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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 12, 2010


This photo was taken in the North Point Higgins area.


Ketchikan & Statewide: Stimulus funds speed up drinking water and wastewater improvements across Alaska - Close teamwork between the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation's Municipal Grants and Loans program and local communities has pumped around $40 million of federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds into Alaska's economy.

The stimulus funds went to 46 water and wastewater projects across the state and are now under contract ahead of the federal government's Feb. 17 deadline. Alaska is the first state in EPA's Region 10 to have all its stimulus funds committed ahead of the deadline.

"Many communities are struggling to begin or complete critical projects, especially in these difficult economic times. These stimulus funds are allowing communities to bolster infrastructure that ensures safe drinking water and proper sanitation for residents. They are also helping to create jobs," said DEC Commissioner Larry Hartig.

Ketchikan, Sitka, Fairbanks, Dillingham and Soldotna are among the Alaska communities seeing the immediate benefits of the funds.

"We are in the middle of renovating one of our well houses with the stimulus funding," said Steve Bonebrake, Soldotna public works director. "The best wall in that building used to have one inch of insulation, but when it is complete we will have six inches of sprayed foam insulation everywhere and R60 insulation in the ceiling. This will save us a ton of money on heating long term." He says local construction workers are also benefiting from the winter project.

The Recovery Act funds are being dispensed as low interest loans, some with unusually high subsidies requiring only ten percent or less of the original loan to be paid back. This arrangement makes some of the funds essentially a 90 percent grant.

"Communities around the state have worked hard to get their projects designed and out to contract in a very short timeframe," said Mike Lewis, DEC's program manager for Municipal Grants and Loans. "This compressed timeframe has been a challenge for all of us, but we are now seeing the results."

Alaska's list of communities (ordered alphabetically), projects and recovery act funds they received follow. At least 20 percent of projects will promote green practices such as water and energy efficiencies.

Alaska communities, projects and their share of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds: - More...
Friday - February 12, 2010

Alaska Science: Researchers ponder the fate of village dump toxins By NED ROZELL - More than 200 villages are spread throughout Alaska, many of them on river systems and low-lying tundra with permafrost beneath it. These conditions have contributed to the problems many villages have with waste disposal; village dumps are often sprawling mounds of garbage spilling into ponds or sloughs. A University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student is sampling the water and soil around village dumps to see how, or if, pollutants are migrating into the surrounding environment.

 Researchers ponder the fate of village dump toxins

Edda Mutter samples water from the dump of an Alaska village.
Photo by Doug Huntman, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Edda Mutter visited seven villages in rural Alaska last summer. She talked to people there and then pulled on her rubber boots and heavy raingear, even though it wasn't raining. She then walked through village dumps and collected water and soil samples. She found elevated levels of aluminum in the water samples from all seven communities (the civic leaders of which don't want the village names published), along with high levels of E. coli and other bacteria.

It's a dirty job ("I make sure I don't set down my backpack just anywhere," Mutter said), but she's hoping to track the fate of toxic substances disposed of in village dumps.

"I want to figure out what's there, and how these pollutants behave," she said. "Do they stay in the soil, or bind with water? How will things change with a warmer climate and more permafrost degradation?"

In a study performed by Zender Environmental in 2003, Lynn Zender wrote that 72 percent of village dumps are within about one mile of homes, and at least 30 percent are within one-quarter mile of homes. More than 56 percent of village dumps are seasonally flooded, and 34 percent of dumps are one-quarter mile from a village drinking-water source. About half of isolated Native villages use honey bucket systems, where people carry toilet waste from their homes in five-gallon buckets lined with plastic bags. They often dump the honey bucket contents at the same dumpsite as everything else.

"At some sites, everything goes into the hole," Mutter said.

Mutter is from a village in Germany about the size of some she is visiting in Alaska. She and her project collaborators at the University of Alaska Anchorage and the Rural Alaska Community Action Program have gotten funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey. Her Ph.D. advisor, Bill Schnabel, the director of the Water and Environmental Research Center at UAF, said Mutter's project is the first step of a long-term plan to see what problems exist in solid waste pollution in village Alaska and what solutions might be workable there. - More...
Friday - February 12, 2010


Ketchikan: Important for mariners to know how to put out fires - The Maritime Class at Ketchikan High School recently completed a fire extinguisher course with Ketchikan Fire Department Fire Fighter Greg Karlik. According to Maritime teacher Rick Collins, the students had completed a fire and safety unit earlier in the school year.

The Ketchikan Maritime Class recently completed a fire extinguisher course with Ketchikan Fire Department Fire Fighter Greg Karlik.
Photo by Rick Collins

This past week Karlik spent one day in the classroom with the students said teacher Rick Collins. The classroom session with Karlik was followed up with an afternoon at the fire station. Collins said Karlik generously spent two of his off duty days with us. The Ketchikan Maritime Class is very appreciative the time Greg Karlik spent with us said Collins. - More...
Friday - February 12, 2010

Columns - Commentary

JAY AMBROSE: The coming Social Security crisis - In all the angst about Sarah Palin writing notes on her palm and President Barack Obama pronouncing corpsman as "corpse man," the American commentariat has paid scant attention to a hugely significant report, the one about Social Security's funding scare in 2009 and the red ink it will likely be bathed in this year and next.

Here it is, fellow Americans, a forerunner of what we will have -- big time -- starting in 2016, a harbinger of what could be the single most threatening domestic issue we face as a people, and this is what I would like to ask all those who have continuously told us not to worry about Social Security: Where's your trust fund now?

That's been the big lie, you know -- that all those surplus dollars we were bringing in from the payroll tax to finance Social Security were somehow being set aside as an asset that could be drawn on when current revenues were no longer sufficient to foot the bill. But those surplus dollars were actually spent on other programs. They are not there. The phony assumption was that they would at least keep down deficits so that massive borrowing would be short of ruinous in the future, but they haven't done that, either.

So along comes a recession and scads of early retirements. The payout last year was unexpectedly high, and will be high again this year and next at the same time revenues are lower because of high unemployment and slow wage growth. There's no way to finance this surprise except through larger deficits that are already as scary as can be or higher taxes that would hurt recovery

It's conceivable that revenues will be back on track by 2012, but the widespread expectation is that the true trauma starts coming our way four years later when baby boomer retirements and increased longevity tackle the program from behind. For every beneficiary, you will have just slightly over three workers paying the benefits (as opposed to more than 40 some 65 years ago), and especially when you add in other entitlement programs, things are just going to keep getting worse and worse to the point where something will have to give. Like the economy, for instance. - More...
Friday - February 12, 2010


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

letterRE: Hydaburg School District By Dorinda Sanderson - My name is Dorinda Sanderson, my son is in the 3rd grade in Hydaburg City School. I must say that I am concerned now more than ever about my son's education. - More...
Thursday PM - February 11, 2010

letterRE: Hydaburg School District By Tanya Bitonti - It disturbs me that our superintendent could talk like this in an open letter! The feeling I got when I attended a school board meeting was 'you are beneath me so say what you're going to say and sit down'. I was there to question why our kids were over crowded and without teachers! My feeling was this, if he cared about the students and their education then he would take a pay cut so they weren't over crowded and without teachers. If he cared so much in these time who wouldn't take a pay cut! - More...
Thursday PM - February 11, 2010

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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