distributed near-record amounts of gas in its system during recent cold weather and is drawing down supplies from a new gas storage facility on the Kenai Peninsula.

Meanwhile, utilities in the region are anxiously awaiting word on possible new supplies that producers might be able to make available this winter.

Working hearts, engaged minds

By Rashah McChesney

Morris News Service - Alaska

Vincent “Vin” Chavarrir likes to run a laundry-folding machine affectionately dubbed “Sparky” by employees at Central Peninsula Hospital.

To feed a towel into the machine he just lets it slide into the machine “like a dollar in a soda machine.”

It’s one of the simple pleasures of the job for Chavarrir, 20, but is made more meaningful because his internship in Environmental Services at Central Peninsula Hospital is the first time he has had a job.

Central peninsula lawmakers present united front on issues

Three area lawmakers told a crowd gathered Friday they were encouraged about the prospects of solving some of the state’s biggest questions — tweaking oil taxes, shrinking the state’s operating and capital budget and getting gas from the North Slope to Alaskans.

House Speaker Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, said what’s needed is hope. Coincidentally, Chenault recently acquired the small town of Hope in his district during the most recent round of redistricting.

Parnell rolls out $12.8 billion budget

ANCHORAGE — Gov. Sean Parnell on Friday announced a proposed state budget that would limit growth in operating costs to less than 1 percent.

At a news conference after unveiling the numbers in a speech to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Parnell said he is proposing an operating budget that spends $9 billion overall and a state general fund portion of $5.7 billion.

That’s 0.8 percent more than this year, he said.

“That is a level of increase that has not been seen in some years,” he said.

Assembly to mull capital projects

By Brian Smith

Morris News Service - Alaska

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre last week released a draft packet of the borough’s top state capital project funding priorities it will send with local legislators to Juneau.

At the top of that wish list includes major funding for Seward flood mitigation, a Central Peninsula Landfill leachate thermal evaporation unit and artificial turf fields at Homer and Soldotna high schools.

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