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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

February 24, 2013

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The Path To Spring
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Alaska: Plan Finalized for Additional Development, Wildlife Protections in 23 Million Acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska By Mary Kauffman - As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on Thursday signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, the final action allows for the development of 72 percent of the estimated economically recoverable oil in the nearly 23-million-acre Reserve, while protecting the vital subsistence resources of Alaska Natives and the habitat of world-class wildlife populations.

The NPR-A is expected to hold 895 million barrels of technically recoverable oil and 52.8 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas.

“The balanced approach under this plan is the result of extensive local input and will help guide the responsible production and transport of the substantial oil and gas resources in and around the Reserve,” said Salazar. “This comprehensive plan will allow us to continue to expand our leasing in the NPR-A, as has happened over the last three years, while protecting the outstanding and unique resources that are critically important to the culture and subsistence lifestyle of Alaska Natives and our nation’s conservation heritage.”

In a prepared statement addressing the plan, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said, “I continue to have the same reservations that I had before about the negative impact this plan will have on our national energy security and Alaska’s economy. I don’t support this plan and I don’t agree that a land management plan focused on conservation was appropriate for a petroleum reserve.

“Even the administration concedes the need to build a pipeline to ensure that the vast oil and gas resources in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas can reach the trans-Alaska oil pipeline system, but the language included in this plan fails to provide the certainty necessary to make sure such a pipeline can actually be built without being held up by endless environmental litigation," said Murkowski.

Murkowski said, “Despite the assurances of the administration, this plan puts in place roadblocks to the construction of an economically feasible pipeline project. The unintended consequences of this decision could have broad implications for our economy and energy security.”

Murkowski is the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee, the authorizing and appropriating committees with jurisdiction over the Interior Department.

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D- AK), while pleased with the clear confirmation to allow pipeline construction to safely and economically carry offshore oil and gas from the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Begich remained disappointed with the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) final decision on a development plan for the National Petroleum Reserve (NPR-A), citing dismissal of local comments on resource development.

“Despite their claims, it is clear the Interior Department yet again has made a decision about Alaska land use that ignores what Alaskans want,” Begich said.  “I appreciate the strong and clear language on future pipeline routes through the NPR-A to carry Beaufort and Chukchi oil.  But I am left wondering what good a working group will do if they haven’t been doing a good job of listening so far?  As Elvis Presley said, we need ‘a little less conversation and a little more action’.” - More...
Sunday AM - February 24, 2013

Alaska: ‘Day of Resistance’ Rally For Gun Rights - Saturday on the steps of Alaska’s State Capitol, Senator Lesil McGuire, R-South Anchorage, rallied with dozens of people to protect Alaskans and their Second Amendment rights to own and bear arms. Senator McGuire spoke as part of the ‘Day of Resistance Rally’ which was organized to celebrate First and Second Amendment rights.

“I’m proud to be a card-carrying lifelong member of the NRA- as is my husband, as is my father, and so will be my son,” Senator McGuire told the crowd. “Our Second Amendment rights are not just important to us in Alaska, they are part of who we are.”

During Saturday’s speech, Senator McGuire emphasized how this most recent attack on Second Amendment Rights is just one more push by the Federal Government to take away the rights of Alaskans.

“Federal overreach has already locked up resource development in the ANWR and NPR-A.” said Senator McGuire. “And now, they have even stooped to a new low by denying the building of the Izembek Road which would allow residents to travel between King Cove and Cold Bay in order to access health care and reduce their costs of living.”

Quoting an Alaska Senate Majority news release, the fight to protect Second Amendment rights became even more critical after President Barack Obama and other members of Congress proposed further limitations on gun ownership after a series of horrific shootings, including one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut which tragically claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators. - More...
Sunday AM - February 24, 2013

Alaska: Senate Resources Committee Introduces Changes to Oil Tax Bill - Friday, the Senate Resources Committee introduced its changes to the Governor’s Oil Tax Proposal.  The new committee substitute for Senate Bill 21 keeps many of the bill’s original provisions, but slightly increases the state’s take when oil prices are high and reduces the state take when oil prices are low.  Under the amended legislation, total government take at the high end (around $150 a barrel) would reach about 65%, which is competitive with other similar oil producing regions, and remains fair to Alaskans.  The new proposal also basically flattens the government take at all oil prices, which creates a stable and favorable climate in which to do business.

“The Governor has asked for a tax system that meets four principles: It’s fair to Alaskans, encourages new production, is simple and balanced, and is competitive and durable,” said Senator Cathy Giessel, Chair of Senate Resources.  “Our committee meets those principles while adding a few things that will improve the overall effectiveness of the bill.”  - More...
Sunday AM - February 24, 2013

Alaska: AFN Board Endorses “Survival Denied”; Council of Athbascan Tribal Governments’ report sheds light on Alaska Native struggle - The Alaska Federations of Natives (AFN) Board of Directors last week voted unanimously to endorse the Council of Athbascan Tribal Governments’ joint report on the impact resource management and regulations have on the lives of traditional Alaska Natives, Survival Denied: Stories from Alaska Native Families Living in a Broken System.

“This report provides an intimate look at the challenges our people face, through the lens of the stories of the Gwich’in and Koyukon peoples of the Yukon Flats," said AFN President Julie Kitka. “These human stories are exactly what we need to share, together, to make real progress toward protecting and maintaining our peoples’ right to survive and thrive.” - More...
Sunday AM - February 24, 2013

Columns - Commentary

jpg Mary Lynne DahlMONEY MATTERS: AFTER THE DIVORCE – SO, NOW WHAT By Mary Lynne Dahl, CFP® - The financial impact of divorce is generally not fully realized until after the divorce is final. Many of the money issues, such as the splitting of the pension and retirement funds, depend on the paperwork being correctly written and submitted to employers and retirement plan administrators as part of the final divorce documents. As a result, both parties do not actually give or receive their share of these marital assets until several months afterwards. In addition, if the house is being sold as a result of the settlement, that often takes place afterwards as well. And, when tax time rolls around, the previously married couple who filed a joint return in the past now finds themselves filing their federal tax return under significantly different rules.

So, what happens after the dust settles, the house is sold, the proceeds split, the retirement dollars divided and the debts allocated to the divorced individuals? Keep in mind that each person is now going to have to support a household on 1 income, where before he or she had 2 incomes to support the household. This will necessitate a lot of adjustment, in high income brackets as well as in medium or low income brackets. No matter how much income and money the couple had jointly, each one now has much less to live on in almost all cases, so adjustments are inevitable. - More...
Sunday AM - February 24, 2013

JUDITH F. BENDERSKY: Simply Medicare: Q&A - Q1: Is it true that everyone has to sign up for Medicare when they turn 65?

A1: It is a myth that everyone has to sign up for Medicare when they turn 65, although many people do. Everyone's situation is unique and each person needs to understand what their requirements are based on their unique circumstances.  Factors that impact whether a person should enroll in Medicare at  65 include whether the person is actively working and has an Employer Group Health Plan, whether their spousal's working and health insurance coverage, whether they are collecting a Social Security Retirement Benefit, whether they have access to the V.A. or IHS health care systems and other considerations.  The truth is that no one from the federal government will come to your front door or otherwise tell you that have to sign up for Medicare.  But there certainly could be expensive consequences for not doing so.  There are penalties for signing up months or years after one was eligible but chose not to enroll. - More...
Sunday AM - February 24, 2013


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letter Museum Expansion Project By Laurie Pool, Tongass Historical Society - Plans for a new or renovated museum have been talked about for years. The Centennial Building was built in 1967 and originally housed the Tongass Historical Society museum, and a federally funded exhibit about the purchase of Alaska. When the federal exhibit came down, the City’s library moved into the space left by the exhibit in 1968.  Almost immediately a need for more space was recognized.  In 1997 a concept design was completed for a new 27,000 s.f. museum to be added onto the Discovery Center.  In 2004 another 30,000 s.f. concept design was presented using the existing footprint of the Centennial Building, rising vertically. Both concepts would have included the famous Ellis Airlines Grumman Goose which the Tongass Historical Society owns and hopes to someday find a place to safely and properly display.  Despite best efforts, neither concept was pursued by the City. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 20, 2013

letter Passage of HB 80 by Alaska Senate By Michelle Ridgway - Despite the rush to move this bill, many legislators were developing a deeper understanding of the technological potential for ships to meet water quality criteria at the pipe and the scientific implications of not doing so. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 20, 2013

letter Helping Our Kake Neighbors By Bobbi Leichty - The motto for Alaska’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is, ‘Neighbor Helping Neighbor’ and in the past several weeks, I’ve been able to witness communities walking the walk, not just talking the talk. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 20, 2013

letter Open Letter: Stop Cruise Ship Pollution Bill HB 80 By Steve Shrum - For over two decades I have observed cruise ship wastewater discharges, residues and effects in the Ketchikan area by boat and airplane and have concluded that NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO LOOSEN REGULATIONS ON THE CRUISESHIP WASTE WATER DISCHARGE PERMITS. - More...
Monday PM - February 18, 2013

letter Protect our Fish By Victoria McDonald - If you're a fisherman, sport, commercial or subsistence, it's important to maintain our nearby streams and rivers. Salmon depend on clean water and each stream is important to maintain genetic diversity. However, one nearby river is under a long range threat; the Unuk, essential for king salmon spawning habitat. Seabridge, a Canadian firm, is pushing ahead with plans for a mine to be located in British Columbia, with a rock storage facility that will drain into a tributary of the Unuk. - More...
Monday PM - february 18, 2013

letter Sealaska bill By Dominic Salvato - What Sealaska calls, "continuation of economic development", is at the terrible cost of native communities, their socioeconomic vitality and their cultural identities and traditions according to decades of peer reviewed research by ethnologists, sociologists, and anthropologists studying the role of ANCSA's corporate model in southeast Alaska. - More...
Monday PM - February 18, 2013

letter Tax Professionals By Joel Jackson - Many of my fellow islanders are thinking about options available for completing their federal income tax return. If you don't prepare your own, then I would encourage you to choose a tax professional. - More...
Monday PM - February 18, 2013

letter On Abortion By Robert Holston - Mr. Oftedahl makes some interesting points in his recent letter on abortion. Unfortunately for him and those who share his unfortunate opinion, their position neglects the validity of sophomore biology and basic forensic science. Unfortunately the opinion that abortion ends a life before it has a chance to begin exhibits scientific ignorance and is blatantly axiomatic. - More...
Monday PM - February 18, 2013

letter Obama Sending Arms to Egypt By Donald A. Moskowitz - President Obama is providing 20 F-16 fighter jets to Egypt, which brings its total to 260; and 200 M1A1 Abrams tanks, bringing its total to 1,200.  These arms are offensive weapons which could be used against Israel or resold to other Arab countries or organizations for use against Israel. - More...
Monday PM - February 18, 2013

letter Flush this! Or... You’re eating what? By Dennis Simpson - So, having raised the fifth generation in my family in Ketchikan, we moved to the Seattle area.  Frequently, I miss all Ketchikan had to offer and still today the idea of paying for fish is unsettling.  However, I gladly do and only buy Alaskan and have since 1984 recommended to friends, associates, anyone who would listen, only Alaskan fish.  Now and then we even splurge and buy that ‘river’ salmon at $29.00 a pound.  So much for all that.  May as well eat Washington fish, even Puget Sound fish - -well, maybe. - More...
Monday PM - February 18, 2013

letter FairTax replaces income tax and abolishes the IRS.By Ward Atcher - Over 200 years ago our Founders fought tyranny uniquely giving us a democratic republic.  It changed the World.  Americans held liberty steadfast for over a century until Feb. 3, 1913 when the 16th Amendment began trading away our God given Liberties wrested, by our Founders, from tyrants.  - More...
Monday PM - February 18, 2013

letter One Billion Rising By Diane Gubatayao - This February 14th marks the 15th anniversary of V-Day, a worldwide walk/dance out to raise awareness about violence against women. This year the theme is One Billion Rising which reflects the statistic that globally one in three women will be victims of physical or sexual assault in their lifetime. In Alaska, the number is almost double. Ketchikan is participating in this worldwide event to stand together against this injustice. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter RE: Borough Assembly Meetings By Bobbie McCreary - I appreciate the opportunity to bring issues and acknowledgements before the Ketchikan Borough Assembly at two different times per month. Will the "4 shorter" planning sessions be as easily available for this purpose? What time of day will they be held and will the Assembly expect public comments then? - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter Education or lack there of. By A.M. Johnson - In response to both Ms.Pardes and Mr. Timmeman's subject of education, it is good to have positions presented for self discussion or public response. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter School funding By Paul Jarvi - MS Pardes, I agree with your ideas about funding, however there are more problems with our state schools than money. Former Governor Murkowski gutted the teacher retirement system. Alaska teachers do not pay into Social Security and if they have other careers that do pay to Social Security they will only get a fraction of what they have paid. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter Life does begin at conception! By Cathy Brauning - It been 40 years since the Supreme Court ruled to legalize abortion. Could  nine men really  declare that  it was now legal to destroy another human‘s life?  Well, they did, and now I want to ask you “how has that worked out for us, as a nation and individuals?”  I was a teenager in the 60’s and saw first hand the beginning of a great moral decline in America. “Free love” was touted as the thing that would change our nation and free us from all the restrictions of our predecessors.  Well that mindset did change our nation, but not for the better.  The foundational unit of our society, the family, is rapidly disintegrating. And part of that process is due to legally being able to get rid of the product of our “free love.”  Nothing is ever free. Someone always pays for it.  And in this case it is not only the baby and mom, but our society as a whole. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter Board of Fish Proposal 243; Adding Pacific Herring to the State’s Forage Fish Management Plan By Jeff Feldpausch - At its Statewide Finfish meeting in March, the Board of Fish (BoF) will consider the Board generated Proposal 243, which would add Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) to the State’s Forage Fish Management Plan (FFMP).  Pacific herring are currently the only forage fish species that is commercially harvested in the State of Alaska.  The State fails to acknowledge herring as a forage fish by not specifically listing them in its FFMP, however, the FFMP does list exemptions for all existing herring fisheries. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter Open Letter To Gov. Parnell: High Gas Prices By David G. Hanger - I am asking you to do something about the extremely high prices we are paying for gasoline in southern Southeast Alaska. Prices have gone down across the nation and across Alaska since the spikes of last summer, but not here. The price here has not changed at all. We are being ripped off. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter Chuck Hagel By Michael Mateer - Hagel serves on the board of the Ploughshares Fund, a George Soros-funded group that advocates a nuclear-free world. The Ploughshares Fund has a long history of anti-war advocacy and is a partner of the Marxist-oriented Institute for Policy Studies, which has urged the defunding of the Pentagon and massive decreases in U.S. defense capabilities, including slashing the American nuclear arsenal to 292 deployed weapons. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter Women of Distinction By Judith Green - What a beautiful night celebrating the contributions of 4 Women of Distinction in Ketchikan: - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter The New Entitlement Class By Michael Spence - For over a decade much of the federal budget debate among House of Representative conservatives, has referred to medicare and social security as a drag on the economy. The term entitlement is used sarcastically. What they are really saying is that Americans who have paid into Social Security and Medicare for their entire lives really are NOT entitled to receive anything in return. Led by Representative Paul Ryan, their budget reform proposals call for cutting such things as these entitlements for middle class Americans.. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter Issues By Joey Garcia - The reverberations of the Sitnews' latest issue, it is quite annoying if we dissect these issues per se: John Kimmel's Cruise Ship Wastewater Legislation, the only pro among the cons. patting the back of cruise ships to have enough treatment before discharging them; Bruce Dixon's Dumping in Southeast Waters; Geord Kleinschmidt Drug Testing of contractors and their crews; Dave Timmerman as a citizen in the school board; and the tandem of David Haley and James Sullivan Dumping of contaminants as fecal coliform, ammonia and dissolved metals like copper, zinc, and nickel dropped in the Inside Passage waters. To all of these, its not only a cause for migraines, but probably Flu, and troubling for an average cruise ship to discharge 800 cubic meters which equals to 634 million gallons per season at par equivalent to 19 million bathtubs - WOW, our dear Sitnews Mary Kauffman, might well be commended to keep cool, I guess. - More... 
Tuesday PM - February 12, 2013

letter Borough assembly meetings By Bill Rotecki - Your Ketchikan Borough Assembly is considering changing its meeting schedule from the first and third Monday of the month with one two day policy session per year to meeting every third week and 4 shorter policy sessions per year. - More...
Friday PM - February 08, 2013

letter Cruise Ship Wastewater Legislation By John Kimmel - I would just like to clarify some misunderstandings about the new cruise ship waste-water bills currently in the Legislature. Opponents have said that the Governor is "gutting" the 2006 Cruise ship initiative. That is far from the truth. Cruise ships in Alaska are NOT dumping raw sewage into state waters. The Cruise ships treat their waste-water to a higher standard than others that discharges into Alaska waters. - More...
Friday PM - February 08, 2013

letter RE: Who's Left With The Bill By Amanda Mitchell - I would recommend all of our town's people to look into the history of our bus barn and into who was making a huge profit and holding all the cards. We, our city, owned the property, but the building was owned by another. It was such a loose contract and, if we decided that we no longer liked the terms, we were stuck with it or we would have had to forfeit the property over to the company. This situation sounds similar. - More...
Thursday AM - February 07, 2013

letter Underfunding has crippled state’s education system By Joan Pardes - Like everything else in Alaska, the state’s education problem is big. Despite being one of the richest states in America (CNN News), Alaska has one of the lowest graduation rates in the country (U.S. Department of Education).  But more distressing than lagging behind the poorest states is the undisputable fact that education is not a priority for Alaska’s lawmakers. - More...
Thursday AM - February 07, 2013

letter RE: Drug Testing By Michael Mateer - First I would like to say in defense of myself & my fellow drivers and equipment operators, we are paid well for what we do and we are hard working men and woman building a community. I find it rude and disrespectful that anyone would suggest that based on our rate of pay that we are are a bunch of drug users. I have lived in this town proudly for 12 years and have been involved in every Davis Bacon job since March 02. I HAVE HELD A CLASS A CDL FOR 30 YEARS accident free. - More...
Thursday AM - February 07, 2013

letter Repeal of citizens initiative on fast track By Norm Noggle - On the one hand we have a Congress and Governor who approve of $30 million to study the reasons for decline of the King Salmon, which I don't object.  If it takes $30 million to get some "proof" to understand the variety of ways humans have hurt the salmons life process, it's ok with me.  Who knows, it might even result in some positive changes, especially if it doesn't rub up against opposition from some big money interests.  And just maybe our local fisherman can increase their catch and provide more for their families. - More...
Thursday AM - February 07, 2013

letter Dumping in Southeast waters By Bruce Dixon - The recent legislation passed by the House allowing cruise liners to dump waste in Southeast waters is another example of poor stewardship to our beautiful State. How can we promote our pristine seafood and allow such devastation of natural resources in the same breath? Having worked as a deckhand and learned the value of the salmon species as well as the other sea creatures, it is a crime to dump raw sewage into the areas that we are eating from and swimming in on a frequent basis. Other industries are expected to and required by law to clean up after themselves and be good stewards to the environment and yet our lawmakers are allowing this travesty to occur. With the expulsion of these toxins we are inviting a slew of new health problems and bad press regarding the seafood industry. I cannot understand how one can bargain for the polluting and stripping of our resources in a way that could be avoided. Jobs are necessary but so is responsible stewardship of the ecosystem. - More...
Thursday AM - February 07, 2013

letter Hypocrite Thy Name is Democrat By Gene Peterson - Dear Mary Kauffman, I love Sitnews. It is always the first thing I read in the morning. But I have to take issue with one of your news stories: GOP bill would discharge cruiseship sewage in Alaska waters. When you use the Democrat's propaganda as news, there will be problems. It is like using PETA as a source of information on lamb chops, or the Ku Klux Klan on race. - More...
Thursday AM - February 07, 2013

letter HB 80 By Robert Rice - Our representatives are supposedly in office to represent the will of the people who elected them. The voters of Alaska passed an initiative in 2006 to protect our pristine waters from the pollution from the cruise ships. The arrogance of Governor Parnell and the legislature to blatantly overturn the initiative that was voted in by the people is unbelievable. I would be very curious to see how much this self-serving, parasite's 'personal wealth increases from when he inherited the governorship of Alaska. - More...
Thursday AM - February 07, 2013

letter CBS/KPU Solution and Thoughts By Jason Mitchell - Regarding CBS Southeast: All of this has been going back and forth, back and forth, with both sides blaming the other I recently took the time, to call both parties, and have close to an hour long phone conversation with both Ed Cushing, and some random guy who called me back when the local CBS lady couldn't help me, and said he was the owner. - More...
Thursday AM - February 07, 2013

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