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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Front Page Photograph By STEVEN SPEIGHTS

Full Beaver Moon
On both Thanksgiving eve and Thanksgiving night, November's Beaver full moon brightly shone as it rose over Ketchikan. Some also called this the Frosty Moon. This photo was taken on Nov. 25th, Thanksgiving eve. The next full moon, the Cold Moon, arrives on Christmas morning, December 25th.
Front Page Photograph By STEVEN SPEIGHTS

Select your favorite Photo of the Month. The photographer with the most likes for the month will receive $100. Only LIKES on the SitNews' Facebook page will be counted. If you don't use FB, email your choice to the editor.
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Southeast Alaska: Sacred Chilkat Robe Returning Home - Through the help of donors, a sacred Chilkat robe has been acquired from an ebay seller, who willingly took a loss on the transaction so the piece could be repatriated to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian of Southeast Alaska.

Sacred Chilkat Robe Returning Home

Chilkat Robe
Photo courtesy of George Blucker

Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) staff moved quickly to raise funds and negotiate a lower price than the top bid with the seller, George Blucker, who in the end felt compelled to return it to its original owners, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

“We’ve watched in sorrow before as our sacred objects at auction have commanded prices beyond our reach. But this time we were able to quickly raise some funds, and we were dealing with a very honorable seller,” Worl said.

“All of the stars aligned, and now the Chilkat robe is coming home.”

Tribal members alerted Sealaska Heritage Institute about the auction on November 16 and SHI was able to raise the reserve amount of $14,500 through donors. Staff contacted the seller, imploring him to sell the robe to SHI at the reserve price and immediately end the auction, given the significance of the piece. The sale was scheduled to close on Nov. 18, and staff was concerned the price would soar at the end of the auction, as is typical of bidding on ebay. Twelve buyers had already bid up the price to $10,000 and one person bid $20,000, then retracted it. Similar robes have sold for upwards of $30,000 at auction.

Blucker is an artist and for many years, he and his late wife, Jude, took a keen interest in Native American philosophies and art. After researching SHI and learning that the robe was sacred, he opted to sell at the reserve price.

“When I found out that it had religious significance and it had a spiritual presence, that’s when I thought I would put it where it should go,” said Blucker, who has since received messages from buyers who were peeved that the auction ended early and who were prepared to pay a high price.

“This is unheard of,” Worl said. “It is remarkable that a seller would take a loss to do the right thing and repatriate a sacred object to the tribes. We are indebted to him for his noble act of kindness.”

Blucker purchased the robe at a flea market in Illinois approximately 25 years ago.

“I saw the blanket lying on top of a VW bus and at first I thought it had to be a fake,” said Blucker, who holds a master’s of fine arts and has worked in art conservation. “But I knew it could not be a fake with that kind of weaving - who could fake that?” - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

Alaska and U.S. to Forego Claims Against Exxonmobil Under Reopener Provision of 1991 Settlement

Birds killed in 1989 as a result of oil from the Exxon Valdez spill.
Photo courtesy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

Alaska: Alaska and U.S. to Forego Claims Against Exxonmobil Under Reopener Provision of 1991 Settlement - The Alaska Department of Law and the Department of Justice recently announced that they are bringing to a close the federal and state judicial actions against ExxonMobil Corporation and its corporate predecessors regarding the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

The Prince William Sound harlequin ducks and sea otters thought in 2006 to have been impacted by lingering subsurface oil have recovered to pre-spill population levels. Over time, the exposure to subsurface oil has diminished to the point that scientists believe it is no longer of biological significance to the ducks and otters. Accordingly, the Alaska Department of Law and the Department of Justice have decided to withdraw their 2006 request to Exxon to fund bio-restoration of subsurface lingering oil patches due to wildlife recovery to pre-spill levels.

The March 1989 grounding of the tanker vessel Exxon Valdez on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilled nearly 11 million gallons of North Slope crude oil that ultimately contaminated some 1,500 miles of Alaska’s coastline. It affected three national parks, four national wildlife refuges, a national forest, five state parks, four state critical habitat areas, a state game sanctuary and killed enormous numbers of birds, marine mammals and fish and disrupted the lives and livelihoods of Alaskans who rely on those resources.

On Oct. 8, 1991, U.S. District Court Judge Russel Holland approved both a plea agreement resolving criminal charges against Exxon Corporation and Exxon Shipping (Exxon) under various federal environmental laws and a settlement agreement between Exxon and the United States and the State of Alaska resolving all civil claims between them pertaining to the spill. Under the plea agreement, the company paid $125 million for a criminal fine and restitution. The civil settlement required Exxon to pay $900 million to the governments over 10 years to reimburse past costs and fund the restoration of injured natural resources.

Since 1991, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, composed of representatives from both governments, has used civil settlement monies for significant restoration efforts in the areas affected by the spill, including: projects designed to restore the environment, manage human uses and reduce marine pollution; habitat protection and acquisition; and monitoring and research. These restoration efforts have successfully accelerated and documented the recovery of natural resources that were injured by the spill. Further, due to income earned on the settlement funds, the Trustee Council currently has more than $200 million at its disposal for future restoration work.

One unresolved aspect of the 1991 settlement has been a provision in the consent decree entitled “Reopener for Unknown Injury” that allowed the governments to seek up to an additional $100 million if they later found substantial losses or declines in populations, habitats or species that could not have been anticipated at the time of the settlement. This provision allowed the governments to obtain additional funding from Exxon to restore injuries shown to be both unforeseeable and “substantial” if several conditions were met. Those conditions include presenting a detailed plan to Exxon by Sept. 1, 2006, for how to restore the substantial loss or decline of natural resources. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

First time Alaska and BC have renewed MOU and Cooperation agreement since 2005 - Governor Bill Walker and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Cooperation between Alaska and BC Wednesday morning.

“As our next door neighbor, Canada plays a significant role in many Alaska industries, including trade, transportation, and tourism. This MOU underscores that connection, and I thank British Columbia Premier Clark for her support and cooperation in advancing this important relationship,” said Governor Walker. “As we work to improve our state’s economy, it is important that we actively reach out and foster good relationships with our trading partners and neighbors with whom we share so much in common.”

While the MOU is not a legally binding document, it is a firm commitment by both governments to continue working together where possible. Last week’s MOU identifies the broad areas of continued or new activity by Alaska and British Columbia, including: - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

Fish Factor: Competition for creative and innovative seafood products By LAINE WELCH - The call is out for products to compete in Alaska’s most celebrated seafood bash, and another new category has been added to the mix.

For the 23rd year, the Symphony of Seafood in 2016 will showcase innovative new products that are entered both by major Alaska seafood companies and small ‘mom and pops’- such as last year’s top winner: Pickled Willy’s of Kodiak for their smoked black cod tips.

All entries are judged privately by a panel of experts in several categories, based on the product’s packaging and presentation, overall eating experience, price and potential for commercial success. A coveted People’s Choice award also is voted on by seafood lovers at gala events held in Seattle, Anchorage and Juneau in February.

The traditional categories of retail, food service and smoked were expanded last year to include Beyond the Plate – items made from seafood byproducts.

“There are companies and individuals around the state that are making all kinds of things from fish parts. It really opens the door to more innovators, and can include anything from fish oil capsules to salmon leather wallets,” said Julie Decker, executive director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, which has hosted the Symphony since it launched in 1993. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015


Southeast Alaska:
Sitka Sound abalone and kelp: Looking for answers; Discussions to expand research to an area near Ketchikan By LAUREN FRISCH - Most people don’t put on a scuba suit when they get ready for work in the morning. But a new project to track how climate change and other influences are affecting kelp and abalone populations in Sitka Sound is getting divers suited up more often.

Sitka Sound abalone and kelp: Looking for answers; Discussions to expand research to an area near Ketchikan

Taylor White finishes up a dive.
Photo by Chantal Cough-Schulze.

Project leaders are simultaneously answering basic questions about kelp and abalone while developing a long-term monitoring system to track how the species are changing.

“Being on the front edge of climate change in Alaska, we are already seeing warming ocean temperatures and changes to the biology and ecology of marine species,” said Lauren Bell, research biologist at the Sitka Sound Science Center. “If we can set up long-term monitoring sites now, we can start to keep a full record of the variables that are changing over time.”

Kelp beds are tall underwater forests that protect shorelines from storms. Kelp also protect a wide range of sea life from turbulent wave activity by serving as a nursery for sensitive invertebrates and fish.

Projected increases in both water temperatures and the intensity and frequency of coastal storms could damage kelp, and over time make it more difficult for kelp beds to remain large enough to protect shorelines and biodiversity. Without kelp along rocky coastlines, animals like pinto abalone could become more vulnerable to storm activity and other external pressures.

Pinto abalone are the large edible sea snails that live and feed on Southeast Alaska kelp beds. Pinto abalone were once widespread and common in Sitka Sound, but populations began to decline in the mid-1960s when introduced sea otter populations started increasing, and continued to decline as the species became available for commercial fishing in the 1970s. It became much harder to find pinto abalone in Sitka Sound, resulting in a ban on commercial fishing in 1996. In 2012, sport fishing was closed for pinto abalone and stringent subsistence rules were put into place. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015


Alaska: Hunting Show Host, Four Hunters, Production Company Plead Guilty To Poaching in Alaska - The host of the Sportsman Channel hunting show "The Syndicate" and four other individuals charged in a National Preserve poaching investigation have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced in Anchorage United States District Court for their participation in a multi-year poaching operation on the Noatak National Preserve.

On November 23, 2015, Syndicate TV show host Clark W. Dixon, 41, of Hazlehurst, Mississippi, pleaded guilty before the Hon. Ralph R. Beistline, Chief United States District Court Judge, to two felony violations of the Lacey Act for his role in the illegal take of a brown bear. The take involved a number of violations of hunting laws including same day airborne, hunting without proper non-resident tags and permits, and the illegal transporting and outfitting of non-resident hunters. The charges involved actions from 2008 through 2014 in the Noatak National Preserve.

Along with the agreement to plead guilty, Clark Dixon has also agreed to a sentence of 18 months in prison, a fine of $75,000, and forfeiture of 17 trophies including grizzly bear, Dall sheep and caribou, along with bows and several rifles used in the illegal take of game in Alaska. As part of his plea of guilty, Clark Dixon agreed that in 2009 he assisted Clarence Michael Osborne in the illegal take of a grizzly bear, by hunting same day airborne, without a guide or proper permits. The agreement also states that Clark Dixon falsified a hunt record claiming the bear was killed by his father, Charles Dixon. The plea agreement also covers the allegation that at the time the violations were committed, Clark Dixon illegally claimed Alaska residency status while being a resident of the state of Mississippi. The charges against Clark Dixon reflect that he lied about his residency status in order to take advantage of Alaska resident hunting privileges, thus nullifying all of his Alaska hunts which resulted in the forfeiture of the 17 trophies and firearms. Clark Dixon also agreed not to contest the forfeiture of a STOL Quest SQ-4 aircraft used by his father, Charles Dixon, which was instrumental in assisting Clark Dixon in transporting and outfitting non-resident hunters in the illegal take of game. Clark Dixon’s sentencing has been set for February 12, 2016, in Anchorage. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Trump Mistletoe

Editorial Cartoon: Trump Mistletoe
By Rick McKee ©2015, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696
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letter Fiscal situation solutions proposed By Dan Ortiz - The second session of the Alaska State Legislature is fast approaching, and the Legislature should be poised to tackle our deteriorating fiscal situation. After voting in favor of cutting the operating and capital budgets by more than $900 million in my first legislative session, we were left with a $3.5 billion deficit. We are currently able to cover deficits with our savings. However, at this rate, those savings will rapidly disappear. It’s in Alaska’s best interest to responsibly manage this decline. While some may argue it’s politically expedient to ignore the issue and kick the can down the road to the next post-election legislative session, I’m convinced that would be a grave disservice to Alaskans. I’m serious about finding the right solution for Alaska; therefore, I propose the following: - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter Big Thorne Timber Sale By Joseph Sebastian - The other day a old logger stopped me and said, "Can't you guys do any thing to stop what's going on with the Big Thorne Timber Sale? You should see what they are doing to the Island, 30 log trucks a day dumping logs, all for export, every day! Some of us still have to live here and there is nothing left. The USFS, supervisor, Forrest Cole, ought to go to jail for this, it's criminal what they have done to this place." - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter 2015 Paris Climate Talks By Norbert Chaudhary - I'm proud as I'm sure all Americans are, to see our majority elected President join with the leaders of 150 other nations in Paris gathering in defiance of the fear terrorists (and others) have attempted to spread globally. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter Fiscal responsibility By Douglas Thompson - It was with great surprise that I read Agnes Moran's letter saying that local government needs to operate with fiscal responsibility as called for in an editorial in the Ketchikan Daily News. Is this the same Lew Williams who as part-owner of the KDN, and as mayor and as councilman, has never met a tax dollar that he did not want to spend ten times over, a bond he couldn't increase? Is this the same man who has supported the incompetent city manager in his never ending spending to the point of sycophancy? - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter Glimmerings of riches in the Gravels of AMP By David Nees - Alaska Measurement of Progress (AMP) has become an Alaska sensation; it reminds me of the everlasting boom and bust economic cycles of Alaska and Canada’s Yukon. For the 19 Alaska School District Superintendents with struggling schools, the test told them nothing. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter President Obama's trip to Alaska By Michael Nelson - Unless the Alaskan hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other establishments donated their services for free, President Obama's trip did cost more than what a previous writer suggested. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter Patient Experience Improvement Efforts By Ken Tonjes - Thank you Mr. Plamondon for taking time to let me know your thoughts on how we can improve our organization and facility, both through your SitNews letter and through the surveys you completed. Patient feedback is essential to ensure the continuation of high-quality health care in our community. I'm sorry the patient experience survey process has been frustrating for you. Your comments provide me an opportunity to clarify the survey's purpose and let our community know what we're doing to help address your frustrations. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Directions for Syrian Refugees By Ed Talik - Just wanted to share my thoughts on the current state of global affairs. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Freedom of Religion, Our First Amendment Right By Norbert Chaudhary - There are many talking of banning Syrian refugees because they are Moslem... Am a bit shocked at another Fox fueled state of hysteria that so many are buying into. What part of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" are our elected leaders forgetting? I truly believed after the Ebola thing and countless other episodes of phony fear based lies - the American people would have learned the difference between Facts and Fox. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Investing in Your Community By Nina Kemppel - In Dillingham, a single nonprofit provides help for domestic violence and sexual assault victims from 33 villages and tribes across the Bristol Bay region. By September, Safe and Fear-Free Environment (SAFE), had already served 607 women, men and children and was in need of financial support. The Alaska Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to SAFE so they could provide meals for shelter clients and assist clients outside of the shelter cover food and other essentials. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Community Connections By Judith Green - I would like to say a THANK YOU to Community Connections - an organization that is local through and through. Tonight was their staff appreciation dinner held at the Ted Ferry Center for staff and their families. It was a wonderful outpouring of what makes Community Connections the very special program it is. - More...
Friday PM - November 20,2015

letter KGBSD Budget Restraint By Agnes Moran - The Ketchikan Daily News editorial of November 13, 2015, took note of the fiscal difficulties facing the State of Alaska and the federal government. It cautioned the City and Borough governments to reach balanced and sustainable budgets. The editorial pleads, "We should take this opportunity to ensure that we can live within our municipal means next year and in the foreseeable future." The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) must heed that excellent advice also. - More...
Monday AM - November 16, 2015

letter Great ER in Ketchikan By Walt Hoefer - I lived in Ketchikan for 33 years. I have 3 kids and several grand kids living there. I had the chance to experience an eight hour stay in your ER back in June. - More...
Monday AM - November 16, 2015

letter Cost of Obama's visit By Margaret Cloud - It was recently stated in a letter published on November 11 that the cost of Obama's visit to Alaska was $600 million dollars. That number is very wrong. The cost was just under $600,000 and was for Anchorage police overtime and other expenses. - More...
Monday AM - November 16, 2015

letter 2D Bar Code & Privacy By John Suter - In regards to the 2D bar code on the back of the Alaska State driver’s license, the State of Alaska adding this 2D bar code is opening the door for Alaska State residents to be victimized. Many people have iPhones and you can go to the Apple Store to down load an App to scan the 2D bar code. Once someone uses this App to scan the 2D bar code, everything from birthdate, weight, hair color, address etc. is now stored into this person's iPhone. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter RE: Pesticides in our state By Jan Trojan - Excellent letter by the Wyatts! I raised the same issue here in Craig. I still have not received a letter back from the Governor. I do feel comforted that SEALASKA said not on SEALASKA Lands. I have also written both of our senators about the HB 1599 and not received a response from either if they would vote against. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter MARY POPPINS By Laura Plenert - Thank you First City Players, the magnificent cast and the behind the scenes folks of this weekend's production of 'Mary Poppins'. It was delightful from beginning to end. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter Open Letter To: Chief Admin. Officer and Chief Financial Officer PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center By Clement Plamondon - Dear Mr. Tonjes, You recently mailed me yet another survey & form letter (two actually) requesting my time to help you improve your organization & facility. In the past I have completed & returned these forms. I now realize that, not only are such surveys Not in any way improving the services you offer, they are detrimental in that they waste time, money & resources generating reams of unread reports, tons of wasted paper & terabits of less than useless data to be correlated & analyzed. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter The bees all died in sprayed areas By Rudy McGillvray - So starts my latest rant, and it goes like this. If we as a community allow our town , Borough, and state to spray all the wild bushes in our beautiful state we will have NO BEES. Most likely because the sprays contains nicotinic acid or a similar type that kills bees. In fact, if one bee comes into contact with nicotine, goes back to the hive, one bee can poison the whole hive, and kill it out of existence; which is why this is not my first letter to Sitnews about Bees, and why they aren't around anymore. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter RE: Permanent Fund By Norma Lankerd - Like I stated, it was my opinion (and) I'm sure the Alaskan Government probably used part of the dividend to pay for the president's visit to Alaska, where else would they get the ¢600 million to pay for the president to be in Alaska for 4 days and 3 nights? I know Alaska doesn't have that kind of $$ to squander. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

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