Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, January 14, 2005

Maritime union, state reach labor agreement

JUNEAU - One of three maritime unions has reached a tentative agreement with the state over worker contracts for the state's fast ferry Fairweather, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation.

The terms of the tentative three-year agreement with the Inland Boatmen's Union, the largest of the three ferry unions, are not being released, said DOT spokesman John Manly.

The DOT said earlier this month that it will tie up the Fairweather for the rest of the winter if it does not reach an agreement on union contracts by Jan. 25. The state argues that it cannot afford to continue paying two crews to operate the Fairweather during the winter but cannot change the crew schedule without a new labor contract.

"I am pleased that the members of the IBU negotiating team committed to staying at the negotiation table until we could work out our differences on the Fairweather," said DOT special assistant John Torgerson in a written statement.

The state is seeking mediation with the other two maritime unions, the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association and the Masters, Mates and Pilots union.

"Jan. 25 is coming up fast," Torgerson said.

Eaglecrest to offer avalanche classes

JUNEAU - Eaglecrest Ski Area is offering free avalanche training classes this Saturday during its annual Avalanche Awareness Day.

The day will include four different work stations on the mountain to train skiers and back country hikers on how to avoid avalanches and deal with avalanche emergencies.

The event starts at 11 a.m. Work stations will train participants to be aware of their surroundings and to use tools such as beacons, shovels and various other avalanche safety equipment.

"We're catering it toward people that don't really know a lot about these tools," said Eaglecrest Ski Patroller Sarah Carter.

Ski patrollers also will give an avalanche rescue dog demonstration. The day will wrap up with a slideshow presentation by local avalanche expert Bill Glude, a $10 spaghetti dinner and bluegrass music by Auke Bay Lonesome.

Burst pipe halts phones at UAS

JUNEAU -A frozen pipe burst in the phone room Thursday afternoon at the University of Alaska Southeast, bringing down fax and phone service at the Auke Lake Campus.

Technicians assessed the damage, but were fairly certain that phone service would not be returned to the University late Thursday, and possibly not before the weekend. There is a possibility that the phones will be down for a week or more.

A cell-phone list is being complied and will be published on the UAS Web

site. For the time, people who need to contact the University are asked

to use e-mail. To register for a class, to come to the Auke Lake Campus between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Kodiak committee receives grant

KODIAK - A Kodiak marketing committee has received an $80,000 grant to promote a Kodiak brand name and logo of seafood.

The Kodiak Branding and Marketing Committee received the grant through the Alaska Regional Salmon Marketing Grant Program.

The committee in 2003 received money to develop a quality assurance marketing program for pink and coho salmon. The plan also called for developing a Kodiak brand name and logo, conducting product sampling and soliciting buyers. The brand developed was "Star of Kodiak."

The new grant will focus on marketing.

"This grant will concentrate on enhancing the marketing strategies by developing a promotional video, a promotional folder, onsite retail promotions and a local quality program," said Debora King, an economic development specialist for the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce.

Oil spotted 50 miles from wrecked freighter

ANCHORAGE - Fuel oil from the Selendang Ayu has reached the fishing community of Dutch Harbor, 50 miles from the wreckage of the grounded freighter, prompting new concerns about the effect of last month's spill off the western coast of Unalaska Island.

"Obviously the extent of contamination has grown substantially," Leslie Pearson, a spill response official with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, said Thursday. "It makes you wonder what other shoreline impacts there may be."

Pearson said DEC workers counted as many as two dozen clumps of oil - some measuring two feet in diameter - along a quarter mile stretch of Captain's Bay at the southern end of Dutch Harbor, a community of 4,000 on Unalaska Island. Pearson said the agency is trying to assess the threat to the local water table as well as seafood processing plants in the area.

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