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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 17, 2018


Bugge's Beach
This popular Ketchikan beach was named for gold claim owner Martin Bugge, a quiet Norwegian miner-to-be who left Minnesota during the Alaska Gold Rush to make his fortune in Alaska. Martin Bugge was of Ketchikan's original settlers at the turn of the 20th century. 
Front Page Feature Photo By MAYRALIZ GONZALES NIEVES ©2018

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Ketchikan: E.B. White sailed to Alaska in 1923; Famed writer visited Ketchikan as a ‘callow’ youth. By DAVE KIFFER - Alaskans are very familiar with the famous authors who have come to Alaska and used it as their literary canvas. Jack London, James Michener, John Muir, and many others have written of the north, carrying our stories – and sometimes our myths - to a broader public.

E.B. White sailed to Alaska in 1923; Famed writer visited Ketchikan as a ‘callow’ youth.

E.B. White

But few Alaskans – or Ketchikan residents – are aware that the world-famous creator of “Charlotte’s Web” also visited Ketchikan in the early years. E.B. White, one of the most famous American “men of letters” of the 20th Century came north on a voyage in 1923.

Like most young writers he kept a journal and documented his trip, which was later turned into an essay called “The Years of Wonder” that White wrote in 1961, nearly three decades later. The essay was collected in “The Essays of EB White” which was published in 1977.

White was born in New York in 1899 and graduated from Cornell University where he had worked on the school newspaper. He then took several journalism jobs, which was how he ended up all the way across the country, in Seattle, in 1923.

“My trip to Alaska, like practically everything else that happened to me in those busy years, was pure accident,” White wrote in 1961. “I was living in Seattle; I was unemployed, my job on a newspaper having blown up in mid-June; and although I had no reason for going to Alaska, I had no reason for staying away either.”

While casting about deciding what to do, he noticed a newspaper story about the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce planning an 8,300-mile steamship trip to Siberia and back. The group would visit Seattle on the way and that caught White’s interest.

“I had broken the hard roll countless times with Chamber of Commerce people, had laughed courteously at their jokes and listened patiently to their tales of industrial growth,” White wrote, noting that he felt a “proud distain” for business and businessmen because he was under the sway of such writers as H.L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis. “It was important to me at that time to move among people toward whom I felt aloof and superior, even though I secretly envied their ability to earn a living.”

But what really entranced the young man most was the list of port calls of the voyage. Ketchikan, Taku Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Cordova, Seward, Kodiak, Cold Bay, Lighthouse Rocks, Dutch Harbor, Bogoslof Island, the Pribilof Islands, Cape Chaplin, Anadir, Nome, East Cape, and Siberia. The entire trip would take 40 days.

“All I needed was a job on the ship,” he wrote. “The (SS) Buford arrived in (Seattle) in due course…every day she was there I sneaked aboard and hung about the corridors, waylaying ship’s officers and offering my services in any capacity. “

He discovered that he could book passage on the ship as far as Skagway for $40 and he did just that, hoping to ingratiate himself with the crew and be allowed to continue further. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

Alaska: Oil Taxes Bill Introduced - Saying that Alaska’s fiscal gap can’t be reduced through budget cuts alone, members of the Alaska House Majority Coalition on Monday introduced legislation to increase revenue to address Alaska’s $2.5 billion funding gap. House Bill 288 increases Alaska’s oil and gas minimum tax from four percent to seven percent, which would raise approximately $225 million.

HB 288 was introduced by Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) and Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage), the Democratic Co-Chairs of the House Resources Committee, along with Rep. Paul Seaton (R-Homer), a Republican who Co-Chairs the House Finance Committee. Rep. Tarr also Co-Chairs the bipartisan House and Senate Oil and Gas Tax Working Group, which will be looking at the overall oil and gas tax system in Alaska. 

“The Senate’s unwillingness to consider new revenues has left Alaskans with limited choices for a sustainable budget future,” said Rep. Tarr. “This bill represents a modest, fair increase in oil taxes that benefit all of Alaska.”

Over the past year, oil prices have stabilized in the $60 per barrel range. Alaska Department of Revenue data indicates the state only receives approximately $2 per barrel of oil through the minimum production tax. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

Alaska: Term Limits for the Alaska Legislature Proposed - Representative Sam Kito III (D-Juneau) pre-filed a resolution on Friday seeking to amend the Alaska Constitution to impose term limits for members of the Alaska Legislature. If approved, House Joint Resolution 27 would place a Constitutional Amendment before the voters of Alaska. HJR 27 allows a lawmaker to serve continuously for up to eight years in one legislative body. As written, a lawmaker term-limited out of one legislative body could run for election in the other legislative body or run again for the original legislative body after a one-term break. 

“My goal is to return the Alaska Legislature to the citizen legislature our Constitutional framers intended. Limiting the length of continuous service will allow more Alaskans the opportunity to serve, which will result in fresh perspectives and ideas,” said Rep. Kito.

Kito said, “In recent years we have seen a level of legislative inaction that is harming our state. Necessary decisions are not being made, and much-needed actions are not taken. I believe moderate term-limits will help take some of the politics out of the Alaska Legislature and replace it with statesmanship.” - More...
Wednesday PM - January 18, 2018

Alaska: Sexual Harassment Investigation of Westlake Completed; Results Made Public - The House Rules Committee met Monday to review the results of the investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by former Representative Dean Westlake against a legislative staffer. Westlake resigned last month as the State Representative for District 40. During Monday’s meeting, the members of the Rules Committee agreed to release the report of the investigation.

“I felt it was important to release the results of the harassment investigation to demonstrate our commitment to transparency and accountability,” said House Rules Committee Chair Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage). “Dean Westlake acted inappropriately towards multiple staffers, and he rightly resigned. This entire incident is just further proof that the Alaska Legislature’s harassment policy is long overdue for an update and that everybody in the legislature, whether they be an elected lawmaker or a staffer, is accountable to the people of Alaska and the people want assurances that the Alaska Legislature takes the issue of harassment seriously.” - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018


Southeast Alaska: POW Man Sentenced In Commercial Seine Fishing In Closed Waters Case; Seine Vessel F/V Tlingit Lady Forfeit - Commercial salmon seine captain Curtis Demmert was sentenced on January 10, 2018 to multiple misdemeanor counts relating to commercial fishing in closed waters, fishing too close to a salmon spawning stream, and falsifying his commercial fish ticket.

On September 13, 2017 Alaska Wildlife Troopers received a report that the F/V Tlingit Lady, a 58 foot commercial seine vessel captained by Curtis Demmert, was seining for salmon at the head of Coco Harbor, roughly 65 miles into closed waters. Coco Harbor is home to several salmon spawning streams and has been closed to commercial fishing for nearly thirty years. Later that evening the caller reported again that F/V Tlingit Lady was making an additional set in Coco Harbor. After the final set the vessel blacked out its lights and left Coco Harbor in the dark.

On the morning of September 14, Demmert offloaded 23,159 pounds of salmon to a commercial tender vessel. Demmert claimed the fish were caught on September 13 in open water near Mclean Arm, some 65 miles from Coco Harbor. The average catch for seiners fishing in the open area was 9,000 pounds.

Based on the distance into closed water and the fact that Demmert was fishing near a salmon spawning stream (an illegal practice known as "creek robbing"), the Wildlife Troopers seized the F/V Tlingit Lady and everything on it, including the skiff and seine nets.

On December 19, 2017 Demmert pleaded guilty to Commercial Fishing During Closed Period (for "creek robbing" near a salmon spawning stream), Commercial Fishing in Closed Waters, False Information on an ADF&G Fish Ticket, and Unlawful Possession of Fish. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

Ketchikan: Man Charged in Stabbing Death - Friday evening at approximately 9:00 pm officers of the Ketchikan Police Department responded to a residence in the 1600 block of Tongass Avenue due to a report that an altercation had occurred between two males.

The caller stated that an injured male was still on scene and the other party had left the area. According to a Deputy Police Chief Josh Dossett, when officers arrived they discovered Aaron B. Dixon, 31 years of age, had received multiple stab wounds to the area of his upper body. A thirteen inch kitchen style knife with an eight inch blade was found at the scene covered in blood. Officers performed CPR on Dixon until he was transported to the Peacehealth Ketchikan Medical Center by Emergency Medical Services, where he was later pronounced dead. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018


Columns - Commentary


DANNY TYREE: Raw Water: Threat Or Menace? - Thirty-plus years ago, aunt Addie Lee dropped in on the farmhouse that my parents used for storage and family cookouts. She quaffed a glass of sparkling tap water and waxed eloquent about how our good ol' spring water put to shame the over-processed H2O from the municipal water works.

Dad didn't have the heart to tell her that he had finally gotten fed up with continually repairing the pump and had connected to the county water line months earlier.

Judging by the headlines, lots of people are still talking themselves into viewing unmodified spring water as a magic elixir. ("The other kind - the ADDITIVES mesmerize you into vaccinating your children and wearing your seatbelt ... and stuff.")

According to cautionary tales from numerous sources (NBC News, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, etc.), there is currently a craze for "raw water" (unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized), sold for exorbitant prices and aimed at probiotics-obsessed consumers who just can't wait to let the good bacteria and bad bacteria duke it out in their stomachs. ("On the undercard: arsenic and antidote fight to the finish!")

Looks as though the LGBTQ community is being pushed out of the spotlight by the SWMMTGS (Sheep With More Money Than Good Sense) community.

Perhaps there are a few bottlers with truly pristine water sources and tight quality control. But while the fad lasts, the nation faces a proliferation of (a) opportunists who would value profit ahead of the danger from fertilizer runoff, industrial waste and septic tank seepage and (b) individuals who have been encouraged to trespass and steal untested water wherever they find it bubbling from the ground.

My wife the microbiologist verifies that untreated water is a "convenient" way to get cholera, E. coli bacteria and the parasite-induced giardiasis intestinal disease. Perhaps the ad campaign for the spring water industry should be "Whatever doesn't KILL you, only makes our bank accounts STRONGER." Or maybe the dysentery-acknowledging "First, you'll PAY out the wazoo. Then you'll, well, you know. Let's not get graphic." - More...
Wednesday PM - January 18, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Trump Genius

Political Cartoon: Trump Genius
By Gary McCoy ©2018, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Ketchikan Airport & Access By Chris J. Herby - As a community we all had no choice but to watch our long anticipated bridge to Gravina Island die a slow and miserable death. After our congressional delegation worked hard to get funding for our bridge, it was taken away from us due to negative coverage in the national fake news media. However, we were still left with roughly 90 million dollars to improve access to Gravina. Of course that isn’t enough to build a bridge but nevertheless it’s a large amount of money that should surly be able to improve access to our airport. Or maybe not. From what I have read, it appears that we are going to burn through that money and actually not improve our airport access at all. It is my understanding that after we spend all of that money, we are still only going to have access by a ferry every 30 minutes. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Open Letter to Alaska Delegation By Laura Plenert - Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Representative Young, please encourage your Democrat counterparts to show up the State of the Union address.  This is a time honored tradition.  It is about respect for the Office of President, not the current occupant.  

I cannot imagine how harsh the cries would have been if a group of Republicans did not attend President Obama’s State of the Union address. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Jones Act By Timothy J Droke - In response to Mr. Art Johnson I would like to put forward some thoughts regarding the Jones Act, which is simply a form of protectionism. With protectionism you see the protected group benefit and those outside the protected group see a negative impact. In this day and age when ships fly a flag of convenience (think Panama or Liberia) the Jones act is ripe for repeal or some modifications. Residents outside the contiguous states such as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Guam all pay out of their pocket higher costs than they should due to this act due to the higher costs associated with operating these US built ships, why should Alaskans pay more for the food on their table to protect a small class of jobs? - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

SENATOR “BOUGHT & PAID FOR” JUST ANOTHER DAMNED LIAR By David G Hanger - The first problem with being owned, Senator Dan “Bought & Paid For” Sullivan is that ‘ere long you cannot see the forest, let alone the trees, because of the self-deception born of your own filthy lies. Be aware that assuming the position of lapdog licking fundamentally distorts reality.

Explain to your audience, Owned One, how opening up ANWR is going to make us all so wealthy? Under the provisions of SB21 the state treasury is currently being raided by the oil industry to the extent of $900 million to $1.2 billion a year in payouts to the oil companies to cover their exploration costs. The state of Alaska collects no tax revenue of any consequence from the oil industry until the price of a barrel of oil exceeds $110 a barrel, so what is very obvious is no matter what is or is not discovered in the way of new oil reserves in ANWR and elsewhere will cost the state treasury and ordinary Alaskans billions of dollars more in these goddamned tax credits. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Why Protect the Jones Act? By Art Johnson - I believe the Jones Act is necessary for several reasons and if it is repealed, it will be detrimental, not only to the maritime industry and those who work in it, but it will harm the country's ability to build ships, both Merchant Marine and Navy and to carry cargo to our forces overseas in time of national emergency. Ship building requires many skills and it is foolish to think we can have foreign yards building our ships and then if necessary find enough skilled workers to build them in the USA. It would be beyond foolish to build out military vessels in foreign yards. The same goes for having foreign ships and foreign crews carrying our country's cargoes. Where will we find trained seamen in time of need? Senator John McCain is frequently mentioned, because he is in favor of repealing the Jones Act, but it should be noted that he flew airplanes in the Navy and that is a whole lot different than being part of operating ships and all that goes with it. It should also be noted that our politicians have little to say about maintaining a healthy U.S. Merchant Marine, because only a small number of our citizens even know what the Merchant Marine is and very likely, even some of our politicians have only a slight knowledge of this vital industry. They can't get many votes promoting something that people know little about, let alone understanding the importance of the maritime industry. - More...
Saturday AM - January 13, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Governor’s Tax Proposal: A Free Ride for the Rich By Ghert Abbott - If one has any doubts as to the power that the rich currently exercise over our state government, then one has only to consider Governor Walker’s recent tax proposal, designed with the aim of appeasing the Republican state senate. The governor’s proposal combines a 1.5% payroll tax, capped at the first $150,000 of income, with a $1,100 cap on every Alaskan PFD (which amounts to a roughly 50% tax of the PFD’s current value). It only takes a few numbers to reveal the extreme inequity of this plan. According to the Census Bureau, in 2016 the average household income in the city of Ketchikan was $53,937 a year. According to the Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy, only roughly 7% to 10% of Alaskans have a yearly household income of over $150,000. The richest 1% of Alaskan households, those who earn $532,590 a year or higher, have an average income of $1,282,900 a year. - More...
Saturday AM - January 13, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Never Trump By Robert B. Holston, Jr. - I have a brother in Montana who is a “never Trumper”. I wrote him months ago saying I would not defend Trump on a daily basis for things this president says because I didn’t need a full time job, but his recent “DACA/Defecation” remark prompts me to defend Trump, just a bit, and warn the “never Tumpers” just a bit. - More...
Saturday AM - January 13, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Optimism for Alaska in 2018 By Senator Dan Sullivan - As Alaskans, there’s no doubt we face significant challenges, including high crime rates, domestic violence and sexual assault, thousands of Alaskans struggling with addiction, and a continuing recession that has left too many without jobs. These are issues that I’ll continue to focus on in the coming year. But when I look out at 2018, I am struck by one overriding feeling for our state: optimism. There are numerous reasons for this.

First, the cornerstone of Alaska’s economy - responsible resource development - is making a dramatic comeback. Congress’s recent action to open the 1002 area of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge is a key part of this. For decades, thousands of Alaskans - Democrats, Republicans and Alaska Natives - have advocated for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And despite millions of dollars spent by opponents of this Alaska dream, reinforced by the stale and truth-challenged talking points of their allies like Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and a national media that was consistently hostile to opening ANWR, we did it. - More...
Tuesday PM - January 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

On rescinding Obama-era marijuana enforcement guidelines By Wiley Brooks - Marijuana by U.S law is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance. I extracted the below from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEC) official site.

“The abuse rate is a determinate factor in the scheduling of the drug; for example, Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” - More...
Tuesday PM - January 09, 2018

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