Park Service bars nine cruise ships from Glacier Bay to comply with court order

ANCHORAGE -- The National Park Service announced Aug. 7 that nine cruise ships will be prevented from entering Glacier Bay National Park in Southeast Alaska this summer.Agency spokesman John Quinley said the reduction brings the park service into compliance with an order issued Aug. 3 by U.S. District Judge James Singleton.The decrease affects approximately 13,500 cruise ship passengers this tourist season.Under the cutback, Holland America cruises are being cut by five, Princess Cruises by two, Norwegian Cruise Line by one and World Explorer Cruises by one.Quinley said Singleton has the power to invalidate the agency’s plan. The judge, however, does not have to approve it in order for the park service to initiate it immediately, Quinley said.The cutback is less drastic than the barring of 32 ships that some people had anticipated after Singleton’s decision.The judge’s order caught many people in the tourism industry off-guard because they expected the cuts to begin next year, not in the middle of the tourist season.In the early August decision, Singleton told the Park Service to slash the number of cruise ships allowed into Glacier Bay immediately in response to a federal appeals court ruling. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the park service erred in allowing a 72 percent increase in cruise ship entries in 1997 without having done a major environment review.While the court ordered ship visits cut, it left it to Singleton to implement the order.The suit was brought by the National Parks Conservation Association.Confusion existed as to whether ship numbers should be cut from the current 139 to 107, the old limit, or whether the park service can prorate the reduction over the remainder of the season. Under the first scenario, no more ships could enter the park after Aug. 8 because that’s when the season’s 107th cruise will visit the park, said Tom Dow, a Seattle-based executive for Princess Cruises. That would mean 32 canceled voyages.Under the second scenario selected by the park service, the ship reduction was prorated.Princess and Holland America, the companies with the largest number of ship entries, said they will divert ships to other glacier-laden spots in Southeast, such as Tracy Arm south of Juneau and the Hubbard Glacier near Yakutat."It’s disruptive to people, it’s disruptive to the company," said Al Parrish, Holland America’s vice president of government and community education.

Williams cleared to build port rail loop

Williams Alaska Petroleum Inc. has received a permit for construction of new rail loop on mud flats across from the company’s fuel terminal at Ship Creek, near the Port of Anchorage.The $10 million project will ease congestion along Ocean Dock Road and make off-loading railroad fuel cars more efficient, according to Jeff Cook, vice president of external affairs for Williams.Construction will begin immediately and should be completed in about a year, Cook said.The permit, issued Aug. 10, comes after months of negotiations with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, which expressed concerns about the impact on migratory birds and other wildlife at the mud flats."We were, and still are, very concerned about habitat loss,’’ said Gary Wheeler, assistant field supervisor for the Fish and Wildlife Service.Williams will provide $146,000 to be used for Ship Creek area enhancements in return for developing the mud flats. No projects have been specifically identified yet, Cook said. The company originally offered $42,000 in mitigation fees for the loss of the mud flats.Plans call for filling more than eight acres of intertidal mud flats with 300,000 cubic yards of gravel, concrete rubble and riprap. Two loop tracks will be constructed, each having the capacity of about 60 tank cars. A rail spur track also will be built, allowing for another 10 to 20 fuel cars to be positioned for off-loading. The company said the project will allow it to off-load 38,000 more barrels of fuel daily.Currently, Williams has to shuttle fuel cars across roadways from nearby Alaska Railroad Corp. yards, stopping traffic up to several hours daily."Instead of blocking traffic 10 to 14 times a day, it will be just a couple of times,’’ Cook said. "It will be safer for residents and users of the port.’’Fuel shipped from the Williams North Pole refinery to Anchorage averaged 104 rail cars a day for July -- the most ever, according to railroad officials. The company says it’s on track to set another record for August.The bulk of the rail cars -- some 80 a day -- carry jet fuel to be used at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, according to Cook.In its original proposal, Williams wanted to build a tank farm at the site, consisting of six tanks that would hold about a half a million barrels of gasoline, diesel, naphtha, jet fuel and low-sulfur fuel. The 480,000-barrel tank farm was to be enclosed with a containment berm.The fuel tanks were cut from the original permit application, but may be applied for again in the future, Cook said.

This Week in Alaska Business History August 19, 2001

Editor’s note: "This Week in Alaska Business History" revisits events that shaped our past."Those who cannotremember the past arecondemned to repeat it."-- George Santayana, 1863-195220 years ago this weekAnchorage TimesAug. 19, 1981Commercial fishermen smash newest recordBy Deb DavidTimes WriterCommercial salmon fishermen in Alaska hit the jackpot this year.Not only are they smashing harvest records in several areas, the average weight of fish is unusually high. Further, processors are generally paying more per pound for salmon.Fisheries managers estimate 108 million fish, statewide, have been hauled in to date. This surpasses the preseason forecast of 74.5 million salmon and is just below the 1981 catch of 110.3 million.Fisheries managers also are reaching their escapement objectives, which represents a heavy salmon run.In Bristol Bay, for example, fishermen raked in a record harvest of 25.5 million red salmon, which weighed an average of six pounds each, said Chuck Meacham, research project leader for Fish and Game.At 75 cents a pound, the worth of the red harvest alone is $115 million to fishermen. The value for processors, who resell fish, typically doubles.Anchorage TimesAug. 20, 1981Commission supports gas line waiverBy Betty MillsTimes Washington BureauWASHINGTON -- The chief legal officer of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which will grant the certificate of approval for the Alaska gas pipeline, agrees with the project sponsors that waivers of law must be passed by Congress to secure private financing.In a 40-page memo to Rep. Phillip Sharp, D-Ind., Charles A. Moore, general counsel for the commission, said Commission Chairman C. Michael Butler also supports the concept of a waiver.The gas line sponsors are seeking a series of waivers, saying they cannot obtain financial backing without the waiver package. But Sharp, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Fossil and Synthetic Fuels, has balked at the proposed waiver package, saying it would place too great a risk on American consumers.10 years ago this weekAlaska Journal of CommerceAug. 19, 1991Wishbone Hill moves aheadBy Margaret BaumanAlaska Journal of CommerceA surface coal mining permit at Wishbone Hill, 45 miles northeast of Anchorage, has been approved by the state Division of Mining, clearing the way for Alaska’s second producing coal mine.The permit for the mine, owned by Japan’s largest independent oil company, had been delayed because a small portion of the 1,351-acre area involved is withdrawn for inclusion in the state mental health trust lands.Wishbone Hill, which consists of eight state coal leases and one Cook Inlet Region Inc. coal lease, is owned by Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd. of Japan. Wishbone Hill could potentially produce about 1 million metric tons of clean coal annually, said David German of McKinley Mining Consultants of Palmer, the firm providing management and coordination of project plans for Idemitsu Alaska.Alaska Journal of CommerceAug. 19, 1991Tough season casts pall over SouthwestBy the Alaska Journal of CommerceUncertainly over bottomfish and a poor salmon season has cast a pall over Southwest Alaska communities. This coincides with shortened seasons for bottomfish as that fishery gets increasingly crowded with factory trawler vessels.Unalaska, through its bustling port of Dutch Harbor, seems to stand alone with continuing prosperity, based on expanded shore processing and servicing to offshore trawler fleets."Dutch will sustain itself" because of its diversified base, serving the trawler fleet as well as shore processors, said Rich Wilson, vice president of the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference. Processors continue to expand in Unalaska: Alyeska Seafoods has expanded, UniSea just completed a new $60 million plant and Westward Seafoods has a new $70 million facility.-- Compiled by Ed Bennett.

Alaska-built pipeline guarantees Alaskans benefit from state's gas

Over the years in Juneau, I have repeatedly asked this administration and each of the owners and potential producers of North Slope gas, "When can we expect to see a pipeline and will Alaska receive a fair share of the profits derived from our gas?" I wanted to know when the producers intended to sell gas. I also asked if Alaska should invest in the pipeline.Having watched the Canadians take the state ferry hostage, I asked, "What would stop Canada from holding our gas hostage in the future?" The answers I received were often confusing, complex, sometimes less than responsive and certainly less than reassuring. This experience caused me to draft and submit Senate Bill 221, the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas Development Authority, last spring. I believe that Alaskans want a secure all-Alaska gas pipeline running from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and they want it now.Electrical blackouts roll through California, Oregon and Nevada. The energy crisis is real, and Alaska could be a major part of the solution. Unfortunately, some wish to build the pipeline through Canada, thus giving the Canadians control over our destiny.Others want the major oil companies to tell us where and when to build the pipeline and on what terms.As the debate goes on, some are moving quickly to deliver gas to California. Just two weeks ago, Bolivia announced a $5 billion gas pipeline project aimed at California. The window of economic opportunity may soon close as other gas producing companies and countries react to capture these markets.SB221 would allow Alaskans to own and control the gas pipeline. All of the jobs created in building and operating the pipeline would be Alaska jobs. Alaska would get the jobs created by liquification and could develop the plastics and petrochemical plants associated with this resource. No foreign power could ever hold our gas or our pipeline hostage.Value could be extracted from Alaska’s gas before it left our state.Alaskans could utilize Alaska’s gas along the way. Fairbanks, Delta Junction, Glennallen, Valdez and -- with a spur line from Glennallen to Sutton -- all of Cook Inlet could utilize this gas.With passage of SB221 we can start building the pipeline.Yukon Pacific has pledged its permits. The existing pipeline right of way and the corridor could be used. That road is already built and the right of way already exists. Those permits have already been granted.The resulting revenue to Alaska will be greater, and the project will be on line years quicker, if we pass SB221 and build an all-Alaska gas pipeline. Such a pipeline may be the only way to make sure that Alaska gets a fair share and Alaska’s gas doesn’t get left out of the world markets.A citizens initiative has been filed that will put my bill on the 2002 ballot if the Legislature should fail to pass SB221 this next session.I welcome this great support and encourage everyone to sign that initiative. The initiative will assure that Alaska’s gas pipeline will be built by Alaskans, owned by Alaskans and controlled by Alaskans.Robin Taylor is the Republican senator from Wrangell. He can be reached by e-mail at ([email protected]).

Years of poor commercial fishing prompt Dillingham council to declare disaster

DILLINGHAM -- Following this year’s commercial fishery failure, the Dillingham City Council has declared 2001 an economic disaster in the city.Officials also appointed a local task force to address the area’s stifled economy.The council made its unanimous declaration July 25 and asked Gov. Tony Knowles and the U.S. secretary of commerce to do the same. The resolution adopted stated that families face a difficult winter because of the poor fishery, and that debts and loans incurred from several bad fishing years would only make things worse, the Bristol Bay Times reported."We’re not talking about one sector in the community here," Mayor Chris Napoli said. "We’re talking about the whole community. What is more distressing is that here in Dillingham we are somewhat better off than some of the villages. So often we focus on Dillingham, but we rely on commerce from the surrounding villages. Some of these villages may have a long, hard winter ahead, and we need to do something about it."The task force will be comprised of local business people as well as representatives from local Native organizations. The goal is to provide insight into this year’s hardships and come up with ideas on how to bring in more money locally."We are looking for financial assistance," said council member Keggie Tubbs. "Passing the disaster declaration will hopefully help loosen some purse strings and address the problem of the economy being in the dumps. This is what brought about the task force."The effects of low catch numbers, low per-pound prices and the overwhelming number of commercial fishing boats competing for fish in the Nushagak District rippled throughout the community this year."We’re trying to avoid a fold of services and goods," said city council member Duwayne Johnson. A commercial fisherman, Johnson said he is feeling the pinch like so many others that fished this summer. Low fish returns in Bristol Bay for the past several years has complicated things.Traditionally, 250 to 300 boats fished in the district. This year there’s more than 700, Johnson said."The last four years have been disastrous; some people are going into bankruptcies," he said. "We’ve cinched up our purse strings as tight as we can. We can’t go any tighter."

Satellite service brings high-speed Internet to remote Denali park

During the summer months, vehicle traffic is limited chiefly to tour buses, park officials and some permit holders on the 92-mile road bisecting Denali National Park and Preserve. The corridor is beyond the reach of most utility services, yet National Park Service officials posted at the Toklat Ranger Station at Mile 53 can connect to the Internet via a high-speed satellite service.The nationwide Starband system is offered in Alaska by Microcom of Anchorage, which has installed 150 units so far, according to Microcom’s Tom Brady. The system is aimed at residential and light commercial users, such as small businesses or lodges, and is being used in Barrow, Sand Point, Nome and Kotzebue, he said. Government agencies including the National Park Service and the Federal Aviation Administration also are using Starband satellite services, Brady said.Starband is one method Alaskans are using to provide broadband Internet service in rural areas.Private companies, regulators and other state officials are seeking ways to reach rural Alaska areas that lack inexpensive dial-up service with Internet access. Bush residents are typically faced with high costs for Internet service.Earlier this summer two Alaska telecommunications providers announced plans for expanded rural Internet service.Alaska Network Systems, whose shareholders are 12 Alaska local telephone companies, applied in June for a $24 million federal grant to fund Internet service to 139 Alaska villages.Also, General Communication Inc. outlined a plan in late June for providing high-speed Internet access for the 152 rural Alaska communities it serves by 2004.The Starband system, however, is not cheap and thus hasn’t drawn larger customer numbers, Brady noted. Installation costs about $1,500 and monthly service runs $69.99, he said.Microcom’s product is not necessarily ideal for everyone, he said. Brady also acknowledged the dilemma of Internet service across the state."Providing broadband Internet for rural Alaska is not a profit center, especially if you are providing it for the masses," he said. "Starband is an individual making a decision (to use the product)."Microcom helped TDX Corp., the Native corporation for St. Paul, configure an Internet access system. TDX runs a cable network with about 130 subscribers including 70 cable modem subscribers, he said. Brady believes corporation officials are providing the system as a service rather than money maker.Juneau-based McDowell Group Inc. lists some of these rural Alaska Internet entrepreneurs in its Telecommunications Services Inventory of Rural Alaska report released in January. The report was compiled for the Denali Commission.Starband customers choose the service for different reasons, not always based on large numbers of users, he said. Brady recalled one initial Starband customer who wanted Internet access at his home rather than driving 20 miles into Kodiak to surf the Web.Three years ago in McGrath a need for faster speeds spurred invention. Frustrated by slow connections, Ernie Baumgartner, general manger of McGrath Light and Power, researched the possibility of becoming an Internet service provider.Extensive research with Alaska Internet experts -- plus Baumgartner’s own 30 years of experience with Alascom, GCI and others -- resulted in McGrath having its own dial-up system, he said. A wireless Internet option from Spectrum Wireless Services was also put in place."We started out pretty carefully," he said.One key for McGrath was its proximity to an AT&T Alascom earth station, said Dan Ferguson, Spectrum co-founder and director of research and development.He also cited Baumgartner’s own experience."The real advantage for McGrath Light and Power was picking up Ernie as general manager. With his telecommunications background he knew this was something that could be accomplished, and it turned out to be a very wise decision."Ferguson pointed out that one important factor is considering what costs a particular market can bear.About 410 people live in McGrath, and Baumgartner reports the ISP has 75 Internet accounts, which include businesses with multiple computers.However, a community with a smaller population might have a trickier time starting a local ISP, Baumgartner said. "If we were half this size I don’t know if it would work because of the upfront costs," he said.The company invested $70,000 to set up the system, he noted. Today, the service is paying its way, he said.The company currently charges $32 per month for the wireless service and $42.50 for dial-up service, he said.McGrath Light and Power also hopes the Internet access serves to boost the local economy with a link to international commerce. At least one resident’s life has changed as a result of the ISP. During start-up of the McGrath service, Baumgartner sent 14-year-old computer aficionado Isaiah Norton for training in Anchorage and later dispatched Norton to study installation of the system."That kid has turned into a whiz-bang system administrator," Baumgartner said, analyzing Norton’s two years of service.

UA to study commercial fishing in Cook Inlet

SOLDOTNA -- The University of Alaska is embarking on several research studies to advise lawmakers on a more diversified state economy. One of the studies will take a look at the Cook Inlet commercial fishery and attempt to answer this question: What would happen if the upper Cook Inlet commercial fishery were bought out, closed up, finished? The idea of buying up permits held by setnetters and driftnetters who target the supply of Kenai River-bound salmon has been raised for years. It would hand the Kenai’s remarkable salmon runs over to sport fishermen, dipnetters and other noncommercial users. UA announced Aug. 7 it will begin the Inlet fishing research, as well as five other economic studies, with $500,000 in seed money provided by BP and Phillips Petroleum Co. The research also will examine the air cargo industry, the future of Native corporations in economic development, preparing Alaskans for in-state jobs, understanding the Alaska Permanent Fund, and the satellite data retrieval and analysis industry. The university’s Institute of Social and Economic Research will do most of the research. The Kenai River Sportfishing Association’s Bob Penney welcomes the new study. Penney wrote a letter to university president Mark Hamilton last month asking the university to look into buybacks. "It may be so uneconomical that it’s not even feasible, but until you do the study, how do you know that?" Penney said. Hamilton, a personal guest of Penney’s at the recent Kenai River Classic salmon habitat fund-raiser on the Kenai River, said the university had already planned this research at the urging of lawmakers before Penney wrote his letter. He said he got the letter Aug. 7. Sen. Dave Donley, R-Anchorage, an avid sportfisherman, said the Cook Inlet basin’s fish streams ought to be set aside for anglers. He said he believes sport-caught fish are more valuable economically than commercially caught fish.  

Juneau clinic starts building

JUNEAU -- The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium is ready to start work on a $10 million clinic.The consortium broke ground Aug. 3 on the 25,000-square-foot building, which sits on 2 1/2 acres that SEARHC owns near Salmon Creek in Juneau.The new outpatient facility, which caters to Southeast Natives, will offer medical, social and behavioral health services. Dental and other services will remain at the current clinic.SEARHC hopes to begin construction in September and move in to the new building in September 2002, said President Ken Brewer."We hope this facility will help us deliver better care and give patients better access to care," Brewer said. "Where we are right now, we can’t even take any more patients."The hope, said Brewer, is that the new facility will allow people better access to care by alleviating the pressure of cramming 30,000 patients and 150 staff members into its current 12,000-square-foot building.SEARHC will fund construction through a $6.7 million tax exempt bond issue from the city, Brewer said.

GCI expands local service

Fairbanks residents now have another option for local telephone service. General Communication Inc. has started providing the service, which had previously been provided only by Alaska Communications Systems. Both telecommunications companies are based in Anchorage.GCI began local phone service in June, said David Morris, GCI public affairs manager.However, GCI’s introduction of local phone service in the Interior city has been heralded quietly rather than highly promoted. Morris called it a soft roll out."We learned in the Anchorage market that when you roll out local service, demand can exceed the ability to meet that demand," he said.In 1997 GCI reported delays in starting local phone service to customers who were switching from ATU Telecommunications, now ACS.At the end of June GCI totaled 1,500 local access lines in Fairbanks, Morris said, quoting the last tally the company released.In its most recent edition the Fairbanks North Star Borough Community Research Quarterly listed 37,055 residential borough telephone customers and 17,437 commercial telephone customers in 2000.GCI began providing Internet service from its own facilities in May, following up with local phone service on a retail basis the next month, he said.In its second quarter earnings report, GCI noted its entrance into the Fairbanks market and listed 69,000 total local access lines in the state, up 4,000 lines from the prior quarter."The company estimates it has approximately 15 percent local service market share in Alaska. Over 92 percent of GCI’s access lines are provisioned on its own facilities or on resold local loops," the report said.ACS has filed lawsuits contesting the addition of another carrier in Fairbanks and Juneau markets.GCI has provided local phone service in Anchorage for four years.Phone service competition in Fairbanks has been contested in the past several years. Prior to that, competition in the Anchorage market was triggered chiefly by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, when Congress ruled that markets served by monopoly providers should be served by competitors. Lawmakers gave state regulators responsibility for setting fair terms for use of the incumbent carrier’s networks by competing carriers.The Anchorage local phone service market differs from elsewhere in the nation."The competing phone company has a bigger share of the local service market in Anchorage than in any other urban market nationally," Nanette Thompson, Regulatory Commission of Alaska chairwoman, told the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce on July 30.The battle for local service in Fairbanks, as well as Juneau, has been brewing for several years.The problem for phone competition in Fairbanks and Juneau stems from the federal act’s rules for competitive markets, which are chiefly directed at urban areas. Only Anchorage is defined as urban, Thompson said.A decision on local phone service in Fairbanks has been contended before the Alaska Public Utilities Commission -- reorganized in 1999 as the RCA -- as well as in the courts and before state lawmakers.Thompson recalled that new RCA commissioners tackled the issue during their first month in office. They later ruled in favor of allowing competition in the Fairbanks and Juneau markets, although ACS appealed the decision, she said."Our decision is still under review in the courts. The courts did not find grounds to stay our order," said Thompson, who anticipated competition in those markets.According to ACS spokesman Tom Jensen, ACS has litigation pending in state and federal court."In state Superior Court, we have challenged RCA’s order that lifted rural exemption in Fairbanks and Juneau," he said.Oral arguments for the ongoing case were to be held Aug. 16.Also, in federal court ACS filed a lawsuit to contest its interconnection agreements with AT&T Alascom and GCI. Oral arguments are scheduled for November in Seattle, he said.

Alaska Run for Women board accepting grant applications

The Alaska Run for Women board of directors is accepting applications for grants to be awarded from proceeds of this year’s event held June 9. Applications must be postmarked by Sept. 7.For a list of grant guidelines, visit the Alaska Run for Women Web site at (www.akrfw.org) or call the hotline, 907-566-3151 to leave a message.The annual all-women event raises money for distribution to organizations concerned with decreasing the impact of breast cancer in Alaska through breast cancer research, outreach and treatment.Since 1993 the Alaska Run for Women has raised more than $1 million. Each year event organizers distribute 70 percent of the proceeds within Alaska with remaining funds earmarked for a nationally recognized research organization seeking a cure or improved treatments for breast cancer.Last year the board of directors distributed more than $100,000 in funds and in-kind services like mammograms and other diagnostic services across Alaska. Another $30,000 was donated to the American Cancer Society to fund research of dietary patterns and the incidence of breast cancer.Alzheimer’s group plans eventsThe Alzheimer’s Resource Agency of Alaska plans to sponsor several upcoming events."How to Be a Savvy Caregiver" is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sept. 10 at the Millennium Hotel in Anchorage. The same program will run that night from 6-7:30 p.m. in Fairbanks at the Westmark Hotel.Reservations are requested by Aug. 31.The guest speaker will be Dr. Kenneth Hepburn, director of geriatrics at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. He also created the Savvy Caregiver program, which is a six-session education program for family caregivers designed to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to care for a loved one with dementia and reduce the stress associated with caregiving.The luncheon event is part of the Alzheimer’s Resource Agency of Alaska’s 10th annual research forum.The group also will conduct sessions called "ABC’s: Caring for People with Dementia" in the Palmer-Wasilla area. On Aug. 28 the topic is "An Overview of Dementia: What is it? And what can you expect?" The topic on Sept. 4 is "Community Resources and the CHOICE program." The Sept. 11 topic is "Organization: Adapting Your Home and Life to Care for a Loved One." These programs run from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Trinity Barn, Mile 2.2 on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway.For more information, call 907-561-3313.Providence receives work/family awardProvidence Alaska Medical Center has received the 2001 Child Care Connection Work/Family award in the nonprofit category.The award recognizes the hospital’s policies sustaining and supporting healthy work and family practices.Providence offers onsite child care, flexible work hours, Family Medical Leave Act policies and various other family friendly employee benefits.The award was presented in July.Child Care Connection Inc. of Anchorage is a nonprofit organization that honors employers who offer employment programs that make balancing work and family responsibilities a part of the work environment.

Delta to drop Fairbanks trip

After years of service from Anchorage to Fairbanks, Delta Air Lines says the trip is no longer profitable and will stop the flights Nov. 1.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.Delta will continue nonstop year-round service to Salt Lake City and Seattle from Anchorage, and summer seasonal service to Atlanta.The airline had flown a daily year-round flight to Fairbanks from Anchorage. Delta bumped the flights to twice daily during the fall and winter.

Movers Inc. expands air freight handling business by opening office in Seattle

Anchorage-based Movers Inc., a company specializing in air freight handling for seafood, has set its sights on expansion in Seattle, home to most of the company’s clients.Movers opened an 8,000-square-foot office and warehouse in south Seattle on July 16, said President Dave Beach. The new location, 1620 S. 92nd Place at the Sea King Industrial Park, also is home to Brownline Trucking.According to Beach, Movers may pursue handling surface shipping distribution for trucks from Alaska with domestic-bound cargo. Demand for the service in Alaska and the company’s sizable refrigerator space may support Movers’ activity in surface shipping distribution, Beach said.The Seattle expansion follows a year-long market analysis that showed support for the operation, Beach said. Customers, Beach added, have been asking him about opening a Seattle facility for at least five years."About 75 percent of our customer base is located in Seattle," he said.At the time Beach chose to concentrate employees’ efforts based in Alaska, but he grew more encouraged as staffers gained more years of experience.Also, a driving factor was an indicator of demand for the operation. "Our No. 1 customer said, ’Are you going to do this? If you don’t do it, we will,’ " Beach recalled.Beach founded Movers in 1969 when he and his wife, Marilyn, purchased a company that had previously operated as a household moving firm. They developed the business into a pickup and delivery service for airlines but later diversified operations to include transporting live seafood from Alaska aboard FedEx or other international carriers.His son Dan Beach, who has logged 22 years in the seafood handling, shipping and distribution industry, will manage the Seattle office. Three other employees from the Anchorage operation have been transferred to the new Washington venture.The Seattle office employs six part-time and six full-time employees, Beach said.The new venture has added tasks for Movers’ employees in Anchorage, but Beach cited their experience and drive."It’s challenging the people we sent down and the people still in Anchorage," he said. "It turns out they’re really up for it."

This Week in Alaska Business History August 12, 2001

Editor’s note: "This Week in Alaska Business History" revisits events that shaped our past."Those who cannotremember the past arecondemned to repeat it."-- George Santayana, 1863-195220 years ago this weekAnchorage TimesAug. 13, 1981Engineer says Knik bridge will take at least five yearsBy David CarpenterTimes WriterA long-advocated bridge across Knik Arm won’t be built for at least another five years despite the $5.5-million boost the project received two months ago from the Legislature, according to an Anchorage civil engineer who’s backing the proposed project.Roger Riddell told a breakfast gathering of the Resource Development Council for Alaska today that the project will probably be two or three years in the design phase and another three to four years in construction.The Knik crossing expert said Roger Ward, commissioner of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities should designate a special office to get the project rolling.Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Ron Larson told the group that the borough’s population will more that double soon after completion of the bridge. An estimated 4,000 Valley residents commute daily to Anchorage, and that number is expected to multiply when the crossing cuts nearly 30 miles off the distance from Wasilla and other Valley communities.Anchorage TimesAug. 12, 1981’Ulu-king’ makes hot-selling itemBy Paul JenkinsThe Associated PressWhen David Gransbury walked through Anchorage six years ago hawking crescent-shaped ulus from his briefcase, he had to explain to merchants what they were.Today, the traditional Eskimo women’s knives are one of the Alaska’s hottest selling souvenir items, and the 35-year-old businessman could be considered the "ulu-king" of Alaska.His small factory jammed into Anchorage’s warehouse district churns out 40,000 of the knives annually.The stainless steel knives with Alaska’s flag engraved on the blades are shipped statewide, and as far away as Fort Wayne, Ind.10 years ago this weekAlaska Journal of CommerceAug. 12, 1991New financing headachesBy Tim BradnerAlaska Journal of CommerceThere’s a new wrinkle in commercial real estate financing that could be big trouble for the owners -- and those who aspire to be owners -- of Alaska shopping malls, office buildings, and other commercial properties.Insurance companies, hit hard by real estate losses nationwide, are calling in their Alaska loans. This means borrowers must find refinancing. If they can’t get it, that means trouble.Long-term money for commercial refinancing, and for new projects, is scarce across the nation, but particularly in Alaska. Traditional sources of long-term lending for commercial development in the state -- pension funds, savings and loan institutions and insurance companies -- are now largely out of the market.Sources among local financial institutions say that if borrowers can’t refinance, it could trigger a new wave of commercial real estate foreclosures and litigation, even on financially healthy properties.Alaska Journal of CommerceAug. 12, 1991Ship Creek bids inBy the Alaska Journal of CommerceMajor land developers from Michigan and Texas are vying to develop the 120-acre Ship Creek area near the Port of Anchorage into a master planned tourist commercial/residential development.Both bids include development plans in excess of $200 million over the next decade.The Ship Creek project committee will make its recommendation on the bids Aug. 21, for further study by the board of directors of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. From there the proposals will go to the Alaska Railroad and the Municipality of Anchorage."The exciting thing for AEDC is that these companies, which are accustomed to doing developments in much larger population areas, have seen an opportunity to install activities which will bring economic expansion to Anchorage," said Tyler Jones, project consultant for AEDC.-- Compiled by Ed Bennett

Alaska Regional Hospital accredited; score ranks it in top 4 percent in nation

Alaska Regional Hospital has received accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. The Anchorage hospital earned a score of 98 out of 100 points and received accreditation without Type 1 Recommendations or areas with deficiencies and issues requiring resolution within a specified time, hospital officials said.According to Ed Lamb, the hospital’s president and chief executive, 4 percent of hospitals surveyed in the last year received a score of 98 or better.JCAHO, a nonprofit organization that evaluates patient care and safety, accredits nearly 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.The evaluation included reviews of compliance documentation provided by hospital personnel and on-site observations by the surveyors.Alaska Club hosts arthritis seminarThe Alaska Club West is sponsoring a free seminar Aug. 13 on arthritis. The seminar begins at 7 p.m. and is open to the public.Guest speaker will be Paige Lucas, arthritis program coordinator with the Municipality of Anchorage Health and Human Services Division. Lucas will discuss how arthritis affects joints and also share some ideas for minimizing the discomfort resulting from arthritis.Preregistration is recommended. For more information or to register, call 907-274-5510, ext. 221.

Young credits unions in ANWR vote

FAIRBANKS -- A lobbying push from labor unions helped turn back an amendment that would have blocked oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, members of Congress said late Aug. 1.The U.S. House voted 223-206 to defeat the anti-drilling amendment, prompting Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, to shout "Yeah!" and pump his fist in the air on the House floor.The vote means the House’s final national energy legislation proposes to open the coastal plain of ANWR to oil drilling.The energy package now goes to the Senate, where opponents say the ANWR-opening language has no chance of survival.Young thanked a White House lobbyist outside the House chambers after the vote, saying, "You guys did your homework."But he told the Washington correspondent of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that President Bush’s support was not the key to his victory."I don’t know whether he was that engaged," Young said. "I give total credit to this to the unions."Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the anti-drilling amendment’s sponsor, agreed. Union representatives stopped his progress, he said. By midday Aug. 1, when he couldn’t find more than 210 supporters for his amendment, he suspected he would lose the vote.Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar said he heard some Republicans say "right up until the vote" that they thought Markey would prevail."I think the building trades had a very significant impact," said Oberstar, one of 36 Democrats to vote against Markey’s amendment. Thirty-four Republicans voted for it.Jerry Hood, chief executive of the Alaska Teamsters, said in a news release after the vote that "at a time of widespread layoffs and economic slowdown, opening ANWR will lead to the creation of more than 735,000 new jobs all across America."One measure of labor’s influence came the week before the vote, when the Teamsters were able to persuade the normally closed House Democratic Caucus to open its doors for a presentation on ANWR. The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported July 30 that some Democrats, worried about the precedent, persuaded the caucus leadership to also invite representatives from the Sierra Club and Alaska Wilderness League.The presentation turned into "an Oxford-style debate," the newspaper reported.In addition to preserving the ANWR-opening language, the House also voted 241-186 to spend the federal half of ANWR leasing revenue on renewable energy research and federal land maintenance.Another amendment, ap-proved 228-201, would limit the total development acreage in the coastal plain to 2,000 acres.Young voted for both amendments."We talked this over with the oil companies and we’re confident we can do this," he said.The 2,000-acre figure has been central to the debate for months. Pro-drilling forces say that’s all that would be disturbed out of the 1.5-million-acre coastal plain. Opponents say the disturbance would be greater because the work would spread out in a web.Young showed a picture of a well he said is producing 100,000 barrels a day in the Alpine field on the North Slope. The area disturbed by the well, he said, "is less than the size of the floor on which we speak tonight."Young told drilling opponents who cite environmental concerns that "you don’t know what you’re talking about.""How dare you stand there and talk about something when you’ve never even been there? Shame on you," he said before stalking off the floor.Drilling opponents also questioned the benefits of developing ANWR oil."Drilling in the Arctic will make Japan very happy because that’s where this oil is going," said Rep. Chris Shays of Connecticut.That claim brought Young out of his seat to walk over and wag a finger at his fellow Republican, an exchange that stalled floor debate briefly."He told an outright lie," Young said after the vote. The energy bill, as amended in the House Resources Committee, contains language banning exports of ANWR oil, he noted."We’re not shipping any oil to Japan anyway, so it’s really a moot question," he said.All the energy expended on the ANWR provision in the House could come to naught in the Senate, where Majority Leader Tom Daschle has declared the drilling provision dead on arrival.

Around the World August 12, 2001

STATESenate OKs land swap for Huna Totem Corp.WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate approved a bill by Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, that would allow Huna Totem Corp. to exchange 1,999 acres for more economically viable land.The bill, which was approved Aug. 3, now goes to the House of Representatives.The land near Hoonah is part of 23,000 acres originally granted as part of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Huna Totem is the Native village corporation for Hoonah.Murkowski said the bill resolves the land selections made in 1975 that were complicated by difficult terrain.Fairbanks, firefighters reach contract pactFAIRBANKS -- The City of Fairbanks and the Fairbanks Fire Fighters Association have reached a tentative contract agreement after more than four years of negotiations.The last collective bargaining agreement between the city and the union expired in December 1995. The union declared an impasse in April 2000, which in turn led to the intervention of a federal mediator in late 2000 and arbitration hearings in mid-July.The salary scale will also have fixed increases of 3.75 percent in 2001 and 3 percent both 12 and 24 months after the contract is ratified. The contract is for three years, the longest such agreement possible under state law.NATIONMichigan’s iron ore mines victims of cheap steelISHPEMING, Mich. -- Of the roughly 600 iron ore mines that once dotted the rugged central and western Upper Peninsula, only two -- Tilden and Empire -- still operate, with a combined 1,740 jobs. Now, even those mines’ days may be numbered as their biggest customer, the domestic steel industry, fights for life.At least 18 U.S. steel companies have filed for bankruptcy protection and more than 20,000 jobs have been cut since the 1998 Asian currency crisis ignited an explosion of steel imports. Industry leaders are begging Washington to stop what they call illegal "dumping’’ of low-cost steel into this country’s market. The Commerce Department in June began an investigation, which could result in tariffs or import quotas.Insurance firms seek Ford, tire company moneyDETROIT -- Allstate and State Farm are trying to recover the cost of claims paid to victims of traffic accidents involving Ford Explorers and recalled Firestone tires.Both insurers refused to discuss the number of claims and the amounts involved.Robert Hartwig, chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute said the costs to Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. could amount to hundreds of millions.Solar power enjoys growing market nicheLOS ANGELES -- Buoyed by generous government subsidies and plummeting costs, solar power is enjoying a rare day in the sun.In places like California, the energy source that once languished on the economic fringe is now carving out a booming niche.Domestic shipments of photovoltaic cells increased 74 percent during the two-year period ending in 2000, according to the federal Department of Energy. That’s enough equipment to generate at least 75 megawatts of power at peak usage times. One megawatt can power 750 average homes.The DOE projects that total could reach 3,200 megawatts by 2020.WORLDEU accuses tobacco of smuggling smokesBRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union filed a new lawsuit Aug. 6 alleging U.S. tobacco giants Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds are involved in cigarette smuggling into Europe.The civil action in U.S. District Court in New York comes three weeks after a judge there dismissed the EU’s first lawsuit on technical grounds.EU officials allege the U.S. tobacco companies intentionally oversupply countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere so the surplus will be smuggled into the 15-nation EU, resulting in billions of dollars in taxes.The tobacco companies have denied the allegations.BP, Russia settle on Sidanco influenceMOSCOW -- Two Russian industrial giants and oil giant BP have reached a deal settling a long-running dispute over the Sidanco oil company that had worried foreign investors in Russia’s oil industry.Under a memorandum of understanding announced Aug. 2, BP will regain influence in a prized Siberian oil field that was bought by Tyumen Oil in November 1999 at an auction BP claimed was illegal. The Chernogorneft field had been part of Sidanco, in which BP has a 10 percent stake and management control.The deal had prompted BP to threaten to pull out of Russia, despite a half-billion dollar investment in the country.Compiled from business wire services.

Nerland Agency adds Bombeck Advertising's clients, staff members in purchase

Anchorage-based The Nerland Agency will acquire competitor Bombeck Advertising and Design Inc. on Sept. 1. Discussions began in June for the deal, which will add four employees to the Nerland Agency from Bombeck Advertising’s staff of six, said Rick Nerland, president and chief executive of Nerland Agency. Bombeck Advertising clients include Alaska Communications Systems Directories, Municipal Light & Power, Valley Hospital, Phillips Cruises & Tours/26 Glacier Cruise, Credit Union 1, Arby’s Roast Beef Restaurant and TelAlaska. A purchase price was not released. Once the sale is completed, Bombeck Advertising President Greg Bombeck plans to pursue an independent television project, according to a Nerland Agency statement. "Although I have enjoyed owning an agency, I am looking forward to being able to devote my time to pursuing a public television project," he said. The companies announced the acquisition July 31. "It’s significant in that we have a great opportunity to add to our roster of clients and add capable expertise in the group that is coming over," Nerland said. Nerland Agency, started in 1975, is a large advertising agency in Alaska. In April the company, along with 80 other entrepreneurial agencies, acquired Worldwide Partners Inc. which has more than 120 locations and about 5,200 employees. In an Adweek article published last year, Nerland Agency reported a staff of more than 30 and service accounts estimated to total about $20 million for that year. Clients include BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. and Cook Inlet Region Inc.  

Alaska Airlines meeting set in Fairbanks

For the first time in more than 30 years, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines’ annual shareholders meeting will be in the air carrier’s namesake state.The annual meeting is slated for May 30 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks."Our roots have always been in Alaska,’’ said Jack Walsh, airline spokesman. "For our 70th anniversary, we’ve decided to do something to tangibly recognize that.’’The last time Alaska Airlines had its annual meeting in Alaska was 1971 in Anchorage, Walsh said. Before that, a meeting had not been held in Alaska since the 1940s.An agenda has not yet been set, but Walsh said there may be a ceremony to commemorate the company’s seven decades of business."We try and give all of our meetings a special theme,’’ Walsh said. "We’re still eight months out and still in the very early planning stages.’’The company’s decision to hold the meeting in Fairbanks was announced in July.The airline has some 32,000 shareholders, many of whom are employees living in Seattle. Up to 300 shareholders typically attend the meetings when held in Seattle, Walsh said.Fairbanks likely won’t see the hundreds of Alaska Airlines shareholders next May, but the visit at least by the airline’s upper management and board of directors is welcomed, said Kara Moriarty, president of the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce."Obviously, we’re thrilled,’’ said Moriarty, whose husband, Jerry, is an Alaska Airlines pilot. "We’ll pull out the red carpet and do all we can to make the meeting here a success.’’Moriarty said hosting Alaska Airlines’ dignitaries will give the city a chance to show off new construction, including new hotels and a convention center.Moriarty pointed out that Alaska Airlines isn’t alone in celebrating a significant anniversary next year."It’s their 70th anniversary and our 100th year as a city,’’ Moriarty said.

Service contracts bring Chugach Alaska back from brink

Ten years ago, on March 11, 1991, Chugach Alaska Corp., the Alaska Native regional corporation for the Prince William Sound area, filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy laws. A canned salmon recall, a cannery fire, low timber prices and the Exxon Valdez oil spill had all contributed to poor performance by the company’s investments in the fishing and timber industries. What a difference a decade makes; today, Chugach has paid off all its creditors and is out of bankruptcy. It is paying a dividend of $1,100 this year to its shareholders and is reporting fiscal 2000 net income of $14 million on revenues of $219 million. And it has nearly $2.5 billion in guaranteed future revenues over the next few years. How did Chugach engineer this remarkable recovery? The answer, in three words: government service contracts. "The board was looking for additional revenues that weren’t resource-based," recalls Barney Uhart, Chugach president and chief executive. "We were in bankruptcy. We were looking for business with a reasonable rate of return that required minimal capital investments." Uhart, who joined Chugach in late 1993, said he and his boss at the time had a background in government service contracts. "We were able to persuade the federal government to give us two sole source services contracts in 1994," he said. One contract, with the U.S. Navy, paid Chugach $1.2 million a year for two years to maintain family housing at Adak. The other, with the U.S. Air Force, was a base operations services contract for its King Salmon facility. It paid Chugach $4.5 million a year for five years to run the base, with contract employees replacing military personnel. "They had more than 500 people," Uhart recalled. "We went in there with about 50 people. We did everything from soup to nuts -- from running the flight line to food service."

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