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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

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Tongass Sunset
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Ketchikan: University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan Students to Graduate - The 2015 commencement ceremony for University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) Ketchikan students will be held Saturday, May 2 at 3:00 PM at the Ted Ferry Civic Center. The public is invited to attend.

This year’s commencement keynote speaker is Doug Ward, Director of Shipyard Development at Vigor Alaska. UAS Chancellor John Pugh, UAS Ketchikan Campus Director Priscilla Schulte, and University of Alaska Board of Regents members Dale Anderson and Kenneth Fisher of Juneau will bestow degrees at the ceremony. University of Alaska President Patrick Gamble will be in attendance.

Thirty-nine students are receiving degrees this spring. - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

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Alaska: Governor Walker Calls Special Session for Budget and Two Bills - Governor Bill Walker Monday evening issued a proclamation to convene the Alaska State House of Representatives and Senate in a special session to pass a fully funded state budget and consider pending legislation for Erin’s Law and Medicaid reform and expansion.

“Local governments in Alaska are not allowed to pass a budget that is not funded, and nor should we,” Governor Walker said. “While there can certainly be disagreement on the amount, whatever state budget is approved must be fully funded. My administration is focused on healthy Alaskans and a healthy economy. A partially funded budget that runs out of money mid-year does not provide for the health of Alaskans, and creates uncertainty for businesses, school districts and families.”

Governor Walker took the first step toward addressing the state’s $3 billion deficit by reducing state spending with his budget proposal - $250 million in operating reductions and $440 million in capital spending.

“While the debate may continue on the amount of the cuts, it is not possible to balance the budget with cuts alone,” Governor Walker said. “It is critical the legislature pass a budget that is fully funded. The legislature just passed a budget that has a funding shortfall of $3 billion." - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

Alaska: Legislature Adjourns 29th Session - The Alaska State Senate has adjourned from the first session of the 29th Legislature after striking a critical budget compromise with the House. The compromise preserves all of the priorities of the Senate Majority including restoring order and sustainability in Alaska’s fiscal house, creating affordable energy for all Alaskans, investing in the State’s next generation, fighting federal overreach, and taking leadership on Arctic issues.

"I am proud of this Senate and what we accomplished especially considering the seriousness of the fiscal situation we are in. We did our jobs, finished our work, the work of the people, on time, given the adversity our leadership faced with our fiscal crisis,” said Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage. “We approved a balanced budget that draws on reserves to fund priorities of Alaskans-Education, Public Safety, Infrastructure, and health and welfare of Alaskans.”

Due to State’s $8 billion shortfall over the next two years after a catastrophic fall in oil prices, the Legislature was able to reduce overall spending by $809 million from the Operating and Capital Budgets. Senators looked under every stone to find reductions while funding critical government services. While agency reductions ranged up to 33-percent, the Senate Majority preserved its priority to education by only reducing a scheduled increase to the BSA by 1.4% or $16 per student per year. Overall, the Operating Budget totaled $8.1 billion, with unrestricted general spending at $4.05 billion.

Meanwhile, the Legislature also passed the smallest Capital Budget since 2001. The Capital Budget included $108 million in Unrestricted General Funds (UGF). That’s $40 million less than the Governor’s proposed budget and $481 million less than last year in UGF spending and $2 billion less than UGF capital spending in 2012. The total budget is $1.5 billion. The budget also includes $43 million to renovate the school in Kivalina in order meet the State’s commitment to settle the Kasayulie case.

“The Senate took measures to protect Alaskans, and insulate our economy as best as we can due to the massive revenue shortfall we currently have,” said Senate Finance Co-Chair Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River. “Alaskans are smart, resilient people, and I know we will come together as Alaskans first, to provide for each other and work to plan and prepare for the tough times ahead.” - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

Alaska: Alaska Legislature Passes Irresponsible Budget & Failure for Alaska - Monday, the Alaska Legislature passed the most irresponsible budget in the history of Alaska according to the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition and Senate Democrats. The FY 2016 budget results in major public education cuts, eliminates nearly all early learning opportunities, jeopardizes the future of a natural gas pipeline, and makes it more difficult for thousands of Alaskans to get affordable healthcare.

Alaska Senate Democrats were disappointed and outraged with a budget that neglected Alaska's children and future by short-changing education; a budget that left working families without access to affordable and accessible health care, by not expanding Medicaid; a budget that hurt communities reliant on the ferry system, fixed-income seniors, and those with mental illnesses or substance abuse addictions.

 


"This budget fails Alaska. It's a shameful policy decision that protects oil company credits over our children. Senate Democrats aren't buying it and judging from the response of Alaskans, neither is anyone else," said Senator Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage).

"This Republican-authored and approved fake budget is a house of cards that relies on smoke and mirrors. It’s fiction and without Medicaid expansion people will suffer. The public is not fooled for one minute," stated Senator Johnny Ellis (D-Anchorage).

“The people of Alaska and our Coalition have been very clear all session about the importance of a lasting commitment to public education,” said Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition Leader Representative Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage). “It’s unacceptable to use a fiscal crisis as an excuse to jeopardize academic opportunities for our children through this fake budget.” - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

Fish Factor: 63 million hatchery produced salmon projected to return to Alaska By LAINE WELCH - Each year more than one third of all the salmon caught in Alaska begin their lives in a hatchery.

There are 31 hatchery facilities in Alaska: 15 privately owned, 11 state owned, two federal research facilities, one tribal hatchery at Metlakatla, and 2 state owned sport fish hatcheries.

Alaska’s hatchery program is very different from fish farming, where salmon are crammed tightly into net pens until they’re ready for market. All salmon born in Alaska’s hatcheries come from wild brood stock, and are released as fingerlings to the sea. When those fish return home, they make a huge contribution to the catch.

According to the annual Salmon Enhancement Report by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, 58 million hatchery salmon were caught in the common property salmon fishery last year. That equated to 34 percent of Alaska’s 157 million fish harvest, with a dockside value of $113 million.

The breakdown by species: 56 percent chums, 47 percent pinks, 23 percent coho, 12 percent Chinook and 5 percent of the sockeye were hatchery starts.

Prince William Sound fishermen have the highest hatchery fish catches. Last year, 45 million salmon returned to the five hatcheries there, accounting for 87 percent of the total harvest. Ninety three percent of the fish were pinks and 68 percent were chums. In all, the Sound’s hatchery catch added up to 62 percent of the total with a dockside value of $64 million.

It’s a different story at Southeast Alaska where 95 percent of the pinks are from wild production, and 85 percent of the chums are hatchery starts. - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

 

 

Southeast Alaska: Trace Amounts of Fukushima Radioactivity Detected Along Shoreline of British Columbia - Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announced recently they have for the first time detected the presence of small amounts of radioactivity from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in a seawater sample from the shoreline of North America. The sample, which was collected on February 19, 2015, in Ucluelet, British Columbia, with the assistance of the Ucluelet Aquarium, contained trace amounts of cesium (Cs) -134 and -137, well below internationally established levels of concern to humans and marine life.

Trace Amounts of Fukushima Radioactivity Detected Along Shoreline of British Columbia

Satellite measurements of ocean temperature (illustrated by color) and the direction of currents (white arrows) help show where radionuclides from Fukushima are transported.
Graphic courtesy Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The WHOI scientists, with the help of citizen volunteers, have collected samples at more than 60 sites along the U.S. and Canadian West Coast and Hawaii over the past 15 months for traces of radioactive isotopes from Fukushima. Last November, the team reported their first sample containing detectable radioactivity from Fukushima 100 miles (150 km) off shore of Northern California. However, no radiation had yet been found along any of the beaches or shorelines where the public has been sampling since 2013.

“Radioactivity can be dangerous, and we should be carefully monitoring the oceans after what is certainly the largest accidental release of radioactive contaminants to the oceans in history,” said Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at WHOI who has been measuring levels of radioactivity in seawater samples from across the Pacific since 2011. “However, the levels we detected in Ucluelet are extremely low.”

Scientists at WHOI are analyzing samples for two forms of radioactive cesium that can only come from human sources. Cesium-137, the “legacy” cesium that remains after atmospheric nuclear weapons testing, is found in all the world's oceans because of its relatively long, 30-year half-life. This means it takes 30 years for one-half of the cesium-137 in a sample to decay. The Fukushima reactors added unprecedented amounts of cesium-137 into the ocean, as well as equal amounts of cesium-134. Because cesium-134 has a two-year half-life, any cesium-134 detected in the ocean today can only have been added recently - and the only recent source of cesium-134 has been Fukushima. - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

 

 

Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: Rude Trip on a Road Glide? - Okay, y’all know I like Harley Davidson motorcycles. Heck, I even own one and can be occasionally seen rumbling about the highways of Our Fair Salmon City in a puff of V-twin smoke.

Yes, that’s me yelling ouch every time I hit a bump on our oft bumpy byways. Harley is known for many things, putting working shock absorbers on their bikes is not one of them.

I am not one of the “Harley Riders.” I am not that cool. Nor do I have enough facial hair to protect myself from the frostbite one engenders riding a motor cycle in the frequently brisk Alaskan sunshine.

But, as usual, I digress.

Now that I am someone who rides a Harley, I seem to notice their ads on TV more often. Or maybe, it’s that I watch the Slow, Expensive, Uncomfortable, Yet Undeniably Cool American Motorcycle Channel. - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

jpg Jeff Lund

JEFF LUND: Feeling the pain - You don’t really appreciate the little things, especially being healthy, until you’re not. At least I don’t. I haven’t been going through today’s routine, arms raised, saying, “I got both!!! Both nostrils work and are unplugged!!!”

But the next time I’m in the throes of a cold, allergic reaction or whatever else makes my nose heavy with congestion, I’ll be praying for a day like today.

You know those moments when you turn over in bed and for three breaths you can use both sides of your nose, until snot slides into position on the pillow-side of the nasal cavity, and it’s back to misery? S-not good. Not debilitating, but relentless in it’s annoyance. You can’t wait to be healed.

When you sprain an ankle you vow to do things like run, or stretch as soon as you can. You’d give anything to be able to run. Then you wake up one day and walking happens without hitch. You could go run, but the playoffs are on, and even though you don’t like hockey, you pretend you were born in Canada, cut yourself a quick mullet, pour 12 ounces of maple syrup into a mason jar and settle in for the evening. Ok, sorry. That was wrong. I really do like Canadians and Canada itself. It’s incredibly clean, beautiful and I didn’t meet an unfriendly one during my drives through. I take it back. - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015


jpg Political Cartoon: Alaska Medicaid Expansion

Political Cartoon: Alaska Medicaid Expansion
By Daryl Cagle ©2015, CagleCartoons.com
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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letter Why I'm Calling A Special Session By Governor Bill Walker - I’m writing you tonight to let you know I have issued a proclamation to convene the Alaska State House of Representatives and Senate in a special session tomorrow.

Like many Alaskans, I was disappointed that the Legislature adjourned today with a spending plan that runs out of money partway through the year and fails to provide adequate funding for education and health care coverage for 42,000 Alaskans. - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

letter An Open Letter to the Borough and City Councils of Ketchikan By Teri J. Wilson - Once more I am fired up at the mention of another cigarette tax. Frankly, you people are not responsible enough to collect MORE MONEY from an already beleaguered populace where jobs are scare and money is tight. You have, in recent years, spent tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars on things like a rain gauge ($90 thousand), this stupid tsunami warning system (signs everywhere, indecipherable vocal warnings, an annoying horn that’s not even on time) for HOW MUCH?, tourist signage to the tune of $400 thousand, the money that was given to Ketchikan for start-up projects that all went to one group (that was over a million, and they spent that money at the Narrows Inn to the tune of $5 thousand a month, the water treatment plant (the water sucks, ammonia is never to be ingested, it stinks and tastes awful, and I see no improvement), need I go on, or do you get the picture? - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

letter Re: Errata and Corrective By Tyler Randall - I am writing to confirm my pleasure that Mr. Hanger has discovered a thesaurus, and with such statements as "supercilious sensitivities" and "corncob sitting sideways", he has firmly cemented himself in my mind as a pompous windbag. Further, I am happy to find that his proverbial wind has again splayed itself across Sitnews, as I have of late been seeking additional entertainment. You see, I have been looking to take up a new hobby, and I believe that Mr. Hanger has provided it. - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

letter More Tax Time! By Joe O'Hara - The writer of the April 20th letter "RE: Tax Time" merely strings together a bunch of unsubstantiated figures that apparently prove that FAIRtax® "is a fraud". At the end of his letter, he suggests a 10% tithe, which on the surface seems like a reasonable concept: a 10% flat-tax of all income, with no deductions, no credits, no exemptions. But will that concept work? - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

letter Tax consumption, so those who spend the most, pay the most By David Shipp - I have been a FairTax supporter, speaker, and advocate for a number of years. I wasn't always. Once I researched and learned about its many advantages I see no other viable option to save our economy. - More...
Monday PM - April 27, 2015

letter Cleaning up Ketchikan By Jerry Cegelske - Several groups have already started working on cleaning Ketchikan as weather permits! - More...
Monday PM - April 20, 2015

letter RE: No "Young Growth Management" on the Tongass By Mike Sallee - Kudos to Mr. Pickrell for his garden. He and I apparently have in common a liking for raspberries. And it does seem like Alaska is treated as little more than a colony when the US Dept. Of Agriculture sends an endless roster of Regional Foresters, Supervisors and District Rangers selected from a bureaucratic hierarchy of non-Alaskans to oversee Tongass management that increasingly relies on round log export. Furthermore, as a sawmill owner who mills predominately old growth logs from dead and down trees I would not be in favor eliminating logging of all old growth if that elimination included the dead and down. - More..
Monday PM - April 20, 2015

letter Open Letter to City & Borough of Sitka By Michael Baines - Sitka Tribe of Alaska is opposed to the utility rate increases being proposed by the City & Borough of Sitka. The trend of rates and fees increases imposed this past year is just too much to bear for the citizens of this community who either live on medium or low incomes or are senior citizens who live on fixed incomes. To burden the citizens with another rate increase on top of last year’s increases in the utility rates and the increase in moorage rates - for the third year in a row - and other proposed rate increases, is unreasonable. - More...
Monday PM - April 20, 2015

letter Patriotic Pride performance By Judith Green - April 11th was the performance by our Ketchikan Community Chorus with Orchestral Ensemble - "Patriotic Pride". Wonderful performance!! by our neighbors who enjoy singing and sharing their talent and 'hard work' under the direction of Stephen Kinney. Mr Kinney along with the Board of Directors strives to give not only our community his enjoyment of vocal music, but he also invites other SE community musicians to participate. Often, as this past weekend, musicians from the Seattle area accept the invitation to join the KCC in performances. - More...
Monday PM - April 20, 2015

letter ERRATA & CORRECTIVE By David G Hanger - Grow up, child. This is Alaska where the politics are a bit on the rough and tumble side, and should be. More to the point, your lacking the subtlety to comprehend simple satire is not my problem. - More...
Monday PM - April 20, 2015

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