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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Tuesday - Wednesday
February 20 & 21, 2007

Remembering Gordon Zerbetz

Remembering Gordon Zerbetz and the old Stedman Hotel
Photograph courtesy Ketchikan Museums

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Ketchikan: Remembering Gordon Zerbetz and the old Stedman Hotel By JUNE ALLEN - It was well after midnight on a black and rainy Ketchikan, Alaska, night in late August 1964 when Stedman Hotel owner/manager, Gordon Zerbetz himself, welcomed my family and me to his hotel. We Allens, seven of us, were clutching luggage, paper bags and candy wrappers or comic books, and still lurching a little on unaccustomed sea-legs after the long State Ferry journey south from Haines. We had begun our long and tiring adventure in far-to-the-north Fairbanks en route to Ketchikan, our destination.. Our five tired and cranky children were whining and complaining.

Gordon Zerbetz (I didn't call him by his first name until much later) ushered us all up the Stedman Hotel's stairs. As tired as I was, I noticed what an interesting old building it was, still very much as it probably had been back at the turn of the century. It so happened that on the weekend we arrived, Ketchikan was also hosting a statewide PTA convention.

Hotel rooms were scarce by the time we got there!  But Gordon managed to find us suitable accommodations. He took our eldest, a boy, to a small room by himself. The four girls moved into a room with us, the two older girls sharing the single bed across from ours and the two little girls sharing a rollaway wedged between the two twins. It was pouring down rain outside. We were exhausted.

Gordon had a natural talent for accommodating people without fuss. He was soft-spoken, courteous and kind. I never ever heard complaints about him from any of his employees, and he owned or managed quite a few, varied businesses. He had been born in Ketchikan, in the old hospital on Bawden Street, back in the 1920s. He was a comparatively quiet and smiling man, one of those silent types that surprise you later by their various interests and talents! 

I didn't really notice Gordon Zerbetz the night of our arrival in 1964, however, and didn't know he had stayed up so very  late  just to welcome us and get us settled for the night. I probably didn't even thank him for the courtesy and the accommodations he somehow had pulled out of a hat for us that night. But after I'd had a little rest overnight, I was quite curious about his old hotel. How old was it? It looked to me like very little had changed since it was built, which I later learned was in 1905. I was delighted to discover that down the wide hallway, the bathroom was called a "Bathroom," and that's just what it was, a room in which to take a bath. The room with the toilet was labeled, too, with a little metal sign that read "Toilet," self explanatory, as it turned out. The following morning I counted the stairs as we clattered down to the Stedman Hotel Café. There were 29 steps. I later counted a number of other stairways in downtown Ketchikan to see how they compared. Most of the old buildings there have 25 stairs from first floor to second ­ I know, I've counted them every time I've climbed them. It's a compulsion.

Gordon had left as much of the old Stedman hotel as original as he possibly could during its renovations. That saving of history was not necessarily as popular a practice back then as it is today. There were wonderful swinging doors between the lobby and the adjacent cocktail bar and another set farther back in the lobby that opened to the banquet room. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2007


Alaska: Governor Palin Signs Two Bills into Law - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin on Tuesday signed Senate Bill 46 and House Bill 69. The Governor was joined by Senator Donny Olson and Representative Ralph Samuels at the bill signing.

Senate Bill 46 extends the deadline for coastal communities to revise their plans for environmental oversight and development. By signing SB 46, coastal districts will have until September 1, 2007, to revise their plans. Without this extension, 12 districts that make up 70 percent of Alaska's coastline are in jeopardy of losing their ability to have local involvement in their coastal areas. - More..
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2007

Alaska: BP Drills Alaska North Slope Gas Hydrate Test Well to Assess Potential Energy Resource - BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. in a news release Tuesday announced the successful drilling of a research well on the North Slope in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Geological Survey to collect samples and gather knowledge about gas hydrate, a potential long-term unconventional gas energy resource.

The stratigraphic test well enabled BP and the Department of Energy to gather core, log, reservoir performance and fluid data from an ice pad location at Milne Point. The drilling began Feb 3. Field teams began pulling hydrate core samples on Feb. 10. Extensive well logging and wireline formation testing was completed between Feb. 14-18. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2007

National: Commercial plane emissions greehouse-gas concerns By DAVID ARMSTRONG - As the debate over global warming heats up, airlines, regulators and environmentalists agree that emissions from commercial aircraft are a growing source of greenhouse gases and need to be brought under control.

Their problem: how to cut toxic emissions without cutting into the economics of the financially vulnerable airline industry. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2007

Business - Economy: Momentum builds for health care overhaul By DAVID LAZARUS - Is momentum building in efforts to overhaul the ailing U.S. health care system? I'm inclined to say yes.

That's not to say we're close to a workable solution (or any solution). But it's increasingly clear that major employers recognize a tipping point has been reached in terms of runaway insurance costs, and that they're willing to play a much more active role in pushing policymakers to take action. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2007

Alaska: Florida woman strives to help Alaska football team By ALEX DEMARBAN - When the Barrow (Alaska) Whalers played their first football game on a finger-numbing day in August, they quieted naysayers who said high school football would never come to the Arctic.

Now a Florida woman who heard about the team's first season wants to help make the sport stick in the nation's northernmost community. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2007


Basic Rules

letter The Stedman Hotel... By Pamela (Stevens) Dunn - Thursday AM
letterGravina Project: Open Letter to Governor Palin By David Beebe - Thursday AM
letter Stop the Road Building on Gravina By P. J. Travis - Thursday AM
letter Out Of Site Out Of Mind By Ken Levy - Thursday AM
letter Ban Nicotine Nationwide By Chris Elliott - Thursday AM
letterKeep public facilities open and affordable By Bill Thomas Sr. - Wednesday AM
letter Road Conditions By Dave Hanger - Tuesday PM
letter Open Letter To Governor Palin regarding the Gravina Access Highway By Heather Hollowell - Tuesday PM
letter Re: Novel litter idea By Karen Ramsey - Tuesday PM
letter Youth Indoor Soccer League By Phil Doherty - Tuesday PM
letter Newtown Zoning By Christy Showalter - Sunday PM
letter It is time for our whole Country to go to war By Patrick Jirschele - Sunday PM
letter Death of Gordan Wright By Roger McDonald - Sunday PM
letterForest Service Plan: Clearcuts Help Stop Global Warming By Soren Wuerth - Sunday PM
letter Novel litter idea By Dan Patton - Sunday PM
letter RE: More Smoke By Willi & Kären Johannsen - Sunday PM
letter Ban Smoking in restaurants By Taylor McDonald - Sunday PM
letter Funding PERS and TRS is Vital by Rep. John Harris - Friday AM
letter Vessel Management Systems for Commercial Fishermen An Onerous USCG Requirement By Rep. Bill Thomas - Friday AM
letter Trumpeter Swans By Bev Kingdon - Thursday PM
letter Complaints By Jerry Cegelske - Thursday PM
letter More Smoke By Charlotte L. Glover - Thursday PM
letter Smoke-free Valentine's Day Dinner? By Rick Grams - Thursday PM
letterElizabeth Peratrovich Day By Janice Jackson - Tuesday PM
letterLosing Our Soul, Speeding Up Around a Blind Curve By Jill Bohr Jacob - Tuesday PM
letter Children of Smokers By Valerie Hendel - Tuesday PM
letter Smoke-free Valentine's Day Dinner? By Kim Flores - Tuesday PM
letter Different Views By Dinah Pearson - Tuesday PM
letterBorough Bus Should Go To Airport By Anna Hoon - Tuesday PM
letterWhat People Think By Jerry Cegelske - Tuesday AM
letter Airport Shuttle Was Best Idea By Ken Levy - Tuesday AM
letter Smoking By Robert McRoberts - Tuesday AM
letter Disclosure vs Shorter Session By Rep. Peggy Wilson - Monday PM
letter Government regulation of smoking in cars with children By Devin Klose - Monday PM
letterVehicular Homicide By Rob Holston - Monday PM
letter Trash Everywhere By Andrea Wick - Monday PM
letter Re Firing Squad By Carl Webb - Monday PM
letter More Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter


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Columns - Commentary

Dave Kiffer: Captive Audience: 'Bin' There, Done That - Years ago, there was a bar in downtown Ketchikan that had beer advertisements plastered on the walls above the urinals.

To answer your first question: Yes, they were out of range of errant spraying.

To answer your second: Yes, it seems odd because the purpose of the urinals was to relieve "beer belly build up," not encourage additional imbibing.

But that wasn't really the point.

Actually, there were two points.

First of all, the ads had a captive audience. As Augie Busch the XXXXIV certainly knows, it takes forever to empty a beer bladder.

Second, relieving a full bladder is one of the most pleasurable feelings known to male kind (more on why that is an important advertising point below!)

I saw something a few weeks ago that reminded me about the bar "bathroom bulletins."

The Transportation Security Administration hopes to raise a little scratch by putting advertisements inside those quaint little storage bins that we put all our worldly goods in before approaching the security screeners.

Offhand, it's hard to think whom would want to advertise there. Maybe the Alaska Marine Highway System would like to put in a "Next time, take the ferry" message!

But I am not a marketing "guru," so what do I know? - More...
Wednesday AM - February 21, 2007

Jason Love: Feng Shui - I've got bad feng shui. Found out last week from Freddy, my feng shui guy. You can tell how pretentious you are by the number of "my people" in your life: my gardener, my plastic surgeon, my feng shui guy.

Chi comes from a word meaning "almost half of Chinese." It also means "wind water," and can we really trust these people with the Olympics?

Freddy didn't warm to my house. It started with the unflushed toilet and went downhill from there. He pranced through the halls, smoldering his sage at my Trouble Spots.

"All these browns and blacks," he said. "Are you shooting for depression?"

I kept my mouth shut, which any married man will tell you is good feng shui.

Freddy recommended some depression-free colors -- eggshell, moccasin, alice blue -- but none of them sounded heterosexual. So it goes.

Freddy followed his divining nose through my home, saying tisk-tisk. No. Really. The actual words: "tisk, tisk." The laundry on my Stairmaster meant that my mind is cluttered (to say nothing of my waist). The TV in my bedroom prevented a good night's rest. The gnats above my sink said it's time to do the dishes. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 21, 2007

Preston McDougall: Chemical Eye on Dixie Chick-Lit - "I was never so amazed in my life as when the Sniffer drew his concealed weapon from its case and struck me to the ground, stone dead."

This is my favorite opening line from a novel. So I figured if it worked for Robertson Davies in "Murther and Walking Spirits", it would be a good way to start this commentary. However, this commentary isn't about murder or mysterious characters with names that evoke images of non-prescription drug use. That would be cheap sensationalism. This commentary is about a woman with a generous bosom.

Dolly Parton's not the tallest Dixie Chick on the country music scene. And she may have been raised in Shortsville, Tennessee. But there is no denying the fact that she's got huge talents. She has a big heart too.

Singing, song-writing, and acting, are among her well-known talents. But folks in Tennessee know that she also has a talent for organizing community efforts to improve the literacy of preschool children from hill or vale. With Governor Bredesen's help, Tennessee became the first state to offer the "Imagination Library" program - free - to children statewide. All that parents have to do is register their children, which can be done online or by calling the toll-free number 1-877-99BOOKS. Once registered, they will receive a colorful "board book" in the mail, every month until their 5th birthday. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 21, 2007

Rob Holston: UNDERDOGS - For the first time in many years I became a viewer of the Super Bowl. I had a low interest in the actual game but I picked Chicago as "my" team because they were "underdogs." As the game progressed beyond the very first play, they proved themselves to be just that, "underdogs." But much of the hoopla concerning the Super Bowl concerned the advertisements that would be aired. At the high cost of air-time, one gets an idea about which products and services have a high profit potential, worthy of shelling out millions for a couple of 30 second spots.

It was during several of these commercials that a new underdog emerged. This underdog is the American consumer. The advertisers that thrust the American consumer into the roll of underdog, i.e. "almost guaranteed looser" are Coke, Doritos brand of the Frito Lay family of munchies, Bud(un)wiser, Sierra Mist and Snickers. I will now boycott these products for an entire year. I pledge to make water my beverage of choice and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. It is my choice. Care to join me? - More...
Wednesday AM - February 21, 2007

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