Alaska Marine Highway System Capt. Mike Neussl addresses the 2016 Southeast Conference in Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)The man overseeing the Alaska Marine Highway System is leaving his post.Listen nowCapt. Mike Neussl said he’s departing for personal, not professional reasons. He needs to leave the state for a while to care for an ailing family member. He said he’ll miss his co-workers, but not the long hours.“It’s an important job and I clearly enjoyed doing it. But it is a stressful job and these are very challenging times and it’s not been easy,” Neussl said.That’s because state budget cuts have forced the ferry system to reduce sailings, cut amenities and reorganize some of its services. It’s happened as costs have risen and the aging fleet has needed significant repairs.“We still provide ferry service to 35 communities and have a fleet of not quite 11 ships, we’re down a couple. But we’ve kept the system going despite some very significant budgetary challenges,” Neussl said.Neussl’s final day on the job will be Friday, May 12.Transportation Commissioner Marc Luiken said a replacement won’t be chosen right away.“I’m still working with the governor to kind of lay out the plan for leadership of the marine highway system. But at least for the near term, we’re going to operate with the folks we have in the leadership positions,” Luiken said.Neussl has been a Department of Transportation deputy commissioner for a little more than two years. He also ran the ferry system in 2011 and 2012. He’s a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain who left that post in 2010 after 30 years of service.Robert Venables, who chairs the state’s Marine Transportation Advisory Board, said Neussl will be missed.“He obviously had a firm grip on what was happening and he ran the operation as well as one could expect under the circumstances,” Venables said.Neussl’s departure comes as a panel of stakeholders considers alternative approaches to ferry management. So far, it has recommended the marine highway change from a state agency to a public corporation.Venables staffs that effort. He said Neussl’s resignation could impact the project.“Perhaps there’s an opportunity to take a look at that position and see what could be done structurally to bring about some changes that have been looked at in this AMHS reform project,” Venables said.It’s being done under the auspices of the regional development group Southeast Conference, with support from the state and other entities.Neussl said changing the organization of ferry management is worth considering if it helps the system survive.
April 25, 2014 671 Views Home Equity Home Values Homes.com 2014-04-25 Tory Barringer Share Six New Markets Rebound Fully in February in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News The number of markets around the nation that have seen home values recover fully rose by six in February, according to data from Homes.com.The company’s February Local Market Index, released Wednesday, shows annual home value gains in all 300 of the country’s top markets. For the ninth straight month, California dominate the list of the top 10 markets, with Los Angeles leading the way at an appreciation rate of 25.8 percent over the last year.Based on the month’s gains, three more of the top 100 largest markets have now achieved a full price recovery as of February: Salt Lake City, Utah; Albany, New York; and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The addition of those three metros—plus three others in Missouri and North Carolina—brings the total number of fully recovered markets on Homes.com’s list to 98.In addition, nearly two-thirds of the top 300 markets nationwide have rebounded more than 50 percent from their lowest price points since the crash.“February’s rebound progress illustrates how home prices in most markets across the country are appreciating, even in the depths of winter,” said Brock MacLean, EVP for Homes.com. “This is unusual given harsh weather conditions in most markets, but a positive sign as we enter peak season.”With more areas recovering to full health and more homeowners returning to positive-equity positions, MacLean says there’s greater hope for consumers to sell or refinance as the market stabilizes.Most of the top rebounding markets in February were in the South, including six in Texas, two in Oklahoma, and one in Louisiana (the exception being Pittsburgh).On the other hand, nearly all of the markets with the worst rebound percentages were located in states that have struggled since the crash, illustrating how far they still have to climb; out of the bottom 10, six were in Florida, two were in California, one was in Nevada, and one was in Massachusetts.