Business

USDA-funded program grows bond between local farms and restaurants

By Dan Schwartz

Morris News Service - Alaska

Cyndi and Craig Ramm opened the Corner Café in Soldotna not long ago. They said they want to use more than 75 percent organic ingredients and, when possible, buy local produce.

“We don’t want to support a big company out of Seattle,” Cyndi Ramm said. “We want to support the business down the road.”

Bell elected chief of staff at South Peninsula hospital


Dr. William Bell has been elected chief of staff for 2013 at South Peninsula Hospital. Bell is a family practice physician and the medical director of Homer Medical Center.  He has been on the hospital’s medical staff for more than 30 years, and replaces outgoing chief of staff,
Dr. Kenneth Hahn.  

Dr. Harold Smith, emergency room medical director, was elected to serve as chief of staff elect, and Dr. Maureen Filipek, radiologist, is the newly elected secretary. 

Parnell pushes new oil tax revamp


JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell is proposing an overhaul of Alaska’s oil tax structure, saying his new plan is simpler and aimed at making the state more competitive while encouraging new production.

The proposal, which was expected to be announced Wednesday, scraps the progressive surcharge that companies have said is a disincentive to new investment and revamps the state’s system of tax credits, focusing those incentives on companies that produce oil from new fields on the North Slope.

Without cuts, Alaska faces budget deficit, says new legislative report


JUNEAU — Alaska would face a budget deficit of $920 million if spending for next year matched that of the current year, a report released Monday states.

The Legislative Finance Division report offers a sobering look at the state’s fiscal situation amid declining oil production and lower oil prices. It was released a day before the start of the new legislative session.

Task force considers changes to Cook Inlet plan


Ten Upper Cook Inlet Task Force members met Monday to address the mountain of data generated since their last meeting, propose changes to salmon management plans and hear from local fishermen.

The day began with a presentation on a draft escapement goal recommendation of 15,000 to 30,000 late-run chinook salmon in the Kenai River.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Chief Fisheries Scientist Bob Clark answered questions about the draft report and how the DIDSON-sonar based goal was developed.

Old hospital debate re-ignites as CPH purchases therapy services

By Brian Smith

Morris News Service - Alaska

SOLDOTNA — Recent action by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will result in Central Peninsula Hospital incorporating additional facilities and offering more services for physical therapy.

The assembly’s thumbs-up reignited an old debate on the merits of the hospital’s continued growth in the community as residents on both sides testified about their perceptions.

Construction projects at KPC on track

By Jerzy Shedlock

Morris News Service - Alaska

Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus is set to become the most technologically advanced training facility in the university system. The new Career and Technical Education Center, scheduled to open in August, will house a state-of-the-art oil water separator. The two-story device will replace the college’s old separator. It simulates real-world process technology scenarios.

Ultimately, the separator will strengthen an already popular program, said KPC director Gary J. Turner.

Business Briefs

Application period open 

for HEA board seat

Homer Electric Association is accepting applications for a vacancy on the board of directors for District 3.

Applicants must be a member of HEA and a bona fide resident within the District 3 boundary, which includes portions of the Kasilof area south to Homer and across Kachemak Bay to the Seldovia area.

The term of office will begin after appointment by the board of directors and expire in May 2014.

Marine highway turns 50

By RUSSELL STIGALL

Morris news Service - Alaska

Just a few years after the half-century mark of the state it serves, Alaska’s Marine Highway System hits the big five-o.

The marine highway system has gone through a number of changes since it first went into operation with the M/V Malaspina in 1963, Jeremy Woodrow, spokesperson for AMHS, said in an email interview. Serving areas beyond Southeast communities was an early step. 

Despite slight increase, Cook Inlet belugas ‘are not recovering’

ANCHORAGE — The beluga whales that swim in Cook Inlet are continuing to struggle and appear headed for extinction if nothing changes, a government official said Friday.

A survey done in June found the whales “are not recovering,” said Julie Speegle, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We don’t know why.”

Cook Inlet belugas, considered genetically distinct, have been struggling and in decline for years.

State energy audit shows potential savings

An energy audit of Alaska public facilities uncovered some of the most, and least, energy efficient buildings in the state. The study, conducted by Alaska Housing Finance Corp., evaluated 327 investment grade audits performed on public facilities.

The study estimates there are 5,000 public buildings in Alaska, spending more than $641 million on energy every year. If appropriate measures are taken, the study calculates a potential energy cost savings of  $125 million yearly to the state.

Business Briefs

Youngblood recognized
for her volunteer efforts

Hours of volunteering at various real estate events and her work in the Homer area recently earned First National Bank Alaska Home Loan Specialist Karrie Youngblood special recognition.

Late last month, the Kachemak Board of Realtors named Youngblood its “affiliate of the year” for 2012.

“It’s a great tribute to Karrie to be recognized as someone who stands above others and really helps people out,” First National Assistant Vice President Marilyn Pipkin said. “I’m very proud of her.”

Homer artist’s bike jersey makes it to silver screen

By Mckibben Jackinsky

Staff writer

Who knew when Kathy Sarns put her gold rush license plate design on 50 bike jerseys in 2003 to see if they’d sell that her jerseys were destined for Hollywood? 

No one, that’s who. Including Sarns.

If you’ve seen “This is 40,” starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Albert Brooks, you’ve seen Sarns’ “California” shirt. In fact, if you’ve seen the movie advertised on TV, you might have caught a scene where Rudd is wearing the shirt. 

HEA predicts busy year ahead

Homer Electric Association will be “extremely busy” in 2013 finishing projects and preparing the utility for a looming shift that will place it in direct control of area power generation needs, a co-op spokesman said.

For several years HEA has been setting wheels in motion anticipating the severing of a decades-old agreement with Chugach Electric Association at the end of this year. Since the early 1960s, HEA has purchased most of the power local consumers
require — usually 58 megawatts with peaks at about 80 megawatts — from the Anchorage-based CEA.

Kids, elderly benefit from Pick. Click. Give. donations

As 2013 begins, Alaska residents gifted with timeliness will likely apply for their Alaska Permanent Fund dividends. During the PFD application period about 4 percent of eligible residents donate to charities through the Pick. Click. Give. program.

Many nonprofits operating on the Kenai Peninsula participate in the program. Donors cite ease of use as the main reason for participating in the program, said local nonprofit directors.

Three local nonprofits plan to fund educational programs with their received donations.

Sale of Parkside Plaza to The Center means other changes as well

Ripples from the sale of Parkside Plaza, 3665 Ben Walters Lane, are being noticed around town.

For starters, South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services-The Center purchased the two-story Parkside Plaza from Steve Yoshida.

“We bought it because we have outgrown the current facilities,” said Carla Meitler, SPBHS-The Center’s chief financial officer.

In-state gasline planners revise proposal

ANCHORAGE — A proposal for an in-state pipeline that could carry North Slope natural gas to communities from Fairbanks to southcentral Alaska has been revised to eliminate the transport of natural gas liquids, which will have the effect of lowering tariffs for customers in Fairbanks.

Carrying natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane and butane was previously considered desirable because they could be sold at a premium and used to lower the price of gas to Alaskans, said Frank Richards, the pipeline engineering manager for the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

Nancy Lander retires from hospital’s Long Term Care Unit

After 14 years as the social worker at South Peninsula Hospital Long Term Care Unit, Nancy Lander has retired. Her last day at LTC was Dec. 20. On Friday morning, Lander flew south to join her husband, Mark Robinson, former Homer High School choral director, in Ventura, Calif., and begin a new chapter of her life, dividing her time between the couple’s home in Homer and the second base of operations they are establishing near family in California.

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