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Dermot Cole

SALCHA -- Alaska’s top elected officials gathered here Tuesday to mark the completion of the longest bridge in Alaska, expressing hope that someday it will be part of a railroad connection to Canada and the Lower 48, though no money is headed down the tracks anytime soon.

For now, the $187 million bridge connects a gravel road near the Richardson Highway with the vast Tanana Flats south of the Tanana River, where there are no roads. It will be used by the Army and Air Force for year-round access to a million-acre training range...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS — A company providing refuse service to 318 residential customers outside the city wants a 158 percent rate increase, arguing its current rates are “confiscatorily low.”

Alaska Waste is seeking an interim rate increase of 96 percent for its Fairbanks operation, submitting a revenue study to support its position that the current rates approved by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska do not produce an “adequate return.”

Other branches of Alaska Waste are also seeking double-digit rate permanent increases, including an 11.45 percent increase in Anchorage, 26 percent in Mat-Su and 31 percent in Kenai. The company is seeking interim rate increases only for the Interior and Kenai, with a 10 percent interim hike proposed for Kenai...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS — Herb Schroeder of the University of Alaska Anchorage neglected to give full credit where credit is due for many of the private donations to the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program and other university programs.

In an Alaska Dispatch News commentary opposing the effort to repeal the SB 21 oil tax cut , Schroeder praised industry contributions to the ANSEP program over the the years, citing these as evidence of what the industry has done to "crush the barriers that have excluded Alaska Natives from the science and engineering professions."...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The trustees of the Bill Stroecker Foundation have resolved their differences over settling the estate of the late Fairbanks banker, clearing the way for one of the largest Alaska foundations to become fully operational.

The foundation is expected to receive almost $23 million from Stroecker’s estate and will soon be distributing more than $1 million a year to charities...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- A nine-year effort to build a veterans cemetery near Fairbanks moved closer to completion Thursday as the state purchased a 320-acre hillside overlooking the Goldstream Valley just outside of Fox for $2 million.

With the land deal wrapped up, the Department of Veterans Affairs is expected to approve the allocation of up to $9 million in federal funds this year for construction of the cemetery, said McHugh Pierre, deputy commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for Alaska...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- Companies trying to collect millions from a failed oil and gas exploration company in Cook Inlet claim that the financial affairs of Buccaneer Energy are tied up in an elaborate shell game.

A month before Buccaneer Energy filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy laws May 31, its biggest lender entered a “sham transaction” to circumvent Australian law, according to a court filing in Texas by unsecured creditors of Buccaneer Energy, including oil and gas support firms...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- ConocoPhillips and Doyon Drilling announced a five-year deal Monday for a new $100 million drill rig that is to operate in the Kuparuk oil field starting in 2016.

Officials of both companies linked the investment to the oil tax cut approved by the Legislature a year ago, though they said the timing of the announcement was not based on the repeal election in August but on the signing of a contract in July.

“This is the third rig we’ve picked up since (passage of Senate Bill 21, which altered the tax structure for the oil industry in Alaska) so there’s undoubtedly a tie between SB 21 and the fact that we’re picking up rigs,” said Mike Wheatall, manager of drilling and wells for ConocoPhillips in Alaska...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The small private natural gas utility in Fairbanks, which has about 1,100 customers, “engaged in numerous highly irregular transactions” that warrant a state investigation, according to the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

The borough raised numerous objections to the proposed 6.92 percent rate hike by Fairbanks Natural Gas and asked the Regulatory Commission of Alaska to review the company’s operations.

FNG provides natural gas service to the urban center of Fairbanks, while a municipal utility is forming to serve North Pole and suburban Fairbanks. Both entities competed for the right to serve the less populated areas but the RCA awarded a certificate to the municipal entity in late 2013...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- A 647-mile section of the Alaska-Canada border runs on a straight line from Mount St. Elias to the Beaufort Sea, following the 141st meridian.

More than a century ago, crews struggled to turn the simplicity of an unbending line into marks on mountaintops and valley floors. They planted monuments in concrete and cleared a 20-foot swath across hundreds of miles of forests and hills. The work took seven years.

“The line now constitutes a very prominent and noticeable feature of the landscape,” a 1918 report concluded, “and one that will remain so for many years owing to the slow growth of timber in those northern latitudes.”...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- Anyone who has ever opted for large type and oversized margins on the printed page should take note of the Alaska Supreme Court decision in the case of Silver Bow Construction v. State of Alaska. It’s the content that counts, not the size of the words, the court said Friday.

The case stems from a 2010 request for proposals to renovate the governor’s mansion in Juneau. The state request said responses “shall not exceed” 10 pages or they might be rejected.

Alaska Commercial Contractors bid on the job with a 15-page request, while JKM produced 11 pages. Silver Bow hit the mark at 10 pages, while North Pacific Erectors, a model of brevity, offered seven pages...

Dermot Cole