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Sean Doogan

The annual Permanent Fund dividend that will be distributed to qualifying Alaskans in a little more than a month is projected to be worth $1,930.49, give or take $100, according to an analysis by Alaska Dispatch News.

At that amount, the check would more than double last year’s $900, a boost that comes because the distribution is based on fund revenues over five years. The dismal year of 2009, when the fund’s overall value declined as the nation was mired in recession, drops out of the equation.

But the check won’t be the biggest ever paid. It will fall short of the record distribution of $2,069 in 2008. And it may come in below the runner-up of $1,963.86 in 2000...

Alex DeMarban,Sean Doogan

Enstar operational employees, about 100 maintenance and plant workers, have voted to end their two-week strike without getting a new contract.

The employees, part of the United Association Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 367, are expected to return to work on Thursday, according to the union's attorney, Chuck Dunnagan. John Sims, Enstar's business development director, said in an email Wednesday evening that the utility has agreed to the arrangement.

"Enstar accepts the unconditional offer from the union for our employees to return to work," Sims wrote. "Enstar expects all operating employees will be returning tomorrow for their normal work shifts." He added that all Enstar offices will be open for walk-in customers on Thursday...

Sean Doogan

Officials with national telecom giant Verizon said Monday that when they debut their Alaska network in the coming weeks it will come with cutting-edge technology -- including phone call and video quality not currently available to its Lower 48 customers. Verizon said it is waiting to debut the new features until its Alaska stores and 4G LTE high-speed network officially open, which Verizon public relations director Scott Charlston said should be sometime in the next few weeks...

Sean Doogan

Since the late 1950s, malls have been a staple of American shopping and culture. But their success and influence on consumers are waning across the nation. No new enclosed malls have been built in this country since 2006, according to real estate research firm Green Street Advisors . Sales have been slumping in many parts of the country, driven down by increased competition from the Internet and struggling anchor stores like Sears and J.C. Penney . There is even a website dedicated to the downfall of the American mall ...

Sean Doogan

While many Alaskans might not have heard of her, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker leads a federal agency that has deep roots in the Last Frontier. In addition to working to improve export and commerce among states, Pritzker's agency is in also charge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service.

"I have a lot to learn about what's happening in Alaska, and Alaska is obviously a unique part of the U.S., so now's a good time to be here," Pritzker said Thursday in Anchorage. Pritzker is in Alaska on her first-ever trip to the 49th state...

Sean Doogan

An Alaska family said it is ready to reopen the Sheep Creek Lodge , at Mile 88 of the Parks Highway, after buying the property this summer.

The lodge, which was shut down by previous owners Fred and Phenie Miller because of ongoing issues with the water well, is set to reopen Sept. 1, according to Jessi Zimmerly, whose family bought the property in July.

"We plan to have a grand opening and Labor Day barbecue," Zimmerly said...

Sean Doogan

As it entered its fourth day Thursday, a strike by about 100 Enstar employees seemed no closer to a resolution than it did when it began on Monday.

Enstar's operational employees, represented by Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 367, rejected the Southcentral Alaska natural gas utility's final contract offer last week. About 50 Enstar clerical employees represented by the union accepted Enstar's offer and have been encouraged to return to work, according to Local 367 negotiation spokesman Chuck Dunnagan...

Sean Doogan

Enstar , the state's largest natural gas utility, said Wednesday it expects gas cost rates charged to consumers will go down in the fourth quarter of this year.

Enstar said it will be filing the new rate on Friday and will be asking the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to approve a fourth-quarter gas cost adjustment of $7.15 per cubic thousand feet (Mcf) of natural gas. If the five-member commission approves Enstar's rates, its Southcentral customers -- more than 137,000 residences and businesses -- will be paying about 52 cents less per Mcf than they do now...

Sean Doogan

About 150 employees of Enstar Natural Gas Co. -- the largest natural gas utility in Alaska, serving more than 137,000 residential and commercial customers -- went on strike at 6 a.m. Monday.

The operational employees, about 100 repair and maintenance workers in Plumbers and Pipefitters Union Local 367, called the strike after rejecting Enstar's latest contract offer. The contract was accepted by about 50 clerical employees represented by the union in a closed vote, but operational employees still strongly rejected it, union officials said.

Union business manager Greg Walker said that emergency dispatchers would continue to work until managers could relieve them on Monday...

Sean Doogan

It usually comes up with a small mention to a curious coworker about "lightning day." Each July 28, I try to celebrate being alive, because on that day, 21 years ago, I was hit by lightning...

Sean Doogan