Naomi Klouda

Deadline for Real ID at bases pushed back

Now that Alaska was granted a Department of Homeland Security extension for Real ID Act compliance, Alaskans will be good to go for air travel and entry to secured federal facilities by using their state driver’s license or identification.

Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson announced that enforcement of Real ID will not begin until Jan. 22, 2018. This replaces a previous announcement that JBER would only accept Real ID-compliant identification and not state drivers’ licenses after July 10.

A new cooling in US-Russia relations 150 years after Alaska purchase

Relationships built on friendship exchanges between the Russian Far East and Alaska since 1988 are substantially diminished as the state celebrates the 150th anniversary the U.S. purchase.

Trade partnerships stopped when sanctions against Russia were enacted by Congress as punishment for its actions in Ukraine and, more recently, for its alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Alaskan delegation pushes parallel cannabis bills

Where will state and federal law collide when it comes to marijuana laws?

That’s the question Sen. Lisa Murkowski put to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein June 13 during a Senate appropriations subcommittee meeting.

Alaska’s ‘Chief Encouragement Officer’

Allan Johnston has a theory about the cyclical attempts at new business ideas.

Institutional knowledge tends to turn over every eight years. Then the knowledge disappears — maybe in the form of a discouraged entrepreneur moving on to a new idea or to the Lower 48.

Alaska attracts talented people possessing good ideas who seek to set a plan in place, but few have the longevity to know what’s already been tried.

UAA lands first global entrepreneur-in-residence

The University of Alaska Anchorage welcomed its first occupant of the Global Entrepreneur in Residence program who’s racked up a string of accomplishments, including inventing a mouse cleaner and founding an international technology start-up.

Nigel Sharp’s position at UAA will involve mentoring entrepreneurs and connecting them to expanded networks. Community members, students and faculty will be able to consult with Sharp. His first day in the 18-month position was June 19.

Flags up for Uber, Lyft drivers after gov signs bill

Uber and Lyft drivers took to the roads in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau this week, newly authorized to offer rides after a bill approving the transportation network companies was signed into law.

Gov. Bill Walker signed House Bill 132 on June 15. The bill had an immediate effective date, allowing the companies to start operating as soon as it was signed. Both had dozens of pre-approved drivers ready to start.

More rural broadband options coming through fiber, satellites

Competition and collaboration between telecom companies promises to bring the costs down for Alaska in the coming two years as Quintillion, Alaska Communications and AT&T launch projects building out wireless and fiber optic networks.

Alaska Communications developed a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding to become the first reseller of OneWeb enabled broadband access in Alaska starting in 2019. That puts rural Alaska a step closer to more affordable broadband access, said CEO Anand Vadapalli.

Hotels spring up as visitor numbers keep climbing

Alaska has some of the highest hotel occupancy rates in the country on average in the short four-month period from May to September, enough to warrant yet four more hotels on the Anchorage landscape in addition to three that went up last summer.

The Hyatt House on C Street opened in May and the company is breaking ground for two more hotels on land cleared at nearby 46th Avenue. Last summer saw My Place on Old Seward across from the University Center open. A new Aptel Hotel opened near the Northway Mall. And Home2 Suite opened in 2016 near Motel 6, also on C Street.

Fishermen watch, wait, work, while Legislature in limbo

An Alaska government shutdown is a fisheries shutdown.

Commercial, sport, gillnet, dipnetters and subsistence fishing would all be impacted in devastating ways if a fiscal year 2018 budget isn’t approved by the Alaska Legislature by July 1.

United Fishermen of Alaska, which represents 33 Alaska commercial fishing organizations, is taking the stance that people should “work on the season,” said President Jerry McCune.

Housing both affordable and trendy snapped up in Anchorage

Key Anchorage building projects underway this summer add more than 100 units to residential availability and inject a nouveau mix of retail space for town segments in sore need of beautification.

A glimpse at high market demand shows itself in the proposed Downtown Edge project sited above Ship Creek’s warehouse district and just below Second Avenue and Christensen Drive.

Anchorage library project $2M over budget, behind schedule

Further delays in the Loussac Library renovation are frustrating the Anchorage Assembly as yet another “reopening” has been postponed from June until September or October.

An additional $2 million in overruns above what was allocated is currently being used from a “contingency fund” to cover unexpected costs, according to city officials. At this point, the project is over-budget and behind in completion estimates.

Construction season ramps up with nearly $1 billion in projects

Summer 2017 brings $976 million in construction contracts for 128 projects in 45 communities across the state as the season for both tourism and construction gets underway.

The dollars — 90 percent federal with a 10 percent state match — will pay for Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities highway and airport improvements.

Federal monies so far have remained at consistent levels in recent years, said department communications director Meadow Bailey.

Work begins tearing down 1920s-era Eklutna River dam

Deconstructing the old dam wedged in an Eklutna River ravine begins this month, a megaproject to eventually help native salmon return to home waters.

The $7.5 million project is funded by the Conservation Fund in a partnership with Eklutna Inc., which is providing the labor, Eklutna CEO Curtis McQueen said June 5 at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Make it Monday Forum.

Anchorage Assembly cuts fee in move to boost farmers’ markets

The Anchorage Assembly passed an ordinance May 23 that waives the $260 permit fee for cottage food vendors and refunds those permit fees already paid for 2017.

That’s good news for jam purveyors, people who hawk chutney at farmers’ markets and others involved in food preparation that doesn’t involve a higher level imposed by city code.

It’s also good news for consumers.

Premera, state await waiver decision from federal government

Hoping to clamp a ceiling on Alaska’s already high insurance rates, state officials are keeping an eye on Washington, D.C., for two developments.

One is an application for a federal waiver that would replace the state’s one-year funding of $55 million in 2017 as a reinsurance program to halt a series of steep premium increases in the individual market.

The Alaska Division of Insurance applied to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the 1332 waiver in January, but has not yet heard back from the federal agency.

Ridesharing on the way but not without municipal complaints

An injection of employment opportunities for about 100 people as Uber or Lyft drivers and more options for riders should begin in time for the tourism season.

House Bill 132 passed 35-5 in the House after a similar bill, Senate Bill 14, unanimously passed the Senate. Alaska will be the last state in the country to authorize transportation network companies, or TNCs.

Record Copper River king prices celebrated at annual seafood event

Restaurants from Seattle to New York City paid about $50 per pound — a new record — for the Copper River king salmon sold direct from Cordova fishermen on May 19.

A representative 45-pound Copper River king was the royal guest at a public seafood event celebrating spring’s famous run in Alaska on May 19.

About 100 people turned out for a five-star restaurant sampling as part of the festivities featuring the king on square white paper plates.

Marijuana board will revisit onsite consumption at July meeting

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board will discuss three options for onsite consumption proposed by board members at its next meeting July 11-14 in Fairbanks.

• Scenario 1: You walk into an establishment where it’s okay to smoke marijuana. There are no pool tables, no dart games, no televisions. Just couches or chairs and coffee tables for a social ambiance. “This space is to try marijuana or a marijuana product and then to leave,” according to board member Loren Jones’ proposal.

Despite gov’s signature on Real ID bill, JBER issues July 10 deadline

Alaskans traveling to domestic destinations by air will not be required to carry Real ID until October 2020, if a waiver is granted as expected from the Department of Homeland Security following Gov. Bill Walker’s May 19 signature on a bill to bring the state into compliance with federal law.

Schools watch, wait as state misses budget deadline

Alaska’s school districts are in a quandary: all districts must by law give layoff notices to teachers before the Legislature lets them know whether or not the proposed $69 million in education cuts hold for fiscal year 2018 that starts July 1.

One of the key problems highlights deadlines that must be met by state statute. Teachers are to be notified of layoffs by May 15 if they are non-tenured. For tenured teachers, notice must be given by the last day of school.


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