PenAir gives museum $50,000 challenge grant

Statewide aviation enthusiasts and industry officials have been challenged to support the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum by a regional carrier who donated $50,000 at the annual Wings of Alaska fund-raiser."This is what the museum is for," said museum executive director Dee Hanson. "To honor and record the history of Alaska Aviation. The museum can really use it (the donation)."To that cause president of the Alaska Aviation Museum Board of Directors Orin Seybert donated $50,000 from Peninsula Airways to the museum, as a challenge in hopes of raising capital for the aviation venue, refurbishing aircraft and documentation of Alaska aviation history.Seybert presented the check to the museum at the annual fund-raiser co-sponsored by the Alaska Airmen’s Association and the museum on March 30 at the 4th Avenue Theatre in Anchorage."We have a fine crew of aviation experts that are working to refurbish several projects that should fly this summer," Seybert said. "On behalf of PenAir, I would like to present the museum with this check for $50,000 and hope that other businesses in the industry will also donate."A silent auction of unique Alaska items during the program raised another $6,000 for the museum.First National Bank was also recognized for the donation of their annual calendar, which features aircraft and historical aviation vignettes and images of aircraft at the museum on its pages.Museum officials are hoping for more support for book, film, video and restoration projects.The museum was founded in 1989 and is at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on the shore of the Lake Hood seaplane base.

Business Profile April 15, 2001

Name of the company: Environmental Management Inc.Established: 1988Location: 206 E. Fireweed Lane, Suite 201, AnchorageTelephone: 907-272-9336Web site: www.emi-alaska.comMajor focus of services: Environmental Management Inc. provides environmental and safety training as well as environmental and engineering consulting.History of the company: Training, including asbestos removal and hazardous waste handling, was the primary focus of Environmental Management from its start. In 1989 the company added environmental consulting to its list of services.The company has grown from an original handful of employees to eight full-time employees plus contract employees and class instructors. Today total business for Environmental Management is divided about equally between the training and consulting divisions.On the training side, Environmental Management has increased its total class offerings in the last five years. In 2001 classes will be held across the state at locations including Anchorage, Barrow, Ketchikan and Sitka. Enrollment in classes, which range from first aid to forklift training, ranges between 1,800 to 2,000. Training also can be tailored to a specific project for a company. Training clients include private businesses, government agencies and the military.Clients for consulting include private homeowners, corporations and the federal government. Consulting services include environmental site assessment, soil remediation, underground storage tank management and lead and asbestos inspection and management.Top accomplishment of the company: General manager Larry Bethel and program manager Larry Helgeson are proud of the company’s continued Alaska ownership and endurance despite a trend of mergers in the industry. They also are pleased to tailor services to meet customers’ needs.Major players: Larry Bethel, general manager, and Larry Helgeson, program manager, Environmental Management Inc.In 1990 the U.S. Army transferred Bethel to Fort Wainwright. He served at Fort Richardson in Anchorage from 1991 to 1995 then retired after 24 years in the Army. Bethel joined the company in 1995. The U.S. Air Force transferred Helgeson to Elmendorf in 1990 before reassigning him in 1991. In 1993 he retired from service, returned to Alaska and joined Environmental Management.Quote: "The mix of training and consulting works very well for EMI. They kind of go hand in glove," Bethel said.-- Nancy Pounds

Peterson joins aviation hall of fame

Ray Peterson, one of the pioneers of Alaska aviation, was honored by the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum and the Alaska Airmen’s Association at a fund-raiser and gala dinner in Anchorage on March 30 at the 4th Avenue Theatre."It is an honor to be considered a pioneer along with Carl Ben Eielson, Noel Wien and others," said Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame recipient Petersen, 88.Felix Maguire, director of the Airmen’s Association, explained that Petersen brought a higher level of professionalism to aviation and would work at any job, in his early days, to earn extra money to keep his air service flying.Among the 220 in attendance for the event were former governor and long-time Bush pilot Jay Hammond, Federal Aviation Administration Regional Administrator Pat Poe, First National Bank of Anchorage chairman and president D.H. "Dan" Cuddy, Dick Reeve and sister Janice Reeve Ogle of Reeve Aleutian Airways, air service owners and operators and airline officials.Petersen, who came to Alaska in 1934, is credited with bringing turbo prop service to Alaska villages in 1958, and is also thought to be the first to implement an aviation industry retirement plan."We had Pat Nixon, then the vice president’s wife, christen our first turbo prop. I’ll never forget it -- she had a heck of time breaking that bottle of Yukon River water over the nose of that aircraft," reminisced Petersen.In 1943 Ray Petersen Flying Service purchased Jim Dodson Air Service and Bristol Bay Air Service. In 1945 it also added Northern Airways and two other uncertified operations that further expanded equipment and personnel.The Northern Airways acquisition provided the firm’s initial mail routes, according to Petersen. After a two-year period waiting for the Civil Aeronautics Board to approve the merger, Northern Consolidated was created.Northern Consolidated merged with Wien Air Alaska in 1968, which offered jet service to Alaska with Boeing 737s and turbo prop Fairchild F-27s. Wien Air Alaska was phased out of business in the late 1980s after it was sold to the Household Finance Corp."I quit flying commercially as a pilot in the early 1950s," Petersen said. "I was buried up to my eyeballs in paperwork with the CAB, and had to hire pilots to fly the bigger DC-3s."Petersen last flew the Stinson Tri-Motor and the Lockheed 10a. "We had to solve the curse of the mountain passes so we bought the IFR (instrument flight rules) equipped DC-3 to take care of that challenge," he said.After showing a film on the history of Wien Air Alaska and a revolving program of photographs from Petersen’s early years flying in Alaska, the pioneer aviator received his first surprise.Becky Brock of the National Park Service read a letter written by Rob Armburger, regional director of all the national parks in Alaska, recognizing Petersen for the preservation of Brooks Camp and the Katmai National Monument.Petersen took the concession for Katmai in the 1950s but only after he suggested that they only allow fly fishing in the Brooks River.Today, Sonny Petersen, Ray’s son, continues to run the Katmailand Inc. resort, famous for its fly fishing among brown bears.Petersen also received a plaque honoring his part in Alaska aviation history from Susan Bramstedt, a board member of the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum and director of public affairs in Alaska for Alaska Airlines.Petersen reflected on his career and its beginnings in the 1930s, when he and Noel Wien flew from Seattle back to Alaska in separate airplanes. Wien flew a Ford Tri-Motor he purchased from Northwest Airlines with the money he made flying photographs of the Wiley Post and Will Rogers crash near Barrow; Petersen flew a Travelair that he purchased from Northwest in Chicago.When asked about his perception of the airline business in today’s world, Petersen is quick to respond. "I still don’t believe it," he said. "It is like a complete fantasy, like going to the moon.""To think that you can fly 550 mph in an aircraft that holds 500 people with a range of 7,000-8,000 miles -- people just don’t realize what a wonderful age we are living in," he said.

Rep. Murkowski seeks to raise alcohol tax; Senate moves oil, gas pipeline bills

Rep. Lisa Murkowski, R-Anchorage, introduced legislation April 2 that would raise the state’s taxes on alcoholic beverages by about 10 cents a drink. State taxes are now three to four cents a drink on beer, wine and hard liquor. The change would increase state revenues from alcohol taxes to $34 million, up from about $11 million. Murkowski’s proposal would also allow municipalities to tax alcohol an additional 10 cents a drink, and have the state collect the tax and return the money to them. "Right now the terrible expenses associated with alcohol in Alaska are through the roof," Murkowski said. "What we now collect in an excise tax doesn’t put a dent in the damage that alcohol does in this state. It’s incredible to me that we haven’t increased the alcohol tax since 1983." Murkowski chairs the House Labor and Commerce Committee. The bill was referred to her committee and the House Finance Committee. Oil and gas The state Senate passed a number of bills related to petroleum and a natural gas pipeline April 2. Senate Bill 156, making technical changes to oil and gas leasing procedures, was passed and sent to the House. The bill clarifies state law by stating that the Department of Natural Resources will write only a single state Best Interest Finding to cover multi-phased oil and gas development projects. In a decision last year, the Alaska Supreme Court construed the existing law as requiring multiple state Best Interest Findings for different phases of development. "SB156 specifies clearly that no subsequent Best Interest Finding is required after the disposal (lease sale) phase, and that the findings will be made on known information even if all potential cumulative impacts of a project are not known at the time of the lease sale," said Sen. Drue Pearce, R-Anchorage, vice-chairwoman of the Senate Resources Committee, which sponsored the bill. SB156 passed the Senate 14-4, and is now in the state House. The Senate also passed SB164, prohibiting leases on state submerged land in the Beaufort Sea. The legislation is aimed at blocking a proposed northern route for a natural gas pipeline, which would run east from Prudhoe Bay to the Mackenzie River delta on a route that would skirt the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by going offshore. The vote was unanimous for the bill, which was sponsored by all 20 members of the Senate. Effect of the legislation would to force builders of a gas pipeline to follow a route through Interior Alaska, the so-called Alaska Highway route, as the only viable option. Another pipeline-related measure passed in the Senate April 2, also by unanimous vote, would allow the State Pipeline Coordinator’s office to collect fees for work on pipeline projects before an application is actually filed. The pipeline coordinator is a part of the Department of Natural Resources and coordinates review of permits by several state agencies. The office will assume substantial expenses this year as activity ramps up on proposed pipeline projects. SB143, sponsored by the Senate Resources Committee, would allow it to be reimbursed before permit applications are submitted. The bill also requires reimbursement to the state even it a permit application is later withdrawn. Another bill related to the state pipeline right of way leasing act is advancing in the Senate. Senate Bill 121, sponsored by Sen. Loren Leman, R-Anchorage, would clarify the law on when a change in design constitutes a "substantial change" in an application filed previously, requiring the entire permitting process to be restarted. Two companies, Yukon Pacific Corp. and Foothills Pipe Lines Ltd., have worked on North Slope gas pipeline projects for several years and have submitted preliminary applications for state right of way. If either project were to now proceed a substantial amount of work would have to be done to update permits and other required government approvals. The bill was approved by the Senate Resources Committee April 2. The Senate Resources Committee also sent out SB76, sponsored by Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, which would increase the maximum term of a state right of way lease from 10 to 30 years.  

Around the World April 15, 2001

STATETongass shut downANCHORAGE -- The U.S. Forest Service suspended all timber operations in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest on April 4 in response to a judge’s ruling the previous week that the agency violated federal law when it updated its management plan four years ago."This is a precautionary measure to the ruling," said Jim Ustasiewski, a federal attorney speaking on behalf of the forest service.In a 32-page decision issued March 30, U.S. District Court Judge James Singleton Jr. said the agency breached the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest Management Act by failing to consider some roadless areas as eligible for wilderness designation by Congress.The judge enjoined any further actions that would alter the wilderness character of any eligible roadless areas until the Forest Service complies with NEPA and NFMA. Some 9.4 million roadless acres are affected.Utility chief pleads guiltyJUNEAU -- The superintendent of Juneau’s wastewater utility has pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act by diluting two water samples from the Mendenhall sewage treatment plant.Andrew Bronson admitted April 6 that he diluted wastewater effluent samples with tap water before the samples were analyzed by other employees of the plant, according to federal prosecutors.He faces a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail and a $25,000 fine for each of the two offenses.State gets fast ferry bidJUNEAU -- A boat-building company from Washington state has turned in the only bid for design and construction of a high-speed catamaran to serve as a Juneau-Sitka dayboat.Nichol Brothers Boat Builders submitted the $35.99 million bid, which was opened April 6 by the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities at its headquarters in Juneau.Nichol Brothers won’t automatically be awarded the contract, however.A routine review is being done to verify the company complied with the state’s specifications, officials said.NATIONSummer shortage loomsBOISE, Idaho -- A federal energy agency, under fire for not being more aggressive in dealing with the Western electricity shortages and high prices, was scheduled to meet April 10 with officials from 11 Western states to discuss ways to contain the problem this summer.The unusual meeting called by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission comes as a California utility decided to sell its transmission lines to avoid bankruptcy and officials in the Northwest predicted a tripling of electricity rates unless power demand is cut sharply in the coming months.The FERC, which regulates wholesale electricity sales, asked state utility regulators from the 11 states in the Western power grid to discuss ways that the federal agency might help in easing the power crunch, as the heavy summer demand periods are about to begin.Deal helps NorthwestMINNEAPOLIS -- Northwest Airlines’ tentative deal with its mechanics gives the carrier a leg up on its competitors, whose labor troubles remain unresolved just a few months shy of the summer travel season, industry experts say.If ratified by union members, the Northwest agreement would put pressure on Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines to reach agreements that will give consumers trouble-free travel this summer, said Terry Trippler, an airline expert with OneTravel.com.Mechanics would get average raises of 24.4 percent and $10,000 in retroactive pay under the proposed contract, which would end a 4 1/2-year stalemate. The agreement was reached April 9.FedEx contract questionedWASHINGTON -- Auditors are looking into whether U.S. Postal Service managers misinformed their governing board by claiming that a contract with Federal Express will save the debt-ridden agency more than $1 billion.A spokesman for the Postal Service office of inspector general, which reports to the presidentially appointed Board of Governors, said April 9 it is reviewing the $6.3 billion, no-bid contract with FedEx.Fruit of the Loom files suitCHICAGO -- Fruit of the Loom is suing competitor Gildan Activewear Inc., accusing the Montreal company of stealing trade secrets to grab a competitive edge in the cutthroat apparel business."This case is about industrial espionage at the highest corporate level and the lengths to which predatory competitors will go to obtain commercial advantage,’’ Fruit of the Loom alleged in its lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court last week.Lawyers for the underwear manufacturer asked for unspecified damages and a court-order to prohibit Gildan from using production and sales forecasts allegedly obtained in November.Fruit of the Loom alleges that former manager Elizabeth Walton passed critical documents to her ex-employer, David Cherry, one of five Fruit of the Loom executives who fled the company in recent years as it wallowed in bankruptcy protection.Compiled from business wire services.

DEC calls on truckers, refiners for low-sulfur diesel plan ideas

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has begun drafting a plan for Alaska’s compliance with new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements for ultra-low sulfur diesel used in highway transportation.The new EPA rule becomes effective in the Lower 48 in 2006. It’s possible that a delayed effective date, to 2010, could be applied to Alaska, but the state must submit a phase-in plan to the EPA by April 2002 to justify the extension, according to Ron King, manager for DEC’s nonpoint mobile sources pollution-control program.A stakeholder task force of Alaska truckers, fuel distributors and refiners will work with DEC to develop the proposed implementation plan; they were scheduled to meet April 12 in Anchorage."This is an opportunity for Alaskans to deal with these issues in the best way possible," said Tom Chapple, director of DEC’s Division of Air and Water Quality, in a letter announcing the April 12 meeting."We have a choice to accept the standard federal implementation date or to tackle our unique problems by crafting our own implementation plan to minimize the disruption, distribution and cost factors," Chapple said.The new requirements will very likely raise the cost of diesel used for highway transportation because the fuel will probably have to be imported, since it’s unlikely any Alaska refinery will be able to make modifications to produce the fuel, King said.One possible solution is if a proposal for a plant to make "clean" diesel from natural gas, either in Cook Inlet or on the North Slope, moves ahead.ANGTL Inc., an Anchorage-based company, is working with Forest Oil and other companies to investigate prospects for a "gas-to-liquids" project on the North Slope or in southern Alaska. Diesel manufactured through a Fischer-Tropsch process has virtually no sulfur and would qualify under the new ultra low-sulfur EPA rule.But even if a local source is available for the new fuel, it will have to be stored separately from diesel for other uses not affected by the ultra-low sulfur requirement, said Gene Burden, president of Tesoro Alaska Petroleum Co., which refines and markets oil in the state.There is now a nationwide limit of 500 parts per million sulfur content for diesel fuel used on highways, but because of the state’s remoteness and unique logistics problems, Alaska has been able to get a series of temporary exemptions from the standard.The s ulfur content of much of the diesel used in the state is about 3,000 parts per million, although Tesoro is able to produce 500 parts per million diesel in its Nikiski refinery because the crude oil refined by Tesoro, from Cook Inlet and other sources, has a low sulfur content to begin with.Diesel is used in Alaska for highway fuel, home heating and electrical generation. Since the ultra low-sulfur requirement applies, for now, only to highway use, it causes a serious complication in Alaska because the ultra low-sulfur diesel would have to be stored separately, King said.Diesel used by trucks on highway accounts for only 5 percent of all the diesel used in the state.Although Alaska could get a delayed effective date to 2010 for the ultra low-sulphur requirement, for all practical purposes the earlier effective date for other states will affect Alaska, King said.That’s because at least some diesel trucks equipped with new emission controls that require the ultra-low sulfur fuels may be operating in Alaska.If diesel fuel with sulfur content higher than 15 parts per million, the new EPA standard, is used in engines with the new control systems they will be heavily damaged, King said.Alaska refiners Williams Cos., PetroStar and Tesoro have said that the modifications to produce the ultra low-sulfur diesel will be extremely costly.Williams, which operates a refinery at North Pole, near Fairbanks, has estimated that it will cost $100 million to reduce sulfur in diesel to 50 parts per million.The company has not done an estimate of what it would cost to produce diesel with 15 parts per million, Tom Byers, a Williams government affairs representative, told the EPA in hearings in Denver on June 29."We’re not even certain a commercially viable technology is available for a harsh northern environment like that at the North Pole refinery," he said.The company faces two unattractive options: Either invest $100 million or more to produce "a relatively minuscule amount of highway diesel fuel, or stop manufacturing diesel for highway use."Tesoro’s Burden said it is unlikely his company will be able to justify the investment needed to produce the ultra low-sulfur fuel.Williams and Petro-Star use higher-sulfur North Slope crude oil taken from the trans-Alaska pipeline.Unless it can be made locally, the only alternative is to import the new fuel, Burden said. Consumers will have to bear the cost of extra transportation and separate storage, he said.DEC’s King said that importing the fuel will be a challenge. Diesel used in Alaska must have special qualities because of the cold climate. Otherwise it jells, King said.When the agency was preparing arguments for an extension of EPA’s exemption for Alaska of the current nationwide 500 parts per million requirement, DEC officials tried to find a source for special "arctic-grade" diesel.No U.S. refiner was willing to make arctic diesel at 500 parts per million sulfur, King said. A refinery in central Canada was finally found that could supply the fuel. Having only one source for the fuel is hardly comforting, King said.It will also be very difficult, King said, for Alaska to get an exemption from the ultra low-sulfur requirement similar to the current exemption from 500 parts per million requirement.That’s because the ultra-low standard is linked to other new EPA requirements mandating the new pollution-control technology on trucks, he said.

Revenue fishing's a poor way to fund Fish and Game budget, caucus concludes

Test fishing is a poor way for Alaska Department of Fish and Game to pay for fisheries research. That was the consensus among legislators at a recent Fish Caucus meeting in Juneau. Also called "revenue fishing," the practice refers to the harvest and sale of fish or shellfish for the primary purpose of generating revenue. Originally, test fishing was conducted for research purposes, or to determine run strength. But as state legislators have ratcheted the Fish and Game budget down over the past decade, more costs are being covered by the sale of fish caught by vessels contracted by the department. "Laws for the Sea" reports that according to Commercial Fisheries Director Doug Mecum, since 1988 the department, under legislative direction, has been catching fish to sell for money to pay for activities ranging from aerial surveys to smolt counting. A tally Mecum prepared for the caucus showed that test fishing expenditures have increased from $1.6 million in fiscal 1992 to $2.7 million in the current year. He noted that about half of those amounts are paid to the harvesters contracted to catch the fish, as reported in "Laws." Rep. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River, who organized the caucus session, has urged other lawmakers to educate themselves about revenue fishing. Dyson reportedly went to great lengths to make sure the department was not criticized for the practice. "ADF&G has not been sneaky. No one is saying the money raised is being used inappropriately. The department has been backed into the process by a lack of appropriations," Dyson said. However, Dyson and others believe the practice might benefit from some changes. A report completed last month by Bruce Gabrys of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association raised concerns that test fishing results in a loss to common property fisheries. It also notes that the department can depress fish prices with the rate in its contracts. Gabrys said test fishing amounts to a de facto tax on commercial harvesters. Since the department’s research benefits all user groups, he suggested that other user groups should contribute more to the cost of research. "Some group of legislators needs to decide what they think we should do," Dyson said after the caucus. "Maybe some broad tax or user fee, and I would hope that would be on all of the users of the stock, including sport fish, personal use and guided fisheries, as well as commercial fisheries to support the research that benefits the fish they utilize. My guess is we may see some legislation following one of those schemes." Fish oil and headaches Researchers claim that adding certain fish oils to the diet of adolescents helps reduce recurring headaches. A presentation at the Pediatric Academic Societies and American Academy of Pediatrics Joint Meeting in Boston described how 27 teens were given fish oil and olive oil supplements for two months. During the fish oil treatments, 87 percent said the number of headaches was reduced, headache duration was reduced in 74 percent of the cases, and severity was reduced in 83 percent of the teens. The olive oil treatments resulted in just slightly lower percentages. Nearly 93 percent of the test subjects said they would recommend both fish oil and olive oil to friends or relatives who suffer from frequent headaches. The researchers concluded that the overwhelming improvement in the teenage patients suggests that the use of fish and olive oils should not be dismissed as simply having a placebo effect. Scots add sushi to lunches Japanese sushi is being added to school lunches in Scotland. According to 2dayuk.com, the menu addition is part of an effort to provide a more healthy diet for school kids. Heart disease and obesity in Scotland are at an all time high, and it’s hoped that children will opt for healthier alternatives to the traditional diet of meat pies and deep fried foods. The nutritional plans are being spearheaded by the Glasgow City Council, which has already introduced Indian, Mexican and Chinese dishes as part of an award winning "Fuel Zone" school lunch program. "As Japanese cuisine is renowned for its nutritional content, it would be fantastic if youngsters decided it was something they would like to eat more often," said Glasgow lunch director Fergus Chambers. The Japanese have the lowest rate of heart disease in the world, and that is credited in great part to their diet. Along with being healthier, Chambers and others believe that foods like sushi are more interesting and fun.

State's exports slip in 2000, and 2001 faces similar challenges

Alaska’s exports in 2000 totaled $2.5 billion, down 3.9 percent from $2.6 billion in 1999, and the state’s export value for this year could face some obstacles, trade officials said. The 2000 dollar value of Alaska exports to foreign countries slipped compared with 1999 figures for seven of the state’s top 10 trading partners, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The drop is mostly due to the shipment of Alaska crude oil to West Coast refineries rather than foreign countries, according to the state Division of International Trade and Market Development. "We expect that trend to continue and accelerate in 2001," said Greg Wolf, director of the Division of International Trade and Market Development. However, the change affects the statistics rather than the Alaska economy. "The state still receives royalties and people are still employed" in the oil and gas industry, he said. Crude oil exports dropped 42 percent in 2000, totaling $288 million. Crude oil falls in the category of Alaska’s No. 2 export, oil and gas, which overall dropped last year to $571.7 million, down from $722.3 million in 1999. Another reason for the total export value decrease in 2000 was a production decrease at Red Dog Mine, a requirement for installation of a new system expected to increase production later this year, Wolf said. The No. 3 Alaska export, minerals, dropped from $358.6 million in 1999 to $292.9 million in 2000. The fourth place Alaska export, wood products, also declined from 1999’s total of $222.5 million to $209.5 million in 2000. Fertilizer, Alaska’s No. 5 export, posted gains, climbing from $112.8 million in 1999 to $154 million in 2000. Exports to Alaska’s top trading partner, Japan, totaled $1.3 billion in 2000, down 1.1 percent from 1999 data. Last year Japan was the destination for 53 percent of all Alaska exports, statistics noted. Second-place export destination South Korea accounted for 18.2 percent of all Alaska exports. Alaska exports to Korea dropped 7.8 percent, totaling $448.6 million, down from $486.7 million in 1999. "I am encouraged by the strength of our traditional top two markets, Japan and Korea," Wolf said, calling export results from the two countries stable. However, the trade office is monitoring the Japanese economy and the strength of its currency, he said. "What happens in Japan matters to Alaska exports," he said. Demand for Alaska exports in Asia could be affected by the health of the economy there, he said. The future for Japan is a growing concern for Chuck Becker, director of the U.S. Commercial Service Alaska Export Assistance Center. "Japan has been in a fiscal funk for 10 years," he said. Since Japan is the leading buyer of Alaska products, any major upset there could affect the state’s exports, he said. Another factor that could impact Alaska would be declines in oil and natural gas prices, he said. Becker also is concerned that Alaska’s fishing industry continues to lose market share to farmed fish. However, Europeans steering away from beef and other meats could turn to Alaska seafood, boosting that sector, he said. "They will be looking for foodstuffs that are healthy and free of contaminants," he said. Farmed fish from nearby Scotland and Norway could still trump Alaska fish, he added. For 2001 Wolf expects some drawbacks for Alaska’s export totals. BP said it will not export crude oil from Alaska this year, instead opting for other refineries, a change that could account for a loss of several hundred million dollars of Alaska exports, he said. Seafood exports could be affected by possible restrictions to the pollock, cod and mackerel fisheries due to Steller sea lion protection plans and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s forecast for a smaller sockeye run, Wolf said. However, he is optimistic about a growing interest in Alaska seafood from European buyers. Wolf believes that while statistics may decline, small- and medium-sized Alaska exporters may find opportunities around the globe. Alaska’s top export, seafood, climbed last year from $989.5 million in 1999 to $1 billion in 2000. Seafood accounted for 42 percent of all Alaska exports last year. Chris McDowell of Juneau tracks statistics for Alaska seafood, specializing in salmon. He is program manager for the Salmon Market Information Service, which also provides data to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. One aspect of salmon exports, salmon roe, posted gains in 2000, he noted. From July to December last year Alaska exports of salmon roe totaled $90 million, up from $56 million for the same period in 1999, he said. Last year more than 90 percent of salmon roe was sent to Japan, McDowell said. Another key Alaska salmon sector is sockeye, which typically accounts for two-thirds of the salmon harvest, he said. The export destination of sockeye has changed in recent years, McDowell said. "In 1997 we were sending 72 percent of sockeye to Japan," compared to last year’s total of 54 percent of sockeye shipped to Japan, he said. Also in 2000, Alaska shipped 23 percent of sockeye to the European Union and 18 percent to Canada, he said. One indicator of the 2001 market, McDowell said, is the movement of frozen salmon inventory levels in Japan. Earlier this year frozen salmon inventory levels were down 10 percent from the same period last year, he said. However, salmon imports there also were down slightly, he noted. Another factor for Alaska salmon in Japan is a new requirement by Japanese retailers that salmon be labeled as wild or farmed, he said. "It is not clear what impact this will have on Alaska."  

Bulletin Board April 8, 2001

In gear Northern Economics, an Anchorage-based economics consulting firm, has formed an international consulting consortium with the Progressor Consulting Group of Moscow and Seattle. The consortium, Northern Economics/Progressor, will provide consulting services to public and private entities operating in the North Pacific and adjacent regions, particularly in the Russian Far East. The headquarters of Northern Economics/Progressor is in Anchorage with branch offices in Seattle and Moscow. Spenard Builders Supply has expanded its Kodiak store on Mill Bay Road by 2,600 square feet. The remodeling included a major expansion to its plumbing center and the addition of John Locke, a plumbing expert, to its staff. SBS also has completed upgrades to its Soldotna location. Changes included new fixtures and displays, improved lighting, larger sales counters, an improved entrance and department expansions. RBMS LLC, doing business as Risk & Benefit Management Services, now is wholly-owned by MTD Inc., a company owned by Kent G. Davis, and Kershaw Inc., a company owned by Gregory J. Kershaw. RBMS, an employee benefits third-party administrator, purchased the business interests previously held by Richard Lowell. Davis remains president and chief executive of RBMS while Kershaw is chief operating officer. Northrim Bank’s board of directors approved the formation of a bank holding company, Northrim BanCorp. Inc., and the reorganization of the bank into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the new holding company March 23. Under the proposed reorganization terms, each Northrim Bank shareholder will receive one share of Northrim BanCorp common stock in exchange for each of their shares of Northrim Bank common stock. The transaction is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval and will be included in Northrim’s proxy statement for its 2001 annual shareholders meeting May 3. Datacade LLC has formed an alliance with TKC Communications LLC to provide networking services to federal agencies. TKCC, an information technology and telecommunications company registered in the Small Business Administration 8(a) program, is a subsidiary of Kuskokwim Corp., an Alaska Native corporation. The SBA 8(a) business development program is designed for firms owned by socially and economically disadvantaged entities. Datacade is a network-managed service provider with corporate offices located in Anchorage. Locator Official Census 2000 data from the U.S. Census Bureau is available online in Alaska for the first time. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development Web site at (www.labor.state.ak.us) is the online source for Alaska 2000 Census data. Information consists of Alaska total resident population and the number of Alaskans age 18 and older listed for the entire state, boroughs, census areas, places, census tracts, block groups, blocks, Alaska Native villages and voting precincts. Media KAKM-TV and Phillips Petroleum Co. will co-produce the first high-definition television documentary to be made in Alaska. The documentary will cover the achievements of legendary bush pilot Don Sheldon and will use the historic collection of film footage taken by Lowell Thomas Jr. The Sheldon video will premiere on KAKM’s first broadcast of digital television in May 2002 and also will be sold to the public in videocassette format as a fund-raiser. KAKM will edit and produce the video with part of a $200,000 operating grant from Phillips. Geoffrey Larson and Ray Daniels have co-authored and produced a recently released book on brewing smoked beers as part of Brewers Publications Classic Beer Style Series. Larson is co-founder, with his wife Marcy, of Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau. Daniels, who lives in Chicago, has written four books on beer and brewing. "Smoked Beers" covers the history and evolution of the use of smoke in food and drink, how smoke flavors are perceived as well as recipes for using smoked beers in recipes. The publication costs $14.95. Sundries Dobson Communications Corp., which serves Cellular One customers in Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka, is seeking applicants for its ongoing Pride scholarship program. High school seniors who live in the Dobson Communications service area are eligible to submit a written application for the $1,000 awards. Applications are available at (www.dobson.net). Applications from high school-age students are being accepted for the Alaska Native Youth Media Institute until April 30. Created by Koahnic Broadcast Corp.’s Training Center, the institute endeavors to introduce Alaska Native and Native American youth to career options in media. For additional details, contact Marie Jeno at 907-258-8924.  

Movers & Shakers April 8, 2001

Nathaniel Rutter, a geologist, will be the keynote speaker for the University of Alaska Fairbanks commencement and one of four honorary degree recipients recognized during the ceremony May 13. Rutter recently was chosen a fellow with the Arctic Institute of North America and is professor emeritus at the University of Alberta in Canada. Other honorary degree recipients are Poldine Carlo, an Alaska Native leader and founding member of the Fairbanks Native Association; Art Buswell, former UA administrator and horticulture professor; and Richard Osborne, social anthropologist and medical genetics educator. Susan Wright Mason, a partner in the Anchorage law firm of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, has become of counsel to the firm. Mason specializes in health care law. Ethan Schutt, Tom Dosik and Jeff Jarvi have joined the firm’s Anchorage office. Schutt concentrates his practice in commercial transactions. Schutt formerly served as a law clerk to Alaska Supreme Court Justice Walter Carpeneti. Dosik concentrates his practice in commercial transactions and litigation. Dosik formerly served as a trial attorney in the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Jarvi concentrates his practice in litigation. Both Dosik and Jarvi formerly served as law clerks for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Warren Matthews. Northrim Bank has promoted Janet Holland to facilities officer. Holland manages the bank’s purchasing program and vendor relationships and supervises the bank’s courier staff. Holland, who joined the bank in 1999, has more than 25 years of banking experience. Herman White has been promoted to consumer and small business loan officer in Northrim’s credit administration department. White has more than seven years of financial industry experience. White joined the bank in January. Brandy R. Niclai has joined First Union Securities as a financial advisor. Niclai previously worked as human resources manager for Wave Wholesale Co. in Anchorage. W. Michael Stephenson and Andrena L. Stone have become shareholders in the law firm of Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens PC. Stephenson, with the firm since 1992, practices in the area of public construction, primarily representing school districts and Native housing authorities. Stone has been with the firm since 1994. Stone’s practice is concentrated in the area of education law. Matthew Singer joined Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens following a clerkship for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Alexander Bryner. Singer practices in the areas of civil litigation and corporate and business law. Mark P. Melchert rejoined the firm after spending two years in Africa. Melchert’s practice areas include commercial transactions and litigation, and corporate and business law. First National Bank of Anchorage has appointed Bernard Jackson vice president in the bank’s property department located in Anchorage. Pam Wentz was selected vice president at Fairbanks’ Interior City branch. Chris Neros was appointed vice president at the Sitka branch. Jenny Street will serve as assistant vice president at the Golden Valley branch in Fairbanks. Other Anchorage area appointments included: Stephen Dick, loan officer in the commercial loan division; Rita Hendriks, trust officer in the trust department; Charles Hodges, data operations officer in the electronic data processing division; Carol Hovanec, loan servicing officer in the loan servicing division; Barry Jackman, loan officer in the branch lending and administrative division; Sue Johnson, assistant personnel officer in the human resources department; Dawn Lowrie, Community Reinvestment Act officer in the corporate systems division; D’Ava Marsh, loan processing officer in the corporate systems division; and Michael Studstill, assistant cashier in the branch operations support department.  

The Foraker Group helps nonprofit organizations stretch dollars

When I was a child I figured out that if my friend and I pooled our toys, we would both have twice as many toys. Since we got along well together and had similar interests, sharing allowed each of us to have a much larger toy box. Later I noticed that the oil companies operating at Prudhoe Bay had come to a similar conclusion, though their "toys" were much larger and more complex than my childhood things had been. The operators follow a practice called "shared services" under which some essential functions are performed by employees available to multiple companies. Sharing services where possible allows more cost-effective exploration and development activities, providing important savings for all participants. Ultimately shared services result in increased production at a lower cost. And, by keeping costs down, they increase state revenues and thereby benefit all Alaskans. Those oil field initiatives led to formation of a new kind of "shared services" organization unveiled earlier this year -- The Foraker Group. This new and innovative nonprofit entity borrows on the concept of pooling resources. The Foraker Group will put high-quality management and consulting services within the reach of even the smallest nonprofits. The Foraker Group was launched with major support from Phillips Alaska Inc., BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., the Rasmuson Foundation and the United Way of Anchorage. Foraker President Dennis McMillian says the new organization will help nonprofits make the best use of their philanthropic resources and operate more efficiently than was possible by working alone. McMillian doubles as executive director of United Way of Anchorage. Grants are the lifeblood of nonprofit groups. But securing grant funds isn’t easy, especially in Alaska. Mining the money requires knowledge of foundations both here and in the Lower 48. It also requires skill in developing and writing proposals, and the ability to persevere and succeed even when projects aren’t funded by targeted foundations. In some cases the nonprofits will be able to focus on the things they do best -- like providing services to the community and raising revenues within their own networks -- while the Foraker Group pursues funding sources from afar and provides overhead support from professionals they couldn’t otherwise afford. When funding efforts are more likely to succeed through joint efforts, McMillian and his consultants will broker the necessary relationships and work with the organizations as they approach foundations. The possibility of improving effectiveness through shared services exists in many areas. To cite just one example, the Foraker Group will help nonprofits plan and prepare for technological changes and advances. These days computers are as essential for nonprofit organizations as they are for businesses. But nonprofits can’t afford a new computer system every few years. The Foraker Group will give them access to a specialist who can help them analyze and plan for their technology needs. The consultant will advise them on ways to get financial aid to purchase new equipment and software when they are needed. He or she will also look for opportunities for several nonprofit organizations to share their technology capabilities and their costs. Pooling resources and building cooperative relationships is an established way to save money and work more efficiently. We’ve proved it works in the oil patch and are delighted to see the concept applied in this area of special need. Nonprofit organization leaders should get to know the people at The Foraker Group. McMillian and his team can help stretch your valuable donor dollars and give you the best chance possible for a productive future serving the people of Alaska. Nancy Schoephoester is manager of philanthropy and community services for Phillips Alaska Inc.

Native corporations prove their mettle

JUNEAU -- Alaska Native corporations have become powerful engines for the state’s economy, the president of one of the most successful of the state’s Native regional corporations told business leaders and legislators in Juneau. A study of the 12 Alaska-based regional corporations and three of the largest village corporations released March 20 shows that those corporations had revenues of $2.1 billion and assets of $2.8 billion, said Carl Marrs, president of Cook Inlet Region Inc. of Anchorage. Assets do not include the value of the approximate 44 million acres of land owned by Alaska Native corporations, Marrs said. The survey was sponsored by the Association of ANCSA Regional Corporation Presidents/CEOs Inc., an association of the regional corporations. The corporations paid $49.5 million in dividends to shareholders, most of whom live in the state, and through business and industrial subsidiaries employed 10,000 workers in the state and made charitable contributions of $8.6 million during the year, Marrs told a combined meeting of the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce and the Juneau Chamber of Commerce March 29. The survey understates the contribution of Alaska’s Native corporations because it includes only three of 229 village corporations and does not include nonprofit social service corporations that are affiliated with the for-profit regional corporations, Marrs said. Marrs estimated that if the employment and spending of the nonprofit and other village corporations were included in the study, their economic contribution would be about equal to that of the corporations included in the study. Alaska Native-owned regional and village corporations were formed with the passage by Congress of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act in 1971. The settlement of aboriginal land claims included a transfer of about 44 million acres of land and $962 million in cash to the regional and village corporations. Resolution of the issue cleared title to Alaska land and, among other economic developments, cleared the way for construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and the start of oil production on the North Slope in 1977. Much of the revenue earned by the corporations is from business activities in other states. "We earn money down south and bring the profits home," Marrs said. Revenues and earnings of the 15 corporations in the study have grown substantially in the last 10 years, he said. "Some corporations will do well in any given year and others won’t, but taken together there has been a dramatic increase in earnings and growth in equity since 1990," Marrs said. "Net income will go up and down, and some corporations report what look like big losses in a given year because they have aggressive depreciation schedules when they write down assets," he said. But the more significant figures to look at are growth in total equity of the 15 corporations, which has almost doubled since 1990 from about $1 billion to almost $1.9 billion, Marrs said. That said, combined net income among the 15 has grown 98 percent from 1990 through 1999, he said. "The year 2000 was a great year for CIRI but wasn’t so good for some others. But they’ll come back," Marrs said. "We’re all in diversified lines of business, and we’re here to stay." Alaska Native corporations face special challenges that are not shared by traditional business corporations. "We are trying to weave a new corporate culture in with a traditional culture based on subsistence," he said. Because the vast majority of shares are held in blocks of 100 shares and can’t be sold, at least now, management of the corporations attempt to deliver benefits that are shared equally, in the form of dividends. Over 10 years, about $500 million in dividends have been paid by the 15 corporations in the group surveyed. Despite the financial success of many Native corporations, there are still serious social and health problems that affect Alaska Natives, the report noted. "We can help deliver employment, training and dividends, but we can’t solve all of the problems," Marrs said. "By becoming profitable we build our equity base and can use our financial strength in Washington, D.C., and Juneau to bring improved education and health benefits to our shareholders. That’s a bigger part of our success." Nonprofit Native corporations which run many of these social and health programs are also important employers. Collectively they employ 10,000 to 12,000 people, he said. Several Native corporations, not including CIRI, also have formed "8-A" minority corporations to do business with the federal government, most of it outside Alaska, Marrs said. These initiatives bring in about $750 million a year in earnings, the vast majority of it from outside the state, he said.  

Around the World April 8, 2001

STATEACS drops calling planANCHORAGE -- Alaska Communications Systems is scrapping its "Infinite Minutes" in-state long-distance calling plan because of "misuse" and "burdensome regulatory conditions" that made it less profitable, the company said.The Anchorage-based telecom company will now charge residential customers 14-cents a minute for in-state long distance, instead of a $20 monthly flat rate for unlimited calls.ACS said it is revising its residential "Infinite Minutes" interstate long-distance plan, which also costs $20 a month for unlimited calls. It will be replaced gradually with a tiered program, the company said March 30.NATIONBush raps Japan, China, EU for trade barrierWASHINGTON -- Japan, the 15-nation European Union and China are highlighted by the Bush administration in a report on the worst trade barriers faced by American companies.The administration will decide in late April whether to pursue cases against any of the countries listed in the 471-page report.The administration’s list of complaints covered 52 separate nations, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, and three trading blocs: the European Union, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council.As in past years, Japan came in for the most criticism, judging by the 58 pages the report devoted to it. Complaints about the EU filled 36 pages, followed by China with 28 pages. South Korea, with 22 pages, also received considerable attention.California short on snow for power plantsSACRAMENTO, Calif. -- New measurements show the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is so low, California’s hydroelectric production could fall more than a third below normal this summer.It’s not what state officials already struggling with tight power supplies and worried about blackouts wanted to hear.California draws about a fourth of its power from in-state hydroelectric plants, which rely on melting snow to fill reservoirs for summer when precipitation is scarce. The dry winter and resulting low snowpack mean power production could drop more than a third below normal, said Maury Roos, the state’s chief hydrologist.California already expected little hydroelectric power from the drought-stricken Pacific Northwest to help power grid operators keep the lights on.Despite the low snow levels, Roos said groundwater levels are healthy, so there is no reason to declare a drought anywhere but in the Klamath Range of northwestern California, which is "desperately dry.’’Carters protest change in Canada’s lumber importsALBANY, Ga. -- The state’s forestry community, including former President Carter, is calling for changes in Canadian lumber imports, which it blames for falling prices and sawmill closures.Landowners, loggers, sawmill operators and congressmen, along with Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, planned a protest in Macon on Saturday as a lumber agreement between the United States and Canada was set to expire. The Carters sell timber from their land in southwest Georgia.The participants say no agreement or a simple continuation of the present one would be deadly for the U.S. lumber industry. They blame Canadian imports for a 33 percent drop in lumber prices since January 2000.The 5-year-old agreement outlined how much softwood Canada’s four major lumber-producing provinces may export to the United States duty-free.WORLDTreaty still ’alive’KIRUNA, Sweden -- Two days after President Bush rejected the Kyoto global warming treaty, European environment ministers said Saturday the agreement is still "alive’’ and that they will go forward with ratification plans -- with or without the United States.The ministers, who gathered here for a three-day meeting, condemned the U.S. president’s rejection of mandatory reductions of carbon dioxide emissions called for under the 1997 climate treaty. Bush said Thursday that the compulsory reductions were too harmful to the American economy, but said he would continue to pursue other measures to address climate change.Negotiated in Kyoto, Japan, the treaty calls for countries to agree to legally binding targets for curbing heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.The U.S. Senate has not yet ratified it, nor has any industrial country.Compiled from business wire services.

Interior secretary visits ANWR village

KAKTOVIK -- Interior Secretary Gale Norton received a warm welcome March 31 from residents living in the only village within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- a visit that proponents hope will strengthen efforts to drill for oil in the refuge. The delegation from Washington, which consisted of two Democratic senators and a top White House counselor, was led by Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and a strong proponent of drilling in the refuge’s coastal plain. The senators joining him were Sen. Jeff Bingaman, the top committee Democrat who has stated he is opposed to drilling in the protected refuge in Alaska’s northeast corner, and Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton. Three Republican senators had planned to take the trip but canceled for personal reasons. They are Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, George Allen of Virginia and Wayne Allard of Colorado. A top White House counselor, Mary Matalin, also took the trip, which included a tour of the aging Prudhoe Bay oil field that has historically provided 20 to 25 percent of the country’s oil needs. However, production has dropped to about half of what it was in 1989, while at the same time the nation’s import of oil has increased from 37 percent in 1973 to 56 percent now. Murkowski estimates that by 2005 imports will reach 60 percent. Bingaman has said he’s opposed to drilling in the refuge and is more interested in the natural gas reserves at Prudhoe Bay, estimated at a recoverable 35 trillion cubic feet. Natural gas extracted from the earth during oil drilling now is reinjected and could be recovered and brought to market via a pipeline to the Lower 48. About three-quarters of the 260 residents of Kaktovik, a village on a barrier island in the refuge, support drilling in ANWR because they hope the money from oil will improve village life, said Mayor Lon Sonsalla. Residents would like a nurse or doctor to live in the village. Instead of barging diesel fuel up from Seattle, they’d like natural gas, he said. "People are comfortable that it (drilling) could be done and done right," Sonsalla said. Norton thanked about 50 villagers who gathered in the Kaktovic community center to welcome her. "It is important that we involve you all and hear your opinions," said Norton, who supports opening up ANWR if Congress agrees to lift refuge protection and drilling could be done in an environmentally sound way. She said any energy policy the Bush administration would agree to would take care of the environment, meet the energy needs of the country and "also ensure the land you love so much is protected." That was the concern of the majority of about 200 protesters who gathered in Fairbanks, where the interior secretary was having dinner with members of the Washington delegation March 31. Dayton, a former Minnesota economic development and energy commissioner, had said he was opposed to opening up ANWR during his campaign last year. During the trip to the refuge, he told the villagers he wanted to learn more about the issue. "I came here with an open mind," he said. "I have filled that space with good information." Bingaman also said he was trying to learn as much as he could by visiting the isolated village. The group also visited Alpine, a Phillips Alaska project touted for its environmentally-friendly "small footprint" from the use of horizontal drilling techniques. Production at Alpine began last November. Bingaman said toward the end of the trip that he had a lot of information to digest but expected that he would still be opposed to drilling in the refuge. He said he was impressed with the technological advances that have been made to reduce risk to the environment. But he said his position remained pretty much the same as before. "I objected because I was reluctant to go back on a decision to set the property aside (for protection)," he said. Senate Democrats remain opposed to drilling in the refuge and have vowed to block legislation that lifts the refuge’s protection. But drilling is a key element in President Bush’s energy strategy, although the president indicated March 29 that he may not be able to persuade Congress to open ANWR to oil and gas development. Proponents say the refuge could hold as much as 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil, more than Prudhoe Bay. At the heart of the issue for environmentalists is the 130,000 Porcupine caribou herd that migrates from western Canada to calving grounds on the refuge’s coastal plain. "They will visit the Prudhoe Bay oil fields with no exposure to findings on the impacts of drilling on the environment that dozens of independent scientists and other academic experts could and should provide," said Adam Kolton, Arctic campaign director of the Alaska Wilderness League. The 7,000 to 10,000 Gwich’in Natives of northeastern Alaska and northwestern Canada are opposed to oil development because they say it will disrupt caribou calving in the refuge.  

Ketchikan voters reject $5 head tax on cruise ship passengers

KETCHIKAN -- Residents of this Southeast Alaska city have voted down a $5 head tax on visiting cruise ship passengers. According to unofficial results, 64 percent of the city’s voters cast a "no" ballot March 27, while 36 percent voted in favor a passenger fee."I think the campaign that we ran was pivotal," said Patti Mackey, a member of the anti-fee group Team Ketchikan."We tried to present as much factual information as possible, and I think we clearly showed the community that tourism is paying its fair share," Mackey told the Ketchikan Daily News.With more than 600,000 cruise ship passengers expected to visit Ketchikan this summer, the fee would have raised about $3 million.Up to 50 percent of the money would have gone toward vocational education. The rest would have been used for improvements to visitor-related industry infrastructure, partly in hopes of easing congested downtown traffic during the summer months.Opponents of the head tax fee, however, questioned whether the cash could be used to help fund vocational education. The group also feared the possibility of cruise lines cutting port time or bypassing Ketchikan altogether."I think the biggest factor was fear," said John Cote, a member of the pro-fee group Concerned Citizens for Responsible Tourism. "People are afraid the ships are going to go away. I think that was it in a nutshell."In the weeks leading up to the vote, several cruise line officials had said they would have to look at other options if the Ketchikan head tax was imposed. That would include making port calls at Prince Rupert, British Columbia.The Canadian city, about 90 miles south of Ketchikan, is aggressively courting cruise ship business.

Good mentors can start new hires off well, help keep employees

A mentor, basically, is someone who serves as a counselor or guide. Being asked to serve as a mentor is an honor. It indicates that the company has faith in the person’s abilities and trusts him or her to have a positive impact on the situation. Many companies have discovered that the use of a mentor for new employees not only helps employees settle into their job and company environment, but also contributes to a lower turnover rate. The use of a mentor may be an informal, short-term situation or a more formal, long-term assignment. In an informal mentoring program, the mentor usually helps the new employee for a limited period of time. Advice from the mentor may include the most basic of information about everyday routines including tips about "dos and don’ts" not found in the employee manual to helping the employee learn job responsibilities. A mentor available to answer routine questions also saves time for the supervisor or manager. In addition, new employees often feel more comfortable asking questions of a peer instead of a supervisor. In a program of this type, mentors often are volunteers. Forcing someone who does not want to serve as a mentor to do so can quickly create problems. Obviously, someone with a negative attitude, who might encourage a new employee to gripe and complain, should not serve as a mentor. A more formal version of mentoring occurs when an organization appoints an employee with extensive knowledge and experience to serve as a mentor to a new professional the company feels has excellent potential for growth. The mentor’s role usually lasts for an extended period of time and possibly may not end until the person mentored reaches the level of the mentor. Whether informal or formal, both parties need to understand the parameters. These may be more important in a long-term, formal mentoring situation, but can also influence the success of short-term, informal mentoring. * The mentor’s role is to teach and advise the new employee. The mentor does not interfere with the supervisor’s or manager’s decisions. The new employee, while expected to seek the mentor’s advice particularly on critical issues, is not bound to accept that advice. * Confidentiality is important. Both parties need to feel confident that discussions remain between them -- and are not immediately relayed to a supervisor or manager. * Certain areas may be considered off-limits. The mentor needs to outline these areas at the beginning. * Decide in advance how you will communicate. Will you have regularly scheduled meetings? Will discussion be face-to-face, over the telephone or even via e-mail communication? Both parties need to make their preferences known at the beginning and reach an acceptable compromise if the preferences are different. * Discuss time limits. If the mentoring period has a time limit the mentor should state that at the beginning. * Discuss time commitments. Again, this may be more critical for the long-term, formal mentoring. The mentor must expect to give the new employee adequate time, but the newcomer should not expect excessive amounts of time. Setting a schedule at the beginning -- for example, meet once a week the first month, then once a month after that -- avoids irritating misunderstandings later. * Openness and respect: Both the mentor and the person being mentored need to be open and honest, yet respect the other. A mentor who withholds important information or comments does not contribute to the other person’s success. However, such comments should be delivered with tact and courtesy -- and, even if somewhat hurtful, received with an open mind. * Professional relationship: The relationship between the mentor and his or her protege is a professional one, not a personal one. This is particularly important for the new employee to understand. Gregory P. Smith leads the management consulting firm called Chart Your Course in Conyers, Ga.  

Pipeline could strain industry

The outlook for Alaska’s construction industry is bright, but if the present levels of federal and state construction spending continue for several years, the industry could be overheated if the $10 billion natural gas pipeline project gets the go-ahead.Conceptual engineering work on the pipeline will be under way this spring, North Slope gas producers involved in the project say.If pipeline construction starts in 2004 or 2005, as is anticipated, it could lead to shortages of certain types of labor skills, according to Dick Cattanach, executive director of the Associated General Contractors’ Alaska chapter.Alaska’s construction industry work force has been averaging about 12,000 workers in recent years, with summer peaks up to 17,000. A gas pipeline project could add another 10,000 workers, Cattanach said. Gas pipeline construction will occur mainly in the winter, he said. A lot of pipeline welders will be required, and these will come mainly from the Lower 48 because there aren’t many Alaskans trained in this very specialized kind of welding.For Alaska workers, the demand will involve mainly civil construction skills like operating engineers and teamsters, Cattanach said.Since these are generally the same people who also work on highway and transportation projects, labor availability and cost for those projects could be affected.However, this could be mitigated by the fact that pipeline work will peak in the winter and Alaska road work is mostly done in the summer.Then again, Cattanach pointed out, most construction workers are used to taking part of the year off. "After working long hours through the winter, many might prefer taking the summer off, particularly if it’s during fishing season," he said.Other construction crafts will be less affected, such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers who work on buildings, he said.

This Week in Alaska Business History April 8, 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 TimesApril 8, 1981McMillian: Line pact is imminentThe Associated PressSALT LAKE CITY -- An agreement is imminent with Alaska gas producers on the financing of the Alaska Highway natural gas pipeline, says the president of Northwest Alaskan Pipeline Co.John McMillian said the deal should be completed within 60 days and then sent to major New York financial houses.Northwest Alaskan heads an 11-company consortium that is sponsoring the Alaska segment of the pipeline, scheduled for completion in 1985-86 at an estimated cost of up to $21 billion.McMillian told a Canada-U.S. conference on oil and gas production the big three gas producers on the Alaska North Slope -- Exxon, Atlantic Richfield and Standard Oil of Ohio -- have made a "substantial offer to help finance the project."Anchorage TimesApril 10, 1981State to fight Interior’s plans to speed leasingBy Betty MillsTime Washington BureauWASHINGTON -- The Reagan administration had its first major clash with Alaska environmentalists and Gov. Jay Hammond today with a proposal to boost the pace of oil and gas drilling off the coast of Alaska.Interior Secretary James G. Watt said at a news conference today that he will propose a new, accelerated five-year plan for oil and gas leases on the outer continental shelf off Alaska.The schedule, obtained from the department after Watt met with the press, calls for 16 sales off Alaska between 1982 and 1986. That is six more than the plan set forth by former Interior Secretary Cecil D. Andrus one year ago.The plan also moves up the dates of sale in four of the high potential oil basins off Alaska, including the environmentally sensitive areas of the North Aleutians and the Chukchi Sea.... Hammond said he "strongly disagrees" with the new schedule and vowed that the state will continue to fight the federal government in court and through administrative channels.10 years ago this weekAlaska Journal of CommerceApril 8, 1991Heinze ’disturbed’ by McIntyre delayBy Ray TysonFor the Journal of CommerceARCO Alaska’s decision to postpone crude oil production from the Point McIntyre field caught nearly everyone by surprise, including the state’s top resource official and former president of the company, Harold Heinze, who appears to be in no mood for surprises or delays in light of dwindling state oil revenues."Point McIntyre isn’t another Prudhoe Bay or anything like that, but it’s those kinds of additional revenue steams we need," said Heinze, commissioner of the state Department of Natural Resources.Heinze, who served as president of ARCO Alaska in the mid-1980s, said he was "surprised," "disturbed" and a "little dismayed" by ARCO’s March 26 announcement delaying Point McIntyre production until 1993. The largest U.S. oil discovery in more than a decade, the 300 million barrel field is expected to generate $1.2 billion in state royalties and taxes.Alaska Journal of CommerceApril 8, 1991Boatel Alaska wants to get back on topBoatel Alaska, once the number one remote-site catering firm in Alaska, is aiming for the top again, with the appointment of Brian D. McJunkin as general manager of Alaska operations.McJunkin, who had been a management consultant for West Hudson & Co., with offices in several states, joined Boatel Alaska on March 22, said Goran N. Svalling, director of business development for Sodexho, an international firm, based in France, which specializes in catering and support services at remote sites.-- Compiled by Ed Bennett.

Air ambulance says Special Olympics flight just part of its job

When a Special Olympics athlete fell ill during the recent World Winter Games in Anchorage, her family decided to return her to Norway where she could get prescribed medical help. A statewide air ambulance service handled the call and had the skier back in Norway the next day. LifeFlight, the air ambulance medical evacuation service for Alaska Regional Hospital, made the flight from Alaska as part of its everyday duties. "After the decision was made we had her home in Torp, Norway, in 18 hours," said Brian McKay, coordinator for the LifeFlight program. LifeFlight recently contracted with FS Air Service Inc. for the use of a Merlin IIIB twin engine turboprop for its statewide medevac contract. "This is a much better aircraft for our use. We can actually sit up at the same level as the patient," McKay said. Cruising at 270 knots indicated (310 mph airspeed), the Merlin has the range to make Adak nonstop and Seattle with one-stop service from Anchorage. "We did all the modifications on this aircraft for the two lifeports that cost us about $80,000," said Scott Anderson, director of operations for FS Air. The aircraft is equipped to carry two medical patients on the lifeports or stretchers and is essentially a flying emergency room. In fact, FS Air has two of the Fairchild aircraft. The other one is in use on contract with Aeromed, a company owned by the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. in Bethel. The fact that the two air ambulance companies are working with the same air transportation company for their lift doesn’t seem to bother LifeFlight coordinator McKay. "This is a win-win situation for both of us. In fact, we use the same dispatcher through Alaska Regional Hospital’s emergency room," McKay said. Having two air ambulance companies under the same hangar roof was not the company’s intention, according to Sandi Saltz, president of FS Air. "Alaska Regional Hospital approached us with a need, and we worked with Aeromed to achieve a professional balance." "During the past few years FS Air has changed its focus to meet the challenges of the complex Alaska market," Saltz said. "We have moved away from high risk flying. Our main emphasis now lies within medevac services and reemphasizing air freight and corporate charter." FS Air currently has contracts with United Parcel Service and FedEx for intra-Alaska contracts, in addition to LifeFlight and Aeromed. Their fleet consists of two Lear jets, two Fairchild Metro III’s, two Fairchild Merlin IIIBs, a Casa 212 and a Piper Navajo. According to Saltz, the company has grown from 30 employees in 1998, when she took over the company after her husband, Floyd, was killed, to 53 currently. "We have been working really hard to change the reputation and the culture of our company," said FS Air general manager Bob Cannon. "We are putting our pilots through simulator training and using a risk assessment program on our flights."  

Journal debuts Web site with business in mind

The Journal has rolled out a newly upgraded Web site at (www.alaskajournal.com). The site contains many new features designed with the businessperson in mind, including:* The latest Alaska business news from the Journal;* Financial news from The Associated Press;* The many contributing columnists who write for the Journal each week;* A calendar of business meetings around the state, searchable by date;* The latest Alaska North Slope crude oil price and Alaska Permanent Fund market value;* Current weather conditions at cities around the state; and* An extensive stocks section that includes stocks of local interest, stock search, and current Dow Jones and NASDAQ stock charts."We designed our Web site to be a resource for our readers," said Journal General Manager Craig Johnson. "Our goal was to provide information the Alaska business community needs in a convenient format."In addition to viewing the site on their Web browsers, visitors are able to choose delivery by e-mail when the site is updated every Monday, or they can download the latest issue of the Journal into their Palm handheld devices.The site includes a searchable archive system for easy retrieval of stories, which is still being expanded. Other features will be added in coming months.The site was built by Morris Digital Works, a subsidiary of Morris Communications, owner of the Journal; and Journal Webmaster Patrick Sattler. The project was supervised by Managing Editor Ed Bennett, who also serves as online editor for the Web site.

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