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CH2M Hill Selected to Rescue Anchorage Port Project

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 18:03

The Engineering firm CH2M Hill has been selected to manage the troubled Port of Anchorage project. The project was shutdown after construction problems a few years ago and remains tied up in lawsuits. but today officials said it could be on track again this year.

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Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage.

The role of the project manager will be to oversee the day-to-day operations of the construction project moving forward, setting timelines and benchmarks and selecting and supervising the work of subcontractors. CH2M Hill will not be involved in designing or building the port.

On the top floor of city Hall, Mayor Dan Sullivan said over the past few years his administration has been working to do several things:

“Determine what went wrong with construction; who’s responsible for what went wrong; what is the best path forward, including a review of the design parameters,” Sullivan said. “And then going forward putting together a team to make sure that as this project proceeds into the future that we’ve got the right team on board.”

The right team, Mayor Sullivan said is from CH2M Hill, a Colorado-based engineering firm with offices in Anchorage. The port project was started back in 2003 under Mayor George Wuersch and Port Director Bill Sheffield. The Design was approved in 2006 Under Mayor Mark Begich.

The Sullivan administration has led the push to get the Municipality reimbursed for it’s losses.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration managed the previous project. CH2M Hill released a report earlier this year saying the previous project had failed because of a patented ‘open cell sheet pile’ design that crumpled or separated during construction. CH2M Hill purchased the now defunct Veco Corporation, which was involved in the work that had the problems and is now party to a lawsuit by city. But Mayor Sullivan says that won’t be a problem.

“We think we can compartmentalize that lawsuit,” Sullivan said. “Again it goes back to Veco before they were acquired by CH2M Hill. So we’re confident that we’ll be able to keep the lawsuit separate from any progress going forward on the construction and design.”

Sullivan says the next steps will be selecting a new design, and contractors to build it. CH2M Hill was selected Sullivan says, for their expertise and experience in building ports in areas with seismic activity.

Stacey Jones, a vice president with CH2M Hill who will lead the team says unlike the Maritime Administration, which was criticized for managing the project from afar, CH2M Hill will work closely with the Port of Anchorage, setting up and Anchorage office right in the Port to develop the new project.

“I believe one of the reasons that CH2M Hill was selected is because of extensive experience in managing projects,” Jones said. “We are ranked number one in the U.S. for project management as well as environmental management. We have the skills and the tools and the expertise to do this.”

She added that the previous ‘open cell sheet pile’ design will not be used again but did not specify what design her firm favors. The contract with CH2M Hill is for 30 million dollars over five years with the option for two extensions at 12 more million dollars each.

Design and and engineering work is anticipated to take 18-months to two years with construction likely beginning again in 2016. The selection of CH2M Hill will go before the Anchorage Assembly for approval at it’s Jan. 14tmeeting.

The municipality has been investigating problems with the port project since they arose 2009. They’ve spent upwards of 300 million public dollars on the project so far and are requesting 100 million more from the legislature this year.

Commentary – John Murgas highlights committee discussion of senior sales tax exemption

Southeast Alaska News - Thu, 2014-01-02 17:56

KFSK has an open airwaves policy. We encourage the public to express opinions, ideas and creative works.
These pieces are available on our web site, kfsk.org, following the scheduled radio broadcast.

The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of KFSK.

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Consortium Threatens To Pull Plug On Panama Canal Expansion

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 17:43

Grupo Unidos por el Canal, made up of Spanish, Italian, Belgian and Panamanian firms, says it will halt work if it doesn't get paid for $1.6 billion in cost overruns in the next three weeks.

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Medicaid Expansion Boosted Emergency Room Visits In Oregon

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 16:50

If people have insurance coverage, the theory went, they won't end up in the emergency room as often. But an analysis of Oregon's expansion of Medicaid found that people who gained coverage were 40 percent more likely to go to the emergency room.

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KIC admins sign complaint against Tribal Council

Southeast Alaska News - Thu, 2014-01-02 16:43

In late November, 11 senior administrators at Ketchikan Indian Community sent a letter of complaint to the KIC Tribal Council, alleging violations of tribal ordinances.

The letter claims that some members of the Tribal Council have interfered with personnel matters, including demanding access to confidential information and encouraging employees to circumvent the chain of command. It also alleges that some Tribal Council members have harassed KIC employees, interfered with the operation of KIC programs and issued directives to senior management that were outside of tribal law.

The letter doesn’t provide any details or examples of those alleged violations, but it demands that Tribal Council members adhere to all of KIC’s ordinances, uphold their oaths of office, and remove two Tribal Council members: Andre Lecornu and Norman Arriola. The letter claims that those two members have continually violated tribal regulations.

When reached by phone, Arriola declined to comment for this story. Lecornu did not return a message seeking comment.

The Nov. 22 letter also states that if action was not taken by the Tribal Council, those who signed it would make public their accusations.

The letter was sent anonymously to KRBD, postmarked Dec. 30. It’s signed by Camille Booth, director of KIC’s Southern Southeast Alaska Technical Education Center; Education Director John Brown; Interim Health Administrator Steve Hudson; Housing Authority Director Bonnie Newman; Social Services Director Sue Pickrell; IT Director Rod Short; Medical Director Rachel Cuevas; Youth Coordinator Sonya Skan; and Nursing Director Joan Strutz-Ozan.

The letter also was signed by the former Human Resources Director Colleen Scanlon; and former KIC interim Tribal Administrator Arlene Dilts-Jackson. Scanlon is no longer a KIC employee, and in early December, Dilts-Jackson was replaced by Charles Edwardson.

Dilts-Jackson returned to her job as the KIC transportation director.

Scanlon declined to comment for this story. Dilts-Jackson did not return messages seeking comment. Neither did other administrators who had signed the letter nor Tribal Council President Irene Dundas.

Edwardson initially agreed to speak on the record for this story. However, he did not show up for a scheduled interview Thursday afternoon.

The KIC Tribal Council has eight members. The annual election is this month. Four seats are up for election, and are currently held by Lecornu, Delores Churchill, Donna Frank and Rob Sanderson.

KIC is a federally recognized tribe. It was incorporated in 1940, and runs numerous local programs, primarily serving Alaska Native residents. Its largest programs are the health clinic, vocational training center and housing authority.

Foes in court, friends in port? Anchorage hires CH2M Hill to oversee stalled project

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 16:30
Foes in court, friends in port? Anchorage hires CH2M Hill to oversee stalled project The Municipality of Anchorage has chosen a company to oversee work at its beleaguered port, but it's also a company Anchorage is suing over work already done on the project.January 2, 2014

Threat Level of Alaska Volcano Upgraded

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 15:57

Scientists have increased the threat level of Alaska’s Cleveland Volcano from yellow to orange.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says the volcano appears to have kicked up to an elevated unrest. In the past six days, three brief explosions from Cleveland Volcano were detected.

The color designation indicates that sudden explosions could send ash above 20,000 feet, threatening international air carriers.
Cleveland is not monitored with seismic instruments. Observatory officials say minor ash plumes were observed in satellite data after two of the explosions. The height of the plumes is not known.

The volcano is located on an uninhabited island in the Aleutian Islands.

Last May the volcano experienced a low-level eruption. Cleveland’s last significant eruption before that began in February 2011.

Tonight's Meteor Shower: Live, From Space, It's The Quadrantids

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 15:51

If you haven't heard of the Quadrantids, don't worry. Even NASA calls them "a little-known meteor shower named after an extinct constellation." But in the Northern Hemisphere, they can be well worth watching.

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Arrest Made In Murder Of California Priest

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 15:37

The say the body of the Rev. Eric Freed, found in the rectory of St. Bernard Church in Eureka on New Year's Day, showed signs of a struggle.

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For The Unemployed, Ideas To Help Bridge The Gap To Work

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 15:13

More than 1 million people lost their unemployment benefits as 2014 began. Whether or not those benefits get extended, economists say there are ways to change the program that will make it work better. One suggestion is work sharing, which has helped reduce Germany's unemployment.

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Whitehorse Correctional Centre guard charged, held

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 15:03
A Whitehorse correctional officer is locked up in the same jail he was patrolling just last week.

Salvation Army reaches its Christmas goal

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 15:01
Once again, Yukoners have shown their generosity, coming through for the local Salvation Army’s Christmas fund-raising campaign.

A Sharp Rise In Earthquakes Puts Oklahomans On Edge

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 15:01

For the past three decades, the state averaged about 50 quakes a year. Last year, there were almost 3,000. Some geologists say the state's oil and gas industry might be to blame for the increase.

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Local author in the running for Stephen Leacock Award

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 14:57
Local author David Thompson likes to keep an eye out for any reviews of his latest book Haines Junction, which was published last year.

Partisan Evolution Gap? Politically Insignificant, GOP Says

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 14:55

A new Pew survey showing that belief in evolution has dropped among Republicans is fueling critics who argue the GOP is anti-science. But Republican strategists say it's not an issue that will matter at the polls.

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Defying GOP Leaders, Rep. Trey Radel Won't Resign After Rehab

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 14:20

The Florida congressman, who was arrested in November for cocaine possession, said he's returning to Congress. But the Republican hasn't said yet whether he'll seek another two years in Congress when his term expires this year.

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Using Sound To Levitate Objects And Move Them Midair

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 14:19

Researchers in Tokyo have put a new twist on the use of sound to suspend objects in air. They've used ultrasonic standing waves to trap pieces of wood, metal and water – and even move them around.

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Newspapers: 'Whistle-Blower' Snowden Deserves Clemency

NPR News - Thu, 2014-01-02 14:16

The New York Times and Britain's The Guardian have published editorials saying accused spy Edward Snowden has sparked an important debate about the proper limits of electronic surveillance.

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Art exhibit explores modernization of Native culture

Alaska and Yukon Headlines - Thu, 2014-01-02 13:48
Art exhibit explores modernization of Native culture Patrick Minock, January's featured artist at the Alaska Native Arts Foundation gallery, explores the evolution of Yup'ik culture through realist drawings.January 2, 2014

Half-staff announced for former Alaska lawmaker

Southeast Alaska News - Thu, 2014-01-02 13:46

Gov. Sean Parnell has ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff on Friday in memory of former Rep. John M. Sweet.

Sweet died on Sept. 11 in Boulder, Colorado. He was 88.

Born in Parker, Pennsylvania, Sweet served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II. He was a geologist with Atlantic Richfield Company, and worked in Prudhoe Bay. He represented Anchorage in the state House from 1969 to 1970.

Sweet is survived by his wife, Mirabel, of Boulder, and six children.

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