FILLING THE BUDGET GAP AT THE STATE—ITS GENERATING MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS.  Lawmakers are now in their second month of dealing with the Budget gap of $1.5 Billion dollars.  Governor Dunleavy has proposed a state-sponsored Lottery to help generate revenue, but some say it could take up to two years to implement, and the concept will likely face steep opposition by non-profits who use other means to raise funds for their causes.  The Governor has promised to conduct a statewide tour in order to get Alaskans ideas on how to solve this issue, but so far the launch of that effort has been stalled by weather and logistical challenges of travel—mostly in Southeast Alaska.

FERRY SERVICE WOES COULD BE ADDRESSED BY A MEASURE MAKING ITS WAY THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE.  A house Transportation subcommittee passed an $18.7 million dollar amendment that would provide needed funding to restore some service following $40 million in cuts directed by the Dunleavy administration.  DOT officials still struggle with the difficulties of arranging stop-gap transportation for stranded ferry passengers, and no solutions are advanced to respond to residents of Cordova, Pelican, Gustavus and Angoon, where the prospects of returning to any semblance of regular service appear to be dimming.  One municipal government, the Haines Borough has taken responsibility to fund some temporary service to and from Juneau by chartering Allen Marine boats in order to offer some relief for local residents and sports teams whose season play has been interrupted by the shutdown of most AMHS service runs.

NEW INDUSTRIAL SUBDIVISION APPROVED AT THE AIRPORT.  Developer Bicknell won approval of a years-long process to bring new industrial parcels to the Juneau market at the Planning Commission meeting on February 25.  In its first phase, the subdivision will bring 14 lots ranging in size from one half to over four acres, according to Spike Bicknell.  “This is the first subdivision in nearly fifteen years that will offer lots of this size,” Bicknell said.  Interest in the parcels has been high.  Most projected use will be airport support related,  and use for distribution centers is already anticipated.  The development has required sophisticated engineering to reclaim land originally sensitive to wetlands impacts. First Bank will offer financing for lot acquisition and development according to Bicknell.

SPECULATION SURROUNDS NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINES WATERFRONT ACQUISITION IN JUNEAU.  Norwegian officials were in Juneau recently for more follow up with locals in discussions to possibly help support the construction of the Oceans Center facility that was once promoted for that site.  If the Center is built, it is suggested that Norwegian could play a pivotal role in making the center a reality according to unnamed sources.  In the event that his project becomes a reality, it could create dozens of local year-round jobs, and it could foster a vital connection to the Juneau community versus a  seasonal tourism operation.

JUNEAU AIRPORT TERMINAL RENOVATION NOW UNDERWAY.  Phase II of the Airport terminal renovation project is now underway.  The scope of the project will be to replace areas originally constructed before 1984.  This is the wing of the airport currently serving part  135 Air carriers—those smaller operators serving outlying communities.  The renovation will also include US Customs offices.  The overall project will generally mirror the two-story configuration in Phase I.  Total cost is estimated at $21.6 Million.