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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 16, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By CARLENE DIXON

Frozen in Ice
Flower pods frozen in ice in the Deermount Street area.
Front Page Feature Photo By CARLENE DIXON

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AK Mariculture Task Force moves forward with tribal collaboration - The Alaska Mariculture Task Force is moving forward with several advisory committees (AC) focused on research, development and environmental information, regulatory issues, investment and infrastructure, workforce development, public education and marketing.

Formed by Governor Walker by Administrative Order 280, the Alaska Mariculture Task Force is focused on developing a viable and sustainable Alaska mariculture industry to contribute to the expansion of the State’s economy. The task force just completed its fifth meeting this week.

The Task Force defines mariculture as aquatic farming of shellfish and aquatic plants in Alaska waters, as well as enhancement of wild fisheries. The farming of finfish is not legal in the State of Alaska. The mission of the Task Force is to provide recommendations to develop the mariculture industry in Alaska for the long-term benefit of the state’s economy and environment.

“Mariculture represents a tremendous opportunity to grow and diversify our state’s economy, strengthen our coastal communities, and provide healthy food to the world using sustainable methods that are an extension of Alaska’s successful fishery management practices,” said Governor Walker in creating the task force.

Recommendations for a comprehensive plan will be delivered to Governor Walker by March 2018. The recommendations are to address public and private investment, regulatory issues, and research and development needs. The members are also focusing on workforce development, public education and marketing, and environmental considerations. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

Southeast Alaska: Historic: Craig Tribal Association Receives Approval for 1st Federal Land Trust in Alaska - The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) announced Friday that it has approved Craig Tribal Association’s (CTA) land-into-trust application to place a 1.08-acre land parcel into federal Indian trust status.

This is the first application from Alaska to be approved by DOI since it issued a final revised rule in 2014 expelling the misguided “Alaska exception” that had unfairly excluded Alaska tribes from the fee to trust process. Under federal Indian trust status, Craig Tribal Association’s land parcel, cannot be sold, alienated, or transferred without federal approval. Craig Tribal Association’s parcel is home to its tribal government offices, a town hall, and commercially leased office space.

Craig Tribal Association’s President Clinton Cook said Friday morning was a historic day for the Craig Tribal Association and all Alaska tribes. Cook said, "The Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Lawrence Roberts, approved our Tribe’s application to take approximately 1.08 acres of land into trust for our Tribe. This land, which is located within our traditional homelands, is the center of our government."

Cook said, " Alaska tribes have been unfairly left out of the fee to trust process for decades. This decision not only reflects a firm commitment by the United States to move forward in treating Alaska tribes like those in the lower 48 by providing us the same opportunities to exercise tribal self-determination; but recognizes the importance of rebuilding and restoring tribal homelands."

Friday's decision ensures that our tribe will have a permanent center for Craig Tribal Association's government and will provide economic development opportunities for their children and grandchildren said Cook. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

Alaska: WILSON CALLS FOR PUBLIC TESTIMONY REGARDING ALASKA OFFICE OF CHILDREN’S SERVICES - Representative Tammie Wilson announced on Thursday the availability of statewide public testimony opportunities for Alaskans not satisfied with the current state of the Office of Children’s Services.

On September 7, 2016, Rep. Wilson (R-North Pole) requested that a Grand Jury conduct an investigation into how the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and the Alaska Office of Children Services (OCS) are complying with statutory duties.

“The Attorney General’s Office hijacked my request and to this date there has been no action taken even after Director Christy Lawton admitted to the Fairbanks Daily News Miner on September 9, 2016, that she expects to fail the upcoming 2017 federal review audit because the benchmarks are very high,” Wilson said.

Wilson said in a press release that between 2012 and 2015 the number of children taken from their homes in Alaska soared by 65-percent, with most of that increase between 2014 and 2015. “Why should anyone expect anything different when the head of the Alaska child welfare agency confuses child removal with child safety, and about breaking federal law requiring ‘reasonable efforts’ to keep families together,” Wilson said.

“I have received hundreds of calls from those touched by OCS in some way and wanting to tell their story,” Wilson said. “It is obvious by the lack of action from the Attorney General’s office that they do not want to listen to any of the facts that have been submitted.” - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

Fish Factor: Will Alaska's fishing industry see budget cuts? By LAINE WELCH - As lawmakers convene this week in Juneau, Alaska’s fishing industry sees a glimmer of hope that its budget won’t be gutted again.

Under Governor Walker’s proposed budget for FY18, the commercial fisheries division of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game reflects a .3 percent increase to $70.7 million. It’s a big relief for an industry whose oversight budget has been slashed by more than 30 percent over two years.

“All regions show slight increases,” said Tom Gemmell, a numbers guru and executive director of the Halibut Coalition in Juneau. “It was a nice surprise this year to get a little bit of a plus up," said Gemmell.

Fishery management offices in the Central, Westward and Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim regions show budget increases of less than one percent and Southeast’s proposed budget boost is 1.7 percent. One component of the fish budget that could take a .7 percent hit is at statewide management headquarters in Juneau.

“The budget over the years has gone back and forth between what’s run out of the central office in Juneau and by the regional supervisors. Most recently, they’ve tried to identify projects in the specific regions. However, there still are statewide things like the genetics laboratory that have to be funded,” Gemmell explained.

The governor’s budget also proposes to cut back on so called test fishing in which a portion of fishermen’s catches are used to fund critical management tools such as salmon counting towers and weirs. Those receipts totaled nearly $3 million in FY16.

The state’s lone marketing arm – the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute – appears poised to receive a paltry $1 million from the general fund. ASMI, which promotes Alaska seafood in the U.S. and more than 120 countries, is funded primarily by the seafood industry and lawmakers already have put the group on notice that state support will be zeroed out by 2019. (Compare that to Norway’s Seafood Council which is funded by a tax on all seafood exports and had a budget last year of $55 million.)

While the early budget news is encouraging, there’s still a long way to go before it gets the nod from Alaska lawmakers. Gemmell believes it will be tough to cut an already barebones budget.

“I think we’re at a point where if there is no management, there is no science. Fishery managers have to be conservative, and that means reduced fishing time and harvests with the net result being job losses for the harvesters, processors and communities,” he said. “They’ve cut all of the fat already and we’re down to bone. It would be very hard to cut the budget further without having dramatic impacts on fishermen.” - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017


Southeast Alaska: Ernestine Hayes Named State Writer Laureate of Alaska - Ernestine Hayes, an assistant professor at the University of Alaska Southeast, has been named the 2016-2018 Alaska State Writer Laureate of Alaska by the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Humanities Forum. “Ernestine Hayes brings passion and intellect to everything she says and writes,” said Benjamin Brown, chair of the arts council.

Ernestine Hayes Named State Writer Laureate of Alaska

Ernestine Hayes
Ernestine Hayes, The Tao of Raven
Event Photo Courtesy
Village Books & Paper Dreams

Hayes will be introduced as the Alaska State Writer Laureate at the Alaska Governor’s Awards for the Arts and Humanities on January 26, 2017.

Hayes teaches English at the UAS Juneau Campus. She succeeds Dr. Frank Soos of Fairbanks in this honored position. Dr. Soos said, “Ernestine Hayes brings passion and intellect to everything she says and writes.” Benjamin Brown, chair of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, noted in a press release, “We are very excited to have Ernestine accede to the position of State Writer Laureate, given her tremendous literary talents and enthusiasm for encouraging all Alaskans to read, write, and enjoy the wonders of the literary arts.”

UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield praised Hayes for her award. “Ernestine has a deep connection to her homeland and to the indigenous peoples of Southeast Alaska. Her writing illuminates a life of challenges and overcoming adversity. Ultimately her story is one of vision and hope. We are truly fortunate to have her on our faculty.”

Hayes is the author of two novels. Blonde Indian, published in 2006, was named a Native America Calling Book of the Month and received an American Book Award, as well as an Honoring Alaska Indigenous Literature Award. The book was a finalist for the 2007 Kiriyama Prize, and the 2007 PEN Nonfiction Award. In 2016, Blonde Indian was selected as the first book for the Alaska Reads project, a series of readings that connect Alaskans through the work of a living Alaskan writer. Her most recent work, published in October 2016, is The Tao of Raven: an Alaskan Native Memoir. Her work on the book was supported by an Artist in Residence award from the Rasmuson Foundation.

Hayes was born in Juneau, a member of the Kaagwaantaan clan. At the age of 15 she moved to California and returned to Alaska at the age of 40. After struggling through a period of homelessness, Hayes began her connection with the University of Alaska Southeast at the age of 50 when she enrolled as a student with a GED. She graduated magna cum laude at the age of 55 from UAS with a bachelor of liberal arts degree in 2001, and went on to earn her master of fine arts degree in creative writing at the University of Alaska Anchorage in 2003. Hayes has been teaching English at UAS since 2004. She has been featured as a keynote during the popular Evening at Egan lecture series. Along with others at UAS, she has also been involved with Tlingit language revitalization. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017


Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Millennials Need to Own Homes - Get this: The share of millennials who own a home has fallen to a 30-year low.

What's worse, reports The Wall Street Journal, is that 32 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds are living at home with Mom. The percentage hasn't been that high since 1940, at the tail end of the Great Depression.

And that's not good for America.

I had my first taste of homeownership 20 years ago after buying a country house that made Herman Munster's place look like a Trump estate. Renovating it was awful enough, but all hell really broke loose when my father and I began work on the bathroom.

The bolts that secured the commode to the floor had broken. I raced to the hardware store to buy new bolts. We spent an hour installing them. We slowly lifted the commode into place and fished the bolts through the bolt holes. But the bolts were too short!

"Son of a ... ," said my father.

"The idiots gave us the wrong bolts!" I said. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017


LEON KOLANKIEWICZ: Obama's Environmental Legacy is Mixed and Vulnerable - In his insightful 2015 book, "Presidents and the American Environment," environmental historian Otis L. Graham, Jr. lumps President Barack Obama with President George W. Bush as a "wobbly leader" on the environment.

Most established environmental groups would disagree vehemently with this lackluster appraisal, but since the environmental establishment is in bed with the Democratic Party nowadays, its own opinions on Obama's environmental legacy are suspect.

Graham observes that, unlike Theodore Roosevelt (our greatest conservation president), who was fascinated by nature even as a sickly city boy in New York City, young Obama had little interest in the nature that surrounded him on the lush, beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu.

Graham writes:

"...life in Honolulu...never seemed to pivot on island landscape or wildlife .... [Obama] and his biographers tell of basketball games, long walks through the city, movies seen, hanging out at Mr. Burger's Drive-In, dabbling in beer, cocaine, marijuana. It might as well have been Topeka, Kansas, where his mother was raised."- More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

jgp Editorial Cartoon: Obamacare Repeal Plan

Editorial Cartoon: Obamacare Repeal Plan
By Pat Bagley ©2017, Salt Lake Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter “Travelin’ Music” - Ketchikan Community Concert Band's Performance By Christopher Wilhelm - If you stayed inside Sunday afternoon because of the dark and windy, rainy-as-heck weather, then you missed the best of the best from Ketchikan’s musical talent pool. Roy McPherson led his forty-odd member band through a dozen pieces of rhythmic complexity and melodic variations. What this audience member did not expect was the level of performance skill that was displayed. You didn’t go? You really missed something. When they finished, I thought “What just happened??”

I’ve been to many of the KCCB’s concerts over the years since it was established in 2002, and so many of them in the years leading up to then as well. The various incarnations of Southeast Symphony and so forth met the expectations of a group arising from a pool of 14,000 people. This time was different. Commencing the show with absolutely no introduction, the band led off with Alaska’s state song as it often does, “Alaska’s Flag”. Roy walked in unannounced and away they went. So far, so good. This piece ought to sound good. They should be able to play this one from memory. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

letter SEVENTY-EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS By David G Hanger - How did a $44 million Ketchikan hospital bond issue become a $78 million scam? This is the kind of project that kills a town of less than 15,000 people. Who is going to pay for this mess as the outmigration becomes more and more apparent?

Since this project began aggregate inflation has been well under 20%, so these kind of cost overruns are not justifiable. Nor are they sustainable. At best this is incompetence to the maximum degree.

More likely it is dishonesty, and in this regard I call for an immediate and comprehensive audit of everything spent on this project, down to the last dime. Look particularly for kickbacks from materials suppliers. How much of this money is in a small handful of bank accounts belonging to certain favored individuals? Is it $10 million, $20 million, or $30 million? Do not tell me there have not been massive rake-offs with this project. Prove it. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

letter Democracy Fail By Norbert Chaudhary - Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Brace Yourself. The Trump Era is about to begin. Crony Capitalism with a Soviet twist.

Built on lies, fostered by fear mongering talking heads and supported by the Mafia Godfather of Russia, this moment in our history will be known as The Great Leap Backwards. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

letter Women's March: Ketchikan By Mary L. Stephenson - As coordinator of the Women's March rally for Ketchikan, I would like to take this opportunity to update our program and encourage you and your circle of friends to participate; and to answer some of the questions that might be pending.

So why is this rally important... some people are happy for its win, others are disillusioned by the loss while many remain ardent supporters of another alternative - TBD. Key points taken away from the campaign resonate with many - clean out the swamp, repeal, close down and/or be more fiscally responsible with our money. As all parties need to rebuild the leadership and overhaul the election process. The fact remains - we the people, who are asked to give, labor hard for little in return, and are in need of receiving, have basic rights that cannot be ignored with a change of administrations. The Republican or Democrat agenda swings like a pendulum that sends shock waves through the nation and globally in disconcerting portions. - More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

letter Oppressive income tax code By Joe O'Hara - Americans have long suffered under our oppressive income tax code. The 16th Amendment to the Constitution - which enacted the income tax - has proven over and over to be just a noose around our necks.

To aid in effectively "draining the swamp" - as proposed by our new president - Amendment 16 must be repealed and the IRS income tax replaced with a national sales tax - the FAIRtax - that taxes spending rather than income.

BigSolution.org demonstrates how the nonpartisan FAIRtax is economically superior to the existing IRS tax system and other tax plans. And, since those other plans do not first repeal Amendment 16, they are merely fresh-coats-of-paint on an already broken IRS system.- More...
Monday PM - January 16, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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