Posted: Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Information offered to tour guides

Tour operators can get informed about local geology and history in seminars at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

Geologist Ken Maas and historian David Stone will present ``The Juneau Goldbelt and Its Great Mines'' from 7-10 p.m. Thursday. Tlingit history experts Richard and Nora Dauenhauer will present ``Native Culture and Its Interpretation'' from 7-10 p.m. May 2. Each session is $20. Registration: 586-3572.

Timber sale procedures on-line

U.S. Regional Forester Rick Cables has released procedures to determine the annual timber sale program for the Tongass National Forest.

The procedures have been published in the Federal Register and are on the Forest Service Website.

``The procedures operate very much like a thermostat you'd find in your home, raising the Forest Service timber offerings when supplies are short and reducing timber offerings when manufacturers have adequate supplies,'' Cables said.

Last year, about 145 million board feet of timber were harvested in the Tongass, the most since 1995. The Forest Service plans to offer about 155 million board feet for sale this year.

Nominations taken for customer serviceaward

Next Monday is the deadline for nominations for the sixth annual customer service award of the Juneau-Gastineau Rotary Club.

Forms to nominate a local business or agency are available from PeggyAnn McConnochie at 586-3540.

The winner will be announced during a seminar May 20 featuring Lenise Henderson. Past winners include Kappler Computer Services, Don Abel, Nugget Alaskan Outfitter and the Lewis Motors Service Department.

Cruise industry touts anti-pollution stance

The cruise ship industry is taking steps to assure a quick response in the case of an oil spill, and is open to more negotiation on legislation aimed at keeping Alaskan waters pristine, says John Hansen, president of the Northwest CruiseShip Association.

The association lobbied successfully against a bill in the Alaska Legislature that would have brought cruise ships under the same section of law that requires fuel spill clean-up plans of oil industry tankers.

Hansen said members of the association already carry $1 billion in pollution coverage. The association is deploying eight oil-spill-response barges in Southeast, also, he said. The first two barges will be on-site in Glacier Bay by May 1, and others will be moored in Juneau, Ketchikan and Lynn Canal.

Association members also have adopted voluntary environmental guidelines, including no discharge of gray or treated blackwater in any port in Alaska, Hansen said.

Coast Guard launches safety rating

A new voluntary program intended to assure greater safety in the uninspected passenger vessel industry has been implemented by the U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska.

The Coast Guard will give up to a five-star safety rating for craft that are upgraded for safety.

More than 2,000 small, uninspected passenger vessels -- with six or fewer passengers -- are now part of the tourist industry in the state. Two of them sank last summer. The vessels are not required to carry life rafts or radio communications.

Unemployment rate dropping on cue

The seasonal decline in the statewide unemployment rate began in March.

Unemployment dropped 1,700 to 21,800, for a decrease of 0.6 percentage points to 6.9 percent. The March unemployment rate was the second lowest for the month since 1978. In March 1999, unemployment was 7.5 percent.

Juneau's unemployment rate last month was 5.3 percent, down from 5.9 in February. Southeast as a whole lagged behind the state, however, with an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent, down from 9.7 percent in February. In Haines, unemployment actually increased slightly, from 14.8 percent to 15.1 percent from February to March.

Knowles to recognize Alaska exporter

Nominations for the annual Governor's Exporter of the Year Award are due Monday, and the winner will be announced May 25 at the Export Alaska Banquet at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel.

``1999 was a good year for Alaska exporters,'' said Greg Wolf, director of trade and development for the state. ``Our exports rebounded to pre-Asian-flu numbers. The Alaska risk-takers who stayed the course with our Asian trade partners, as well as those who explored new markets, were rewarded.''

Last year's award went to Cominco Alaska Inc., operator of the Red Dog Mine, which employs 366 people and exports lead-zinc concentrate and silver to Canada, Europe and Asia.

Only Alaska-based businesses are eligible. Criteria used by Gov. Tony Knowles in making the award include new market development, quantifiable export growth, number of Alaskans employed, and innovation and creativity.

Young offers gold bill

Investors in precious metal bullion products would get the same capital gains treatment as investors in stocks and bonds, under a measure co-sponsored in Congress by Alaska Rep. Don Young.

H.R. 4170 provides capital gains treatment for bullion coins and bars.

Bullion coins are legal tender issued by government mints, but have a face value that is largely symbolic, with actual value depending upon the metal content and the daily changing price for that metal in the market. Examples include the American Eagle, the Canadian Maple Leaf and the South African Krugerrand. Bullion bars are sold by select commercial banks, brokerage houses and precious metals dealers, and are liquid investments.

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