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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 10, 2011

Front Page Photo by HOLLY PAULSON

Icy waterfall
South of Ketchikan 
Front Page Photo by HOLLY PAULSON

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Alaska: Every life is valuable: Statewide Suicide Prevention Council releases annual report - While substantial efforts and $10 million have not reduced the suicide rate in Alaska over the last decade, the state has undergone a significant cultural shift to openly address the issue. That’s according to the fiscal year 2010 annual report from Alaska’s Statewide Suicide Prevention Council.

According to the report, between 2000 and 2009, there were 1,369 confirmed suicide deaths in Alaska, at least one suicide occurred in 176 Alaskan communities. In Ketchikan, 2.11% of all deaths between 2000 - 2008 were attributed to suicide. In Prince of Wales, outer Ketchikan, 3.77% of all deaths during this time period were attributed to suicide.

Suicide rates among Alaska Native peoples are higher than for any other ethnicity in the state, and are the highest of any ethnicity in the United States. However looking at the suicide rates according to ethnicity tells one side of the story. The actual numbers of suicides tell another. For example, in 2009, twice an many White or Caucasian Alaskans (89) committed suicide as Alaska Natives (44). Since 2001, 847 Caucasian alaskans have committed suicide and 411 Alaska Natives have committed suicide. The report says that what this tells us is that suicide is not confined to one ethnic group. Suicide is an Alaskan problem.

“The message that every life has value is being spread in communities all over our state,” said Council Chair William Martin.

Communities and organizations that were previously unwilling to acknowledge suicide are now sharing ideas with each other and incorporating national best practices.

“This improved communication is a crucial foundation for developing more effective strategies to reach the goal we’ve had for so long: fewer suicides,” said Kate Burkhart, executive director of the Council.

Report highlights:

  • The Council hosted the first Suicide Prevention Summit in January 2010, addressing a longstanding disconnect between state, tribal and community prevention efforts.
  • A new web portal,, further connects stakeholders statewide.
  • Over the past decade, fewer, larger grants are being awarded, with more conditions.
  • Suicide prevention funding has increased sharply in the last few years due to a major federal grant - More...
    Monday PM - January 10, 2011


Fish Factor: High crab prices lure pirates By LAINE WELCH - The Bering Sea snow crab fishery has been stalled so far by bad weather. Most of the catch is delivered to St. Paul, where the Trident Seafood plant was awaiting supplies to get going.  A Northland barge has been stuck in Dutch Harbor due to weather, delaying operations. 

“We’re hoping for a clearing in the weather so the barge can get up there and we can get the season underway,” said Jake Jacobson, director of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange (ICE), which represents vessels holding 70% of the Bering Sea king and snow crab catch shares.

When the fishery is underway, crabbers can plan on a nice payday. Most major buyers have agreed to an advance price almost a dollar higher than last season.

“It’s usually 90% of what our expectations are for a final price after sales. So we’re expecting an advance price of $2.12 per pound,” Jacobson said.    

So far 18 crab boats are registered for the fishery, which is a ‘typical’ season start said biologist Jeanette Alas at ADF&G in Dutch Harbor.

“A lot of boats will fish cod and when they are done they will trickle into the snow crab fishery,” Alas said.

The 2011 snow crab catch quota is just over 54 million pounds, a 13% increase from 2010.

Meanwhile, the red king crab fishery at Bristol Bay ended a few weeks ago amidst little fanfare. Dock prices did indeed set a record - crabbers were advanced $6.25/lb, compared to $4.76/lb last year.   

“It’s a very strong market due to a decrease in supplies, primarily from Russia, and a very strong exchange rate with Japan,” Jacobson explained. 

He said some sales prices are still being finalized, but “the final price we received that can be made public right now is $7.44/lb for red king crab.”

The portion of crab (13%) that is not locked in to certain processors and can be sold on the open market is fetching 37 cents over that, Jacobson said, bringing the final price to $7.81/lb.  The previous record price for red king crab was $6.27/lb set in 2002. 

Jacobson cautioned that the high crab prices are luring Russian pirates back to poaching millions of pounds of illegally caught, unreported king crab.   Bering Sea crabbers are launching an ‘ask for Alaska’ campaign so chefs, retailers and the public can be certain they are purchasing  crab that are caught legally from a well managed fishery. - More...
Monday PM - January 10, 2011



jpg Dave KifferDAVE KIFFER: Bringing The World To Ketchikan - The holidays always afford me that rare pleasure, ten or fifteen minutes to read something slightly longer than a text message. Well, recently National Geographic posited that the world population will top 7 billion later this year (2011). Beyond the fact that the population has more than doubled since I was born (a mere 3 billion folks were around to celebrate my birth in 1959), I was also struck by another factoid in the magazine.

Someone at the magazine went to the trouble of “guestimating” how much space it would take to hold the entire earth’s population in one place if we were all standing together, elevator style (Otis Knows we would more than meet the maximium 2,500 pounds per car!).

Turns out that for everyone to get that 3 square feet of space, it would take something like 750 square miles to hold all 7 billion people (including you and me and George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden).

Kinda surprising how little space is actually required for all those people. I’m gonna have to up my guestimates on the number of folks I’ve been crammed into subway cars with before.

But to bring into a context we all can understand, there would be ten times as many people as could fit – comfortably or not – on Gravina Island. Or even five times as many people that could fit on Annette Island.

But – and you knew where this was going – they would all fit (relatively) comfortably on Revillagigedo, and there would be another 300 miles to stretch their arms out a bit. Heck, if you decided to use all of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough (at 4,700 square miles, give or take). Everyone would have nearly enough space to lie down in (although not to roll over!).

Of course, that got me pondering – natch – what life would be like in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough would be like if we had 7 billion residents. - More...
Friday PM- January 07, 2011



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letter Federal Overreaching By Tyler Mecham - I'm writing in response to the article posted Thursday January 6, 2011 concerning Governor Parnell's speech to the Fairbank's Rotary Club. In my opinion he is correct. We as Alaskans cannot just sit around while rights get stepped on. To do so would be foolish and irresponsible. - More...
Friday PM - January 07, 2011

letterRevilla Road Problems By Ken Arriola - A couple of things; the front page photos submitted by locals are incredible, simply the best, one of the reasons I look forward to logging-on daily to Sitnews, much more interesting than that other publication, keep those photos coming.

Personally, and without knowing the exact details, I'm willing to cut the State Troopers some slack on this Ward Lake/Revilla road issue, since jurisdiction on that road has been an ongoing bone of contention. And, as a result, it doesn't surprise me that a level of frustration may exist on the State Troopers' part. - More...
Friday AM - January 07, 2011

letter AMERICA DEFEATED By David G. Hanger - So easy is xenophobia, so easy self-justification, so easily the dead treadmill to those about to die, each corpse robed as hero sublime, beckoning, ever beckoning, for more and more to follow his lead. How long this time this column of lemmings? - More...
Friday AM - January 07, 2010

letter TO “CONFUSED” By David G. Hanger - The type of confusion you are experiencing is a self-limiting, and pathetic, condition that has no known cure. I certainly make no claim to having discovered one. - More...
Friday AM - January 07, 2010

letterFerry ski-high rates By Jay L Baldwin - Two thirds of the Alaskan voters or more live in the Northlands. -- Southeast Alaska was supposed to get a marine highway system to serve the needs of the Alaskan people. Wrong. We have a marine highway system that Alaskans cannot afford. Someone, at some point back in time lost sight of the objective. A highway is supposed to be free. At first fees were very low. But not now. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 05, 2011

letter Lack of enthusiasm? By Kim Hendricks Just a thought, if we continue to keep our eyes closed to what is happening in this community, shame on us. I do not wish to re-live the day that my young one and his friend and even younger sister were outside playing when a car almost ran them over on a dead end street. The driver was in a hurry so that they could take care of someone in another house in their own brutal way. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 05, 2011

letterThank You By Kathie Johnson - I just would like to thank Mrs. Chaudhary's daughters for their care for others. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 05, 2011

letter You too are on your own By Katherine Alguire - I have to agree with the public on this one. If you are in distress and TRYING to flag down the law, they should stop and offer some assistance. The trooper should have asked himself, "why are they trying to get my attention" and offered some assistance, whether it be a radio call or some one blocking off the road. Did the Trooper know that no-one was hurt? Did the Trooper by some chance know all who were down that road were all okay? He never investigated. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 05, 2011

letter RE: Alaska State Trooper Bashing By Art Bailly - Wow Mr. Willis, it sounds like you're one of those troopers. 1. What does this have to do with a vehicle accident (Vehicle in the ditch and icy road conditions)? Don’t try to change the subject. One has nothing to do with the other. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 05, 2011

letter Alaska State Trooper Bashing By Scott Willis - How is it the fault of the Alaska State Troopers for a 16 year old delinquent girl that has no self discipline or personal morals and requires RYC custody for behavior training? - More...
Tuesday - January 04, 2011

letter Aircraft Carriers Unavailable By Donald A. Moskowitz - This letter references numerous points in Steve Cohen’s article in Forbes of October 25, 2010 entitled “Where Are The Carriers?”, which concerns the availability, value, and number of U.S. aircraft carriers. - More...
Tuesday - January 04, 2011

letter Open Letter: Economic Development By Kurtis R. Morin - I understand that certain members of the Ketchikan Assembly have expressed a preference for confining the borough's economic development program solely to infrastructure projects. - More...
Monday - January 03, 2011

letter RE: State troopers not wanting to get involved By Gary Keele - As a parent here in Ketchikan I can understand the absolute concern about the Troopers Not wanting to get involved and being rude. I have a 16 year old daughter that is in RYC Again ( Thank You Jack for all you have done for us). - More...
Monday - January 03, 2011

letter America is being held hostage By Martha Leftwich - American voters were angry when they went to the polls November 2, 2010, many didn't bother to even cast their vote at all. - More...
Monday - January 03, 2011

letter Confused By Laura Plenert - Regarding David Hanger's harangue, bless you Lesley for being able to understand what David Hanger is spouting about. It is difficult to wade through his diatribe and get the point. - Page...
Monday - January 03, 2011

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