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Alaska: Governor Outlines Plan To Address State's Epidemic Opioid and Heroin Abuse - Governor Bill Walker declared a public health crisis Wednesday in order to combat the state’s opioid epidemic. His disaster declaration established a statewide Overdose Response Program under Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer and enables wide distribution of the life-saving drug, naloxone.

“This disaster declaration is an important first step in addressing our public health crisis, which has devastated too many Alaskan families,” Governor Walker said Wednesday. “When earthquakes, fires or floods claim lives and property on a large scale, a declaration of disaster is issued to prioritize the state’s response. This is no different. We must stop this opioid epidemic. My order ensures that our resources are properly allocated to tackle this challenge. However, this is only the first step. It provides a temporary solution; we must work on a long-term fix.”

In a press conference Thusday, Governor Walker announced the next steps in addressing the epidemic. As part of his plan to build a safer Alaska, Governor Bill Walker signed Administrative Order 283, outlining the next steps to address the growing heroin and opioid epidemic in Alaska. Governor Walker will also introduce legislation in the coming weeks that provides a longer term solution to the state’s opioid and heroin abuse epidemic.

Administrative Order 283 declares the abuse of opioids as a major public health issue and includes a directive for the Department of Public Safety to identify the ways illegal drugs are brought in Alaska and to pursue improved screening and enforcement measure to stop the trafficking of illegal drugs. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

Alaska: Overturn of Fish and Wildlife Rule Moves Forward; Voids Carnivore Protections on Alaska National Wildlife Refuge - Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 69 to overturn a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule undoing a rule years in the works that was launched by professional wildlife scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that stopped intensive “predator control” methods on national wildlife refuges in Alaska.

H.J. Res. 69 passed the House 225 to 193 overturning the “Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska". This joint resolution of disapproval sponsored by Alaska Congressman Don Young passed under the Congressional Review Act.

The Congressional Review Act is a powerful tool being deployed by Congress to overturn politically motivated rules finalized in the waning days and months of the Obama administration. With the passage H.J. Res 69 in the House and Senate and the signature of the president, Young’s resolution would ensure that the final FWS rule would have no force or effect, and that no substantially similar rule can be issued in the future without a subsequent authorization from Congress.

“From the beginning, I said I would do everything in my power to overturn this illegal jurisdictional power grab by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Today, we’re one step closer to delivering on that commitment and eliminating a wrongful seizure of Alaska’s fish and wildlife management authority,” House Natural Resources Chairman Emeritus Don Young said after House passage of H.J. Res. 69. “I’m thankful to all those that played a role in moving this important resolution of disapproval, including the countless state and local stakeholders that worked with me to fight a very serious and alarming overreach by the previous administration. I look forward to working with Senators Sullivan and Murkowski to ensure H.J. Res. 69 receives swift consideration in the Senate.”

On August, 5, 2016, the United States Forest Service issued its final rule, which Young said seized authority away from the State of Alaska to manage fish and wildlife for both recreational and subsistence uses on federal lands in Alaska.

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) applauded the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of H.J. Res. 69, a joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn an August 2016 final rule issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that significantly undermines public participation and restricts the state’s ability to manage fish and wildlife on federal refuge lands in Alaska. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017


Ketchikan:
Tug 'Samson Mariner' Sustains Minor Hull Breach After Grounding - A Coast Guard Station Ketchikan Response Boat-Medium crew and Marine Safety Detachment Ketchikan pollution team responded to the tug boat Samson Mariner that ran aground while towing a barge in the vicinity of north Tongass Narrows in Rosa Reef, Alaska, Wednesday evening just before 7:00 PM.

Coast Guard Sector Juneau command center watchstanders received notification via VHF-FM radio from the captain aboard the Samson Mariner that his vessel ran aground and had a minor breach in the hull. The crew of the tug Samson Mariner immediately deployed sorbent boom after the grounding.

The tug Samson Mariner had a breach of the number 2 port fuel tank through a 1-2 inch gash in the hull. Samson Tug & Barge Inc. reported that the tank contained approximately 5,000 gallons of diesel. Alaska Commercial Divers Inc. applied a patch to the breached hull around 10:05 p.m Wednesday. Approximately 1,100 gallons of diesel spilled from the tug prior to being patched by Alaska Commercial Divers.- More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

Ketchikan: 42 Ketchikan-area high school students prepare for all-academic competition - You exercise your body to strengthen your muscles, but what if you want to keep your brain fit? Alaska students know just the trick. Next week, 140 high school students representing 12 high schools from across the state will converge in Anchorage in hopes of out-smarting their competitors at the 32nd Annual Alaska Academic Decathlon, including 42 Ketchikan-area students. Students have been diligently training for months to prepare for the rigorous, all-academic competition, which showcases some of the best of Alaska’s bright young minds at all levels of academic abilities.

Taking place at the Hilton Anchorage Hotel from Feb. 22 – 25, the Academic Decathlon is an opportunity for high school students to showcase their academic knowledge in an individual and team competition. Each student competes in 10 events, including art, economics, essay, interview, language and literature, math, music, science, social science and speech. On Friday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. students will participate in the Super Quiz, a team competition featuring a relay of students working to answer the most questions correctly in three electrifying rounds. The Super Quiz is the Academic Decathlon’s only public event.

This year’s statewide competition includes 140 students representing teams from Ketchikan to Mountain Village and many communities in between. Forty-two students from the Ketchikan area representing Craig, Ketchikan and Metlakatla high schools will compete in this year’s decathlon. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

Southeast Alaska: UAS NAMED ONE OF THE TOP LGBTQ-FRIENDLY ONLINE SCHOOLS - The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) has been named one of the Top LGBTQ-Friendly Online Schools for 2017 by SR Education Group. UAS is one of 58 schools that made the list. Each of these schools is accredited and has policies and practices that show a commitment to inclusivity. Each school has scored three stars or higher on the Campus Pride Index, a non-profit that works with researchers to create tools for assessment and national standards for LGBTQ-friendly institutions of higher education.

Chancellor Rick Caulfield notes, “This is terrific news, and a nice recognition of the work our staff and many others do to show support for all students, and especially those of the LGBTQ community.”

Students at UAS find a community of supportive peers, staff, and faculty through programs like Safe Zone, which aims to reduce homophobia and heterosexism on campus, to provide a safer and freer environment for all members of the UAS community regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Staff and faculty are trained to serve as a resource for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning issues. Margie Thomson, who coordinates the program, along with disability and counseling services, notes, “Safe Zone Training, offered each semester, has trained over 175 staff, faculty and student employees in the past three years. This has helped to create a visible component of allies for the LGBTQ student and staff on our UAS campus.” - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017


 

Alaska: What you need to know about the critically endangered whale you’ve never heard of By KATIE DOPTIS - In pockets of the vast North Pacific Ocean lives the most critically endangered large whale in the world -- and it’s an animal most people have never heard of. Hunted to near extinction, North Pacific right whales are down to just hundreds of animals, with only 30 living in US waters in the eastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. Two hundred years ago, it’s believed they numbered in the tens of thousands. Now, North Pacific right whales are so elusive some scientists who study them have never seen one.

What you need to know about the critically endangered whale you’ve never heard of

North Pacific right whale
Photo By Brenda Rone, NOAA Fisheries

“Even some people who work in whale research don’t know about [North Pacific right whales],” said scientist Amy Kennedy. “There’s this population of animals that are still alive but are basically going extinct. This is happening now.”

Kennedy has the distinction of being an anomaly among cetacean researchers because she’s seen half of the North Pacific right whale population during her work as a scientist affiliated with NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska Fisheries Science Center and with the University of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean. And while North Pacific right whales’ population size is dire, Kennedy reports the surviving animals “look strong, they look resilient, if they could only be given a fighting chance.”

According to Kennedy, North Pacific right whales appear, and act, a lot like their North Atlantic right whale cousins. But genetically the two species are different; scientists believe the animals diverged millions of years ago. North Pacific right whales can grow up to 60 feet long and weigh 100 tons, making them twice as heavy as an average humpback. They mainly feed on small crustaceans called copepods and slowly skim the waters of the ocean to filter their food.

The whales have a high-fat content, with a higher blubber to muscle ratio than most other whales. Those basic biological facts, their size, slow speed, and that they float when killed made them whalers’ prime targets. In fact, even their name, “right whale” was coined by hunters who systematically singled them out because they were the right whale to kill, providing an easy bounty of meat and oil.

North Pacific right whales were first hunted by “Yankee” (American) whalers in 1835. By 1900, the population had been reduced to a fraction of the original size, according to Center-affiliated researcher Yulia Ivashchenko. “The species was protected by international agreement in 1935 and again in 1946, but we now know that the former USSR killed hundreds of these animals as part of a huge secret campaign of illegal whaling that began after World War II,” she said. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017


Obituary: Elaine Louella Gildersleeve, 86
Obituary: Elaine Louella Gildersleeve, 1930-2017 - Elaine Gildersleeve, 86, was born, the sixth of eight children, to George and Barbara Leno in North Dakota on July, 16, 1930. She passed away peacefully in her Kula, Maui, home on February 13, 2017.

She married Murray Gildersleeve December 29, 1947, and they had five children, cared for two foster children, and dozens more called her ‘mom.’

A loving wife, daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, auntie and friend, Elaine loved everyone with the tender, compassionate heart of a Christian and prayed for each one daily.

A true "sourdough," Elaine loved her life in southeast Alaska, becoming a pilot, keeping the books for the family logging business and enjoying a reputation as a skilled fisherwoman. She was an excellent cook and enjoyed preparing meals for her family and church family, and had a large library of cookbooks. But. as everyone knew, her best recipes were never written down as there were no measurements.

Though Elaine and her husband retired to Maui, Alaska called them home every summer where they continued to enjoy the outdoors. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017


 

COLUMNS - COMMENTARY

jpg Mary Lynne Dahl

MONEY MATTERS: INVESTING IN ANNUITIES – A GOOD IDEA OR NOT? By MARY LYNNE DAHL, CFP® - A financial planner that I know recently mentioned to me that she had a new client who asked her to explain annuities. The planner had not recommended an annuity but the investor was interested and wondered why not, because he had seen a commercial on TV which he said claimed that you could not lose money and your return could only go up, not down, with a certain kind of annuity. The investor was attracted to that idea, of course. Who wouldn’t want an investment that could not lose money and which guaranteed a return that would only go up and never down? It sounded too god to be true, which should be a warning flag. Too often, it is not.

What is an annuity? An annuity is not simply an investment like a mutual fund or stock. It is an insurance product that combines insurance with investments. In simple terms, it uses an insurance contract to provide the insurance portion and a mutual fund or similar investment to provide the investment portion. When someone invests in an annuity, part of the money buys insurance and part goes into an investment, and there are problems with this as an investment strategy. One of the main problems is high fees. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

jpg Danny Tyree

DANNY TYREE: Presidents' Day: Untold Stories Abound - Since Presidents' Day is fast approaching, it is appropriate that three of the books I'm currently juggling on my Kindle Fire are "Lady Bird and Lyndon," "The General Vs. The President" (MacArthur and Truman) and "The Wars of the Roosevelts."

To my surprise, the upcoming holiday really is still Washington's Birthday. Although we've been brainwashed into calling it Presidents' Day for decades, the change was never made official. Similarly, the Tomb of the Unknowns is still technically Sure As Tarnation Looks Like Hiram To Me.

Thanks to Smithsonian.com and other websites, I've been able to assemble some fascinating presidential trivia for you. Thanks to my anonymous sources, I've also been able to ENHANCE that trivia.

For instance, you probably knew that four presidents (Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama) received the Nobel Peace Prize. There were actually SEVEN, but the mainstream media decided not to let the other three know, distracting them with comically large checks from Publishers Clearinghouse. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Whose Day Is it Anyway? - "I thought the purpose of Presidents Day was getting steep discounts on mattresses and furniture."

"Good one, but the original purpose of Presidents Day was to celebrate George Washington's birthday. According to History.com, in 1800, the year after Washington died, 'his February 22 birthday became a perennial day of remembrance.' For years it was celebrated with the same passion with which Americans still celebrate the Fourth of July. In 1885, a bill established Feb. 22 as a federal holiday. The federal government still officially refers to Presidents Day as Washington's Birthday."

"Which is it? Washington's Birthday or Presidents Day?"

"Well, both. Washington's Birthday became popularly known as Presidents Day as part of 1971's Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which sought to create more three-day weekends for federal employees. It moved the holiday from a fixed calendar date to the third Monday of February." - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017


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letter Chaffetz and Murkowski By Ghert Abbott - Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. The President's ongoing refusal to divest himself of the Trump Organization, along with the massive potential for corruption which has resulted from this decision, thus falls right within Chaffetz' purview. The Oversight Chairman has however steadfastly refused to hold any hearings on this issue, despite it often being front page news for the past three months. Instead, Chaffetz has decided that the best use of the Oversight Committee's time and resources is threatening to investigate the Office of Government Ethics for the office's public criticisms of the President. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

letter Roe v Wade By Mike Sallee - In the spirit of the recent women’s marches around the world I offer a couple of citations. In one simple quote, Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. sums up the hypocrisy of many in the 'pro-life' movement: - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

letter JUST CURIOUS: IS THERE A SOLUTION BESIDES MOVING OUT OF KETCHIKAN? By David G Hanger - I have recommended Rodney Dial's recent Sitnews commentary to a number of individuals as more or less required reading. I am a little bothered by the fact Rodney that put this stuff out there and have a disconnected telephone. So tell me, Rodney, you got a solution to this mess, or is it time to just get the hell out of here? - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017

letter Strong and effective schools By Rep. Dan Ortiz - This session, I am honored to be serving as Chair of the House Finance Department of Education and Early Learning Budget Subcommittee, which reviews Alaska’s education budget. In this capacity I will closely examine Alaska’s school funding, and the unique programs and services that support effective learning. - More...
Saturday AM - February 11, 2017

letter Meeting Alaska’s Education Challenge By Dr. Michael Johnson - The most pressing issue for Alaska’s public education system is the lack of a fiscal plan. Our state savings accounts are almost depleted due to the lack of agreement on a sustainable fiscal plan that will address the new economic normal for Alaska. Oil will not provide the income we have enjoyed in the past. We have to make some difficult choices. - More...
Saturday AM - February 11, 2017

letter Don’t ‘tear up’ the Iran deal. Let it fail on its own. By U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan - As a candidate, Donald Trump said he would “tear up” the Iran nuclear deal once elected. Many of us in the Senate strongly opposed this deal on substance — it provides the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism a pathway toward to nuclear weapons inside of a decade — and also on process. The Obama administration sought the approval of the U.N. Security Council, but essentially ignored the constitutional role of the Senate in seeking to finalize the deal as an executive agreement, not a treaty. As a result, President Trump would be within his rights and authority to undo the deal through executive action, particularly as Iran continued to show that it has no intention of abiding by the deal by launching yet another ballistic missile on Sunday (January 29th). - More...
Saturday AM - February 11, 2017

letter Statue of Liberty By Terence Erbele - Ellis Island is one of our national treasures. It is a place to reflect on the history of our country and to capture a sense of what many of our ancestors experienced upon entering this country. It was not a warm welcome. On several walls are old posters, dating back to the 1800's, demanding that we keep immigrants out. Certain countries are named. Yet most of the detested immigrants and their descendants became integral to every part of our society. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter RE: Hold the line on spending By Clay Bezenek - Just a short comment to say thanks to Rodney for doing his job well as a new Ketchikan assemblyman!!! - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter COMING SOON: THE FIRST INDIAN WAR SINCE 1890 By David G Hanger - As the flim-flam man tries to figure out how to build our version of the Berlin Wall without undocumented labor, his obsession with self-aggrandizement continues unabated even to the point of setting the stage for the first Indian War since 1890. Wounded Knee, of course, was far more a U.S. Army massacre than it was a war, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after extended analysis in the past month or so decided they had no interest in pressing that button again. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter Don't be manipulated By Thomas Scott - As I was walking out of Walmart Thursday, in the area that you would kick the snow off your boots and grab a shopping cart, there was this young lady in a very animated conversation with an older lady. As I got closer, I could hear that she had been involved with the Woman's March down in Homer, and I thought, "good for her, she's obviously very passionate about this and she's expressing herself" A few more steps and I'm around her and heading out the door when I hear her say," I'm so mad about this, if I was 18, I would have denounced my citizenship at the end of that walk". - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter Immigration By A. M. Johnson - In anticipation of local empathy for the current social issue of immigration and the issuance of the Presidential decree to cease the acceptance of foreign nationals into America being tabbed with so many negative titles, the thought of recalling recent history on the matter would be appropriate. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter Wild Ketchikan Times By Frances Vlahos-Rohm - I spent a very soggy year in Ketchikan in 1973. I worked at the Frontier Saloon for Roger Hoff and had quite an exciting time of it. Men outnumbered women about 12:1 and I maintain to this day, I never had to buy my own drink. We were highly entertained by the Friday performances of "Fish Pirates Daughter", and I can still quote a few lines after hearing it all summer long. I made life long friends from my short time in town and had so many adventures. Roger hired some great bands, including a rock band from LA and a great country/blue grass group from Canada. The fiddler had been a Canadian fiddling champion at 17, and was still too young to drink in the bar! - More...
Tuesday AM - January 31, 2017

letter Hold the line on spending By Rodney Dial - I’ve been on the Ketchikan Borough Assembly for four months now. The following is my opinion of the state of the borough for your consideration. My views do not necessarily reflect the views of the other assembly members. - More...
Thursday AM - January 26, 2017

letter The Governor’s Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Governor Walker submitted a budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which includes three primary items: cuts in government spending, increased revenue, and the use of some Permanent Fund earnings, which is a separate fund from where we collect our dividend. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 24, 2017

letter RE: SEVENTY-EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS By Douglas Thompson - I agree with David Hanger's recent letter concerning cost overruns. We pay in total close to three hundred thousand dollars per year to Amylon as an administrator. the question is for what? Since he has been here I can not recall one project that has come in on budget and many that have had to be redone at cost to the city. The argument certainly can not be made that we are paying for expertise! The waste of tax dollars is appalling. The lack of concern by the council is disgusting. Their continued response as the funds drain away that should have upgraded sewer, water, streets and other vital services is to threaten to increase taxes. Why do we need such a costly incompetent manager with several assistants to shovel away the tax dollars? - More...
Tuesday AM - January 24, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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