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Alaska: Study Finds Widespread Economic Benefits of Alaska Ferry System & Impacts of Reduced Service By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Alaska Department of Transportation released a report Thursday on the positive economic impacts of the Alaska Marine Highway System and the impacts of reduced services.The report, prepared by the Juneau-based McDowell Group, found that the state-run ferry system generates a return of more than $2 to the state for every $1 invested.

Study Finds Widespread Economic Benefits of Alaska Ferry System & Impacts of Reduced Service

“The ferry system provides a critical link for many communities,” Governor Bill Walker said. “But I was surprised to learn just how widespread the economic impacts are, accounting for 1,700 Alaska jobs and more than $100 million in wages and benefits.”

Advantages of the state’s marine highway system go beyond transporting people and goods between Alaska's coastal communities. The system provides jobs to hundreds of Alaskans, supports businesses around the state, and plays an important role in the state’s visitor industry. Providing these services requires investment by the State of Alaska. The AMHS was supported by $117 million in Alaska's General Fund revenue in fiscal year 2014 which resulted in a total return on the General Fund investment of $273 million. Even with this positve return, Alaska’s current fiscal challenges resulted in significant budget cuts in 2015 and 2016 to the Alaska Marine Highway System.

The Alaska Marine Highway System has been providing essential transportation to Alaska’s coastal communities since 1963. Fifty-three years later, the system’s 11 vessels serve 33 Alaska communities stretching from Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau in the southeast, north to Prince William Sound and the Kenai Peninsula, and east to the Aleutian chain. With only five of these communities connected to Alaska’s road system, AMHS provides a critical transportation link for Alaska residents and businesses, as well as for non-residents visiting our state.

“This study demonstrates why our marine highway system is a vital part of Alaska’s transportation system,” Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott said. “I look forward to working with coastal communities to strengthen this system in the coming years.”

The study found that four-fifths or 82 percent of 2014 AMHS employees resided in the Southeast region; 17 percent in Southcentral; and 1 percent in the Southwest region and that wages were distributed similarly.

Ketchikan has the highest number of AMHS employees of all Alaska communities, according to the new study. Ketchikan has 318 workers and the Alaska Marine Highway System is one of the Ketchikan’s largest employers. Ketchikan and Juneau alone accounted for 60 percent of all employees.

AMHS employed 1,017 Alaska residents in 2014, representing 95 percent of the total system workforce. Employees hailed from 44 separate communities throughout the state with Southeast residents constituting the bulk of employees at 82 percent; Southcentral residents represented 17 percent; and Southwest represented 1 percent.

Employee spending of payroll dollars have important economic impacts in local communities. AMHS paid its Alaska employees just over $100 million in wages and benefits in 2014, including $65 million in wages and $36 million in benefits.

Four-fifths or 82 percent of payroll and benefits accrued are paid to employees residing in Southeast Alaska. Ketchikan employees received the largest amount of wages and benefits at $31.5 million, followed closely by Juneau residents at $29.4 million. While Anchorage is not an AMHS port, Anchorage residents received $3.4 million in wages and benefits. Anchorage ranked fifth compared with other communities in terms of total wages/benefits, along with Homer. Employees residing in Southcentral received 17 percent of the payroll and benefits paid; and 1 percent accrued to employees living in Southwest.

The AMHS directly spent $84 million with over 500 Alaska businesses in 2014 in operations and capital expenditures. Two-thirds or 65 percent of the Alaska operations spending occurred in Southeast Alaska; 26 percent in the Southcentral region; and 8 percent in the Southwest region. - More...
Sunday AM - February 07, 2016


Fish Factor: Fish go to hunger relief programs By LAINE WELCH - Needy Alaskans are enjoying a rare taste of sablefish, thanks to a science project that kept research fish from going over the rails.

Fish go to hunger relief programs

F/V Gold Rush, Christina Conrath and Pete Hulson working at table, Katy Echave bending over basket.
Photo by Karson Coutre, Photo Courtesy NOAA

Sablefish, more commonly called black cod, are one of the world’s priciest, high end fish, and Alaska waters are home to the largest stocks. The deep water fish are found at depths of 5,000 feet or more and can live to nearly 100 years. The Gulf of Alaska fishery, which has a catch total of about 20 million pounds this year (18.2 million in 2017) is usually worth more than $90 million to Alaska fishermen at the docks.

But the population – as measured by the amount of spawning females - has been decreasing about 3 percent a year since 2004, and researchers aim to find out why.

In December a team from the NOAA Auke Bay lab in Juneau tagged 40 female sablefish with satellite tags that will release on a set date.

“Sablefish movements have been tracked for decades, but this tagging will give us a better idea of where and when these females are releasing their eggs,” said Katy Echave, chief scientist for the sablefish project. ““Accurate estimates of the amount of mature fish will give us better estimates of the number of spawners. And we also will have a better understanding of what environmental conditions are causing this period of low recruitment, which is likely due to low survival in their egg and larval stages.”

Samples of sablefish ear bones, ovaries and livers and other survey data are being scrutinized in Auke Bay labs, but it will be a few years before it yields results. The ultimate goal, Echave said, is to have better assessments of spawners to abet fishery management and catches long into the future.

Meanwhile, needy Alaskans are enjoying the sablefish right now. By federal law, all research fish must be tossed overboard – but a quick collaboration sent this boatload of fish instead to feed the hungry.

“I cannot rave enough about the F/V Gold Rush, who we contracted to do the sablefish survey,” Echave said. “They came to me and said instead of tossing this fish overboard, is there any way we can donate it? And the crew went about coordinating all the logistics for getting the fish processed by Trident, who donated their facility and staff time, and then getting it distributed it to the Kodiak food bank.”

In all, 4,000 pounds of research fish went to local hunger relief programs. - More...
Sunday AM - February 07, 2016


 

Alaska: Alaska Native Arts Foundation Will Close in 2016 - Established in 2002, the Alaska Native Arts Foundation (ANAF) aspired to and accomplished great work in supporting the creative arts in rural and urban Alaska communities. Now, after 14 years of operation, the ANAF will close its doors in spring 2016.

Alaska Native Arts Foundation Will Close in 2016

Authentic and Wonderful! Exhibit in March 2015 Featuring Multiple Artists
Courtesy Alaska Native Arts Foundation

In support of its mission to create economic opportunities for Alaska Native artists, ANAF marketed artwork using virtual stores on its website and in partnership with Etsy. It provided Master Artist Workshops in Anchorage and Bethel, Business Training for Artists-as-Entrepreneurs, and Cultural Arts Project Support Grants to encourage artistic endeavors.

Anchorage-based ANAF’s vision was to create economic development in rural Alaska through Alaska Native art. To that end, ANAF became an arts consultant to consum- ers and a steward to Alaska Native artists by marketing, promoting, and ad- vocating for their work, and for indigenous art in general. ANAF welcomed Alaska Native artists and art collectors and future collectors from around the world.

ANAF’s first outreach trip was to Emmonak; the foundation then traveled to 25 rural communities to purchase work for resale on its e-commerce site before opening its downtown Anchorage gallery in 2006. Since the gallery opened, ANAF has curated more than 50 First Friday exhibitions featuring the work of 65+ emerging and established Alaska Native artists. Each year, the gallery welcomed more than 50,000 visitors.

Since its founding, ANAF has represented more than 1,300 artists from all 12 of the state’s Native cultural regions. It has launched artists’ careers by providing a platform in Alaska and encouraged many artists to reach out to markets around the world.

Some of the artists from the Ketchikan area that have been represented by ANAF are Diane Douglas-Willard and Brett (Pudgy) Pearce. In the Metlakata area some of the artists respresented include Vivan Benson, Rick Booth, Michael Booth, and Lindarae Shearer.

ANAF has also hosted nearly 20 artists at promotional events at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA; a cultural festival at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC; the Orenda Gallery in Paris, France; and Art Basel in Miami, FL. In addition, the foun- dation hosted fashion shows in Anchorage, New York, and Washington, DC.

While ANAF may cease its operations, Alaska Native arts and cultures remain a major economic asset for the state. By helping artists become regarded as entrepreneurs, ANAF provided opportunities and enhanced quality of life by preserving and perpetuating indigenous artistic traditions. - More...
Sunday AM - February 07, 2016


Polar bears walking a treadmill of ice

A polar bear photographed north of Alaska in 2014.
Photo by Brian Battaile,
US Geological Survey.

Alaska Science: Polar bears walking a treadmill of ice By NED ROZELL - Stronger winds and thinner ice are forcing Alaska polar bears to work harder to remain in Alaska, according to scientists who have studied increased movements of both sea ice and bears.

"There's an energetic cost to stay in Alaska," said David Douglas of the U.S. Geological Survey Science Center.

He and others compared wanderings of polar bears from two periods and found the bears now need to capture and eat as many as four additional seals each year to overcome faster-moving ice and stay in areas they prefer.

"That may not seem like a lot, but keep in mind that's at a time when their habitat to hunt seals is shrinking," he said.

While studying the movements of satellite-collared female polar bears (collars don't fit on males because their necks are larger than their heads), Douglas and his colleagues also looked at ice drift off the northern and northwestern coasts of Alaska.

"Not only is the ice pack thinner and more responsive to wind forcing, there's an increase in wind forcing as well," he said. "The ice is drifting faster under the feet of polar bears in the Beaufort/Chukchi (sea) region."

The ice moves an average of 4 to 5 kilometers each day north of Alaska. If a bear off the coast near Point Hope stood still on a raft of sea ice, within a few months it would be off the northern coast of Russia, Douglas said. - More...
Sunday AM - February 07, 2016

Ketchikan Business: New independent primary care practice to open - A life long Ketchikan resident, Tammy Earnest, a certified Family Nurse Practitioner will open a new independent primary care practice, Serenity Health & Wellness, on March 1, 2016 at 120 Carlanna Lake Road.

Earnest was inspired to become a Family Nurse Practitioner by her mother in law, retired registered nurse Kay Earnest. In 2001, after staying home to raise her two sons, Earnest became a registered nurse. She worked for 10 years in local clinics and the emergency department before pursuing an advanced nursing degree while working full-time. In 2013 Earnest earned her Master of Science degree in Nursing, specializing in Family Practice.

“I love taking care of the individuals in our community”, Earnest states. “I take pride in being a part of the patient’s healthcare team, working with them to customize their care in a way that works for them so that they are healthy and able to continue enjoying the things they love, on their terms.”

Earnest believes in a holistic approach to healthcare, combining a mix of both traditional and nontraditional modalities for the best-individualized results. Earnest’s training prepared her specifically in family practice. She will offer primary care services that include wellness exams for all age groups, school & sports health exams, Merchant Mariner physicals, and acute/urgent care. She is also nationally certified to perform Department of Transportation commercial driver physical exams. Earnest has an enthusiasm for preventative healthcare with a strong interest in teens through young adulthood. - More...
Sunday AM - February 07, 2016


 

 

Columns - Commentary

jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: Iowa, Where Everyone's a Winner - The great state of Iowa has a history of cultivating its topsoil for a harvest of winners the rest of the country may enjoy. Glenn Miller. Buffalo Bill Cody. George Reeves. Herbert Hoover. James Tiberius Kirk. As a side note, this may be the first time in history the word "enjoy" has been linked to Herbert Hoover.

The recent raucous caucus process is a perfect example of the Hawkeye State's peculiar propensity for propagating the propitious. It is the Special Olympics of politics. "Thanks for playing our game. Here's a bunch of trophies. We think everybody's a winner."

After the smoke cleared, small, medium and large sized winners littered the ground like mushroom spores on cowpies after a spring rain. Just eating at a Pizza Ranch was a qualification to be presented with a medal.

Of course the foremost winners were Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton because they won and that's what winners do. But Marco Rubio was also a winner because he exceeded expectations, which in politics is considered a win. Then after the results were announced, he gave a victory speech even though he came in third, also indicative of a winner.

Donald Trump was a winner because, as he informs us over and over, Donald Trump is a winner, but he was also a loser because, he didn't win. Hillary Clinton too was a loser because she didn't win by enough, making Bernie Sanders a winner, even though he lost. Still with me?

Chris Christie didn't try to win, and didn't, so he's a big winner, with an emphasis on the adjective. Jim Gilmore was the slimmest of winners because he got twelve, count em, twelve votes; only twelve more than either you or I got and we didn't even go to Iowa. Making us winners for not spending the month of January wandering around coffee shops drinking decaf.

Cubans won. Canadians won. Cuban-Canadians won. Corinthians won. Ethanol, pork tenderloins, the New York Daily News and Chris Matthews won. "Your thoughts." Glenn Beck was a winner for hanging out with the guy who really did win. Sarah Palin, no, sorry, still not a winner, but she's got her one winning attitude, you betcha'. - More...
Sunday AM - February 07, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: America's Pastime

Editorial Cartoon: America's Pastime
Adam Zyglis ©2016, The Buffalo News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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letter Schoenbar girls emerge as a force on the mat By Matt Hamilton - Practice starts 2:45 pm every day with rolling out the mats and Jr high students buzzing with what they had been up to that day and it ends with me bellowing jogging to signal the start of practice.

This is my 18th year involved with the sport of wrestling and the landscape has not really changed much. Weigh in, warm up, drill the basics, fine tune positions, demonstrate new skills then apply them to drilling, explain grappling ideologies and philosophy and end with a half hour of relentless positional full contact wrestling then do it again tomorrow. Always the same but something has changed this year. - More...
Sunday AM - February 07, 2016

letter Testing alternative for marijuana businesses By Kenneth Reese - In recent news it was announced that Lt. Governor Byron Mallott has filed the State Marijuana Regulations. In a separate move the Alaska Department of Law tossed out an attempt by the Marijuana Board to provide a testing alternative for marijuana businesses, off the Alaska road system. With the Lt. Governor's signature regulations take effect in 30 days. The Marijuana Board will meet February 11th in Juneau to finalize regulations for Marijuana Cafes and the forms that licensees will use to apply starting February 24th. - More...
Sunday AM - February 07, 2016

letter GAS PRICES IN KETCHIKAN By Kenneth G. Reese - Everyone wonders why we pay so much for gas here. It's simple, because the petroleum company here likes to rip you off. That is why. Because they can. - More...
Monday AM - February 01, 2016

letter CALL TO REVOLUTION By David G. Hanger - "These are the times that try men’s souls.” We are betrayed; are being betrayed every minute, every hour of every day by a state legislature purportedly elected to serve the people, that is no longer a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” but rather a sordidly sold out and corrupt mess that is of the oil companies, by the oil companies, and for the oil companies. This government has forfeited its legitimacy and must be expunged and replaced by an institution that in fact represents the state of Alaska and its citizens. What this government has intentionally done is to peonize, impoverish, and bankrupt its entire citizenry. By intentionally forfeiting essentially all of its current revenue sources it has left a financial hole in the road that will require 80% of the income of every Alaskan to fill. That is not a joke. The crash will be irreversible as early as January 1, 2018. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 26, 2016

letter Let's Cut Legislators Lavish Accommodations By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Legislators should be held to a high standard. They should lead by example in this fiscal crisis by cutting their own per diem and getting their work done in a timely manner. Legislators will primarily need to address our fiscal situation this session. The per-barrel price for Alaskan crude is below $30, so we now have a projected budget deficit above 3.5 billion dollars. Despite the fact that I voted to cut the budget by $900 million during the last legislative session, cuts will continue to be part of the solution to our budget crisis. I've co-sponsored two pieces of budget-cutting legislation. One will cut government spending on legislative per diem. The other will hold legislators accountable to a ninety day session. This is common sense for any fiscal conservative. - More...
Friday AM - January 22, 2016

letter 50th Anniversary of Arbor Day in Alaska By Laura Charlton - My name is Laura Charlton. I am a 25+ year resident of Ketchikan, a Registered Consulting Arborist, and also current Chair of the Alaska Community Forest Council. We have put together a number of small grants offering money to non profits 501.C3 or municipalities to help communities celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Arbor Day in Alaska. - More...
Friday AM - January 22, 2016

letter Navy Boats In Peril By Donald Moskowitz - As a former Navy enlisted and Navy officer, I am disappointed with the capture of our two riverine boats and crews by the Iranians in the Persian Gulf. - More...
Friday AM - January 22, 2016

letter What We Heard During Six AMHS Community Engagement Meetings By Michael Neussl - The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) held six community engagement meetings across coastal Alaska last month. During this time the department also held numerous meetings with AMHS vessel and terminal staff. The purpose of the meetings was to involve Alaskans in the decision making process that AMHS is facing due to the reality of a declining operating budget. - More...
Monday PM - January 18, 2016

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Ketchikan Title Agency - A Full Service Title Company - Ketchikan, Alaska

The 30th Annual Wearable Art Show - Ketchikan, Alaska

Round Table Counseling & Mediation Services - Ketchikan, Alaska

Sourdough Tactical - Ward Creek Industrial - Ketchikan, Alaska

Great Western Service - Bear Valley Apartments - Ketchikan, Alaska

Rendezvous Senior Day Services, Inc. - Ketchikan, Alaska

C&D Storage - Ketchikan, Alaska

Woodside Village Apartments - Ketchikan, Alaska

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Ketchikan H20 Bottled Water Service - Ketchikan, Alaska

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AAA Moving & Storage - Ketchikan, Alaska

Northway Family Healthcare - Ketchikan, Alaska

First Bank - Ketchikan, Alaska

Steelhead Electerical LLC - Ketchikan, Alaska

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