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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
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Leduc Lake
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Ketchikan:
Debate over Deer Mountain Logging began more than 20 years ago By DAVE KIFFER - Recent newspaper headlines trumpeting the possibility of the Alaska Mental Health Lands Trust logging land it owns on Deer Mountain behind Ketchikan have stirred up significant community ire.

Debate over Deer Mountain Logging began more than 20 years ago

Deer Mountain as viewed from downtown Ketchikan.
Photograph by CARL THOMPSON ©

But the potential for Trust logging of the scenic area behind Ketchikan has been on the radar for more than 20 years when the Trust selected that land and other similarly controversial allotments throughout Southeast Alaska.

The issue of mental illness in Alaska first became prominent during the years after the Klondike Gold Rush. Amongst the public there was a stereotype of the solitary gold miner sitting alone in his cabin all winter eventually going "stir crazy."

But in many cases, as the new century dawned, it wasn't a stereotype. The rapid influx of thousands of people into the barely governed territory did boost the need for all social services and unfortunately, there now were more people in Alaska that needed mental health services and the territory was unable to provide those services.

Federal law, at the time, allowed for people charged with crimes to plead innocent by reason of insanity, but what happened to them then was unclear if they needed treatment. In 1899, a criminal code change extended the need to provide services to Alaska, where previously only people who had become mentally ill during confinement were eligible for mental health treatment. The new Alaskan code also provided for people to be committed to an outside asylum if they were judged a threat to public safety but not found guilty of a crime.

Within a couple of years, Alaska had a contract with the Mount Tabor Nervous Sanitarium in Portland Oregon, which was eventually renamed Morningside Hospital. For the next 50 years, Morningside would be the place where Alaskan sent its mentally ill. (See "Group hopes for information on Alaskans sent to Morningside; Portland mental health facility housed 3,500 Alaskans prior to statehood " - SITNEWS, Feb. 11, 2016.)

Over the years, several attempts were made to establish a mental illness facility in Alaska. In the 1930s and early 1940s, Alaska's territorial delegate to Washington, Anthony Dimond proposed a sanitarium in Alaska.

In 1944, his replacement E.L. "Bob" Bartlett continued those efforts. But the efforts generally came to naught as the more powerful delegation from Oregon fought any plans to remove the lucrative contract from Morningside. There was also a faction in Congress that opposed Alaskan statehood and felt that establishing more governmental structure in the Last Frontier would encourage the statehood efforts. Interestingly enough, national Republican leaders were generally opposed to Alaskan statehood because Alaska's population was perceived as more likely to support Democrats at the time. When Alaska was finally admitted in 1959, Hawaii was also brought in for political "balance." Hawaii in the 1950s was a Republican leaning state.

It wasn't until the mid 1950s, when the Alaska statehood drums reached their highest intensity, that Bartlett found an unusual ally in his efforts to establish a mental health facility in Alaska. U.S. Representative Edith Green of Oregon, concerned about reports of financial improprieties - including the use of inmates for manual labor - at Morningside, began an investigation into the facility. She also openly supported Bartlett's proposals for an Alaskan facility. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016


Ketchikan: Mental Health Trust to Log Deer Mountain Timber if Land Exchange Legislation Does Not Pass - The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority last week approved the sale of timber on two parcels near Ketchikan and Petersburg. According to the Mental Health Trust Authority, the sale will move forward if Congress does not pass legislation this session requiring the US Forest Service to exchange land with equal timber values for these and other Trust land.

ental Health Trust to Log Deer Mountain Timber if Land Exchange Legislation Does Not Pass

Alaska Mental Health Trust Parcels for Exchange - Ketchikan Area
Map courtesy AMHT

The action of the trustees in Anchorage on August 24, 2016 follows 10 years of efforts to complete an administrative land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service. The conditional sale was approved because the potential loss of a viable timber industry in Southeast Alaska threatens to render these parcels valueless to the Trust if they are not marketed soon.

Facing a costly uphill battle on the land exchange and an imminent closure of the timber industry in Southeast Alaska, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority board of trustees concurred with the advancement of two negotiated timber sales on Trust land near Ketchikan and Petersburg. The Trust Land Office will move forward with these sales after January 15, 2017, if legislation has not been passed by Congress at that point.


The two potential sites are part of a land exchange the Trust is currently pursuing through legislation, Senate bill 3006, also known as the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Exchange Act of 2016. The board of trustees stated on the record that while they still support this legislation and are hopeful that Congress will pass the bill this fall, they must be prepared if the bill is unsuccessful.

Introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski in May 2016, S3006 directs the Department of Agriculture to move forward with a land exchange with the Trust. The land outlined in the exchange is detailed in an Agreement to Initiate signed by both the Trust Land Office and United States Forest Service on June 30, 2015, and is a result of a 10-year process that had significant stakeholder input. The exchange includes approximately 18,000 acres of Trust land near Wrangell, Ketchikan, Sitka, Petersburg, and Juneau for approximately 21,000 acres of Forest Service land on Prince of Wales Island and land near Shelter Cove.

“The board did not make this decision lightly. We understand the concerns of area communities, but our overriding responsibility is to Trust beneficiaries throughout the state. The Trust must use our land and resources to meet beneficiary needs. We cannot allow our land to lose value or sit idly while our only opportunity to gain value from our land is lost," said Russ Webb, chairman of the board

Webb said, "Our preference is to get S3006 passed to approve a land exchange that would accommodate the broader community and environmental interests we have learned about during our 10 years of developing a proposed exchange. But, if that isn't possible we have protect the value of assets to fulfill our duty to Trust beneficiaries for the long- term.” - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

 


Fish Factor:
Relief for Alaska’s pink salmon industry in motion By LAINE WELCH - Wheels are already in motion to provide two measures of relief for Alaska’s pink salmon industry, which is reeling from the lowest harvest since the late 1970s.

Representative Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) began the process last week to have the Walker Administration declare the pink salmon season a disaster, which would allow access to federal relief funds.

Pinks are Alaska’s highest volume salmon fishery and hundreds of fishermen depend on the fish to boost their overall catches and paychecks. So far the statewide harvest has reached just 36 million humpies out of a preseason forecast of 90 million. That compares to a catch of 190 million pinks last summer.

“This is the worst salmon year in nearly 40 years, and that’s huge,” she said. “It doesn’t just affect the fishermen – it’s a trickle-down effect on the cannery workers, the processors, and nearly all businesses in the community. It’s a disaster, there’s no other way to describe it.”

Stutes, who chairs the House fisheries committee and is known as a straight talker, said she has gotten very positive response from the state Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.

“They are on it and already moving forward,” Stutes said.

At the same time, she is working with the Division of Investments to allow a “blanket pardon” of state-funded fishermen’s loan payments for this year.

“This would not be a forgiveness, but would add this year’s payment onto the end of the loan period and forgive the loan payment just for this year,” she explained.

The disaster declaration and the loan suspensions “go hand in hand,” Stutes said, “but don’t depend on each other.”

While visiting constituents in Kodiak, Cordova and Yakutat, Representative Stutes said that “literally people are in fear about making mortgage payments and paying their bills. They can’t claim unemployment because they are still employed. There is just no work.”

By week’s end she was awaiting word from Lt. Governor Mallott, who is the Administration’s fishery “point person,” to take the ball and run with it.

But Stutes said the process has already begun and her job is to make sure it keeps moving.

“I’m a squeaky wheel and this is crucial to the resident workers and to people in so many communities. I’ll keep the pressure on so things will move quickly.”

It won’t be the first time a salmon disaster has been declared in Alaska. In 2012, a disaster was declared due to fishery failures on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers and in Cook Inlet due to low Chinook salmon returns for that season and in previous years. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Kyungcheol Choy loads an autosampler in UAF’s Alaska Stable Isotope Facility.
Photo by MATTHEW WOOLLER

Alaska: Isotope tests ID salmon remains at Interior Alaska site By JEFF RICHARDSON - Ice age inhabitants of Interior Alaska relied more heavily on salmon and freshwater fish in their diets than previously thought, according to a newly published study.

A team of researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks made the discovery after taking samples from 17 prehistoric hearths along the Tanana River, then analyzed stable isotopes and lipid residues to identify fish remains at multiple locations. The results offer a more complex picture of Alaska’s ice age residents, who were previously thought to have a diet dominated by terrestrial mammals such as mammoths, bison and elk.

The project also found the earliest evidence of human use of anadromous salmon in the Americas, dating back at least 11,800 years.

The results of the study were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

DNA analysis of chum salmon bones from the same site on the Tanana River had previously confirmed that fish were part of the local indigenous diet as far back as 11,500 years ago. But fragile fish bones rarely survive for scientists to analyze, so the team used sophisticated geochemistry analyses to estimate the amount of salmon, freshwater and terrestrial resources ancient people ate. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016



October 04, 2016
Ketchikan Borough Election
This is the 14th year, Sitnews has provided FREE web exposure to all local Ketchikan candidates to provide information for their constituents' consideration.
Responses will be published as received and not edited.

Borough Assembly
3 Year Term
2 Seats Open
KTN School Board
3 Year Term -
2 Seats
KTN City Council
3 Year Term
2 Seats

Rodney Dial

Conan Matthew Steele

Judy Zenge

Keith Smith

Trevor Shaw

Julie Isom

Susan Pickrell

Kim Hodne

Spencer S. Strassburg

Judith L. McQuerry

KTN Borough Mayor - 3 Year Term - ! Seat

David Timmerman

David Landis (Unopposed)
  1. Local candidates are invited to provide for their constituents' consideration basic background information, experience and qualifications for the public office for which they seek.
  2. Candidates are invited to address for their constituents what they would like to accomplish if elected and issues of concern.
  3. Send Photographs & include your web address for a link.
  4. Email to editor@sitnews.us by September 15, 2016 (Deadline because absentee voters may vote as early as 15 days prior to the Borough election: absentee in person, absentee by mail, or by electronic transmission.)

 

Columns - Commentary

jpg Mary Lynne Dahl

MONEY MATTERS: EVALUATING AND SELECTING A FINANCIAL ADVISOR By MARY LYNNE DAHL, CFP® - I recently attended the wedding of a friend who asked a really good question, one that many other people are probably asking these days. We had been standing in a group at the reception, talking about retirement and money matters. During the conversation, two of those present mentioned that they were “financial advisors”. One was a stock broker at a big name firm in New York City. The other was a Certified Financial Planner ™ at an independent boutique firm in a small town. My friend listened to these advisors talk about money and investing and later took me aside and asked me to explain what it meant to say that one is a “financial advisor”. He mentioned that at age 42, he was interested in getting financial advice regarding his retirement plan at work but that he also had questions about refinancing his home, buying a vacation property and a business opportunity he was considering. He wanted to find someone to work with that he could trust to give him objective advice and he wanted to be able to invest his retirement plan money wisely.

I had been asked this question before, many times. By now, I have concluded that the public has not been educated enough about what it means to be a “financial advisor” and what credentials are required to call oneself a “financial advisor”. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

jpg Ron Paul

RON PAUL: The Right Lessons from Obamacare's Meltdown - The decision of several major insurance companies to cut their losses and withdraw from the Obamacare exchanges, combined with the failure of 70 percent of Obamacare's health insurance "co-ops, " will leave one in six Obamacare enrollees with only one health insurance option. If Obamacare continues on its current track, most of America may resemble Pinal County, Arizona, where no one can obtain private health insurance. Those lucky enough to obtain insurance will face ever-increasing premiums and a declining choice of providers.

Many Obamacare supporters claimed that the exchanges created a market for health insurance that would allow consumers to benefit from competition. But allowing consumers to pick from a variety of government-controlled health insurance plans is not a true market; instead it is what the great economist Ludwig von Mises called "playing market."

Unfortunately, if not surprisingly, too many are drawing the wrong lessons from Obamacare's difficulties. Instead of calling for a repeal of Obamacare and all other government interference in the health care market, many are calling for increased penalties on those who defy Obamacare's individual mandate in order to force them onto the exchanges. Others are renewing the push for a "public option," forcing private companies to compete with taxpayer-funded entities and easing the way for the adoption of a Canadian-style single payer system. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: School kids walking

Editorial Cartoon: School kids walking
By Dave Granlund ©2016, Politicalcartoons.com
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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letter Thinking Outside the Box: A Better Solution for the Mental Health Lands Debacle By Rebecca Knight - The Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community believes there are better solutions than a land exchange to solve the highly controversial Alaska Mental Health Trust debacle. The exchange is detailed in Senator Murkowski’s Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Exchange Act of 2016 (S.3006). [1] Specifically, what should be pursued instead is either a federal buy-out or a land transfer with the State, not Feds, from existing State forestlands. Clearly, AMHT’s threats that Murkowski’s bill be passed— or else—have angered many. Further, moving the impacts of large-scale, destructive logging out of the local public’s eye to Prince of Wales Island and elsewhere on Revilla Island only caves-in to the Trust’s threats and simply shifts the destruction to old growth forests already highly- fragmented by decades of logging. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter Save Deer Mountain By Norbert Chaudhary - How can we save Deer Mountain? Why not a petition to Governor Walker to fire the entire Mental Health board? If they want to threaten the people of Ketchikan then why not return the favor? - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter Deer Mountain By Doug Barry - Deer Mountain is not just a landmark; it is an iconic trademark. It adorns many a piece of beautiful art, it's what I picture whenever I think of Ketchikan. It was a view I enjoyed from the windows of my boyhood home, a sight I will always hold in my heart. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter AMHS Reform Post Summit By Rep. Dan Ortiz - During my 1½ years as southern Southeast Alaska's state legislature representative, I've been door to door many times throughout our district seeking the peoples' opinion. One concern many constituents share is the efficiency, safety and reliability of our ferry system. I have heard from many southern Southeast locals - from Wrangell to Metlakatla - about their expectations of our ferry system. Most of the thoughtful suggestions can be boiled down to this: our ferry system must become more responsive to the needs of Alaskan residents who live and do business in coastal communities. The AMHS needs to become more insulated from political regime change and be provided reliable financial planning with long-term funding. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter Recall Walker/Mallot By Sandra Browne - Kudos to Mr. Hangar on your letter for recall of Mr. Walker and Malott. I fully agree, its high time to oust them out of office, now before he really does damage to our state funding? I shudder to think what's next on his list of what to steal from next. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter “ObamaCare” By Rob Holston - A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device, or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, generally including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883–1970). - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter Americans must get solidly behind Trump By Joe O'Hara - Americans unquestionably cannot allow the scandal-ridden, divisive, Hillary Clinton to become leader of our beloved Country. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter Deer Mountain Logging By Rep. Dan Ortiz - I, like the majority of my constituI, like the majority of my constituents, am in strong support of a healthy, viable timber industry. In this last legislative session I helped to pass Senate Bill 32, which was legislation that reduces some of the regulations on state owned timber lands and allowed for carefully selected, well-managed state timber land sales in Southeast Alaska. This measure should help companies like Viking Lumber on POW to remain viable into the future. Lands logged in Southeast Alaska should be separate from the land we enjoy recreationally, shouldn't diminish our local aesthetic, and shouldn't risk the health of our other industries, like, for example, the tourism and fishing industries. - More...
Thursday PM - August 25, 2016

letter Deer Mountain: Mental Health Logging Threat By Norbert Chaudhary - While I understand the true goal of this Deer Mountain logging threat is a land swap, I believe the blackmail tactics being used by the Alaska Department Of Mental Health are despicable. - More...
Thursday PM - August 25, 2016

letter RECALL THE PFD THIEF By David G Hanger - Despite his platitudinous nonsense and claims to the contrary it should be clear to all Alaskans by now that William Walker is hellbent on destroying the Permanent Fund Dividend Program and the Alaska Permanent Fund as quickly as possible. Now by dictatorial fiat and in violation of the law this man is attempting to steal $700 million directly from the pockets of citizens of this state to pay the oil tax credits to his buddies in the oil industry. - More...
Thursday PM - August 25, 2015

letter Our Ferry System By Rep.Dan Ortiz - Is our ferry system serving you and your family? Are there ways in which ferry service could improve? How should our ferry system look ten years from now? These are questions I will work to address this weekend when I attend a ferry summit in Anchorage, with many of our own community members and other coastal Alaskans. After serving for thirty-two years as a teacher and coach, and especially after serving our district these past two years as your representative, I have a strong understanding of the economic importance the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has to coastal Alaska. According to the recent McDowell report on our AMHS, for every dollar the states spends on the ferry system, at least two dollars are generated in the private sector. Primarily the hospitality industry, from bed and breakfasts to hotels and restaurants, benefits from our ferry system, but the AMHS also plays a key role in facilitating the shipping of goods into and out of coastal Alaska. We also can’t forget its importance to coastal Alaskan schools and their activities programs. - More...
Saturday PM _ August 20, 2016

letter Choose!! By A. M. Johnson - How does one delay a decision regarding voting for Trump or Clinton having vast political, philosophical, moral, honor, trustworthy differences? How does Senator Murkowski live with her position regarding that choice as she waffles about in the hither land? - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

letter Two Flawed Candidates By Donald Moskowitz - Clinton and Trump are flawed candidates running for President. Clinton has questionable scruples, and she has made significant mistakes. As Secretary of State she set up an unsecured private server in her home for government email communications and sent and received secret and top secret information. She had ultimate responsibility for the Benghazi debacle where our ambassador and other Americans were killed by Islamic terrorists. Her foundation accepted contributions from foreign entities. - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

letter Hillary or Donald? By Joe O'Hara - When you look beyond the virtually meaningless back-and-forth between Hillary and Donald, it becomes clear that somebody is 'yanking our chain'. - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

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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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