Mid-June 1970: One of the most important days in my life. It rained as I waited in line outside a trailer in Johnson's Trailer Court in Valdez to receive my first dispatch. That day, I received my first dispatch ticket from Laborer's 341 business agent Jim Robinson to begin work on the trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). At 19, I knew that beginning that day my life would never be the same. That dispatch, and others as a Teamster and a Journeyman Carpenter in Local 1281, to work on the oil pipeline opened educational opportunities I never would have dreamed of, and later brought into my world the woman of my dreams. At that time, I had just finished my first year at community college in Oregon, made possible by a $400 basketball scholarship and housing with the family of a former elementary school teacher. However, after that first summer working on TAPS, with my oil pipeline paychecks in hand, I transferred to a full 4-year college. That pipeline construction also drew a young woman named Donna Pyle (now the state's first lady) to Alaska. Gov. Bill Walker, center left, smiles after the signing of the Joint Development Agreement for an Alaska gas line in Beijing on Nov. 9. (Photo provided by Office of the Governor) I now have another important date to remember: Nov. 9, 2017. The day that all the entities needed to build the Alaska LNG Project signed the Joint Development Agreement (JDA). The U.S. and Chinese governments, at the highest level, vetted and deemed qualified the JDA. All five signers of the JDA have formally committed to work to monetize Alaska's stranded natural gas. [Here are 5 big questions about Alaska's gas line deal with China] This unique agreement differs from the past attempts to monetize Alaska's vast resources of stranded North Slope gas. Let me be clear, this is a non-binding agreement, as are all such agreements for projects of this size at this stage of its development and there is more work to be done to get to binding agreements by the end of 2018. However, for the first time we have the state (as owner and builder), as well as the buyer, the investor and lender signing the agreement. President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping