BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL TERRORISM - IS ALASKA PREPARED?

The terrorist attacks of September 11 have heightened publicinterest and awareness of the potential for terrorist attacks ofall types, prompting some to question whether our nation and ourstate are prepared for attacks involving chemical and biologicalsubstances. The answer is that Alaska and other states have takenmany steps in past years to prepare for such an attack, butcommon sense dictates that these be reevaluated in light of therecent attacks."Federal, state, and local governments have been preparing forseveral years to prevent and respond to potential acts of bio-terrorism and chemical terrorism," said Major General Phil Oates,commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairsand Alaska National Guard Adjutant General."Several years ago, local, state, and federal agencies realizedthat the United States was vulnerable to chemical and biologicalterrorist attacks." Oates said. "Experts recognized that chemicaland ’germ’ warfare research, developed by the U.S., U.S.S.R. andother countries prior to 1973, had become available to terroristorganizations. This concern was heightened after the fall of theSoviet Union, and there was suddenly a stockpile of all types ofweapons there for the taking."Recognizing the need to be prepared at the state and local level,Congress authorized funding in 1998 to allow states and largecities to develop the ability to detect and respond to bio-terrorism and chemical attacks. The State of Alaska and theMunicipality of Anchorage have been recipients of these funds.The State of Alaska currently has several valuable resources tocombat terrorism.*The Municipality of Anchorage is one of 120 large cities toreceive federal funds to develop a Metropolitan Medical ResponseSystem to combat terrorism. In addition, a new state-of-the-artEmergency Operations Center has just opened.*The Alaska State Public Health Laboratories, a section of theDepartment of Health and Social Services, is working with the CDCto develop rapid diagnostic tests for bacteria and viruses mostlikely to be used for bio-terrorism.*The Section of Epidemiology, a section of the Department ofHealth and Social Services, enhanced its statewide surveillancefor all infectious diseases of public health concern, includingdiseases that could be the result of bio-terrorism.*The Alaska Division of Public Health has provided conferencesand published materials, to inform Alaska health care providersand laboratory workers about bio-terrorism.*The 103rd Civil Support Team, an Alaska National Guard unit basedin Anchorage, is a highly trained group of professionals thatwill soon be available to offer consultation and rapid diagnostictechnology for detection and response to a chemical, biological,or radiological event anywhere in Alaska. The National Guard hasother personnel and resources such as vehicles, water trailers,and tents that could be used in response to a terrorist event.*The 44-member Alaska 1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT)is part of a national network of health care professionalstrained to supplement state and local resources during disasters.They have been mobilized to support response efforts at the WorldTrade Center in New York City.*The State Emergency Coordination Center (SECC) began 24-hour perday, 7 days a week operations on October 1, 2001. This new assetgives Alaska the ability to coordinate response operations forany disaster much more rapidly than was previously possible.In addition to state resources, Alaska has federal resources thatcan quickly be made available to respond to acts of terrorism.The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) coordinates thefederal response to a terrorist incident. Under the FederalResponse Plan, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services(DHSS), the lead federal agency for health and medical services,and FEMA work together to provide health and medical support,including DMAT. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (an agency within the DHHS)is responsible for deployment of the Pharmaceutical Stockpile.This stockpile contains critical antibiotics, antidotes andmedical supplies for prophylaxis and treatment of biological orchemical agents. The Federal Bureau of Investigations is chargedwith investigation of terrorist acts, whether suspected orconfirmed."Communities are becoming more and more prepared every day,"Oates said. "Much is being done to protect Alaska and itsresidents, but we all need to reenergize our efforts, becausethere is always more that can be done to make us better preparedfor an emergency." Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner KarenPerdue says her agency is working with government and privateagencies to develop an efficient public health alert system,allowing rapid dissemination and receipt of urgent healthinformation throughout the state."It’s very important that health care providers, working with theCDC, can identify any trends rapidly," Perdue said. "Thiscommunication would then allow them to react with the properprocedures and treatment. In addition, the Center for DiseaseControl maintains a medical stockpile of vaccines and suppliesthat can be airlifted to any part of the country in a shorttime.""The events of September 11 are forefront in all our minds," saysOates, "and will continue to serve in hastening our efforts to bebetter prepared."

Airlines try to overcome declines through layoffs, flight cutbacks

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the drop in air travel has resulted in negative cash flow for Delta Air Lines. Delta plans to cut some 13,000 jobs and reduce its flights systemwide by 15 percent.No immediate changes are slated for the airline’s Alaska operations, either in flights or in personnel, said Peggy Estes, spokesperson for the Atlanta- based airline.The company hopes the attrition will come through voluntary job reduction programs available to nonunion Delta employees.Delta is not alone in reducing its work force. Airline industry officials nationwide have announced some 100,000 in layoffs within two weeks of the terrorist attacks.If Delta does not cut enough of its employees through the voluntary programs, pink slips could go out as soon as Nov. 1, Estes said. "We need to reduce the headcount before Oct. 29," Estes said. "After that, we’ll have a better idea of what involuntary cuts are necessary." Delta has 80,000 employees nationwide, only 93 of whom are based in Alaska, Estes said. In August, Delta announced it would stop its service from Anchorage to Fairbanks Oct.31. The airline had flown a daily flight to Fairbanks from Anchorage, bumping the flights to twice daily during the fall and winter.The airline said in a press release that it was "unable to achieve acceptable financial results" with the Anchorage-to-Fairbanks flight, begun in 1987 through its merger with Western Air Lines.Western had flown to Fairbanks from Anchorage since 1982.Estes said Delta will continue nonstop year-round service to Salt Lake City and Seattle from Anchorage, and summer seasonal service to Atlanta.

Port imposes tight security

In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the East Coast, security has been tightened at the Port of Anchorage, and anyone without a reason for being on the city-owned property will be denied entry.Strict security measures began Sept. 26, after a review by the city, state and federal officials and users of the port.Roger Graves, the port’s government and environmental affairs manager, said security at the port was lax prior to the new measures, which include a checkpoint at the intersection of Ocean Dock Road and Union Way."There was absolutely minimum security here," Graves said. "After Sept. 11, everything here and elsewhere has changed."Lt. j.g. Ken Phillips of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Office in Anchorage said security at the port had been "lax.’’The Coast Guard is now patrolling the port at least three times daily by automobile, Phillips said.The patrols, Phillips added, "are completely unscheduled."The port serves more than 80 percent of Alaska, with an annual economic impact of $725 million. Some 2,500 cargo containers arrive weekly at the port’s five-terminal dock which, in peak years, has handled more than 3 million tons of cargo, petroleum and cement annually.All inbound drivers -- whether commercial operators or private individuals -- will be checked for proper identification and will have their vehicles inspected, Graves said. Those who have business at the port must have a confirmed sponsor.No pedestrian or bicycle traffic will be allowed, Graves said.Graves said future plans may include a window decal and a color-coded pass system, changing weekly, for regular users at the port.Shippers have complained in the past about public access to the port, saying it was perhaps the only such facility of its kind that has a public road running through it."It makes life a lot easier for them," Graves said of truck and train operators. "It’s something that has to be done. It used to be a very dangerous problem. Now it’s a security issue."So far, no one has complained about not being able to enter the port, where several folks routinely jog, bicycle or sightsee, Graves said."Everybody is cooperating," Graves said. "Nearly everyone understands the problem."

Airport safety scrutinized

There were, no doubt, many things that Anthony Lloyd would rather have been doing than testifying before a roomful of people at a Senate Transportation Committee hearing Sept. 23.But the ice cream delivery truck driver had some serious concerns about security at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.Lloyd told politicians, airport industry officials, law enforcement officers and others that he believes the airport has some serious breaches in security.Lloyd said he can enter the airport’s tarmac just by flashing his driver’s license at a security guard who does not know him."They look at my driver’s license longer at the bank when I’m cashing a check than they do at the airport," Lloyd told the Journal."I can pull within 10 feet of an MD-11," said Lloyd. "Probably someone else could, too."To enter Elmendorf Air Force Base, another stop on his route, Lloyd said he expects to be delayed at least 45 minutes while military police check his identification and search his ice cream delivery truck, inside and out."I don’t mind being hassled," said Lloyd. "To them, I could be anybody.""I don’t think anything is far-fetched anymore," Lloyd said.Sen. John Cowdery R-Anchorage, chairman of the transportation committee, called the hearing to get ideas for improving airline safety and security following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York. The ideas and suggestions gathered from the meeting were to be sent to the Alaska Congressional Delegation.Many of the 40 or so in attendance called for the return of the federal air marshal program. Some said not only should the air marshals be armed, but they should also be accompanied by attack dogs.Other folks wanted pilots to be armed or the passengers themselves -- or both.Dean Rickerson, an Anchorage stockbroker, said he doesn’t believe the federal air marshal program will work."You can spot them a mile away," Rickerson told the Journal. Rickerson said he and his wife both have concealed weapons permits, and shoot some 20,000 rounds each annually at a range. Terrorists would have second thoughts hijacking a plane if they had no idea who might be armed, Rickerson said.Clifford Argue, an Alaska Airlines representative, and others called for the federal government to take over control of security checkpoints from the airlines.Cowdery, too, said the checkpoints should be the responsibility of the federal government."I don’t think we necessarily need FBI agents or federal marshals guarding the gates, but the federal government should be training and staffing these security points," Cowdery said.Sen. Robin Taylor, R-Wrangell, wondered if the taxpayers should bear the costs of airport security."It’s great for the industry," Taylor said. "Can we expect a decrease (in ticket prices) if the airlines no longer pay the cost?" For smaller airports, some of the newly imposed security measures are overblown, Taylor said. He pointed out that rules imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration, which require a 300-foot buffer zone from airports, make no sense for Alaska. In his town of Wrangell, the buffer requirement forced a closure of the state highway that leads to the airport."Never in the history of the United States has an airplane been blown up from a parking lot, for crying out loud," Taylor said. Small airports also are having a hard time meeting new security requirements. Just having one police officer at the airport sometimes amounts to half of a police force, Taylor said.Richard Weaver, a skycap at the Anchorage airport for more than 15 years, said FAA regulations that no longer allow curb-side check-ins could put him and 24 of his colleagues out of work."Who is going to take care of the handicapped and the old people?" Weaver asked the Journal. "We aren’t the problem. We are the eyes of the sky and the first line of defense."Many times, skycaps have reported suspicious people to airport security personnel, Weaver said. "We see things other people don’t. We know people. We know who will tip and who won’t."Jennifer Rudinger, executive director of the Alaska Civil Liberties Union, said her organization does not object to many of the enhanced security measures being proposed. But the ACLU does oppose racial or religious profiling and the use of such things as arbitrary X-ray body searches and face-recognition machines, the latter of which have an error rate of 43 percent, she said.If Osama bin Laden were to be subjected to a face-recognition machine at an airport "there is a little better chance than a coin toss it would recognize him," Rudinger said.Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Anchorage, said that as an Alaska Native, he has been subjected to racial profiling."I know how it feels ... It’s not good," Ward said, adding that racial profiling is "a tool" used by law enforcement despite being unconstitutional."These are not normal times," Ward said.

Alaska Airlines plans flights to Dulles

It will be with a smaller airplane and at a less convenient airport, but Alaska Airlines has announced it will resume service to Washington, D.C.The Seattle-based airline will operate one daily flight to Dulles International Airport beginning Oct. 8.Alaska inaugurated nonstop service to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington just a week prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.Reagan Washington National Airport has been closed since the attacks on the Pentagon and in New York. Alaska will provide nonstop service to Dulles from Seattle and one-stop service from Anchorage aboard 120-seat Boeing 737-700 aircraft.The airline initially used its new 172-seat Boeing 737-900s on the flight.The same-plane flight from Anchorage takes about nine hours, including a 50-minute layover in Seattle.Dulles International Airport is located about 26 miles and 30 minutes from downtown Washington, D.C., in the neighboring Virginia suburbs. Reagan Washington National is near the Pentagon, which prompted its closure due to security concerns.The airline will resume its flights to Reagan Washington National as soon as the airport is reopened, said Jack Walsh, airline spokesman.Alaska Airlines won landing rights at the airport closest to Washington, D.C., in June, allowing the airline to operate one round-trip flight daily from the nation’s capital to Seattle and continuing on to Anchorage.

Business Profile: Digital Rage

Name of the company: Digital RageEstablished: 1999Location: 501 W. International Airport Road, AnchorageTelephone: 907-563-2263Web site: www.digitalrage.netMajor focus of services: Digital Rage provides Web hosting services for Web sites, including electronic commerce sites. The company also offers nationwide dial-up Internet access from 4,500 U.S. locations, offsite data storage and application hosting for Internet-based calendars or interoffice communication. History of the company: Alaskan Dan Young originally acquired the domain name digitalrage.com as a site to voice opinions about products in his field, the computer industry. He later redirected his focus when friends asked Young to host their Web site. Young secured a business license three months later, growing to host other sites. He started his business by using a credit card to buy one server and expanded with other servers and hardware with cash on hand.Today, Digital Rage hosts 3,000 Web sites via servers based in TelAlaska Inc.’s co-location center in the Anchorage Frontier Building.So far, Young handles most company operations himself and employs three subcontractors for specialized work. By December,Young hopes to hire employees.Top accomplishment of the company: "I’m happy that the company is able to provide the same quality of service as national Web hosting services, and it’s right here. I’m happy that this is truly is an Alaska-based company."Major player: Dan Young, owner, Digital Rage.Born in Anchorage and raised in Kenai, Young jumped into the computer support industry in 1990 when he worked as a sales person for Connecting Point in Soldotna. From 1992 to 1995, he worked at a help desk for the state government. He later worked for Omni Computers in the Matanuska-Susitna area, then at another computer firm, Micronet, and then moved on to Microware Computer Services. Before starting his own company, Young handled network and wireless engineering at United Native American Telecommunications.-- Nancy Pounds

Economic slump boosts law school enrollment

As has occurred during other bad economies, law school enrollment has jumped. The New York Times reports that 24,000 people took the Law School Admission Test in June. This represents an almost 19 percent increase from last year’s June LSAT. The Law School Admission Council says it expects even larger numbers for exams offered later this year.Applications to American law schools have also jumped. They are up 5.6 percent this year over last. The 79,000 applicants is the largest number since 1995 when 84,000 people applied. The all-time high in law school applicants was 100,000 in 1991.Attorney faces chargesA co-founder of the online lawyer-referral service Attorney.com has been arrested for selling illegal access to a satellite television service. Susan Winter allegedly charged people $250 for illegal access to the television services and programs. Winter is one of three lawyers who launched the New York-based Attorney.com at last year’s American Bar Association’s annual meeting.Heads, you’re promotedUnable to choose between two attorneys when deciding on a promotion and a $10,000-a-year raise, the district attorney of San Francisco did the fair thing. He flipped a coin. The DA called two deputy district attorneys, whom he considered equally qualified for the promotion, to his office. He pulled a quarter from his pocket, asked them to pick heads or tails, and tossed the coin. "Heads" won. The lawyer who picked tails was unavailable for comment.Have something to share with Out of Court? E-mail it to Chet Olsen at ([email protected]).

Hospital tackles shortage of health care staff

The state’s second largest private employer, Providence Alaska Medical Center, faces an acute labor issue: worker shortages amid increasing patient numbers.In Alaska, Providence employs 3,098 people, according to the state Department of Labor. The Anchorage hospital is licensed by the state for 341 beds.Providence’s Anchorage operations also include the 29-room guest housing Providence House, Mary Conrad Center nursing facility, Providence Horizon House assisted living facility, plus behavioral medicine, extended care and home health groups. Providence also runs a clinic in Girdwood and medical centers in Kodiak and Seward."Right now, Providence is enjoying the challenges of success, the challenges of finding adequate staff to meet growing demand," said Russell Grange II, regional director for human resources for Providence in Anchorage.Hospitals like Providence can expect sustained demand for services in the future, he said. "We will continue to see growing demand for health care," he said.Grange cited an aging baby boomer population as a principal driver for health care demand. Providence Alaska’s human resources director believes such demand for service will continue at current high levels."It means we have to recruit locally, nationally and worldwide," he said.The shortage of health care workers not only affects Alaska but the country and world as well, he noted."The majority of nursing staff are female. As more career opportunities open up, they tend to select careers other than those traditionally chosen in the past," Grange said.Nursing skills are those chiefly in demand, but other health care workers are needed, too. Providence’s Anchorage hospital registers more than 500 different job descriptions, Grange said."We have to get the word out to people that health care is a great career choice," he said.Registered nurses are the focus of Providence Alaska’s recruitment efforts, he said. The health care provider has achieved success through Internet recruiting, touting the quality of life in Alaska, he said.Another method of recruitment calls for recruiters to travel to other countries to sway bilingual workers with appropriate medical skills to work for the company in Alaska, he said."We’re doing a great job of recruiting," he said, noting that efforts also include attending job fairs and advertising in trade publications. However, recruiting employees can be costly, Grange said.Providence officials aim to offer an attractive place for patients and prospective employees. "We want Providence to be the employer of choice," he added.To that end, customer service and quality care are priorities, he said. In surveys from past patients, comments mainly addressed interaction with health care staff rather than their medical condition, Grange said.The human resources regional director has logged nearly nine months at Providence Alaska as well as holding posts elsewhere in the country. He has been impressed by Alaskans’ friendliness, competency and commitment. "I think Providence is lucky we have this workforce in Alaska."

Around the World October 7, 2001

STATEAthena rocket fired from Kodiak deploys satellites KODIAK -- Four satellites carried on board a Lockheed Martin Athena 1 rocket were successfully deployed Sept. 29 after a launch from the Kodiak Launch Complex.After weeks of delays due to travel interruptions caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, rain and high winds, and most recently, solar flares, the rocket lifted off at 6:40 p.m.The $38 million mission is the first orbital launch from Alaska."It’s been a very successful mission. It’s what we all hoped for."The 144,000-pound, 62-foot rocket reached its prescribed orbit one hour and five minutes after launch, and deployed three Department of Defense satellites 500 miles above Earth.Sixteen minutes later, the rocket changed orbits to descend to 300 miles above Earth. A NASA satellite, Starshine 3, was deployed on schedule at two hours and 10 minutes after launch, at about 8:50 p.m.Tribal group developing regional trash plantKAKE -- Kake Tribal Corp. hopes to build a regional solid-waste incinerator on its land on Kupreanof Island northwest of Petersburg, corporation officials said.The proposed waste-to-energy incinerator would be able to convert 100 tons of trash per day into energy for industries it hopes to attract.Sam Jackson, president of Kake Tribal Corp., announced the plan while attending the Southeast Conference in Prince Rupert, British Columbia late last month.Southeast communities produce up to 135 tons of municipal trash per day and the Kake plant would need at least 60 tons per day to make the project feasible, said Duff Mitchell, Kake chief operating officer.Juneau and Skagway incinerate their trash, but many Southeast communities barge their trash to Washington or Oregon and small villages continue to operate local dumps.Investigators find no food contamination at portANCHORAGE -- Preliminary results from testing berries and greens about a mile from the Red Dog Mine port suggest locals are not risking their health by gathering wild foods there, state officials said.Although it’s too early to draw conclusions, the information collected so far indicates only trace amounts of lead and zinc were detected in the samples, said Ron Klein, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Red Dog project manager."Nothing I’ve seen or heard indicates an imminent public health risk," Klein said. "It just doesn’t appear to be there."Villagers from Kivalina traditionally have picked salmonberries and sour dock around the port site, where ore concentrate from the huge Red Dog Mine is loaded onto barges for transport to Canadian smelters, said tribal administrator Colleen E. Koenig.Commissioner approves Tanana Valley Forest planFAIRBANKS -- After seven years and almost 50 public meetings, the commissioner of the state Department of Natural Resources has signed off on a new Tanana Valley State Forest management plan, the first complete rewrite since the original plan came out in 1988.The 1.8-million acre forest extends 265 miles from near the Canada border to Manley Hot Springs. Under state law, it is managed for multiple use, including timber, recreation and wildlife habitat.The new management plan contains a dramatic spike in the maximum timber harvest allowed. The maximum timber harvest under the old plan was based on economic factors and largely ignored hardwoods such as aspen and birch that do not have a defined market.The new plan focuses on how much timber harvest would be sustainable for forest health, according to the department.NATIONEscopeta Oil and Gas announces gas reservesHOUSTON -- Escopeta Oil and Gas of Houston, Texas estimates it has 12 trillion cubic feet of natural gas near the East Forelands area of Cook Inlet.The company said Sept. 26 the estimate is based on new seismic results. It plans to drill test wells next year to verify the estimate. The discovery is about one-third the size of the estimated natural gas reserves at Prudhoe Bay, and the gas is estimated to be 18,000 to 21,000 feet below the surface.Mark Myers, director of the state Division of Oil and Gas, says the undiscovered potential of Escopeta’s testing is significant. But Myers said that, until the wells are drilled, it remains to be seen whether commercial quantities of gas can be produced from the reservoir.WORLDSwissair halts flight operationsZURICH, Switzerland -- Swissair shut down flight operations Oct. 2 after its schedule was thrown into turmoil by creditors moving against the financially troubled airline.The company said in a statement it was forced to halt flights because it had been unable to scrape together enough cash to keep operations going. It gave no indication how long it would be before it could resume flying.Last month’s terrorist attacks in the United States worsened things dramatically for Swissair, which was already trying to recover from a failed expansion. -- Compiled from business wire services.

ALASKA GUARD BOLSTERS AIRPORT SECURITY

About 230 members of the Alaska Army and Air NationalGuard will work in airports across the statebeginning today, Gov. Tony Knowles announced. TheGuard volunteers will enhance the Federal AviationAdministration’s security efforts for the next four-to-six months, until new measures can be instituted."Our Guard members will provide a visible,professional security presence at airportcheckpoints," Knowles said. "I am confident thepresence of the Guard will help convince Alaskansthat airports and flying are safer than ever before."Alaska Guardsmen are part of a nationwide initiativeled by President Bush to provide added security at422 airports across the country. In Alaska, airportsfrom Metlakatla to Barrow will see uniformed soldiersand airmen working alongside already existing airportsecurity. Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Valdez will beamong the first airports to receive the securityteams today.The Guard’s mission requirements have been entirelymet by volunteers, said Major General Philip Oates,Adjutant General for the Alaska National Guard. "Morethan 230 members of the Guard, representing some 74communities, have answered the call," Oates said."Not surprisingly, we will meet the entire FAAsecurity requirement with volunteers ready to serveAlaska and our nation."Guard volunteers took FAA-sponsored classroomtraining in the Anchorage Armory and will receive on-the-job training once at their assigned locations."The FAA is providing unique security training to analready well-trained and experienced military forceand the Alaska State Troopers are training thesoldiers and airmen to the standards for ’rules ofengagement’ and the safe use of firearms." Oncecertified by the FAA and the AST, Guardsmen will moveforward to their assigned airports, in most casesclose to their home communities.While the airport security mission is a new one forthe Guard, Oats said it follows a time-honoredtradition. "Homeland Defense has been a staple of theGuard since it’s origin," Oates said. "Alaskans inrecent years have witnessed their Guardmembersassisting the aftermath of fires and floods, andrescuing victims of plane crashes and mountainclimbing accidents. During World War II, the AlaskaTerritorial Guard helped protect fellow Alaskans byguarding our borders. Sixty years later, the Guard isagain protecting our fellow Alaskans at the borders -through our airports."

Governor sends state emergency medical team to aid New York recovery efforts

Gov. Tony Knowles has deployed the state’s 44-member emergency medical team to New York City to aid in recovery efforts at the World Trade Center.The Alaska-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team will work at the site of the terrorist attack Oct. 10-22, providing support to rescue and recovery workers.The group includes nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, pharmacists, respiratory therapists and support staff who volunteer to provide emergency medical care during a natural or man-made disaster. Once deployed, members become federal employees.Twenty-seven Level 1 DMAT groups operate across the nation. The Alaska group is part of the National Disaster Medical System within the federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Emergency Preparedness.YWCA offers breast cancer survivor exercise classYWCA of Anchorage has started a weekly exercise and support program for breast cancer survivors. ENCOREplus Component II runs every Tuesday from 5:30-7 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon through May at the YMCA, 5353 Lake Otis Parkway.The program provides a small-group atmosphere where breast cancer survivors can share concerns and information. To register, contact Michele Walsh at the YWCA, 907-274-1525.Hospice of Mat-Su offers grief seriesHospice of Mat-Su is sponsoring a grief education series Thursdays through Nov. 15. The sessions are geared toward people who have experienced a significant loss through the death of a loved one.Classes run from 7-8:30 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church and Resource Center at mile 2.2 of the Palmer-Wasilla Highway.The Oct. 11 session will cover key facts about grief. Oct. 18 will address dealing with grief so healing can begin. The topic Oct. 25 is "Living Through Grief." On Nov. 1, the class will focus on "Applying the Four Key Facts to Your Grief."The Nov. 8 session will cover how recognizing the sacred moments of death and dying can give new meaning to life. The final session Nov. 15 will address coping with grief during the holidays with guest speaker Vivian Finley, psychotherapist.For more information, call Hospice of Mat-Su at 907-352-4800 or Trinity Lutheran Church at 907-745-0726.Valley Hospital hosts women’s health fairValley Hospital plans to sponsor a women’s health fair Oct. 20 at the Valley Hospital Outpatient Center in Wasilla. The free event runs from 8 a.m. to noon.The women’s fair will feature health screenings for diabetes and cardiac risk assessments. Other offerings will display health products and educational information, and demonstrations will offer tips on makeup and skin care.Area health care physicians and health care providers will speak on topics including diabetes, menopause, osteoporosis and nutrition.Health screenings include body fat analysis, pulmonary function tests, skin cancer screenings and depression screenings. All services and screenings are free, except lab work.For $25, participants can be tested for diabetes, anemia, total cholesterol, kidney function and other health conditions.For more information about the women’s fair, contact Elizabeth Ripley at 907-352-2849.

Lighting store hits snag, building grinds to halt

A hardware retailer whose ventures have landed in Alaska -- including Pay ’N Pak and Eagle Hardware -- has been working to develop his latest retail concept for Anchorage. However, David Heerensperger of World Lighting, a lighting retailer, now has stalled plans for opening a store targeted for South Anchorage. The store is located on East Dimond Boulevard between Brayton Drive and Hartzell Road. A World Lighting spokeswoman confirmed the Anchorage project has been delayed. "We’re not going forward with that," she said from company headquarters in Bellevue, Wash. "There’s nothing going on right now. Everything’s on hold till the first of the year. We’re not fixturing that one." Heerensperger had not returned calls at press time. Subcontractors, such as DOWL Engineers and Smith Masonry, referred calls on the project to general contractor Douglass Properties of Spokane. Owner and developer Harlan Douglass did not respond to calls from the Journal. Rusty Fortier, general manager of Decor Lighting, located near the World Lighting site in Anchorage, believes his company would see few effects if the new store had opened. "I don’t think it would have had much impact," he said. Walk-in traffic could increase if shoppers are drawn to World Lighting and notice Decor Lighting almost next door, he said. Decor Lighting chiefly serves builders and electricians as well as homeowners, he said. The company does plan to install a retail entrance, Fortier said. Construction began this summer at World Lighting. Alaska Demolitions LLC helped prepare the site. In April, the city issued a land-use permit to David Heerensperger for work by Alaska Demolitions to remove a single-family home before construction began, said company owner Justin Green. World Lighting is the latest in Heerensperger’s retail ventures to reach Alaska. Heerensperger was once a top employee with Pay ’N Pak home improvement stores. Roughly 20 years ago, Pay ’N Pak operated in Anchorage at the Aurora Village Carrs building. Next, Heerensperger developed Eagle Hardware & Garden stores, which, at one point, employed 7,000 people. In November 1998, Eagle Hardware Chairman Heerensperger chose to merge with another home improvement retailer, North Wilkesboro, N.C.-based Lowe’s Cos. Inc. Heerensperger next developed the World Lighting retail concept. He opened a 25,000-square-foot World Lighting store in Bellevue, Wash. Earlier this year, he opened similar stores in two other Washington cities, Tukwila and Lynnwood.  

Chamber hands out Gold Pan Awards

The Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Sept. 22 presented its 44th Annual Gold Pan Awards honoring businesses, organizations and individuals who have excelled in their commitment to community service in Anchorage.The Outstanding Chamber Service by a Member Gold Pan Award was presented to Bridget McLeod, director of the University of Alaska Small Business Development Center Buy Alaska Program.Patti McGuire, known for her work with charitable organizations around Anchorage and the recent 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games, was given the Distinguished Community Service by an Individual award.Capital Office Systems was recognized with the Distinguished Community Service by a Business award. The Alaska-owned and -operated business has provided support and assistance to organizations and events throughout Alaska since 1946.The chamber presented the Sisters of Providence, Sister Kaye Belcher and Sister Claire Gagnon, the Distinguished Community Service by an Organization award. The organization provides health care, education, financial assistance and the basic elements of daily life to those in need.The Music Machine received the Premier Service to Youth by an Individual, Organization or Business award. The Music Machine has developed confidence and life skills in children three to 18 years of age by training them to perform in all aspects of musical theater for the past 20 years.Lifetime Achievement Awards, which are presented only on rare occasions, according to the chamber, were presented to Norma Goodman and Michael McDonald. Goodman, often called Alaska’s First Lady of Television, has been serving Alaska communities and Anchorage for more than 47 years through "The Norma Goodman Show."McDonald, known as Sourdough Mike, the singing drummer of the Fly by Night Club for 16 years, has shared his talents with adults and children through a career of community service.Rick Morrison, past chairman of the chamber, presented Chairman Awards to Mike Sexton, George Vakalis, Rebecca Hubbard and Jane Yi. The annual award recognizes individuals, chosen by the chairman, for assistance to him, the chamber and the business community during his tenure.

Security tightened following FBI alert

ANCHORAGE The Coast Guard contacted its regional commanders throughout Alaska Sunday and told them to make sure security was at the right level after the FBI urged law enforcement agencies to move to highest alert. The FBI issued the recommendation after the U.S. launched military strikes in Afghanistan, targeting military sites and camps belonging to Osama bin Laden, suspected of being behind last month’s terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Lt. Chris Ahearn, spokesman for the Coast Guard in Juneau, declined to be specific about tightened security measures taken in Alaska, saying that would be equivalent to giving up the Coast Guard’s ``game plan.’’ He did say that commanders were contacted Sunday and told to review their security measures. ``We have reviewed our security measures and made some adjustments,’’ he said. Nationally, the Coast Guard placed major ports and waterways under the largest defense operation since World War II. The Alaska State Troopers made no major adjustments because much of the increased security was implemented after the Sept. 11 attacks, said spokesman Greg Wilkinson. Posts were told Sunday to keep an extra eye out for suspicious activity at airports and along the trans-Alaska pipeline, he said. ``It is just business as usual with a higher level of alertness,’’ Wilkinson said. Security of the pipeline continued to be a big concern Sunday, even more so since the line was shot Thursday, spilling more than 285,000 gallons of crude north of Fairbanks. ``We have been on a heightened state of security,’’ said Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. spokesman Tim Woolston. ``We continue at that increased level.’’ Woolston acknowledged it would be a difficult task to prevent someone from shooting the 800-mile pipeline, if they were really bent on doing it. The city of Anchorage, meanwhile, opened its Emergency Operation Center around 9 a.m. and conducted a communications check with other members of the city’s crisis alert team. Shortly after noon, city manager Harry Kieling directed the center to revert to regular status. ``Anchorage should be reassured that their municipal government is prepared to deal with any perceived threat,’’ Mayor George Wuerch said in a statement. The State Emergency Coordination Center at Fort Richardson reported no unusual events Sunday. The center went on 24-hour a day status on Oct. 1. but the round-the-clock operation was not in response to the terrorist attacks, said Michael Roos, an SECC officer. At Fairbanks International Airport, airport administration contacted the airport’s major tenants, including Alaska Airlines, and requested them to be on the lookout for anything suspicious, said assistant airport manager Jim Fiorenzi. He said airport personnel currently are being issued new identification badges that will carry holograms and provide information on what areas are restricted to the wearer. ``It is just a matter of tightening things up,’’ Fiorenzi said.

Schwartz fights new war

Far from ground zero of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Alaska forces and their top military commander already have experienced the nail-biting tension of dealing with a hijacked passenger plane approaching American air space.Within hours of the attacks, Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, commander of Alaskan Command and the Northern Air Defense system, watched the radar screen blip of Korean Air Flight 85 moving toward land, its transponder emitting the international code signal for a hijacking.Evacuation of downtown Anchorage was begun, as American and Canadian fighters flew out to intercept the airliner. After the plane was diverted and landed in Canada, it was determined to be a false alarm; the incident was blamed on a false sending of the hijacker signal. However, during those moments, the general faced the prospect of asking permission to shoot down a civilian aircraft with nearly 200 passengers aboard.As of Sept. 28, the general doesn’t have to ask anymore during extreme situations. Schwartz was given the authority to act under similar circumstances to protect Alaska citizens and assets, without getting permission from those higher up the chain of command. He and a two-star general at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida joined the exclusive ranks -- the president, the Secretary of Defense and the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command -- of those who can authorize the action. The general described it as a worst-case contingency plan."We would exercise the authority only in the most grave of circumstances," he reassured the crowd at the Alaska World Affairs Council luncheon the next day. "It would be an extremely unusual situation where I couldn’t get in touch with the leadership of the country. We need to protect and defend Alaska’s air sovereignty. All of us will do this job with care and diligence."Slated to talk about China to the council, Schwartz wove his discussion about that country into a discussion which tied in relevant points of recent events."Economically, China, with its traditionally closed mindset, must decide how much and how quickly to open its markets," he explained. Their dilemma, he said, is that Western ideals taint Communist dogma, but centralized control is in conflict with attracting economic investment. The country’s leaders must decide whether to aim for swifter versus slow economic reform.Politically, China is making moves to gain influence among the Asian countries, the general said. "The Middle East, the Korean peninsula and the Taiwan Strait are the most volatile areas in the world and China has direct influence in two of those areas," he said. By encouraging the continued diplomatic dialogue between North and South Korea, China gains a power base on the peninsula. Through economic agreements with Japan, China builds ties with that country. Following this approach, in the end, will help China exert tremendous influence in that region of the world, he explained."China is the only power on the Pacific Rim with the potential to be a super power in the future."What concerns Lt. Gen. Schwartz most about China though, is its military. For the last 15 years, the Red Armed Forces have been systematically reformed. The country currently deploys 2.5 million troops.Paralleling that, the general explained, has been a simultaneous explosion of thought about warfare in the 21st century. In 1999, a pair of colonels at a Chinese war college wrote "Unrestricted Warfare," a hair-raising paper which outlines a new approach to war."The essence of ’Unrestricted Warfare’ is to avoid an enemy’s strengths and attack their weaknesses," he said. "Unrestricted warfare uses anything, anyone, anywhere. This type of war may assume such a new face that it may be difficult to determine or defeat," Schwartz said.Under the doctrine, unorthodox measures would be the hallmark of the "battles" which could be fought by computer hackers, banking experts, mass media or organized crime syndicates. If anything goes in the drive to attack the enemy’s weaknesses, all the rules for waging war, accepted in the last century, would no longer be used as guidelines for actions."One common denominator of ’Unrestricted Warfare’ is that it is totally outside of Western and Eastern thought about waging war," he said grimly. "War without gunpowder is difficult for soldiers to accept. And Osama bin Laden, if guilty, is the first practitioner of unrestricted warfare."The television news has labeled the Sept. 11 terrorist actions, ’Attack on America.’ If you think that, consider that citizens of 80 countries were killed or are missing after the attacks. This was a world event of a worldwide problem that is broad based with groups in 50 to 60 countries, including our own."He is not surprised to see broad support for the American campaign to eliminate terrorist networks. "Nation states commonly act in their own self-interest," he said. "Fundamentally, this sort of rogue activity threatens everyone. We must root out this problem -- failing to act is unthinkable."Schwartz joined the current oft-heard refrain that the anti-terrorist mission will not be easily nor quickly completed."This enemy is not going to take on the U.S. face to face, battalion to battalion," he said. "What we must do is not only engage the point of their spear, but go after the sources of their power and security. Economics, political, humanitarian outreach will all play a part. The military is not going to the biggest part of the coordinated response."There are some things worth fighting for, but we will not change our fundamental values," he concluded. "We have to be the land of the brave to remain the land of the free."

Red Cross takes airline miles

They’ll welcome your blood, and the American Red Cross also will accept frequent flier miles from the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.The program is aimed at offsetting costs the Red Cross incurred by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast.Minimum donations start at 500 miles; and for every 5,000 miles donated until Dec. 31, Alaska Airlines and Bank of America will each contribute an extra 1,000 miles.Red Cross volunteers and staff can use the donated miles to travel to destinations anywhere Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air fly.The Seattle Red Cross will administer the program.Jack Walsh, Alaska Airlines spokesman, said the donated frequent flier miles that add up to free flights will allow the Red Cross to extend its travel budget for emergencies on the West Coast, the airline’s main operating area."It won’t directly impact their East Coast resources, but it frees up their resources to be able to travel along the West Coast in an emergency. In the long run it helps them out," Walsh said.Mileage Plan members can donate frequent flier miles by sending an e-mail to ([email protected]) with the member’s name, plan number and the number of miles to donate. Members also can speak to a representative directly at 800-654-5669.

Uniform Commercial Code gets revised remedies provisions

Revised Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code, containing the remedies provisions, was enacted into law in Alaska and became effective July 1. These provisions are significantly more comprehensive than the remedies provisions set forth in Part 5 of the previous Article 9.In the revised Article 9, secured creditors retain the right existing under the previous Article 9 to repossess collateral by self help, if it can be done without breaching the peace. As under the prior Article 9, "breach of the peace" is not defined and is, therefore, left for the courts to define. The definition of "default" continues, essentially, to be left to the agreement of the parties. The statute provides two non-exclusive statutorily approved forms for notifying debtors of a foreclosure sale of collateral. The consumer transaction notice is in a "plain language" format.Revised Article 9 also provides rules on retaining collateral in full satisfaction of the secured debt and, in a non-consumer transaction, for retaining collateral in partial satisfaction of the secured debt. There are also special rules intended to minimize the risk that collateral will be sold to an insider such as a guarantor in an unreasonably "low price" disposition.Unless disclaimed, goods sold at a UCC foreclosure sale include usual type warranties that are a part of normal sales, such as a warranty of title. Debtors in consumer transactions are given the express right to receive detailed information as to any notice of a foreclosure sale as well as such matters as their potential liability for, and the amount of, any deficiency.Revised Article 9 also contains a rather terse set of transition rules in Part 7 of the statute. They appear to be generally viewed by legal practitioners as difficult to fully comprehend and apply. If Revised Article 9 requires perfection by a method other than the filing of a financing statement and the secured party had not complied with such a perfection method as of July 1, a pre-existing security interest remains perfected for only one year, that is, until July 30, 2002, unless the requirements of Revised Article 9 are met during that one-year time frame.An example of the application of this rule would be the case in which, prior to July 1, 2001, a secured party perfected a security interest in an instrument (such as a promissory note) in the hands of a third party, a "bailee," by giving notice to the bailee of the secured party’s security interest. Revised Article 9 requires that the bailee also acknowledge in a record that it is holding the instrument for the benefit of the secured party. Thus, the secured party has until June 30, 2002, to get such an acknowledgment from the bailee, if possible.For security interests perfected by filing a UCC-1 financing statement, it might be necessary under Revised Article 9 to file a financing statement in another state or office. An example: for a State of Washington corporation doing business in Alaska, if the secured party filed a financing statement prior to July 1 only in Alaska, the secured party will be required to file a financing statement in the State of Washington, the state where the debtor is organized.Generally, such a filing is accomplished via the filing of a new form of instrument created by Revised Article 9, an initial financing statement in lieu of a continuation statement, sometimes referred to as an "in lieu initial financing statement."Generally such an in lieu initial financing statement must be filed in the state where the debtor is organized on or before the earlier of either, the date the UCC-1 financing statement already of record in Alaska would lapse under prior Article 9 (usually five years from the filing date), or June 30, 2006.These transition rules require study to fully grasp, but it is important for those involved in secured transactions to be aware of them and to analyze their implications, given the facts and circumstances of each particular secured loan.The continued perfection time frames of the Revised Article 9 transition rules highlight another important point. During the five-year transition period for filing in lieu initial financing statements under Revised Article 9, it will, in certain cases, be necessary for secured parties conducting UCC searches to search the UCC records of more than one office or state.In this respect, Revised Article 9 and the transition rules will complicate the loan underwriting procedures of lenders, at least for the next five years, particularly in the case of debtors organized or resident outside of the State of Alaska who borrow from Alaska lenders, businesses or individuals.With new UCC rules now in place, it will be necessary for those involved in secured transactions covering personal property to be sensitive to the detailed substantive changes in Revised Article 9, as well as its somewhat challenging transition rules.Fred Odsen is a member of the law firm of Hughes Thorsness Powell Huddleston & Bauman LLC. He can be reached via e-mail at ([email protected]).

Gas group: Both routes are too costly

North Slope natural gas producers have moved to smooth ruffled feathers in Alaska following earlier statements that a $100 million study effort on a natural gas pipeline would cease if a particular route was mandated, or if federal legislation proposed by the industry group was not enacted.Meanwhile, the three companies working on the project have also released initial results of studies that show neither a "northern," or offshore, or a "southern," all-land route through Interior Alaska, is economically viable.Gov. Tony Knowles has proposed federal legislation that would endorse the southern route through the Interior and along the Alaska Highway. The producers’ group is also studying a northern route."We won’t build a gas project that Alaskans won’t support," Joe Marushack, Phillips Alaska Inc.’s manager for North Slope gas commercialization, told the governor’s Natural Gas Policy Council Sept. 25.Marushack is a member of the management committee of the industry consortium working on the project. Phillips, BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. and ExxonMobil Production Co. are the three major North Slope gas producers involved. Marushack said that even if an offshore route was shown to be more feasible than an Alaska Highway route, his company, Phillips, wouldn’t push ahead with the proposal if Alaska continued to oppose it.However, the group does want to complete its work in analyzing both route options, he said. That will be completed by the end of the year, he added.The engineering feasibility and environmental effort, which was originally estimated to cost $80 million, is now estimated at around $100 million, according to Mike Hurley, state government affairs coordinator for the producers’ group. Hurley briefed a committee of the gas policy council Sept. 20.Initial results of those feasibility studies indicate that the project is uneconomic. Neither a northern nor a southern route appear to generate sufficient revenues to overcome high costs to make the project profitable, Hurley said.However, members of the governor’s council questioned assumptions in the analysis, and raised the possibility that if the return on investment was insufficient for the producers to invest, perhaps a consortium of pipeline transmission companies and others might be willing to take it on.The policy council is a group Knowles appointed last spring to make recommendations on policy issues raised by a gas pipeline project.Hurley told the council Sept. 20 that the producers are still working on ways to cut costs, and a viable project may still be developed by the end of the year. The preliminary analysis was based on information "a couple of months old," he said, and data is still coming in.However, there is enough information available now that some broad conclusions can be drawn, he said.The study assumed gas throughput at 4.0 to 4.5 billion cubic feet daily, with the project designed so that volume could be increased to 6 billion cubic feet per day in the future, he said. A 52-inch thick-wall pipeline, operating at 2,500 pounds-per-square-inch operating pressure, is assumed in the study, he said.Costs of a northern, offshore route are estimated at $15.1 billion with a longer southern route, through the Interior and along the Alaska Highway, estimated at $17.2 billion, he said.The "tariff," or the cost for transporting gas from the North Slope to markets in the Lower 48, is estimated at $2.39 per thousand cubic feet for the southern route and $2.07 per Mcf for the northern route.That leaves a "wellhead" value for gas on the North Slope of 41 cents per Mcf from a southern route and 93 cents per Mcf from a northern route. State royalty and tax payments, including funds deposited to the Alaska Permanent Fund, are based mostly on the wellhead value.A cash-flow analysis presented to the council showed the industry running losses on both routes through 2030, with the losses heavier on the more costly southern route.Cumulative government revenues on both routes were about equal, however, at $66.2 billion for the southern route and $68 billion for the northern route, the analysis showed. This includes revenues to Alaska, Canada, provinces of Canada and the U.S. government. Alaska’s share of that would be $22.7 billion on the southern route and $24.1 billion on the northern route."A surprise to us was that revenues to governments were about the same for either route," Hurley told council members.A key assumption used in the analysis is a long-term gas price of $3 per million British Thermal Units in 2007, the first year the pipeline would be in operation. The study assumed that price would escalate with inflation. The $3/MMBtu price is an estimate by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Hurley told council members Sept. 20.Financing assumptions include 70 percent of the project financed by debt and 30 percent by equity investments, with a 12 percent return being allowed on the equity portion of the investment by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and 7 percent paid in interest on the bonds, Hurley said.Hurley pointed out that each of the three companies have their own requirements for minimum rate of return, or the "hurdle" rate on projects, which are confidential for competitive reasons.Ken Thompson, a retired Atlantic Richfield executive who is a member of the council, said that if the analysis used a 12 percent discount rate -- analogous to a 12 percent expected overall return -- it might improve the project’s bottom line to make it profitable enough for a group of independent pipeline companies, if not the producers. The study group used a 15 percent discount rate in its analysis.Thompson also felt the analysis should include some benefit of moving gas from Alberta through either new pipelines or enlarged existing pipelines from Alberta to the United States, he said. Alaska gas should not carry all of the cost of constructing those pipelines, he pointed out.Hurley said the estimated tariff for moving gas from Alberta to the United States used in the analysis is expected to be similar whether new pipelines are built or the existing infrastructure is enlarged.

Commonwealth North asks that all pipeline options be considered

An influential Anchorage-based business group has thrown a damp towel on Gov. Tony Knowles’ push to officially bless an Alaska Highway route for a natural gas pipeline in federal legislation, at the expense of a possibly less costly offshore route east to Canada from the North Slope.In recommendations from a task force studying gas issues that was released Sept. 24, Commonwealth North said, "From Alaska’s point of view, no project should be excluded from consideration if it has the potential for producing an acceptable combination of financial and beneficial returns to the state.""The study group feels all options (for routes) should be kept open pending more refined cost and engineering estimates on the highway and ’over-the-top’ routes. Absent such information, and thorough analysis thereof, a route recommendation would be premature," the report said.Knowles and others are pushing to foreclose the northern route as an option for a pipeline route, so that the pipeline would follow a route parallel to the trans-Alaska oil pipeline to near Fairbanks, and then to Canada along the Alaska Highway.Commonwealth North was also cautious about possible state investment in a gas pipeline: "State investment in, or ownership of, a gas delivery system involves unstudied risks and benefits," the task force report said. It referred to a third party analysis of state ownership options contracted for by the state Department of Revenue, due in January.Commonwealth North’s other recommendations include many that have been discussed extensively in other forums, such as the governor’s Natural Gas Policy Council.They include asking the state to identify, protect and provide for in-state needs for natural gas in the state’s "railbelt" population areas, as well as in other parts of the state, and that the state should preserve the right to take its royalty gas in-kind at some future date to meet in-state demand for heating, electrical generation and industrial uses.The group also urged that mechanisms such as tax-exempt financing be investigated to lower the costs of a gas project.The study group was co-chaired by Richard Barbes, retired chief executive officer of Enstar Natural Gas, and Lee Gorsuch, chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Followers await Fish and Game's crab study results, watch world's buying market

Industry watchers will be eager to see the results of Alaska Department of Fish and Game test fisheries done right before the October 15 start of the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, and directly after it closes. Although there’s no guarantee on how many legal-sized male crabs will be taken, the test harvests are estimated at 32,000-50,000 pounds for the first fishery, and roughly 112,500 pounds from the second. ADF&G will be soliciting bids for the purchase of all crabs delivered to a processing facility at a contracted price per pound.This year’s catch quota for Bristol Bay red king crab is just over 7 million pounds, down 14.4 percent from the previous year. Market reports indicate the harvest will yield around 2,100 tons of bulk crab available for world buyers, the lowest production level in recent years. Bristol Bay red crab is expected to enter the U.S. market by mid-November. Crabbers are hopeful that this year will see higher prices for red kings due to a decrease in competing supplies from Russia. For the first six months of this year, the U.S. market imported about 3,400 metric tons of king crab from Russia, or roughly 7.5 million pounds, valued at more than $48 million.That value and volume is significantly below levels for the same time last year, when more than 5,400 metric tons of Russian king crab, or nearly 12 million pounds, was imported into the United States through June, valued at more than $73 million. However, market reports through August indicated there is still plenty of Russian king crab around, and most of it was going to the United States.The fall fishery for red king crab in Russia started in the Sea of Okhotsk Sept. 1, and product will be available to the market by mid-October. Russian vessels are allowed a quota of approximately 13,000 metric tons, or about 17 million pounds of finished product, until the fishery closes before the end of the year. Last year’s quota reached nearly 30,000 metric tons, or 66 million pounds round weight.Market analyst Bill Atkinson said that with the Japanese and U.S. economies in transition in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, just how king crab supplies from Russia and Bristol Bay will be divided between Japanese and U.S. buyers remains unclear.Also on the crab frontAfter a closure last year to give the stocks a breather, crabbers in Southeast Alaska will be back on the grounds again targeting red and blue king crab. The season will open Nov. 1 with a harvest cap of 302,000 pounds and a pot limit of 20 pots per boats. State managers preannounced the fishery will end Nov. 14 in most regions, with some others closing Nov. 7.Industry creates relief fundWorldCatch reports that a seafood industry relief fund for the families of fallen firefighters, police officers and other rescuers from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks reached $110,000 by the end of September. Working through the National Fisheries Institute, Harbor Seafood is spearheading the effort and calling on the entire seafood industry for a "swift and generous response to the selfless acts carried out by those men and women who gave their lives to rescue the innocent victims of the attacks."The relief fund hit $80,000 after just one day, and the fund’s goal is $250,000. Checks should be made payable to the NFI/Attack on America Relief Fund, and mailed to the National Fisheries Institute, 190 N. Ft. Myer Drive, Suite 700, Arlington, VA 22209.Salmon prices pick upSalmon prices in the United States generally rose by about 10 percent recently, due primarily to the lack of seafood coming in from Chile. Market analyst John Sackton said many Chilean exporters stopped pulling fish from their farms when they were unsure they could get air transport to the United States following the events of Sept. 11.A holiday in Chile also stalled production by salmon farmers. In response, Sackton said Canadian and U.S. salmon growers have seen increased demand for their products, and prices have risen around 10 percent on both whole fish and fillets.There were some spot shortages of salmon; however, the market outlook is unsettled, and it’s not clear that any price increases will be sustained."There is still a lot of salmon being grown, and little incentive for farmers to hold back harvest. Instead, there may be a rush to catch up with scheduled harvesting plans once the transport system moves back to normalcy," Sackton said.Conference scheduledThe Pacific Rim Wild Salmon and Steelhead Conference is slated for November 5-6 at the World Trade Center in Portland, Ore. It’s sponsored by the Wild Salmon Center, which touts itself as "the only truly international salmon and steelhead conservation group in the Western Hemisphere."The non-profit group includes experts in salmon and steelhead conservation and management from Russia, Canada, and the United States with a mission to protect globally important salmon, steelhead, and trout stocks and their river ecosystems.The center is spearheading research to identify the last, best Pacific salmon ecosystems in the world, determine the nature of any threats to these ecosystems, and devise strategies to protect these places forever.Kodiak-based free-lance writer Laine Welch can be reached via e-mail at ([email protected]).

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