Thursday, February 17, 2005

Agrium reconfirms plant closure
Responding to analyst questions, Agrium reiterated its plans to close its North Kenai nitrogen facility in its fourth quarter and year-end earnings conference call Feb. 10.

State BLM proposes dividing NPR regions
Colleen McCarthy, deputy state director for energy and solid minerals for the Alaska Bureau of Land Management, said Tuesday at the Alliance luncheon in Kenai that the BLM has proposed dividing the northeast region of the National Petroleum Reserve into seven lease tracts for oil and gas exploration.

The gift of garb
Nuson Smith says all of the pretty people go to the Riverside — especially when there is a runway lingerie show.

Business Briefs
Chamber to host after hours Chamber to host after hours Area chambers set schedule Business workshops set Builders meeting slated AT&T donates to book project Republican women plan dinner Business workshops set Builders meeting slated AT&T donates to book project Republican women plan dinner

Little, Mackey lead Quest
FAIRBANKS (AP) — Jon Little of Kasilof was the first musher to leave the Pelly Crossing checkpoint and tackle the 200-mile stretch to Dawson City in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Government a boon for workers
Government employment has grown on the Kenai Peninsula between 2000 and 2003, accounting for nearly $180 million in payroll in 2003.

Many factors determine gas prices
Steve Hansen, the new vice president of refining at Tesoro Alaska, said he has been spending a lot of time explaining why gasoline prices are higher on the Kenai Peninsula than they are in Anchorage. Here are the reasons he gave:

Marathon finds new reserves
Development work on Marathon Oil Company's Ninilchik field has significantly increased the company's estimate of proved, recoverable reserves of natural gas, according to Marathon's manager of its Alaska business unit.

Area real estate market could be headed for slump
In light of Agrium's announcement that its North Kenai fertilizer plant is closing down, people in Nikiski are on edge about what will happen to their property values, said Karen Kester, recreation director for North Peninsula Recreation Service Area. Kester said the concern about a sudden influx in houses on the real estate market and a drop in property values have been big concerns in her community.

Pierce leaves Cook Inlet legacy with Unocal
After nearly five years, Chuck Pierce has left his position as Unocal's top executive in Alaska.

Business booming into bigger digs
As the population of the Kenai Peninsula grows, so, too, does the customer base of several peninsula businesses. As such, several familiar business have expanded existing facilities, renovated antiquated facilities to give them a modern look or opened new branches in different locations.

Hospital enters second phase of growth spurt
In June 2004, Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna broke ground for its $49.9 million expansion.

Kenai Landing site taking off
By transforming old into new, the developers of Kenai Landing hope to bring new life to the Kenai waterfront.

Companies have busy year ahead looking for, developing reserves
The Cook Inlet Oil & Gas 2004 Annual Report includes outlooks for gas and oil exploration efforts in 2005. Much more attention apparently will be paid to natural gas than to oil. Below is a quick look at what the energy companies will be up to this year.

Plant closure could affect schools
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District officials have braced themselves for the shutdown of Agrium's North Kenai fertilizer plant Oct. 31 and the loss of jobs and students it will likely entail. The plan is to react in a calm, factual manner as the community responds to the change.

Tesoro aims to be fuel of choice
One of the largest independent petroleum refiners and marketers in the Western U.S., Tesoro Corp. is reporting strong financial results for 2004 with a $400 million reduction in debt and increased shareholder value.

Learning to meet the needs of the future
Due to an increased in demand for health care workers, Kenai Peninsula College has developed new programs to train students in medical fields, has slated a paramedics curriculum for the fall and continues with its third year of EMT courses. The two-year nursing program is up and running as of spring semester and a mining curriculum is being ironed out while students can already take introductory mining classes. KPC continues to install timely courses geared to benefit the economy in the coming years.

The economy at a glance
Kenai's top property taxpayersBorough's top sales taxpayersTop 10 EmployersHomer's top sales taxpayersSeward's top sales taxpayersBorough's top property taxpayersSoldotna's top property taxpayers

Alaska construction labor shortage expected to get worse
Brought on by the field's growth and an aging work force, thousands of jobs in Alaska's construction industry could go unfilled — or be filled with untrained or inexperienced workers — over the next eight years.

Division seeks to boost businesses to benefit all
Quarterly reviews of the Kenai Peninsula Borough's economy conducted over the past year have noted slow but steady growth and credited that generally healthy trend to the economy's diversity.

Projects planned to get to root of wildfire problem
The Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Project, entering its sixth year, has projects for the coming year that coordinators believe will continue to help make the community safer from the threat of wildfires.

Artists need community help to thrive
Homer and Girdwood have established art communities and some believe the central Kenai Peninsula is fully capable of cultivating such a culturally conscious populace, as well.

Welfare to work program taking off in Alaska
The number of Alaska families collecting welfare has dropped 54 percent since the inception of the federal welfare reform efforts in 1996, according to the state Division of Public Assistance.

ConocoPhillips plans to spend big
ConocoPhillips, Alaska's largest producer of North Slope crude oil and natural gas, plans to spend $1.5 billion in Alaska in 2005.

CNA has healthy outlook on job
Partly because of the slower pace, Laura Williams prefers the night shift at Central Peninsula General Hospital, where she is employed as a certified nursing assistant.

Exploration yields more gas, less oil than thought
For the first time in seven years, the proven reserves of Cook Inlet natural gas have grown rather than declined, thanks to recent efforts by industry to explore for and tap new pockets and to rework existing wells.

Fishers getting a cool break
It could be a very cool year for Cook Inlet commercial fishers.

Hansen takes reins of Tesoro in Alaska
There is a new face at the Tesoro petroleum refinery in North Kenai, and he could not be happier about it.

Health care field shifting to meet demands of senior citizens
As the overall population of the Kenai Peninsula Borough ages, health care professionals are adjusting to meet the needs of its older citizens.

Experiment's over: GTL plant to be dismantled
An experimental plant built by BP at Nikiski to test new technologies for turning natural gas into synthetic crude oil has served its purpose and likely will be dismantled in the near future.

Area's economy matures with aging population
As the Kenai Peninsula experiences a shift to the oldest population it has ever seen, services for that population expand, as well.

Agrium plant to close
Agrium announced that it will shut down its North Kenai fertilizer plant Oct. 31 because it is not able to secure a cheap supply of natural gas. The company said 230 jobs will be lost with salaries averaging $80,000.

Guide's life: Finding fish, sleep
Some people love fishing. Kenai River guides like Steve and Rondi McClure live fishing.

Peninsula retains cheap living status
The Kenai Peninsula has a reputation for having a diverse economy, but how does the cost of living compare to other areas of Alaska? Is the peninsula a cheap place to live like many believe?

State tourism rebounding after 9-11
Tourism, an important sector of the Kenai Peninsula Borough economy, is on the rebound in Alaska since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, slowed things down.

Cities ready for busy building season
A new library, a major hospital expansion, some new restrooms and the addition of miles of water and sewer lines are among the major projects Kenai Peninsula residents can expect to see in various stages of construction this summer.

Native corporations have varied, positive affect on peninsula
Alaska Native corporations engaging in enterprises ranging from petroleum and forestry to tourism and real estate has a positive influence on the economy of the Kenai Peninsula.

Peninsula could cash in on Pebble mine project
Although the economy of the Kenai Peninsula is heavily dependent upon the oil and gas, fishing and tourism industries, interest has turned lately to the promise of a proposed major mining project in the borough next door.

Peninsula's diversity pays off
While other parts of the state struggle to make ends meet, state analysts are crediting the diversity of business and industry on the Kenai Peninsula with producing a relatively healthy local economy.

Future of Era ownership up in the air
Chuck Johnson believes that in the 56-year history of Era Aviation on the Kenai Peninsula, the company has improved and grown throughout the years just like the communities it serves.

Check please: Business lunch may be ready for retirement
Unlike Rob Hanson's predecessors in the sales industry, he does not often conduct business over lunch.

State natural gas line could be lifeline for Kenai Peninsula
Trapped beneath the North Slope may lie an estimated 250 trillion cubic feet of natural gas waiting for an economically feasible way to get to market.

$20 million slated for pipeline training
Federal dollars promoting the training and hiring of Alaskans to construct a gas pipeline has state officials and representatives of Alaska's trade organizations talking about how they can spend the money. Some say, however, the money is not enough and may come too late.

Enstar customers see higher prices
Due primarily to the high price of oil during 2004 and the higher cost of new gas supplies, Enstar customers can expect natural gas rate increases of between 16 and 18 percent in 2005, according to the company's division manager.

Arthur Miller dies at 89
NEW YORK — Arthur Miller, one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, gave America — and the world — ''Death of a Salesman'' and its iconic title character Willy Loman.

Art Briefs
Writers' group meets today Peninsula Art Guild meeting planned Tile-making workshop slated Students invited to enter contest Money available for artists Homer concert series seeks musicians Concert on the Lawn looking for acts Writers conference slated

Enchanting entertainment
It takes a real man to wear a kilt, especially in Alaska in February. The Kenai Performers found they have no lack of those, or women, children, singers, dancers, musicians and volunteers, for its musical this year, "Brigadoon," by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.

What's Happening
Best Bets Events and Exhibits Entertainment Upcoming events Films Anchorage events

From the bookshelf: Satirical novel skewers Alaska government
Neil Davis's new novel, "The Great Alaska Zingwater Caper" is likely to tweak the state's movers and shakers. But for humble folk who look askance at how the power brokers conduct their business, this pointed satire is a hoot. Alaska readers who follow public affairs with skepticism won't know whether to laugh or cry at its send-up of current events.

Social Security 'crisis' nothing more than government lie
Social Security crisis? Balderdash! Congress simply has a monstrous, insatiable spending overload. This is the case and has been for a good many years. Probably back to the time our senior senator entered the Senate. Paying businesses for not utilizing their land, outright grants of big bucks to the other countries of the world, the bloated welfare state, etc.; all this with no discernable effort to reign in spending. I'm certainly not the brightest bulb in the woods, but it's clear as a bell to me that the administration and Congress are pulling a gigantic scam on the public. If they would allow the revenue from Social Security to be spent for its intended purpose only, the so-called crisis would disappear like a snowcone in the desert. All this rhetoric about the "lock box" or the "trust fund" is a shameful lie.

Anchorage's proposed bed tax will affect all Alaskans
The mayor of Anchorage proudly states the hotel tax for the new convention center will not cost Anchorage residents in new taxes. True. Now the rest of therest of the story. Tourists are supposed to pay for it.

Students, volunteers helped Valentine's event succeed
Schools' recent Valentine's Craft Fair was a heart warming success! This annual event, co-sponsored by the Soldotna High School National Honor Society, hosted many creative children and their parents. Children visited several craft tables, with an opportunity to "make and take" Valentine-themed items. The NHS students helped the children to create some simple and some not-so-simple crafts, ranging from heart crowns to heart-shaped treat pockets.

Advisory committee members were right: Fish board is broken
The board of fish missed a great opportunity to solve many problems. Some of us remember how KRSA Executive Director Ricky Gease convinced the board how dangerous Soldotna is and then later apologized for it. How about KRSA's attorney, Dan Coffey, brokering deals in the midnight hour? In a recent letter to board chair Art Nelson, Bob Penney explained about tides and windows and what "we all discussed and agreed to."

Outsiders need big day in Daytona qualifiers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Stanton Barrett sat in the shade at the back of his team's hauler looking glum.

Light earthquake shakes southcentral
ANCHORAGE (AP) — A light earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.7 rattled southcentral Alaska on Wednesday, the Alaska Earthquake Information Center said.

Starkweather to be sentenced in May
Sentencing of Justin Starkweather was set for May 20 by Kenai Superior Court Judge Charles Cranston on Wednesday. Starkweather is the 23-year-old man convicted of the 2002 sexual assault and attempted murder of a 46-year-old woman in her home near West Poppy Lane.

Flu cases show up at hospital
The first lab-confirmed cases of influenza have reached the central Kenai Peninsula, according to health experts.

New chief selected for CES
The environment of the central Kenai Peninsula and the activities of Central Emergency Services are what attracted the new chief to Alaska.

Dragging the line
Alden Bookey samples the snow as his dad ,Terry Bookey, pulls him and his brother, Corvin, through the family's neighborhood in Kenai on Tuesday afternoon.

Construction days away
After years of planning, waiting and delaying, the stars have aligned to allow the construction of the Kenai River Bridge. In less than two weeks, the long-awaited Kenai River bridge project is due to begin.

Dinner to mark 'One Year Out Celebration'
Supporters of the Arctic Winter Games could find themselves enjoying a tropical vacation in Hawaii.

Concerns arise from timing of Games resignation
The Arctic Winter Games International Committee is keeping an eye on the situation in Alaska after learning this week that general manager of the 2006 Kenai Peninsula Arctic Winter Games Host Society had resigned, an official with the committee said Tuesday.

Arctic Slope Native Assoc. chair dies
BARROW (AP) — Joseph Upicksoun, chair of the Arctic Slope Native Association, has died, the association said Tuesday. He was 73.

Stephen A. Schachle
Anchor Point resident Stephen A. Schachle died Saturday, Feb. 12, 2005, at Heritage Place in Soldotna with his wife, Lois, and brother, Mike, by his side. He was 80.

U.S. students need to learn about freedom
On Memorial Day, Veterans Day and other patriotic holidays, America's children surely must hear about the great sacrifices earlier generations made to defend the Constitution and ensure the nation's freedom.

Voices of the peninsula: Bear sanctuaries no place for hunting
This letter is in opposition to Proposals 137 and 129, which would, if implemented, open the Kamishak Special Use Area (KSUA) and the McNeil River Bear Sanctuary, respectively, for brown bear hunting.

United States must accept global warming
Glaciers are retreating in mountains from Alaska to the Andes to Tibet. An age-old Antarctic ice shelf the size of Rhode Island shatters and melts into the sea. Greenland's ice, which holds enough water to raise ocean levels 21 feet, is starting to melt. ... Yet James Inhofe, the Oklahoma senator and chairman of an environmental committee, calls global warming the ''greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.''

Around the Peninsula
Deep Creek user fees head talk Open house set Musical scheduled Dinner, dance fund-raiser set Community dance planned RCAC to meet Youth seeking funds for hungry

Around the Peninsula
Volunteers for wildlife education sought Open house set DAV to meet Cajun dinner, auction set Asian relief fund-raiser planned CIAA to meet Car seat safety checks slated Annual lip sync contest scheduled

Soldotna Elementary
Students in fifth grade are completing Terra Nova testing this week and beginning Analytic Writing Assessments. Please encourage fifth-graders to eat an extra nutritious breakfast and get a healthy night's sleep so they can do their best at school.

Nikiski Middle- Senior High
JV and varsity basketball will host the Seward Seahawks at 3 p.m Friday, and the Kenai Kards at noon Saturday .

Mountain View
Fifth-grade AWA testing is this week and next.

Grace Lutheran
The school congratulates Ryan Burow for a his trip to the state spelling bee competition. He made it to the final 35 students.

Students have begun practice on the spring performance, scheduled for March 4.

Cook Inlet Academy
Applications are being accepted for teachers for the 2005-06 academic year. See Principal Kevin Spence for more information.

Soldotna Middle
On Saturday at 10 a.m. is the Rubber Chicken Classic Wrestling Tournament. The tournament is a regular bracketed middle school tournament but the champions will be awarded a rubber chicken instead of a medal. Come out and join the fun.

Connections is sponsoring a home school day at H2Oasis in Anchorage on Friday at 10 a.m. The cost is $8 for kindergarten through sixth grade and $11 for seventh through 12 grade and adults. Lunch is provided for an additional $3 and towels are $2. Please call the office to sign up.

Class is rolling in the dough
Fresh cinnamon rolls, made from scratch, would be good on any cold morning. To be made by students at Nikiski North Star Elementary makes it even better.

Lunch menus
Elementary Secondary

Ninilchik School
Saturday — Basketball with Cook Inlet Academy at home; and

Host families needed for international students

Ms. Ralston's first-grade students worked on creating a learning project where they combined art, writing and science. The students put together a hanging art piece which is displayed in the hallway. The students also learned about suffixes and prefixes, contraction, compound words and several other letter combinations. In math, the students worked on different types of graphs using Valentine's Day candy.

Conservation District poster contest
Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District will accept poster entries through March 8. The speech contest is 6 p.m. March 17 at the Kenai Conservation District office. Prizes for the poster contest are $50, $25 and $15, respectively, for first, second and third in each age category. Prizes for the speech contest are $200, $100 and $50, respectively. Winner's expenes are paid to compete in state finals in Anchorage.

Soldotna High
Saturday school will be available from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 25, March 5, 12 and April 2. After the Bell also is available Mondays through Thursdays for additional help.

Kenai Cooperative
Today, the kids are practicing dental hygiene. They are making homemade toothpaste and counting their teeth. There will be "molars" to play with in the texture tubs. On Friday the kids will make toothbrush paintings and apple smiles. They will practice molar math and healthy food science. On Monday the kids will learn about health and the body. They will learn about microscopes and germs along with digestive systems. For more information, call the school at 283-3100.

Sterling Elementary
The school also recognizes fifth-grader Katie Clonan and sixth-graders Sam Skuse and Carol Clonan for their sixth-place finish in Battle of the Books.

Wings Christian Academy
The kindergarten class is studying the country of Kenya.

Kenai Middle
The school thanks parents and guardians who made it to conferences last week. The participation is appreciated.

KPC Around campus: Survey says: Open mic night too hot to drop
The Kenai Peninsula College Student Union has announced it is reviving last semester's KPC Open Mic Night due to popular demand. According to Amber Tirado, communication officer, and Lacy Grubb, production officer, a recent survey of students indicated that Open Mic Night came out as a clear winner in the "activities to continue" category.

Job Shadow
Every year my school, Kenai Central High School, has a Job Shadow Day. On Job Shadow Day, students get to pick one of their favorite jobs in the community and go with one of the employees to that job.

Kenai Central High
There will be a Student of the Month luncheon Feb. 24 and a site council meeting at 5 p.m. that day.

Eagles Auxillary KBEA KPCLC Rasmuson Soldotna Rotary

Sports Briefs
Seward girls finish 2-1 in Valdez Little takes lead in Yukon Quest VanMeter, Carr lead Iron Dog

Powell leads Illini to 26th straight victory
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Roger Powell Jr. went 10-for-10 from the field and scored 21 points and Dee Brown added 19 points to lead No. 1 Illinois to its 26th straight win, 83-63 over Penn State on Wednesday night.

Where does the NHL go from here?
Football, a sport so much more popular and richer than hockey the two almost cannot be compared, never attempted a gambit so risky. Neither did baseball, a sport so indigenous to the fabric of American society that its very president once was a team owner.

With season on brink, dealing continues
But they were talking. Early Tuesday evening, the league had made a take-it-or-leave-it pitch of a $42.5 million salary cap to the players' association. The union responded with a cap figure of its own: $49 million.

South Carolina rips Wildcats
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tarence Kinsey scored 17 points and Carlos Powell had 12 in the second half to lead South Carolina to a rare victory over No. 3 Kentucky, 73-61 on Tuesday night.

German shorthaired pointer takes it all
NEW YORK — Posing like the very symbol of the Westminster Kennel Club, a German shorthaired pointer called Carlee became America's top dog Tuesday night.

Parents gone wild
Four tournaments into his PGA Tour career, and Sean O'Hair is done talking. Not about golf, because he'll gladly tell you about the 30-footer that went in on No. 7, or the drive he drilled down the left side of the fairway on the ninth.

Nikiski girls, SkyHi boys register wins
The Skyview High School boys basketball team held on for a 62-59 win Tuesday as the visiting Nikiski Bulldogs turned their game into a track meet but couldn't quite catch the Panthers at the finish line.

Armstrong to go for Tour win No. 7
Armstrong had left open the possibility he wouldn't compete this year in cycling's showcase event to pursue other races. But in an announcement Wednesday on the Web site of his Discovery Channel team the Tour's only six-time winner said he will again commit himself to the race to which he's dedicated his cycling life.

Steroid topic rules spring training
TAMPA, Fla. — Usually, the start of spring training is a time of clean slates, sun-splashed fields and endless hope.

Clippers can't take the Heat
MIAMI — Damon Jones had a career-high 31 points and Dwyane Wade added 28 points and 12 assists to help carry the Miami Heat to a 113-95 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Martin loosens up for final full season
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Whether Mark Martin wins his final Daytona 500 or not, or finally wins a series championship, he plans to have fun, fun, fun this year.

The next level: Hakkinen takes 14th in World Cup
Having already qualified for the Olympics next winter, Kasilof's Jay Hakkinen showed Friday that he plans to do more than just show up.

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