Northwest Digest

Wire reports

Posted: Monday, December 12, 2005

Construction projects at record value in Kenai

KENAI - Local construction projects were valued at more than $84 million, a record amount that easily outstripped the peak year of 1995 when the Seward SealLife Center was permitted.

A November report on the Kenai Peninsula Borough's economic status and outlook found that the region's seasonal economy had diversified and stengthened.

Analyst Jeanne Camp said total construction permits in 2004 were valued at $84 million, a 93 percent increase over permitting in 2003. Camp said the figure was a new record high, besting a previous record of $61.5 million set in 1995.

Analysts also said borough gross sales in 2004 were $2.2 billion, a 2 percent increase over the prior year.

Rebound followed the closing of Big Kmart and was credited in part to sales at Home Depot, which completed its first full year of operation.

Sales in Kenai reached $469 million for the year, the Peninsula Clarion said. Slowest growth among incorporated cities was reported in Homer with sales of $284 million.

AIDEA sends $16 million to state fund

FAIRBANKS - The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority will contribute $16 million to the state general fund, nearly twice the amount sent last year.

AIDEA, which promotes business in Alaska in part by expanding options for businesses to borrow money, is required annually to contribute between 25 percent and 50 percent of its audited net income to the state for unrestricted use.

The five-member AIDEA board approved the allotment on Dec. 5, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner said. This year's contribution is $16.6 million; last year's sum was $8.8 million.

Becky Gay, an AIDEA project manager, said strong performance on investments as well as increased revenue from loans were behind the contribution.

Board members include commissioners of the Department of Revenue; the Department of Community and Economic Development; and the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Two public members are appointed by the governor.

Eielson reductions prompt labor study

FAIRBANKS - Congressionally mandated reductions at Eielson Air Force Base are behind a review of the Fairbanks North Star Borough economy.

The federally funded study aims to learn how to match work force skills to employer needs.

Interviews and telephone surveys are planned with about 450 borough employees to help generate recommendations.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Interior Alaska Regional Council, which includes business and government agents, are overseeing the project.

In November, Congress finalized a plan by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission that includes a reduction of active personnel at Eielson. Starting within two years and finishing within six, all 18 A-10 jets will be withdrawn from the base, together with approximately 600 personnel.

Some sex offenders thwart state's system

SEATTLE - Some sex offenders are taking advantage of Washington's sex offender law, stating they're homeless even if they have a roof over their heads, The Seattle Times reported after an investigation of the state's sex-offender tracking system.

Out of every 10 sex offenders who report they are homeless, authorities say two or three are actually living in a neighborhood at a particular address, The Times reported Sunday.

Seattle police Detective Bob Shilling, a national expert on sex-offender management, said letting offenders register as homeless undermines the state's registration law and gives the public a false sense of security.

"The whole idea of registration is that we know where sex offenders are," Shilling told The Times. "When they are homeless we lose track of them, and when we lose track of them we can't tell you where they are."

Hundreds of offenders are released from state prisons each year and struggle to find jobs and places to live. Most shelters, tent cities and apartment complexes prohibit sex offenders from living there.

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