Naomi Klouda

TERRA network completion a milestone for GCI’s Markley

Behind Alaska’s giant engineering feats such as GCI’s TERRA network are stories of the people who made it happen. 

One name for the history books is Rebecca Markley, GCI’s project manager for Terrestrial for Every Rural Region in Alaska from the first foot to the last leg. 

Markley choreographed the logistics for all 3,300 miles of it: leasing land, permitting and setting up transportation for crews. She tracked each cell tower site from construction to final set up. 

Alaska Railroad painting contract helps launch local business

The Alaska Railroad used to ship some of its 45 passenger cars on barges to Seattle every year, then put them back on tracks for a long chug to the Midwest for repairs and paint jobs. 

The costs piled up, according to Tim Sullivan, the Alaska Railroad Corp. director of external affairs. Not only did it cost money for the shipping and the work. There was a price for flights and hotels for officials to inspect the work as well. 

Alaska Railroad painting contract helps launch local business

The Alaska Railroad used to ship some of its 45 passenger cars on barges to Seattle every year, then put them back on tracks for a long chug to the Midwest for repairs and paint jobs. 

The costs piled up, according to Tim Sullivan, the Alaska Railroad Corp. director of external affairs. Not only did it cost money for the shipping and the work. There was a price for flights and hotels for officials to inspect the work as well. 

Enstar to cut rates with $5M benefit from 2017 tax reform

Enstar Natural Gas Co. anticipates $5 million in additional revenue coming in 2018 thanks to the U.S. corporate tax rate changing from 35 percent to 21 percent and plans to cut rates for its 144,000 customers. 

Enstar’s move is among the latest by companies on how they intend to use the benefits from the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. 

Enstar hasn’t determined yet the amount its customers’ rate will go down, said spokeswoman Lindsay Hobson. 

‘Displaced’ teachers a lesser known story of budget decisions

The process of laying off teachers in what’s known as “pink slip season” — May 15 to the last day of school — attracts most of the attention when education loyalists argue for funding.

But there’s another category known as “displaced” or involuntarily transferred teachers that also stems from budget cuts. It involves keeping a teacher in the district but putting him or her up for bid to a different school.

Former ADN owner appeals order to turn over loan documents

Former Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals April 4 to challenge a judge’s order that Northrim Bank turn over all documents related to her 2014 loan used to purchase the company.

House considers BSA bump as more poor test results released

After three years of flat funding, school districts around the state are attempting creative ideas in their budgets as well as additional layoffs.

Fairbanks schools face a projected $8 million shortfall and are on the verge of shutting down hockey, cheerleading and cutting 50 teachers, but nothing’s final until the Alaska Legislature passes the education budget.

Rogoff claims lion’s share of $33M in debts for former paper

The total claims against the former Alaska Dispatch News now total $33.5 million, but two-thirds of that is by former owner Alice Rogoff herself.

Rogoff is claiming debts owed to her of up to $23.6 million in the ongoing bankruptcy case after the March 19 deadline passed for all unsecured claims to be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Alaska Division

Board tables onsite consumption vote until June

A vote on draft regulations allowing onsite consumption of marijuana at retail businesses was postponed yet again Friday, when the Marijuana Control Board unanimously tabled the issue until the June meeting in Anchorage.

Board member Brandon Emmett — the author or co-author of several draft proposals regulating onsite consumption — reluctantly brought up the motion for postponement. Emmett, who has one of two industry seats on the board, and Loren Jones, the public health representative on the board, drafted the latest proposal for the meeting held in Nome April 4-6.

Marijuana board to take up onsite consumption Friday

The Marijuana Control Board will take up onsite consumption and make recommendations to change how the industry is taxed at its April 4-6 meeting in Nome.

A hefty agenda is ahead over the next three days. The board is set to review 46 applications for new businesses and renewals. And it will tackle whether a moratorium on the number of new marijuana businesses might be warranted. There are currently just more than 189 cannabis cultivation, retail and manufacturing operations in Alaska. (The number was updated from 150 operations to 189 on April 4 at the MCB Nome meeting.)

Judge orders Northrim to turn over Rogoff’s loan documents to trustee

After months of cross filings arguing whether former Alaska Dispatch News owner Alice Rogoff must reveal documents related to a $13 million bank loan, a bankruptcy judge decided it’s all fair game except for her marital settlement agreement.

The bottom line of Bankruptcy Judge Gary Spraker’s March 21 decision is that Rogoff’s finances are not confidential as it relates to the $13 million loan from Northrim Bank used to purchase the Anchorage Daily News from McClatchy Co.

Kodiak governments latest to explore savings of consolidation

Kodiak Island Borough and the City of Kodiak are the latest local governments to consider consolidation.

After five separate attempts, the process proved so complicated that Ketchikan’s city and borough governments gave up the idea. Fairbanks also explored similar changes or consolidations before setting aside the idea.

Eagle River has long debated separating from the Municipality of Anchorage, but that’s an idea that isn’t going anywhere, either, said Dan Bockhorst, the former chief of staff at the Alaska Boundary Commission.

Sitka’s surplus water may help Cape Town crisis

Sitka’s water source at Blue Lake is said to be so pure it doesn’t need to be filtered.

And now, if logistics pan out, thousands of tons of it will be loaded on a ship bound for Cape Town, South Africa, before the city of 3.7 million people runs out of water.

Cape Town’s drought, coupled with population growth, is sparking one of the world’s worst urban water crises as South African leaders warn reservoirs are running so low they will have to turn off the taps.

House passes supplemental budget to cover some of Medicaid shortfall

The State of Alaska pays $12.5 million per week for its share of Medicaid expenses.

But in order for the Department of Health and Social Services to continue processing medical assistance payments through May 14, the department will require an estimated immediate $40 million in funds.

Tax bill leads to rebates, $50M investment for Premera

Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska announced March 12 that the company will make a $50 million investments over five years in Alaska thanks to the tax reform bill passed by Congress in December.

The money will be spent to shore up the individual insurance market, improve access to care in rural areas and support local communities in their efforts to address behavioral health, Premera announced.

Another vacancy arises on Marijuana Control Board

The Marijuana Control Board needs yet another member for its public safety seat after Travis Welch resigned from the board before facing confirmation after losing his position as police chief of the North Slope Borough.

The process next is an online call for applicants and a look-back at past applicants who have sought to fill the five-member board’s public safety seat. State law requires the person be employed in that sector, which could be a firefighter, paramedic, village public safety officer or police officer.

Alaskans serve as test market for Premera Pulse platform

A new platform devised by Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield opens opportunities not only for the insured, but to help crack the conundrum of high medical costs.

Alaskans enrolled in the individual and employer-sponsored insurance market with Premera can tap into an app that makes it easier to track their health care. Results will feed into a year-long pilot program before Premera opens the service to its Washington state customers.

GCI closes ‘17 with quarterly profit, but loses $25M for year

After a year of reporting losses, General Communications Inc. posted a fourth quarter profit of $48 million in the final stretch of 2017, a factor the telecom attributes in large part to tax reform just as it finalizes its acquisition by Colorado-based Liberty Interactive Group.

GCI took in $236 million in consolidated revenue in its fourth quarter and $919 million in revenue for the year. Despite net income of $48 million for the quarter, the company still reported a net loss of $25 million for the year.

Duluth, Dave and Buster’s cushion recent Anchorage job losses

Ax throwing and log sawing contests vied for crowd approval outside but it was probably the flannel shirts or underwear inside that stole the show when Duluth Trading Co. staged its grand opening March 1.

Duluth took over the 24,500-square feet former home of Sports Authority at 8931 Old Seward Highway, which closed in 2016. After an investment of $800,000 in renovations performed by local contractors H. Watt &Scott Inc., it took about a month to set up the store and hire 50 individuals, said manager Erik Hansen.

UA president delivers grim look after years of cuts

The University of Alaska president painted a distressing picture of what’s occurring in the university system after enduring $145 million in cumulative state funding cuts over the past four years.

UA President Jim Johnsen outlined his concerns during his annual “State of the University” speech Feb. 20 to Commonwealth North at the Cuddy Center on the UAA campus. The system has 1,183 fewer employees and 50 fewer programs than three years ago, he said.


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