Friday, February 17, 2006

AWG coaches, athletes tough to gather
The task sounds simple enough: Find the top coaches and athletes in the state to assemble teams to compete in 20 sports at the Arctic Winter Games.

Business Briefs
Area chambers set schedules Canned food drive events planned Personal Inventory class offered Cultural Center to host workshop Seafood training available

Kenai Peninsula economy started year low, ended high with lots of bumps in between
All in all, 2005 proved a relatively sweet ride for the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s economy, which enjoyed 12 months of slow and steady growth.

ConocoPhillips still top producer
ConocoPhillips still churns out more oil and natural gas than any other Alaska producer.

Enstar heating up with big plans
Enstar continued to grow at a steady pace in 2005, adding some 350 new customers to its list of 10,500 on the Kenai Peninsula. Growth is expected to continue at that rate in 2006, as well, according to Charlie Pierce, local division manager.

Opening act — theaters must keep busy to stay afloat
Putting on a single performance or musical show can be a real production, but that hasn’t stopped not one but two community theaters from attempting to operate year-round.

Industry leaders see bright future
From the perspective of many industry leaders, things are looking good for the Kenai Peninsula economy.

Top 10 sales taxpayers
The following are the top 10 sales taxpayers for the cities of Homer and Seward in fiscal years 2004 and 2005. Fiscal years run July 1 through June 30.

More fishermen processing catch to premium standards
The nation’s top cooks have awarded Cook Inlet reds the gold for being the best-tasting fresh-frozen salmon when processed by the standards of Kenai Wild.

Top 10 sales taxpayers
The following are the top 10 sales taxpayers for the cities of Kenai and Soldotna in fiscal years 2004 and 2005. Fiscal years run July 1 through June 30.

BP gas-to-liquids Nikiski plant going strong — for now
BP’s Nikiski gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility was supposed to be closed by now. The plant, which employs 12 BP employees and six contractors, will keep running through at least 2006.

Building better service
Battling the elements might be a good way to summarize what central Kenai Peninsula large cities have on the horizon for big projects this year.

Biologists expect poor UCI sockeye return in ’06
This year likely will be a tough one for Upper Cook Inlet commercial fishermen.

Bridge to better business
Last summer, bridge construction in Soldotna left some businesses feeling stranded from their customers, customers found trapped in the restricted flow of traffic struggling to maneuver through town using the Sterling Highway.

Fred Meyer takes Homer input into development
Fred Meyer is planning to begin construction of a 66,000-square-foot store in Homer this year and be open for business in 2007. The store will be quite a bit smaller than the retailer’s 142,000-square-foot outlet in Soldotna. It will be built on a 7-acre parcel of land purchased by Fred Meyer from Cook Inlet Region Inc.

Budget cut an economical decision?
Facing serious revenue shortfalls, Mayor John Williams’ administration took several steps upon assuming office in November 2005 to stop the flow of red ink.

Processors must go with the flow of worker trends
While jobs are plentiful for Alaskans on cannery row, Brandii O’Reagan believes there is much more that can be done to improve the industry. And it starts with the labor force on the row.

State expected to add to 18 years of steady growth
For the last 18 years, across the board, Alaska’s economy has expanded, and one state analyst sees no reason why the state shouldn’t keep that trend going in 2006.

High fuel costs haven’t lowered area tourism
When touring Alaska, it’s easy for a visitor’s eye to get caught on something seemingly more glittery like Denali, or perhaps a cruise ship offering a train ride on the side.

Alaska can be deadly workplace
About 40 people were killed on the job in Alaska in 2004, a 43 percent increase over the year before, which saw 28 deaths, according to the state Department of Labor.

Tesoro cleans up diesel
Last year was a good one for Tesoro, with record net earnings of $507 million, compared to $328 million in 2004.

Learning to make do with less
A 2 percent drop in enrollment is seen as an indicator of the state of the economy by Kenai Peninsula Borough School District administrators.

Prices hammer building dreams
Costs for building new homes are rocketing up, but builders on the Kenai Peninsula keep finding plenty of work. In fact, one of the largest builders this side of Anchorage didn’t even have winter layoffs.

Top 10 employers
Following are ranked the top 10 employers in the Kenai Peninsula Borough for the years 2004 and 2003 (2005 data not available), and Kenai and Soldotna in 2005.

Marathon continues exploration
Continued natural gas exploration in Cook Inlet, getting gas transmission lines into service, gas storage and a sales agreement with Enstar were all Alaska highlights for Marathon Oil Co. in 2005.

Businesses get into the Games
Generally speaking, snow and lots of visitors don’t mix on the Kenai Peninsula. But with the Arctic Winter Games expected to bring 1,900 athletes and 5,000 spectators to the area in the second week of March, area businesses are gearing up for a summer-style week of guest service.

High oil prices a double-edged sword in Alaska
High world oil prices may be good news for the state’s coffers, but down at the consumer level, the impact is making life increasingly tough as the cost of heating homes, fueling automobiles and boats and transporting goods continues to rise.

Top 10 property taxpayers
Following are the top 10 borough property taxpayers for 2004 and 2005. The total assessed value includes real property, personal property and oil-related property values.

Small stores keep wary eye on competition
Small business owners on the Kenai Peninsula have seen it before.

Top 10 sales taxpayers
Following are the top 10 Kenai Peninsula Borough sales taxpayers outside cities for fiscal years 2005. Fiscal years run July 1 through June 30.

Cities welcome ‘big box’ taxes, variety
After several years of complaints about boarded-up stores in Kenai, the city suddenly is a hotbed of retail action.

Agrium’s peninsula future looks brighter
Agrium USA’s two ammonia and two urea plants in Nikiski were the focus of speculation and the catalyst for economic fears in 2005. The announcement of a study brought new hope for the future of the facilities and the Kenai Peninsula’s economic outlook — but there are no guarantees that hope will be realized.

Don’t count coal out yet
With natural gas prices increasing, many on the Kenai Peninsula are looking toward the past for future energy needs.

Natural gas reserves not meeting rising needs
A steady supply of natural gas is vitally important to the economy of the Cook Inlet region and the Kenai Peninsula.

Canneries fish for workers
Most Alaskans looking for work in the canneries of the fishing industry usually end up with plenty of opportunities. So do most foreign workers.

Udelhoven looking north to discover new markets
For more than 35 years, Udelhoven Oilfield System Services in Nikiski has provided Alaska’s petroleum industry with a broad range of services, including maintenance, quality control and assurance, fabrication and construction.

Sportfishing a ‘reel’ moneymaker
Tourism plays a major role in driving the Kenai Peninsula’s economy, and recreational sportfishing is the single biggest draw for visitors to the area.

College tailors offerings to meet employment trends
With a constant eye on the changing needs of the community, Kenai Peninsula College continually adjusts the courses of study it offers.

Teaching responsibility is family business
Running a business can be a full-time profession, as can running a family. So what happens when you combine the two to run a family owned business?

Homer campus offers classes for all stages of employment
Walk into any class at the Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College and ask students why they are taking that particular class. The answers, according to Carol Swartz, campus director, are as varied as a multiple-choice test, with the correct response being “all of the above.”

First chance for cash or a career?
Everyone starts somewhere —that’s the mantra of many seeking employment for the first time.

Alaska effects of Unocal sale to Chevron still not known
Anyone who calls 776-6868, the local contact number for the Union Oil Co. of California Kenai Peninsula operations, formerly called Unocal, is now greeted with a message from ChevronTexaco Corp., a San Ramon, Calif.-based company.

Pebble’s promise looks golden
An aggressive test hole-drilling program had Northern Dynasty Mines busy during 2005, and assay results from four holes appear to show significant deposits in the East Zone, an area to the east of the original Pebble deposit.

Predicting salmon runs is tricky task
At the end of a winding maze of hallways deep in the heart of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Soldotna offices, research biologist Mark Willette toils in relative obscurity. But although Willette may not be well known to many people outside the department, his work impacts nearly every commercial fisherman in Upper Cook Inlet.

Teens teaching teens
Most parents with teenagers understand how difficult it can be to get through to them. When seeking advice, teens sometimes turn to other teens to avoid judgment, punishment or for any number of other reasons.

What’s Happening
Best Bet Events and Exhibits Entertainment Upcoming events Films Down the Road Anchorage events

Martin not Sellers, but funny
While watching this week’s selection, Steve Martin’s take on the “Pink Panther” movies, one classic Peter Sellers scene kept replaying itself in my head. On the hunt for an evil mastermind, Inspector Clouseau manages to destroy nearly every antique in his suspect’s finely appointed parlor, including a priceless piano. Which movie was that? I can’t remember — they were all like that. It’s a riot, and a good jumping-off point for the inevitable comparison of the new “Panther” with the old.

Reader ready for mine
Alaskans need to make a choice. Do we generate high-paying jobs by responsibly developing our natural resources or do we condemn out children to a break future toiling in low-paying, seasonal service economy?

Volunteers helped participants grapple with success
A total of 38 young grapplers from ages 4 to 13 attended last week’s wrestling clinic sponsored by the Kenai Parks and Recreation Department. Participants were instructed on basic technique, performed tumbling exercises and learned basic stance and movements associated with the sport of wrestling. By the end of the day, technical terms such a double leg, half Nelson, gut wrench and the world famous cow catcher were commonly spoken and grasped by even the youngest of wrestlers.

Reader: Pebble Mine project should be stopped
To defile Alaska’s Lake Iliamna region with open pit mining is a concept that should boggle the mind and affront all sense of reason.

Thanks to help, car care class ran smoothly
The Kenaitze Head Start would like to express our gratitude to Jeff VanVelzor for the car care class offered to our parents by NAPA of Kenai.

Palin offers a balanced approach to future budgets
I’ve looked over the Governor’s proposed budget and say “wow.” There seems to be something for almost everyone spanning from the Aleutians to Prudhoe Bay.

Marines programs offer salute for generosity
The Marine Corps League, K-Bay Marines No. 838, held our fifth annual Ground Hog Day fundraiser in Anchor Point on Feb. 4.

Fishing industry job market improves
After several years of decline, Alaska’s long-suffering commercial fisheries registered a modest recovery over the past two seasons, with a proportional jump in the number of fishing-industry jobs, a state study says.

Kenai questions who has legal standing to fight zoning rulings
Access to city government was at the core of a number of ordinances debated by the Kenai City Council on Wednesday night.

Little goes a long United Way
For less than the cost of a latte, a senior citizen could eat a hot meal. For the price of one CD a week, a youngster could attend an after-school program. Foregoing one restaurant meal per week could provide the cash needed to pay for 10 life-saving mammograms for women who would otherwise be unable to afford them.

Coalition seeks parent’s help for survey
A central Kenai Peninsula group is counting on students to help them find the answers.

Hospital to take apprehension out of operations
Hospital patients informed they require surgery can feel like they receive less than hospitable treatment. Stunned patients are kicked around like a soccer ball from one department to another as they receive tests, and sometimes leave the hospital with unanswered questions about a procedure that could permanently change their lives.

Land-use bill could open more private land to recreation
Devony Lehner lives on 18 acres of mostly undeveloped land adjacent to the Baycrest Ski Trails near Homer, and since 2001 has permitted skiers, hikers and horseback riders recreational access to her land free of charge.

Soldotna animals appear in movie
As the Disney movie “Eight Below” opens this weekend, David Johnson of Soldotna will see more than two hours of action and adventure, with his dogs on the big screen.

School funding inequity must stop
For about the last decade, Kenai Peninsula Borough residents have heard variations of the same tune: The school district is hurting financially.

Big catches to get smaller
The International Pacific Halibut Commission has issued its recommended catch limit for 2006, a limit that dips 5.37 percent below the catch limit recommended in 2005.

Rare birds’ reappearance offers new preservation opportunities
Somewhat like the legendary phoenix, the long-lived mystical bird that burned to death and later rose from the ashes, so, too the recent rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker has the makings for good story telling for years to come., northwest Florida and South Carolina.”

Around the Peninsula
CIRCAC to meet Safety day committee to meet Disabled veterans meeting slated Pot roast dinner fundraiser set Community dance planned Solar classes set to shine

Around the Peninsula
Junior Miss applications deadline loomsSeniors cooking up buffetSoHi after-grad committee to meetGenealogical society to meetClothing donations sought

Nikiski, Ketchikan cagers split on hardwood
The Nikiski girls basketball team picked up a 45-39 nonconference win against the Ketchikan Kings while the Nikiski boys dropped an 85-25 decision to the Kings Thursday at Nikiski High School.

Church Briefs
Addictions group meetsClothes Quarters lists scheduleBaha’i classes slated for SaturdaysKenai Aglow meeting slatedSoldotna Aglow to meetNikiski group offers Bible studyGroup studies book of Joshua

Work, sing even when challenges come
In many parts of North America, robins are the harbingers of spring, a breath of warm fresh air at the end of a long deep freeze, a sweet song at the twilight of winter.

Sports Briefs
Mackey leads Yukon QuestDavis, Palin lead Iron Dog

Sports Briefs
Mackey running second in Quest Davis, Palin still lead Iron Dog

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