Brewery owners manage growth

Marcy Larson, co-owner of Juneau’s Alaskan Brewing Co., has some hard-won advice for small business operators managing growth: Be careful, pay attention to quality and make sure you’ve got strength in your home market before you expand out of state.Listen to your banker is another bit of advice."There have been many times our banker has looked at sales projections and made us scale back, to make sure we can pay our loan even if sales didn’t meet expectations," she said. "That conservative view helped us."It’s easy to dream," Larson added. "Alaska is full of optimists, and it’s real easy to get up there in the stars without knowing where the ladder is."You have to take risks. That’s business. But do everything you can to mitigate those risks."Alaskan Brewing, which makes amber, pale ales and English strong bitter that have become popular in the Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, has had brisk growth since the company started in 1986. Eighty Alaskans bought shares to help launch Alaskan Brewing, and 75 are still with the company.Since that first year, production has grown ninefold to 90,000 barrels per year. Seventy-five percent of the company’s output is now sold out-of-state, in Pacific Northwest states.The popular Alaskan Amber is now the second-best-selling microbrew in Washington state and is outsold only by Red Hook, which is helped by its part-owner, a major brewing company.

As travel rules evolve, here's what to expect

The rules at airports and airlines continue to evolve since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. New Federal Aviation Administration security measures have altered airport procedures across the country. Some airports have made specific changes that may further affect your travel logistics. So, what is the latest?Airport arrivalTravelers are being asked to arrive at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights to allow for tighter security procedures. At Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, two hours for domestic flights is definitely enough. The lines will be long and check-in/screening process will be slow. Stress levels can be reduced by allowing more than enough time, and then enjoying a cup of coffee with a good book.Parking and curbside accessThe FAA prohibits parking within 300 feet of an airport terminal. This has forced some airports to close short-term parking areas. Valet parking at some airports has also been suspended. Be sure you don’t leave packages or other materials in your car that could appear suspicious. No curbside check-in is available at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Do not plan to pick up your friends or relatives at the curbside upon arrival. The Anchorage short-term parking garage gives you free parking for up to 45 minutes.IdentificationPassengers must have government-issued photo identification. It can be either federal, state or local. Be prepared to present your ID upon check-in and at subsequent points along with boarding passes. Minors do not need photo ID as long as an accompanying adult certifies their identity.Airport check-inAutomated check-in kiosks are available at Alaska Airlines. Make sure to check in before you go through the security gate. Web check-in has also been restored. Consequently, electronic tickets are being accepted again. Written confirmation, such as a letter from the airline acknowledging the reservation might be required.Carry-on baggageOne carry-on bag and a personal item, such as a purse, briefcase or laptop computer is allowed. Do not carry on knives of any kind including straight razors, scissors, and metal nail files. Other prohibited items include corkscrews, baseball bats, golf clubs, pool cues, ski poles and hockey sticks. Permitted items for carry-on, however, include walking canes, umbrellas, nail clippers, safety and disposable razors, tweezers and eyelash curlers. Of course, these rules are subject to change. Please check with the airline for the latest information before traveling.Security checkpointLimit the metal objects you wear. There have been several reported cases where women wearing underwire bras set off metal detectors. Allow ample time to go through the line. This process may take as much time as check-in procedures if not more. Only ticketed passengers are allowed beyond the checkpoints. Say your goodbyes before you head for the gate. Exceptions are for those with specific medical needs or for a parent escorting a child. Again, check with the airline for specific requirements.Be patientEveryone, including the traveling public, government officials, airport staff and airline crew members, now has to adapt to a wide range of new regulations. The rules will continue to evolve. There are many factors that are beyond our control; however, you can control your outlook on travel to have a pleasant trip.Yoshi Ogawa is president of ITC Travel & Tours in Anchorage. He can be reached at 907-561-7722 or via e-mail at ([email protected]).

CSX announces new Yukon Pacific Corp. leader

ANCHORAGE -The parent company of Yukon Pacific Corp. has announced a new director for the corporation.John Snow, CSX Corp. chairman and chief executive officer, said Ward Whitmore will be director of project development and will direct daily operations for Yukon Pacific.Yukon Pacific holds the major state and federal permits and authorizations for an 800-mile natural gas pipeline and liquefaction facility. Under the company’s Trans-Alaska Gas System project, natural gas would move via pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez, where it would be refrigerated to produce liquefied natural gas for shipment to Asia.Whitmore has worked on the project for 12 years. An Anchorage resident since 1989, Whitmore joined Yukon Pacific after holding several engineering-related positions with Union Pacific Resources and Phillips Petroleum.He replaces Jeff Lowenfels.

State hopes to name new telecommunications provider this month

State officials said they hope to announce in mid-November the vendor for a $26 million annual contract to provide state government telecommunications.Earlier this fall, Administration Department Commissioner Jim Duncan had expected the contract award would be announced by Nov. 1.He said in early November the state is finalizing the process and would make the announcement later in the month."We are concluding negotiations with the top-ranked vendor based on their response to the RFP (request for proposals) and hope to give public notice of intent to award by Nov. 13," he said.When state officials declare a contract award winner, documents and other bidders once proprietary during the process will be made public, he told the Journal earlier this year.Also, after the vendor is announced the state kicks off a 10-day period during which protests can be filed, he said.When state officials issued the bid for the telecommunications contract in August 2000 they estimated that 42 state employees would be laid off as a result of the new contract. However, many of them might be hired by the winner of the contract, officials said.The state received three proposals for the new contract which went out for bid last August, Duncan told the Journal earlier this year. He was unable to list names of vendors because the procurement process was ongoing.Start-up dates for providing service are part of negotiations, but Duncan hopes to implement the services as soon as possible after the award date.In December, representatives from major Alaska telecommunications players AT&T Alascom, Alaska Communications Systems and General Communication Inc. told the Journal they submitted bids.Originally, state officials had planned to award the contract in mid-March. However, once they started evaluating the proposals, officials determined the process would take longer than expected because the proposals were more complex than anticipated, Duncan said.The new contract aims to streamline state telecommunications services.The request for proposal calls for a vendor, including possibly a consortium of companies, to run the state’s telecommunications networks for four years, with two optional one-year renewal periods.The contract covers providing service for wired telephones, data networks, video, paging, cellular, satellite transport, tech support including a help desk, and operating and maintaining the state’s microwave system.

State promotes seafood in South Korea

Officials from the state trade department report strong results from a seafood promotion in South Korea. Seafood exports to South Korea so far this year have eclipsed last year’s exports.Two years ago the state Division of International Trade and Market Development coordinated a campaign to introduce Alaska seafood to deluxe hotels in Seoul and other Korean cities.Dating back through July 2000, Korean hotels have purchased about $1 million worth of salmon, halibut, crab, scallops and other Alaska products to serve at promotional events and as regular menu items.State officials organized events to educate importers and hotels about Alaska seafood. The trade representatives also helped promote the seafood at hotel events. The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, a Korean importer and Korean Air helped department employees coordinate Alaska visits for hotel chefs and food and beverage managers.For the first eight months of 2001, seafood exports to Korea totaled $188.2 million compared with $85 million for the same period last year.Two major promotions were conducted at Korean hotels earlier this year, the Westin Chosun Hotel and other Westin properties in Seoul and Pusan plus at the Sheraton Walkerhill and Seoul Plaza.Trade department officials say these promotions and the work with hotel chefs and managers have led to purchases of Alaska seafood by eight major hotels in Seoul, Pusan and Kyangju, Korea.

Entrepreneurs must learn how to delegate

For its small population, Alaska has more than its share of creative and independent entrepreneurs, the kind of people who want to own their own businesses."Alaskans seem willing to take risks. We seem eager to do something different, which is why we all live here," said Gary Selk, a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s School of Business and Public Policy.At the same time, Selk said, many entrepreneurs and small business owners lack a complete grasp of the skills they need to make the right decisions, particularly if the business is growing.Fortunately, many seek advice and training, which is available through the university and a number of consulting services, he said.Two areas where business owners commonly encounter trouble is, first, when rapid growth outpaces financial and accounting systems, and second, when it comes time to bring on more help and delegate authority, Selk said.One local company Selk has been advising has seen rapid growth, but while the record-keeping system was adequate for the business at a smaller scale, it was completely inadequate for the size the firm has grown to or where it is headed."Also, no one in the management, which were also the owners, had the skills to really understand what the financial reports were telling them," he said. "They also had no clear direction of where they were going," as a business.In this case, some help in developing a strategic plan was a starting point. But the clients were also unwilling to lose control by bringing in a chief executive officer with the needed skills, he said.Additional training for the management team will address part of this problem, but unwillingness to delegate authority is the most common hurdle owners and managers of growing businesses must overcome."It’s a quantum leap to someone to give up that sense of control, but if you don’t, you’re just so caught up in day-to-day tasks that you lose the big picture," Selk said.Selk has experienced the difficulty himself with a small nonprofit corporation he started and continues to operate, the Alaska Business Development Center, which offers management consulting services."It’s hard to give up control over the checkbook, hiring and firing, and other key decisions," he said.

Business Profile: Automated Laundry Systems & Supply

Name of the company: Automated Laundry Systems & SupplyEstablished: 1979Location: 621 W. 54th Ave., AnchorageTelephone: 907-561-3178Web site: www.autolaundrysystems.comMajor focus of services: Automated Laundry Systems & Supply sells and services commercial and industrial equipment and supplies to care for different fabrics. The company also designs, installs, trains and provides consulting services for industrial, on-site and coin-operated customers.History of the company: Its origins date back to the 1950s when the company was called Alaska Boiler but was later renamed Dubois Chemical Co. In 1979 Dick Wells and Glen Miller purchased the equipment and service division from Dubois Chemical, renaming it Automated Laundry Systems.The company purchased its current building in 1985 and later added a warehouse, office and shop space. Miller left the company in 1987. In 1995 the company took on a new moniker: Automated Laundry Systems & Supply.Automated Laundry became a general contractor in 1997 to expand services. In 1998 company officials started the Cointronics Division to provide equipment rentals and shared revenue leasing.Clients include the health care, hospitality, mining, fishing and oil industries as well as dry cleaners, coin-operated laundries, health clubs, correctional facilities and federal, state and local governments.Automated Laundry employs 15 Alaskans.Top accomplishment of the company: Automated Laundry officials cite projects in Alaska including the new Anchorage jail and downtown fire station; a new laundry for BP (Exploration) Alaska Inc. at Prudhoe Bay; equipment and air handling upgrades for Phillips Alaska Inc. at Kuparuk; upgrades at Providence Alaska Medical Center, Central Peninsula Hospital and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital; a new laundry at Johnson Youth Center in Juneau and fire service laundry equipment for North Slope Borough villages. Other laundry projects included a joint venture in the former Soviet republic of Kazakstan during oil field development there and supplying equipment to clean workers’ suits during cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.Major players: Dick Wells, president, and Kim Aho, general manager and president of Cointronics, Automated Laundry Systems & Supply.Wells came to Alaska in 1976 to work at RCA Alascom, then started with Automated Laundry a few years later. In 1982 Aho was hired as an administrative assistant and has learned the business through the years. She is a partner in the company.- Nancy Pounds

Morris donates Klatt land

MMC Radio LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Journal parent company Morris Communications Corp., has donated a conservation easement to the Great Land Trust to permanently preserve 17 acres of the Klatt Bog in Anchorage.The easement, donated to the nonprofit land conservation organization serving Southcentral Alaska, is located just south of the Minnesota Drive-O’Malley Road curve and is adjacent to municipal ballfields currently under development. It is part of a 21-acre parcel containing a radio station and two radio transmission towers."Conserving this land is very helpful for the long-term health of the Klatt Bog wetland complex," said Beth Silverberg, executive director of the Great Land Trust. "This deal protects open space and provided important habitat for the animals that people in Anchorage enjoy seeing, particularly moose and birds."The Anchorage Wetland Management Plan identified the 17 acres as high-quality "B" class wetlands for conservation and to provide wildlife habitat for numerous species including fox, moose, birds, waterfowl and birds of prey. The acreage is considered an integral part of the larger Klatt Bog wetlands complex.During the public process and drafting of Anchorage 2000, the Anchorage Comprehensive plan, the public identified the area for the Great Land Trust as a high priority for conservation.Morris Communications is a privately-held media company based in Augusta, Ga. The company’s holdings include newspaper and magazine publishing, outdoor advertising, radio broadcasting, book publishing and distribution, and computer services.

Around the World November 11, 2001

STATEColumbia dispute goes to mediationJUNEAU - A mediator will attempt to resolve a dispute between the state and a Ketchikan shipyard operator. Each contends the other owes millions due to delays in returning the ferry Columbia to service last summer.Alaska Ship and Drydock and state Transportation Department officials will begin mediated talks in Seattle late this month, said Doug Gardner, an assistant attorney general.The shipyard operator had a $10.4 million contract to refurbish staterooms on the state’s largest ferry as well as repairing a switchboard damaged by a June 2000 fire.But the work was finished more than 40 days late and the ship did not return to service until July 19 this year.State officials say the shipyard operator owes $4 million in damages as a result.But Alaska Ship and Drydock blames the delays on poor state specifications for the work and $287,347 in more work added to the project.The state should set aside the $4 million penalty and pay the shipyard operator $3.1 million in additional compensation, said Doug Ward, a company spokesman.NATIONNation’s unemployment shoots up in OctoberWASHINGTON - The nation’s unemployment rate shot up to 5.4 percent in October and job losses surged to the highest level in more than two decades as the full brunt of the terrorist attacks hit a weak economy.Job losses touched every part of the economy, not just airlines, hotels, restaurants and other travel-dependent industries, the Labor Department reported Nov. 2."It was pretty clear the report was going to be bad, but this was beyond bad in every way,’’ said Mark Zandi of Economy.com.Businesses slashed 415,000 jobs in October, the worst monthly cut in payrolls since May 1980.On Capitol Hill, Republicans and Democrats both seized on the new jobless figures to push their own plans to jump-start the economy. Despite President Bush’s demand for a stimulus plan by Nov. 30, it remains unclear how both sides will resolve their differences over tax cuts vs. increased spending to help unemployed workers.Texas gas prices dip to one dollar a gallonSAN ANTONIO - Do you have a dollar? In San Antonio and other places around Texas these days, that’s all you need to pump a gallon of regular into your car’s gas tank, and have enough change left over for a piece of Bazooka Joe gum.Motorists in the Alamo city, Austin and the Rio Grande Valley are among those who can readily find self-service gas for less than $1 a gallon, while determined shoppers in Houston and Fort Worth can find similar deals.Statewide, the average price for self-service regular is $1.18, about 7 cents under the national average, according to AAA Texas.Groups seek late fee moratoriumWASHINGTON - Consumer advocates and some lawmakers want a nationwide temporary moratorium on fees for late payments of credit card bills because of mail delays resulting from the terror attacks and the anthrax scare.Many banks that issue Visa cards have helped customers who were directly or indirectly affected by the Sept. 11 attacks by waiving late fees and interest charges on accounts, said Richard Fischer, an attorney representing Visa USA Inc.Lawmakers of both parties have recited a litany of complaints against credit card companies. Despite nine interest-rate cuts this year by the Federal Reserve, rates on many card accounts have remained relatively high, and card companies continue to trick consumers with small print detailing terms and conditions and with sudden changes in rates.Boeing will still build 737, 757 modelsRENTON, Wash. - Boeing Co. will continue to produce its Boeing 737 and 757 commercial airplanes in Renton, Alan Mulally, head of Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes division said Nov. 2.But, Mulally said, the Seattle area will have to become more competitive and fix traffic congestion more quickly if it wants to keep Boeing’s airplane production in Renton over the long term.Doing business in Renton, a 51,000-resident town centered around Boeing’s massive airplane production plant, can be costly and frustrating, Mulally said. Traffic has gotten so bad, he said, that aircraft parts much be delivered in the middle of the night, at considerable cost.Marathon spends $1 billion for African assetsHOUSTON - Marathon Oil Co. is paying $993 million for CMS Energy Corp.’s production and refining interests in Equatorial Guinea, a tiny nation on Africa’s Atlantic coast.The purchase announced Nov. 2 will give Houston-based Marathon large stakes in several offshore production blocks and a condensate separation facility, a 45 percent interest in a methanol production plant and a 43 percent stake in a liquefied petroleum gas processing plant.Marathon said it will net 142 million barrels of liquid reserves and 646 billion cubic feet of gas reserves with the acquisition.- Compiled from business wire services.

Transportation infrastructure needs $7.5 billion in work

Alaska’s highway system is in as good of shape as it has ever been, but more than $7.5 billion is needed in improvements and construction to bring the road system and state’s infrastructure up to "maturity,’’ said Joe Perkins, commissioner of the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.Perkins said Alaska must continue upgrading its entire transportation infrastructure, including airports, marine highways, harbors and roads to compete economically with other states and countries."We must keep pushing projects,’’ Perkins told members of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Oct. 29. "Anchorage competes worldwide. ... If we don’t advance our infrastructure, we’re going to lose out to those that are efficient.’’Perkins, who was appointed by Gov. Tony Knowles in 1995, said the state has invested nearly $3 billion during his tenure as commissioner.Perkins gave updates to chamber members on the Seward, Glenn, Parks, Dalton and Alaska highways and other major projects in the state, including the $350 million upgrade and expansion at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. He said most of the road construction was completed and work at the terminal is about 40 percent done."We’re on budget; we don’t need any more money,’’ Perkins said of the Anchorage airport project. "It will be a wonderful facility that Anchorage is going to be proud of.’’Perkins is continuing to push an initiative to speed construction of roads and highways across the state, using Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle, or GARVEE, notes.In the last legislative session, Knowles proposed a bill that would allow the state to sell $425 million in the revenue-anticipation notes, but the measure failed in the Senate.The bonds would allow the state to issue revenue obligations based on anticipated federal funds allotted for transportation construction. If approved by the Legislature, funds from GARVEE would be applied to statewide projects in addition to projects that have been identified on the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan, or STIP.Perkins said federal funding under Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, so-called "TEA-21 money,’’ is up for debate in two years."It is going to be contentious,’’ Perkins said. "The importance to Alaska is unbelievable.’’Perkins said that Alaska gets $6 for every dollar it contributes, about three times the next closest state, Wyoming, receives."We stick out like a sore thumb,’’ Perkins said of Alaska’s share of the federal program designed to fund transportation programs nationwide.Alaska receives about $320 million annually from TEA-21, and Perkins said the funding will likely be safe, due largely to the state’s powerful all-Republican congressional delegation."As long as we have a strong delegation, we’ll do fairly well,’’ he said.For his part, Perkins helped schedule an annual conference in Anchorage next October for the American Association of State Transportation Officials. The conference will allow Perkins to show other state transportation commissioners the unique transportation needs of Alaska.Perkins is chairman of the association’s standing committee on highways, which helps establish design standards for the nation’s roads and bridges.

Committee seeks teacher recruiting, retention solutions

Research has shown that an excellent teacher is a vital factor in a student’s academic success. Unfortunately, school districts across the country are experiencing a severe shortage of quality teachers, especially in the areas of math, science, special education, foreign languages and support service positions such as school counselors, speech-language pathologists and nurses.Districts are also having difficulty keeping the teachers they do have because of factors like retirement and job dissatisfaction. Regrettably, Alaska is sharing in these problems.More than 30 years ago, when my wife and I began teaching in Anchorage, the school district recruited about 300 teachers every year, and virtually all were hired from outside Alaska. Salaries were high compared with those in the Lower 48. Now, estimates put Alaska’s average teacher salaries at sixth or seventh out of the 50 states.A decade ago, 30 new teachers were required for a new school and the district received thousands of applications. This year, schools statewide started the school year with 80 teaching vacancies. Thirty positions still remain vacant.Teacher retention is just as important as recruitment, and is just as much of a problem. In some rural districts, there is 30 percent to 50 percent teacher turnover each year. In the Anchorage School District, 52 percent of those who left the classroom last year did so in the first four years of their teaching career.As chairman of the House Special Committee on Education, I recently conducted hearings around the state to investigate the specific causes of these problems and to identify ways the Legislature can help districts recruit and retain excellent teachers. The committee visited school districts in Kodiak, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Anchorage and Kotzebue. We also held a statewide teleconference.Education professionals testifying before the committee said there were several reasons for the state teacher shortage: First-year teachers feel unprepared for the challenges they encounter in real classrooms; Alaska school districts are unable to compete with the salaries, benefits and incentives provided by districts down south; Rising health insurance costs are eating away at school and family budgets; Salaries are inadequate to support the cost of living in rural areas; Adequate housing can be too expensive or nonexistent; Teachers are dropping their certifications in high-need areas due to the high cost of renewal; and Qualified teachers from other states find it too expensive and time consuming to apply for jobs in Alaska.While those testifying were clear about the problem, they were also eager to offer suggestions on how to enhance teacher recruitment and retention, including: Improving teacher preparatory programs to better equip new teachers for the challenges of today’s schools; Supporting effective mentoring programs for new teachers, both for professional skill and cultural awareness; Expanding mentoring programs for new teachers in more districts; Streamlining the certification process and repealing duplicative fees and paperwork; Establishing a student loan forgiveness program; Hiring more Alaskans; Instituting a state health insurance pool for all teachers to increase benefits and lower costs; Working with Alaska Housing Finance Corp. to provide low-interest housing; Hiring retired teachers as substitutes and full-time teachers and as mentor teachers; Increasing salaries; Making the state’s teachers exam, the Praxis, more effective to help more people become eligible for certification; and Working to increase respect for the education profession.Every state in the nation is trying to solve its teacher shortage in creative ways. Alaska must remain competitive in this very important market, support our teachers, and ensure that every student has an excellent teacher.It has been invaluable for the education committee to hear from those "in the trenches," and I am grateful to the education professionals and community members who shared their ideas with the committee. These hearings provided an important framework for further discussion and new legislation next session.Rep. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage, is chairman of the House Special Committee on Education. He can be reached via e-mail at ([email protected]).

Alaskans shocked by court ruling on damages from tanker

JUNEAU While others waded the oil soaked shores of Prince William Sound following the Exxon Valdez disaster, Patience Andersen Faulkner was knee deep in something much worse. In the years following the worst oil spill in U.S. waters in history, Faulkner’s job was to chronicle the damage heaped on fishermen and other people in and around Cordova after the 1989 spill. She worked for attorneys pursuing a class action lawsuit against Exxon Mobil and submitted damage claims to the company. ``It was very personal for everyone. We’ve had a number of suicides that I think are from the Exxon Valdez. We’ve had a lot of destroyed relationships,’’ Faulkner said. A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled on Wednesday that the $5 billion in punitive damages awarded by an Anchorage jury against Exxon Mobil was excessive. The panel ordered a lower court to reduce that amount. The ruling sparked anger among fishermen and others affected by the spill and prompted Gov. Tony Knowles to consider intervening.``That $5 billion would have at least put a finger in the dike,’’ Faulkner said. Her family owned a fishing permit valued at about $210,000 before the spill. If she still owned it, the permit would be worth about $50,000 for anyone foolish enough to buy it, she said. Small numbers of salmon straggle back annually but the herring are long gone and local fishermen blame Exxon Mobil. ``We all recognize violence doesn’t help, but we sure would like to choke them,’’ Faulkner said. R.J. Kobcheck fished for about 28 years but took a job with the city of Cordova to make ends meet three years ago. Herring was about half of his income. Now he’s selling his herring equipment for pennies on the dollar. ``I’m devastated. We were just hoping to be compensated for our losses out of the punitive damages,’’ Kobcheck said. A federal jury in Anchorage ordered Exxon to pay $5 billion in 1994 to thousands of commercial fishermen, Alaska Natives, property owners and others harmed by the nation’s worst oil spill. The amount was equal to a year’s worth of Exxon’s profits and at the time was the largest punitive damage award in history. In its ruling Wednesday, the Court of Appeals in San Francisco said some damages were justified to punish the company for its harmful behavior, but that $5 billion was excessive. Exxon Mobil argued the punitive damages award ``is completely unwarranted, unfair and is excessive by any legal or practical matter.’’ Lee Raymond, chairman of the Irving, Texas oil company, said through a statement the company took responsibility for the spill and has already paid more than $3 billion in clean up costs and compensation. The decision ``confirmed Exxon Mobil’s position that the $5 billion punitive damage award related to the Exxon Valdez accident is excessive,’’ he said in the statement released Wednesday. Exxon paid $2.2 billion on the spill cleanup from 1989 to 1992 and paid $300 million in compensation to 11,000 people, the company said. Exxon also paid another $1 billion in civil damages, fines and criminal restitution. Raymond said the spill ``was a tragic accident that the company deeply regrets.’’ David Oesting, a lawyer representing fisherman in the case, said he was considering whether to ask the 9th Circuit to reconsider its decision or to request the U.S. Supreme Court to review it. He said that no matter the outcome, he expects Exxon will be liable for a hefty penalty. ``The average seiner fisherman’s income here is a little over half what it was before the Exxon oil spill,’’ said Riki Ott, a marine biologist and former fisherwoman from Cordova. Alaska Attorney General Bruce Botelho said the court ruling affirmed that the company should be liable for punitive damages. ``We know that thousands of families have been impacted by the spill. It’s not over,’’ Botelho said. The state was not part of the lawsuit but reached a negotiated agreement with the federal government and Exxon in 1991. Gov. Tony Knowles said Wednesday he will attempt to bring the two sides to a negotiated settlement, saying the case has dragged on too long. ``The Exxon Valdez oil spill has really been a cloud that has hung over those fishing families and communities for more than a decade,’’ Knowles told the Associated Press. ``The court decision today didn’t bring any resolution to that.’’Knowles said he will contact the two parties to determine whether they could reach a settlement. He would not comment on what he thinks that settlement amount should be. ``Exxon does have a lot at stake here in Alaska and they want to be a responsible and good (corporate) citizen,’’ Knowles said.

Juneau cops help officers at Ground Zero

JUNEAU -- Juneau police officer Kim Martin knows the stress cops and emergency-services workers face in the line of duty.Martin and fellow officers Jerry Nankervis and Paul Comolli recently spent a week at the World Trade Center site, helping their colleagues deal with the devastation and anguish at ground zero. The police officers were joined by Ketchikan firefighter Dave Hull and Juneau psychologist Destiny Sargeant.The five Southeast Alaskans spent several days at the 17 acres of steaming, smoking rubble that has become the largest crime scene, and the largest construction site, in the world. About 50,000 cops, firefighters and construction workers don hard hats and respirators and pass through security checkpoints every day to work in an area the size of downtown Juneau.The five Alaskans are local members of a team trained in critical incident stress management, a program designed to help professionals who deal with trauma."A cop goes to car wreck after car wreck and never gets to unload any personal stress," said Comolli. "Families are usually surrounded by family members, church and all that. People never look behind them and see the first responders who are dealing with all the horror."The daily stress of police and rescue work can lead to depression, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and suicide. Members of the Southeast team were worried about the pressure their counterparts in New York City face - working grueling shifts at the World Trade Center site. They volunteered to spend a week in New York."Our team personally interacted with 1,000 people," said Sargeant. "They’re pretty gray and depleted now and we came in and were not shy."New York police officers recently eased back from 18-hour shifts, seven days a week, to 12-hour shifts with one day a week off, said Sargeant. Given the pressure, it’s no surprise fighting broke out on the site last week."They think the floodgates are about to open with these guys," Martin said.Team members said they walked around the site talking to workers, introducing themselves, asking how they were doing and offering information about dealing with stress."Sometimes it’s just a reminder to tell people to be good to themselves," said Martin.Team members wore shirts with the word POPPA across the back - for Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance."I’d say, ’I’m not a clinician, I’m not a boss, I’m a grunt like you from 4,500 miles away.’ They’d open up," Comolli said.Martin said team members asked recovery workers if they were having trouble sleeping, were cranky at home or were having disturbing dreams."It’s nice to have somebody tell you it’s normal," Martin said. " We’re safe, we’re from Alaska. They can tell us, ’Yeah, I’m yelling at my wife.’ "The stoicism of some cops was chilling. Others were receptive."It’s like a scary room," Comolli said. "You crack the door open and peek inside - that’s what we’re doing. If they come in for counseling, that’s like throwing the door open."Team members had to work a fine line."We didn’t want to bring their defenses down too much," he added."We’ve been there. We know what it’s like to have to finish your shift."One rewarding moment came when they spent time talking about Alaska and joking around with a group of firefighters taking a break."When we left this one guy said ’That was the best 15 minutes I’ve had in the past six weeks,’ " Martin said.

More Alaska Air National Guardsmen mobilized

ANCHORAGE (AP) - More Alaska Air National Guardsmen will respond to the campaign against terrorism.The Pentagon has ordered 38 more Guardsmen to be mobilized. The personnel, assigned to Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage and headquarters at Fort Richardson, are in addition to the 130 mobilized at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks. The Pentagon said 25 members of the 176th Security Forces Squadron were mobilized, along with 12 members of the 176th Wing and a single headquarters officer. Maj. Mike Haller, spokesman for the Guard, said the security personnel will patrol Kulis, while the Wing call-up is primarily ground personnel.The call-up coincided with the departure to Kuwait of an Alaska Air National Guard team for support duties for Southern Watch. That’s the operation that polices the no-fly zone over Iraq. Haller said the deployment was routine and had been scheduled before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Trading cards for lawyers lack statistics but include zodiac sign

The Connecticut law firm Day, Berry & Howard is printing trading cards featuring its lawyers. The cards will be distributed at trade shows and to potential clients. While sports trading cards typically include the athlete’s personal statistics, the Day, Berry cards will not indicate cases won and lost or number of deals closed. Instead, the lawyer trading cards will have the attorney’s area of specialization and, just in case you need it before selecting legal counsel, his or her zodiac sign.Student vs. law schoolMock court competitions are evidently just not enough to satisfy the litigious urges of some law students. Two students recently had decisions handed down in suits they brought against their schools. A student at California’s Chapman University School of Law was awarded the amount of his tuition by a court after the student sued, alleging the law school had misled him about the likelihood of obtaining ABA accreditation.A student at Duquesne University Law School sued after receiving an F in a class for which she failed to return a question booklet with her final exam. The grade was not reversed but she was allowed to graduate.Prosecutors can be frivolousTurns out personal injury attorneys are not the only ones being accused of filing frivolous lawsuits. A Kentucky court recently invoked the so-called Hyde Amendment allowing federal judges to impose fees against the U.S. Department of Justice for frivolous prosecution. In the Kentucky case, the prosecution was ordered to reimburse the defendant a portion of the money he spent to defend himself. Court watchers note, however, that a bigger deterrent than the fees is the embarrassment of having such a ruling on a prosecutor’s record.Jail mailA new software program now on the market compiles daily arrest information and merges it "into a letter, written by you [the attorney] on your letterhead." The letter is then "sent to those recently arrested" so that "those who do not know how to find a lawyer" can find one.HistoricalThe world record for the most footnotes appearing in one law review article is 4,824.FootnoteHooters restaurants havs been sued again, but not for the usual reasons. A former waitress has brought a breach of contract suit claiming that the winner of a Hooters beer-selling contest was promised a new Toyota. When the plaintiff won the contest, she was instead given a toy Yoda, as in a doll of the "Star Wars" character.Have something to share with Out of Court? E-mail it to Chet Olsen at ([email protected]).

ACS reports third quarter loss, but it's less than 2000's

Alaska Communications Systems Inc. recorded a net loss of $1.4 million for the third quarter, an improvement from a $10.9 million net loss for the same period last year.The Anchorage-based telecommunications company reported revenue increasing to $82.8 million, up from $74.9 million in third quarter 2000.For the first nine months of the year ACS listed a net loss of $9.1 million compared with a net loss of $16.7 million for the same period in 2000.Revenue for 2001 through Sept. 30 increased to $245.8 million, up from $233.8 recorded last year.Local telephone revenue was $53.9 million for third quarter, also a gain from $50.8 recorded for third quarter 2000. Local telephone revenue for the first nine months of this year decreased from $168 million in 2000 to $163 million in 2001.ACS reported a total of 333,166 access lines as of Sept. 30.Cellular revenue climbed to $11 million for the third quarter, up from $10.9 million for third quarter 2000. Cellular subscribers totaled 78,758 for the quarter, an increase from 73,196 for the same period last year. Average cellular revenue per unit was $46.78 for the quarter, down from $49.72 recorded last year.ACS listed 67,211 long-distance subscribers at the end of the third quarter, a jump from 39,734 subscribers recorded a year ago.The company recorded Internet subscribers reached 50,500, up from 43,785 reported at third quarter 2000. ACS attributes the increase to its acquisition of MosquitoNet in Fairbanks early in July.

September unemployment rate up to 5.2 percent

JUNEAU - Unemployment rose by less than a percent in Alaska during September to 5.2 percent as the tourism season ended, the state labor department said Oct. 19.Alaska had 17,147 unemployed residents in September, up by about 500 from the previous month, according to a report from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.Initial unemployment claims jumped 25 percent to 6,380, the department said. That figure is nearly 300 below new claims in September 2000.The comparable national unemployment rate for September was 4.7 percent. The rate is not adjusted for seasonal variations.Monthly wage and salary employment fell by about 5,200 jobs, which the department attributed to a seasonal decline. The state unemployment rate was unchanged from September 2000."Alaska’s unemployment rate is still near record lows, and current indicators suggest the state’s economy is continuing to grow at a modest rate," said state labor economist Dan Robinson.Nearly half of the state’s job growth this year has come from the service sector, adding 2,900 jobs since September 2000, the department said. Construction and government employment added 900 jobs.Statewide unemployment in August was 5 percent.Unemployment rose to 4.4 percent in Juneau, up from 3.8 percent in August. Unemployment in the Southeast region rose by a half percent to 5 percent.Unemployment in Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough rose by a tenth of a percent to 4.2 percent.Fairbanks unemployment rose three-tenths of a percent to 4.7 percent.Unemployment in the Interior rose two-tenths of a percent to 5.1 percent.Unemployment fell to 16.4 percent in the Wade Hampton census area in Western Alaska. That area continued to have the highest unemployment rate in the state.Sitka and the Aleutians East Borough had the lowest unemployment rate at 3.2 percent.

GCI rolls out cable modem service in Sitka

General Communication Inc. has begun offering high-speed Internet access via cable modem service in Sitka.The service started up after six months of plant and equipment upgrades including activation of a fiber-optic cable to serve the Sitka area, company officials said.GCI’s Internet cable modem service provides 256 kilobits-per-second to 1.5 megabit-per-second access speed and offers a continuous dedicated connection.GCI also provides cable modem service in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Sitka, Valdez and surrounding communities.

Gender wage gap narrows a bit, but men still earn more

JUNEAU The wage gap between the sexes is shrinking in Alaska, but women continue to earn significantly less than men in all industries, age groups, geographic areas and most occupations, according to a new state report.Women on average earned $20,079 in 1999 vs. $30,066 for men, wrote Jeff Hadland, author of the report published in the October issue of Alaska Economic Trends.However, thats an improvement of 5 percent over past years. Women earned 62 percent as much as men in 1988 compared to about 67 percent in 1999, said Hadland, an economist with the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.The gap is narrowing, said Hadland, who pegged the national wage gap at roughly 72 percent.Change isnt coming fast enough for Rep. Beth Kerttula, who was disappointed in the findings.Thats a pretty long time to not come very far, said Kerttula, a Juneau Democrat. Its good its gone up, but it should be 100 percent, and that should be an immediate goal.The largest pay gap was in manufacturing, which includes mostly seafood and timber processing jobs. Women earned 58 percent of what men earned in that industry two years ago.The smallest pay gap was in services, which includes jobs in law, hotels and health care. Women in that industry earned almost 80 percent of average wages earned by men.Also, women fared worse in the private sector than in state and local government. The ratio of female-to-male earnings was 62 percent in the private sector vs. 74 percent in the public sector, Hadland said.The report did not analyze the reasons for the pay gap, but Hadland offered some possible explanations. Women who leave the work force or work part time to care for their families are at a disadvantage because experience and tenure on the job command a premium in pay, he said.Education also may play a role. Although women in their 20s are more likely to have a bachelors degree than men in that age group, men earn doctoral degrees to a much greater extent than women, Hadland said, noting that could explain why men get the highest paying management and professional jobs.Another possible explanation is sex discrimination.Discrimination or other barriers may exist in hiring, training, advancement or pay rates, he said.Pam LaBolle of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce believed the disparity had more to do with women leaving work to tend children than discrimination.Ive worked in other states, in other places, and I have seen discrimination, said LaBolle, president of the chamber. I dont see it in Alaska.Kerttula leaned the other way.Discrimination is much more in line with what I think is happening, she said.The report found the most lucrative industry for both genders was mining, which includes oil and gas jobs. Men on average earned about $60,000 in 1999 compared with $45,652 for women. That industry was dominated by men, who held 87 percent of nearly 9,000 jobs, Hadland said.The second-highest wages for men came from the transportation, communications and public utilities industry, which paid on average about $39,000 a year for men and $25,000 for women.State government paid the second-highest wages for women, who earned $28,581 in 1999 vs. $38,780 for men.Womens wages fell short in all industries but they took home higher salaries than men in several occupations. For example, women legal secretaries earned 192 percent of male earnings in that occupation in 1999, Hadland said.These earnings, however, are less than the average earnings figure for males, and the same is true of other occupations in this group, he said.

Alaska USA plans branch in new store

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union plans to operate a branch in the new Southeast Anchorage Fred Meyer due to open in early 2002.The credit union operates five other branches in Fred Meyer stores: on Dimond Boulevard in Anchorage, in Wasilla, one each at two Fairbanks stores and another in Kent, Wash., according to Alaska USA spokeswoman Nancy Usera.The new branch is tentatively scheduled to open in February, she said."We also have retail branches in a number of Carrs/Safeway locations in Alaska and are looking at two additional retail locations in the Seattle area," she said.The credit union signed an agreement to install the branch with International Banking Technologies, a retail design, build and performance company for credit unions and regional and community banks in the United States, Latin America and Canada. The agreement calls for IBT to open the new Anchorage branch as well as two in Seattle-area Quality Food Centers.IBT also installed Alaska USA’s existing in-store branches - a total of nine in Alaska and one in Washington, company officials said.In-store branches extend hours of operation for Alaska USA and offer increased convenience to members, said Helen Curry, Alaska USA retail sales manager.

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