Dermot Cole

Repeating what has become his mantra on the state budget, Fairbanks Sen. Pete Kelly said in a Fairbanks meeting this week that “government in Alaska has had a good run,” but the paradigm has shifted. On other occasions he has supplemented his slogan by saying government has to feel pain or that individual Alaskans should not have to pay for the “ lifestyle of government.” It's a curious choice of words. If you didn't know better, you’d think he was not part of the government. Kelly is a veteran legislator, a former lobbyist for the University of Alaska and a former special assistant to former Gov. Sean Parnell. He collects a government paycheck and a government pension, along with a Permanent Fund dividend. Nothing wrong with any of that. Lots of people enjoy the same benefits. Thanks to...Dermot Cole
No company has done more to advertise its receipt of oil and gas tax credits in Alaska than Miller Energy Resources, which has received close to $100 million over the past year or so. Now the company is likely to become a case study for why the laws governing cash incentives -- with no requirement to show what the state gets out of the bargain -- need an overhaul by the Walker administration and the Legislature. The Legislature has structured the tax credit law so that individual payments to companies are a state secret. But Miller is one of the companies that volunteers to share what it receives in state incentives, highlighting those numbers in presentations to investors. Miller Energy, based in Tennessee and Houston, Texas, expects to collect more than $70 million this calendar year in...Dermot Cole
For those who will write the history of modern Alaska, nearly 5,000 numbered boxes in the basement of the University of Alaska Fairbanks library are likely to be a critical element in achieving accuracy. In those boxes is the written record of the Senate career of the late Sen. Ted Stevens, one of the most influential members of Congress in the late 20th Century and the most influential Alaska leader. It’s an enormous collection. Think of a paper column 6 feet wide by 6 feet deep that nearly touches the top of the Captain Cook Hotel. But five years after Stevens' death, the millions of pages he accumulated over decades remain off-limits to researchers, locked away three floors below ground at the UAF Rasmuson Library. And it’s not clear when or if that will change, or what might be...Dermot Cole
A sign near the corner of Tudor and Boniface violates a state regulation. So it needs to go, the state says. But the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities should listen to Leola Holloway, 70, and recognize that the sign should stay. It's the regulation that needs to go. At 2 a.m. on Dec. 6, 1996, Leola’s daughter and two friends were headed home in a Honda after an evening spent playing bingo. After traveling east on Tudor Road, they turned north on Boniface Parkway just when a 22-year-old, Roger James, ran the light in a Nissan pickup. The truck smashed into the passenger side and dragged the Honda 40 feet, killing Sheila Unique Holloway, 27, and Kori Hornstein, 20, and injuring driver Alison Glover, 21. Sheila and Kori, who had worked together at the clothing store Lamonts...Dermot Cole
The tourist guides show blue skies and sunshine, but some visitors to Fairbanks opted for white face masks Tuesday to deal with the thick smoke that blanketed much of Interior Alaska. The Evans family from Maine and other points east—Bruce, Kathy and Susan—said they traveled from Denali National Park to Fairbanks in the morning and the smoke took them by surprise. They wore face masks because it seemed like the right thing to do. "Everybody coming back off the bus recommended it," said Bruce. A kayak excursion had to be canceled. Did the face masks make a difference? "Absolutely," Kathy and Susan said. Fairbanks Memorial Hospital opened a "clean air" room and invited asthma patients in for a breath of fresh air, and it put all of its automated doors in manual mode to try to keep the smoke...Dermot Cole
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On July 4, 1915, no buildings could be found amid the birch and aspen trees covering the home of the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. The college had no class schedule, no students, no employees and no budget. The one thing it had, however, as of that day, was a 24-cubic-foot...
Dermot Cole
On July 4, 1915, no buildings could be found amid the birch and aspen trees covering the home of the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. The college had no class schedule, no students, no employees and no budget. The one thing it had, however, as of that day, was a 24-cubic-foot cornerstone. This was no chicken-or-egg situation. The cornerstone came first, at a time when the college didn’t exist, even on paper. But it already lived in the imagination of James Wickersham, the Alaska delegate to Congress who dedicated a 3,600-pound cornerstone that day to give substance to his college dream. On Monday, hundreds of people gathered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to commemorate the centennial of Wickersham’s bold publicity stunt, with reflections on the past and future of...Dermot Cole
No one has kept an exact count, but the state has invested about $1 billion in recent years to promote oil and gas development in Cook Inlet through tax breaks and direct cash payments to companies. The result, supporters say, is a record of investment and development that has transformed the energy industry in Southcentral Alaska. As Anchorage Republican Sens. Anna MacKinnon and Cathy Giessel wrote in a recent opinion column , “in just the last three years, Cook Inlet tax credits have taken us from brown-out drills in Anchorage to affordable energy for another decade.” Along the same lines, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan said, “the economic activity has been significant, but even more significant is having energy security for over half of the state’s population.” But at what price has the...Dermot Cole
In 1910, the head of the computing division of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey offered a detailed set of careful calculations about the height of the biggest mountain in North America, three years before anyone set foot on the summit. “It is believed that the value (20,300 feet) for the elevation of Mount McKinley is correct within 150 feet,” William Bowie wrote in a government report. We’ll soon have a good idea of just how close the early surveyors came to the mark when they took the measure of Denali from afar. The Denali Summit Survey , a four-member climbing team, is now in the rarefied air with some of the most sophisticated GPS equipment ever made, hoping to return with precise elevation records from the highest point in North America. It’s a tall order with a long history. When...Dermot Cole
At the fire retardant supply depot on the east end of the Fort Wainwright runway, the pilot of an Erickson Aero Tanker plane received the coordinates for a new blaze requiring a 4,000-gallon bath on a hot and smoky afternoon. “Tanker one-zero-one, you’ll be rolling west of Fairbanks,” the dispatch center said, and the twin-engine MD-87 jet was soon roaring toward its next target. In a nearby one-story office the other day, Rick Thompson monitored radio traffic and air traffic, governing a bombing campaign aimed at the flaming forests of Interior Alaska. With dry weather and lightning sparking dozens of fires across a wide section of the state, smoke figured into every forecast from Fort Yukon to Galena this week. A dense fog-like blanket covered much of the region and limited visibility...Dermot Cole