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Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, October 26, 2000

Kenai travel inquiries double

Inquiries from potential visitors to the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau have more than doubled this year, primarily due to the popularity of the bureau's new Web site and its marketing program, said Alise Bowen, the bureau's visitor services assistant.

Last year, the bureau mailed 3,783 packets in response to inquiries. This year, Bowen expects the total to exceed 8,000 mailings.

"Although the Web site has become our number one source of advertising, many visitors still express a desire for printed materials," she said. "We hope to have a new brochure designed by midwinter."

Excel brings new long-distance option

Excel recently began offering long-distance telephone service to central Kenai Peninsula residents, said Sherri Hansen, its local representative.

Under one plan, its out-of-state long-distance charges are $5.95 per month plus 3 cents per minute in off-peak hours and 10 cents per minute during peak hours. Other options are 10 cents per minute with a fee of $3 per month, or 7 cents per minute with a fee of $4.50 per month. The 7-cents-per-minute package includes a free 800 number for the customer.

Excel charges 14 cents per minute for in-state long distance.

Excel hopes to offer satellite television and Internet services soon and is considering whether to offer local Alaska phone service. Excel plans to merge with Bell Canada, Hansen said.

Hansen can be reached at 283-2663.

Comments sought on Chugach forest plan

Written comments on proposed revisions to the management plan for Chugach National Forest are due by Dec. 14. Copies of the plan are available from U.S. Forest Service offices in Anchorage, Seward, Girdwood or Cordova, by calling 271-2500, or on the Web at www.fs.fed.us/r10/chugachrevision/index.htm. The paper copy is about 6 inches thick. Less weighty copies are available on CD.

The Forest Service plans public meetings on the plan Monday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Loussac Library in Anchorage, Nov. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the AVTEC building in Seward, Nov. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Cooper Landing community hall, Nov. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hope School, and Nov. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building in Soldotna.

Other public meetings are planned in Girdwood and in Prince William Sound communities.

Pamphlet teaches seafood safety

The University of Alaska Sea Grant program has published a pamphlet advising consumers how to handle perishable fish and shellfish safely. The pamphlet, titled "Seafood Safety: What Consumers Need to Know," is ideal for distribution in supermarkets and fresh seafood outlets, the publishers say. To order copies, call (888) 789-0090.

Halibut season ends Nov. 15

Gulf of Alaska halibut fishers had landed 16 million pounds by Oct. 15 from a 2000 quota of 18.3 million pounds. Southeast Alaska fishers had landed nearly 7.7 million pounds from a quota of 8.4 million, and Alaska Peninsula area fishers had landed 13.8 million pounds from a quota of 15 million, the International Pacific Halibut Commission said.

The Alaska catch totaled nearly 50.5 million pounds, 90 percent of the statewide quota of 56 million pounds. That compares with a catch of 54.9 million pounds by Oct. 17 last year, which was 90 percent of the 1999 quota.

The 2000 season closes Nov. 15.

Chugach Electric takes communications awards

Three Chugach Electric Association communication programs recently received awards from the Northwest Public Power Association, a trade association based in Vancouver, Wash. A chugach.net CD cover won second for Excellence in Communications.

A chugach.net television spot and a Chugach Electric magazine advertisement took third-place awards.

Tesoro buys Russian crude

The Tesoro Alaska Petroleum Co. refinery in Nikiski received 415,000 barrels of crude oil this week from Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East. That came from the Sakhalin II offshore project, which Marathon Oil Co. operates for an industry consortium, said Ron Noel, Tesoro Alaska vice president and general counsel.

The Nikiski refinery processes about 50,000 barrels of crude per day into gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other products. It buys all of Cook Inlet's present production of about 32,000 barrels per day and supplements refinery needs from other sources. Noel said Tesoro was buying state North Slope royalty oil but stopped last year. Through most of 1999, it bought supplemental crude from foreign sources.

This year, it has been buying North Slope crude from the producers rather than from the state.

The Nikiski refinery has taken smaller deliveries -- about 100,000 barrels apiece -- of Sakhalin oil in the past, Noel said. He could not say whether it will become a large consumer of Russian crude.

NMFS to assess effects of fishing on sea lions

The National Marine Fisheries Service now plans to release its assessment Nov. 30 of how Alaska groundfish fisheries affect species, including Steller sea lions, listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The assessment will help NMFS to manage groundfish fisheries and protect Steller sea lions.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington issued an order in August banning all groundfish trawling within Steller sea lion critical habitat west of 144 degrees west longitude until further order of the court. The August order upheld a motion for injunctive relief until NOAA Fisheries issues a legally adequate biological opinion addressing the combined overall effects of the North Pacific groundfish fishery on the Steller sea lion and its critical habitat pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.

Homer chamber plans Friday mixer

The next Homer Chamber of Commerce mixer will be Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Kachemak Bay East Campus of Kenai Peninsula College. Visitors will be able to meet college staff and faculty, including Stephen Gillon, KPC's new assistant professor of business and accounting.

There will be door prizes and refreshments.

Chamber mixers are open to chamber members, prospective members and business owners.

Soldotna 1 generator moves to Nikiski

VECO Construction Inc. has finished moving Alaska Electric Generation and Transmission's Soldotna 1 electrical generator to Nikiski as part of a $28 million cogeneration project between AEG&T and Agrium Inc.

There, Agrium will capture waste heat from the 313-ton, gas-fired generator to make steam for use in manufacturing nitrogen-based fertilizers. Agrium will use 5 megawatts of power from the 40-megawatt generator, and Homer Electric Association, a primary member of AEG&T, will feed the rest into the power grid. Partners in the project expect it to cut costs at Agrium, improve the reliability of local electrical service, cut costs for HEA and help keep rates down for HEA customers.

The partners expect to complete the cogeneration project early next year.

Vessel owners pay for lack of observers

The owner of the fishing vessel Alaska Rose has agreed to pay a $19,100 penalty for bottom-trawling without a federally certified observer last February in the Red King Crab Savings Sub-Area of the Bering Sea.

That is the second such penalty NOAA has assessed this year. In May, NOAA announced that Jubilee Fisheries Inc., owner of the vessel Vaerdal, had paid a $30,000 penalty for fishing in the Red King Crab Savings Sub-Area without an observer.

Youth clubs could win grants

Area youth groups could win cash grants of up to $2,000 each from Colgate-Palmolive Co. for their most creative and best-executed community service projects.

Units of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, Girls Inc., Camp Fire and 4H are eligible to compete for 315 Colgate Youth for America grants for community service programs running between March 1, 2000 and March 1, 2001.

Entry forms are available through regional offices of the six youth organizations or at www.colgate.com on the Internet. Entries must be postmarked by March 15, 2001.



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