Ketchikan 2013: A year of moderation in most things
By DAVE KIFFER
January 07, 2014
Other than when the temperature hit 85 degrees on June 16, there were no extremely warm days, but with June, July and August having a higher number than normal of sunny days in the upper 60s and 70s, it made for a pleasant summer. Rainfall was also less than normal for those months.
Ketchikan Public Library
When additional heavy rains finally came toward the end of the year, a week like December 10th to 16th in which nearly 16 inches of fell reminded us all that we do indeed live in a rain forest.
And, no, the 27.68 inches of rain Ketchikan received in December 2013 was not a record. In 2006, we got 31.56 inches in December. The all-time highest rainfall ever: 53.85 inches in November of 1917. Quit yer whining.
Overall, the 151 inches of rain Ketchikan received in 2013 was just about average.
There were a variety of other not quite top stories in Ketchikan in 2013.
Tongass Historical Museum took over entire Centennial Building
The Tongass Historical Museum took over the entire Centennial Building, which had been shared with the library for the last four decades. But issues almost immediately arose over to how, or whether, to renovate the Centennial Building to meet the current and future needs. Two small fires and a leaking roof forced the City to move toward some short-term repairs at year’s end.
Shane White Memorial Skate Park
The local economy hummed along with the number of cruise passengers hitting a new record at just over 960,000, an increase of 20,000 over the previous record set before the recession in 2008. The sunny summer weather also led to generally higher receipts for local businesses.
The Ketchikan shipyard also reached a milestone when it completed the Arctic Prowler, an 138-foot longliner that was the largest fishing boat ever built in Alaska and the first large commercial fishing boat built in Ketchikan in decades.
Longtime local oil distributor Anderes Oil was purchased by Crowley Maritime.
Work began on the Whitman Lake hydro facility in 2013. But even before the $17 million dollar project is completed, the community is moving ahead to secure funding to increase the dam at Swan Lake for additional hydro power. Several local groups are also exploring additional biofuel power and heat generators for the community.
Ketchikan residents were surprised to feel a significant moving of the earth on January 4. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake 60 miles west of Craig shook the region. Damage was light, a fiber-optic cable near Wrangell was damaged, but a tsunami alert was generated, only a couple of months after a similar quake in the Queen Charlottes also generated a tidal wave alert. Scientists say the two quakes were related.
Ketchikan became the new world record holder in 2013
Hospitals old and new were in the news in 2013. In October, City voters approved a $43 million bond package for a significant renovation to the Ketchikan General Hospital complex, which was built in 1964. (Today, known as the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.)
Proposed Project: PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center
The derelict former Ketchikan hospital building on Bawden Street
In more positive education news, two local schools, Tongass School of the Arts and Point Higgins Elementary School were named national blue ribbon schools.
In political news, Metlakatla celebrated its 126th birthday by electing its first female Mayor, Audrey Hudson edged out Karl Cook by 11 votes in November.
Also in Metlakatla news, a Ketchikan jury found William Buxton guilty of murder in the slaying of his aunt. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
In Ketchikan political news, Judy Zenge and Matt Olsen were elected to seats on the City Council. Councilmember Sam Bergeron resigned his seat and was replaced by Russell Wodehouse. Wodehouse resigned ten days later. The council was expected to name his replacement early in January.
The Ketchikan Gateway Borough celebrated its 50th Anniversary in October. Alan Bailey and Bill Rotecki were re-elected to seats on the Borough Assembly. Bailey was found to have violated the Borough ethics law when he failed to disclose that his son worked for the City’s emergency dispatch service during a debate over borough funding of dispatch. The ethics board suggested that Bailey make a presentation on ethics law to other elected officials.
The Assembly also moved forward with a potential lawsuit over state education funding. The body approved spending $150,000 to begin the preliminary paperwork to force the state to live up to its constitutional mandate to fund all of educational basic need and not require organized boroughs to share a portion of the costs.
Ketchikan’s Angie Taggart completed her second Iditarod Sled race in 2013.
Weather superlatives (statistics courtesy of the National Weather Service)
Total rainfall – 2013 – 151.37 inches
Wettest week – 15.66 inches, 12/10-12/16
Most consecutive days of precipitation: 50. January 12 to March 2
Warmest day, 85 degrees, June 16
Windiest gust – 56 mph Oct. 3
Total days of precipitation in 2013 – 274
Both September 19 (5.13 inches) and December 11 (5.04 inches) qualify as the wettest all time for those dates in history, but neither cracks the top 50 for all time wettest Ketchikan days.
For comparison, Los Angeles received 3.60 inches of precipitation in 2013, an all-time record for the least amount. Ketchikan had five different days with more precipitation than that in 2013.
At 85 degrees, June 16 was the warmest June 16 in Ketchikan history.
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