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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Front Page Feature Photo By CORINNE FITZGERALD

El Capitan Island at New Tokeen
Front Page Feature Photo By CORINNE FITZGERALD ©2018



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Alaska: Deadline to Apply for Absentee Ballots Is Saturday, August 11, 2018 - The deadline for eligible Alaska voters to apply to receive an absentee ballot in the mail for the August 21 Primary Election is this coming Saturday, August 11.  Applications must be received by this date. 

The Absentee Office will be open on Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. to answer any questions on how to apply for a by-mail ballot and to receive applications in-person, by-fax or email.  

Early and Absentee voting began August 6, meaning voters may now cast absentee ballots in several ways: in person, by mail, by electronic transmission (online delivery or fax) or by a special needs ballot. 

“We have been working to expand access to the ballot for our voters and making sure they know they have other options available if they can’t make it to their polling location on Election Day,” said State Elections Director Josie Bahnke. - More...
Friday PM - August 10, 2018

Alaska: State Report: Opioid deaths high - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology released a report this week on the "Health Impacts of Opioid Misuse in Alaska." The report provides a broad overview of Alaska’s opioid epidemic and related trend data to help Alaskans better understand the scope of this serious public health crisis. 

“It’s important to summarize the trends and challenges of this epidemic so we can respond as effectively as possible,” said Dr. Jay Butler, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer and Division of Public Health Director. “While deaths caused by prescription opioids and heroin declined in 2017, we have seen more deaths caused by fentanyl, a more deadly synthetic opioid.” 

Overall, opioid-related deaths in Alaska have risen in recent years, similar to national trends. Between 2010 and 2017, 623 opioid overdose deaths were reported in Alaska, a 77 percent increase. Use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl increased dramatically in Alaska last year. Nationwide, efforts to control this epidemic are complicated by the increased use of synthetic opioids. 

In Alaska, the opioid epidemic has disproportionately impacted males, white and Alaska Native people, and persons aged 25-44 years. 

Economic impacts are also significant. Between 2016 and 2017, hospital visits in Alaska due to opioid overdoses cost more than $23 million. - More...
Friday PM - August 10, 2018

Alaska: Retire, Rehire and new funding are back-to-school gifts for Alaska’s districts By MARY KAUFFMAN - Governor Bill Walker signed four education bills into law this morning, with members of the North Star School District who gathered together to celebrate the beginning of the school year. The bills improve access to different sources of funding for rural and urban schools, including creating a PFD raffle to fund education in Alaska. They allow our school districts to rehire teachers that have retired, and help schools reduce redundancy.  

“Alaska is a resource state, and our most important resource is our children,” Governor Walker said. “The quality of education should never be determined by the price of a barrel of oil. Students, parents, and teachers can be confident that will no longer happen because we have now closed 80 percent of the budget deficit. I’m immensely grateful to those who work every day to improve education in Alaska, from the home to the House to the classroom.”

One of the bills signed into law today changes the management structure of the $675 million Alaska Public School Trust Fund to a percent of market value (POMV) system. POMV has become the standard global management approach for large endowments and trusts. House Bill 213, sponsored by Representative Justin Parish (D-Juneau), will result in a significant increase in funding available for public education in Alaska.

“Modernizing the Public School Trust Fund makes good sense. This bill brings the Trust up to the industry standard and will make better use of a significant financial resource,” said Rep. Parish. “Switching to a POMV model will enable a higher earnings rate and protect the value of the trust fund while yielding several million more dollars per year for schools.” 

HB 213 authorizes a yearly draw of no more than five percent from the Public School Trust Fund. Once implemented, the restructured trust fund will make an additional $18 million available for local school districts and the Mt. Edgecumbe Boarding School based on the size of the fund in Fiscal Year 2019. - More...
Friday PM - August 10, 2018

 


Alaska:
Risk prevents recovery of Denali plane wreckage and bodies – After dealing with heavy cloud cover most of the week, rangers with the National Park Service today were able to investigate the wreckage of a flightseeing plane that crashed in Denali National Park and Preserve on Saturday, August 4th with five people onboard.

Risk prevents recovery of Denali plane wreckage and bodies

The de Havilland Beaver (DHC-2), operated by K2 Aviation, rests near the top of a steep slope.
Photo courtesy National Park Service

A search and rescue crew from the National Park Service reached the sight of the crash on Monday and has confirmed four of the passengers were deceased and the fifth was unaccounted for and presumed dead. Rangers located the fifth body inside the wreckage earlier today.

A temporary flight restriction of three miles was put into effect Monday as rangers gathered information for a recovery feasibility assessment. An NPS ranger was short-hauled to the crash site in the NPS AStar B3e high-altitude helicopter and searched the wreckage for nearly an hour, but had to remain attached to the helicopter for safety concerns. - More...
Friday PM - August 10, 2018

Southeast Alaska: Scientists complete mission to map fast-moving fault off Southeast Alaska - Researchers from NOAA, U.S. Geological Survey and their partners have completed the first high-resolution, comprehensive mapping of one of the fastest moving underwater tectonic faults in the world, located in southeastern Alaska. This information will help communities in coastal Alaska and Canada better understand and prepare for the risks from earthquakes and tsunamis that can occur when faults suddenly move.

Since 2015, scientists have been gathering data on the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault system, a 746-mile long strike-slip fault line that extends from offshore of Vancouver Island, Canada, to the Fairweather Range of southeast Alaska. The team has gathered high resolution bathymetric data through multibeam sonar across 5,792 square miles of the ocean bottom.

The most recent survey came from NOAA Ship Fairweather, with USGS scientists aboard from April through July, when it collected multibeam bathymetric data in an area along the U.S. and Canadian international border in water depths ranging from 500 to more than 7,000 feet deep.  

The NOAA Ship Fairweather, a hydrographic survey vessel, is homeported in Ketchikan, Alaska. - More...
Friday PM - August 10, 2018


 

Alaska: Submarine ‘airplane’ revolutionizes measurement of seawater content (Part 2) By LAUREN FRISCH - For 20 years, researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and collaborators have gathered data along the Seward Line, a set of oceanographic survey stations in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Their goal has been to better understand processes that support the region’s thriving fish, crab, seabird and marine mammal populations. In May 2018, the first expedition of the newly funded Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-term Ecological Research program revolutionized data collection in the Gulf of Alaska by increasing the space and workforce available to conduct complex experiments at sea. The NGA LTER, funded by the National Science Foundation, used the research vessel Sikuliaq to dig deeper into processes that influence Gulf of Alaska food webs and environmental variability.

This is the second story in a four-part series highlighting the main research groups that participated in the May 2018 expedition.

Of all the scientists on the LTER cruise, CFOS researcher Seth Danielson has the coolest gadget. Danielson is one of the proud operators of an Acrobat instrument, which he described as the underwater version of an airplane

The Acrobat is towed behind Sikuliaq on an approximately 200 meter-long tether that powers the instrument and sends data back to the ship, allowing researchers to see current conditions in the water in real time.

Danielson and his technicians can monitor the Acrobat’s activity from Sikuliaq’s computer room. Using a flight control computer, they can change the pitch of the Acrobat’s wings to make the instrument fly up or down in the water. There’s no autopilot, so the instrument must be watched at all times to ensure the Acrobat does not crash into the seafloor, or become unstable if it is pulled through the water too quickly. - More...
Friday PM - August 10, 2018

Alaska: Study: Several scenarios for earliest migration to Americas remain viable By JEFF RICHARDSON - The most recent scientific evidence allows for several possible scenarios for ancient human migration through the Americas, according to a new study. That conclusion contrasts with a growing perspective that early migrants journeyed down the Pacific coast from Siberia to South America more than 20,000 years ago.

Ben Potter, a University of Alaska Fairbanks professor of anthropology, said genetic, archaeological and paleoecological data has determined that certainty about the coastal route is “prematurely narrow.” Instead, at least two viable scenarios could account for the peopling of the Americas during the last ice age — one focuses on an ice-free inland route through present-day Alaska, while the other traces the North Pacific coast.

An Aug. 8 paper in the journal Science Advances argues that more research is needed to determine how that migration occurred between 16,000 and 14,000 years ago. The paper pushes back on recent academic and popular literature that asserts colonization has been largely resolved in favor of a very early coastal migration.

“It’s premature to speculate we know at this point with such certainty,” said Potter, the study’s lead author. “We’re saying there’s not enough evidence yet — we need more science on both routes.”

Potter and the paper’s 15 co-authors, comprising leading geneticists, archaeologists and paleoecologists, believe the coastal route is a viable hypothesis but shouldn’t be favored over an inland route.

Although much of the Northwest Pacific ancient shoreline remains above current sea level, the oldest archeological sites in those areas are only about 12,600 years old. The oldest site found in Interior Alaska dates to about 14,200 years ago. - More...
Friday PM - August 10, 2018

 
COLUMNS/COMMENTARY

jpg MICHAEL REAGAN

MICHAEL REAGAN: Tweet Presidentially, Mr Trump - Trump is still being Trump.

Whether he's holding his stand-up political rallies in Wilkes-Barre or Ohio, or delivering his incendiary early morning tweet storms, he's not going to change his wild and crazy ways.

He's been doing a lot of great stuff in Washington, but if he wants to stay there he'd better be careful.

The raw party numbers are against him.

Last time around, in 2016, the Democrats had a deplorable candidate - Hillary Clinton - who lots of Democrats didn't like, either, and therefore didn't show up to vote for at the polls.

Now Democrats have someone even bigger to collectively hate - Donald Trump.

He's already given them plenty of reasons to put on their "Impeach Trump Hats" and get out and vote for Democrats in the November congressional elections.

But last week the president made things more difficult for himself by foolishly making a few million new enemies in the sports world by personally attacking LeBron James. - More...
Friday PM - August 10, 2018

jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: How to Survive Your Summer Vacation - We look forward to it for months. Calendars have been cleared, reservations made, and the anticipation in the house is so high, it vibrates like a chicken on meth strapped to a thirty year-old dryer set on spin. The Summer Vacation Trip is nigh. It's a time-honored testament to all that is right about America. And often, not less than a little of what is wrong.

A brief respite from, and reward for, working hard. A time to reconnect and bond with the family unit, creating indelible memories along with building up patience and pain tolerance levels. Beaches. Theme Parks. Barbecues. Water Slides. Campfires. Unseen vistas. Unfamiliar beds. Unusual insects. Fresh scars.

If your plans entail traveling without using an airport, you should consider yourself luckier than Paul Manafort biting into a Get Out of Jail Free Card in his bologna sandwich. More comfort can be found on an Athens to Sparta diesel bus in the poultry section than on any domestic flight this summer.

They suck us in with those heavily advertised "Special Getaway Fares." What they neglect to mention is the requirement to leave after 6 p.m. on a Tuesday with two stops and oh yeah, fifty bucks to check a bag, another fifty for window or aisle, ten dollars for every extra inch of legroom and five per bathroom visit. - More...
Friday PM - August 10, 2018


jpg Political Cartoon: Democrats and Socialists

Political Cartoon: Democrats and Socialists
By Nate Beeler ©2018, The Columbus Dispatch, OH
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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jpg Letter / Opinion

Treadwell for Governor By John E. Nelson - I am writing in support of Republican Mead Treadwell for Governor. As a former ferry system engineer, and Port Engineer for the Alaska Marine Highway System, one compelling reason I have for supporting Mead Treadwell is his steadfast conviction to ensure that the state has a ferry system that works. Support industries like the shipyard and vendors who assist in the maintenance and repair of the vessels are to be encouraged for their value added role both in Ketchikan and for the rest of the state. The ferry system as a whole operates for the benefit of all Alaskans, and fulfills a vital role as one of many important modes of transportation connecting southeastern and southcentral communities. This commitment is secured under a Treadwell Administration.

During the winter of 2016-17 the State operating budget was debated, Treadwell’s opponent Mike Dunleavy had a key role. He ultimately opted to stifle the budgetary process from occurring even after many cuts to schools, healthcare, and state university system had been made. He proudly boasts this as a selling point for his campaign. This unfortunate situation set in motion a chain reaction of several conflating problems. - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2018  

jpg Letter / Opinion

State Legislation Affecting Our Seniors By Rep. Dan Ortiz - During session, the Alaska State Legislature passed multiple bills that affect our senior citizens. It is the duty of the legislature to protect and serve all citizens. In my time in office, I have made it a priority to try to protect the interests of our elders – those that helped to establish this great state.

The Senior Benefits Payment Program (formerly known as the Longevity Bonus created in 1972) passed during session and was signed into law by the governor earlier this summer. The Senior Benefits Program provides a modest monthly cash payment to low-income seniors to help pay for food, heating, electricity, transportation, and prescription medication. It aids nearly 12,000 Alaskans. It was originally expected to end in June of 2018, but will now continue until 2024.

Another bill affecting all people, including our older generations, is the ‘Smoke-Free Workplace’ bill. Our local AARP was in favor of passing the bill; it passed near the end of session and was signed into law earlier this month. - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

IGNORE THE DISCUSSION OF HUMAN LIFE By Robert Holston - Would Lisa Murkowski have let drowning people perish if she was in one of the Titanic life boats and simply referred to those in the water bobbing about and begging for life as “bobbing somethings” instead of living humans? Lisa Murkowski was recently asked about the issue of Roe V Wade and the Supreme Court nominee. To paraphrase her response; “...she certainly does not want to turn back time in regard to a woman’s “reproductive rights".” I interpret that to mean “I want to be forward thinking, scientific, progressive and protecting women’s rights.”

Speaking as a “Guardian Ad-Litem” for the pre-born, I want to address the scientific advancements since the Supreme Court decision1973. At that time the Court did not know when human life began and stated such in the majority decision. They, like Planned Parenthood still does today, projected their institutional ignorance onto the general public by continuing to treat the human fetus as a blob of cells that is a “part of the woman” like a tumor or an oversized wart. As long as the public swallows this unscientific, backwards and antiquated reasoning the Lisa Murkowskis of this world will be able to make seemingly “culturally correct” statements about “women’s reproductive rights.” Those who do so are advertising their ignorance. - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

SIMPLE ANSWERS BY A SIMPLE FOOL By David G Hanger - I have yet to see any study that indicates a state income tax would manage to collect as much as $1.2 billion from Alaskans. The studies I have seen and/or heard indicate an aggregate of $300 million to $500 million may be possible, so, Ghert Abbott, your $1.2 billion number is either one big lie, a deception, or a product of your ignorance. Before you blather such nonsense I would sincerely suggest you find out how much the Feds collect in income taxes from 740,000 Alaskans, at which point you might realize how totally whacked out your proposals are.

You are the classic example of a political aspirant doing exactly what your opposition wants you to do, to wit, to support an asinine proposition to increase taxes on individuals because your political opposition refuses to properly tax our oil production, thereby discrediting not only yourself but also the political party you represent. Since we may conceivably be within months of having every woman who has had an abortion since 1974 charged with murder and subjected to execution or life imprisonment (there is no statutory time limit on murder charges) because the evangelical fascists of America believe freedom of religion is something conferred to them but to no one else, and it is thus their obligation to tell every woman how to be, your incompetence is consequential because it reflects very negatively on the Party you claim to represent. - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

A letter of gratitude from Obvious Jazz. By Rob Holston - I wish to extend a great big “Thank you.” to all who participated in and donated to the 1st annual, Sam Pitcher Memorial Scholarship Fund; “Frank Sinatra Tribute” event. A warm thanks to Dr. Karl and Maria Richey and Kim Henrickson for being wonderful hosts for the event at Creek Street Cabaret.

Next, thanks to all who attended. Your donations totaled over $1,100, all going to the Sam Pitcher Memorial Scholarship Fund. Thanks to all who stood outside waiting for any seat to open up.... the crowd was wonderfully responsive. - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2018

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