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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 08, 2010

Ketchikan Waterfront

Ketchikan Waterfront
Front Page Photo by RHONDA BALL


Ketchikan: Ketchikan's Weather Breaks Records in January - Ketchikan's weather is the highlight this January for Alaska, breaking two temperature records and two precipitation records. On Jan. 11 a high temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit tied the 1981 record high temperature, and on Jan. 20 the high temperature reached 55 degrees, breaking the old record of 51 degrees that had been set in 1995.

Ketchikan's Weather Breaks Records in January

Graphic courtesy Alaska Climate Research Center

Ketchikan's mean temperature for the month was 40.2 degrees, a full 6.6 degrees higher than the mean. Precipitation in Ketchikan totaled 22.62 inches in January, almost doubling the normal amount of precipitation. A record amount of rain fell on Jan. 9, at 2.5 inches, followed by 6.02 inches on Jan. 10. The previous records were 2.4 inches and 2.27 inches, respectively. This rainfall event prompted the National Weather Service to issue a small stream flood advisory on the afternoon of Jan. 10, after a Weather Spotter observed ponding on the Tongass Highway and alerted Alaska State Troopers to the hazard. - More...
Monday - February 08, 2010

Alaska: Denial of ConocoPhillips' permit by Corps of Engineers causes outrage - The US Army Corps of Engineers denied ConocoPhillips' application to build the bridges over the Colville River, in a decision Friday, saying other alternatives would meet overall project goals while better preserving marine wildlife.

Alaska Governor Sean Parnell was outraged with the Corps of Engineers ruling. In a prepared statement released Saturday, the Governor said, "Just in the last six months, we've fought the federal government for tying up Outer Continental Shelf leasing, and for adding bureaucratic nightmares and costs with Endangered Species Act listings and critical habitat area designations. We've seen the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency show reluctance to approve anything related to jobs in Alaska."

"And then -- first, by delay, and now, through their decision -- the Corps of Engineers continues to set back our nation's chances for economic recovery, domestic energy production, and Alaskans' prospects for jobs." said Gov. Parnell.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), reacted Friday to the Obama administration's denial of Conoco Phillips' permit to construct a bridge that would allow access to what would have been the first oil and gas lease in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve (NPRA). The US Army Corps of Engineers is insisting the company instead use directional drilling for the development.

Murkowski said in a prepared statement, "For decades, those who oppose developing ANWR or Alaska's offshore fields have continually cited the 23 million-acre NPRA as the area where development should occur instead. If a producer cannot get across the Colville River, however, NPRA's resources are effectively off-limits."

"I am alarmed and amazed by this short-sighted decision, which totally ignores the economics of future energy development in all of northern Alaska," Murkowski said. "Directional drilling can work in ANWR because the oil is concentrated in the northwest corner. That is an entirely different situation than the vast and widely distributed deposits in the NPRA, however, and the administration knows it." - More...
Monday - February 08, 2010

Ketchikan: First Bank Donates Over $30,000 to KGH Foundation - Just over two years ago the First Bank Board of Directors pledged $100,000 to the Ketchikan General Hospital Foundation. That commitment, to be paid over a five-year period, is earmarked for the Endowment Fund.

First Bank Donates Over $30,000 to KGH Foundation

Left to Right: Gretchen Klein, Foundation Manager; Sheila Kleinschmidt, First Bank Assistant VP Community Relations; Butch Olmstead, First Bank VP Loan Administration; Kay Sims, First Bank Board of Directors; Sherrie Slick and Carolyn Wilsie, KGH Foundation Board; Kendall Sawa, KGH VP of Patient Care; Pat Branco, KGH CEO; Barbara Bigelow, KGH Manager Center for Healthcare Improvement; Judge Henry Keene, KGH Foundation Board and Dave Anderes and Mike Elerding, First Bank Board.
Photo courtesy KGH

This year the directors, officers and employees of First Bank presented not only the third annual $20,000 donation, but also an additional $10,950 contributed by First Bank employees and matched by their Board for the 2010 Gift of Healing campaign.

The Endowment Fund has a one million dollar goal. When achieved, the interest will guarantee continued success providing funds for new technology and equipment. KGH Foundation Director Gretchen Klein reports the Endowment Campaign is at the mid-point. "We have raised just over $520,000 toward our goal. Despite this being a time of economic challenges, individuals and businesses continue to give top priority to having excellent local health care."

This year's Gift of Healing project is a Minimally Invasive Surgical Suite. The project goal is $237,141, which will be used for equipment including several scopes, a monitor and an operating room table. Minimally invasive surgery is performed through small incisions through which a tiny camera and other instruments are inserted. The camera provides images to the monitor, which guides the surgeon.

The new technology will provide superior diagnostic clarity that will improve the detection, diagnosis, and prognosis for some cancers and other diseases. It will reduce the need for more invasive surgeries in some cases and increase the range of services that can be provided locally.

First Bank was an early partner in supporting the Foundation. In 2006, Bob St Clair, former First Bank Vice President/Manager of Electronic Banking, now retired, was one of the founding directors of the Foundation's Board. Through his employment with First Bank, he arranged for a few of the Foundation Board members to speak to First Bank's Board about the need for a Women's Diagnostic Imaging Suite, the first major Foundation project. That year First Bank gave almost $6,000 to the Foundation.

"Being a partner with the Foundation is good community sense. Contributions to the Foundation help Ketchikan General Hospital provide the services needed to sustain our communities in southern Southeast Alaska," said Sheila Kleinschmidt, Assistant Vice President Community Relations, at First Bank who also serves on the Foundation Board. - More...
Monday - February 08, 2010


Fish Factor: Less Pacific halibut for seafood buyers this year By LAINE WELCH - There will be a bit less Pacific halibut for seafood buyers this year, but the bite isn't as bad as the industry expected. The coast wide catch limit of 50.67 million pounds is nearly two million more than anticipated, although it is still a 6.4% decrease from 2009. The International Pacific Halibut Commission - which oversees fisheries on the west coast, British Columbia and Alaska - set the catch limits at its annual meeting last week in Seattle.

Alaska always gets the lion's share of the halibut - the 2010 Alaska catch is 42.36 million pounds, a drop of 3.3 million from last year. The start date of the fishery is Saturday, March 6th - 15 days earlier than the 2009 season. That will get fresh, first of the season halibut to market just in time for Lent - the seafood industry's biggest sales season. Market watchers predict prices to fishermen will start out very high. That, of course, remains to be seen.

The IPHC also took up proposals to change regulations at its annual meeting. A lot of time was spent on halibut sport fish issues, according to the meeting report.

A proposal to create harvest tags for all recreational halibut fisheries in Alaska drew support, saying it would improve data collection. The Commission took no action on a proposal to change Alaska sport fish filleting requirements. It will, however, direct a working group to bring the issue back to the table next year. Commissioners said they want to see "more effective management" of the state's sport charter fishery. They said they will be closely monitoring the progress of proposed catch sharing plans.

The IPHC also was asked to reconvene a Halibut Bycatch Work Group that last met almost 20 years ago. The group will examine how bycatch of halibut in other fisheries can best be accounted for in stock assessments and fisheries management. Alaska's halibut fishery runs from March 6 through mid-November. - More...
Monday - February 08, 2010

Alaska: Matanuska Returns to Fleet; AMHS Adjusts Vessel Schedules to Maintain Service - The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has altered various ferry schedules following the 47-year-old Matanuska's delayed return to service after about six weeks of vessel enhancement maintenance.

Technicians recently completed installing a new electronic, controllable-pitch-propeller control system and extensive shafting, hub and propeller work along with routine overhaul maintenance aboard Matanuska in Ketchikan.

Matanuska and its crew were originally scheduled to return to the fleet Feb. 2. The ship returned Feb. 5, after passing and completing a Coast Guard maintenance inspection.

"Although Matanuska's return was a few days behind schedule, our reservations and scheduling staff performed terrifically to juggle schedules for the Malaspina, Taku and Matanuska and limit disruption to our customers," said Capt. John Falvey, General Manager, AMHS. "In fact the schedule alterations should actually prove more beneficial for travelers wishing to attend this year's Gold Medal Basketball tournament in Juneau." - More...
Monday - February 08, 2010


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

letterTelephone Division of KPU By David G. Hanger - Following is the text of my presentation to the Ketchikan City Council regarding problems with the telephone division of Ketchikan Public Utilities: - More...
Monday PM - February 08, 2010

letterRE: Hydaburg School District By B. A. Weinberg - The letter from Francis C. Natkong published February 5, 2010, starts out: "Hang on to your hats, here I go again!" Yes, here she goes again spouting off allegations without benefit of the facts. - More...
Monday PM - February 08, 2010

letterRight to express my views By Frances C. Natkong - I recieved a letter from the CEO of Hydaburg City School District today and apparently he's replied to my letter in the Sitnews. First of all, I'm not insulting the citizens of Hydaburg, everyone knows that when you run for office it's not what you know but who you know. Second of all, I'm not saying that a Superintendent would be more beneficial FINANCIALLY. My meaning was that a Superintendent would be more "hands on." - More...
Monday PM - February 08, 2010

letterExpensive advertising indoctrination By Chas Edwardson - Twenty five thousand dollars were approved by city council unanimously for advertising indoctrination to sell the phone division of Ketchikan Public Utilities. How much was allocated out of my money to argue for the other side of the story, city council??? - More...
Monday PM - February 08, 2010

letterGovernment less than honest By Al Johnson - In light of the continuing stream of statical data that is fed to the U.S public by our current administration that lacks the ability to be seen in the light of day, the fear of a Government that is less than honest in its dealings festers. - More...
Monday PM - February 08, 2010

letterThank You By Laurie Hodne - BIG kudos to the Bar Harbor restaurant for introducing and offering their Saturday Night Special dinner for two at an extremely reasonable and affordable price. (The food was excellent also!) - More...
Monday PM - February 08, 2010

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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