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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 28, 2009

Front Page Photo by LISA THOMPSON

Belted Kingfisher
Front Page Photo by LISA THOMPSON


Ketchikan: Long-term Energy Funding for Southeast Alaska Proposed by Sen. Stedman; State Investments in Electrical Generation and Transmission Anticipated - Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) introduced legislation Friday that takes a major step towards securing a long-term energy supply for Southeast Alaska. Senate Bill 132 provides a funding mechanism for constructing power generation projects in Southeast and for completing the regional electrical grid.

"The state's goal should be to provide low-cost, renewable energy to all Alaskans; natural gas doesn't satisfy the needs of every region of the state," said Senator Stedman, Co-Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "As we contemplate investing huge amounts of public money to facilitate in-state gas for the Railbelt, it would be irresponsible not to also address the considerable needs in Southeast."

The communities in Southeast have a long history of working towards energy independence by collaborating on power generation and transmission. However, most communities in the region are not on hydro power and the majority still burn oil to generate electricity and heat. In addition, many of the hydroelectric assets in Southeast are at or near capacity, which severely limits regional economic growth opportunities. While hydroelectric projects provide low-cost, renewable power over the long-term, they are extremely capital intensive. The state plays a critical role in capitalizing these projects. Completing the Southeast Alaska electric grid could cost as much as $1.7 billion. - More...
Saturday - February 28, 2009

Alaska: President's Budget Has Good News for Alaska Says Begich; Transportation, energy projects, rural health, included in funding - "President Obama's proposed Fiscal 2010 budget is a responsible first step in addressing the needs of the nation and Alaska as he asks Congress and American citizens to begin "a new era of responsibility." That's Senator Mark Begich's (D-Alaska) initial reaction to the President's budget released this week.

The 135-page summary of the budget notes a number of programs important to Alaska, including modernizing the air traffic control system; improving rural access to the aviation system; funding for climate and ocean research; investing in America's economic competitiveness by promoting innovation in U.S. manufacturing and deploying broadband; an investment nationwide of $50 million to promote renewable energy projects on federal lands and waters; and full funding for the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

"This budget proposal is a solid first step toward addressing America's needs in this time of economic crisis," Sen. Begich said. "I'm pleased President Obama recognizes Alaska's unique circumstances and the need for funding for programs vital to our state, from fisheries to aviation to adequate pay for our soldiers. I also commend the President for producing a transparent budget document, where what you see is what you get for the first time in a long time." - More...
Saturday - February 28, 2009

Alaska: ANWR directional drilling legislation introduced - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Friday introduced legislation that would allow the use of advanced directional drilling to tap the vast energy potential of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain without disturbing the unique characteristics of the area.
The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, would allow access to the coastal plain's oil and natural gas resources through the use of underground directional drilling from state-owned lands to the west of the refuge and state waters from the north.  
"Everybody wins with this bill ­ America improves its energy security and the conservation community is ensured that there will be no visible impact on the refuge," Murkowski said. "I urge those previously opposed to oil and gas exploration in ANWR to take a fresh look at this issue and show a willingness to compromise."
The legislation seeks to find a compromise with those groups concerned with preserving the 1.5 million acre coastal plain while recognizing the need to improve our energy security and economy by meeting more of our energy needs with domestic production.
"Directional drilling provides a great opportunity to tap the Arctic refuge's vast oil and gas potential with minimal disruption to the wild lands and the wildlife which depend on them," Begich said. "I have been a long-time supporter of this cutting-edge technology and am hopeful this measure will help lead to an informed discussion about how to address America's energy needs and how Alaska can help meet them. Developing the enormous energy resources on Alaska's North Slope should be part of a comprehensive national energy policy which also includes renewable energy and conservation."
Begich added that he appreciates Murkowski's leadership on this issue as she steers the legislation with her ranking position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Directional drilling would allow energy companies to reach oil deposits up to eight miles away with no surface occupancy in the refuge. Production platforms on state lands and waters would be far away from the calving areas most used by the Porcupine caribou herd that visits the coastal plain in summer.

Begich added that he appreciates Murkowski's leadership on this issue as she steers the legislation with her ranking position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Directional drilling would allow energy companies to reach oil deposits up to eight miles away with no surface occupancy in the refuge. Production platforms on state lands and waters would be far away from the calving areas most used by the Porcupine caribou herd that visits the coastal plain in summer.
The bill is based on the successful compromise reached in the Wyoming Range Legacy Act of 2007, which permitted resources to be accessed underground through directional drilling in a new wilderness area as long as there was no permanent surface impacts.- More...
Saturday - February 28, 2009


Fish Factor: Sliding economy can be worrisome for the state's seafood industry By LAINE WELCH - Japan is Alaska's most important seafood customer, and a sliding economy there can be worrisome for the state's seafood industry. But it is important not to jump to conclusions when it comes to predicting how it will affect fish prices.

"You can't just look at the state of the economy and say that explains everything, and all fish prices will be going down," said Gunnar Knapp, a fisheries economist at the University of Alaska/Anchorage.

"It is always important to keep in mind that fish prices are driven by lots of different factors, and you need to look at all their combined effects to even begin to understand what might be driving a price. And it is often hard to separate how much influence each effect has."

Knapp said there are two things that should always be considered anytime you're talking prices for any kind of Alaska fish product: supplies from around the world and currency exchange rates.

"If the value of the foreign currency is getting stronger relative to the dollar, that can drive up prices even if other factors, like the economy, are pushing them down," Knapp said.

That has been the trend in Japan, where the value of the yen has increased dramatically over the past 18 months.

"In mid-2007, a hundred yen was worth 82 cents, and now it's worth $1.11. That's an increase of 20 percent," Knapp said. "So that is a very significant factor for any product selling to Japan. It would suggest that even if prices were going down, they could still be up by 10 percent or so in what the Japanese buyers are willing to pay in dollars." - More...
Saturday - February 28, 2009

Ketchikan: Ketchikan Community Band Performs "Lightweight Concert" February 28th - Beethoven, P.D.Q. Bach, Jack Shay, Dave Kiffer and Rob Holston are going to team up to present an in-depth analysis of Ludwig's wonderful Symphony No. 5 in Saturday evening's community band concert. Ketchikan Community Band's "Lightweight Concert" will be held at Kayhi and scheduled to start at 7:04 pm.

Jack Green and Bill Green first presented this "play-by-play" coverage thirty-two years ago with the Kayhi Band and have been researching and developing new insights into the music ever since.

The concert will begin precisely at 7:04 pm. on Saturday, February 28th, opening with "Bravura" march. Other scheduled selections include Aaron Copland's "Scenes from Billy the Kid," and Percy Grainger's "Irish Tune from County Derry" ("Danny Boy"). The trombone section will be featured in "Holiday for Trombones" and the horn section will be out front on "Officer of the Day" march.

Two John Williams medleys will be performed - the various marches from "Star Wars" movies, and the scary tunes such as the "Darth Vader Theme," "Jaws" and songs from "Harry Potter" in "Chillers and Thrillers." - More...
Saturday - February 28, 2009


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February 2009
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Basic Rules

letter Gun bill is going nowhere By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives reminds us that we must remain vigilant in the defense of our Second Amendment rights. Many in Fairbanks, and across the nation, have expressed great concern about the introduction of HR 45, The Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act, and I would like to address these concerns. - More...
Saturday - February 28, 2009

letterGun Control HR45 By Chris Barry - Here is a bill introduced to further force communism upon the citizens of the USofA. - More...
Saturday - February 28, 2009

letterInitiative process: Tackling an enormous problem By Rep. Kyle Johansen - HB 36, also known as the Open and Transparent Initiative Act, is an attempt to tackle an enormous problem we have here in Alaska: our initiative process is used as a way for special interests to maneuver around the lawmaking body to enact laws without regard for the public as a whole. The right to petition government belongs to the citizens of Alaska. It is imperative that the process be protected from abuse. HB 36 offers those safeguards. I am taking this opportunity to review the changes I believe need to happen to protect our initiative process. - More...
Saturday - February 28, 2009

letter More taxes to fix our streets?? By Chas Edwardson - We all know that taxes are necessary and that certain taxes are needed to maintain the town we live in. But it should not be the only answer our elected officials come up with every time there is a problem. Come up with an original idea for once. - More...
Thursday - February 26, 2009

letterTaxes By Dustin Hofeling - I've written in this forum many times about why local taxes should not be raised. Like many of the other contributors and readers here, I just don't have the time to go to the city or borough meetings to voice my opinions. So I guess I shouldn't complain too much about the looming tax increase. - More...
Tuesday - February 24, 2009

letter Sales Tax Increase By John Harrington - The City Council has begun the process to raise the sales tax. They are a first class city and as such they don't need a vote of the people to raise them. But they do provide the forum so that the citizens can be heard. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letterDIAL PERFORMING ARTS SUPPORT By Pete Ellis - It would appear that Rodney's recent remarks were, perhaps, of a far more positive nature than have been some of his previous expressions. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letter Is this the time? By Rich Elliott - Hopefully the fourteen individuals presently sitting on the Borough Assembly and the City Council either read the newspaper or watch the news on television. If they do, they probably can see that not only our nation s economy, but the entire global economy is in dire straits. Presently, it s in the toilet and possibly over the next couple of years, it could end up in the drain field.
- More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letter Open Letter: Alaska Marine Highway System By David G. Hanger - Dear Governor Palin: A substantial percentage of the employees of the Alaska Marine Highway System have been involved for the better part of ten years in a collective and systematic income tax fraud that has cost the U.S. Treasury millions of dollars in unpaid tax revenues. These employees had every reason to know that what they were doing was wrong, and they did it anyway. Rather than respecting the expertise and integrity of any number of Alaska accountants who told them the simple truth, they crawled into bed with an individual named Martin A. Kapp, a liar and crook who resides in southern California, who professed "magic" knowledge known only to him that permitted him to deduct on Federal income tax returns the cost of meals provided on board and paid for by the state of Alaska. Repeating that, expenses incurred and paid for by the state of Alaska were deducted on the individual tax returns of state employees. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letterKetchikan's property assessments By Chas Edwardson - I was talking to a friend of mine in church the other day and he was dazed, amazed, confused and not in a good way. And he is not alone in this. As many in Ketchikan have stared in awe at their borough's assessments and property tax statements, we marvel at the mysterious powers Ketchikan seems to have. We are in the midst of one of the nations worst recessions in our lifetime. In fact not many of the generation of a worse economic crisis are left to draw off of any sort of reference on how to handle such a serious economic down turn. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letterReinstate the death penalty By House Speaker Mike Chenault - [This week], the House Judiciary Committee will begin hearing legislation I have proposed to reinstate the death penalty in the State of Alaska. As we in the Legislature enter into what I suspect will be a lively and controversial debate, I want to take the opportunity to share my views on the matter with Alaskans who might not have a chance to listen to the hearings. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letterSnow dumped in the water By Joey Tillson - This is in response to dumping the snow in the water. It's unfortunate that we have litterbugs in this town that make it impossible for that to happen. Have you seen what our city plow-guys have had the wonderful opportunity of plowing along with the snow? Cigarette butts, cigarette boxes, drink containers, gum, gum wrappers, and other crud. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letter Bridge to Gravina Island By Edward Ness - I lived n Ketchikan for 25 years & Alaska for 62. I never could see a bridge to Gravina Island. There is no benefit to Ketchikan that I can see but it's too bad the money couldn't be used to subsidize the ferries for 50 years. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letterRoads & Bridges To Somewhere By Jerilyn Lester - Mr. McGillvray & Mr. Glenn, I have never said that bridges and roads to the mainland would not be beneficial and I am not sure that anyone for the bridge to Gravina and the airport was. The fact is that the bridge to Gravina and the airport has been promised to us for 30 years and it always seems to find the biggest opposition from people out of the state and those on the mainland. The fact that in my 25 years here the option that you propose has not been more than another pipe dream because it is no more favored than the bridge to the airport. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letterInstead of a bridge... By Steve Elliott - Instead of a bridge to a mainland highway, a road to a port & a port and road on the mainland side, then a non government vehicle ferry operating in the spring, summer, fall, & closed for the winter. Gate the road on both ends closed for the winter = no road clearing expense & we the people can come & go for minimal expense. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

letter Benny's From Heaven By Rob Holston - This letter is a response to Ernestine Henderson's letter RE: Benny's From Heaven. Insensitive? perhaps. Bigot? no way. - More...
Monday - February 23, 2009

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