Construction, pipeline, API bills move as Legislature winds down

Several bills of interest to the state’s business community were in advanced stages of consideration in the Legislature as the 2001 session entered its final days. The Legislature must adjourn May 8. Two bills that would finance $502 million in new construction are moving. House Bill 191 would allow the state to sell a form of revenue anticipation note on expected future federal transportation funds. Approval would allow $375 million in highway and other transportation projects to be built sooner than they would have been if they had been financed by the yearly payments of federal funds. All of the projects to be built must qualify under the state’s long-range transportation plan, according to Kurt Parkin, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. They must also be projects that can be completed within five years of the time construction starts, he told the House Finance Committee April 25. A second bill, House Bill 234, would finance $127 million in construction of schools as well as major repairs on state-owned harbor facilities, with state bonds to be repaid by income anticipated under settlements of litigation with tobacco companies. A similar financing arrangement last year also funded work on schools. Alaska Housing Finance Corp. is coordinating the bond sale through a subsidiary. One appropriation issue the oil and gas industry is watching is funding in the Department of Natural Resources budget for the state Joint Pipeline Office to deal with a sharply increased workload caused by industry groups planning natural gas pipeline projects. Bill Britt, the state pipeline coordinator, says his agency needs about $8 million next year to work on applications for state permits for a gas pipeline, which are expected at the end of this year. Much of this will be paid for by the applicants under a reimbursable-services agreement, Britt told the Alaska Support Industry Alliance April 27, but there will have to be some state general fund appropriations also. These would cover state expenses where it is not appropriate to charge the industry, he said. The state Senate has passed a bill requiring the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to pay interest on money owed to contractors following settlements of contract disputes. Senate Bill 152, sponsored by Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage, requires that when a contract dispute is settled in favor of a contractor, interest must be paid for the time the payment was in dispute. "A few years ago the department made an administrative decision that they were no longer going to pay interest on money owed to contractors," Cowdery said. "Not only is this unfair, but it is poor public policy. A private firm would have to pay interest on money it owed, and the state should have to do so also." The bill moved on to the House. Another bill sponsored by Cowdery, and also important to contractors, is Senate Bill 83, which limits the authority of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to do "force account" construction, meaning a project is done by state employees rather than by a contractor. The department has always had authority to use its own employees for small road projects if the expense of soliciting bids and mobilizing a private contractor is excessive compared with the size of the project, Cowdery said. But in recent years DOTPF has undertaken larger projects using the force account procedure, and most recently a multimillion dollar road project in St. Mary’s, a Western Alaska village, was done by force account, Cowdery said. That project mobilized contractors, who asked for a limit to be placed on DOTPF’s authority, he said. SB83 originally put a $250,000 limit on the practice, but that was raised to $500,000 in the Senate Finance Committee. Legislation that grants the Kenai Peninsula Borough authority to contract with the state Department of Corrections for housing prisoners in a private medium-security prison near Kenai has passed the House and is at an advanced stage in the Senate. Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, is the sponsor of House Bill 149. The Kenai Borough would build and own the prison on land owned by the Kenai Native Association adjacent to a state-run correctional facility at Wildwood, a former military facility near Kenai. The borough would contract with a joint venture of Cornell Corrections and the Kenai Native Association to operate the facility. The House passed a bill authorizing $16 million in new state bonds to complete financing needed for a new $41.7 million Alaska Psychiatric Institute in Anchorage. About $19.2 million for the project was appropriated previously, and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority will contribute $2 million as well as land to build the facility. The current API building in Anchorage is 39 years old. Another bill of interest, a measure requiring insurance companies to pay health insurance claims within 30 days or pay interest, has passed the House and is at an advanced stage in the Senate. The sponsor of House Bill 113 is Rep. Joe Green, R-Anchorage.  

Generation X workers demand more from their jobs, managers

Many good employees are quitting traditional organizations because the older work force does not know how to manage them properly. I recently worked with the U.S. Army, which is experiencing a severe retention problem. Highly skilled Generation X junior officers and enlisted soldiers are leaving in droves. The lure of higher paying civilian jobs is only part of the problem.According to a survey I conducted, many of these young Gen. X officers were not leaving for financial reasons but for management reasons. They don’t believe their older and more senior-ranking officers understand their needs nor manage them properly. This issue is not unique with the military but is reflected in most traditional organizations in America today.In general, Gen. X employees are those between the age of 19-34.Unlike their parents and grandparents, Gen. X employees do not plan on staying with one job or company throughout their career -- nor will they sacrifice their family for their job. They grew up seeing their parents laid off. Many of them have grown up as latch-key children and in divorced family situations. Therefore time for their family is very important to them.Many times Gen. X workers are characterized negatively by the older generation. Clearly, their work ethics are different, but along with their age they bring unique strengths and abilities.First, they have a voracious appetite for technology and learning. This is good unless your organization is not willing or able to share information.Gen. X employees tend to be less motivated by promises of overtime pay and more motivated by personal satisfaction with their jobs. They want to grow in their jobs and learn new skills. They will change jobs often as they seek jobs that offers them both better benefits and more opportunity for professional growth as well as personal fulfillment.Gen. X employees want, and expect, their employers to hear what they have to say. They want to understand the "big picture" for the company and how this influences their employment and growth. They are creative thinkers, independent, results-oriented and bring with them a healthy dose of skepticism.Here are a few general areas to keep in mind to improve retention and productivity:* Be approachable. Direct access to decision makers is very important to the younger work force. Take time to speak with an employee’s spouse or family when you meet them and let them know you appreciate the employee. Remember, Gen. X employees look for more than just fair pay; they need and want personal acknowledgment and job satisfaction.* Take time to be personal. Thank an employee for doing a good job -- in person, in writing, or both. Listen to what employees have to say, both in a one-on-one situation and in a group meeting. Let the employee know what happened to the idea or suggestion he or she submitted.* Encourage employee growth. Provide feedback on their performance. Be specific; mention a particular situation or activity. Make sure the employee understands company expectations. Involve the employee in the decision-making process whenever possible. Give an employee room to do the job without unnecessary micro-management.* Pay for employees to attend workshops and seminars; offer on-site classes where employees can learn new skills or improve upon old ones. Most jobs contain a certain amount of routine, day-to-day work; offer employees a chance to work on something in which they have a special interest, something that will challenge them.Traditional organizations lose valuable younger employees because of their longevity-based recognition and promotion systems. Recognize an employee who has done an outstanding job by giving an unexpected reward, such as a day off or a free dinner for the employee and his family at a nice restaurant.* Manage people individually and promote outstanding individuals even if it means putting them ahead of older or more senior employees. The employee who deserves a promotion and does not get it will start looking elsewhere for a better opportunity to move upward.Employees need to experience a sense of ownership. Encourage this by providing them information about new products, advertising campaigns, strategies for competing, and so on. Let each employee see how he or she fits into the plan. Help employees see how meeting their goals contributes to meeting the organization’s goals.* Build morale. Have an open work environment; encourage initiative and welcome new ideas. This generation enjoys having fun at work.Gregory P. Smith leads the management consulting firm called Chart Your Course in Conyers, Ga. He can be reached via e-mail at ([email protected]).

Unocal hopes to find gas reserves near Ninilchik, Clam Gulch

KENAI -- The pace of Cook Inlet oil and gas exploration has picked up with new seismic surveys along the coast from Ninilchik nearly to Clam Gulch.Unocal Corp. plans roughly 20 miles of two-dimensional seismic work, with about 12 miles offshore and eight miles on land, said Rick Trupp, permitting coordinator for Fairweather Geophysical, which is conducting the work with joint venture partners Veritas DGC and Kuukpik Corp.The plan is to discharge air guns and explosives, then measure echoes from the resulting seismic waves to map underground structures that could hold oil and natural gas."Unocal believes there is still significant hydrocarbon potential in the Cook Inlet and on the Kenai Peninsula," said Chuck Pierce, vice president of Unocal Alaska. "We are taking the first steps in expanding our exploration program in the Ninilchik area to add new natural gas resources to ensure that gas supplies are available to meet not only current needs but future needs as well."Unocal, Enstar Natural Gas Co. and Homer Electric Association are exploring the feasibility of building a $45 million natural gas pipeline between Kenai and Homer. That could make natural gas from the south peninsula available to users in Kenai, Soldotna and Anchorage and allow natural gas service for south peninsula consumers for the first time.Permits for the seismic work allow crews to string recording cables along the seabed, then tow arrays of air guns from a boat to generate seismic signals.Onshore, seismic workers will plant explosives -- typically 5-pound charges of Pentolite -- in holes about 25 feet deep and 330 feet apart. They will lay cables to record seismic signals and discharge the explosives. Equipment to drill the holes is to be dropped by helicopter, or in areas without vegetation, seismic workers may use a drilling rig mounted on an all-terrain vehicle.Trupp said workers already have drilled holes for the explosives. In early May they were scheduled to begin laying recording cables and detonating the explosives, he said. The offshore work, conducted from the 80-foot landing craft Peregrine Falcon, will run concurrently. A crew of about 21 people is doing the work, he said.Matt Rader, natural resource manager for the state Division of Oil and Gas, said the offshore air guns must be discharged at least 2 meters below the surface to avoid interference with young salmon. The air guns may not be discharged within a mile of the mouths of salmon streams such as the Ninilchik River.Onshore, there are setbacks to protect salmon streams. For example, Rader said, a 5-pound charge may be detonated no closer than 82 feet from a fish-bearing body of water.Seismic workers also must obtain permission before entering private property. Trupp said Fairweather held a meeting at the Ninilchik School to inform private landowners, and most have been willing to allow access for seismic crews.The coastline of the project lies within the Clam Gulch Critical Habitat Area, which includes the intertidal area from Cape Kasilof nearly to the mouth of Happy Valley Creek. Rader said that after May 1, seismic workers must coordinate with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to avoid conflicts with fishing and other activities in the area, such as recreational clam digging. There will be no seismic work allowed in the critical habitat area after May 15.Don McKay, permitting coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Game in Anchorage, said the state’s primary concerns are to avoid conflicts with commercial fishing later in the summer and to avoid conflicts with recreational clammers.Trupp said the offshore work would be three to five miles offshore -- far enough from the beach to avoid conflicts within the critical habitat area.

Alaska Railroad looking for federal grant to improve its tracks

FAIRBANKS -- The Alaska Railroad’s top-ranking officials were in Washington, D.C., April 25, looking for more federal financial help to underwrite improvements to their tracks, which have contributed to 19 accidents in the last 10 years.Patrick Gamble urged a House Transportation subcommittee to pass legislation setting up a new grant program for track work on small railroads. Gamble, who took over as president of the railroad in March, also encouraged Congress to make sure the corporation would be eligible for the grants.The bill was introduced by Rep. Jack Quinn, R-New York. It’s intended to resolve track problems small railroads say they’re having in part because of the larger cars being used by major rail companies. The new cars weigh 286,000 pounds apiece."The Alaska Railroad does not have a 286,000-pound car problem as such," Gamble told the subcommittee. "However, our geographic and climatic situation being what it is, we, too, have compelling track and freight infrastructure needs," he said.The Alaska Railroad has received tens of millions of dollars since 1996 through congressional earmarks added to budget bills by Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.Adding such money is fair, Stevens has said. Other passenger rail lines in the country receive federal funds for track improvements, and the federally owned Amtrak Corp. is heavily subsidized.Also, the federal government failed to maintain the track and facilities before it sold the railroad to Alaska in 1985, he contends. Nevertheless, after the sale, federal agencies declined to help the corporation, Stevens said.Quinn’s bill would expand federal support to small freight railroads, perhaps including Alaska’s."We hope the bill will clearly state that our track and other infrastructure needs will be eligible," Gamble said. "Safety is the underlying big issue."The Federal Railroad Administration said the Alaska Railroad had 50 accidents between January 1991 and January of this year.Nineteen were caused by track problems, six by equipment and nine by human error. Twelve accidents were caused by other problems and four occurred at crossings, the agency said.

ACS reports $4.9 million first quarter loss, but revenue rises

Alaska Communications Systems reported a net loss of $4.9 million for the first quarter compared with a $3.1 million loss for the same period last year.The Anchorage-based telecommunications provider tallied revenue totaling $81.2 million for the quarter, up from $78.2 million for first quarter 2000.Cellular revenue increased to $9.3 million for the first quarter, up from $8.6 million recorded for the same period last year.Revenue from local telephone services decreased to $54.7 million, down from $58.1 million for first quarter last year. ACS attributes the drop to a reduction in access revenue totaling $2.7 million.Internet revenue totaled $3.1 million for first quarter, up from $1.1 million for the same period last year. The company says the increase stems from its acquisition of Internet Alaska Inc. and the introduction of digital subscriber line service.Interexchange revenue, including long distance services, increased to $6 million in first quarter 2001 from $2.6 million for the same period in 2000. The company attributes the growth to its Infinite Minutes plan, which helped boost total long distance customers to 65,372 for the first quarter 2001, up from 33,745 in 2000. Earlier this year ACS canceled its Infinite Minutes program citing the cost of the program and regulatory issues.Total long distance minutes used for first quarter was 65.4 million, up from 33.7 million for the same period in 2000.In local telephone services ACS tallied 332,275 total access lines, up from 327,236 access lines for first quarter last year.Cellular subscribers as of March 31 totaled 76,803 compared to 72,270 subscribers at the same period in 2000.

Kenai visitors center reels in '2001: A Fish Odyssey' art exhibition for summer

The largest fish art show ever in Alaska opened May 1 at the Kenai Visitors & Cultural Center. Dubbed "2001: A Fish Odyssey," the exhibit features the works of more than 100 Alaska artists and 14 artists from outside the state.  All mediums are featured, including fish skin basketry, wood carvings, fiber arts, three dimensional works, sculptures, pottery and much more. "Fish are central to our life in Alaska," said guest curator and art professor Gary Freeburg. "This exhibition examines our close connection with fish on a variety of different levels. I guess you could say that this show, pardon the pun, has guts." The exhibition will run through Labor Day. Live groundfish Fishermen in Oregon are finding an eager market for live groundfish. WorldCatch News reports that anglers are "wading into the lucrative business of selling live fish that are bound for glass tanks in chic California restaurants." Species in demand include lingcod, greenling and yellowtail flounder, which sell for about $4.50 a pound in San Francisco restaurants, compared with 40 cents per pound for dead fish. "It’s a new fishery. You can’t stop it," said Port Orford live-fish buyer Tony Cottor. "And it’s a money maker." About 20 commercial boats now engage in live-fish angling near Port Orford, and several charter boats also land groundfish in the area. The profit potential of the live fish market appeals to commercial anglers searching for ways to make money while waiting for the region’s salmon to recover, and after enduring poor crab and shrimp seasons. "The problem is we don’t know how abundant these species are," said Jim Golden, marine resources program director at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. "The concern is that we could be overfishing these species without even knowing it." The most recent near-shore stock assessment by the National Marine Fisheries Service was completed in 1997, when the agency listed 47 near-shore species as "status unknown." It is known, however, that eight species of groundfish are considered overfished, and seven of them are rockfish species. Port Manager Alex Linke said he does not see an enduring value in the live-fish fishery and he questions its sustainability. But even if the port wants to stop live fishing, the anglers say it has no jurisdiction in fisheries management. Packaging ends smell ASDA, a supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, has launched new packaging that it claims ends the problems of fishy smells contaminating other items in the fridge. The new product, called Alpamer, is the result of 10 years of work by French scientists. It is a combination of polythene, aluminum, paper and linear low-density polyethylene. It is supplied in sheet form and can be cut to fit the fish exactly. The package is then heat-sealed, leaving the product leak- and odor-free. The packaging will maintain the fish at a constant temperature for up to two hours and is fridge and freezer ready. It is not damaged by extremes of temperature and will not crack or break. According to Intrafish, Alpamer has been used in ASDA stores on a trial basis over the last year. Surveys have indicated that 100 percent of customers were impressed by its odor-retardant properties, and 96 percent believed that it maintained the quality of the fish. The new packaging will now be used on all ASDA fish counters, and the company believes it will increase demand for fish.

Projects, builders win science grants

The Alaska Science & Technology Foundation board of directors has approved $1 million in funding for two projects and the Alaska Manufacturers’ Association. The ASTF grants will be supported also by private funding and in-kind services.ASTF approved a grant of $174,181 to David and Anita Laurence of ediava.com for development of new software. The Laurences will provide $367,847 in cash and other contributions to the project. The software, called Tapestry, was designed to assist employers in retaining valuable staff.ASTF also awarded a $70,396 grant to Unisea Inc. to test the use of a fish oil/diesel blend to fuel electric generators at Unisea’s Dutch Harbor seafood processing facility. The company will contribute another $118,660 worth of matching funds, and the Alaska Energy Authority and the U.S. Department of Energy will donate an additional $15,000.A grant of $800,000 was approved for the Alaska Manufacturers’ Association, which will contribute $1.732 million in matching funds and contributions. The association aims to help increase manufacturing in Alaska and create new jobs. AMA received a grant last year and since then has established the Ketchikan Wood Center; established a lumber grading program that has produced more than 80 million board feet of graded lumber; and started a Copper River salmon quality project to establish fish handling standards.

Plenty of new rooms at Alaska's inns

Unlike past years in Alaska, there will be room at the inn for summer visitors. More than 600 new hotel rooms are due to open this year across the state, boosting competition among operators during what could shape up as a season with moderate increases compared with last year.In Fairbanks 362 new hotel rooms will be open this spring. The new 140-room SpringHill Suites Fairbanks is set to open June 1. The Aspen Hotel, also in the Interior city, with 97 rooms, opened April 16. Princess Tours is finishing its $12 million 125-room addition to the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge in May. The hotel now totals 325 rooms.Elsewhere in the state, Cook Inlet Region Inc. added 103 rooms at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, and developers are building a 154-room hotel near Denali National Park and Preserve."Most of the new rooms this year are in Fairbanks," said Alaska Travel Industry Association President Tina Lindgren. Anchorage saw an increase in lodging supply in recent years, she said. The additional supply will be good news for consumers yet cause competition among hotel businesses, she said.Further, more rooms are coming from new smaller lodges and more bed and breakfast properties, she said.Operators of the Aspen Hotel are optimistic."We expect to do really well in Fairbanks in the summer. For years you couldn’t get a room," said Carol Giliam, Alaska vice president for Aspen Hotels and GuestHouse Inn and Suites.The company, which runs a hotel in Juneau and another in Valdez, also is building a 63-room hotel in Soldotna due to open in April 2002.Likewise, Princess Tours is building a new hotel this summer. The Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge near Glennallen will open next year.The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge was scheduled to open its 103-room addition May 1, bringing its total room count to 201, said Dennis Brandon, CIRI’s vice president of tourism. An expansion also doubled the dining area from a seating capacity of 85 to 200 and increased meeting space to accommodate groups of 150, up from 75, in multifunction areas, he said. The project also expanded employee housing to accommodate 96 employees where 24 employees had been housed previously.CIRI had planned an expansion in a couple of years but its popularity led the company to step up the project, Brandon said. "We maxed out capacity this past summer," he said.CIRI also built 36 new rooms at the Seward Windsong Lodge, bringing its total to 108, he said. The project also added a new guest check-in lodge and expanded the Resurrection Roadhouse, he said.More available rooms in Anchorage have allowed the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote summer tourism with increased room inventory, contrary to past years when few rooms were available in summer, said ACVB communications director Joy Maples. "The amount of available rooms has caused us to market differently," she said.Anchorage now has 6,377 hotel and motel rooms plus more than 700 bed-and-breakfast/hostel beds.

Federal court order threatens to put loggers out of business

JUNEAU -- Work is at a standstill for a handful of people at the Kuakan timber sale on Deer Island, 35 miles south of Wrangell.Columbia Helicopters set up a floating camp at Kuakan at the start of April. Workers had cut one unit of timber when a federal court ruling and a U.S. Forest Service order halted logging operations throughout the Tongass National Forest."We moved in all for a big expense and we’re just sitting here now," said saw boss Bob Lappin. The shutdown is hurting his workers, who are paid by the piece, he said.Lappin has been coming to Alaska from Idaho for the last 10 years to work in the woods."I’ve never seen anything like this in my life," he said.Project manager Chip Cook is supposed to be running a boat and tug to make log booms. Now he’s making sure bears stay away from the camp’s water line and keeping watch over the equipment."It was very startling and sudden -- no warning," he said. "I’d like to see the people (who did this) have to pay a fine or our costs."The Kuakan sale is supposed to take most of the summer to log and Columbia planned to hire 47 people for the project. The sale allows the harvest of 12 million board feet of timber from about 1,350 acres by helicopter, according to the Forest Service. The island will remain roadless after the harvest is complete, according to agency documents.The status of Tongass logging operations rests with U.S. District Court Judge James Singleton Jr., who enjoined the Forest Service from altering the wilderness character of eligible roadless areas until a supplemental environmental impact statement is prepared.The Forest Service, with support from the state of Alaska, has asked the court to remove the injunction. The conservation groups that won the wilderness protections have asked the court to clarify the ruling, suggesting a complete logging shutdown is extreme.The wood at Kuakan is headed for Viking Lumber’s sawmill outside of Klawock, where manager Kirk Dahlstrom and his 40 employees are waiting for news about the status of Tongass logging operations. The suspension means uncertainty for customers who depend on a certain mix of wood for their operations. A logging shutdown hurts supply, Dahlstrom said."We’ve continued business as usual so far, but we’ve had almost a three-week delay in logging. Because of that, there will be a three-week shutdown of the sawmill sometime in the future," he said. "We won’t have the proper species of logs to fill customers’ orders on a monthly basis."The Prince of Wales Island mill processes hemlock, spruce and red cedar. Viking’s customers use the wood for panel doors, windows and moldings, Dahlstrom said. The shutdown has brought other worries. Viking is building a small log mill for wood studs to sell in Alaska and elsewhere, Dahlstrom said. The project is a $3 million investment."In my heart I feel that the injunction might be lifted, if there’s any sense. So we’re continuing with construction," he said.But if the injunction stays in place, Dahlstrom said the sawmill likely will close."If that injunction is not lifted, it is the end," he said.An extended shutdown at the Klawock mill could affect Alaska Power and Telephone. Prince of Wales Island region general manager Jay Hansen said Viking Lumber uses 15 percent of the total electric supply from the Black Bear Lake hydroelectric project. A long shutdown could mean more expensive electric rates to AP&T’s 2,200 customers on the island, he said. Job losses could also make his company’s customer base smaller, he said.Silver Bay Logging Co.’s sawmill in Wrangell, Pacific Log and Lumber’s sawmill near Ketchikan, Whitestone Lodging’s sawmill near Hoonah, and Gateway Forest Products of Ketchikan also are affected by the shutdown, according to court documents.

Tips on buying income property

There was a time when you had to have a great deal of cash up front to purchase a piece of income property. Twenty or more percent of the purchase price was commonly required as down payment to purchase a duplex, triplex or four-plex. That alone seemed to create a huge gap between those who could invest in income properties and those who could not. As an investment, by definition, it was considered risky to buy income properties. And since risk is considered a bad thing by most -- because you could lose your investment -- the mortgage companies would alleviate the risk they were taking by making it hurt you very badly if you failed to pay your note. That’s the reason for the high down payment. In the effort to promote home ownership, the federal government started programs that would make it easier to get into a home. Today it is not uncommon to purchase homes and income properties using owner-occupied conventional financing with only a 10 percent down payment, FHA financing with only a 3 percent down payment, or VA financing without any down payment. The days are pretty much gone when your tenants covered all of your monthly expenses while you lived for free, but you can still look forward to very low living expenses. This allows you to save or invest the money you’re no longer paying in rent. You should also capitalize on the tax benefits along with a healthy dose of appreciation. Owner-occupied housing requires some lifestyle adjustments -- sometimes significant ones -- but can be well worth it financially. For example, unlike those investors using conventional financing, you’ll have to occupy one of the units in your property for a required period of time. In doing so, you may end up living in a high-density rental neighborhood without a carport or garage and little lawn space or privacy. While you’ll be able to keep a close watch on your property and tenants, you’ll also have to deal with them face to face day in and day out. Thinking on the positive side, you can take comfort in knowing that your trials are not without financial reward. Take, for example, the purchase of a building with four bare-bones 2-bedroom units. Say you paid $250,000 with FHA financing and your interest rate was 7.25 percent. This would make your monthly payment about $2,100. The rents you could collect for that same building in today’s market should be between $650 and $775, plus gas and electric, for each unit depending on location, condition and amenities. Now, do the math and decide whether having your tenants build a significant portion of your financial well-being is worth it. Keep in mind that there is a great deal of interest in income property since nearly every wealth-building seminar, book, and late-night infomercial in the country considers real estate one of the "must haves" for your portfolio. In the Anchorage Multiple Listing Service’s data, there are currently only 59 income properties anywhere in Anchorage for less than $300,000. Of those 59, only 18 are available to FHA financing. Also, nearly 50 percent of those 59 listings have been on the market for more than 45 days -- implying that there is something unattractive about that listing -- whether it’s price, location, terms or condition. The average asking price for these 59 duplex, triplex, and four-plexes is about $192,000, $213,000 and $238,000 respectively. Since Thanksgiving, I’ve found that most of the income property listings have shown that the seller owned the property for only three-five years. And in that short period of time, they have appreciated $30,000 to $50,000. To get yourself the right income property before someone else does, it is best to get into the thick of things and go through the learning curve as quickly as possible. The MLS Web site, (www.alaskarealestate.com) has a large number of listings. In this market of one-day listings and multiple offers you can be competitive by having your real estate agent search the MLS several times per day and e-mail or fax the new listings to you right away. You lender can prepare a "90 percent letter" with any offer you might make, increasing the chances that your offer will be viewed and accepted first. Ken Jelinek is an associate broker with Re/Max Properties of Anchorage. He can be reached at 907-257-0196.  

Russian Far East looks to Nome-based airline as service model

An Alaska regional airline based in Nome may be the model airline for Russians living in Chukotka, as governors on both sides of the Bering Straits agree to provide scheduled air service between Alaska and the Russian Far East. "This agreement opens the doors for us to make an application for scheduled service," said Jim Rowe, president of Nome-based Bering Air. "No one ever wanted to do it before; this is just a preliminary agreement that is a separate agreement apart from other national issues discussed at the bilateral talks in Washington." Officials of both nations met in Washington, D.C., and concluded three days of bilateral aviation talks April 19. The consideration for application for scheduled service to Anadyr, Provideniya and Lavrentiya across the Bering Strait from Alaska and Chukotka triggered a press release from Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles and Chukotka Gov. Roman Abromovich on April 20. "Chukotka is our closest neighbor in the Russian Far East, and this agreement sets the stage for bringing Alaskans and Chukotkans even closer," Knowles said. "This breakthrough will benefit both regions economically and culturally by enhancing our aviation connections." "The establishment of regularly scheduled flights between Alaska and Chukotka will provide an essential foundation of the development of ties between our two regions," Abromovich said. "I hope that the revival of trade across the Bering Strait will bring important and lasting economic benefits to the people of Chukotka." Abromovich first visited Chukotka as a Russian Duma delegate. He found the region destitute and subsequently poured millions out of his own pocket into the local economy trying to stabilize it, according to the Washington Post and the London Financial Times. "When things started unraveling during the 1990s the whole infrastructure went to pot," said Rowe. "Abromovich wants desperately to reverse an outgrowth of the population, and to rebuild the infrastructure." According to Rowe, the population of Provideniya has dropped from 20,000 to between 3,000 and 4,000 and the town of Ureleki, where the airport is located, on the east side of Provideniya Bay is uninhabited. "There is no one living over there, and they had so much snow this winter they didn’t bother to keep the road to the airport open," Rowe said. "In fact, the last time we were in there the only access was a tracked vehicle over the bay from Provideniya." Abromovich, who recently visited Nome and St. Lawrence via Bering Air, approached Rowe as a consultant to re-create his airline on the other side of the Bering Strait, only using local Russians, according to Rowe. "I declined," Rowe said. "Russian mechanics, pilots and ticket agents would look at me as an American first. Do you think they would listen to me? No! "We may help them in the interim to get a couple of Beechcraft King Air aircraft," said Rowe, "but we can’t operate over there." Rowe indicated that the lack of maintenance to the airports since the middle of the 1980s has created new challenges to be overcome by Abromovich. "It would be easy to take a blade and make new runways and operate a Cessna Caravan from them, you could do it -- one thing they have going for them, they have plenty of gravel," Rowe said. Rowe’s Bering Air, which has operated for 13 years over the strait to Provideniya, Anadyr, Pevek and other remote destinations, was picked because of its success at obtaining Russian permits for charter flights between the two continents, according to Jeff Berliner, Russian Far East trade specialist for the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Bering Air, a regional Part 135, or fewer than 10 passengers, airline with 18 aircraft, logs 150 flights yearly between Nome and Chukotka destinations, according to Rowe. "This is truly a success story of business and commerce between Chukotka and Alaska," said Berliner. "Bering Air is the known quantity. When we had a closed region during Soviet control with chilly relations, Bering Air made regular flights to Chukotka. I think it is safe to say we stand to see a lot more Bering Sea flights in the future." Speculation by some that the application will be a lengthy process is brushed aside by Bering Air’s Rowe. "Everyone says that the Russians will take their time on the permitting process," he said. "I don’t know for sure about this, it has never been done before, but if experience is worth anything, we have better luck getting what we want from the Russians than we do from the U.S. bureaucracies like the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and USDOT (U.S. Department of Transportation)." Rowe said that there have been cases where mistakes were made that caused delays by both sides, but in most cases Bering Air gets its flight permits approved the next working day by Russian permitting officials. Rowe believes that until scheduled service is flown routinely, there is no chance that mail service between the countries will be carried by his or any other airline. Currently mail between the two continents is routed from Nome to Anchorage and on to New York, overseas to Europe, on to Moscow and eventually across Asia to the Russian Far East. Passenger travel in the region by Alaska Natives visiting their relatives on the Russian side of the Bering Strait is experiencing similar logistical challenges, according to Berliner. "A man from Diomede shared with me that to visit his relatives in Lavrentiya he had to fly to Nome to go to Provideniya, then fly to Anadyr and wait for a weekly flight to Lavrentiya," said Berliner. "That’s ridiculous, Diomede is only 26 miles from Lavrentiya." "We are glad to be part of the process that gets things up and running," added Rowe. "But if another carrier comes along and wants in on the routes, we will be glad to share. We don’t have to be the whole wheel."  

Sealaska reports $122 million loss in 2000

 ANCHORAGE -- Sealaska Corp., the Juneau-based Alaska Native corporation, suffered a loss of $122 million last year, according to the company’s newly released annual report. Despite the loss for accounting purposes, the regional corporation had a positive cash flow. A combination of bad investments, punishing competition, a bear market on Wall Street, and the worst timber prices in more than a decade contributed to the company’s poorest performance in 18 years, the report says. Sealaska told its 16,000 Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian shareholders in February to brace for losses of $90 million to $120 million. The final result was even worse. Sealaska describes the situation as a setback that will hurt the company for several years. It’s banking on a new chief executive and strategic investments in gaming and telecommunications to rescue the troubled company. "We believe we have the commitment and strength to reverse these difficulties," said Chris E. McNeil Jr., president and chief executive, in the report. McNeil, the former general counsel, replaced Robert Loescher as top executive in January. Sealaska is a much smaller company than it was just a few years ago. It had revenue of $72 million last year, mostly from logging, down from $84 million the prior year when it posted a $10 million profit. In 1997, Sealaska’s revenue was $202 million. Despite the revenue decline from the prior year, Sealaska logged more of its old growth forest in 2000 than it did in 1999. The volume of timber cut last year was up 28 percent from the previous year, 4,244 acres compared with 3,632 acres, the report says. Timber prices have declined substantially in recent years. The bulk of the company’s 2000 losses stemmed from failures in its precision plastics and limestone mining operations, along with a write-down on the value of timber purchased from a village corporation in Hoonah. Despite the overall losses, the company had a positive operating cash flow of $7.1 million. Sealaska is cutting back on spending and aggressively trying to sell its plastics operation in Mexico and the limestone mine on Prince of Wales Island. The losses for last year include $73 million for writing down the value of the two ventures.  

Northern Reflections to shutter stores

Operators of women’s clothing retailer Northern Reflections are closing all U.S. locations including five Alaska stores. The move covers closure of the Northern Group stores including a line of men’s clothing locations for a total of 323 U.S. stores. The stores should be closed by July, said Peter Brown, vice president of investor relations and corporate development for the stores’ owner, Venator Group. "They are unprofitable," he said. "The stores are much more profitable in Canada than in the U.S." Venator Group operates 370 Northern Group stores in Canada, and the company aims to improve the division’s financial health before selling the stores, Brown said. "We are in the process of marketing the Canadian company for sale," he said. The Northern Group employs 700 full-time and 2,300 part-time workers, he said. The stores averaged about 1,900 square feet in selling space, he said. Four Alaska Northern Reflections are in Anchorage at the Anchorage 5th Avenue mall, Dimond Center, the Mall at Sears and at Northway Mall. A fifth store is in the Bentley Mall in Fairbanks. The Venator Group also operates another retail presence in Alaska through its Foot Locker and Lady Foot Locker stores. The company runs seven Foot Locker stores in Alaska -- four Anchorage Foot Locker stores, located in the same malls as the Northern Reflections stores plus one each in Fairbanks, Juneau and Wasilla. Venator has three Lady Foot Locker stores in Anchorage at the Anchorage 5th Avenue mall, Dimond Center and the Northway Mall. The New York City-based company is looking to concentrate on its athletic division. According to its 1999 annual report Venator Group had 17 percent of the $14 billion U.S. athletic footwear market. "Venator Group is narrowing its focus to be just purely an athletic company, so we’ll be selling our nonathletic properties," Brown said. Venator also is in the process of selling another retail line, The San Francisco Music Box Co. which has more than 165 locations, and some Burger King restaurants, Brown said. In 1997 Venator Group closed F.W. Woolworth stores and later closed Kinney Shoes including several locations in Alaska.  

New offerings, renovated rooms to greet this summer's visitors

Several new major tourism products are due to premier this summer. Similarly, tourism-related companies are renovating existing facilities.In Anchorage, hotel renovations are under way at the Hotel Captain Cook, the Hilton Anchorage Hotel and the Comfort Inn Ship Creek Anchorage, according to the Alaska Travel Industry Association.For Fairbanks Pike’s Waterfront Lodge plans to start running its riverboat cruises May 24, said general manager Lloyd Huskey. Pike’s Riverboat Cruises will offer one-hour cocktail cruises with entertainment aboard the 49-passenger vessel. "We’re trying to turn this property into a destination," he said.According to the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greatland River Tours expects to start operating tours aboard the Tanana Chief. Both Greatland and Pike’s represent new competition to the long-established Riverboat Discovery tours.In Juneau, city and borough officials are redesigning a downtown traffic pattern to alleviate congestion, said Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau President John Mazor. Construction was complete by the time the first major cruise ship arrived May 1.Also, the JCVB is remodeling the cruise ship passenger terminal, which also should be ready in early May, he said. JCVB officials also are installing touch screen kiosks at the terminal and at Centennial Hall providing visitors with maps and information about activities, he said.Other companies are renovating downtown retail locations in preparation for the summer visitor season, he said.Adventure travel is important to the Alaska industry this year. Alaska Wildland Adventures is generating interest from wholesalers for its new Denali Backcountry Safari, said marketing director Eric Downey. The high-end, small group operator is offering a five-day, four-night guided trip to its lodge in Kantishna and to its fly-in lodge called Denali Wilderness Lodge. The company plans to offer the trip once weekly in 2001 but could increase offerings to three times a week next year, he said.Alaska Sightseeing/Cruise West also has added a new 10-night tour package featuring two nights each at the Talkeetna Wilderness Lodge and at the Denali Wilderness Lodge plus a Prince William Sound cruise with kayaking in Whittier and Cordova. Brisk bookings show the tour is popular, said Cruise West communications director Maureen Camandona.

Derogatory remark costs executive director his Kenai marketing council job

KENAI -- A month after saying words that couldn’t be erased, the executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council has submitted his resignation. At a special meeting of KPTMC’s board of directors April 26, Faron Owen’s resignation was accepted and board president Bill Wasowicz was named interim executive director until a replacement can be selected. The resignation is the culmination of an incident on March 30, when Owen accompanied two free-lance travel writers in Homer’s Pratt Museum Store. Two museum employees and a visitor to the museum, Homer resident and Alaska Native Lucy Kuhns, reported to museum director Michael Hawfield that Owen was asked by one of the writers if Natives still use ulus. Owen replied, "No, they sell them to buy booze. I can get that for five bucks from a drunken Native." Owen, however, said his response was, "You can buy ivory carvings from drunk Natives in Nome for $5." In response, the board of directors issued Owen a letter of reprimand and ordered him to meet in person with museum staff and Kuhns. A public letter of apology was e-mailed by Owen to the Homer News for publication. Reacting to the incident, Pratt Museum pulled its KPTMC membership. Era Aviation followed suit and CIRI Alaska Tourism Corp. threatened to do so. Others, like the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau, began re-evaluating their relationship with KPTMC. Still others called for Owen’s removal, including Bill Popp, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s liaison with KPTMC. Contacted April 27, Owen declined to comment. Wasowicz could not be contacted. Board vice president Chris Degernes labeled Owen’s comment "an inappropriate remark, and I’m not condoning it, but it was totally out of character for Faron." "We have to refocus toward the future," she said. "There’s been a lot of feeding frenzy over an inappropriate remark. Now we must rebuild a relation of trust with the communities, our members, with all the people it potentially affected." In KPTMC’s press release issued April 27, Owen said his resignation was the best course of action for the organization. "I have devoted the last three years of my life to the success of KPTMC, and it deeply disturbs me to see the organization come under fire the way it recently has. It is very upsetting that an inappropriate remark made by me could lead to this, so to protect the credibility of this exceptional organization, I must tender my resignation. "I would encourage both the public as well as the (Kenai Peninsula) Borough Assembly to recognize that the actions of one person should not jeopardize the success of the entire peninsula’s tourism future." Owen’s resignation may open the door for the museum to renew its membership. "It certainly has improved things," Hawfield said. "I think since that was the fundamental problem that we had, taking decisive action was the appropriate thing, and we’ll now be able to reassess where we stand with KPTMC. ... I think it was the right thing to do, and we all just need to move ahead." Mike LeNorman, Era Aviation’s director of sales and marketing, said, "We’ll take a hard look at what level of involvement that we’ll have in the future with the organization." Bill Popp agreed that Owen’s resignation was appropriate. "It was the right thing to do, and I’m glad this is the course of action Faron chose," Popp said. "There’ll be some fences that need to be mended, but I believe this organization has a history that deserves consideration in mending those fences. I think KPTMC’s very important to the future of tourism growth on the Kenai Peninsula, and hopefully we can put this situation behind us and move on." Eric Downey, Alaska Wildland Adventures’ marketing director, said with some "hard work and some good direction, (KPTMC) will be able to recover, although it will take time." "Public reaction shows that Alaskans will not tolerate racial insensitivity," Downey said. "Faron and the board did what needed to be done. I hope the board is now able to reassure the various stakeholders and hire a more culturally sensitive director. KPTMC has a great staff." On behalf of the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau, executive director Kathy Tarr said, "We’re relieved he stepped down. I think it will be in the best interests of the organization, and I think that’s what it had to come to. And I wish him the best in whatever he pursues next." Cultural sensitivity has been brought to the forefront by the incident, according to Tarr. "This has given all of us a reason to stop and think about how we answer questions," she said. "Especially when we’re in a professional capacity or representing an organization."  

Tour operators are ready to ride

Tour operators and industry officials, gearing up for the arrival of summer visitors starting this month, expect a challenging season. Included in the forecast: the debut of more than 600 additional hotel rooms statewide plus new offerings from tour operators. Some industry representatives around the state forecast a season roughly on par with 2000, while others anticipate increases in total visitors. Like last year, high gasoline prices may thwart growth to the highway visitor segment. Americans, concerned with a tightening economy, may reduce their travel budget. Major cruise lines report their bottom line could be affected by reduced consumer spending due to a slowing economy. In its first quarter report Princess notes a competitive pricing environment in North America and particularly in Alaska where capacity has climbed, and the company anticipates reduced revenue for other quarters this year compared with 2000. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s quarterly report cites slowdowns in bookings attributed to the U.S. economy, while additional capacity also brings down prices. The company forecasts its revenue may drop 2 percent for the rest of 2001 compared with last year. Tina Lindgren, president of the Alaska Travel Industry Association, believes several factors could shape the summer visitor season. A U.S. trend toward shorter vacations -- the average is 3.5 days -- could daunt travelers to Alaska who perceive the venture as requiring a longer trip, she said. Also, since Alaska competes with Europe rather than other U.S. cities as a destination, favorable foreign currency exchange rates may lure travelers overseas instead, she said.

Even investors want financial advice

Traditionally, investments have been chosen and paid for per transaction. That is, whether you invest by yourself or through a broker, you might pay a commission to buy shares of stock, for example, or a load to buy shares in a mutual fund. In recent years, however, investors have shown a desire to manage their investments in a more unified way. A study released last year by Cerulli Associates, an independent research company specializing in financial services, shows that fee-based brokerage programs -- those that charge an annual fee, usually based on the amount of dedicated assets -- are the fastest growing sector of all fee-based programs, growing at an annual rate of 143.2 percent for the past four years. It’s notable in this day of increased trading avenues -- many of which allow investors to initiate and complete transactions on their own -- that the Cerulli study also concluded that an essential component of any fee-based program is the access it gives an investor to the advice of a financial adviser. Why guidance is important It’s no wonder that investors are seeking guidance with their financial decisions. Last year’s market performance -- a record-setting decline of 39 percent by the technology-heavy NASDAQ composite index and a 9 percent drop in the broader S&P 500 index -- and this year’s continuing market volatility have left many investors not knowing what to do next. At the same time, despite the downturn, years of favorable market conditions have left many people with substantial assets to manage. As a person’s assets increase and his or her financial life becomes more complex, the desire for the advice and guidance of a financial adviser frequently becomes greater. The need for solutions that simplify an investor’s life also become more urgent as financial decisions become more complicated. That’s part of the appeal of fee-based services. How fee-based services function for investors Fee-based services are not all alike. Discretionary services offer professional portfolio management and investment services for individual or institutional investors. A money manager personally oversees the account, usually for an annual fee that represents a percentage of invested assets. A discretionary service appeals to investors of sufficient means who have little time or interest in managing their own financial affairs and want to leave this responsibility to an experienced money manager. With nondiscretionary services, decision-making is in the hands of the investor who has the guidance of an experienced financial adviser. The financial adviser serves as a source of personalized market information, offers investment and asset allocation guidance and suggests planning strategies, but the investor may also come up with investment ideas of his or her own, and perhaps even personally execute them at times. Nondiscretionary services appeal to people who value a hands-on approach to investing and managing their assets. Fee-based pricing makes these services even more attractive to investors. Many investors believe that a fee-based approach more naturally aligns a financial adviser’s goals with their own -- the growth of your assets. Managing your finances in an integrated fashion also allows you, with the guidance of your financial adviser, to make decisions that take your entire financial picture into account, rather than take unrelated scattershot actions that could work against each other. An integrated approach Services with fee-based pricing appeal to a wide range of investors. Some investors are attracted by the simplicity of handling many aspects of their financial life within one program, while others want to sever the link between transactions and fees. It may be time for you to consider a more integrated approach to building wealth and achieving your financial goals -- and today you have more choice and flexibility in how you work toward that end. Teresa Kimmel is a financial adviser in the Anchorage office of Merrill Lynch. She can be reached at 907-564-6625.  

Ubik Corp. to purchase Wasilla radio station

ANCHORAGE -- Ubik Corp. is adding a Wasilla radio station, which would give the company three stations to operate in the Anchorage market.Ubik announced April 27 it has an agreement to buy KMBQ-FM in Wasilla.The current owner, John Klapperich, will continue at the station as an employee, according to Aaron Wallender, Ubik’s president.Ubik owns KNIK-FM and operates KZND-FM, both in Anchorage. The company also manages sales for KYES-TV.

This Week in Alaska Business History May 6, 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 TimesMay 6, 1981Area building business is booming, suppliers sayby Mary Pat MurphyTimes WriterAnchorage and Matanuska-Susitna area building supply companies say their business is up as much as 50 percent this year because of an up-swing in the housing and construction industries after a two-year slump.James Campbell, president of Spenard Builders Supply Inc., said business statewide is "in excess of 50 percent over last year at this time." The company had statewide sales of about $80 million in 1980, Campbell said.Business is up in Anchorage, Wasilla, Eagle River and Fairbanks, he said, but the increases haven’t shown up on the Kenai Peninsula."We’re showing increases real fast," said Scotty Lamkin, sales and marketing manager for United Building Supply, another major retail supplier of building materials. He said United’s business is up statewide including on the Kenai Peninsula.Anchorage TimesMay 6, 1981Anchorage utility company bought by telephone firmAn Anchorage-based utility consulting and engineering firm has been purchased by a Concord, Calif.-headquartered telephone company for about $2 million.RAI Public Utilities Inc. now is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CP National, which a spokesman said will become the 16th largest telephone company in the United States among some 1,500 independents with the pending acquisition of Great Southwest Telephone Co.... RAI offers consulting services, primarily in telecommunications, including toll settlements, telephone separation and revenue requirements, engineering and technical services, and accounting.10 years ago this weekAlaska Journal of CommerceMay 6, 1991State may reconsider KuparukBy Ray TysonFor the Alaska Journal of CommerceBased on new information provided by ARCO Alaska Inc., the state now appears willing to reconsider some of the acreage ARCO and its partners want to keep in order to expand the Kuparuk River oil field on the North Slope.About half of the 316,000-acre Kuparuk River Unit is outside the current producing area and will return to the state for releasing Dec. 1, unless ARCO can convince the Alaska Department of Natural resources the acreage will enhance the field.DNR is growing impatient with ARCO, the field operator, pointing out that many of the leases held by oil companies outside the producing area are more than 25 years old and have yet to be explored adequately.Alaska Journal of CommerceMay 6, 1991Cold Bay looks to bigger dock for boostBy Margaret BaumanAlaska Journal of CommercePlanners of Aleutians East Borough hope to have design work finished by late summer on an expanded dock at Cold Bay, but are still seeking public and private support for the $3.5 million project.The dock project is one of several under way for the Aleutians, all aimed at improving the economic viability of the Aleutian Chain.The economic potential of the expanded dock is good, said Lamar J. Cotton, borough administrator, who sees development of the Aleutians as having great impact far beyond the island communities, in terms of more long-term jobs in the fishing industry.The dock was designed and built for off-loading fuel. It consists of an 1,800-foot-long, single-lane causeway, with a dock face of 400 feet. Large vessels can come in to use the dock, as the water is approximately 124 feet deep at mean tide. Several fuel storage tanks are located on properties adjacent to the dock.-- Compiled by Ed Bennett.

Around the World May 6, 2001

STATEDEC says North Pole refinery spills too much FAIRBANKS -- The North Pole refinery owned by Williams Alaska Petroleum Inc. has had too many spills in its more than two decades of operation, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.In its first comprehensive look at the refinery’s spills, the state says the refinery has had 258 spills of jet fuel, gas and crude totaling 243,306 gallons, the equivalent of about 11 railroad tanker cars.The number of spills has averaged just under 11 per year since the refinery opened in 1977, though from 1990 to 1999 the refinery averaged just more than 14 per year, according to the report.It said pipe corrosion or mechanical failure are the top reasons for spills.Sheffield in line for Anchorage port jobANCHORAGE -- Former Gov. Bill Sheffield is in the running to become director of the Port of Anchorage. That comes just months after he resigned as president of the Alaska Railroad. Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch said he plans to interview at least one other person but won’t make a decision until after meeting with Sheffield next week.Sheffield ran the railroad from 1997 until his resignation in January. He said he left mostly because of a difficult final 15 months that included three derailments of fuel cars.Sheffield served as Alaska governor from 1982 to 1986.Phelps leaves forest group to work for MurkowskiPETERSBURG -- The Alaska Forest Association’s executive director, Jack Phelps, is moving to Washington to go to work for Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska.Phelps replaces David Garman as Murkowski’s chief of staff. Garman is moving to the Department of Energy.Phelps has been in Alaska for 17 years, working on resources for the Legislature before taking the forest association job.He says he’ll miss working with the timber industry, despite the fact that its been under serious siege for the last few years.The forest association hasn’t named a replacement for Phelps, who leaves the job May 8.Swanberg Dredge joins historic registerANCHORAGE -- The Swanberg Dredge at Mile 1 of the Nome-Council Highway has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.The Swanberg Dredge initially was called the Johnson-Pohl Dredge. The Gold Beach Dredging Co., owned in part by veteran Alaska gold miner Walter Johnson, bought the dredge in San Francisco and shipped it to Nome in 1946.Inflation made the fixed price of gold, $35 an ounce, too low to cover postwar labor and operating costs. The Swanberg Dredge operated on the Seward Peninsula for just one season. It stands where it stopped working.NationBoeing has 747 freighter with long range in worksSEATTLE -- The Boeing Co. will begin work on a longer range 747 freighter, now that International Lease Finance Corp. is ordering five of the planes for $1 billion, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said April 30.Jeff Peace, Boeing’s 747-400 program manager, said the extra range would eliminate the cost of such intermediate stops as Tokyo’s Narita airport on routes between Anchorage and Asia.An announcement that the Los Angeles-based leasing company will be the launch customer for the jumbo freighter could be made at any time, with deliveries to begin in October 2002.Veneman to review Forest Service regulationsWASHINGTON -- Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman has agreed to review Clinton-era regulations that directed forest managers to put ecosystem health above all other concerns. The rules, issued in November, limited logging, skiing, hiking and other activities in national forests if forest managers believe those activities might permanently harm the ecosystem.Mint to pack nicotine punch for smokersRICHMOND, Va. -- Another curiously strong mint-flavored product will soon hit the market, but this one delivers more than a breath-freshening burst of flavor.Ariva, a lozenge consisting mostly of powdered tobacco, provides a jolt of nicotine when smokers can’t smoke -- on airplanes, in movie theaters or smoke-free offices.Star Scientific Inc., a small tobacco company based in Chester, plans to test consumer reaction to the product in Richmond and Dallas beginning in late summer or early fall. A box of 20 lozenges will sell for about $3 -- roughly the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes.WORLDCheney: Nation needs more oil, natural gasTORONTO -- Vice President Dick Cheney says the whole nation could face blackouts like those that have hit California unless it finds more oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy."The aim here is efficiency, not austerity,’’ Cheney told editors and publishers April 30 at The Associated Press annual meeting. The nation cannot "simply conserve or ration our way out of the situation we’re in.’’He said conservation, while perhaps "a sign of personal virtue,’’ does not make for sound or comprehensive policy.Without going into specifics, Cheney promised "a mix of new legislation, some executive action as well as private initiatives’’ to cope with rising energy prices and growing demand.He reiterated that the administration intends to push for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge despite strong congressional opposition and rejected the notion of price controls, tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve or creating new bureaucracies.Court says don’t call it ’Bud’ in GermanyFRANKFURT, Germany -- U.S. brewer Anheuser-Busch suffered a setback in bringing the Bud brand name to Germany when a court ruled April 27 that the familiar abbreviation is too easily confused with Bit, the diminutive variation of the popular German beer Bitburger."It’s very difficult, Bud, Bit, Bit or Bud,’’ said Wolfgang Krueger, spokesman for the Federal Court of Justice, which ruled on St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch’s request to market its Budweiser beer under two new brand names in Germany.Compiled from buisness wire services.

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