Make New Year's resolutions stick

January is the time of new beginnings. This is the hopeful time of great resolve when the health clubs are full, when the sale of nicotine patches soar and when office desks tops are tidy and polished. We are now in that short sweet season when we really do believe that the garage will actually be cleaned up, that the kids will learn how to have all of their weekend homework done by Saturday noon and that those extra 20 pounds will certainly melt away.Using resolutions the right wayIt is in this season of optimism and hope when many of us are setting to the task of writing New Year’s resolutions. I believe that writing specific goals for the year is a good thing, although it can be a miserable task if we approach it with the wrong attitude.The trick to resolutions is to use them as a gauge of our wins and not as a record of our losses. Resolution writing and resolution tracking need to become a ritual of celebration and fun. It shouldn’t become a dreary and burdensome task that awakens a negative inner voice that tells us that we are losers.My trick to resolution writing has been to keep it short and sweet. In January 1996, I made a list of two resolutions that I carried around in my appointment book until I finally accomplished both of them in 2000. With those accomplished, I embarked on a more extensive list last year.A wise friend of mine uses a word or a short phrase to summarize what he wants to accomplish during the year rather than a long list of hard and fast goals. His theory is that a goal is only valuable if you can remember it at all times. He supplements his phrase with a list of wishes rather than a list of resolutions. He says that having wishes is a lot more fun than having resolutions. I like his approach.Another friend works on his resolutions by running off to a resort for a weekend getaway with his wife. The whole process becomes characterized by fun and collaboration. This is especially important when writing our personal goals.Developing meaningful goals at workWe typically approach our work-related goals with greater seriousness than our personal goals. The key to developing meaningful goals at work is to focus on tangible outcomes rather than simply on activities. At my business, an outcome goal would be something like "close three new loans per month" while an activity goal would be something like "network with business leaders." The activity may contribute to the tangible outcome, but in itself it is not a tangible accomplishment.In writing our annual goals at work, we always need to focus in on the tangible outcomes. It is the responsibility of the leader of the business to make sure that the workers clearly understand what tangible outcomes are needed to assure success. Clearly articulated tangible goals foster a sense of accountability and responsibility among all employees.A focus on tangible outcomes broadens the perspective of employees and helps them to focus on the needs of others -- specifically the customer. Activity goals tend to foster more of an inward focus.For many of us, our most important annual business goals are encapsulated in our annual budgets. Most individual goals should ultimately tie somehow into bottom-line profits.The key to profits is typically the revenue section of the budget. Each employee should focus each day on how he or she can contribute to revenues. Revenue is the ultimate tangible outcome. Too often employees focus on the expense section of the budget rather than the revenue section. Expenses are typically the responsibility of the supervisor, whereas revenues should be the responsibility of every employee in the company.January is the time of year for setting new goals for ourselves at home and at the office. We are at that wonderful time of year when 2002 is all hope and no history. We need to make the most of this season of optimism and hope by taking time to write down what we really want to accomplish this year.In our personal lives, we need to make reasonable goals that can bring us a sense of accomplishment rather than failure. At the office we need to establish outcome goals that will generate tangible benefits for the company rather than activity goals that simply measure motion and not results.David Hoffman is president and chief executive of Alaska Growth Capital. He can be reached in Anchorage at 907-349-4904 or via e-mail at ([email protected]).

This Week in Alaska Business History January 20, 2002

Editor’s note: "This Week in Alaska Business History" revisits events that shaped our past."Those who cannotremember the past arecondemned to repeat it."-- George Santayana, 1863-195220 years ago this weekAnchorage TimesJan. 21, 1982Commission reports railroad’s needsBy Deb DavidTimes WriterGaining access across federal lands needed to extend the Alaska Railroad is almost as crucial to the future of Alaska’s transportation system as state ownership of the line itself, a group of local business leaders said.When and if Congress decides to hand the line over to the state, a mechanism must be in place to accept the railroad and keep it running, they added.These are two of the findings of the Transportation Committee of Commonwealth North. It released its "action paper" on the railroad transfer at a press conference. The document will go to state legislators and Alaska’s congressional delegation."The railroad is too important to be left in the hands of the federal government," said committee chairman William Tobin. "When the government wants to dispose of it, the state should and must accept it."Congress could transfer the railroad as early as this year.Anchorage TimesJan. 21, 1982Jack White Co.’s staff rakes in real estate dollarsBy Deb DavidTimes WriterSo much for the "Million Dollar Clubs" common in the real estate industry.The top sales person at one Anchorage real estate company last year raked in lease sales worth $28 million. The average sale for the firm’s 22 agents was $6.8 million each.Records built in 1977 were slashed. The firm’s top six sales persons sold a total of $90 million worth of real estate. The entire staff rang up sales of $150 million, 41 percent higher than the 1977 peak and 56 percent higher than 1980 sales.The firm is Jack White Co.Its office in the Calais Building belies the aggressive business approach that has made it successful.Said president Sewell Faulkner: "This sales volume is really high nationally. I know of no other firm in the country with a comparable size staff which has approached this record."10 years ago this weekAlaska Journal of CommerceJan. 27, 1992Anchorage airport gained traffic in 1991By Ray TysonAlaska Journal of CommerceDomestic passenger traffic at Anchorage International Airport bucked Lower 48 trends in 1991 to post a modest 3-4 percent gain, while passenger counts for international flights plummeted nearly 50 percent as foreign carriers continued to leave the state.Anchorage International hung on to its ranking as the leading U.S. cargo airport, however, registering about a 7 percent increase in landings. More air freight passes through Anchorage than any other city in North America.But it was on the domestic passenger front that Anchorage turned in its most notable performance last year.Though the growth rate in 1991 was modest and lower than in recent years, it was well above recession-plagued Lower 48 markets, which fell an average of 4 percent and as far as 8-10 percent in some major cities.Fare wars between Alaska Airlines and MarkAir should keep Alaska domestic traffic on an even keel in 1992.Alaska Journal of CommerceJan. 27, 1992Jet stream blows windfall to AnchorageBy Ray TysonAlaska Journal of CommerceThanks to the jet stream and its strong winter headwinds, Anchorage International Airport is reaping a tidy windfall in landing fees and fuel sales from airliners that can’t make it from the U.S. continent to Asia on a tank of gas.The airport reported 25 unscheduled stops during one week of December alone."The most I’ve seen in a week is 25," said Anders Westman, airport marketing director. "I’ll bet we had 50 of them in December."The airport collects $1,500 to $1,700 per landing, depending on the plane’s weight and how much fuel it consumes. Airliners make 100 to 200 unscheduled stops in Anchorage between November and March, the time when the jet stream’s westerly winds are the strongest."This is completely unplanned business," Westman said. "That’s unscheduled icing on the cake."-- Compiled by Ed Bennett

Letters to the Editor January 20, 2002

Dear Editor:A story published in the Oct. 29, 2001 issue of the Alaska Journal of Commerce seemed uncharacteristically unbalanced. The story, "Halford calls airport unsafe," continually makes reference to the airport’s safety procedures and how the use of ultralights at Birchwood Airport mixed with general aviation aircraft may be problematic, according to Sen. Halford.Where in the story is a quote from the ultralight community?I operate a business that services ultralights and offers ultralight flight training that stresses safety and pilot awareness during flight training and ground school classes.Let me clarify a mistruth.The story offers a statement from Sen. Halford that states, "The fact that ultralight pilots have no requirements for certification or equipment, other than what they impose on themselves. ..." is incorrect. Ultralight pilots operate under Federal Aviation Regulations Part 103, which require all operators to give right of way to all other aircraft including sailplanes and hot air balloons. Another misconception is that ultralights are "essentially motorized hang gliders" is not true either.Sen. Halford’s statements cast an unnecessary shadow on the safety record at Birchwood Airport. Perhaps instead Journal readers would like to know that there have been no incidents or accidents between general aviation and ultralight aircraft that have resulted in injuries at Birchwood Airport, and that many of the ultralight pilots also have FAA pilot’s licenses and operate aviation businesses that you regularly report on.Mike JacoberPresident, Arctic Sparrow Aircraft Inc.

Airports look for federal aid to fingerprint workers

Officials for Alaska’s larger airports want federal money to purchase digital fingerprinting machines and perform criminal background checks on employees.The Federal Aviation Administration in December required that all airport and airline employees with access to secured areas be checked out with the FBI. Across the United States, that decision will mean more than 750,000 employees at about 400 airports will need to be fingerprinted by the end of the year.The state is asking for more than $1 million from the federal government to fund electronic fingerprinting equipment known as biometrics for 17 state-owned rural airports across the state, and for Anchorage and Fairbanks, said Frank Richards, a maintenance engineer with the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities in Juneau.The city-owned airport in Juneau will have to pursue its own funding for electronic fingerprinting machines, Richards said.Joette Storm, an FAA spokeswoman in Anchorage, said it’s unclear whether the federal government will reimburse airports that purchase digital fingerprinting machines because the new regulations only require that airport employees be fingerprinted, either electronically or by dactyloscopy, the 100-year-old process of rolling fingers in ink and impressing them onto coated cards.Richards said it’s impractical to expect airports to gather fingerprints from the old ink-transfer method since it takes several weeks to get results versus only hours if fingerprints are taken electronically.Airport officials across the United States hope the digital fingerprinting machines will be funded either through a new government-imposed $2.50 passenger surcharge on airplane tickets or through airport improvement funds, traditionally used for construction upgrades.Officials at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport have purchased two electronic fingerprint machines to get a jump on the year-end deadline. The machines arrived in early January, and officials are checking out some 8,000 airport employees, according to Terri Tibbe, airport security manager.The two machines, manufactured by Identix Inc. of Los Gatos, Calif., cost the airport $73,000, Tibbe said.Airports in San Francisco, Orlando and Washington, D.C., use machines manufactured by the same company.It takes just a few minutes to record someone’s fingerprints and send them off to the FBI, which will send the results back in anywhere from a few hours to a few days, Tibbe said."This definitely is an increased measure in security, but it’s not the end-all," Tibbe said.Tibbe said most airline and government employees working at the airport have their fingerprints on file with the FBI, but they have to be fingerprinted again under the new regulations.One in 10 Anchorage residents are employed by an airport-related business, and Tibbe suspects there may be someone who is wanted for a crime and may show up on the FBI’s files. No one has quit because of the background checks, and Tibbe suspects the new regulations may prohibit people with outstanding criminal histories from applying for jobs.Chuck Grandy, chief of safety at the Fairbanks International Airport, said an electronic fingerprinting machine should be in use at the airport by the middle of January.Grandy said about 800 people who work at the airport will have to be fingerprinted, a process that should be completed by the end of summer, well before the FAA’s deadline."I think we can process four people an hour fairly easily," Grandy said.Damon Wright, Identix Inc.’s director of investor and public relations, said his company’s digital fingerprint machines are not new to Alaska."A number of police forces there use them," Wright said.Like many biometric companies, Identix’s stock rose sharply after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.The company’s stock was trading at less than $4 before the attacks and soared as high as $15 in the months following. The stock was valued at about $12 on Jan. 11.

Around the World January 20, 2002

STATEAlaska pipeline group submits signaturesANCHORAGE -- Backers of an all-Alaska pipeline to carry North Slope natural gas to market have turned in more than 42,000 signatures for a November ballot initiative.Supporters from Citizens Initiative for the All-Alaska Gasline hauled the signatures in a Loomis armored van to the state Division of Elections office in Anchorage Jan. 11.The initiative would create a new state agency, called the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority. The agency’s purpose would be to acquire natural gas and build a pipeline to Valdez.Supporters favor an in-state line, with spurs to serve Alaska towns, rather than one through Canada, according to group chairman Scott Heyworth.Hammond, Leask join Ulmer’s bid for governorANCHORAGE -- Democrat Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer’s campaign for governor is getting help from former Republican Gov. Jay Hammond and the past president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.Ulmer announced Jan. 10 that Hammond, who was governor from 1974 to 1982, will serve as co-chair of her 2002 gubernatorial campaign with Janie Leask. Leask was an AFN president for seven years.Hammond said once some fellow Republicans found out he intended to work for Ulmer’s campaign, they urged him to keep a low profile. That advice prompted him to do just the opposite, he said.Leask is manager of community relations for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. She serves on the boards of the Alaska Humanities Forum and Commonwealth North, and also is a trustee for the First Alaskans Foundation.Ulmer said Alaskans probably consider her an underdog to Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska -- the other leading gubernatorial candidate -- because of his high profile in Washington, D.C., and years of experience at running big campaigns.But if they examine her record of accomplishments, she will have the advantage over Murkowski, she said.Alaska Native Wireless seeks license refundsANCHORAGE -- Alaska Native Wireless wants the Federal Communications Commission to refund about $550 million the company paid last year after successfully bidding on wireless licenses now mired in the courts.With the government holding the corporation’s money interest-free, and with the licenses in limbo, Alaska Native Wireless and 12 other successful bidders are losing $3 million every week in interest payments, according to a petition filed with the FCC.Alaska Native Wireless is a joint venture of AT&T Wireless and three Alaska Native corporations: Sealaska Corp. of Juneau, Arctic Slope Regional Corp. of Barrow and Doyon Ltd. of Fairbanks.The venture bid $2.9 billion for wireless licenses in a federal auction last January. The licenses had become available after their original owner, NextWave, filed for bankruptcy protection.But last June a federal appeals court decided the licenses still belonged to NextWave and ordered the FCC to return them. The FCC has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the appeals court ruling, but Alaska Native Wireless isn’t banking on a reversal.NATIONMortgage boom boosts Wells Fargo’s profitsSAN FRANCISCO -- Wells Fargo & Co. said a mortgage refinancing boom enabled the bank to offset sluggish loan demand among its business customers and boost fourth-quarter profits by 5 percent.The San Francisco-based bank said Jan. 15 that it earned $1.18 billion, or 69 cents per share, during the final three months of 2001, compared with $1.13 billion, or 65 cents per share, a year earlier.That soundly surpassed the consensus estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call by a penny.Wells attributed most of the fourth-quarter gains to robust consumer loan demand, particularly in its mortgage division, which cashed in on the lowest interest rates since the 1960s.With its home loan volume more than tripling in the fourth quarter, the bank ended the year with $194 billion in mortgage originations, breaking its previous record of $109 billion in 1998. Last year’s mortgage volume represented a 155 percent increase from 2000, the bank said.Still, Wells’ business loans remained flat as the bank’s corporate customers pulled back because of the recession.WORLDCompanies face billions in fines following rulingBRUSSELS, Belgium -- The World Trade Organization handed the United States a major loss Jan. 14 with a decision that opens the way for the European Union to ask for billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on U.S. imports.Both the EU and the United States, however, immediately signaled their desire to avert a trade war that would dwarf any previous dispute and most likely hurt companies on both sides of the Atlantic.The WTO appeals panel in Geneva ruled against a U.S. law granting multibillion-dollar tax breaks to Microsoft, Boeing and thousands of other American companies operating overseas.The European Union, which brought the case, said it expected "rapid proposals" from Washington to bring itself into compliance with WTO rules.The Brussels-based EU could ask the WTO for permission to start imposing up to $4 billion in sanctions almost immediately.-- Compiled from business wire services.

One way or another, Senate will take up ANWR, Murkowski says

Alaska Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski will continue efforts to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration this year and is optimistic the issue will be addressed in the U.S. Senate, one way or another.An energy bill passed by the House includes a provision to allow the coastal plain to be explored, but the Senate’s Democratic leaders have refused to let the issue come to a vote, Murkowski said.Murkowski said that’s because they don’t have the votes to stop ANWR’s opening."We’ve got two Democrats with us in the Energy Committee and possibly a third," he said. "It’s enough to get an ANWR bill out of committee" and to the full Senate.To prevent that, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., has instructed Energy Committee Chairman Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., not to hold any meetings of the committee."We haven’t had a business meeting of the committee since October," Murkowski said.Meanwhile, the Senate Democrats’ energy bill, written by Bingaman, does not include an ANWR provision. It was sent out by the chairman, but not the full committee, under an unusual procedure that allows a chairman to move a bill directly.The Republican energy bill, which does include ANWR, is still in the committee.Murkowski said he hopes ANWR can be given a full-blown debate in the committee and before the full Senate, but he is prepared to attempt an ANWR amendment on the president’s economic stimulus package, which is still in the Senate.Since ANWR leasing is expected to bring the government at least $3 billion in new federal revenues, it could fit into the stimulus package, Murkowski said.Senate Republicans have other kinds of leverage on this issue, too. There are indications Daschle and other farm-state senators want to complete work on major agricultural legislation this year, Murkowski said.To do so, they’ll need the cooperation of Senate Republicans. Democrats control the Senate with a one-vote majority, 51 to 49.On other energy issues important to Alaska, Murkowski said major work on the energy legislation, which will include provisions on the Alaska gas pipeline, has yet to be done.The Democrats’ energy bill includes language proposed by the North Slope gas producers as well as a set of economic incentives."They threw it in as a bone, to take the heat off ANWR and show they’re doing something meaningful to promote Alaska energy," Murkowski said."But it’s not exactly what the producers wanted," he said.Murkowski said he will convene a meeting in Washington in early February with the producers and the gas pipeline companies that are proposing a consortium to build a pipeline, along with state officials, to sort out what is really needed in federal legislation.The three major gas producers, BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., ExxonMobil Production Co. and Phillips Alaska Inc., have agreed to the meeting, along with the pipeline companies and the state, Murkowski said."I’m very pleased at their responsiveness. The purpose of this meeting is to bring these parties together," he said.Early last fall the Senate Energy Committee met on the pipeline issue and the lack of unity between the producers, the state and pipeline companies on the issue gave Bingaman, the committee chairman, a reason to delay action on legislation.An important goal in the legislation will be to protect Alaska’s interests in setting pipeline tariffs and other regulatory decisions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Murkowski said.The 1976 Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Act gives the state a formal role with FERC, but the gas pipeline provisions in the Democrats’ energy bill do not provide any similar special status for the state before FERC on Alaska gas issues."We have to be very careful with this, to protect Alaska’s interests," Murkowski said.The senator also expects to work on incentives to encourage development of heavy oil on the North Slope.BP and Phillips are developing heavy oil in the Schrader Bluff and West Sak deposits, which have a huge resource of oil. The oil is difficult and costly to produce, however.

Juneau inventor bets his money, time on golf Pop-a-Tee

JUNEAU -- Thomas Knightlinger put his money where his ideas are, packed the finished product into a big crate and took off for Georgia and Florida recently to see what reactions he would get.Knightlinger is a Juneau inventor who came up with a golf tee dispenser called Pop-a-Tee. It’s about the size of a pack of cigarettes, can be clipped on a pocket or golf bag, "and all it takes is one finger to work it," sparing golfers the indignity of fumbling around in the lint and loose change of their slacks looking for a tee, he said.First he headed for the Atlantic Gift Show in Atlanta, and then to the 2002 PGA Merchandise Show, which is expected to attract 53,000 visitors, in Orlando, Fla., from Jan. 24-27. Of the 1,500 exhibits, Pop-a-Tee will be the only Alaska booth.Booth rental is $3,000, and there are additional charges for electricity, carpet and even chairs, not to mention $9.75 hot dogs, condo rental (cheaper than a hotel) and plane tickets."It’s been an interesting adventure because the average person does not understand what it takes to get a product from a countertop display to where they will reach into their pockets to pay for it," Knightlinger said. "It’s an interesting thing -- but it’s scary, too."Knightlinger and his partners have been working on this idea since last March. Pop-a-Tee (patent pending) holds 12 to 13 tees, measures 1 7/8 to 2 1/8 inch long and retails for $9.95 in utilitarian injection-molded plastic. For custom orders, or the upscale duffer, Chris and Tim Bradley of Tim’s Woodworks will produce a wooden version in birch, oak or walnut for about $20, said Chris Bradley, showing off an example in purple heartwood.Holding up a giant version of Pop-a-Tee bearing a "your logo here" circle, Knightlinger said, "it’s a good promotional product as well as a personal-use item."The officers of the corporation are Knightlinger and his fiancee Ann Pittman, the Bradleys and Sandy Lichtenberger, Knightlinger’s sister, a network marketing professional. Dick Bradley, father of Chris and Tim, designed their 8-by-10-foot booth, drawing on his background designing movie sets.Knightlinger and Pittman have spent months on the Internet, researching price and packaging and sending e-mails.Knightlinger said the original concept just popped into his head one day when he was reading a book. He tried the idea out on Pittman, who liked it, and then he and Lichtenberger set to work in his garage. When they had a model, they brought the Bradleys into it."We went through a lot of prototypes and development," Chris Bradley said. Not including work hours, the group has invested $20,000, including a trademarked logo, a Web site and a countertop display box."If we sell one or 1 million, we can honestly say we gave it a try," Knightlinger said. "We don’t want to sit back 10 years from now and say, ’We should have done this.’ "Another Knightlinger invention, Napper, is going into travel shops around the world. It’s a compact headrest that clamps onto an airplane seat, and can be adjusted up and down without choking the traveler. The major distributor is Don Mark Solomon Inc. of Atlanta.Knightlinger, a former billboard painter, was born in Indiana and grew up in Alaska. After serving in Vietnam and spending some time on the East Coast, he’s back in the state.He points out that there are 600 million golfers in the world, and golf is a recreational sport growing at 17 percent a year."All we want is one-tenth of 1 percent -- that’s our marketing goal, the rule of thumb in a product," he said.

Business Profile: Taco Loco Products Inc.

Name of the company: Taco Loco Products Inc.Established: 1977Location: 600 W. International Airport Road, AnchorageTelephone: 907-561-1648Major focus of services: Taco Loco Products Inc. manufactures corn and flour tortillas, taco shells and corn chips. The company also operates a Hispanic grocery store.History of the company: Adan and Cecilia Galindo purchased the company in 1977.The company began making corn chips in the late 1970s and added flour tortillas in the 1980s. "I was the first one to make the round chips," said Adan Galindo, who also handled deliveries in the early days of the business.The Galindos operated the company initially from the back of Castleton’s Classic Photography in Mountain View. The company next moved to a Midtown Anchorage location before building its current facility in 1984.Taco Loco Products are available at most grocery stores. The company also supplies many Mexican restaurants in Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna area. Taco Loco also distributes its products in Kenai and Fairbanks.The company employs 15 full-time workers.Top accomplishment of the company: "For me the biggest accomplishment is being in business 25 years," said Anabel Galindo, who now manages the company. "We’re the only tortilla factory in town. I see a lot of room for growth." Past growth has stemmed from customers who favor Alaska-made products as well as the taste of Taco Loco’s goods, she said. "I get a lot of compliments on our products."Major players: Adan Galindo, president, and Anabel Galindo, manager, Taco Loco Products Inc.In the late 1960s Adan Galindo moved to Alaska where he served as a construction worker on the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. When his wife, Cecilia Galindo, and children moved to Alaska in 1969, she took a job making corn tortillas at an Anchorage factory. During time off from his job, Adan Galindo helped fix machines at the factory. About five years later the couple bought the tortilla factory, which also produced taco shells. Anabel Galindo grew up working in the family business and learned bookkeeping before she entered high school. By 21 she was handling all Taco Loco’s bookkeeping, a task she continued on a part-time basis for eight years while she worked another job. In 1995 she returned to full-time work at Taco Loco.-- Nancy Pounds

DOT to study Southcentral regional planning committee

Dowl Engineers has been selected by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to study the idea of forming a planning body that would help secure funding and prioritize transportation projects in Southcentral Alaska and along the Railbelt.The Anchorage-based engineering company was chosen over two consulting firms from Alaska and one from Portland, Ore., said Diana Rigg, DOT&PF project manager in Anchorage.Dowl Engineers will be paid up to $250,000 for the study, which should be completed by the end of the year, Rigg said.For the past several months, lawmakers, state officials, chambers of commerce and transportation officials have discussed the concept of a regional planning committee or a port authority to advance major transportation projects in Southcentral Alaska.Road, rail, marine and airport projects are often planned independently and don’t take into account what effect they may have on other projects, said Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage, chairman of the Senate transportation committee. The projects also compete for funding.A concerted planning effort would likely increase the chances for funding large regional projects, like the Knik Arm crossing or expansion of the Port of Anchorage, according to Cowdery and others pushing the idea of a regional planning approach.Cowdery has called two meetings since November to look at the transportation needs of Upper Cook Inlet and the Railbelt and to discuss the concept of a regional planning group.Bill Sheffield, Alaska’s former governor and director of the Port of Anchorage, strongly supports the idea of a regional planning approach."We don’t seem to do a lot of planning -- we do on individual projects -- but not collectively," Sheffield said at a Senate transportation committee meeting Jan. 3. "It’s a lot easier for Congress to appropriate money if they have a road map."Cowdery says up to 35 percent of all project funding goes into reports and studies, many of which overlap. Using a regional planning approach, he said, an environmental impact study for the Knik Arm bridge could be expanded to include the proposed expansion at the Port of Anchorage.Tom Middendorf, senior planner with Dowl Engineers, said one component of his company’s recently acquired contract with the state will be to review some 30 transportation studies in existence in the region for transportation and infrastructure projects.That work would be done with the help of a yet-to-be-formed ad hoc committee consisting of agencies and transportation groups in and around the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna area.The company also will hire a Portland, Ore.-based subcontractor, Kittelson & Associates, to look at regional planning groups in the Lower 48, Middendorf said.The entire scope of work for the regional planning study has yet to be determined. Also not determined is who will make up the planning group or whether it will have the authority to bond or tax, or if it will be simply advisory.Cowdery said whatever the planning group turns out to be, it will have some clout."When they put their stamp of approval on something, it will hold some weight,’’ Cowdery said.Still unclear is what defines the "region."Whittier officials have asked to be included in the planning group. Some have said Fairbanks should be included in the regional planning approach with Southcentral because of its close ties with Anchorage by way of rail and air.Rigg, with the state DOT&PF, said the original intent of the planning group was to link Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna area since they have close economic ties."The impetus for this was Anchorage and Mat-Su, but we invite anybody to participate and we’ll make sure everyone is in the loop that wants to be,’’ Rigg said.

Ketchikan OKs hydroelectric plant sale

KETCHIKAN -- The Ketchikan City Council has voted to pursue a $73 million deal to allow communities that operate the Four Dam Pool to purchase state-owned hydroelectric facilities.Karl Amylon, city manager for Ketchikan, told the Ketchikan Daily News that other municipality-owned utilities and electric cooperatives in the Four Dam Pool have also approved the purchase.The Four Dam Pool consists of the Swan Lake project, serving Ketchikan; the Tyee Lake project, serving Petersburg and Wrangell; the Terror Lake project, serving Kodiak; and the Solomon Gulch project, serving Valdez and Glennallen.It derives its name from the fact that customers pool operating costs at the four projects.The sale would allow the Panhandle communities to move forward with a Southeast Intertie, which would establish a power grid linking the Southeast communities. The first phase of the intertie would connect Swan Lake with Lake Tyee at a cost of $79 million.Preliminary work is already under way for the intertie, including mapping and flagging as well as updating information on wildlife and rare plants in the area.Other links could connect Petersburg and Kake, Juneau and Hoonah, Sitka and Kake, and Sitka, Angoon and Hoonah.Gov. Tony Knowles signed legislation last year approving the sale as a way to endow a fund to pay for Power Cost Equalization subsidies to Bush communities.Sale of the Four Dam Pool would be financed by the Alaska Industrial Development Export Authority.

Yakutat bills cruise lines $382,833 for head tax in 2001

JUNEAU -- The City and Borough of Yakutat has sent a bill to seven cruise lines for a $1.50-per-passenger tax approved by the community’s Assembly last January.The town wants the cruise companies to pay $382,833 for plying the waters of nearby Disenchantment Bay in 2001."With a little luck these invoices will not generate any lawyering," wrote Yakutat billing manager Cathy Wassillie last month to attorneys for Holland America and Carnival Cruise Lines.The industry is fighting the tax."It creates a terrible precedent," said John Hansen of the North West CruiseShip Association, which represents nine cruise lines operating in Alaska.The tax is unprecedented because the ships do not dock in Yakutat. However, the vessels enter scenic Disenchantment Bay in borough waters to show passengers the Hubbard Glacier, an alternative to Glacier Bay on some cruise trips.Yakutat residents who hunt seals worry the ships are hurting seal populations in the bay, a prime pupping ground for the animals. Civic leaders also say ill passengers traveling through borough waters have taken a toll on city medical services.Yakutat, about 225 miles northwest of Juneau, will put up a fight if the industry ignores the invoices, said City Manager Don Braun."The Assembly indicated that it was willing to go to court over the matter," Braun said.The industry would rather negotiate an alternative to the tax, said Hansen, who worries the levy will leave the industry vulnerable to similar taxes by cities along cruise routes to destinations worldwide."We’d like to ... explore some other alternatives with the city -- find some ways in which we can cover the cost that the city incurs on behalf of the industry," he said.Hansen said he called Braun to request a meeting after the cruise lines received the invoices, which were mailed Dec. 18. Yakutat agreed to a meeting in late January or early February, said Braun, who noted the city is open to negotiation because a court battle would be costly.Yakutat sent invoices for an estimated $50,085 to Carnival Cruise Lines; $41,871 to Holland America; $187,862 to Royal Caribbean; $111,675 to Celebrity Cruises; $38,160 to Princess Cruises; $10,500 to Radisson Seven Seas Cruises and $8,772 to World Explorer Cruises.The town estimated the amounts due by assuming the vessels sailed at capacity. However, Braun revised the total of $448,925 to $382,833 on Jan. 3 after getting more definite information on passenger numbers. The town also plans to send an invoice to the Clipper Odyssey, he said.

BP will eliminate 120 jobs from its Anchorage office

ANCHORAGE -- BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. is cutting about 120 of its employees, or 20 percent of the work force at its headquarters here.Employees were told at a town hall meeting Jan. 7 of the company’s decision to change "the size and shape of the organization," BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell said. Most workers will know whether they’ll be let go by the middle of February, and the cuts will be made within about three months.The company has had disappointing luck with recent exploration and has turned toward drilling for more oil in and around existing fields. In November, BP decided to move the department in charge of exploring for new Alaska fields to Houston, affecting about 35 jobs.Now, with the completion of development work on the offshore Northstar field and the end of a $100 million three-company study of a possible natural gas pipeline, about five dozen workers won’t be needed on those projects.At the same time BP announced the job cuts, the company said another offshore oil deposit, called Liberty, was being put on the shelf."Liberty as a Northstar look-alike project is not competitive at this time," Chappell said. Liberty, west of the Endicott field and about six miles offshore, is estimated to hold 120 million barrels of oil, compared with 160 million barrels at Northstar, which began producing at the end of October.Gov. Tony Knowles said he was disappointed that BP was pulling inward as far as exploration."While I concur with BP’s confidence in existing fields, I disagree with their approach on frontier development," Knowles, a Democrat, said in a statement. "I remain bullish about Alaska’s oil and gas development."And from Washington, Republican Sen. Frank Murkowski, who is running to replace Knowles, said he too was disappointed, but he thought that BP’s decision to scale back exploration "may be related to long waits and paperwork associated with the permitting process."Beyond the job cuts of its own employees, BP plans to eliminate about 75 of roughly 100 Anchorage contract positions as a result of the focus on what BP calls core areas in and around its existing fields.Companies that provide managed services, such as accounting, payroll and the like, will be moved out of the BP headquarters to give them a better opportunity to compete for work elsewhere, Chappell said. That will mean "some of the administrative overhead associated with those services can be borne by companies other that BP," he said."This is about making our Alaska business sustainable and competitive long term," he said, "so we can continue to attract the investment required to develop our huge resource base on the North Slope."Even with the decline at Prudhoe Bay, BP has the equivalent of roughly 7 billion barrels of oil reserves on the North Slope, about a third of that natural gas.The cutbacks are essentially limited to Anchorage. Chappell says BP will actually increase its operating and maintenance work force on the North Slope. BP cut back its operating budget on the North Slope by about $100 million last summer, resulting in layoffs at several of its contractors there.BP expects to keep its North Slope production at the current level of 330,000 barrels daily, Chappell said, and exploration spending on existing fields this year will be about the same as last year. Capital spending on the Alaska operations will total $700 million this year, he said, though that includes a sizable chunk for new tankers.Alaska’s oil companies have seen several rounds of layoffs in Anchorage as oil flow from the North Slope as declined. BP’s most recent cutback was in January 1999, Chappell said.

Alaskans, make this the year for a vacation close to home

Many of you have read about how tourism in Alaska could face huge declines in business this year as a result of the tragic events of Sept. 11. Tourism is the second largest private sector employer in the state; therefore, its challenges in the months ahead could effect many of us, not just those whom you would consider directly impacted. From the waitress in the hotel, to the dishwasher in the kitchen, to the clerk in a downtown shop, many jobs are at stake. In addition, our convention and visitors bureaus all across Alaska partially derive their budgets from hotel bed taxes, which support marketing their communities as a visitor destination. Many of us feel a bit unsettled and unsure about traveling this year. For those of us lucky enough to live in such a uniquely beautiful and culturally diverse state as we Alaskans do, think about a vacation close to home this year. From the scenic beauty of the forests of Southeast to the top of the world at Barrow; from eco-adventures to unforgettable cultural experiences in villages like Kiana on the Kobuk River, there are so many wonderful opportunities for exploration and fun. Consider attending a festival in one of our communities. These celebrations can be found in every corner of Alaska, every season of the year. Visit Alaska artists in their local environment. Look into a trip to Hooper Bay to see artists making the baskets that are known around the world. People travel great distances to Alaska for hunting and fishing trips, which are known from Germany to Australia. Treat yourself to a world class adventure, and share it with some friends. So many possibilities are so near. Travel by a different mode of transportation this year and see Alaska, as you never have before. Ride the Alaska Marine Highway System throughout Southeast and stop along the way to walk, hike, take a scenic flight, kayak or visit a Native Cultural Center to learn about Alaska’s first people. A trip through Southcentral on the Alaska Railroad could lead to wonderful family adventures like white water rafting, camping and fishing. Interior Alaska is fantastic any time of the year, from hot summer days at Harding Lake, to world-renowned aurora watching on clear winter evenings. Picture yourself relaxing at a hot springs resort, with the aurora overhead giving you a spectacular display of its awesome beauty. Travel to the Pribilof Islands for bird watching or to the Brooks Range for world-class hiking and camping. Spend time in our state and national parks, among the best in the world, and view Alaska’s wildlife in its natural habitat. Whether you desire adventure, culture, splendor, crowds or solitude, Alaska has it all. Encourage your friends and family to make Alaska part of their vacation plans, and learn for yourself about all the adventures waiting for you. They don’t call it the Great Land for nothing, and with a bit of searching, you will find the perfect vacation whether you are young or young at heart. Have fun, Alaskans -- in Alaska this year. Deborah Sedwick is the commissioner of the Alaska Department of Community & Economic Development.

Denali Alaskan joins network of credit unions

Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union has joined a cooperative that allows shared services at credit unions in 32 states and three countries.Keith Fernandez, marketing director of the Anchorage-based credit union, said members who are traveling or relocating are now able to access their credit union accounts at any of the more than 700 shared branches nationwide and in Japan, Korea and Guam.Canada will be added in the near future, Fernandez said.Services include deposits and withdrawals, loan payments, advances and copies of statements, Fernandez said."In the past, if you were on vacation and needed to cash a check you needed lots of luck,’’ Fernandez said. With the credit union service, known as the Financial Services Center Cooperative, it’s like having hundreds of Denali Alaskan branches across the country, he said.A complete list of services and cooperating credit unions is available at Denali Alaskan branches in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.Denali Alaskan Federal Credit Union is the third-largest credit union in the state, with about 35,000 members and more than $230 million in assets.

Turner takes the reins of Alaskan Publications

Mark Turner, formerly the editor and publisher of the Homer News, has been appointed general manager of Alaskan Publications. In his new position, he will oversee publication of the Journal, the Alaska Star, the Alaska Oil & Gas Reporter, the Alaskan Equipment Trader, the Alaska Military Weekly and two base newspapers.The Homer News and Alaskan Publications are owned by Morris Communications Corp. of Augusta, Ga. Its other Alaska holdings include a group of Anchorage radio stations, the Juneau Empire, the Peninsula Clarion, Alaska Magazine and the Milepost.Turner joined the Homer News as editor in 1991. He was chosen editor and publisher in 1993. During his tenure, the Homer News was selected as Best Weekly Paper by the Alaska Press Club three times. Morris Communications Corp. bought the Homer News in February 2000.Turner, 49, was born in Mississippi and grew up mostly in Nashville, Tenn. Planning to study engineering, he attended Georgia Tech in Atlanta for three years. His interests changed, however, and he transferred to a small liberal arts college, Hanover College, in Hanover, Ind. He graduated in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in biology.He spent two years working as a chemist at Gulf South Research Institute in New Orleans before moving to Starkville, Miss., to build and start a family-owned hog-raising operation with his father, a veterinarian, and his mother, a biologist.In 1979, he moved to Tucson, Ariz., where he took a part-time job working for the Arizona Daily Star, a Pulitzer chain newspaper, covering junior college baseball and girls high school volleyball. He also entered a master’s degree journalism program at the University of Arizona, but later chose to accept a full-time reporter position at the Star instead. Between 1981 and 1989, his various beats included school districts, consumer affairs, police and emergency, and state and federal courts, along with feature writing.He left the Star in 1989 and began free-lance writing, settling into scientific subjects for various publications. He also taught part time as adjunct faculty in the University of Arizona’s journalism department.He moved to Homer in December 1990 and joined the Homer News the following March.Turner replaces Craig Johnson, who resigned in December.

Judge calls for another hearing in Tongass roadless case

ANCHORAGE -- A federal judge leaning toward arguments made by environmental group lawyers offered Jan. 3 to issue an injunction against logging in roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.However, after hearing more from lawyers representing the U.S. Forest Service and the timber industry, U.S. District Judge James Singleton said he would not issue a "narrowly tailored" injunction, but instead would hold an evidentiary hearing in February.Singleton made the decision after both sides said they remained opposed over a central issue in the case: whether 19 Tongass timber sales in remote areas should be logged. Environmentalists want the tracts in roadless areas of the forest protected as wilderness. Lawyers for the government and the timber industry want logging to proceed, citing damage to the Southeast Alaska economy."I think we need a hearing," said attorney Jim Clark, who represents the Alaska Forest Association, Concerned Alaskans for Resources and the Environment and the communities of Metlakatla and Coffman Cove.The environmental groups want Singleton to reinstate a logging injunction he issued last year, this time with concessions to avoid disruption to Pacific Log and Lumber’s operations in Ketchikan.Singleton issued a temporary injunction last March that resulted in shutting down logging in the Tongass for nearly two months. He found that the Forest Service violated federal law when updating its management plan in 1997 by failing to sufficiently consider some roadless areas as eligible for wilderness designation by Congress.Bruce Landon, a Department of Justice lawyer representing the Forest Service, argued that the agency is still revising the plan. The agency has said it does not need to manage roadless areas as wilderness while it is revising the plan."There is no basis for shutting down the Tongass," he said.But Singleton said the Forest Service failed to do what was required years ago and now it was up to the court to decide how to keep the status quo until "the agency rectifies the deficiency.""The court must infer if the agency had done what is was supposed to do ... it would have designated certain areas for further wilderness," he said.If logging proceeded in areas that later were designated as wilderness, the damage would be permanent, Singleton said.The Forest Service, meanwhile, is working on a supplemental environmental impact statement that should be completed by October.The timber sales, many under contract for years, involve five companies. Two of them, Viking and Silver Bay Logging, account for 834 jobs and 56 percent of what remains of the timber industry in Southeast, Clark said.He said if an injunction forced the two sawmills to shut down, it would cause the rest of the timber industry in Southeast to collapse.Tom Waldo, an attorney for Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund’s Juneau office, disputed that claim."There is no evidence in the record to support that," he told Singleton.Waldo said plaintiffs would strongly object to exempting the existing timber sales from any injunction issued by Singleton."It would virtually deny us any relief," he said.

Anchorage partners buy City Hall for $13 million

ANCHORAGE -- An Anchorage real estate developer has closed a deal to buy the eight-story City Hall building at 632 W. Sixth Ave. from Weyerhaeuser Co.Architect Mark Pfeffer and partners Jeff Koonce and Jerry Neeser paid $13 million for the building, formerly known as the Hill Building.Pfeffer and the city have signed a lease agreement that allows the city to continue occupying the building for the next 25 years.It’s a good deal for the city, said Wuerch administration spokesman Dennis Fradley. An independent real estate consultant estimated the city could save $13 million to $17 million in rent during the life of the new lease.The building, which underwent a $13 million renovation in the early 1990s, has housed Anchorage municipal government since 1975. It was built in 1964.

NAC switches to new freight handlers in Nome, Kotzebue

Northern Air Cargo Inc. last month switched freight handlers in Nome and Kotzebue after a 12-year contract with Baker Aviation.Alaska Transport Services is handling cargo for Anchorage-based NAC in Nome, while Village Aviation has taken over the freight contract in Kotzebue."It was a business decision we had to make," said Todd Wallace, NAC’s vice president of sales and marketing.Marge Baker, owner of Kotzebue-based Baker Aviation, said her company had been handling freight in the two communities since 1988."It was a mutual decision,’’ Baker said of ending the freight contract last month. "We wanted to make a change, and they wanted to make a change ... I hope everyone is happy now."Baker said three employees in Kotzebue and two in Nome have been furloughed.Village Aviation and Alaska Transport Services each will handle about 400,000 pounds of freight and mail monthly for Northern Air Cargo, Wallace said.Village Aviation already was under contract for freight handling in Bethel.Russ Ferguson, Village Aviation station manager in Kotzebue, said his company also will handle about 1 million pounds of fish annually for the airline. Northern Air Cargo ships about the same amount of fish each year from Bethel to Anchorage, he said.With a fleet of Boeing 727 and Douglas DC-6 aircraft, Northern Air Cargo serves some 19 destinations within Alaska from its hubs in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Sitka company gets $7 million order for New York ferries

SITKA -- A Sitka shipbuilder has received a $7 million contract to build more ferries for New York, an unanticipated consequence of the Sept. 11 attacks.Allen Marine Inc. has been hired to build three 149-passenger catamarans and two 97-passenger Sea Otter class ferries for NY Waterway, a private transit company.The ferries are to be delivered by June to replace some of the 11 chartered vessels pressed into service immediately after the attacks, said NY Waterway spokesman Pat Smith."In May they have to go back. We are rushing with Allen Marine to get some boats in a hurry," Smith said.Allen Marine President David Allen said the company will work overtime to complete the order.Allen Marine just completed a $4 million contract for four NY Waterway ferries. One ferry is in service and three are en route, company officials said."Our boat-builders will be working day and night to provide quality ferries worthy of New York," Allen said in a statement.Immediately after the attacks, ferries at a terminal blocks away from the World Trade Center helped evacuate more than 160,000 people from Manhattan, Smith said.The attacks also destroyed a vital subway terminal located under the twin towers, which made ferries essential to transporting people to and from New Jersey, he said.The company used charter vessels, excursion vessels and whale watching ships from as far away as Maine to fill the demand, he said.NY Waterway’s 25 ferries carry nearly 60,000 passengers a day, he said. The company has ordered 14 Allen Marine ferries during its existence, Smith said.Each catamaran costs $1.7 million and the Sea Otter ferries cost $1 million each, Smith said.

Budget to be big battle of legislative session

Alaska legislators are returning to Juneau for the start of the 2002 legislative session, which begins Jan. 14. It looks to be a bruising session, dominated by a fight over money between the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Tony Knowles, a Democrat. Knowles is pushing for spending $189 million more in the state operating budget than in the current year for various state programs. Of this amount, $100 million is needed to replace lost federal funds and to maintain existing levels of state services in the face of inflation, the governor said. Lawmakers are looking at a projected budget deficit this year of $900 million and $1.2 billion for the next state fiscal year, the budget for which legislators must prepare this spring. It is Knowles’ last year as governor, the required end of his two terms and eight years in office. Mindful of his legacy as governor, Knowles will fight hard for his proposals. Republican leaders in the state House and Senate, less concerned about the governor’s legacy, will take a dim view of the $189 million price tag for what Knowles wants this year.

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