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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Front Page Photograph By SHAWN RICKMAN

Amazing Partial Solar Eclipse
A partial solar eclipse occurred on Oct. 23, 2014, as the moon passed between the sun and the earth. An enormous sunspot made the partial eclipse even more amazing. With clouds and rain Thursday in Ketchikan, the photographer said he only had a 10 minute window before the clouds obscured the sun again. This photograph was taken at the Ketchikan International Airport @ 1:45 - 1:50 pm.
The photographer used a Nikon D7100 @ 200mm zoom, f/5.6.
Front Page Photograph By SHAWN RICKMAN ©2014
(Please respect the rights of photographers, never republish or copy
without permission and/or payment of required fees.)


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Fish Factor:
Southeast’s largest and most productive wild salmon rivers at risk By ELAINE O'BRIEN - Throughout history, arguments over land and water usages have run the gamut from tussles over fences with next door neighbors to shoot outs over inter-state grazing rights in the old west. But when land and water rights pit one country against another, that’s when things really gets tricky.

Transboundary watersheds, Taku river ...
Photograph courtesy Trout Unlimited

That is the situation in Southeast Alaska, where residents find themselves downstream from several massive open pit gold/copper mines being developed in bordering British Columbia. The mines are located in the headwaters of some of Southeast’s largest and most productive wild salmon rivers: the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk.

Canada operates under different permitting and environmental rules than the U.S. and currently, no safeguards are in place to protect Alaska waters and fisheries from chemical and heavy-metal contaminants leaching from the B.C. mines. Recall the Aug. 4 tailings dam breach at the Mt. Polley mine, and it’s easy to understand why Southeast residents are seeing red.

“Right now the U.S. and certainly Alaska have no say in how these watersheds we share with Canada are developed,” said Heather Hardcastle, Trans-boundary Rivers Campaign Director for Trout Unlimited, and co-owner of Taku River Reds in Juneau.
That is unacceptable to the People of the Panhandle, who are being urged to respond with the power of their pens! Meetings are scheduled this week in Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Ketchikan and Wrangell to inform people about the threats being posed by the big mines upriver, and to give them a way to take action.

“And that is primarily by writing letters to our Congressional Delegation and the State Department, as well as urging law makers, municipalities, advisory committees, boards and commissions and businesses to send similar letters. “What we are asking is for the U.S. State Department to engage with Canada on this matter, and activate the Boundary Waters Treaty,” said Hardcastle who has teamed with Salmon Beyond Borders and the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Working Group in the grass roots outreach efforts.

An International Joint Commission (IJC) was created by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to prevent and resolve transboundary water disputes between Canada and the U.S.

“We feel that the best mechanism by which we can have a say in the Taku, Stine and Unuk watersheds is to have the IJC  activated and review these watersheds and the development that Canada is proposing and constructing even as we speak,” Hardcastle added.   

Both the US and Canadian federal governments must “refer an issue” to activate the joint commission. 

“The first step is convincing the U.S. State Department that they should look at this matter,” Hardcastle said, “and then to continue building ties across the border to similarly urge Canadians to push for the same thing.”

Alaska’s Congressional Delegation has come out strongly in support of the IJC oversight. Is Canada receptive? The short answer, she said, is no.

“When it comes to the Canadian federal government and the BC provincial government, their agenda is mineral development,” Hardcastle said. “They have not reached out to Alaskans in any meaningful way.” - More...
Saturday PM - October 25, 2014


Ketchikan: Ketchikan Medical Center Prepares to Respond to Ebola; No Cases Reported - As hospitals across the country are on high alert and learning from the experiences in Dallas, Atlanta, Omaha, and New York, PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center is no different. Ketchikan's hospital announced that it is vigilantly preparing to respond and is working in close coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Alaska, and the local public health department to stay on top of Ebola developments.

Ketchikan Medical Center Prepares to Respond to Ebola; No Cases Reported

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center
Photo courtesy Google Maps

According to PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center, it is important to remember that in the United States, we are not experiencing an outbreak of Ebola. Nevertheless, PeaceHealth is aggressively adapting their supplies and protocols in the unlikely event that a patient carrying the Ebola virus arrives at their doorstep.

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center said they are taking this situation very seriously. Their highest priority is to provide the best quality patient-care while ensuring the safety of caregivers. Ketchikan Medical Center is moving very quickly to review and adapt to CDC guidelines, even as those guidelines continue to change.

What lessons have been learned so far from the Texas cases?

It’s been widely reported in the media that there might have been lapses in personal protective equipment protocols at the Texas hospital where two caregivers contracted Ebola while treating a man with the virus. CDC recently issued new recommendations for healthcare workers involved in the care of an Ebola patient, and are now moving to impermeable, one-piece body covering that leaves no skin exposed. In addition, the CDC is asking each hospital to provide training in how to put on, use and take off the personal protective equipment.

PeaceHealth leadership said they are continuing to work with the CDC as well as state and local health regulatory agencies to ensure we continue to stay on top of this situation. We are pleased to let you know that PeaceHealth had begun implementing the CDCs new standards, even before they were made public by the CDC.

What’s the status?

While Ebola is a uniquely challenging disease, it is important to remember that the United States is not experiencing an outbreak. There are no direct flights from West Africa to the Pacific Northwest – all travelers from West Africa must travel through an airport that has screening procedures in place. According to information provided by PeaceHealth, there are no reported cases of Ebola in Washington, Oregon, or Alaska.

Meanwhile, information provided by PeaceHealth said each facility already has or is obtaining personal protective equipment that matches the CDC’s latest recommendations. Training and drills are already taking place in the appropriate departments, and more are scheduled, to ensure front-line caregivers are completely prepared to deal with an Ebola case. Ketchikan Medical Center said their highest priority is keeping patients safe while ensuring the safety of their caregivers. - More...
Saturday PM - October 25, 2014



Alaska Science: A cool idea for locking up carbon dioxide By NED ROZELL - Jim Beget spends much of his time digging for clues from long ago, like when a volcanic island might have collapsed into the sea, sending giant waves to distant shores. He will soon engage in debate on a contemporary question: before carbon dioxide makes the world unlivable, what can we do about it?

A cool idea for locking up carbon dioxide

Carbon dioxide emissions, like these from a Fairbanks coal-burning plant, have accelerated worldwide in the recent past.
Photo by Ned Rozell.

In December, the UAF geologist/volcanologist will tack a poster in a San Francisco meeting hall amid the crashing surf of a thousand conversations. To educated passersby at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, he will explain his idea of capturing a greenhouse gas and raining it out over the coldest place on Earth.

"I'm a little nervous about it but I want to present it," he said.

Beget's idea is an example of geoengineering: using manmade solutions to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the 30-mile shell of gases around Earth. Accelerating levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere are a frequent topic at the conference. Al Gore and climate scientist James Hansen have spoken with urgency on the subject in lecture halls packed with more people than live in most Alaska towns.

With geoengineering, humans attempt to modify the effects of planet-warming molecules in the atmosphere. These ideas, most still in the think-tank stage, range from painting roofs white to reflect sunlight to seeding the atmosphere with volcanic-emission-like particles known to cause global cooling. Another way to tackle the problem is to suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Some have suggested dumping iron filings in the ocean to stimulate the growth of CO2-consuming plankton.

As he pondered these notions, Beget's northern bias came through. - More...
Saturday PM - October 25, 2014


Columns - Commentary

DAVE KIFFER: NOAH WAS A WUSS - It is interesting just how interested folks are in rainfall.

More than any other climatological event, rainfall chatter seems to pour more metaphorical water over our metaphorical dams.

Either there isn’t enough in California or the 100th Meridian or the Sahara Desert or there is too much elsewhere.

Like right here in Our Fair Salmon City.

As you read this, we may still be in the midst of a long visit by the rain God, Dripetus. As I write this, it has now been 38 days since the last visit of his cousin Droughtus.

Although that is the longest touch of rain in 2014, it is not a particularly long period for Ketchikan. Just about every year we suffer at least one 30 day plus shower, sometimes two. Every so often we top 40 straight days of rain. Then all the Noah jokes come out.

Which reminds me, I haven’t seen my cubit measuring stick lately. I’ll just have to go back to the traditional way using the span of my elbow to the tip of my extended middle figure. - More...
Saturday PM - October 25, 2014

JEFF LUND: A win over slothfulness, sorta - Last Sunday was scary.

Not because of the wind advisory which interrupted the early NFL football game, but the whole situation. I was sinking into the couch. You know when you lay back against the back cushions, and the seat cushions start to slide forward? If you have a blanket draped over the back and onto the seat, it catches you, so as the sliding happens, you’re supported into a perfect, warm little couch soft taco. Once you get in there, the day could be over. Not in the sense that the day will end without you getting up, but all motivation drains from your body and is left, like change, beneath you.

I started to crave bean dip mixed with a brick of Velveeta cheese and shoveled into my face with Fritos. That’s the warning sign of a relapse. I very rarely order desserts or have sweets (except for my good luck Reese’s Pieces) I’ve never been overweight, or even close, but that doesn’t mean I’ve never been out of shape. In college the month of March was usually when I hit rock bottom athletically. With the NCAA tournament on, we’d buy large quantities of ground beef, roll it with spices, then pound it into patties and cook them on Jorge our George Foreman grill, named by our buddy Carlos. We’d go to the rec. center to sweat out some of the cheese on the basketball court, but we weren’t keeping pace with our caloric intake. - More...
Saturday PM - October 25, 2014

jpg Political Cartoon: Airbag Recall

Political Cartoon: Airbag Recall
By Steve Sack ©2014, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

Related: Consumer Advisory: Vehicle Owners with Defective Airbags Urged to Take Immediate Action - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags. - More...
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letter Governor has been steadfast in addressing Guard scandal By First Lady Sandy Parnell - As an Alaskan, a mother, and first lady who cares deeply about our families and our future, I was disturbed to learn about the very serious problems in the Alaska National Guard. - More...
Thursday AM - October 23, 2014

letter Supplemental food funding and school lunches By A. M. Johnson - Over the past many years of local grocery shopping it has been observed that person(s) in front me making purchases did so with various forms of governmental supplementary payment programs. What surprised me was the content of the shopping cart where various amounts of what is called Junk Food, meat purchases, and gourmet food items beyond my fiscal desire, were being inclded without any oversight. - More...
Thursday AM - October 22, 2014

letter Vote for Chere Klein By K.A. Swiger - November 4th I am voting for Chere Klein and hope you do too. - More...
Thursday AM - October 22, 2014

letter The Peoples' Representative: Dan Ortiz By Evan Wick - I have known Dan Ortiz on a personal basis for ten years and as a former teacher of mine for four. - More...
Thursday AM - October 22, 2014

letter Chere Klein for State House By Elijah Verhagen - Chere Klein is Ketchikan's best choice! - More...
Thursday AM - October 23, 2014

letter SMS "Songs for your Supper" By Judith Green - What a beautiful group of young people were seen tonight / and not a few. They were all 'right in step' and hardly was any adult supervision seen nor needed - they just knew what to do and when and how, and did! All dressed up in their 'finery', happy to be a part of such a wonderful evening of sharing with the community their many talents and skills. From the opening of the SMS entrance doors to the final 'farewell, thank you for coming' it was an experience showcasing wonderful young teenagers. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Let’s not cook the goose that lays the golden eggs By Malena Marvin - According to Southeast Conference, Southeast Alaska’s economy is increasingly stable, diverse, and strong. Bolstered by the powerful twin engines of fishing and tourism – drawing $1 billion each to the region annually – the Tongass is not unlike the proverbial goose that is laying golden eggs. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Vote to Re-Elect Sen. Mark Begich By Bill Williams - As a Republican and ex-Legislator representing Ketchikan and Saxman, I’m voting for Senator Mark Begich. - More....
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Don't be buffaloed! By Bill Walker - Alaskans, don't be buffaloed! Every day the opposition comes up with a different attack ad, a misleading poll, a misquote. They send their people to our events to record us, take copious notes and watch our every move. When I first announced my run for governor in 2009, they sent an investigator to Valdez to go through all my actions as mayor in the 70's. Parnell has spent more time making public records requests of my involvement with local government when most Alaskans would prefer he properly respond to the ones that have been presented to him on important issues. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Vote Yes on 2 By Hunter Smith - I wish to respond to Substance Screening business owner Renee Schofield. I also wish to encourage Ketchikan citizens to vote Yes on 2. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Scientists Who Know Say ‘No’ By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - On November 4, Alaskans will consider Ballot Measure #2, an initiative to legalize the sale and use of marijuana for recreational purposes. And those who support that commercial trade are investing heavily in hoping you will vote yes. Make no mistake about it, marijuana – like tobacco and alcohol – is big business. Like alcohol and tobacco, the costs of marijuana to public health, public safety, our youth, and lost productivity are similarly high. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Vote Walker/Mallot & Ortiz on Nov. 4th By Franklin H. James, Sr. - Our Alaskan people finally have the opportunity to vote for two Alaskans, Bill Walker and Byron Mallott who were born and raised in Alaska. We are not against big money being invested in Alaska, as long as it does not hurt our environment, animals and our seafoods. Please look at who was hired to work in our fisheries; he worked for the Pebble Mine; hiring someone like that is like getting a coyote to take care of your chickens. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Ebola By Charlie Freeman - I've been hearing a lot in the last few days, how the real fear is not Ebola, it's the flu and I wonder just how many fools are out there thinking that makes a deference. Both can kill. Is hanging better than being shot? Ask the dead guy. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Ebola Czar appointment By A. M. Johnson - Following the appointment of a non-medical, political crony to the head of Czar on Ebola a news article was posted. In response to that article under "comments" the following was posted: - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Sullivan's False Claim By Eric Muench - On Wednesday, October 15, we received a political flyer promoting candidate Dan Sullivan which claimed him to be "the only Senate candidate with an 'A' rating from the NRA" (National Rifle Association). The NRA rates political candidates with an 'A' to 'F' grade depending on their support or opposition to 2nd Amendment gun ownership rights. As a matter of fact both Mark Begich and Dan Sullivan received 'A' grades but Sullivan's was appended with a 'Q' to indicate that he had as yet no voting record on 2nd Amendment issues. Neither candidate was given an endorsement. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Re-elect Mark Begich By Peggy Monaghan- I appreciate the fact that Mark Begich supports adding Arts to STEM education, making it STEAM. I’ve heard him talk about how his son dreaded piano practice until he applied his math skills to the piano. All the sudden the piano made sense to him and he started to actually look forward to practicing. As a voice teacher and a musician myself, I see the benefit of overlap disciplines all the time and how learning music and art can help students learn other subjects better and build their confidence. Arts education increases integrated brain function and a well rounded education prepares kids so much better to excel after they graduate. I am happy to see our Senator understands that as well. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Begich made huge strides for Alaska energy, jobs By Evan Beedle - I've been seeing U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan's ad on TV, trying to claim Sen. Mark Begich hasn't done anything to help Alaska s energy production and I had to ask myself, where has this guy been? - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Let's vote for Dan Sullivan By Alan R. (Rudy) McGillvray - I for one am going to vote for Dan Sullivan, because I feel that he would be the best for Alaska. Primarily because we are both Republicans or conservatives. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Re-elect Begich By Robin Smith - If Alaska loses Begich in the Senate, how do we regain his influential position on the Appropriations Committee? Alaska is incredibly fortunate that both Begich and Murkowski serve on that powerful committee. It puts our small state in an extraordinary position. But that only happened because they are from opposing parties. Sullivan can’t replace Begich. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Sullivan's Absence at High School Senate Forum By Willie Hall - While Tuesday's Senatorial Forum at West Anchorage High School provided a platform for Mark Begich to display, once again, his superior poise and presentation to an audience, the lack of legitimate competition among the present candidates was obvious and disappointing. Even Mark Fish who was hardly able to articulate out his responses made a more compelling case for his candidacy than an absent Sullivan. Meanwhile Ted Gianoutsos could barely restrain himself from spewing wildly inappropriate answers (detailing sexual encounters with his wife seated in the front row), vaguely racist jabs, and far flung promises (a vote for Gianoutsos is a vote for a $10,000 PFD?). - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Begich protects Social Security and Medicare By Pamela Rahn - I just can't get over Dan Sullivan and his Outside groups accusing Mark Begich of cutting Medicare. Do we know the same Mark Begich? - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter NOW Applauds Begich’s Plan to Preserve Social Security and Medicare By Barbara McDaniel - The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) found that “Nearly 9 in 10 men and women aged 65 or older receive Social Security benefits.” Boosting and preserving those benefits is exceptionally critical for women’s survival. Continued workplace and wage discrimination, our persistent cultural habit of leaving low or unpaid caregiving responsibilities to women, and poor accommodations for mothers’ employment ultimately result in meager retirement options for women. IWPR indicates “three out of five women today work in sales, clerical, and retail jobs. Service, part-time and contingent jobs (that accommodate caregiver schedules) are low-waged and rarely provide benefits, such as pensions that women require to ensure a secure retirement.” - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Mark Begich By Jody Serrano - Does Mark Begich ever sleep? He has been debating every chance he can from what I can tell, traveling around the state campaigning, on radio stations (liberal and conservative I might add) and doing town halls left and right (I know because I've been invited to a few). I've never seen anyone campaign like he does - he clearly really loves talking to people. God knows I'd be exhausted if I were him. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Truth and Propaganda on Initiative 2 By Marie Zellmer- Ok, I had someone tell me today that they hoped the pot initiative would not pass because of "All those kids who died from overdose in Colorado." I was shocked! Someone had died from an overdose of marijuana? I would have thought that something like that would make national news, probably world news, if it was true and undeniable. I passed it off because I had not kept up with the latest info on it, guessing that if it was true then they must have eaten their parent's edibles. I went to Google and checked news reports, college research papers, and drug awareness and prevention groups. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

letter Reply to Dr. IRS and the FairTax By Stephen C. Eldridge - Yet again, this senior propagandist attempts to utilize the IRS as a tool to deceptively try to sell us the awful FairTax. - More...
Monday PM - October 20, 2014

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