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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 05, 2010

Front Page Photo by SUSAN HOYT

Creek Street Sunset Reflections
Front Page Photo by SUSAN HOYT


Ketchikan: KGH Pioneers New Telepathology Technology - Imagine looking through a microscope in Bellingham, Washington, and viewing a slide in Ketchikan, Alaska, and you have the idea behind the new telepathology service that now links the two cities. The new service allows surgeons in the operating room at Ketchikan General Hospital real time consultation with pathologists at Northwest Pathology in Bellingham. The pathologist can change focus, illumination, magnification, and field of view at will as he or she uses an online interface to examine a frozen tissue slide prepared in Ketchikan.

Rachelle Britton, a histotechnologist with PeaceHealth Laboratories in Ketchikan, is looking at skin tissue with the telepathology equipment. Ketchikan General Hospital is among the first hospitals in the country to use telepathology.
Photograph courtesy Ketchikan General Hospital

Ketchikan General Hospital (KGH), in partnership with the PeaceHealth Laboratories and Northwest Pathology, is among the first hospitals in North America to use telepathology in an intraoperative setting. This technology has been used for research, academic instruction and general pathology consultations but KGH is pioneering this use of the technology, which is especially beneficial to smaller, rural critical access hospitals where technical experts may not be readily available.

The use of this technology will improve patient care and reduce travel costs. Here is how it works: a surgeon at KGH submits tissue for pathology review during a procedure. A histotechnologist at the Ketchikan lab will freeze the tissue, prepare the slide and scan it. In Bellingham, one of the pathologists will log into an online site to review the whole slide image and call the surgeon directly in the O.R. to discuss the results.

"This type of in-the-operating-room or 'intraoperative' consultation using telepathology is just as accurate and timely as if the pathologist was right there in the Ketchikan lab," explains Dr. Berle Stratton, Cytopathologist with Northwest Pathology. "Now, we can have immediate analysis of a frozen tissue sample for any type of surgery, even emergencies, conducted during normal business hours without the delay and expense of arranging for an onsite visit."

Previously, that pathologist really did need to be onsite, and was flown up to Ketchikan in advance to attend a planned, elective surgery. - More...
Friday AM - February 05, 2010

Alaska: Survey examines economic impact of halibut-sablefish quota system - In 1995, Alaska's longline sablefish and halibut fleet went from a frenzied, injury-plagued, free-for-all to a slower, safer, quota-based system that allowed only specific fishermen to take part. Almost overnight, fishermen who were left without catch shares lost their jobs, their boats, and their livelihoods.

But it wasn't all bad. Fishermen who received quota shares became more efficient, delivering higher quality product that commanded higher prices. The derby-style fishery was eliminated and fishermen were allowed to fish just about whenever they wanted, and at a slower pace that lessened injuries and fatalities. For consumers, the new management system meant fresh fish at the market throughout the year.

But aside from higher fish prices and better product, what has been the impact to Alaska communities themselves? Economically speaking, are Alaska's coastal communities better off now, or worse, as a result?

Alexander Kotlarov is a Ph.D. student of economics at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. For the past eight years, Kotlarov prepared statistical reports as an economist for the State of Alaska and as an analyst for NOAA Fisheries. As part of his doctoral research, Kotlarov has begun studying how income and spending patterns have changed in Alaska's federally managed sablefish and halibut fisheries since the quota system began in 1995.

Kotlarov is especially interested in understanding how the quota-share system has altered coastal community economies, for better and worse. He says fisheries managers, armed with some insight on the impacts of their decisions, will be able to design better IFQ systems, and improve existing ones.

"My university research looks at the fisheries changes since 1995, when the fishery went from an open fishery to one managed by quota shares to specific individuals," Kotlarov said. "I'm interested in understanding how, economically, the quota system impacted people and communities. No one has gone back and looked at these fisheries since quota shares were implemented to see the effects."

To get at these thorny issues, Kotlarov is asking halibut and sablefish fishermen and quota share owners to take a short survey. The survey asks questions about where crews live and work, and how they spend their money. - More...
Friday AM - February 05, 2010

Alaska: State Fire Marshal Announces Burn Awareness Week - Alaska State Fire Marshal, David Tyler reminds Alaskans that February 7th through February 13th 2010 is Burn Awareness Week. "Burn Awareness Week is an opportunity for Alaskans to focus on simple safety measures we can take to prevent burn injuries," says Tyler. From 2005 to 2009, there were 369 burn injuries reported to the Alaska Division of Fire and Life Safety. On average, 73 Alaskans suffer burn injuries ranging in severity from moderate to fatal each year.

The number one burn injury in Alaska is scalding from hot liquids. Unfortunately many of these burns happen to children under 12 years old. Fire Marshal Tyler offers these tips to prevent scald burns: - More...
Friday AM - February 05, 2010


Alaska Science: Expansion of permafrost tunnel planned By NED ROZELL - Researchers plan to expand the Fox Permafrost Tunnel during the next few years, drilling or blasting a new shaft 450 feet into a frozen hillside to parallel the existing tunnel.

Part of the 360-foot permafrost tunnel located in Fox, Alaska.
Photo by F.T. Eyre

"We want to begin digging (a new) permafrost tunnel next winter," said Matthew Sturm of the U. S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory on Fort Wainwright. He and others envision a new "Alaska Permafrost Research Center" that will better serve scientists and non-scientists.

With start-up federal funding of $500,000 this year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will carve out a new tunnel as well as build labs, offices, and a learning center. Other improvements include a walkway on top of the frozen bluff, allowing scientists to do permafrost experiments from the forest and tundra above the tunnel, and side rooms within the new tunnel for permafrost-warming experiments. The improvements would replace
infrastructure at the tunnel that has endured for four decades.

"Our current on-site facilities consist of a shack and a Porta-Potty," Sturm said.

The new tunnel would be excavated during the winter of 2010-2011 with a "road header" or by drilling and blasting, whichever method is found to best preserve large chunks of permafrost that could include animal and plant remains, said Kevin Bjella of the Corps of Engineers.

The original tunnel was dug 360 feet deep through a frozen hillside, which was originally exposed by miners who blasted it with water from a hydraulic giant in the northern Goldstream Creek valley about 15 miles north of Fairbanks. The engineers used an Alkirk mining machine with a pair of spinning six-foot cutting heads to create the tunnel during three winters from 1963 through 1966.- More...
Friday AM - February 05, 2010

National: Pet-food safety: Does FDA measure up? By ILANA E. STRAUSS - Three years after thousands of outraged pet owners complained that contaminated food was killing their cats and dogs, Congress is considering measures aimed at making sure it doesn't happen again.

A Senate bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act, sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., is intended to amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. It is awaiting debate.

In the House, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, sponsored by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., was passed last July. It would give the Food and Drug Administration more authority.

The bad-pet-food problem occurred in 2007 when Menu Foods Unlimited, one of the largest makers of cat and dog foods, was found to be selling melamine-contaminated food. Melamine is a synthetic chemical with a variety of industrial uses, including the production of resins and foams, cleaning products, fertilizers and pesticides. Ingested in sufficient amounts, melamine can result in kidney failure and death. - More...
Friday AM - February 05, 2010


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letterSealaska Lands bill By Don Hernandez - Recent events in Craig have made the Sealaska Lands bill a front page headline story, prompting Senator Lisa Murkowski to announce she will hold, quote, "a field hearing on Prince of Wales Island". For the residents of Point Baker and Port Protection who will be surrounded by Sealaska Corporation land if this bill passes, it has been front page headlines news for over a year. We have sent letters, petitions and have given personal testimony to all of our representatives absolutely opposing this bill. Right from the beginning, we have asked for public hearings in affected communities. - More...
Friday AM - February 05, 2010

letterHydaburg School District By Frances C. Natkong - Hang on to your hats, here I go again! I'm very concerned about the school district in Hydaburg. The CEO and his significant other have been hired back for another year at Hydaburg School. Why? Why? Why? - More...
Friday AM - February 05, 2010

letterBus Shelter By Susan Hoyt - I really feel that it is the responsibility of Walmart or the City to supply a bus shed to the customers who use the bus and shop at Walmart. It seems to me Walmart has the most to gain by supplying this needed shelter and that the city is responsible for their community members who ride the bus. - More...
Friday AM - February 05, 2010

letterThe Political Pendulum By Don Borders - Over the years I viewed the national political process to that of a grand father's clock pendulum swinging side-to-side with one side opposite of the other side's position. Over time, the motions of the two parties swinging side to side as the political winds prevail or blow, one finds common ground or most common bipartisan position somewhere between the left and the right. The pendulum analogy is sort of a "checks and balances" of two opposing sides of the same government. - More...
Friday AM - February 05, 2010

letter Bus shelter needed By Lana Barr - Walmart needs a bus shelter. There has been a need for one since the store opened eight years ago. Our Senior Citizens, mothers with small children and disabled people are among those who rely upon the borough bus for transportation. The Green line bus alone picks up passengers 103 times a week. - More...
Thursday AM - Februry 04, 2010

letterThank You By Dorothy Hoppe & Connie Zellweger - It's hard to believe it has been one year to date since Colleen Hoppe - who was our daughter, sister, mother, friend, coworker, auntie - has passed on. - More...
Thursday AM - Februry 04, 2010

letterSOUTH EAST ALASKA NATIVE LAND ENTITLEMENT FINALIZATION ACT By Hans Porter - Bill S. 881 "SOUTH EAST ALASKA NATIVE LAND ENTITLEMENT FINALIZATION ACT" will lay waste to one of the most beautiful places on this planet. The old growth forest with its amazing canopy will be destroyed. The miles and miles of karst formation will not be open to the public. Subsistence resources for several communities will disappear. We will not be able to travel by road. Our water supplies will be in danger or ruined. All this for the short term revenues which will benefit no one but Sealaska Corporation, will not create jobs, and will not provide sustainable resources. It will be all damage and destruction as is typical of this corporation's way of doing business. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 03, 2010

letterLet'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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