Borough term limits on ballot for fourth time

Kenai Peninsula Borough voters will, for a fourth time, have a chance on the fall ballot to decide in a yes or no vote to repeal term limits. 

A second ballot question, asking voters if the limit should be increased from two to three terms, becomes relevant only if the voters do not repeal the limits.

For a third session, the assembly last week entangled itself in a publicly unpopular attempt to overturn voter imposed term limits on their offices. 

Public turns out to hear of planned DOT projects

When the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities held an open house at Homer City Hall Aug. 5, Homer area residents showed up, eager to hear about the seven area projects being planned by the state. 

“The open house was a huge success. We had a great turnout, with almost 60 individuals signing the sign-up sheet,” said DOT&PF Project Manager Sean Baski.

New program promises almost instant warning of ash movement

When Redoubt Volcano erupted in 2009, black ash settled on Homer like snowfall.

The city prepared to shut down as the winter sun dimmed.

Stores stockpiled food preparing for the roads to close. Businesses worried ash would destroy air intakes on computers and thousands of dollars in equipment. The city struggled to keep its graders and front-end loaders functioning.

Buccaneer pleased with results at Cosmo

Buccaneer Energy CEO Curtis Burton says he is very pleased with results so far on the company’s Cosmo No. 1 exploration well in Cook Inlet, near Anchor Point.

One cloud on the horizon: The company is now concerned about where it might sell natural gas it has discovered, with Hilcorp Energy having sewed up much of the regional utility market into 2018, and the ConocoPhillips liquefied natural gas plant near Kenai still mothballed.

Hilcorp has recently signed gas supply contracts with three of the four major Southcentral utilities.

Farmers’ Market

A new level has been reached at the Homer Farmers’ Market.  I know it’s hard to believe, but the Market can get even better.

Every week I keep a tally of the veggies coming in, so that we can track the seasonality of the produce at the Market. How early can we get carrots? How late can we have romaine? Over the years our local farmers have gotten more skilled at bringing in more varieties earlier and later.

Ninilchik EMS board sues to collect fees

In the state and national health care debate, one issue keeps coming up. Medical providers cannot refuse to treat patients with emergencies, and yet many patients don’t have health insurance. How do hospitals, doctors and emergency medical services collect from the people who can’t or won’t pay?

One small town fire and EMS department’s solution? Take them to Small Claims Court. 

HEA area meetings set for September, October

Homer Electric Association is hosting a series of area meetings throughout the Kenai Peninsula. The events will feature a family-style barbecue dinner followed by a short presentation on current HEA projects and activities. 

The schedule for the area meetings is as follows: 

• Wednesday, Sept. 4, Anchor Point, Chapman Elementary School, 5:30 p.m. 

• Thursday, Sept. 5, Ninilchik, Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds, 5:30 p.m. 

Young votes with majority on student loan bill

JUNEAU — U.S. Rep. Don Young has voted with the majority in passing legislation to reduce borrowing costs for millions of college students.

The measure, which passed the House Wednesday, links student loan interest rates to financial markets. That means lower rates for most students now but higher ones later if the economy improves as expected.

The bill now goes to the president.

Low-cost competition cuts into Alaska Airlines’ profits

Alaska Air Group Inc. announced yet another quarter of profits July 25.

The airline reported an adjusted net income of $105 million for the second quarter of 2013, compared to $111 million for the second quarter of 2012.

That’s more than the company’s first quarter adjusted net income of $44 million, but ends the four-quarter streak of record-breaking profits.

State issues permit for Nikiski oil-waste site

The State of Alaska last week approved a permit to allow a Texas-based waste disposal company to store up to 10 million gallons of petroleum drilling waste at a 1.5-acre site in Nikiski’s industrial area.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation permit allows AIMM Technologies Inc. to construct and operate a monofill storage site for drilling waste, produced by the nearby oil and gas industry, at the end of Halliburton Drive.

Loan volume on rise at banks, credit unions as economy picks up

Alaska’s financial institutions are seeing an increase in loan volume as the economy picks up.

At the state’s banks and credit unions, loans are on the rise and other performance metrics also look strong.

First National Bank of Alaska had about $1.28 billion in total loans for the second quarter of 2013, up slightly from $1.26 billion in the first quarter, and up from $1.21 billion in the second quarter of 2012.

That halibut is how big?

Icicle Seafoods crew on Tuesday unload an 88-inch halibut from the Dangerous Cape, a commercial halibut-fishing boat owned by Eric Velsko, John Velsko and Nick Downs. The boat’s catch also included a 91-inch flatfish. According to a halibut length-weight chart created by the International Pacific Halibut Commission, the weight of an 88-inch halibut is about 376.5 pounds before being cleaned and a 91-inch halibut will be around 419.7 pounds.

Everything’s coming up ...

Despite a dry summer, area farmers’ fields are lush with green crops. Bob Durr’s farm in Nikolaevsk is bursting with radishes, peas, zucchinis, beets, kohlrabi, broccoli, purple and lime green cauliflower, romanesco, cucumbers, potatoes and more, mostly in rows more than 100 feet long.

Farmers’ Market

This is the best time of the year for visiting farms and gardens. Last weekend’s Homer Garden Club garden tours had more than 300 visitors. With everything growing, it’s hard to resist a peek.

Tustumena repairs fail inspection; ferry’s return delayed once again

Make that one more delay for the M/V Tustumena, the 49-year-old, 296-foot vessel of the Alaska Marine Highway System that provides service between Homer, Seldovia and Kodiak Island communities.

Between April and October, the Tustumena also makes stops at Chignik, Sand Point, King Cove, Cold Bay, False Pass, Akutan and Dutch Harbor.

Buccaneer announces latest drilling report for Cosmopolitan site

Buccaneer Energy Limited this week announced the latest results for its Cosmopolitan well site in lower Cook Inlet off Stariski Creek.

According to a July 30 press release, the jack-up rig Endeavour-Spirit of Independence has drilled into two oil zones in the Tyonek formation totaling 86 feet between 5,824 feet and 6,092 feet. Good oil recovery resulted. 

Because the Endeavour has limited oil storage, more extensive flow testing of the zones cannot be done. The recovered oil is being analyzed.

GCI, Alaska Communications get FCC approval for network

Alaska’s two major in-state telecoms have joined forces.

Alaska Communications Systems Group Inc. and General Communication Inc. announced July 23 that they had combined their wireless infrastructure into the Alaska Wireless Network, or AWN.

The AWN transaction closed shortly after the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, on July 12 approved a request from Alaska Communications and GCI to transfer their licenses to the new company.

Finishing plan ‘top priority,’ says Pebble official

Developers of a potential large copper and gold mine at the Pebble prospect say they are focused on completing their plan for the project and applying for permits by the end of the year.

“It’s our top priority,” said Mike Heatwole, spokesman for the Pebble Limited Partnership, a joint-venture of Anglo American PLC and Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd.


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