- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

Sept. 13, 2014

Ketchikan Daily News: Ready and waiting: Ketchikan is ready to build a ferry.

The state Department of Transportation has been meeting with Vigor Alaska, which operates Ketchikan Shipyard for the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, to draft a contract to build a new ferry.

For the community, it seems like it is taking a very long time to accomplish.

Ketchikan has been looking at building a ferry for years.

About a half dozen years ago, it anticipated the shipyard would build a new, large day ferry without staterooms - an Alaska Class Ferry - to replace one of the original 1960s models. The federal government not only provided about $1.5 million, but engineering had begun.

Then, a couple of years ago, DOT estimated that one Alaska Class ferry would cost at least $160 million despite an effort to be in the $120 million range.

The state decided to scrap the original Alaska Class ferry idea and build two smaller day ferries, hopefully for the price of one of the larger boats.

The state and the shipyard are operating under a construction manager-general contractor arrangement in which the shipyard participates in the design of the first of the two ships and then negotiates a contract with the state to build it. At the end of this process, there would be a maximum guaranteed price.

The design is essentially complete and negotiations have been underway. The contract is expected in 2014. The most specific and latest date mentioned this year is September.

It is September.

This contract means that state ferries would be built in Alaska, where they should be. The effect wouldn’t only be one of buying local, but enhancing the state and local economy. It would ensure jobs in Ketchikan.

The shipyard has said that the average number of new jobs would range between 60 and 80 over the two years of construction. But, as long as all went well with the first ferry, then those jobs could be extended with the construction of the second small ferry, and perhaps a third and a fourth.

These jobs are essential to Ketchikan’s economy. In the past 10 years, the number of jobs at the shipyard has increased from 60 to 100, with an average salary of $62,000. The shipyard also contributed more than $120 million to the economy in wages, donations, taxes, goods and services, according to a study conducted by the Ketchikan Marine Industry Council.

Gov. Sean Parnell has stated he would like the ferry to be built in Alaska. He likes to create Alaska jobs, he says.

It would be an economic tragedy if he, DOT, the shipyard and the community didn’t make that happen in Ketchikan sooner rather than later.

Sept. 15, 2014

Ketchikan Daily News: Water mains

Ketchikan can pay today or pay more tomorrow.

That’s what Propositions 1 and 2 on the Oct. 7 municipal election ballot are all about.

The City of Ketchikan will replace water and sewer mains around town.

It comes down to whether it will be done at today’s price or the price of a later date. The latter situation likely would be when the mains fail, which would result in higher replacement costs.

The city knows that the mains on Schoenbar, Chatham, Front, Mill and Stedman streets are in poor condition. They are between 30 and 50 years old.

Of course, these mains are in high population areas about town - near schools and in the downtown business district. A main’s failure would create hardship.

The city is applying for grants, which would pay for as much as 70 percent of the replacements costs. But it has to have bonds in place to improve the likelihood of receiving the grants.

To buy the bonds, the city would need favorable votes on the two propositions.

A yes vote means the replacement project is underway. A no vote results in delays with the possibility of mains failing, and the repair and replacement prices as a result of an emergency situation increasing above what they might be by simply tackling the project before that happens.

It comes down to dollars and cents, as many projects do. Pay now at the likeliest lower price or pay later at a probable higher price.

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