Alaska Digest

staff and Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2004

Barrow-based Native firm reports lower profits

ANCHORAGE - The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation reported a 71 percent drop in profits for 2003, one of its worst years ever.

In its 2003 financial report, the Barrow-based Alaska Native firm reported revenue of nearly $1 billion, but profits of just under $5 million.

In 2002, the firm reported profits of nearly $17 million, and in 2001, $31 million.

"Are we satisfied with our net income? No, we're not. That's why we're making changes," said Conrad Bagne, chief operating officer. "In some cases it's in management, in some cases it's in organizational structure. In some cases it's a matter of weathering the storm in a particular economy."

ASRC has 7,200 shareholders of Inupiat heritage and runs businesses in the oil and gas sector, government services, construction, financial management, engineering, and communications.

Last year, it paid dividends of $4.5 million - almost its entire year's profits - or about $500 for the average shareholder, according to a company newsletter.

State settles consumer protection lawsuit

ANCHORAGE - The state has settled its consumer protection and fraud lawsuits against the owner of a bankrupt Anchorage tour company.

The state last year sued Alaska Adventures and Accommodations, also known as Ask Alaska Travel & Tours, and owner Jennifer Christensen, accusing her of misusing customer credit cards and not delivering services for which she had taken money.

"Customers and vendors, within the state and around the world, discovered that travel plans and itineraries scheduled for the height of Alaska's summer tourism season were disrupted or ruined as a result of actions of this business," Attorney General Gregg Renkes said Wednesday announcing the settlement.

The settlement requires payment of $30,134 for consumer restitution and $17,775 for vendor restitution - about 75 percent of the principal amount still owed, Renkes said.

A $50,000 civil penalty will be waived if the restitution is paid as ordered.

The settlement prohibits Christensen from engaging in business under the name of the company that she operated. She is banned for 10 years from owning, managing or consulting in a business that processes credit or debit card transactions.

$52 million awarded to Native housing groups

FAIRBANKS - Alaska Native housing authorities will receive $52 million from the federal government to help build and improve homes.

The biggest grant, $9.6 million, will go to the Fairbanks-based Interior Regional Housing Authority, which administers the federal government's Native housing program for 24 tribal governments in Interior Alaska.

Other Interior Native housing grants announced Tuesday include $610,000 for the Native Village of Fort Yukon and $245,000 each for the Village of Galena and the Nulato Tribal Council.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under a block-grant program established in 1996 for Native housing authorities, according to Robin Prichard, a HUD spokeswoman in Seattle.

Housing authorities can use the money to build new houses or fix up old ones, whether they are rented or owned. They also can pay for crime prevention programs, safety work or even classes - "things that would benefit that community," Prichard said.

Engineering unit returns from Iraq

ANCHORAGE - A 25-member civil engineering unit has returned to Elmendorf Air Force after serving four months in Iraq.

Operating out of the Baghdad airport, members of the 611th Engineer Squadron blew up unexploded ordinance, fixed bombed-out rooftops and turned on hot water for showers.

Iraqi insurgents occasionally took potshots at the airport with mortars and rocket-fired grenades, but the unit did not come under direct attack, said 1st Lt. Tony Wickman, a spokesman for Alaskan Air Command at Elmendorf.

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