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Borough Green-Lights Veneer Mill
by Joseph Branco


January 04, 2005

Ketchikan, Alaska - In a unanimous decision Monday night, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly agreed to lease six acres of Ward Cove property and its veneer mill to Ted Falconer and his company, New Veneer Corp. The agreement includes a $10,000 a month rent payment plus utilities and $500,000 for the purchase of veneer mill equipment. Following several weeks of negotiation and contract discussions, the Borough Assembly has launched the community of Ketchikan into the New Year with the first of many landmark decisions aimed at improving the financial stability of Ketchikan.

jpg Ward Cove - Ketchikan, Alaska

Ward Cove - Ketchikan, Alaska
Photograph courtesy Ketchikan Gateway Borough...

Under the leadership and vision of Washington businessman Ted Falconer, the new veneer mill operation is expected to create fifty new jobs in the community and an additional forty within two years. The target date for production at the veneer mill has been set for May of this year. The total cash revenue from the agreement is approximately 2.6 million. In the interest of providing sufficient support for the new venture, the Borough Assembly has allowed 90 days for the $500,000 equipment payment and four months from the agreement date before rent payments begin. The Borough Assembly is optimistic about the agreement and the positive impact it will have for our local economy.

Despite discussion over discrepancies between assessed value and real estate broker estimates of Ward Cove property, the Assembly agreed that the sale of the property for industrial or commercial use is in the best interest of the Ketchikan economy. The Borough Assembly has been contacted by two separate parties interested in purchasing the entire cove for industrial purposes, although specifics have not been discussed as of yet. While the Borough Assembly members could all agree that the cove is a valuable asset, agreeing on which offers would be worth considering was a topic of debate. A motion to delay the decision to accept offers for Ward Cove property pending further discussion was narrowly defeated. Assemblyman Tipton stated "We have a commitment to the taxpayers to make the tough decisions. There is no reason to delay any longer." Mr. Tipton further reminded the assembly and the public that Ward Cove property was marketed on a global scale and received no offers. He argued that delaying for something better when we have offers coming in would be unfair to taxpayers and the Borough would free itself of half a million in holding costs each year by selling the property.

In addition to Ward Cove, the Schoenbar saga was addressed. The report from the Schoenbar project was not comforting. Operating intimately with Murphy's Law, the Schoenbar project has been hit with several dilemmas from design issues to communication problems, to logistical issues. The Borough Assembly was collectively concerned with the direction of the project and will be expecting a thorough schedule by the next Assembly meeting.

In contrast, the Fawn Mountain project seems to be progressing as scheduled. The Borough is optimistic regarding the investment and its value and will be looking for a Project Manager to coordinate the various elements of the complicated and challenging project.

The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly has set forth a powerful first step in our New Year. The next KGB Assembly meeting is set for January 17th at 5:30.




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