State and local briefly

Posted: Thursday, May 18, 2000

Heese is new airport manager

JUNEAU - The Airport Board has picked Allan Heese as Juneau's new airport manager, effective May 22.

Heese had been acting manager since the departure of manager Dave Miller in November, and served as administrative officer for the airport since 1995. He is a licensed pilot with U.S. Air Force experience, including time as a jet test pilot.

``The board is pleased to have Allan continue his tireless work on behalf of the community's airport,'' said Mike Barton, Airport Board chairman. ``It's a pleasure to select a Juneau resident.''

Heese has said that Juneau provides a complex set of challenges to a manager. ``It's going to take a strong leader to get us through the challenges we're trying to meet - major construction projects, expansion of runway safety areas, restructuring our rates and charges, and funding and construction of a snow removal equipment building.''

Damaged ship returns to service

JUNEAU - Goldbelt Inc. celebrated the return of the Wilderness Adventurer cruise ship with an on-board reception Wednesday evening for the board of directors and members of the community.

A renovation that cost between $2.5 million and $3 million was recently completed to repair damage from the June 1999 grounding in Dundas Bay of Glacier Bay National Park. The ship has run one week-long tour of wilderness areas so far this season.

The interior work included an upgrade in fire safety equipment and some refurbishment of premium upper deck rooms to match the standards of new lower deck cabins that were completely redone because of water damage. Except for the extra work to improve the upper deck rooms, the repairs are almost entirely covered by insurance, said Goldbelt President and CEO Gary Droubay.

Last year's incident forced the removal of 56 passengers and 24 crew members from the 157-foot boat. There were no injuries. But the loss of anticipated revenue from the Wilderness Adventurer's cruises for the remainder of the 1999 season resulted in the cancellation of a fall dividend for shareholders and some political unrest.

Bike to work day is Friday

JUNEAU - Friday is Bike to Work Day, an annual event in which commuters are asked to leave their cars at home and ride their bicycles to work.

The annual event is sponsored by Juneau Freewheelers Bicycle Club, Super Bear Supermarket and Silverbow Bagels, and arrangements have been made for group rides and free food.

From the Mendenhall Valley bicyclists can meet at Super Bear for a free continental breakfast 6:30 a.m.-7 a.m. A mass ride into town will start at 6:45 a.m.

In the Lemon Creek area, riders can join other cyclists between 7 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. at Fred Meyer, Western Auto and Twin Lakes.

From North Douglas, bikers can meet other riders at 7:15 a.m. at Bonnie Brae. Douglas riders will be gathering then at the Douglas Library.

Once downtown riders can meet at the Dimond Courthouse at 7:45 a.m. for food and drinks provided by Silverbow Bagels.

Knowles OKs hydroproject sale

JUNEAU - A key component of a plan to fund electricity subsidies for Bush communities will become law today.

Bob King, spokesman for Gov. Tony Knowles, said the governor was slated to pen his approval for the sale of hydroelectric plans known collectively as the Four Dam Pool.

The bill is linked to another King said the governor will sign next week in Kotzebue. The second bill takes the money from the $73 million sale of the hydroelectric projects and puts it into a fund to endow the power cost equalization program into the future. That program subsidizes residential electric rates in most rural communities in Alaska.

Buying the projects are the Cooper Valley Electric Association, the Kodiak Electric Association and the cities of Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell.

The Legislature also approved transferring $100 million from the Constitutional Budget Reserve into the power cost equalization endowment account. That, along with the money from the Four Dam Pool sale and other, smaller pots of money, brings the endowment account to near $200 million.

At that level, power cost equalization should be within a couple of million of having it's $16 million per year funding paid for.

The money from the new account won't be available right away, so for the next couple of years, the power program will continue to be a matter for discussion as lawmakers put together the state's budget.

Alyeska investigates shifting pipeline

ANCHORAGE - A mile-and-a-half section of the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline has abruptly shifted south, shearing bolts that hold the pipe to supports.

The pipeline moved between 3 and 6 inches on the section south of the Brooks Range, said Tim Woolston, spokesman for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., which runs the pipeline. The problem was discovered Monday. As designed, the bolts that hold the pipe to supports sheared off, allowing the pipe to move without breaking.

The shift poses no immediate risk to the strength of the pipe and the flow has not been affected, Woolston said.

Engineers have not determined what caused the shift. But unique conditions created by oil falling steeply from the pass have caused the pipe to shudder and vibrate in the past and will be examined, Woolston said.

Alyeska says the pipe has never shifted off its supports since start-up in 1977. However, a similar incident happened during a test before start-up, Woolston said.

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