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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 28, 2010

Front Page Photo by SUSAN HOYT

Buggy's Beach Sunset
Front Page Photo by SUSAN HOYT


Ketchikan - Statewide: Alaska's unemployment rate at 8.8 percent in December; Ketchikan's unemployment rate 9.9 percent - Alaska's December seasonally adjusted unemployment rate statewide was 8.8 percent. November's preliminary rate was revised down three-tenths of a percentage point to 8.4 percent. For December, of the 354,603 reported civilian labor force, 31,842 Alaskans statewide were reported as unemployed.

The comparable national unemployment rate for December was 10.0 percent.

That marks the 12th month Alaska's rate has remained below the nation's. The last time that happened was in the early 1980s when the U.S. was in the midst of a very deep recession and Alaska was in the middle of an economic boom, reports Neal Fried, Economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Research and Analysis Section.

All the state's regions saw higher over-the-year unemployment rates in December. In the Gulf Coast, employment losses were in the oil, and leisure and hospitality industries. In the Northern region, declines in the oil industry took their toll. In the Interior and Anchorage/Mat-Su regions, a long list of industries contributed to higher unemployment.

In Southeast the unemployment rate for December was 9.5 percent, up from November's 8.5 percent. According to Fried, Southeast unemployment rates were higher because of employment losses in leisure and hospitality, construction and retail. Ketchikan's unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) for December was 9.9 percent. This was an increase from November's unemployment rate of 8.5 percent. Ketchikan' civilian labor force for December was 7,768 with 772 reported as unemployed. In November, 646 were reported as unemployed.

The Alaska Department of Labor's official definition of unemployment excludes anyone who has not made an active attempt to find work in the four-week period up to and including the week of the 12th reference month. Many individuals in rural Alaska do not meet the definition because they have not conducted an active job search due to the scarcity of employment opportunities.

According to information released by Fried, another factor contributing to the rising jobless rate statewide is the growth in the number of job seekers. Because Alaska's relative employment picture remains better than most of the nation's, fewer Alaskans are leaving the state looking for employment prospects elsewhere in the country and more job seekers are coming north looking for employment opportunities reported Fried. - More...
Thursday - January 28, 2010

Ketchikan - Statewide: Labor Department Releases State, Borough and Place 2009 Populations; Ketchikan, flat or declining population growth - Alaska's statewide population increased 10.3 percent, or 64,781 people, from 2000 to 2009, based on new population estimates released today by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Alaska's growth was greater than the 8.8 percent increase for the United States as a whole during the nine-year period. (Unless otherwise indicated, all population estimates have a reference date of July 1. The 2009 estimates are provisional.

The number of people living in Alaska climbed from 627,533 in 2000 to 692,314 in 2009.

Alaska's average annual rate of population change was 1.1 percent during the 2000-2009 period and 1.5 percent for the 2008-2009 period. Alaska is still the 47th most populous state, and is larger than North Dakota, Vermont, the District of Columbia and Wyoming. The next largest state is South Dakota with 812,383.

Currently, Alaska's growth as a whole is primarily through natural increase. From 2000 to 2009, Alaska's natural increase (births minus deaths) added 66,149 people, while net-migration (in-migration minus out-migration) accounted for a loss of 1,368 people. During 2008- 2009, Alaska added 8,076 people through natural increase and 2,261 people through net in-migration.

When international and domestic migration are considered separately, the gain of 2,261 migrants between 2008 and 2009 breaks down to a gain of 1,239 domestic migrants and 1,022 international migrants. Thus, domestic migration is currently the larger contributor for inward migration. About 92,200 people now migrate to and from Alaska each year. In and out-migration are nearly equal at about 47,200 in and 45,000 out.

"In 2008-2009 we observed a positive net-migration into the state (+2,261), which hasn't occurred since 2003- 2004. This increase in migrants can be explained by the increase in military movement into Anchorage. It is important to note that, because our estimates are for resident population, any troops deployed overseas are counted as being in Alaska in our estimates," said Greg Williams, State Demographer. "This means that the populations for the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the Municipality of Anchorage, where the main Alaska military bases are located, as well as other communities with a substantial National Guard presence, may be somewhat lower than these estimates indicate, depending on the current deployment of military and National Guard personnel." - More...
Thursday - January 28, 2010

Alaska: State Acts to Safeguard Alaskans Against Potential Identity Theft - Attorney General Dan Sullivan announced today that the State of Alaska has reached a settlement with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to provide credit protection for about 77,000 former and current public employees whose names and confidential information were misplaced by the professional services firm.

The lost personal information is for the public employees and retirees who were participants in the Public Employees Retirement System and the Teachers Retirement System in 2003-2004.

"In this settlement, PricewaterhouseCoopers has accepted responsibility for this security failure," the attorney general said. "Most importantly, the firm has agreed to protect Alaskans by paying for identity theft protection and credit-monitoring, or a security freeze, for each of the 77,000 Alaskans who are potentially affected by this failure and by ensuring that Alaskans are reimbursed for losses that they might incur as a result of ID theft caused by this breach."

Sullivan also noted that other provisions of the settlement protect the state's finances by, for example, requiring PricewaterhouseCoopers to pay for up to $100,000 of the cost of notifying affected individuals.

"However, our overriding goal has been to make sure that our citizens who might be at risk are protected," he said. "We have achieved that." - More...
Thursday - January 28, 2010


Alaska Science: Alaska geologist off to Haiti By NED ROZELL - When Rich Koehler came to Alaska from Nevada in June, he thought he'd spend January at his desk, preparing to explore the state for signs of ancient earthquakes over the summer. He's now packing his bags for Haiti, where the geologist will search for ruptures on the ground surface caused by the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake that killed thousands in the Port-au-Prince area.

Rich Koehler of the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys lectures to students in Jamaica in March 2009 along a surface expression of the Plaintain Garden fault system, part of the boundary between Earth's plates that slipped, causing the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Photo by Paul Mann

The National Science Foundation set up a "rapid response team," and team leader Paul Mann of the University of Texas at Austin selected Koehler, who works for the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, to join the team because of his experience in the Caribbean. Koehler will travel to Haiti for two weeks to help document scars on the ground torn by the magnitude 7 earthquake.

The "strike-slip" fault system that failed in Haiti is similar to the Denali Fault, which ripped nearly a 200-mile frown through tundra and ice in Alaska in 2002 during a magnitude 7.2 earthquake.

"It's pretty critical to map these surface structures before they get eroded or before people run them over with bulldozers," he said.

Koehler and about six others will fly into the Dominican Republic and get to the Port-au-Prince area however they can, looking for expressions of the earthquake on the ground. As he prepared to leave Fairbanks, Koehler viewed satellite images of the area and wrote down the locations of interesting features the team would like to visit by foot, or with the help of Dominican helicopter operators. - More...
Thursday - January 28, 2010

Alaska Science: The coldest place in North America By NED ROZELL - A few years ago, 82-year-old Wilfred "Wilf" Blezard remembered the coldest day recorded in North America's history. Blezard was one of four weathermen stationed at the Snag airport in Yukon, Canada, on Feb. 3, 1947. On that day, the temperature dropped to minus 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We had six dogs that stayed outside the barracks," Blezard said over the telephone from his home in Grande Prairie, Alberta. "Their breath created quite a fog above them."

Blezard remembered tossing water into the air and watching it freeze into pellets before hitting the ground, and listening to the magnification of local sounds created by the severe temperature inversion.

"When a plane flew over at 10,000 feet, it sounded like it was in your bedroom," he said.

On that day, Blezard and his coworkers for the Weather Service of Canada filed a notch into the glass casing of an alcohol thermometer because the indicator within fell below the lowest number, 80 below zero. When they later sent the thermometer to Toronto, officials there determined the temperature at Snag had dropped to minus 81.4 degrees Fahrenheit-the lowest official temperature ever recorded in North America. - More...
Thursday - January 28, 2010

Battle of the Books

Battle of the Books Teams
Photograph by Kathy Paulson

Ketchikan: BATTLE OF THE BOOKS By ROXANNE ABAJIAN - The Third/Fourth Grades' Battle of the Books was a "nail biter" to the very end - with a three-way tie at the end of 16 questions. Point Higgins, Tongass School of Arts & Sciences, and Fawn Mountain Elementary teams each had 96 points.

During the "sudden death", teams only had 15 SECONDS to discuss, decide and write an answer. Point Higgins was eliminated at the third tie-breaker question. Tongass School of Arts & Sciences and Fawn Mountain went to the 4th tie-breaker question, Tongass School team won! It was tense. It was exciting. There were extremely good challenges!!! CONGRATULATIONS to Tongass School!

FIRST PLACE: Tongass School of Arts and Sciences
SECOND PLACE: Fawn Mountain
THIRD PLACE: Point Higgins
FOURTH PLACE: Houghtaling

Another exciting battle with great challenges was the Fifth/Sixth Grades' Battle of the Books. Scores were close at half-time with Fawn Mountain and Houghtaling "neck to neck" - one question difference in scores which is 8 points. Fawn Mountain's team surged forward getting all eight questions correct in the second half. Houghtaling and Tongass School of Arts & Sciences team showed great thinking and determination and were awarded points for challenges in the second half - but it wasn't enough to take the lead. - More...
Thursday - January 28, 2010


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letter Senator Begich Sold Out the People By Chris Herby - I think it is imperative that Alaska voters remember the recent actions of Mark Begich if and when he seeks re-election to the US Senate. Mr. Begich clearly sold out on the people that elected him when he chose to follow the rest of the Democratic sheep in Washington in voting for the infamous Health Care bill. During his campaign he said time and time again that he would not simply vote along with the other tax and spend Democrats in Washington. We now know how good his promises are. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

letter"City to investigate recovery clinic" By Joey Tillson - I'm writing in reference to Juneau Empire's January 7th, 2010 article "City to investigate recovery clinic". I worked for Bartlett Hospital Rainforest Recovery (previously Juneau Recovery Hospital) as their receptionist in 2002 and then Insurance Verification, Medical Biller, Financial Counselor in 2003 until the middle of 2005 so I have some knowledge as to what the facility has gone through, including a name change in the hopes of keeping the facility afloat for Southeast Alaska. Bartlett Hospital and the Rainforest Recovery Center inspired me to get my degree in Health Care Administration. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

letterHaiti, a Lesson for All of Us By Michael Spence - For a few brief moments, the American people had their attention diverted to the utter chaos and suffering in Haiti following a devastating earthquake. Before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Now it is even poorer. Most scholars agree that the problems with delivering aid to Haiti, and the slim chance of a healthy recovery from this latest disaster, can be blamed on bad governance . In the case of Haiti, bad governance is a simplified term, generalizing its long history of dictatorships, corrupt politicians, and oligarchic control of the nation that concentrates fifty percent of its wealth to one percent of its population. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

letterOpen letter to Senator Bingaman: Sealaska Bill By Alan Stein - I submitted testimony for the record when the committee you chair heard the bill Senators Murkowski and Begich introduced re handing over Federal Land on Prince of Wales Island to Sealaska Corp, a private interest. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

letterConcerned Citizen By Terri Anderson - Wow, I read your letter and you definately have some pent up anger. There are counselors out there that will help you. You should be careful with the word ignorant. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

letterCity Council Spending By Tiffany Cook - This year the Ketchikan City Council made tough choices about reducing funding for non-profit organizations. Tough times call for tough choices, and I think the Council did the best they could, but the loss of those funds hurt the organizations who saw their funding reduced. - More...
Monday PM - January 25, 2010

letter More Laughs and Jokes from City Hall By Robert D. Warner - This is amazing; jokes like this could only happen in Ketchikan. Less than a week after the Borough Assembly rejected a proposal to ask voters to approve a local tax on tobacco, the Ketchikan City Council decided to revive this topic for a second time. At least one member of the council placed some sugar coating on the issue by suggesting that revenues collected from this new tax could be dedicated to funding non profit organizations. Could this be an open invitation to increase public funding to special interest groups? - More...
Monday PM - January 25, 2010

letterLess Safe on Obama's Watch By Donald A. Moskowitz - As a former naval intelligence officer on a high level staff (Top Secret Cryptographic clearance), I agree with President Obama that the breach of security associated with the Detroit-bound airliner is "totally unacceptable". The warning signs were there, but the intelligence community failed to recognize, analyze and disseminate the information. This is the same type of failure which led to the 9/11 attacks and the Ft. Hood massacre. - More...
Monday PM - January 25, 2010

letterThank you Gabe! By Shauna Lee - I just wanted to say thank you to Gabe Easterly for his amazing letter about his father, Mark. It is so nice to read a letter that is a tribute to a great man who was so loved - and who loved so well while he walked this earth. He left behind an amazing legacy in both Gabe and Nate and his wife, Jamie, is one of the most amazing human beings I have ever known. - More...
Monday PM - January 25, 2010

letterRe: Highest Bidder By John Morris - Regarding Mr. Edwardson's letter about contracting out to the highest bidder, it seems to me that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough is not the only local government to have contract disputes. - More...
Monday PM - January 25, 2010

letterLow bidder on pool By Charles Edwardson - When the city or borough looks for bids on many local jobs they have to pay for out of the budget we provide with taxes, they look for the low bidder, and claim procurement dictates low bidder wins. But on large capitol projects that the borough or city looks to acquire a bid for with money provided with bond issues and "play money", also ultimately provided with payment by (us) taxpayers, the low bid requirement seems to be manipulated some how, I.E. value engineering (Schoenbar), experience ratings (Schoenbar), references (Veneer Mill), job history (Third Ave by-pass), best in the business (ULTRA VIOLET WATER TREATMENT PLANT), blah, blah, blah. Anyone can write a good resume. - More...
Monday PM - January 25, 2010

letterEnviromentalists By James Schenk - I guess the pains of the past, cloud the view of the future sometimes. Personally I don't get my feelings hurt easy, ignorance and violence seem to be the law of the land once again. I wish some of you had paid attention to your environment over the last 50 years as I have. If you have been in the forest recently you have been doing things right as you have left no trace, as is the law, being that as it may what I mean is I doubt you spend very much time in the real forest at all. - More...
Monday PM - January 25, 2010

letterDog's life By Doug Barry - With all the creature comforts of a king, makes me wonder who's smarter, Borders' dog or the dog's servant. - More...
Monday PM - January 25, 2010

letterWhy the highest bidder for pool ??? By Charles Edwardson - Headlines in Ketchikan on contract proposals are ever changing. This last one takes the cake though -- "Pool contract appeal nixed" should read "Borough picks highest bidder unless they are local". - More...
Thursday PM - January 21, 2010

letterThank you By Judith Green - Thank you Gabreal Easterly for that beautiful tribute to your dad, Mark- and to the community to which you belong: Ketchikan. - More...
Thursday PM - January 21, 2010

letterDogs, Environmentalists and Our Government By Robert McRoberts - Over the many years we have been stating our opinions on this site. I am glad so many smart people are not afraid to voice very important opinions without being scared that they may hurt someone's feelings. Some will! - More...
Thursday PM - January 21, 2010

letter Equal Access Denied Sport Fishermen and Subsistence Users. By Lloyd Gossman - Equal Access to Fishery Resources is being denied to Alaska's Sport Fisherman and Subsistence users. An Alaska Board of Fish (BOF) recent poor decision in restarting a Summer Dungeness Crab fishery that had been closed for nearly 25 years demonstrates the need for change in many of the processes by which we manage our resources. Commercial fishing Dungeness crab in the summer when they are molting, reproducing, and of low quality has wasted millions of pounds of the resource and is damaging the resource forever. This is not a sustained yield method of management. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 19, 2010

letterHealth Committee By Norman Arriola - We are sorry our decision to limit Organized Village of Saxman (OVS) participation in the health committee to one person has offended you. Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC) is required by law to follow the KIC Charter and Constitution and KIC Tribal Council decisions must comply with these documents. In this case we realized the past makeup of the health committee did not comply with the intent of our governing documents and needed to be changed to ensure the make up of the KIC health committee more correctly represented the KIC membership. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 19, 2010

letterRemembering Mark Easterly By Gabreal Easterly - This isn't your normal complaint letter so it may not be of interest. This is to publicly thank my Father Mark Easterly for all the things he did for our family, his friends and Southeast Aviation. Dad worked a lot. In the mornings when I would hear the shower turn on at 5:00 a.m I knew this was the time to jump out of bed and grab a towel for him. I would sit on the toilet and we would talk about where he was going to fly BW (Bravo Whiskey) that day. Dad would say "Oh probably MET, Hollis, Thorn Bay, Craig, KCC, Waterfall, Misty, MET, Misty, and MET again." This was a typical day back in the incredibly busy logging days and I knew that when Dad got home I'd be fast asleep cause they flew from day break till dark in those days. But looking back now it was the most wonderful time I can ever remember for Ketchikan. Everyone had a job and all employers were looking for more good hard workers. This is what Alaska was built on, if you were a hard worker you could show up on a Sunday and be working full time on Monday morning. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 19, 2010

letterRE: Payback By Jim Rasmussen - Senator Begich's letter to Mr. Rauwolf must have been a mass-mailing since I received it too. I also had e-mailed the Senator a few days earlier and assumed the letter was a response to that. The disconnect from constituents and reality is truly astounding. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 19, 2010

letterPlea for Volunteers for Ketchikan Little League By Dave Timmerman - Hello everyone. It is with much hope that I write this letter. There has been very much talk within our community lately concerning how we can help our local youth. There are lots of avenues that we can take to actually lend that helping hand. The organization I represent is Ketchikan Little League. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 19, 2010

letterDogs Without Borders By Ken Lewis - I was absolutely furious with Mr. Border's mud slinging. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 19, 2010

letterRE: My Dog's Life By John Warnock - Lighten up people, Mr. Border's letter is a spoof!! - More...
Tuesday PM - January 19, 2010

letterOpen Letter to Sen. Begich: PAY BACK By Andy Rauwolf - Dear Senator Begich, Thank you for your letter explaining your vote for health care reform. A few weeks ago, I contacted your office expressing concerns that the House plan did not include any regulations for tort reform. Shortly thereafter, you appeared on national television and stated that "tort reform was tried and had failed in Alaska, and doctors had actually left the state because of tort reform." Which study came up with those statistics, and who funded the study? By then, you surely knew that since Texas instituted tort reforms, hospitals there reported 70% fewer lawsuits, doctors averaged a 21% reduction in premiums, Texas added 1,887 new physicians specifically as a result of lawsuit reform, billions of dollars were cut from defensive medicine spending, and 430,000 additional Texans have health insurance today as a direct result of liability reforms, all at no cost to Texan taxpayers! - More...
Friday - January 15, 2010

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