Journal celebrates 25 years covering Alaska

Editor’s note: The first issue of the Alaska Journal of Commerce was printed 25 years ago, on Feb. 14, 1977. With the trans-Alaska oil pipeline nearing completion, those were heady days for Alaska businesses and the state’s economy.The original masthead listed Philip A. Ramos as publisher and Bert Tarrant as managing editor. The paper has changed hands several times and is currently owned by Morris Communications Corp.The top three stories from that first issue are reprinted here, in part. What’s striking about them is not how different they are from today’s news, but how similar.Survey shows Kenai wants growthKENAI - Residents of this community are more supportive of further petrochemical development than residents of the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s other four first-class cities, according to a report scheduled for release later this month.Conducted by University of Alaska’s Anchorage Urban Observatory for the borough with funding from the Outer Continental Shelf Impact Planning Grant, the survey of Peninsula residents was conducted during September and October of 1976.Results of the study show that the petrochemical industry finds its most solid base of support for future development in the cites of Kenai and Soldotna, while the least support for further oil and gas related development is in Seward. Homer and Seward tend to favor increased fishing and fish-processing development.Valdez bonds hit marketA $262 million bond offering by the City of Valdez to partially finance construction of the trans-Alaska marine terminal has been exceedingly successful.Underwriters for the tax-free municipal issue say the Marine Terminal Revenue-ARCO Pipeline Co. Project Series 1977 bonds were almost sold out within four days of their appearance on the market Feb.7.Investors will receive 5.94 percent interest on the 25-30 year term bonds."The issue was over-subscribed almost immediately," reported one broker. "Most of the bonds are being purchased Outside, but a small amount were picked up by Alaska investors."Issuance of the bonds is designed to provide funds for the purpose of paying ARCO Pipeline Co.’s share of the estimated $1,210,300,000 cost of the terminal project.Following preliminary planning for the offering, Valdez voters in October of 1974, approved the general concept of issuing revenue bonds for financing terminal construction.Nearly a year later, in September of 1975, voters approved amendments to the City Charter facilitating the bond sale.BBNC leaves Westward in darkAlthough sale of the Anchorage-Westward Hotel has been under negotiation for some time, the situation now can be considered a classic example of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.At least for the next couple of weeks.By March, however, Bristol Bay Native Corp. is expected to assume ownership from Western International Hotels.Noble Dick, vice president-finance for BBNC, said last week his corporation is very close to closing the deal which would place the state’s largest hotel under Native control."The closing should come sometime in March," Dick said.Meanwhile, over at the Westward, director of sales Pat Mullin said he’s received no word about the sale and his staff is presently "selling extra hard to let customers know we’re still a Western International Hotel."Bristol Bay is currently making mortgage arrangements with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and two insurance companies, Dick said.

'Railroad lady' pushes link through Canada

Under the heading of special interests or hobbies on their resumes, most people list things like jogging, reading, or perhaps, bowling.Rep. Jeanette James lists the Alaska-Canada rail link."Yes," the North Pole Republican said, "I’m known as the ’railroad lady.’ "Since 1993, James has championed a rail and utility connection between Alaska and the rest of North America, a link that she says will benefit the military and the mining, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and oil and gas sectors of the economy.A track running from her home district in Fairbanks to the Canadian border also would lower the cost of shipping, she says."There is a lot of potential if we have the infrastructure," said James, adding that an Alaska-Canada rail link could open mineral development including gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, molybdenum and tin. It could also provide access to timber and to the coal field near Point Lay.The railroad’s right of way could also be used for natural gas pipelines, roads, fiber-optic cable and other utilities, she said."We have to diversify our economy so we are not dependent on oil and gas," James said.Last year, the House passed legislation sponsored by James directing the Alaska Railroad Corp. to identify and the state Department of Natural Resources to grant a right of way over state land for a 500-foot-wide rail and utility corridor from Alaska to Whitehorse, in Canada’s Yukon Territory.On Jan. 31 the bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee and has been referred to the Senate Resources Committee.Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska and a longtime rail advocate, in 2000 got $6 million in federal money for a three-year U.S.-Canadian study of a rail line’s feasibility.The Canadian government isn’t entirely sold on the continental rail network, but the idea is picking up steam, James said. The project cannot fully proceed without the support of the Canadian government, she said."There is more and more interest in British Columbia, Alberta and the Yukon," she said.The cost of building the connection in Alaska would be staggering. James estimates it would cost $2 million to $3 million a mile for the 1,150 to 1,250 miles of track needed, or $2.3 billion to $3.7 billion.That’s a bargain compared with other transportation infrastructure projects like highways and airports, and railroads are easier to build, James said."I like railroads," James said. "They are more environmentally sound, they get polluters off the roads, they leave a smaller footprint, and on top of everything else, they are fun."James’ enthusiasm for the railroad hasn’t always been met with likemindedness, especially when she was pushing for a railroad extension to Russia, via a Bering Strait tunnel."People used to rolls their eyes at me," James admitted. "Even a close friend of mine and constituent said it was the dumbest idea I’ve ever had."James believes that idea has merit, but it was a hard sell, especially when combined with the Alaska-Canada rail connection project."I think that people thought that that was too big of a bite to chew," James said, adding that the Alaska-Canada link is more palatable for most people."I think we can get this part done," James said. " I think it will happen in my lifetime. I’m 72 and my mother lived to be 92."

InvestNet unites ideas with experience

It is important, indeed vital to the health of the Alaska economy, to better link our entrepreneurs with both the talent and the money they need to succeed. Oft-repeated are the statistics on how overly dependent Alaska residents are on federal and state monies relative to other states, and how critical it is becoming to diversify and increase the number of jobs in the private sector. In order to address this need, the Knowles administration is marketing Alaska as a place for the global corporations to do business through the Department of Community and Economic Development. At the same time we need to support our local corporations with both the fiscal and intellectual capital they need to establish themselves as sustainable businesses employing Alaska residents year-round. Our experience in Alaska again and again is that the money is here, the ideas are here and most of the talent we need is here or wants to relocate here when salaries become competitive with opportunities outside. So what is missing? Why don’t more of our Great Land frontier entrepreneurs grow their ideas into fundable businesses? And of the ones who do, why do we have several start-up companies a year that resort to finding funding outside the state? The result is a loss of private sector jobs for Alaskans when they are forced to move their corporate headquarters to Seattle or Idaho. Arguably, we are geographically challenged in the sense that we are spread over vast distances, and we lack some of the standard incentives that other states use in attracting and keeping businesses, such as state income tax-based incentive programs. On the contrary, our location can be an asset. DCED is marketing Alaska as positioned more strategically than most places on the globe to do business on all three major continents, with a very well-educated population. We have identified the need for more private sector jobs and we have the ideas, money and talent to create them if we make a commitment to building Alaska businesses with the strategic networking of the intellectual, fiscal and human capital at hand. The purpose of Alaska InvestNet is to create wealth and jobs in the state of Alaska by linking Alaska’s most talented and resourceful individuals to local financial support for their diverse enterprises, creating a natural synergy in ideas and successful business development. Alaska private equity investments keep entrepreneurial talent and businesses here, and entrepreneurs build fresh economic infrastructure with sales, new jobs and enduring wealth. The initiative for Alaska’s first formalized angel networks is being catalyzed under the banner of Alaska InvestNet. Angel investors sit on the advisory boards of the companies they invest in and provide not only the money to get started, but also the invaluable advice that often rescues companies facing the inevitable challenges of growth in the marketplace. Business plan competitions are active at both Alaska Pacific University and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and these are a proven method for incubating ideas and talent that we would like to see on all of Alaska’s university campuses. Alaska InvestNet’s signature event of the year, the Capital Investment and Manufacturing Conference, will be March 12-14 at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage. Now a full three days, the fourth annual conference will include networking receptions, an Alaska entrepreneur trade show, 15 educational breakout sessions and a venture advisory panel entitled "The Deal Doctor." InvestNet is accepting business plan summaries until Feb. 15 for selection in the venture forum. For more information, visit the Web site at (www.alaskainvestnet.org). Deborah Marshall is director of Alaska InvestNet.  

Agreement to move Wasilla tracks ends at where, who pays

Nearly everyone agrees that moving railroad tracks away from Wasilla’s downtown business district would ease congestion, make driving safer and enhance the area.But exactly where to move the tracks and how to pay for the relocation are questions that remain to be answered.A city-funded study released Jan. 24 said moving the tracks is "technically feasible" and would take seven to 10 years to complete.The cost, depending on the route, would be $47 million to $62.5 million, the study said.That’s money the Alaska Railroad Corp. doesn’t have now or in the foreseeable future, said Patrick Flynn, Alaska Railroad spokesman in Anchorage."The goals of the project study are right on," Flynn said. "When you talk about improving safety, traffic flow and straightening track for more efficient run times, you’re speaking our language. Things get a little muddier you try to find out how to pay for it.""It’s not cheap, but they can be moved," said Scott Hattenburg of Hattenburg & Dilley LLC, an Anchorage-based engineering firm paid $31,800 to perform the yearlong study."The project has merit, but the numbers are so huge they (Alaska Railroad) gag on it," said Hattenburg.The relocation project, if done, would have to be broken in phases and not paid for entirely by the railroad, Hattenburg said."I think the railroad would find it more financially palatable if it were broken into smaller pieces and the burden shared," Hattenburg said.Five alternative routes were identified in the study, ranging from about six to eight miles of track relocation, and doing away with most or all of the 11 at-grade crossings in the downtown corridor.The most practical routes, Hattenburg said, are located to the south of the Parks Highway since most property to the north has been developed.It’s more than money that may derail the track relocation project, as many residents on the south side of the tracks have strongly resisted the project, at least the routes that would run by them.The city has received more than 200 comments on the relocation project, said Mayor Sarah Palin."People want the tracks moved but they just don’t want it moved by them. And that’s understandable," Palin said.Several residents have complained the city was "railroading’’ the relocation project, Palin said. But the mayor emphasized the process has been completely open to the public and no route has been favored over another by the city.For more than 20 years there have been efforts to relocate the tracks out of downtown, Palin said."This has been talked about ever since I was a child," Palin said.In a 1999 traffic study, the state Department of Transportation & Public Facilities said nearly 13,000 vehicles crossed tracks daily at Knik-Goose Bay Road. Additionally, the traffic study said, 240 school busses carry nearly 12,000 children daily over the tracks.Under state law, school buses must stop at every crossing.Some 3,200 trains pass through Wasilla annually, according to the railroad.There was a fatal accident involving a train and automobile in the mid-1980s.The Matanuska-Susitna Valley region is currently the fastest growing region in the state with an annual growth rate of more than 3 percent.According to the city-funded study, with the population growth safety concerns will only increase."We’ve got to do something," Palin said. "The problem is not going to go away."According to the city study, a new highway extension under construction should ease traffic congestion somewhat at the Knik-Goose Bay crossing.The Alaska Railroad has received $3.1 million in federal money to perform an environmental impact statement for the relocation project. But the state-owned railroad has recommended the money be put toward other projects because of the resistance from landowners and the improbability of funding the entire project anytime soon.Flynn, of the Alaska Railroad, said the money for the environmental impact study could instead go toward track and crossing improvements near Knik-Goose Bay Road, for example."That’s just one possibility," Flynn said.Palin and Flynn said the proposed Knik Arm crossing, if it were ever a reality, would greatly lessen train traffic in Wasilla.Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, is chairman of the U.S. House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has said he is committed to funding a road and rail link between Anchorage and Point MacKenzie, a project that has a price tag of more than $1 billion, according to some estimates.

British Columbia OKs fish farm growth

VICTORIA, British Columbia -- The government of British Columbia has lifted a six-year moratorium on new fish farms.The province will begin accepting applications for new operations at the end of April, Fisheries Minister John van Dongen said Jan. 31.He said for more than four years the government has reviewed scientific work done on salmon farming.A scientific review done by the Environmental Assessment Office concluded that the environmental risks of salmon farming under existing rules were low."The high operating standards proposed by government, along with improved practices, will protect the environment and allow the industry to expand in a sustainable and responsible manner," van Dongen said.The moratorium was imposed in 1995. Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles urged British Columbia to reconsider its decision."I find it troubling that when others are questioning the safety and wisdom of salmon farming and raising serious concerns about problems such as contamination, disease and the escape of non-native species of fish, that our neighbors in British Columbia are moving forward with expansion of this industry," Knowles said.The governor said last year there were 29,000 accidental releases of Atlantic salmon from British Columbia fish farms. So far this year, there have been between 8,000 and 10,000."Salmon farms are a threat to our ocean environment and the ecology of Pacific salmon," Knowles said. "Alaska wisely took action to ban this practice a decade ago."The salmon-farming industry has come under fire from environmental groups and First Nations who argue it pollutes coastal waters with fish waste and encourages the increase in parasites that prey on wild stocks.Thousands of Atlantic farm salmon also have escaped when net cages are ruptured in stormy seas. Critics warn that farm fish are surviving in the wild to reproduce in salmon streams, displacing native fish.Salmon farmers and their allies have worked hard to develop standards and rules for an environmentally sound and sustainable industry, said Anne McMullin, executive director of the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association.McMullin estimated that British Columbia salmon farmers will invest between $50 million and $60 million annually over the next 10 years while generating as many 8,000 new, full-time jobs, largely in job-deprived coastal areas of the province. The industry will generate $2.4 billion in annual economic activity, she added.But the Raincoast Conservation Society in British Columbia said the decision indicates that the government has turned its back on the people living along the coast, as well as wild salmon. He said the decision ultimately will hurt tourism in the region."What the province has signaled today is that it is willing to do a massive expansion of this harmful industry," said Raincoast campaigner Ian McAllister.

Consultant reports higher gold content at Donlin Creek

A new assessment of the Donlin Creek gold deposit near the Kuskokwim River has upgraded the estimated quality of gold ore in the project.NovaGold Resources Inc. released results of a consultant report that indicates the average gold content of the ore is 5 grams per ton compared with an earlier estimate of 3 grams per ton.The indicated and inferred gold resource in the deposit is just more than 10 million ounces, but the higher estimate of gold content in the ore means the mine could become economically viable sooner.Tests show Donlin Creek could hold a total resource of 23 million ounces of gold, if ore of much lower quality is included, Greg Johnson, vice president of corporate development for NovaGold Resources Inc, said.If the Donlin Creek deposit is developed, it would be one of the largest gold mines developed in Alaska. It could possibly exceed resources at the Fort Knox Mine near Fairbanks.It could also mean hundreds of year-round jobs for the rural area, Johnson said. The San Jose, Calif.-based company is a partner in Donlin and hopes to begin mining in three years, he said.At 3 grams of gold per ton, the Donlin deposit is three to five times as rich as Fort Knox.It needs to be rich for development to begin, because the site is remote. Power and transportation will be a challenge, said Stan Foo of the state Division of Mining, Land and Water.More tests and an economic analysis are needed before a decision is made on whether to go forward with the project.The Donlin prospect is near the Kuskokwim River about halfway between McGrath and Bethel. Kuskokwim Village Corp. owns the surface land rights to the area, said KVC president Robert Ballow, and the Bethel-based regional Native corporation, Calista Corp., owns the subsurface rights.Established international mining company Placer Dome pulled away from the project as gold prices fell in recent years, focusing its exploration dollars around existing mines, said Johnson, a former Placer Dome employee.He and two other former employees started NovaGold and worked out a deal to continue at the Donlin Creek project, looking for high-grade ore that would make mining profitable. They bought a gravel mine near Nome and used cash from that to finance Donlin exploration.NovaGold put $2 million into exploration and development last year and will spend $8 million more this year, Johnson said.Foo said obtaining permits to begin work could take two to three years.If the economics of the project work out, 500 jobs in construction and mining could be created, Johnson said. The mine could last 10 years, he said, or 50 if more gold is discovered nearby, which is common."Those are awfully exciting numbers," said George Gardner, president of Chiulista Camp Services Inc., a subsidiary of Calista that supported the exploration with temporary help, housekeeping and catering.State labor economist Brigitta Windisch-Cole said 500 more jobs in the Bethel region would bump the area’s employment by 13 percent. And, she said, the average wage in the gold mining industry is $49,000, nearly twice that of the area."We’re lacking a Prudhoe Bay or Red Dog or Cook Inlet," Gardner said of Western Alaska. Developing natural resources is important for the cash-poor region and people."Ain’t no social program better than somebody being able to have a job," he said.The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Russian processors want piece of pinks

PETERSBURG -- A Seattle-based company wants a state permit to bring up to eight Russian fish processors into Alaska waters this summer, but U.S. processors say they will protest the entry.Global Seafoods North America wants to buy as much as 50 million pounds of pink salmon from Southeast and Prince William Sound but will need a permit from Gov. Tony Knowles to do so.If Knowles grants the permit, Global Seafoods President Oleg Nikitenko said as many as six processors would be positioned near fishing grounds in Southeast and two would go to Prince William Sound."Alaska can no longer rely on the North American market for its pink salmon. Those days are over and Alaska needs to open new markets," Nikitenko said. "I think Europe is a great new market for the fish. Eastern Europe is a great market for the fish. If Alaska won’t open the door to the new markets, then the business will die."By bringing floating processors into Alaska waters, Global Seafoods avoids duty tax, which can increase the cost of the fish by 30 percent.Nikitenko wants the pinks for the Russian market. The fish would be processed as whole frozen, whole gutless, and headless and gutless.Global Seafoods plans to pay 7 cents per pound for pinks.Last year pinks fetched 12 to 15 cents per pound at the dock and that price was considered low. But Nikitenko said Russian consumers cannot even afford to buy cheap farmed salmon, so the price of pinks needs to be low enough to make it affordable.Nikitenko said Russian consumers do not want canned salmon because they do not like the taste and they believe there is more value in a frozen fish."People are using the head and the tail for soups. If it’s a whole round fish, every housewife will buy the whole round fish hoping to find eggs inside the fish, which is an extra bonus," he said.Nikitenko knows paying 7 cents per pound is less than most fisherman want but he said he won’t impose any trip limits, which means he’ll buy as much as a fisherman can catch.He needs at least 300,000 pounds per processor per day to make it work. Nikitenko believes those without markets this summer may take advantage of his offer."Right now we have lots of phone calls from fishermen and people who call us that have no market for their pink salmon for this year and they’re happy to work with us," he said.Norquest Seafoods does not want the state to grant the permit. Company President Terry Gardiner said existing processors can handle the projected harvest for this summer.He said there are no untapped markets for pink salmon and domestic processors can’t compete with foreign boats that pay their crews third-world wages."The claim that they have a secret market for pink salmon, I believe, is totally bogus. One of the things that has reduced the value of canned and frozen pink salmon on the world market is the flood of cheap Russian pinks," Gardiner said.With a bleak market outlook for pink salmon, Icicle Seafoods President Don Giles said bringing in foreign processors could be devastating to the industry."We can weather the storm as long as we don’t have to compete with a bunch of foreign bottoms. And if we do, it’s going to create a problem for those who don’t think they have a problem right now," he said.While some processors say they can handle the projected harvest for this season, at least two companies are expected to reduce their fleets for 2002. That leaves some Southeast permit holders without a market for their fish.John Peckham, a board member of Southeast Seiners, said the Russian buyers may be a solution."As a fishermen, if you weigh everything out, it’s hard to believe that supply and demand and competition for our fish isn’t a good thing," he said.State officials will assess whether there is room for another processor and if the company has sufficient financial resources.Knowles makes the final decision on issuing the permit. Global Seafoods wants an answer by March 20 to get its processors ready.Knowles’ spokesman Bob King said the state has not received a formal permit request but is aware that it could be coming. The state already has begun a domestic processor survey to determine if there is a surplus of pink salmon that could be made available to a foreign processor.

House panel OKs $6 million for tourism

The House Finance Committee has approved a $6 million special appropriation to the Alaska Travel Industry Association to boost tourism marketing. House Bill 359 is now in the House Rules Committee, awaiting placement on the calendar for floor action in the state House.Sponsored by the Finance Committee, the bill would help market Alaska in the wake of a decline in travel and tourism following the September terrorist attacks in New York City.Property rights clarifiedSen. Loren Leman, R-Anchorage, has introduced SB263, clarifying legal rights of property-owners to make improvements on property obtained from Alaska Native corporations. Transfer of some lands has raised certain title uncertainties, which can be resolved by state law, Leman said."This legislation will help Native corporation shareholders who received property from their village corporations and were deeded only surface rights, while the regional corporations retain subsurface rights," Leman said.Some property owners have been prevented from making improvements, he said. The bill is in the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee.State mechanical inspectionsA bill that allows the state Department of Labor to collect fees to support its mechanical inspection programs has passed out of the House Labor and Commerce Committee and is now in the Finance Committee. Sponsored by the Labor and Commerce Committee, HB262 will help eliminate a backlog of elevator and boiler inspections in the state, the labor department said.Bill will prioritize budgetsRep. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, has sponsored a bill requiring state agencies to submit their budgets in a form that ranks the department’s priorities. The bill, HB349, was passed out of the House Finance Committee and is now in the Rules committee, awaiting floor action in the House."Budget decisions are always difficult and legislators struggle to get the information necessary to set dollar amounts that should be available for each department," Dyson said. "The Knowles administration has steadfastly resisted legislative efforts to obtain input about where budget reductions can be made or what governmental activities are optional."State laws on trustsThe Senate Labor and Commerce Committee passed out HB 157, updating state statutes relating to trusts. The bill clarifies who may provide fiduciary services in Alaska, expands who may be a trust company, establishes what a trust company’s powers are and establishes provisions for permissible activities including interstate or intrastate business expansion.The bill is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Rep. Lisa Murkowski, R-Anchorage, is prime sponsor of the bill.Hot springs exemptionThe House Resources Committee has approved HB263, relating to the regulation of natural hot springs. The bill exempts hot springs resorts, spas and other facilities from having to treat their naturally recycling waters with chlorine or other chemicals as long as coliform counts in the water remain low.Rep. Hugh Fate, R-Fairbanks, said the bill is intended to protect the natural character of hot springs. The bill is now in the House Rules Committee, awaiting floor action in the House.

Revenue report: Few benefits of owning stake in pipeline

JUNEAU -- Alaska has few incentives to owning a stake in a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope to the Lower 48, said a Department of Revenue report.But the report stopped short of warning against such an investment."Ultimately it’s a public policy call in terms of how much direct involvement the state should have in developing its resources," said Larry Persily, deputy director of the Department of Revenue.The report, ordered by the Legislature amid talk in the oil industry about such a project, was released Jan. 31.It concluded that Alaska does not have the money to own a great share of the project without tapping into the Alaska Permanent Fund and its financing options are uncertain.If the state owned the pipeline facilities, it could cost up to $14 billion that would not begin to show a return for seven years, the report said.Declining oil revenues have left Alaska with an $865 million deficit that is projected to grow to $1.1 billion by next year. The state’s Constitutional Budget Reserve is expected to be empty by 2004.The prospects of financing such a project through loans is unclear, the report said.Gov. Tony Knowles has asked for approval of a large general obligation bond package to pay for school construction and maintenance to public facilities.If the bond package is approved by the Legislature and voters, it could exhaust the state’s capacity to take on debt, the report said."The only way we could see state financial participation being a benefit is if there were a way under the law to seek tax-exempt financing," Persily said.The Revenue Department also concluded that oil companies do not need financial assistance and oil and gas interests interviewed for the study do not favor having Alaska as a shareholder.The industry commissioned its own $100 million study to determine whether the cost of a gas pipeline would be profitable.The oil companies’ report, which considered routes through both Alaska and Canada, has been completed.Results of the report have not been made pubic, but the industry has tentatively said neither route appears economically viable.Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, who chairs the Joint Committee on Natural Gas Pipelines, said the report will be useful in helping lawmakers to decide a course."We knew that there was going to be barriers in any direction we went," Torgerson said.But he said he had hoped the Department of Revenue would answer the most pressing question of whether Alaska should be a shareholder in the project.While the report repeatedly cautioned about the pitfalls of investing in or owning a pipeline, it never conclusively recommended one course or another."I’m certainly not going to discount anything that’s in there, but I think I would have been happy with a summary that says, ’no’ rather than ’maybe,’ " Torgerson said.

Out of Court February 10, 2002

Glass eye not enough to spring drunken driver with ’glassy eyes’A Philadelphia public defender was representing a man accused of drunken driving. The arrest report submitted into evidence indicated that the arresting officer believed the accused was drunk because, among other things, he had "glassy eyes." During the trail, the public defender contested this charge by plucking a glass eye from his client’s eye socket and showing it to the court. The judge, however, was not swayed. "You’re missing the point," the judge told the lawyer, "It’s only a glass eye. The police officer said ’eyes.’ "One dollar short, one day in jailA Nebraska woman was fined $169 after pleading guilty to disturbing the peace. Several weeks later, the woman’s daughter paid the fine with a check for $168, one dollar less than the amount of the fine. When paying the fine, the daughter claims that the court clerk did not dispute the amount and accepted the check. Nine days later, a warrant was issued for the mother’s arrest. She was eventually arrested and put in jail. Jail personnel chipped in and came up with the dollar that set the woman free.When jurors decideEver wonder when jurors make up their mind? A recent survey by the Tennessee Law Review may help answer that question. Jurors were asked at what point in the proceedings they decided how they would rule. Almost 4 percent said they made up their minds during opening. Another 20 percent decided after the presentation of evidence and another 8 percent during jurors’ discussions. More than 46 percent of the jurors surveyed said they reached their decision during jury deliberations.State Bar declines to ease tortureRepresentatives of the California Committee of Bar Examiners recently proposed that the California bar examination be shortened from three days to two. They argued that the shorter exam would save money and reduce stress. They also pointed out that most other states have a two-day exam. One representative called the current exam "grueling" and "almost cruel and inhuman treatment." The Bar’s Board of Governors, however, was not impressed and voiced concern that a shorter exam might be perceived as a "dumbed down" exam. The board voted unanimously to keep the California exam three days long. Said one governor, "I took a three-day exam and by God, so should they."Hearsay"No, I’m with the Department of Motor Vehicles."-- A potential juror when asked if he was in a helping profession.Have something to share with Out of Court? E-mail it to Chet Olsen at ([email protected]).

Knowles' capital budget in millions

Gov. Tony Knowles has launched an ambitious initiative for new construction around the state, much of which will be paid for in future years from the state budget.Included are: $136 million in major maintenance on state-owned buildings and other facilities; $212 million in new school construction and repairs to existing schools; $39 million in repairs and upgrades to state-owned harbors; and $435 million in accelerated funding for federally financed surface transportation projects.Most recently, the governor laid out a plan for $136 million to be spent on major deferred-maintenance projects on public facilities around the state, to be paid for by certificates of participation, a type of revenue bond."It’s time to step up to the plate and take care of long overdue maintenance at these buildings," Knowles said as he introduced legislation on a portfolio of projects Jan. 25. Included are major repairs to state prisons, Pioneers’ Homes, state office buildings, National Guard armories and other facilities.Two days earlier, the governor unveiled a proposal for $212 million in state general obligation bonds, which would be used to fund new school construction around the state. The plan would see $100 million in new schools built in fiscal 2003, the budget year starting July 1, and $109 million in construction the following year.If approved by the Legislature, the bond issue would go before voters in the November general election.Major elements of the state deferred maintenance plan include: $12.2 million for repairs and renovations to Pioneers’ Homes across the state; $8.8 million for deferred maintenance projects on health clinics and juvenile justice facilities, including renovation and expansion of the Nome youth detention center; $25.8 million for repairs to adult detention centers; $11.1 million for state trooper and Fish and Wildlife Protection facilities; $20.2 million for repairs to facilities maintained by the Department of Administration, including repairs to roofs, elevators, water and electrical systems; $16.6 million for major maintenance for facilities operated by the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, including repairs to office buildings, courthouses and highway maintenance stations; $5.5 million for University of Alaska facilities; $2.5 million for Americans with Disabilities Act projects at the University of Alaska and state facilities; and $4 million as the state’s share for construction costs for veterans’ housing.Other new construction proposed by Knowles, in addition to those mentioned above, includes a $12.5 million new seafood and food safety laboratory to be built in Anchorage and financed by certificates of participation, and $39 million in repairs to state-owned harbors in coastal communities, financed by revenue bonds.In addition, the governor is pushing legislators to approve a proposal made two years ago to accelerate federally funded surface transportation projects by issuing state revenue bonds, called "Garvee bonds," against anticipated receipt of future federal transportation funds.Knowles is proposing a plan to accelerate some $425 million in transportation projects. These would be built sooner than later, under the governor’s plan.On the major maintenance proposal, the governor said he is following recommendations made two years ago by the Legislature’s Deferred Maintenance Task Force, urging attention to repairs needed to public buildings.That year state lawmakers approved about $500 million on a list of some $1.2 billion of backlogged projects. The proposals made this year by Knowles address critical needs that remain."Pioneer’s Homes in Anchorage and Fairbanks have electrical and fire code violations that create safety hazards to residents, visitors and employees," the governor said. "In Juneau, areas of the lobby of the State Office Building were recently roped off because concrete ceiling pieces were falling to the floor."The problem developed in the 1980s when cuts to the state operating budget led to many major maintenance projects being delayed. The backlog soon exceeded $1 billion.Annual debt service on the Certificates of Participation will be $13 million, the governor said.The proposed state general obligation bonds for school construction would fund eight new schools. The state’s priority list has 57 new schools needed around the state, at a total cost of $490 million, and a deferred maintenance backlog on schools consisting of 115 projects with a price tag of $151 million."In many cases, Alaska’s classrooms and school buildings are inadequate. We’ve made decent progress in the last two years, but there’s more work to do," Knowles said, in announcing his legislative proposal."I propose this as the first of three installments to complete the entire existing statewide education priority construction list in six years," the governor said.Knowles’ plan emphasizes the major maintenance needs and would cover 60 priority projects in fiscal 2003 and 21 more the following year, if the bonds are approved by the legislators and the voters."A steady flow of funds into construction and maintenance inspires confidence," in the state’s system of ranking and funding school needs, the governor said."Experience has shown that funding the priority list at about $100 million per year is optimum," Knowles said. "Too little funding results in higher costs as backlogs grow and local plans become outdated. Too much money going out in a single year can result in higher bids and more out-of-state contractors.""Working off both priority lists (new schools and major maintenance) utilizes a combination of larger-scale construction firms for new construction and smaller firms, such as roofing and plumbing contractors, for repairs," the governor said.In recent years the state has funded its backlog of new schools from unusual or one-time revenues, such as money from tobacco litigation settlements or dividends paid by the Alaska Housing Finance Corp., a state-owned housing corporation.These revenues are not available this year, Knowles said, and it is time to fund these facilities with state funds.The state has not issued general obligation bonds in more than two decades because there has been enough revenue from oil production to fund state capital projects with cash appropriations.Anticipated annual debt service on the school bonds will be $21 million, Knowles said.

Missile defense contractors face giant task to make bids

FAIRBANKS -- Construction contractors face a daunting chore to put together a $100 million-$250 million proposal that will detail how they will build a missile defense test site in Fort Greely.They have to read a foot-and-a-half-thick stack of paper detailing the project’s specifications and requirements.Contractors have to make sure they can get their hands on materials quickly; they’ll start building this spring if awarded the contract.And they’ll have to have to find subcontractors, including minority, veteran or disabled-owned small businesses.The companies’ final bids will require five volumes, each with specific information outlining how the job will get done. Bids are due Feb. 26.Not many companies can do it, but those who can will."In a military minute," said R.J. Parker, vice president of project development for Fluor Daniel, a multinational engineering and construction firm.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers intends to award the project April 12. The project includes building five missile silos, a missile assembly building, an electrical substation and a control station at Fort Greely.Representatives of at least a half-dozen major engineering and construction companies, including one Alaska contender, were in Fairbanks Jan. 30 to hear the Corps explain its proposal process. They were joined by nearly 300 more people, many representing Alaska businesses.The Corps took busloads of potential contractors to the site Jan. 31 and was to spend the next day answering questions and holding one-on-one sessions with contractors.It was the third such meeting in the last two years, said Lt. Col. Jay Smith of the Air Force Missile Defense Agency. In all likelihood, firms have been preparing to submit proposals on the multimillion-dollar project since the first meeting two years ago, he said."These guys are pros," Smith said of firms attending the conference. "They know how to put together a project."In addition to Fluor, some of the major companies at the conference included Bechtel National Inc., Jacob Engineering and Anchorage-based Veco Alaska Inc.Fluor built all the pump stations for the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, Parker said. The company has an Alaska Native business partnership with Anchorage-based Alutiiq. The two will likely refurbish the U.S. Embassy in Brazil this year, Parker said.Another familiar name is Bechtel, which worked on the construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Bechtel has been working on its proposal for a while, said Mike Lewis, operations manager."We are ready," Lewis said. "We have been anticipating this for two years from the original kickoff meeting."Lewis said the 2,500-page project requirements document even specifies the type of bolts that have to be used."It’s highly complex," he said. It cost $245 to make one copy at a local copy store, he said.The project was put out to bid Jan. 27.During the meeting Jan. 30, several key project staff members for the missile defense project emphasized important points for contractors."We will have every brick in place, the last microchip in place, by 30 September, 2004," Smith said.The missile defense project includes an infrared satellite system, space, air and land-based lasers, early-warning radars and interceptor rockets, Smith said.The Boeing Co. has been working on the design of the system, including specifics at Fort Greely, Smith said."Boeing does the real rocket science," Smith said.Potential contractors will have to adhere to several subcontractor and hiring stipulations, said Patricia Davies, a Corps contracting officer. A potential company’s previous experience in those areas will be checked, she added. Another issue will be whether the contractor can deliver on time, she said."The schedule is so critical," Davies said.Once the construction is completed in 2004, the missile defense system will be operational on a "limited, emergency" basis, Smith said."What we are going to have here is the whole enchilada to defend the whole United States," Smith said.

Shemya radar, other missile defense projects await tests

Construction of the X-band radar installation at Shemya and some other Alaska projects related to a national missile defense program is being delayed while the system’s integration is being tested, Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens told the state Legislature in Juneau Jan. 21.However, a test program that will involve two to three missiles being fired from Kodiak and a similar number from new silos built at Fort Greely will proceed, Stevens said."Full-scale deployment will not occur until the research and development phase has validated the system as a whole," Stevens said. "There are no new technologies involved, but the integration of the system must be tested, and this is as it should be," he said.Missile defense was one of a wide range of issues, from transportation to energy and the gas pipeline, fisheries and education, that Stevens touched on in his annual address to the Legislature.He also urged state legislators to set aside partisan politics to tackle critical issues like the state fiscal gap, citing a strong bipartisan effort under way now in Congress on major questions."In Congress, we sound in public as partisan as ever, but behind the scenes we are working very closely with the other party," he said.Significantly, Stevens did not mention subsistence, the first time in years that the state’s senior senator has not urged legislators to approve a proposed constitutional amendment that could stop the takeover of fish and game management in Alaska by federal agencies.In his talk he urged Alaskans to extend a helping hand to military families in the state who are affected by deployment of personnel overseas."When I served in World War II, there were few families, if any, around our bases," he said."Today our military is a family community, and many family members are alone with small children while their partner in life is deployed somewhere in the world," Stevens said.In remarks following the speech, Stevens expressed hope that Alaska’s four military bases will survive future base closings. Each has a major role, he said. Elmendorf Air Force Base is the major support base for security in the North Pacific, Eielson Air Force Base backstops Elmendorf, Fort Wainwright is a major training center, and Fort Richardson is a center for science and research in war fighting.But he predicted that the U.S. military is in for a major overhaul after current anti-terrorism efforts wind down, which Stevens predicted will last two to three more years. The "military of the future" will be robust, but high-tech, the senator said.On tourism, Stevens spoke favorably of efforts under way by the Washington and Hawaii delegations to waive Jones Act requirements, which would allow foreign-built cruise ships to travel from one U.S. port to another."This would help the cruise ship industry reposition ships from Europe that are now operating at less than capacity," because of the decline in travel after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.A major portion of Stevens’ remarks were devoted to fisheries."Fish farms now threaten the collapse of our salmon industry," he said. "Now foreign countries are also farming halibut and other species. Unless we take bold action it will be too late to turn the tide."During his address, the senator went on to outline a number of steps he will take."Shortly after the Senate reconvenes, it will turn to consideration of the Farm Bill. I have initiated a new pilot program for salmon insurance modeled after the successful crop insurance program. I am working also on amendments that will require the labeling of both imported and farm-raised fish."We will try to develop a plan to allow our wild salmon to be labeled organic to give it a share of the growing, lucrative health food market," Stevens said. Efforts to get wild salmon labeled as organic were turned down by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last year.Stevens said he has been asked by salmon fishermen to author a federally financed marketing plan to promote wild salmon."I will offer an amendment to add seafood to the agricultural marketing service, but that will only solve part of the problem," he said.He also said he will convene a salmon summit this spring to get a better understanding of the science and issues involved and to solicit testimony from industry and community leaders to develop a plan.There’s good news in fisheries too, Stevens said. Efforts to fund lucrative dive fisheries are beginning to bear fruit and progress is being made in efforts to recapitalize, and rationalize, the crab fisheries.The new Community Development Quota corporations are bringing $100 million a year into the state’s economy.They are also buying into the offshore fishing fleet, increasing Alaska ownership of the fleet to an unprecedented level.The American Fisheries Act, authored by Stevens, "has been successful beyond our wildest dreams. Our all-American fleet is the largest volume fishery in the country. It has spawned dozens of new products," and by mandating full utilization of the fish, it also operates more efficiently, Stevens said."For every pound of bottomfish harvested, utilization increased by a quarter pound. That translates into 100 million more pounds of edible seafood protein, adding $100 million to our economy."On natural gas, "all options are on the table, and the options should include state participation to build the gas line through Alaska," Stevens said.There is justification for some form of federal action to stabilize volatile gas prices for the project, because the initial impact on the market of delivering large quantities of Alaska gas will have an upsetting effect on prices, he said.However, Stevens said he does not support a ban on the over-the-top northern route, and that "we should wait until the gas producers finish their studies."But ultimately the gas pipeline should not leave Alaska via a route that will not allow Alaskans to use the gas for energy and economic development, he said."Energy is the most significant cost in our economy," he said.

More stores, more jobs forecast across state

Alaska’s retail sector should see continued growth and job increases this year with the opening of new stores by Fred Meyer and Lowe’s in Anchorage and Home Depot in Fairbanks.The retail sector, which includes restaurants, grocers and department stores, is expected to register strong job gains, second only to the services sector, according to a 2002 economic forecast by the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.Last year retail posted stronger job growth than the three previous years, said Neal Fried, economist with the state Department of Labor. The sector gained roughly 1,000 jobs, with half coming from eating and drinking establishments, to bring the statewide retail job total to 49,900, he said.National retailers will add to those totals this year. This month Fred Meyer will open its fourth Anchorage store, while Home Depot will open its second Alaska store in Fairbanks.Another large retailer, Lowe’s, is projected to open a new store this year in South Anchorage. Several restaurants are already in the works, aiming for 2002 opening dates. These include Applebee’s in East Anchorage, Chili’s Grill & Bar on the south side of town plus IHOP Restaurant and Boston Pizza in Midtown Anchorage.Fried believes several factors could contribute to new retailers entry into the Alaska market.In researching new store sites, assessing the community or state economy might be a factor, although store officials also could plan to open a store in an area before their competitor does, he said. Also, if the retailer already operates in Alaska, perhaps they gauge how well their other stores perform."I remember in the last boom we had people who said, ’What do they know that we don’t?’ " Fried said. The retailers probably did not have a tip on a major project that could benefit the state economy, he said. "Maybe they had more faith than we had."Also, the incoming retailers have been industry veterans bringing a different view or seeing opportunities in the market, Fried said.One industry analyst who follows Fred Meyer’s parent company, Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co., believes the company builds stores where they will post strong financial results.Kroger is adding stores in markets like Atlanta, where store officials see opportunity, said Charles Cerankosky, manager director at McDonald Investments of Cleveland.Meanwhile, other retailers including Kmart and Montgomery Ward are struggling, he said. Officials of grocer Albertson’s has said it plans to close some stores. By contrast, Home Depot, Walgreen’s, Kroger and Wal-Mart continue to open stores, he noted."I think companies that are doing well such as Kroger and Wal-Mart are positioning themselves for future growth," Cerankosky said.Kroger’s earnings continue to climb although at a slower pace than last year, despite a slowed U.S. economy, he said."In U.S. retailing the pattern has been to grow through economic slowdowns," he said.Fred Meyer has differentiated itself from other retailers much the way Target has, in competing with industry leader Wal-Mart, he said."Fred Meyer sort of parallels Target’s approach and also it is a very good food retailer," Cerankosky said.Fred Meyer differs from Wal-Mart, too, since it aims for high-quality products while Wal-Mart targets more price sensitive customers, he said."It’s a well-run superstore," Cerankosky said.

Fred Meyer, Carrs stoke grocery competition

The Anchorage grocery market heats up this year as Fred Meyer opens a new store this month and competitor Carrs-Safeway expects to begin construction this spring on a replacement store.Both stores will be in South Anchorage, within blocks of one another, on Abbott Road.Last fall two other grocery choices came online in the South Anchorage corridor.Changes to the city’s grocery market in a roughly one-mile area include Kmart on Dimond Boulevard adding groceries in October alongside Sam’s Club, which recently completed renovations. Sam’s Club officials said some merchandise is geared to reach shoppers buying smaller-scale items, not just bulk items.Kmart converted four existing stores into Super Ks in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.In 2002 two other grocery players join that market.The new Fred Meyer store will open Feb. 20, company officials said. With the opening Fred Meyer marks its fourth Anchorage store and its ninth in Alaska.The $28.5 million store will total about 170,000 square feet, Fred Meyer officials have said. Features include a gas station and an in-store Starbucks Coffee counter. Portland, Ore.-based Fred Meyer is owned by grocery giant Kroger Co. of Cincinnati.Plans are under way for Alaska store No. 10 in Eagle River, which could see construction this year. The proposed store would be built at the intersection of the Old Glenn Highway and Northgate Road, just north of downtown Eagle River.Fred Meyer has received site plan approval from the municipal Planning and Zoning Commission, said Tom Gibbons, Fred Meyer project manager. However, the approval came with conditions needed to comply with the city’s "big box" ordinance, which aims to improve the architecture of large retailers."We’re now working on more detailed drawings," Gibbons said.Changes include an altered roof line, additional site landscaping and pedestrian walkways that connect to existing bike paths, he said. The drawings would then be resubmitted to city planners. The next step will be completing acquisition of the land and construction start-up, he said."We’re hopeful to get under construction in late spring or early summer and open early next year," Gibbons said.Likewise, Safeway, which operates Carrs Quality Centers, is finalizing plans for a new store. The store on Abbott Road in Anchorage will replace the existing store on Dimond Boulevard and the Old Seward Highway, said Glenn Peterson, Safeway district manager."I started at that store 27 years ago. It’s a great location," he said, but noted that it was too small for current market conditions."We needed a 21st century store," he said.Safeway owns the current Dimond location, but Peterson believes the property is valuable real estate and probably will picked up quickly once the grocery store relocates.The new store will measure 64,000 square feet, compared with the current store at 40,000 square feet, just slightly smaller than the Huffman Road store in Anchorage, Peterson said.He did not list a price tag for the new store.Construction could begin later this year."It would be nice to go in the spring and finish up by the holidays," he said.The location near grocery competitor Fred Meyer may provide some synergism for Carrs, Peterson said."The winner is the customer," he added.Safeway officials presented store drawings to the area’s community council, receiving favorable reviews, he recalled."It’s very upscale looking," he said.He believes the new Carrs will coordinate with plans for a proposed town center at Abbott Road. The site also will include a gas station and three or four pads in the parking area for additional retail, he said.Inside, Carrs will feature the same departments although layout might differ from existing stores, he said.

Tesoro posts record year earnings

ANCHORAGE -- Tesoro Petroleum Corp. reported record profits of $88 million for 2001, up 32 percent from the previous year.The San Antonio, Texas-based oil refining and retailing company said revenue reached $5.2 billion, up 2 percent.The company said the higher earnings were due to better profits on its refined products -- mainly gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel -- more refining throughput and improved operating performance.In the fourth quarter, profit fell to $4 million from $24.4 million a year earlier, a decline attributed in part to the Lower 48 recession and warm weather.Fourth-quarter revenue was $1.3 billion, down 11 percent. Tesoro has refineries in Nikiski as well as in Hawaii and three Lower 48 locations. Its Alaska refinery handles almost 51,000 barrels of product a day, 14 percent of the company’s production.Its gasoline is sold through more than 600 branded stations, including about 130 in Alaska.

Commission says Alaska supports mining industry

The Alaska Minerals Commission submitted its annual report Jan. 28, lauding Gov. Tony Knowles and state legislators for their efforts to help the state’s mining industry."Partly as a result of the responsive action of the governor and the Legislature over the past few years, the global mining industry considers Alaska a favorable place to do business and is demonstrating its growth potential," said Irene Anderson of Nome, who is chairwoman of the commission this year.The commission cited a recent mining industry survey by the Fraser Institute of British Columbia, which found Alaska eighth among 35 countries and states in terms of investment attractiveness.Most recently the state has helped the mining industry with certain actions, according to the report. These include: Reconstitution of a core permitting team at the Department of Environmental Conservation, preserving valuable experience and knowledge of DEC staff familiar with mining permits; Continued support for state-sponsored airborne geophysical surveys. The results of these, made public, have attracted considerable new investing in minerals exploration; and Online access to files in the state Recorder’s Office and the Land Records Information System in the Department of Natural Resources.The 11-member commission includes representatives from industry, which make annual recommendations to the governor and Legislature on ways to mitigate constraints on mining in Alaska.Although the industry has been hit hard by declining metals prices and poor market conditions, Alaska has fared better than many parts of the world in continuing to attract investment for exploration, according to Dick Swainbank, a state minerals analyst.Steve Borel, executive director of the Alaska Miners Association, said a key part of what attracts new mining investment here is political stability in Alaska compared with many developing countries, and what mining industry executives perceive as a favorable political environment in Alaska for mining.

Massage therapy seminars at Alaska Club

The Alaska Club Network has scheduled several seminars for February. Three massage therapy workshops run from 7-9 p.m. Feb. 12, 19 and 26 at The Alaska Club West, 1770 W. Northern Lights Blvd. in Anchorage.Each workshop costs $20 for members or $30 for others. Cost for member couples is $34 and $50 for nonmember couples. Registration is required. Christine Netland, a licensed massage therapist, will lead the sessions.The Feb. 12 session will address basic Swedish massage techniques for muscle and body relaxation.On Feb. 19 Netland will discuss Jin Shin Do acupressure, a technique to ease physical and emotional tension in the body.The Feb. 26 workshop will demonstrate and discuss foot reflexology.Another seminar at the fitness center, a free session on lower back pain, is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 19 in Wasilla and Feb. 27 at The Alaska Club West’s new location, 1400 W. Northern Lights Blvd.Licensed physical therapist Alec Kay, who specializes in sports physical therapy, will teach participants how to strengthen the lower back and modify exercise routines to ease back pain. Registration is required.For more information or registration, call 907-274-5510.

Kodiak rockets launch millions into economy

KODIAK -- The Kodiak Star launch in September brought $4.4 million into the Kodiak’s economy and increased the size of Kodiak’s payroll by about $1.3 million, according to a university report.In all, Alaska’s economy was boosted by $6.8 million and jobs were generated in industries from food service and hotels to business and health services, according to the report.The latest summarized findings of the economic impacts of the September launch were released by the University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research.The Kodiak Star, which launched four satellites on Sept. 29, drew expenditures from the Alaska Aerospace Development Corp., Lockheed Martin and NASA. The estimated expenditures were distributed across 36 industries.Lockheed Martin’s contract with AADC for use of launch complex, plus additional costs due to launch date changes, totaled $700,000.

Business Profile: Web Weavers

Name of the company: Web WeaversEstablished: 1997Location: 565 University Ave., FairbanksTelephone: 907-479-9322Web site: www.webbweavers.comMajor focus of services: Web Weavers handles Web site design plus graphic and logo design, interactive multimedia presentations, Web hosting and CD or CD-ROM duplication.History of the company: David Duplessis and Ginger Stock, who had worked together at KIAK-FM, founded the company. Operating from Duplessis’ kitchen, they started with one computer but no business startup loans. Business grew during the next two years, and Duplessis and Stock added two other computers, an intern and a part-time employee and moved to the current office location.Web Weavers first designed Web sites, then began updating and hosting sites. After more than three years in business the company began providing interactive multimedia services, CD duplication and database application programming.Duplessis, who specializes in the technical side of the business, and Stock, who handles graphic design, are self-taught Internet designers and programmers.A turning point for the company came as the Internet grew in popularity for businesses. One growth area is CD duplication for musicians or custom CDs for graduations or weddings.Web Weavers’ clients include Chena Hot Springs Resort, the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, KUAC-FM, ABC Alaska’s Superstation, the Fairbanks Concert Association, an ABC affiliate in Santa Barbara, Calif. and a jazz musician in Boston. Most clients are based in Alaska and more than one-third are nonprofit organizations.The company employs eight people including one in Vancouver, British Columbia.Top accomplishment of the company: In October Web Weavers received the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce Bill Bivins Small Business of the Year Award. Although the company already tallied 300 clients at the time, the award provided increased statewide recognition for Web Weavers, Stock said. Strong customer service also is a key ingredient for success, Duplessis said. "I think it really boils down to customer service and that people trust us," he said.Major players: David Duplessis and Ginger Stock, owners, Web Weavers.Duplessis, who earned a theater degree from the University of Utah, moved to Fairbanks 13 years ago. He helped start the Fairbanks Shakespeare Theater. Stock, born and raised in Fairbanks, earned a marketing degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She worked for the Fairbanks News-Miner. Duplessis and Stock worked in sales at KIAC-FM before starting Web Weavers.-- Nancy Pounds

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