Thank you to all of you who turned out for CIRI and The CIRI Foundation’s Friendship Potlatches this fall. While the potlatches gave us an opportunity to socialize and celebrate, this year’s event in Kenai took on a somber tone.
CIRI was honored to present its 2016 Elder of the Year award to 100-year-old Fiocla (Sacaloff) Wilson for her exemplary dedication to her Alaska Native culture, heritage and community through a lifetime of contributions that have benefited Native peoples. Ms. Wilson, a lifelong resident of Kenai, Alaska, was CIRI’s oldest living shareholder, as well as the oldest living member of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 8, the day of the Kenai Potlatch during which she was to receive her award, Ms. Wilson passed away at the Heritage Place continuing care facility in Soldotna. More than 20 family members attended the potlatch in her honor, including four children, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren. It was heartening to see so many generations of the Wilson family gathered in one place as we both celebrated Fiocla’s life and mourned her passing.
I hope you will take the time to read about Ms. Wilson, as well as our other two award recipients – Shareholder of the Year Dr. Maria Williams and Youth Recognition Award recipient Parker Pickett – on pages 05 and 06 of this newsletter.
I encourage you also to take the time to read about CIRI’s involvement with Middletown Energy Center, an exciting project that grows shareholder equity while furthering the Company’s commitment to environmental stewardship. A natural gas electric-generating facility based in Ohio, Middletown will deliver clean, efficient energy to residents of 13 upper Midwestern states. Middletown is an important project that will help diversify CIRI’s energy portfolio and continue to build CIRI Energy’s leadership strength as far as its ability to develop and manage projects.
Oil prices have dropped very quickly over the past two years, creating a $3.5 billion deficit for Alaska – approximately two-thirds of the state’s overall budget. This plunge in commodity prices reminds us why it’s so important for CIRI to have a diversified portfolio. While we have seen positive returns in many of our business operations and investments – energy development, heavy marine hauling and construction, real estate and government contracting – low oil and commodity prices have negatively impacted CIRI subsidiary Cruz Energy Services as well as our private equity portfolio.
At this time, CIRI’s 2016 financial performance is below our budgeted projections. We have weathered challenging times before and this year is no exception; we will continue to carefully manage our current investments while exploring other ventures. As reported earlier this year, CIRI’s Board and management team are actively pursuing a strategy to continue to deliver strong financial success while being less vulnerable to macro-economic and market-specific fluctuations.
As we move into the holiday season, it’s a good time to reflect on the many things in our lives we are fortunate to have – family, friends and the time we spend together. I hope this newsletter finds you and your family well and with the opportunity to share the season together.