JUNEAU -- U.S. Sen. Mark Begich on Monday called on the Parnell administration and state lawmakers to make strong commitments to education, give greater support for children's health insurance and eliminate any obstacles to voting.
'Through the Sausage Grinder' topic for next Homer chamber luncheon
Ralph Samuels, a businessman and candidate for governor in 2010, will be the guest speaker at next week's Homer Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Samuels, who also served several terms in the Alaska House of Representatives beginning in 2002, will do a presentation on what it takes for a bill to pass (or not) through the Alaska Legislature.
JUNEAU -- The Alaska House has passed a measure critics say could hurt public participation in state permitting decisions.
The 23-14 vote Monday followed debate on water rights and whether to amend the bill to allow Native entities to apply for water reservations, along with federal or state agencies and political subdivisions.
JUNEAU -- Alaska's derelict and abandoned boats and ships may appear to be little more than an eyesore, but insufficient mechanisms to monitor and clean them up could lead to an environmental disaster, costing the state millions of dollars in the long run.
A state lawmaker has proposed a measure to address the problem affecting much of Alaska's massive coastline, especially the far-flung harbors.
A sockeye salmon product won the grand prize at the Alaska Symphony of Seafood Gala in Anchorage Feb. 23.
Copper River Seafood's Zesty Grill Sockeye Salmon won the grand prize and two others the Anchorage people's choice award and first place in the retail category. The top prize in the food service category went to Alaskan Sablefish Unagi Style, made by Triad Fisheries Ltd. That also took home the people's choice award at the Seattle event Feb. 15.
Although Holland America has no scheduled visits to Homer this summer, the cruise ship company announced last week that the S/V Amsterdam will return for four visits in 2014.
The 1,380-passenger Amsterdam visits May 26, June 30, Aug. 4 and Sept. 1 next year.
The Homer stop is part of a 14-day cruise starting in Seattle that includes Southeast Alaska and visits to Anchorage, Homer and Kodiak in Southcentral Alaska.
"We are very excited that they are coming back to Homer," said Monte Davis, executive director of the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center.
JUNEAU -- Gov. Sean Parnell's bill to streamline state permitting procedures is moving rapidly through legislative committees in Juneau.
This is the second year Parnell has sought changes. Last year the governor proposed, and lawmakers approved, House Bill 361, which made some of the most important changes the governor had wanted.
This year's changes, in House Bill 77 and Senate Bill 26, involve additional streamlining steps proposed by the state Division of Land and Water Management. HB 77 is now in the House Rules Committee, while SB 26 is in the Senate Finance Committee.
An idea to use the Homer Deep Water Dock as a test bed to measure and evaluate tidal energy got a boost with a city-university collaboration. Instead of the city hiring a private firm, a group of seven University of Alaska Anchorage engineering students and their professors are doing the 35-percent design for the Tidal Energy Incubator Project.
"We've been able to take advantage of some free labor by feeding them cookies to get to that first 35 percent," said Katie Koester, city of Homer economic development coordinator, joking.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced nominees for two seats on the International Pacific Halibut Commision, and a Homer man and a consultant for the Kenai River Sportfishing Association are among the candidates.
Kevin Delaney, a sportfishing representative for the recently concluded Upper Cook Inlet Task Force, and Donald Lane, a Homer-based halibut fishermen and owner-operator of the fishing vessel Predator, are two of 13 nominees for the U.S. seats on the commission.
Land’s End presents wedding, event expo
Land’s End presents the Kenai Peninsula Wedding and Special Event Expo from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
There will be giveaways, including one of Land’s End’s get-away packages, cake tasting, wedding attire, bakers, entertainers, photographers, florists, event planners, organizers, caterers and more.
Vendor booths are still available. For an application or more information, call 235-0422 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event is free.
What is it about Anchor Point that has five new businesses opening up in the Kenai Peninsula's westernmost community?
Lower utility costs because of the availability of natural gas was the first explanation given by Bryan Zak, regional director for the South West Alaska Small Business Development Center and also a member of the Homer City Council.
To prove his point, Zak referenced a conversation he had with one Anchor Point building owner.
Winter might be a slow time for business in some places, but in Anchor Point, business owners are putting the slow-down to their advantage.
Some are developing new approaches to boost business at long-time establishments. Others have identified a market not met and are hoping to meet the need. At least one is taking advantage of space available at Homer's neighbor to the north. Another has found the timing -- and location -- right for launching a new career.
Homer Electric Association seeks opinions on the interest of members who might want to participate in a commonly owned renewable energy project.
While preliminary, the idea is that a group of members would share in the cost and construction of a project, such as a wind turbine or solar panel array, that would generate power to be sold back to HEA. Revenue from the sale of energy would be shared among the owners based on the amount of their investments.
Carolyn Sapp, Homer's new postmaster, is picking up where the community's former postmaster, Robert Fimon, left off.
With a 10-year postal career that began in the community where she was born and reared -- Tallahassee, Fla. -- Sapp originally had her eyes on Alaska's beautiful landscapes -- Fairbanks' landscapes, to be specific. When an opening became available, she pursued it.
Sight-unseen, her husband, Albert Seabrooks, offered Sapp encouragement.
"He said, 'If you want to move, I'll go with you,'" she said.
The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge will break ground on the construction of a new $6 million visitor center in Soldotna this spring, refuge officials announced Feb. 14.
The refuge visitor center sees the most visitors of the 15 other U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge visitor centers in the state annually, refuge Manager Andy Loranger said. He said about 1 million visitors in a year is common.
"The primary reason for a new visitor center now, at this refuge, is in recognition of that," Loranger said.
In September, work by Apache in the Ninilchik area came to a sudden "pause" when the oil and gas company was unable to obtain permits needed to continue its planned seismic operation.
The work camp set up in American Legion Post 18's campground was removed. The need for food services abruptly ended. Jobs disappeared that residents hoped would get them through a winter following a disastrous fishing season.
A press released issue by Sen. Mark Begich's office on Monday made it appear the pause might be over.
Maritime Helicopters celebrates 40 years
Maritime Helicopters Inc. celebrates 40 years of service in Alaska this year. Started by Don and Mary Ann Fell with one leased helicopter in 1973, the family-owned business has steadily grown to become the only Bell Helicopter/Textron Service Center in Alaska. Maritime owns a fleet of Bell Jet Rangers, Long Rangers and 407 models which support marine, petroleum, construction and government agencies throughout the state.
JUNEAU -- Gov. Sean Parnell is proposing changing how the Department of Natural Resources approves oil and gas leases.
Parnell introduced SB59 on Tuesday. In his transmittal letter, he says the measure would help streamline the state's permitting process.
Currently, he says the department grants lease approval for exploration or development in conjunction with individual plans of operation for a lease or project.
He says separate public notice is required for each approval, often resulting in repetitive approvals within the same geographic area.
John Hendrix, Apache Alaska general manager, told a crowd of energy industry representatives Friday he was frustrated by federal permitting processes that have stalled his company's seismic exploration and called for their support.
"This is a proven basin, but if we don't have permits to run there is not going to be a pace and there is not going to be production," Hendrix said during a morning speech to the Alaska Support Industry Alliance at the Kenai Industry Education Forum hosted at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai.
JUNEAU, -- A bill that would change how Alaska regulates cruise ship wastewater is on its way to the governor's desk.
The state Senate passed HB80 Tuesday, 15-5, following lengthy debate over whether Alaska waters and fisheries would be adequately protected. The vote had been pushed to Tuesday after several failed attempts to amend it last week. The measure passed the House, 27-10, earlier this month.