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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 02, 2010

Front Page Photo by LES RAMSEY

Tongass Sunset
This recent Ketchikan sunset was taken from the bypass.
Front Page Photo by LES RAMSEY


Southeast Alaska: Governor Seeks to Intervene in Lawsuits on Forest Roadless Rule, Logjam Timber Sale, & Diesel Timber Sale on POW - In response to lawsuits filed in federal court that again threaten the Southeast Alaska timber industry, Governor Sean Parnell directed Attorney General Dan Sullivan to file motions for intervention in those cases to uphold the state's interests and to protect the region's economy.

The State of Alaska has sought intervenor status in two cases: to uphold Alaska's exemption in the Tongass National Forest from the Forest Service's "roadless rule," and to support the Forest Service's authority to proceed with the overall Logjam timber sale and the pending Diesel timber sale.

The Logjam project, includes 3,422 acres identified for logging. The Diesel timber sale includes 1,164 acres identified for logging. The lawsuit claims the Forest Service grossly failed to consider the project's impacts on deer, wolves, and salmon. It asks the court to vacate the agency's decision to proceed with the Logjam Timber project, including the project's recently offered Diesel Timber Sale.

"Our timber jobs are at stake; we have many businesses and families that depend upon timber in the Tongass," Governor Parnell said. "We'll use every tool at our disposal to make sure that the exemption from the roadless rule remains in place and that the Diesel sale can proceed."

"The Forest Service acted within its authority and discretion," said Attorney General Sullivan. "The Tongass exemption came as the result of a settlement agreement with the state, after the state had filed a complaint that the roadless rule violates federal statutes pertaining to Alaska, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. If the exemption is repealed or permanently enjoined, the state might have to renew its challenge to the roadless rule itself. It's about the future of the commercial timber harvest in the Tongass."

In 2003, the Tongass was exempted from a rule limiting road-building and logging in roadless areas of national forests. The Forest Service determined at the time that an exemption was needed in order that roads could be built to connect Southeast communities, that utility lines could be constructed and that the timber industry could survive. Industry officials estimate that a workforce of 2,000 could be achieved and sustained with a steady increase in timber sales.

The Viking Lumber Company entered the only bid on the Diesel sale on Dec. 15, offering $1.8 million. The company, the only mid-size mill operating in Southeast, lacks enough timber volume under contract to operate throughout the year.

Kirk Dahlstrom, the general manager of Viking Lumber, said that more than 80 jobs are directly at stake, with a serious spin-off effect in the regional economy.

"If we don't get this timber sale, and if we don't get it in a timely manner, it will be ­ literally ­ the end of us," Dahlstrom told the Attorney General's Office.

In a letter to the governor, Dave Kiffer, Mayor of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, described the economic situation he faces: "Some of our schools are nearly half empty. Our economy is distressed. Our government fiscal capacity is suffering. The smaller population of Ketchikan, faced with a declining economy, remains saddled with the significant debt for schools and other public facilities built for a much larger population. We need help." - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

Ketchikan: Revilla Coordinated Transportation Coalition Transit Plan Update - Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), announced recently that the planning team of Kent Miller, Susan Dickinson and Dennis Kuklok have been hired to update the 2006 Public Transit-Human Services Community Coordination Plan. The plan update is funded by a State of Alaska Department of Transportation grant.

The update is being prepared to assist public transportation users and service providers in setting the course for improvements to public transportation in Ketchikan. Once developed, the plan will serve as a template for future transit and transportation projects, including bike and pedestrian improvements. The planning team invites the citizens of Ketchikan and nearby communities to an open house meeting to gather their input for inclusion in the plan .

A drop in public information meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 2nd from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Plaza Mall, Suite 207 (upstairs, above the Tongass Avenue entrance). The public is invited to come and learn about the project and share their ideas on future transportation projects in Ketchikan. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

Alaska: Governor Submits Fiscal Year 2010 Supplemental Budget - Governor Sean Parnell on Monday transmitted the FY2010 supplemental budget for consideration by the Legislature.

"My guiding principles for the budget include maintaining fiscal discipline by limiting state agency growth and promoting economic opportunity for Alaskans," Governor Parnell said. "Legislators have been very clear in their desire to fully repay and save more money in the Constitutional Budget Reserve. I also have made a priority to forward-fund K-12 education. The improved revenue forecast, based on continuing high oil prices, shows that we can do both in this fiscal year."

The Department of Revenue recently prepared an interim forecast that projects a FY2010 surplus of more than $2.2 billion.

The governor's supplemental appropriations bill includes a deposit of $1.1 billion in the Public Education Fund for the purpose of funding K-12 education and pupil transportation in the next fiscal year. Governor Parnell is also requesting an appropriation necessary to repay and replenish the Constitutional Budget Reserve, estimated at $402 million. Together, these position the supplemental bill to increase the states savings accounts by $1.5 billion. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010


Fish Factor: E-Stop puts the brakes on if fisherman entangled in winch By LAINE WELCH - The most common piece of equipment on a fishing boat is also the most dangerous: the winch.

"Fishermen tell us it is the most powerful thing on the boat," said Ted Teske, a Health Communications Specialist with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

"If that thing gets a hold of you when you're pursing a line or moving a line, it will not stop and it won't let go. It will end up tearing your arm off or breaking your neck or ripping you apart."

NIOSH research shows that a high number of traumatic fishing injuries come from entanglement in a rotating winch, especially on seine vessels. If a fisherman is working on deck and gets pulled into the winch, it pulls him away from the controls to stop it, which are mounted on the back of the wheelhouse. Teske helped develop a simple device called an E-Stop (emergency stop) that interrupts the flow of hydraulic fluid to the winch and locks it in place.

Teske said it is a simple mechanism used by a lot of manufacturing processes, such as production lines in the automotive industry. Many longline fishermen use an E-Stop to put the brakes on their gear if someone gets snagged and goes over, he added. - More....
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

Columns - Commentary

Michael Reagan: The Second American Tax Revolt - We are speeding toward an economic cliff because our government can't practice restraint.

We spend so much more than we take in because politicians at every level use the public treasury to win elections. The public mostly accepts lavish promises of more and more federal spending because the cost of government has been so effectively divorced from what actually comes out of our paychecks.

Ask almost anyone how they did on their taxes and you're likely to hear a happy exclamation that the taxpayer got a little money back! But ask the same person how much they paid the government over the year in withheld income and payroll taxes and you'll often see a blank look.

When the money that government spends seems so unconnected to the money we earn it is easy for many to see government expenditures as "free money." It's not, but the engineered divorce in perception between the fruits of our labors and spending by elected officials has resulted in a national debt that equals more than $500,000 per American household. If not for accounting sleights-of-hand the national debt would be seen as much higher than even the shocking figure of more than $12 trillion. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

Dale McFeatters: Obama's first budget: Big spending, big borrowing - President Barack Obama's new budget for the federal fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 underscores how difficult it will be, both economically and politically, to climb out of the financial hole we've dug for ourselves.

When President George W. Bush took office in 2001, he made a conscious decision to spend down an accumulated four-year budget surplus through tax cuts. He did. And in one year the federal government was back debt and, with a Republican-controlled Congress aiding and abetting him, it steadily went deeper and deeper into the red.

A Democratic Congress proved no more restrained, and the crushing cost of the recession made it impossible and undesirable to reverse course on spending. The result is that we're looking at three straight years of trillion dollar deficits -- $1.4 trillion last year; the all-time record $1.6 trillion in this current year; and $1.3 trillion next year. Obama's budget calls for the deficit to fall to $828 billion in 2012 and hover in the $700 billion to $800-billion range in the years following. It is surely not what Obama had in mind when he took office. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 20010


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Questions, please contact the editor at editor@sitnews.us or call 617-9696.

letter Let's get inspired! By Linda Koons Auger - My husband, Bill and I attended the "Throw The Breaker" celebration for the completion of the Swan Lake-Lake Tyee Intertie project.  I came away inspired!  This project was many, many years in the making with support and hard work by many fine Alaskans along the way. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

letterChallenge Day By Karen Eakes - I would like to urge all parents of high school students to sign their students up for the Challenge Day events happening here in Ketchikan on February 16th or 17th at Ketchikan High School. Schoenbar's Challenge Day occurs on February 18th and that event already has a full slate of student participants. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

letterSoutheast Alaska community fights for their survival By Myla Poelstra - Senator Murkowski's recent interview on KRBD discussing Sealaska's current lands bill was both encouraging and disheartening at the same time. While it is encouraging to hear her talk about holding a field hearing on Prince of Wales to discuss concerns over impacts from S.881 Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization act, it's disheartening to hear her only reference the City of Craig. The residents of Edna Bay, on the southeast end of Kosciusko Island, have been relentlessly trying to get her attention for almost seven years. Over 1200 letters have been sent to our representatives letting them know why we objected to this bill, and what these public lands meant to us. To this date there has been no direct response to our concerns from Senator Murkowski or Sealaska. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

letterHEAD TAX By Charles Edwardson - This is a subject that has interested me for awhile. Who ever coined the phrase"HEAD TAX" (sounds like a hunting trip) should have called it what it is, a port and harbor tax. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

letterThanks By Russell Thomas - Thanks to Dave, Danny, & Sara Lieben who spent last Saturday with trash bags in hand, cleaning up the neighborhood around Forest Park. The Lieben's community service reminded me of our ability to affect a small piece of the world around us. Not content to let it be someone else's problem, Dave spent his personal time making "everyone else's problem" his own. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

letterRental Fees - Ted Ferry - Meeting Notes By Bobbie McCreary - Mr. Holston, in a letter dated 12/23 I explained that we were inspired by Mr. Gadsey's decision NOT to request the waiver of rental fees for the Ted Ferry Civic Center for the SAIL event on January 15th. Thus motivated, the organizers of the Enough is Enough event asked for donations from the public to pay the costs in order to support keeping City employees' jobs by not asking for a waiver of fees. (We collected $300- thank you - enough to cover the original cost before we opened the third bay due to the large crowd who participated.) - More...
Tuesday AM - February 02, 2010

letterSenator Begich Sold Out the People By Chris Herby - I think it is imperative that Alaska voters remember the recent actions of Mark Begich if and when he seeks re-election to the US Senate. Mr. Begich clearly sold out on the people that elected him when he chose to follow the rest of the Democratic sheep in Washington in voting for the infamous Health Care bill. During his campaign he said time and time again that he would not simply vote along with the other tax and spend Democrats in Washington. We now know how good his promises are. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

letter"City to investigate recovery clinic" By Joey Tillson - I'm writing in reference to Juneau Empire's January 7th, 2010 article "City to investigate recovery clinic". I worked for Bartlett Hospital Rainforest Recovery (previously Juneau Recovery Hospital) as their receptionist in 2002 and then Insurance Verification, Medical Biller, Financial Counselor in 2003 until the middle of 2005 so I have some knowledge as to what the facility has gone through, including a name change in the hopes of keeping the facility afloat for Southeast Alaska. Bartlett Hospital and the Rainforest Recovery Center inspired me to get my degree in Health Care Administration. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

letterHaiti, a Lesson for All of Us By Michael Spence - For a few brief moments, the American people had their attention diverted to the utter chaos and suffering in Haiti following a devastating earthquake. Before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Now it is even poorer. Most scholars agree that the problems with delivering aid to Haiti, and the slim chance of a healthy recovery from this latest disaster, can be blamed on bad governance . In the case of Haiti, bad governance is a simplified term, generalizing its long history of dictatorships, corrupt politicians, and oligarchic control of the nation that concentrates fifty percent of its wealth to one percent of its population. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

letterOpen letter to Senator Bingaman: Sealaska Bill By Alan Stein - I submitted testimony for the record when the committee you chair heard the bill Senators Murkowski and Begich introduced re handing over Federal Land on Prince of Wales Island to Sealaska Corp, a private interest. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

letterConcerned Citizen By Terri Anderson - Wow, I read your letter and you definately have some pent up anger. There are counselors out there that will help you. You should be careful with the word ignorant. - More...
Thursday PM - January 28, 2010

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