Naomi Klouda

US Trustee objects to proposed loan to Alaska Dispatch News

A new monkey wrench was tossed into plans for the Alaska Dispatch News to keep operating through a loan and purchase agreement with the potential buyers.

U.S. Trustee Gail Geiger responding to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Alaska, outlined objections to the proposed $1 million deal in a trustee’s Aug. 16 response to ADN owner Alice Rogoff’s debtor motion.

ADN owner seeks quick court approval to pay carriers, insurance

Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff filed motions in U.S. Alaska Bankruptcy Court Aug. 15 seeking an expedited hearing to keep the operation functioning and to restore her employees’ health insurance benefits.

The motion for a quick hearing was granted and set for Aug. 17.

Teacher shortages loom even after layoffs rescinded

While the Alaska Legislature tarried on budget talks for fiscal year 2018, nearly 700 teachers statewide were handed pink slips as required by state law in the weeks before the school year ended.

The Legislature eventually settled budget questions six weeks after school was let out by reversing a proposed 5 percent cut, or $69 million. The statewide education budget was restored to the same amount as the prior year, or $1.3 billion to be shared among all 53 school districts. That allowed the layoff notices to be rescinded.

GCI moves to evict Alaska Dispatch News

GCI filed an eviction notice against Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff on Aug. 11 alleging non-payment of rent for July and August and running up unpaid utility bills since February that together total nearly $1.4 million

Bradley hydro expansion moves forward with AEA approval

The Alaska Energy Authority board of directors unanimously approved a $46.4 million expansion of the Bradley Lake hydroelectric plant at its Aug. 10 meeting in Anchorage.

Bradley hydro expansion moves forward with AEA approval

The Alaska Energy Authority board of directors unanimously approved a $46.4 million expansion of the Bradley Lake hydroelectric plant at its Aug. 10 meeting in Anchorage.

Competitors, rural customers raise price complaints over GCI sale

Old grievances between Alaska’s telecoms have resurfaced with allegations that GCI holds a monopoly over the state’s broadband internet services, and after benefiting from the public pot with $50 million to help build the system, it is now charging rural Alaska schools, hospitals and other companies uncompetitive prices to access the network.

Fellow Anchorage-based telecoms Alaska Communications and Quintillion filed formal objections with the Federal Communications Commission to recommend the agency deny the sale of GCI to Colorado-based Liberty Interactive for $1.12 billion.

GCI posts loss in 2Q, takes hits in consumer and rural health care

General Communications Inc. posted a $9 million loss in the second quarter, which company officials attributed to weakness in consumer wireless and video as well as lost rural health care subsidies.

GCI released its second quarter financial results Aug. 2, showing the telecom brought in total revenue of $224 million, an overall decline of $4 million over this year’s first quarter.

Business owner builds floor-cleaning robot

The janitorial contract for the old Palmer Hospital, now medical offices, involves thousands of square feet of floor space to clean using above average sanitary measures.

Noting an irksome shortage in qualified applicants answering the call “for hire,” Curtis Lucas figured maybe a robot could do the job.

The accountant who launched Alaska Professional Janitorial 13 years ago in Wasilla had steadily built a clientele of large medical facilities, retail stores and commercial buildings. It took a staff of 22 seven days a week to handle the work.

Medical marijuana amendment has little impact on Alaska

States that have legal medical marijuana programs will remain free of federal law enforcement efforts if an amendment makes it into the final budget as it has for the past three years.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on July 27 approved what is known as the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment to prohibit federal funds from being used against businesses in states with legal medical marijuana programs. Sen. Lisa Murkowski sits on the committee and supported the amendment.

Crisis management earns honor for local PR firms

An Anchorage company that provides student tutoring services got a visit in December 2015 from police officers delivering bad news: one of the employees was suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography.

The tutor also had allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a teen minor.

The urge to avoid publicity when a bad situation strikes a company may be a perfectly natural response. But that’s not the advice a good public relations company covering its reputation would recommend, said Kristin Helvey.

After years of hikes, Premera files rates for 2018 down 21.6%

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska filed insurance rates for 2018 with a 21.6 percent decrease for customers on individual Affordable Care Act compliant plans.

As predicted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services when Alaska received a Section 1332 “innovation waiver” on July 11, Alaskans on the individual market exchange would see a 20 percent to 22 percent decrease in 2018.

Ocean Tuesday starts conversation on innovation

Picture crustacean DNA that allows crabs the ability to grow a new leg. That chemical makeup, in an innovator’s hands, becomes a product to seal up a human puncture wound.

Imagine a band-aid made of it.

Alaska has lots of crab, but getting from raw seafood byproducts to a marketable commodity will take a new infrastructure. A blue economy movement now in its Alaska infancy is involved in engaging all the human resources necessary to help such innovations evolve.

Longtime Anchorage business wins Made in Alaska Award

Alaska Garden and Pet Supply, a company patronized by backyard farmers, large scale agriculture and most of Alaska’s big box stores, won the Alaska Manufacturer of the Year Award on July 24.

Also known as Alaska Mill &Feed, Chief Operating Officer Ken Sherwood and company President Joel Klessens accepted the Made in Alaska Award at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce’s Make it Monday Forum.

McMahon promotes SBA successes in trip to Alaska

Linda McMahon saw her first ulu this past week.

The head of the Small Business Administration visited the Ulu Factory in Anchorage on July 20 during her two-day trip to the state to view firsthand an American business that benefited from the SBA loan program.

“So that’s how you get the handle on it,” watching May Arruiza assemble wood to blade by hand. “And the stamp, how is that done?”

Marijuana board moves to prohibit common lease arrangement

Should a landlord be allowed a percent of sales in lieu of charging rent to a marijuana business?

That’s a current practice of concern to the Alaska Marijuana Control Office. Such arrangements has the potential to allow a landlord — who is not a licensee — “to exert influence on the operation.”

Addressing the issue was among the 12 agenda actions sent out for public comment after the Alaska Marijuana Control Board met in Fairbanks July 12-14.

Repeal or replace fails, but state to see premiums fall in ‘18

Alaska has the highest insurance premiums in the individual market in the country with an average monthly cost of $927 that’s nearly equal to the average rent of $1,100.

Premiums in the individual insurance market are now projected to decrease by as much as 20 percent to 22 percent in 2018 after the state received a Section 1332 “innovation waiver” under the current Affordable Care Act.

Consumers won’t be the only one to see a savings.

Board makes call about on-site cannabis consumption

A proposal that would allow on-site consumption of marijuana is now open for public comment after the Alaska Marijuana Control Board endorsed a measure opening the way July 14 during its meeting in Fairbanks.

Working from one of three draft proposals, the board looked at a number of restrictions in lengthy debates before approving the on-site consumption measure. The public will be able to weigh in on these and other aspects of the concept:

Alaska Startup Week launches ‘Year of Innovation’ event series

Taking a business idea from a kernel of thought to grand openings, in the old model, meant testing a market at the end of the process: sales equated success.

The new model shows a different way that turns those steps upside down: test and refine ideas in a community of entrepreneurs before putting up the business sign.

How to start up a startup is the main idea behind Alaska Startup Week July 22-30 with nine days of events in Alaskan communities to help speed momentum and opportunities around innovation and entrepreneurship.

Fairbanks sets visitor records through winter tourism

The Inland Empire 483 miles from the ocean wouldn’t qualify it as a “shore-side excursion” in the traditional sense but that’s exactly how Fairbanks is designated as thousands of cruise ship visitors make their way directly from the dock to the train or bus that takes them to Interior Alaska.

Fairbanks saw new records set in tourism numbers the past two years as a rising number head toward it just as most visitors begin to leave the land of the midnight sun.

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