Northwest Digest

Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2005

Offices, buses shut down for holiday

JUNEAU - City, state and federal offices will be closed today in observation of Thanksgiving.

There will be no bus service in Juneau today. Buses will be in full operation Friday.

City Hall will be closed Thursday and Friday for the holiday, along with the Juneau-Douglas City Museum.

All of the city libraries are closed for Thanksgiving. All are closed Friday except for the Mendenhall Valley branch, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Augustus Brown Swimming Pool and Treadwell Ice Arena are both closed today and open for regular hours Friday.

The Alaska State Museum and Alaska State Library are closed today, and both are open regular hours on Friday.

The Juneau Empire business office is closed today. It will reopen Friday. To report breaking news the newsroom, call 586-3740.

BP plans to add to Alaska work force

ANCHORAGE - BP plans to increase its Alaska work force by as many as 200 workers over the next year.

The oil giant's announcement follows a long trend of employee cutbacks among major oil companies in the state.

The new hires will include engineers and others needed for such North Slope projects as a subsea drilling effort at a new offshore oil field, according to BP officials.

Adding 200 people would increase BP's Alaska employment by 15 percent.

State labor economist Neal Fried said the company's hiring plans are startling considering the payroll shrinkage seen in the oil industry. Much of the cutbacks could be attributed to slowing oil flow from the Prudhoe Bay oil field, operated by BP on behalf of itself and other owners.

BP's job base in Alaska dropped from about 1,500 in 1991 to as few as 900 in 1999, according to the state Department of Labor. The payroll briefly spiked early this decade as BP took over operation of Prudhoe, but the cutbacks resumed and last year BP employed 1,337.

BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said the company plans to bring the new hires aboard by the end of next year. The jobs are new, not replacements for vacant positions, he said.

Projects being considered include a plant to remove salt from water, with the water then pumped underground to flush out more oil. Fresh water can wash out potentially millions of barrels more crude oil than the salty water now used, Beaudo said.

Also, pipelines and plants across the North Slope are aging and will need refurbishing for what BP sees as 50 years of work remaining in the region.

Evidence of Clatsop site remains elusive

WARRENTON, Ore. - A month of scanning and probing beneath the site of the destroyed Fort Clatsop replica has failed to find artifacts that tie the site to the original fort built by the Lewis and Clark expedition 200 years ago.

The replica at the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, burned Oct. 3, making the space beneath it available for exploration.

The search was to end Wednesday, and construction of a new replica is to begin Dec. 10.

A long tradition of oral history puts the original fort at or near the site of the replica, but hard evidence linking the site to the explorers has been elusive.

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