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Posted: Monday, December 24, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 4:15 pm, Fri Jan 25, 2013.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

Thumbs up: The Alaska Division of Forestry has announced plans to issue a 25-year timber sale contract to provide woody biomass in the Tok area.

Studies have shown that small rural towns in Interior Alaska would be far better served, from both an economic and environmental perspective, by using sustainably harvested wood rather than fuel oil to produce electricity and heat.

Tok and a few other remote villages have built or are hoping to build efficient biomass-burning plants. To keep them running, they need a reliable source of wood. It appears the state is moving to provide it in the Tok region.

Thumbs up: An overnight shelter for young people in Fairbanks has opened at First Presbyterian Church on Seventh Avenue downtown.

The shelter is open from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily for teens 13 to 17 years old. The nonprofit group Fairbanks Youth Advocates operates the shelter.

Social service groups in Fairbanks say the need is clear. According to a column by Fairbanks Youth Advocates volunteer Sarah Smith, published Nov. 25 in the News-Miner’s opinion section, the school district has counted more than 50 students in the Fairbanks area who have no parent or guardian with whom they live.

Thumbs up: A loud boom shook downtown Fairbanks at 7:30 Friday night, but it was something to cheer rather than fear. The boom meant the Downtown Association of Fairbanks had succeeded in raising enough money to pay for fireworks at the winter solstice celebration.

The association turned to the online fundraising site Kickstarter for help. People from across Alaska and the nation responded. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. and Fire Art Pyrotechnics helped, too.

Thumbs down: News about the Anchorage port isn’t getting any better. After spending the past decade building a new dock for ocean-going ships, the Municipality of Anchorage is seriously considering removing most of it.

The company that designed the new dock maintains that the structure is sound, but a review obtained by the city found major problems.

The entire project has cost about $300 million. That includes a new rail line, utilities, drainage systems and roads, which do not need replacement. Alaska voters approved another $50 million for the port in November’s election.

Thumbs up: The sun is coming back. With passage of the winter solstice, the northern hemisphere is gaining daylight again.

No one will be getting a tan. In Fairbanks today, the sun will rise at 11 a.m. and set at 2:44 p.m. That’s about one minute more sunlight than we had Sunday.

Neither will anyone be shutting off their furnaces. The returning sun doesn’t push up temperatures for another month.

Nevertheless, in the short term, it appears the recent cold weather is moderating, which is welcome news. The month has been brutal. As of Saturday, the chilly air had racked up 1,915 heating degrees this month. That’s about 27 percent higher than in a normal year.

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