Northwest Digest

Posted: Friday, February 02, 2007

Maintenance work scheduled for Marine Parking Garage

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JUNEAU - Maintenance and repair work on the Marine Parking Garage at the downtown waterfront will begin on Monday and continue through mid-May, the city announced Thursday.

The work will proceed by parking level, beginning with Level "D." Closures and designated parking areas will be announced and posted throughout the project.

The downtown Juneau Public Library, on the top floor of the garage, will remain open and parking will be available throughout the garage, the announcement said. Anyone with questions may call the Parks and Recreation Department at 586-5226 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

SEARHC announces new VP of finance

SITKA - David Edwards will be based in Juneau as the new vice president of finance and chief financial officer for the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.

Edwards has 24 years experience in the health care industry, SEARHC said in a press release. He has lived in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Sitka, but spent much of his career in Washington state.

Edwards also has worked as a private consultant in Idaho and Nigeria.

GCI planning move into Eagle River

ANCHORAGE - The telecom and cable company General Communication Inc. plans to challenge the sole phone service provider in the growing community of Eagle River, north of Anchorage.

GCI plans to start marketing its local phone service on Feb. 16 in Eagle River, a community served exclusively by the Matanuska Telephone Association.

Both companies are likely to court customers with bundled deals that offer discounts for multiple services such as local phone, long-distance, wireless, TV and Internet access.

"Our bundle prices are very attractive and are just as good or better than GCI's," said Jackie Kenshalo, MTA's public relations manager.

Excluding taxes and surcharges, GCI plans to charge its Eagle River customers a less expensive rate for basic phone service.

GCI is well-established in the state's three largest cities, where it competes against Alaska Communications Systems. The company claims roughly 112,000 of the state's 430,000 local phone lines, giving it a 26 percent share of the total Alaska market.

Consumers in Eagle River and the Mat-Su area have been eager for a second phone company for several years, said Grace Salazar, a spokeswoman for the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

GCI knows it will have to fight for market share in the Valley, said Dana Tindall, the company's senior vice president of regulatory affairs.

"MTA will be a formidable competitor. They have good relations with their customers," Tindall said. "Regardless of who you use, GCI or MTA, your overall experience is going to improve. That's the nature of competition."

Yakima Valley farm to supply canola to biofuel plants

SPOKANE, Wash. - Efforts to start biodiesel production in Washington got a big boost Thursday with the announcement that a Yakima Valley farmer will grow enough canola to make 1 million gallons of the environmentally friendly motor fuel.

The deal shows the potential for Washington's farms to find new markets by growing crops that can replace imported oil, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell said.

"The energy sources of the future can be grown at home," Cantwell said. "I hope more growers in Washington state will consider getting into the alternative fuels business."

The deal, whose financial details were not disclosed, was between Imperium Renewables of Seattle and Natural Selection Farms of Sunnyside. It called for Natural Selection to sell 1 million gallons of canola oil to Imperium for use in its biodiesel plants in Seattle and in Grays Harbor County.

The farm has already delivered 6,000 gallons of canola oil to the biodiesel company, said John Plaza, founder and president of Imperium.

The deal was announced in Washington, D.C., where Plaza was testifying before a Senate committee on the future of biodiesel.

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