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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 15, 2013

Shipyard Stories Big News in 2012

Alaska Ship & Drydock - Ketchikan, Alaska
Front Page Photograph Courtesy Vigor Industrial
(Please respect the rights of photographers, never republish or copy
without permission and/or payment of required fees.)


Profile America: Tuesday, January 15th. Dr. Martin Luther King would be 84 years old today. The civil rights leader, minister, and recipient of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize was born in 1929 and assassinated in 1968.

Next Monday, January 21st, is a national holiday, honoring his memory and life's work, appropriate in a month that also sees the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. America's diverse population of some 308 million enjoys the civil rights Dr. King advocated, including 224 million whites, more than 42 million African-Americans, over 14.5 million Asians and about 3 million American Indians and Alaska natives. Just over 50 million of the U.S. population is of Hispanic origin. - U.S. Census Bureau,


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SHIPYARD STORIES BIG NEWS IN 2012 By DAVE KIFFER - Much of the significant news in 2012 revolved around Alaska Ship and Drydock, one of the community’s largest employers.

Early in the year, ASD announced that it had received a large contract from the Alaska Longline Company to build an 136-foot longliner to be delivered in 2013. The news was hailed as an example of ASD’s future as a major player in the private sector shipbuilding that is expected to boom as development expands in the Arctic.

Then the State of Alaska, long ASD’s biggest patron, announced that it was negotiating with the shipyard to the finish the design on the much anticipated first Alaska Class Ferry, a 350-foot, $120 million replacement for the aging ferry system mainliners. This was good news because a role in the final design meant that ASD would have a leg up in the competition to build at least three of the Alaska Class ferries over the next decade meaning the potential of hundreds of millions of dollars being pumped into the local economy.

In 2012, ASD also completed a $31 million ship assembly hall which is now the tallest building in Ketchikan at just under 110 feet.

Then there was a real shocker, when ASD announced it was being sold to Vigor Industrial, the largest shipyard company in the Pacific Northwest. Vigor, which had earlier absorbed industry leader Todd Shipyards, met several times with community leaders and the state officials to discuss the sale.

Company officials assured all concerned that it would build the Alaska Class ferries in Ketchikan if awarded the final contract by the state. The deal was completed and Vigor became the owner of ASD. Vigor employee Adam Beck, a former employee of ASD, was brought in as President of ASD, while former ASD owner Randy Johnson stayed on as vice president.

But that was just a prelude to the final surprise involving the shipyard in 2012.

In December, with no advance warning, Governor Sean Parnell announced he was “downsizing” the Alaska Class Ferry project because of cost concerns. Parnell told Ketchikan officials that he had determined that the cost of the first ship was going be at least $30 million above the budgeted $120 million cost and that the state needed to refocus its efforts to a way to get more bang for the state’s buck. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

Ketchikan: Federal Loan Policy Waiver for Alaska Homes with Cisterns - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski was glad to receive word last Thursday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program that they will take Murkowski’s suggestion to provide a waiver to Alaska for homes with water catchment systems. Up until last year, the USDA had offered waivers just as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), but changed its policy while HUD continued – curbing the lending market in Alaska for low to moderate income borrowers purchasing homes that have these systems in place.

This development was great news to Rocky Elerding, Mortgage Manager at First Bank of Alaska in Ketchikan, who said that Senator Murkowski’s work provided “a big step in helping to provide affordable home financing for Alaskans in rural communities.”

"We applaud Sen. Murkowski's continuing efforts to ensure that Alaska residents have an opportunity to secure financing for homes with alternative water supply systems," agreed Dan Fauske, CEO/Executive Director of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

Alaska: Bill Will Allow Freedom of Choice for Local School Districts on How Best to Protect Children – Representative Bob Lynn (R-Anchorage) has introduced legislation that would allow school districts in Alaska the freedom of choice for making critical decisions on how best to insure the safety of Alaska's precious school children.

“If the school board, as advised by their local constituency, deems that a qualified, trained employee may carry a firearm to protect the school children from any potential threat, this bill permits them to make that choice,” Lynn said. “If on the other hand, a school district believes school children can be adequately protected without a firearm carried by a school employee, this bill permits that as well.” - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

Alaska: Proposed legislation would allow the federal government to dictate Alaska Native Corporations' reporting requirements; U.S. Senator Begich & Rep. Young Comment By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on the financial reporting requirements of Alaska Native Regional Corporations (ANCs) and Rep. Ed Markey's (D-Massachusetts) recent announcement to propose legislation that would allow the federal government to dictate Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) reporting requirements to shareholders, has brought comments from U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) and Rep. Don Young (R-AK).

The report, entitled: "Alaska Native Corporations: Status 40 Years after Establishment and Future Considerations,” was issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“While I appreciate Congressman Markey’s interest in Regional Alaska Native Corporations, I do not agree that it is the role of Congress to define what is in the best interest of their shareholders,” said Begich. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

Southeast Alaska: USCG Cutter Storis Added To National Register of Historic Places - State Historic Preservation Officer Judy Bitter welcomed the announcement that the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Storis, a ship that served many years in Alaska waters, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

In 2007, the Storis was decommissioned and put in floating storage in California. A non-profit Juneau-based group, Storis Museum, is working to bring the ship back to Alaska for preservation and use as a historic museum ship and training and educational vessel.

“For more than 50 years, the Storis was involved in icebreaking, search and rescue, law enforcement, and medical and disaster relief services in the North Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Alaska, and Bering Sea - some of the roughest seas in the world,“ Bittner said.

The Storis was added to the National Register – the nation’s catalog of more than 85,000 historic properties worthy of preservation – on Dec. 31, 2012. The Office of History and Archaeology endorsed listing the vessel. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

Alaska: Farm to School Program Blooms in Alaska By NANCY TARNAI - Two years ago, Alaska’s Farm to School Program was just getting started. In 2012, the program reached over 20,000 students.

Farm to School Program Blooms in Alaska

Johanna Herron visits with Ben VanderWeele at the VanderWeele Farm in Palmer. Connecting with farmers is a favorite aspect of Herron’s work for Alaska Farm to School program.
Photo courtesy Alaska Farm to School.

How is that possible?

According to FTS Coordinator Johanna Herron, the success is due to collaboration with other agencies and the willingness of school nutrition professionals to incorporate Alaska-grown food into school lunches.

“We became a central place to go to for information,” Herron said. “I have 400 people on my list-serve. We act as a clearinghouse for national information and we build connections between youth and the food system.”

From Sitka to Bethel, Farm to School has touched the lives of students in a variety of ways. A few examples from 2011-2012 include: - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

Ketchikan: Forest Service Conducts 5-Year Review of Tongass National Forest Land & Resource Management Plan - The Tongass National Forest is looking for feedback on its main guiding document, the Tongass National Forest Land & Resource Management Plan (Forest Plan), on the heels of the Plan’s five year anniversary.

The Tongass National Forest provides a broad range of benefits society receives from the Forest, from recreation opportunities to salmon to wood products. In order to ensure that today’s activities on the forest do not impact these benefits over the long run, managers follow the guidance of the Forest Plan, most recently approved in 2008. Now, the Forest is looking for feedback from the public on whether the Plan is working as promised, or whether some changes are needed. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013


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letter Museum Expansion By Sam Bergeron - Rodney Dial is right to be incensed by the latest proposal to expand and completely renovate the Museum located in the Centennial building, site of the old downtown Ketchikan library. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

letter CBS-SE Service By Sandra Rusin McCray - My name is Sandra Rusin McCray and I am the Regional Sales Manager for CBS-SE. I've had several calls since Friday, January 11th asking me about the technical difficulties that KPU CommVision is having with the local CBS-SE Affiliate. Here is the best explanation that I can offer: - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

letter AMERICANS NEED GUNS By Dr. R.D. McGee - If politicians think gun control is the answer to our violence problem, think again. Actually, every citizen should be educated in gun use and safety. If the feds control the use of personal firearms, only the bad guys will have the power to do what they want. We have historical evidence from around the world that gun confiscation (example-Nazi Germany) leads to bad things. We also have an excellent example, Switzerland, how every citizen having guns and using them responsibly is a good thing. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

letter Gas price and Co-Op By Phil McElroy - I agree with the co-op idea. It worked during the 70's for groceries when they were getting out of line. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

letter Fair Tax By Beverly Martin - Poverty should never be the goal of a government tax structure yet our income tax is designed to keep working people poor. Hidden corporate taxes raise the wholesale cost of goods and services while the 7.65 percent payroll tax ensures less take-home pay for buying goods and services. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 15, 2013

letter Museum By Rodney Dial - Those of you who follow my letters know that I mentioned YEARS AGO that approval of the new Library would lead to tax increases and an immediate, subsequent request by local government to expand the Museum. - More...
Saturday AM - January 12, 2013

letter IT IS NOT INEPTNESS OR INCOMPETENCE, THE IRS IS STEALING FROM YOU By David G. Hanger, EA, MBA - By 1989 the Internal Revenue Service had closed virtually all of its field offices in Alaska, concentrating everything in Anchorage with an adjunct in Fairbanks. Travel budgets for IRS employees were virtually eliminated, too, so by the early 1990s almost all audits in the state of Alaska were done by telephone and fax machine. It was a system that worked because there was some IRS employee in Anchorage available via phone to us folks in the bush who would deal with our problem. Then in 2007 we got a new IRS commissioner and considerable transition in the Anchorage office, more or less simultaneously. One Sue Matters took over in Anchorage what used to be called “Problems Resolution,” put up a sign saying “Walk-ins welcome,” and turned off the telephone. So Anchorage is serviced, and the rest of us have been dumped into a large black hole. - More...
Saturday AM - January 12, 2013

letter God Given 2nd Amendment By A. M. Johnson - The following has been sent to both Senator Stedman and Representative Wilson: Fellow Alaskans, I have been advised that our representatives are very very very busy. It may not be important to address the threat of having our personal firearms affected by Federal legislation. To the best of my knowledge, the U.S Constitution afforded the States the supreme amount of control. Alaska should enforce its sovereignty here and NOW. - More...
Saturday AM - January 12, 2013

letter Gas Prices By Carl Thompson - I think Peter Ellis has a great idea. A co-op might be just the thing to bring back competition to the gas market here in Ketchikan. - More...
Thursday AM - January 10, 2013

letter Planning Comm. Meeting Tues 1/8 6PM By Robert K. Rice - This is a copy of a letter I sent to the Ketchikan Borough Planning Commission. I am encouraging everyone with concerns regarding this use of the land near our library, radio station, recreation center, swimming pool, ball fields, fish hatchery, and many homes and apartments, to attend the planning commission meeting to voice your concerns.There are much less disruptive places to site this facility. Thanks to Amanda Mitchell and Duke Swink for bringing this to our attention. - More...
Sunday AM - January 06, 2013

letter Alaska is headed for an ice age By Marvin Seibert - I know climate change facts just stand in the way of the people who consider Al Gore a Messiah in this area but I feel the truth can always be best shown in the light of day, not a DVD of made up half-truths. - More...
Sunday AM - January 06, 2013

letter RE: RIPOFF By Pete Ellis - The following quote from a Hanger commentary certainly deals with the problem but fails to suggest a solution: - More...
Sunday AM - January 06, 2013

letter KPU advisory board appointments By A.M. Johnson- It is noted that the Ketchikan Public Utilities is advertising for public citizens to apply for appointment to the Ketchikan Public Utilities advisory board. Good news! It was thought this board had been dissolved for lack of activity or interest. Now is a timely moment to resurrect the board or reinforce it with new blood. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 02, 2013

letter RIPOFF By David G. Hanger - The price for gasoline in Ketchikan is more than $1 per gallon over the national average and 80 cents per gallon over the state average; in Metlakatla those same numbers are more than $1.50 per gallon and at the state level $1.30 per gallon.  Either the wholesale distributors of gasoline in Ketchikan think they have an unlimited license to steal, or they are the most incompetent business managers in the state and in the nation.  This problem is chronic and persistent, and there are no excuses.  It is time to fire these people. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 02, 2013

letter Idle No More By Jennifer Boyd - I am very proud to say Metlakatla held a march today to stand with the First Nations of Canada. As all rallies and marches it was peaceful with our children and grandchildren marching with us. Chief Teresa has called for peaceful rallies. And I would like to add, no police were called out, no pictures were taken by the police. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 02, 2013

letter Jim Pinkerton & the Fireside Lounge By Betty Lee Lien Marl - Jim Pinkerton was an odd fellow and for sure no one knew of his childhood or his hardships. He was a very hard worker and smart as a whip. In 1962 my husband, Stan Marl, was killed in a hunting accident leaving me with 4 very young children. The town rallyed around me and my family. My mother, Anne Evensen, was a waitress at the Blue Fox Cafe. Jim always ate lunch there. One day he asked my mother what he could do for me. She didn't know what to tell him. A few hours later one of the employees from the cold storage wheeled in a hand truck with this enormous plastic bag, easily 25 pounds or more, of frozen halibut cheeks. He knew that I loved halibut cheeks and this was his way of helping me out. He was a very private person and when my mother called me and told me to come and get this huge bag of halibut cheeks I was dumb founded. Luckily I had just bought a freezer! It was a very compasionate thing for him to do. - More...
Wednesday - January 02, 2013

letter Gas Prices By Norma Lankerd - Again, FYI (Metlakatla's) gas prices were at $4.71 per gallon after the prices kept going down (So) I wouldn't complain and YAY we are finally down to $4.51 a gallon (SURE) would like to swap gas (fuel) prices with anyone. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 02, 2013

letter Concerning Rezoning Case 12-106 By Duke Swink - What kind of treatment plant will be in operation to treat the water used in this industry? Will the run off end up in Ketchikan Creek where there are salmon? Has anyone thought about this? ALL industrial sites have large amounts of waste water, and it is usually VERY polluted, and must be treated before it can be released into the surrounding areas. I didn't see a provision for a treatment plant. This could open you up to major lawsuits. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 02, 2013

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