Story last updated at 2:57 p.m. Thursday, October 10, 2002

In Business
Yurts-R-Us?

Doing business as Nomad Shelter Inc., a custom Yurt manufacturer, Lee and Jessica Tenhoff recently moved to Homer from Nome. The Tenhoffs make handcrafted yurts in three sizes using Alaska white spruce. The yurts are insulated for Alaska weather extremes.

The Tenhoffs have been making yurts in Alaska since 1987, and were assisted in design development by the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation. Designed and tested in Alaska, the yurts have a 15-year warranty against leakage, and are insulated to R-15.

For more information, contact Nomad Shelter at 389 Grubstake Ave #1, or at 235-0132.

Insuror celebrates 20th anniversary

New York Life is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Homer. Agent Paul Trygstad came to Homer in 1967 as a music teacher in the Homer public schools and was a business owner after that. In September 1982, he became a New York Life agent. His office, in the Re-Max building on East Pioneer Avenue, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekends by appointment.

AMHS open for 2003 reservations

The Alaska Marine Highway System is currently open for reservations for the summer of 2003. Now is the time to apply for those hard-to-get cabins northbound from Bellingham in June and July.

Winter specials include "driver goes free" and two cross-gulf trips between Seward and Juneau in both November and December.

In addition, your local Homer office can supply information and make reservations on Canadian ferries along the B.C. coast and Vancouver Island.

For information on any of the above, please call the office at 235-8849, or (800)382-9229.

Bank earnings up in third quarter

First National Bank Alaska's third-quarter earnings were up 3 percent over this time last year, driving year-to-date earnings up 13 percent from 2001, said D.H. Cuddy, president and chairman.

Cuddy also reported that for the first time in the bank's 80-year history in Alaska, total assets reached the $2 billion mark.

According to Jason Roth, senior vice president, financial division, third quarter 2002 earnings were $10.5 million, or $30.46 per share, up from $10.2 million, or $29.17 per share for the third quarter end 2001. Year-to-date earnings climbed to $31.5 million at the end of the quarter, up $3.6 million since third quarter end 2001 when year-to-date earnings were $27.9 million. Assets grew to $2 billion.

Outstanding loans grew to $966 million at the end of the third quarter 2002, an increase of $71 million since third quarter 2001, when outstanding loans totaled $895 million. Total deposits also showed an increase when compared with the same time last year, $1.2 billion as compared with $1 billion on Sept. 30, 2001, an increase of $200 million.

"Historically low interest rates have led to one of the busiest loan markets we've seen in recent years," said Roth. "We're also seeing new deposit dollars from Alaskan depositors seeking a safe place for their investments. And for the first time in history, First National is a $2 billion Alaskan bank."

Weiss Ratings, an independent bank safety and soundness rating firm, lists the Alaskan-owned bank as one of the top 10 safest and soundest banks in the

United States.

E-mail, fax booking options added

Era Aviation announced Tuesday that customers will now be able to receive reservation confirmation via e-mail or fax.

"In addition to e-mail responses when booking online, customers who book directly with Era reservations and are electronically ticketed now have the option of receiving e-mail or fax confirmations," said Paul Landis, senior vice president. "This automated process will greatly streamline the reservations process and provide customers a detailed copy of their itinerary rather than just a confirmation code."

In the last year, Era has added electronic ticketing, online booking and Era Aviation Vacations.

"This is just another enhancement to our product to provide a greater value and convenience to our customers," Landis said.

Era Aviation is an Alaska Airlines Code Share carrier that serves Cordova, Homer, Iliamna, Kenai, Kodiak, Valdez and Whitehorse from Anchorage, as well as 17 villages in Western Alaska from Bethel.

Seward council rejects HEA offer

An $18 million offer made by Homer Electric Association in February seeking to purchase the Seward Electrical Utility was rejected last month by the Seward City Council.

On behalf of Seward, City Manager Scott Janke wrote HEA General Manager Norm Story expressing his regret that it had taken so long to reach a decision.

"I would like to apologize to you personally for the amount of time it has taken to take formal action regarding your offer. The idea of selling the electric utility has broad implications in Seward and has required a great amount of time to digest," Janke said. "In the end, I believe the offer made by Homer Electric Association simply didn't satisfy the city council's financial requirements, especially in the short term."

The utility is a major source of city operating revenue, Janke said.

Janke was unavailable for further comment.

HEA spokesperson Joe Gallagher said the council had voted 5-1 against the offer.

"From HEA's perspective, we've had a good, open discussion with Seward about this, and it was a very important issue for the city of Seward," he said. "They've owned the utility for a long time. We appreciate the council's work looking at an offer we thought was fair, but which apparently didn't meet the needs of Seward at this time."

Gallagher said HEA has had the purchase of Seward Electric Utility on its front burner for some time. HEA may make another offer in the future, he said.

"This vote by no means closes the door on the issue," he said.

This was the first official offer HEA made for the utility. A public vote requiring a 60-percent majority was held in November 2000. Seward voters favored the sale, but the 510-443 tally fell 61 votes short of the needed majority.

In July, Janke had said any sale would need to make up for the nearly $1 million the utility means to the city's annual $7 million general fund.

One idea was to put the sale money into a kind of permanent fund and have the interest earnings subsidize the city's general fund. But in July, the stock market did not appear robust enough to generate the necessary 8.5 percent return, he said.

Hal Spence is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

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