Business

Alaska ferry system considers raising rates

The Alaska Marine Highway System is considering raising its rates for traveling aboard the state’s ferries in order to deal with a pared down operating budget approved by lawmakers this spring.

Officials informed the state’s public advisory board this week that the ferry system will end its discount program, according to a story in the May 23 Kodiak Daily Mirror.

“We are actively looking at our tariff system; we feel it is not a fair and equitable system in a lot of areas,” said Richard Leary, the ferry system’s business manager.

UA plans strategy for federal budget cuts

FAIRBANKS (AP) — When Carla Beam prepared a report on the so-called “fiscal cliff” for the University of Alaska Board of Regents in December, she found unexpected inspiration in a Looney Tunes clip. Wile E. Coyote’s legs would keep churning in the old cartoons, whether he was running off a ledge or still had the ground beneath him.

Today it looks like a good metaphor for UA, which will need to work harder to claim its share from a shrinking pool of federal dollars.

ACS, GCI offer expansion proposal

If the Alaska Wireless Network transaction is approved, and funding is available, rural Alaska consumers could see expanded data service for cell phones and mobile devices by the end of 2014.

Alaska Communications and General Communications Inc. made a voluntary commitment to the federal government regarding service expansions if the infrastructure merger, or AWN, is approved.

Parnell offers state funds for ANWR seismic work

The state of Alaska could put up $50 million to share costs of seismic exploration and exploration planning for a new oil and gas resource assessment in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Gov Sean Parnell has proposed.

“The Department of the Interior is now developing a long-range conservation plan for ANWR and it is disappointing to us that an updated oil and gas resource assessment is not included in this,” Parnell said in a press conference May 20.

Nail salon finds home at old VBS showroom

The former showroom of VBS Heating Products on Lake Shore Drive seems an improbable location for a nail salon.

But as it turns out, it’s a surprisingly fitting transformation.

Dee Bottineau has moved her nail salon, Dragonfly Nails by Dee, from its former location at the corner of the Sterling Highway and North Fork Road in Anchor Point to 1225 Lake Shore Drive, the old VBS building.

Farmers’ Market

There is certainly no better way to kick off a Memorial Day weekend than with a bustling Homer Farmers’ Market. Last weekend was a stunning example of what the possibilities are for the first market of the year.

I can’t count how many people asked me before the market started, “Will there be any produce available?”  

It has been a cold year, after all, so what could be growing?

Group gives Alaska C-plus on bridges

JUNEAU — A new report card deems 11 percent of Alaska’s bridges are structurally deficient and 12.5 percent functionally obsolete.

Structurally deficient bridges need maintenance or possible replacement, while functionally obsolete bridges — which might be in good shape — don’t meet contemporary engineering standards, APRN reported. 

Japanese firm inks deals in pursuit of natural gas

Resources Energy Inc., the Japanese company interested in developing a large liquefied natural gas project, has signed several agreements to explore business relationships in Alaska.

The agreements are all nonbinding so far except for confidentiality provisions. They include two Alaska Native regional corporations, an Alaska telecommunications company and Cook Inlet natural gas producers, according to Mary Ann Pease, a vice president with Resources Energy Inc.

Firms drill ahead on inlet projects

Two closely watched Cook Inlet exploration wells being drilled with jack-up rigs are reported to have reached or are approaching their target depths.

Furie Operating Alaska Inc., drilling the Kitchen Lights Unit No. 3 well in North Cook Inlet, has reached its planned depth of 10,400 feet and is making plans to do a natural gas production, a state official said.

Some found guilty in fishing case

BETHEL — A Bethel judge has ruled against some of nearly two dozen Yup’ik Eskimo fishermen cited for illegally fishing king salmon in the Kuskokwim River during a poor run last year.

Several of the fishermen were found guilty Monday after their trials by judge resumed. Magistrate Bruce Ward adjourned the cases last month until he could determine whether the fishermen have a spiritual right to fish for king salmon when restrictions are in place, as they claim.

Japanese group offers fast-track on LNG

A Japanese consortium working on an independent Alaska liquefied natural gas project has completed a feasibility study and given it to state officials.

North Slope producers and TransCanada, who are pursuing their own LNG plant, also have been briefed on the proposal by officials with Japanese-owned Resources Energy Inc., or REI.

Gov. Sean Parnell’s support for the plan is critical to its success, said Shun-ichi Shimizu, president and CEO of REI in a May 13 interview with the Journal.

Alaska Pacific University cuts tuition by 30 percent

ANCHORAGE — A private liberal arts college in Anchorage is lowering its tuition by more than 30 percent, with a goal of making a college education more affordable for Alaskans and boosting enrollment, the president of Alaska Pacific University said.

The school’s board last week decided to reduce tuition by nearly $10,000 per year, from $29,600 to $19,950, KSKA reported. University President Don Bantz said that will make Alaska Pacific more competitive with out-of-state colleges.

Lazy Sun Tanning and Tours to close, but building to get new life as B&B or rental in Anchor Point

The eye-catching Anchor Point landmark on the corner of the Sterling Highway and North Fork Road is about to go away. On July 1, Sharon Carrico is closing the doors of Lazy Sun Tanning and Tours and the blue building, with each side covered in figures painted by Anchor Point artist Bill Cummings, will be relocated.

Alaska pitches ANWR exploration plan

JUNEAU — The state of Alaska on Monday proposed a multiyear, multimillion-dollar plan aimed at determining the true oil and gas potential in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

State officials hope the plan will reinvigorate — and reshape — the debate over whether to drill on the refuge’s coastal plain.

Farmers’ Market

Despite the hold that winter seems to be exerting on us this year, it is finally time again for the opening of the Homer Farmers’ Market.  

Actually, Homer producers have been defying the cold for a couple of weeks now.  Two weeks ago, Snowshoe Hollow Farm was down at the market site selling early greens and radishes and Alaska Stems cut flowers had tulips ready for Mother’s Day.

Lavrakas named chamber director

The Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center board reached within its ranks for a new executive director and has named board member Jim Lavrakas to succeed current director Monte Davis after Davis leaves Homer in mid-August. 

Lavrakas, 60, has been a chamber board member for three years.

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