Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 6:48 PM on Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Business Briefs

New labor commissioner named

JUNEAU — A special assistant to Gov. Sean Parnell has been named Alaska's new labor commissioner. Dianne Blumer replaces Click Bishop, who retired in March.

Parnell, in a statement, called Blumer "profoundly competent" and says she'll provide steady leadership at the department. He also acknowledged and thanked David Stone, who has been acting as commissioner.

The governor's office says Blumer has served as a special assistant to Parnell, advising him on regulation and policy for the departments of Commerce, Administration and Revenue. His office says she has been in state service for more than 20 years, holding positions like director of the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations and deputy director for the Child Support Services Division.

Energy relief headed to Interior

FAIRBANKS, — Gov. Sean Parnell says energy relief is on its way to Fairbanks, but still is a few years away. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says the governor discussed the high cost of energy with a group of business leaders Monday at a meeting of the Fairbanks chapter of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance.

Parnell says the state and private industry are making promising strides forward with a liquid natural gas trucking project, slated to start in 2014. And, the governor says, a natural gas pipeline could come online near the end of the decade.

The governor signed off on the Legislature's budget last week. It includes $3.75 million for engineering work on the trucking project, as well as funding to continue work on a borough natural gas distribution system.

Suit filed over clam digger deaths

ANCHORAGE — The families of five clam diggers who died when their overloaded skiff sank last year in cold waters in an Alaska inlet have sued the seafood company that hired the men.

The claim filed last week in U.S. District Court accuses the seafood company of failing to provide proper gear and training.

The men were hired to harvest razor clams at beaches on the west side of Cook Inlet. They died when their boat, loaded with more than 100 clam buckets, flooded in May 2011. Oregon-based Pacific Seafood Group, which owns Pacific Alaska Shellfish, had no comment Monday on the lawsuit. The men worked on contract for Pacific Alaska Shellfish.

The suit says the company did not train the men on how to safely pilot their 22-foot skiff, and didn't provide survival suits and two-way radios.