Story last updated at 4:11 p.m. Thursday, August 15, 2002

Rebuilt boat expands bay business
Bay Excursions, offering custom wildlife, sightseeing and birding tours plus reliable water taxi services for the past eight years, has just expanded its operations with the addition of a new 28-foot water taxi and tour boat.

The U.S. Coast Guard-inspected Torega is certified to carry 18 passengers. Capt. Karl Stoltzfus completed the custom cabin construction this winter with help from family and friends, using a fiberglass Hamm hull.

Stoltzfus replaced everything from the original boat clear down to the stringers, designing and rebuilding the entire vessel to meet the needs of a Kachemak Bay water taxi service.

The large windows are well-suited for birding trips and wildlife cruises, while the large covered passenger cabin provides plenty of dry comfort for passengers and their gear, he said.

The Torega is a sister ship to the smaller Soleci, which Stoltzfus has operated since beginning the business in 1995. Bay Excursions will continue to operate both boats.

Bookings can be made directly with Stoltzfus at 235-7525, via email at bay@xyz.net, or through Central Charters on the Spit. More information is available on the Web at http://www.bayexcursions.com.

Alaska USA to open in Homer

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union has acquired property in Homer for construction of a full-service credit union branch office. The facility will also include an Alaska USA Mortgage Company office. The property is on the Sterling Highway at Greatland Street, next to the Chamber of Commerce building. Excavation work is scheduled to begin this fall, with construction of the 6,250 square foot building to be completed by next summer.

"Alaska USA has been looking to open a branch and a mortgage lending office in Homer for several years. The parcel of land is perfectly located, and we were pleased when it became available. The new offices will be very convenient for those living, working or traveling in the Homer area," said President Bill Eckhardt in a press release.

Alaska USA is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative with more than $2 billion in assets. Anyone who lives or works on the Kenai Peninsula is eligible for membership in Alaska USA. Alaska USA currently has 29 branches in Alaska, including two on the Kenai Peninsula.

Alaska USA Mortgage Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the credit union with offices in Anchorage, Eagle River, Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, Kenai and Soldotna.

Economic strategy panel to form

The Economic Development District, a regional development organization that produces the Kenai Peninsula Borough's comprehensive economic development strategy, is looking for interested and concerned individuals to participate in an economic strategic committee. The committee will develop an action plan for timber, petroleum, tourism and commercial fishing.

Interested parties should submit a letter of interest and a short biography to:

James Carter

14896 Kenai Spur Highway, Suite 103-A

Kenai, Alaska 99611

Or fax information to 283-3913 by Aug. 30.

Wells Fargo's donations exceed $400,000

Wells Fargo Bank Alaska donated more than $400,000 to nearly 160 nonprofit organizations in the state of Alaska for the second quarter of 2002. The grants were given to benefit local communities in the areas of social services, youth and education, arts and culture, civic events and economic development.

"Wells Fargo's business philosophy of community reinvestment is based on local decision-making," said Richard Strutz, Wells Fargo's Alaska region president. "We believe the best decisions are local decisions made by local people. They know the people, the fabric and the special needs of their community better than anyone else. It is the key to serving our communities effectively."

The gifts provided funding for housing projects, scholarships and education, arts and entertainment, community support and more.

Founded in 1852, Wells Fargo & Company is a $312 billion diversified financial services company providing banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance through more than 5,400 stores and other distribution channels across North America as well as internationally. Wells Fargo and its affiliates serve customers throughout Alaska with more than 65 stores, 130 ATMs and online at www.wellsfargo.com.

Bank goes online

First National Bank Alaska this week began to offer enhanced online banking to its customers, becoming the first Alaskan-owned bank to do so.

New Web-based services include check images online, electronic statements for personal accounts, stop payment and express transfer.

"Check images online is a convenient service for our personal and business customers that no other Alaska financial institution offers," said FNBA Vice President Cheri Gillian. "Our research showed that customers, especially business customers, wanted the ability to view their canceled checks online more than they wanted any other e-service."

Customers already enrolled in the bank's Internet banking programs may now view the front and back of up to 10 checks per month for no additional cost.

For more details, visit the FNBA Web site at www.FNBAlaska.com.

FNBA is celebrating its 80th year, and employs more than 750 Alaskans in 27 branches statewide.

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