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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Tuesday AM
February 10, 2015

Front Page Photograph by CINDY MOODY

POW: Craig Boat Harbor
Front Page Photograph by CINDY MOODY ©2015
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Research vessel Sikuliaq arriving in Alaska; First Stop Ketchikan; Ketchikan Ship Tours and Reception Feb. 10th By MARY KAUFFMAN - The research vessel Sikuliaq is being welcomed home to Alaska waters with a series of public events and tours as it makes its way to its homeport in Seward. The first stop for the Sikuliaq will be in Ketchikan, Tuesday, Feburary 10th.

jpg Research vessel Sikuliaq arriving in Alaska; First Stop Ketchikan

The research vessel Sikuliaq sails across the Great Lakes on June 6, 2014, when UAF took delivery of the vessel.
UAF photo by Val Ihde

A community reception is scheduled in Ketchikan today from 4:30–6:30 p.m. at Fish Pirate’s Saloon located at 76 Front Street. Ship tours will be held from 1–4 p.m. starting at the Berth III visitor information center at 417 Water Street. The University of Alaska Fairbanks asks that you join them in celebrating the Sikuliaq's homecoming to Alaska.

The Sikuliaq — pronounced see-KOO-lee-auk and translated from Inupiaq as “young sea ice” — is a new 261-foot oceanographic research vessel. The ship is owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a leader in Arctic research.

Sikuliaq can cut through 2.5 feet of first-year sea ice and is the only ice-capable vessel in the United States academic research fleet. The ship is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment to bring scientists to previously inaccessible ice-choked polar regions of the globe. The Sikuliaq will be a powerful vehicle for advancing polar and subpolar research when it begins scientific operations this summer.

University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists conducting ocean research in Alaska have been advocating for a vessel specifically designed for Arctic operations since the first proposal was submitted in 1973. Those years of preparation paid off in 2009 when the NSF announced it would construct the vessel with funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Sikuliaq will allow researchers to collect sediment samples directly from the seafloor, host remotely operated vehicles, use a flexible suite of winches to raise and lower scientific equipment, and conduct surveys throughout the water column and sea bottom using an extensive set of research instrumentation.

The ship will also be able to transmit real-time information directly to classrooms all over the world. The vessel design strives to have the lowest possible environmental impact, including a low underwater radiated noise signature for marine mammal and fisheries work. The Sikuliaq will have accommodations for up to 26 scientists and students at a time, including those with disabilities.

The vessel is owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, as part of the U.S. academic research fleet. It will be used by scientists in the U.S. and international oceanographic community through the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 10, 2015


Southeast Alaska / BC:
Mount Polley Review Panel Delivers Final Report; Group of Alaskans Say Mount Polley Mine Report Highlights Threats to Alaska Salmon, Fishing Jobs and Communities from BC Mines By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Mount Polley Independent Expert Engineering Investigation and Review Panel recently delivered a Final Report on its investigation into the cause of the failure of the tailings storage facility at the Mount Polley Mine on August 4, 2014. The report was delivered to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, the T’exelc First Nation (Williams Lake Indian Band) and the Xat’sull First Nation (Soda Creek Indian Band). The report also contains recommendations on actions that can be taken to ensure a similar failure does not occur at other mine sites in B.C.

Mount Polley Review Panel Delivers Final Report; Group of Alaskans Say Mount Polley Mine Report Highlights Threats to Alaska Salmon, Fishing Jobs and Communities from BC Mines

Photo from Video of Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility Breach
Photo courtesy Mount Polley Review Panel, Canada

The Panel concluded that evidence indicates the breach was the result of a failure in the foundation of the embankment, a failure that occurred in a glaciolacustrine (GLU) layer of the embankment’s foundation.

According to the Panel’s report released January 30, 2015: “The Panel concluded that the dominant contribution to the failure resides in the design. The design did not take into account the complexity of the sub-glacial and pre-glacial geological environment associated with the perimeter embankment foundation. As a result, foundation investigations and associated site characterization failed to identify a continuous GLU layer in the vicinity of the breach and to recognize that it was susceptible to undrained failure when subject to the stresses associated with the embankment.”

The report also indicated that the failure was triggered by construction of the downstream rockfill zone at a steep slope. The Panel concluded that had the downstream slope been flattened failure would have been avoided. The slope was in the process of being flattened to meet its ultimate design criteria at the time of the accident.

In its report, the Panel also concludes that there was no evidence that the failure was due to human intervention or overtopping of the perimeter embankments and that piping and cracking, which is often the cause of the failure of earth dams, was not the cause of the breach.

In regard to regulatory oversight, the Panel found that inspections of the tailings storage facility would not have prevented failure. Regulatory staff are well qualified to perform their responsibilities and they performed as expected.

However, a diverse group of Alaskans say the report released January 30th on the Mount Polley mine disaster in British Columbia provides new evidence that mines planned and under construction in the B.C. headwaters of highly productive Southeast Alaska salmon rivers are a threat to multi-billion dollar fisheries and a way of life for thousands of Alaskans. They call for the U.S. State Department to engage in meaningful bilateral discussions with Canada that ensure better safeguards for salmon before such mines are allowed to move forward.

“[The final] report underscores that, when it comes to the safety of large-scale mines, B.C.’s track record speaks for itself. The Mount Polley disaster is a stark example of B.C.’s stewardship of a project that the government and the developer claimed was safe. We can’t let a similar accident taint the rivers of the transboundary region along the border between northwest B.C. and Southeast Alaska,” said Mark Jensen, mayor of Petersburg Borough, one of Southeast Alaska’s largest fishing communities.

The independent review panel appointed by the B.C. government concluded the dam failed due to a design flaw which was not caught in the permitting process. It stemmed from a portion of the dam’s foundation being built on glacial soil that proved to be unstable as the tailings pond grew heavier. One of the engineers on the panel described Mount Polley as a “loaded gun” waiting to go off. The panel recommended that B.C. adopt better practices and use best available technology with safety a priority over economics. Alaskans are concerned that such fundamental changes in B.C. mining practices won’t be adopted due to time and expense and that there is no guarantee that such changes will actually reduce the long-term risks of transboundary mines. - More....
Tuesday AM - February 10, 2015



Alaska Science: The continued mystery of the Denali Gap By NED ROZELL - North America’s highest mountain should be a volcano. Denali sits about 60 miles above where the Pacific plate grinds beneath the North American plate, as do Iliamna, Redoubt and Augustine. If you draw a line from the Aleutians to volcanic features in Interior Alaska, the curve goes over Denali’s summit.

Recent rumblings under Denali are similar to those under volcanoes, but scientists believe the mountain is not at all likely to erupt.
Photo courtesy NED ROZELL

Like its neighbors in the Alaska Range, the big mountain shows no signs of having erupted. But seismologists recently noticed deep shaking that was intriguing enough to explore.

About one year ago, a seismic station in Denali National Park between the Toklat River and the Eielson Visitor Center recorded an earthquake about 20 miles deep. It wasn’t big, a magnitude 1.7, but it shook longer than most earthquakes.

“These are volcanic-like earthquakes,” the type that happen when molten rock oozes beneath the surface, said Stephen Holtkamp, a researcher with the Alaska Earthquake Center. “They are right where volcanoes should be, right above the subducting slab at 100 kilometers depth.”

Mount Spurr, a volcano across Cook Inlet from Anchorage, erupted explosively in 1992. It hums all the time with earthquakes like the ones Holtkamp studied beneath Denali. Mount Spurr is on the southern end of what scientists call the Denali Gap, a 270-mile silent swath of the Alaska Range that could be pimpled with volcanoes but does not seem to be.

On the north end of the gap are two ponds filled with dark water near Healy. Volcanologists recognize these as maars, craters that formed when molten rock reached the water table and detonated. This event happened about 3,000 years ago, when the Iron Age began and the world held 50 million people, few of them near Healy. Rocks at the Buzzard Creek maars have the same chemical signature of Aleutian volcanoes.

As he looked back at more than a decade of Denali station data, Holtkamp found 200 similar volcano-like signals. So, is Denali about to erupt? - More...
Tuesday AM - February 10, 2015


Columns - Commentary

jpg Ron Paul
RON PAUL: Vaccine Controversy Shows Why We Need Markets, Not Mandates - If I were still a practicing ob-gyn and one of my patients said she was not going to vaccinate her child, I might try to persuade her to change her mind. But, if I were unsuccessful, I would respect her decision. I certainly would not lobby the government to pass a law mandating that children be vaccinated even if the children’s parents object. Sadly, the recent panic over the outbreak of measles has led many Americans, including some self-styled libertarians, to call for giving government new powers to force all children to be vaccinated.

Those who are willing to make an "exception" to the principle that parents should make health care decisions for their children should ask themselves when in history has a "limited" infringement on individual liberty stayed limited. By ceding the principle that individuals have the right to make their own health care decisions, supporters of mandatory vaccines are opening the door for future infringements on health freedom. - More....
Tuesday AM - February 10, 2015

jpg Phil Kerpen
PHIL KERPEN: Court Can Save Millions from Illegal Obamacare Taxes - The full-court press is on from every organ of enlightened liberal opinion: the Supreme Court must not decide this term's big Obamacare case, King v. Burwell, on the actual legal merits, which are a slam-dunk for the plaintiffs. Instead, supporters of the government want the case decided on the consequences of the Court stopping the flow of illegal subsidies. And they want to ignore the fact that stopping the subsidies will actually free millions of people in opt-out states from the individual and employer mandates. They only want to talk about people who would lose subsidies.

Upping the ante, the Obama administration is aggressively marketing subsidized plans without a word of warning that the subsidies may be struck down as illegal — and that recipients may be required to pay them back. Taxpayer-funded TV ads in heavy rotation say "most are eligible for financial assistance," even though that's probably not true. Why? To create as many victims as possible. Hostages who will be used to bully the Supreme Court.

The over-the-top intimidation campaign comes from a place of profound weakness. The section of Obamacare that defines eligibility for subsidies says they are available only through an "exchange established by the state." The language is expressly used twice and is incorporated by cross-reference seven additional times. No other language is ever used to describe subsidy eligibility. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 10, 2015

jpg Political Cartoon: GOP Sniper

Political Cartoon: GOP Sniper
Target: Immigration Executive Action
By Nate Beeler ©2015, The Columbus Dispatch
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Naha Devastation By Mike Youngblood - July 1978 – that’s the first time I went to the Naha. Since that time I’ve gone there dozens of times, at all times of the year. I’ve been there on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, 4th of July, and everything in between. But never, until last weekend, had I seen it like this. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 10, 2015

letter A Threat To Ward Creek Trail By Eric Muench - Over the years extensive trail systems have been built in the Ward, Connell and Perseverance Lakes and Ward Creek and Salvage Road areas. Ward Creek Trail, in the heart of these, is now at risk. - More...
Saturday AM - February 07, 2015

letter What should Ketchikan do about ‘feral’ cats? By Kim Whalen - This has been written in response to recent Borough Assembly and Animal Control discussions regarding solutions for ‘feral’ cats in our community. - More...
Saturday AM - February 07, 2015

letter Astounding State of Alaska Pay Scale By A.M. Johnson - Interesting article in the Alaska Dispatch News this date (2-6-15) regarding pay schedule for deputy commissioners and other high level personnel. Would the common man ever be made aware of these astronomical pay scales in several categories had not this publication had the fortitude to bring them to light? - More...
Saturday AM - February 07, 2015

letter REMEMBERING PATCHWorks By Diane Gubatayao - Over fifteen years ago a great many citizens of Ketchikan participated in a planning process led by Ketchikan Public Health. The key question was what builds a healthy community? Their response was not the customary prevent heart disease or prevent cancer. Their response was truly visionary: if we want to build a healthy community, we need to invest in healthy youth. But how? - More...
Saturday AM - February 07, 2015

letter ONE BILLION RISING 2/14/15 By Janalee Minnich Gage - Ketchikan is an amazing community where amazing people come together regardless of how busy their daily lives are. The first time I heard of one billion rising, was last year. I went online and listened first to the song, and then I watched several videos from around the world where communities from the Philippines to Africa joined together for this 5-6 minute flash mob dance. I was drawn in simply because I was a student of dance throughout grade school and middle school and always felt this great freedom of expression, and happiness from it. I am older and slower today, and yet I am still drawn as I believe so many of us are to dance. - More...
Saturday AM - February 07, 2015


letter GAS PRICE: THE EXTENT OF THE RIP-OFF THIS WEEK By David G Hanger  - Talked to the ex- on the phone a few days ago. The price of gasoline in San Antonio is now $1.60 a gallon and still falling. What that means is the price of gasoline dropped 40 cents a gallon in the first three weeks of January. In Arkansas the price is down to $1.56. - More...
Saturday AM - February 07, 2015

letter RE: IRS Debacle By Stephen C, Eldridge - This letter is just one more example of FairTax® deception. The FairTax® does not cure excessive, foolish, un-Constitutional federal spending - that is a distinctly different problem from the tax system. - More...
Saturday AM - February 07, 2015

letter Let’s win assault on Alaska together By U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan - Most of us remember where we were when we first learned of some momentous event that seemed briefly to freeze history in time. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 04, 2015

letter Break the Chain By Diane Gubatayao - What do one billion and 50% have in common? They both represent statistics about violence against women and girls. According to the World Health Organization, one third or one billion women and girls around the world experience either domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime. Here in Ketchikan, according to a survey conducted by the University of Alaska Anchorage Justice Center, 1 out of 2 women over 18 years of age in Ketchikan have been victims of DV or SA in their lifetime. These are staggering numbers and very real. - More..
Wednesday AM - February 04, 2015

letter Inflated Gas Prices By Bobbie McCreary - Filled up last night in Lincoln, CA for $2.09. Since January 25th as I traveled through Nebraska and Minnesota and California, I have not seen a price higher than $2.49 anywhere, regardless of city or rural area. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 04, 2015

letter IRS debacle By Joe O'Hara - It just isn't fair! We work hard for our money. But the government takes a portion and allocates it to programs we could never justify. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 04, 2015

letter "Snake Oil” By Tom Dowdy - The National Association for Gun Rights has recently undertaken a campaign to smear hundreds of thousands of great patriots around the nation that are responding to the call of the founders to use the single most powerful tool given to us to save our nation. This group contemptibly refers to the lawful, orderly, and Constitutional process in Article V as “snake oil”. They invoke the names of men like James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, and refer to the date of the Philadelphia Convention as being 1789 (What ?). - More...
Wednesday AM - February 04, 2015

letter THE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY (LLC), FACT, FAD, OR FANTASY? By David G Hanger, EA, MBA - While the extra fees from the formation of all these limited liability companies definitely adds considerably to my bankroll, the older ethics of my profession, to which I still adhere, specifies that I, as a licensed practitioner, must do no harm to my client’s financial position; thus professional responsibility alone warrants the caution that the LLC in most instances, by which I mean in excess of 98% of them, will not limit at all personal liability if something bad happens in a business operation. In other words for most of you it is just a waste of money and time, and that money could be better directed to one of the two things that actually can limit your personal liability: Insurance. - More...
Monday AM - February 02, 2015

letter Ketchikan gas prices By Bill Christensen - Wow, the beginning of this week gas in town was showing $3.43 per gallon at Safeway. Also there was an article in the news stating the reason for the gas prices dropping so slowly here is because of bulk storage. - More...
Monday AM - February 02, 2015

letter Keeping Ferry Bars Open By Michael Moyer - Who gave the State Ferry system the right to close the lounges on the ferries? The Alaska Marine Highway ferries are the property of the people of the State of Alaska. The people of the State of Alaska should be asked if THEY want the lounges closed. - More...
Monday AM - February 02, 2015

letter ANWR: Why not lock it up? By John Suter - The reason President Obama is locking up ANWR from oil development is because the state wouldn’t get anything from this development. The state is giving all of the money it would make from oil going through the pipeline this year and next year to the oil companies plus an additional 500 million dollars of cash from the state's savings account. The states motto is “Ask not what the oil companies can do for you, but what you can do for the oil companies”. - More...
Monday AM - February 02, 2015

letter Too many childish mistakes to be real. By Richard Davis - While the series is interesting, the Discovery Channel probably shouldn't try to pass the Browns off as anything other than what they really are. Greenhorns that have decided to try to make it in the wild. They make far far too many mistakes that could be fatal to have the experience they profess to have. - More...
Monday AM - February 02, 2015

letter RE: Off Leash is lethal By Marlene Steiner - I had accidentally hit a dog one time when I was out North of town. The dog was lucky because I had to stop for a school bus and when I started driving a dog darted right out in front me. I hit it on the back upper leg. I did stop and tried to find it to see if was ok but could not find it. I contacted the State Troopers about Leash Laws for North end and I was told there is a Leash Law for all of the Ketchikan area. I explained what had happened and was told the owner of the dog that was hit is in the wrong for letting it run lose. - More...
Monday AM - February 02, 2015

letter Questions for PeaceHealth Ketchikan By Ralph and Lauren Mirsky - Nurse’s, Nurse Practitioners; family, friends, women and men that are Living and working in our community; these highly Educated, Dedicated Professionals work towards the well being of all of us that live here in Ketchikan. - More...
Thursday AM - January 29, 2015

letter Alaska Needs A Voice in Washington By Mike Wenstrup - Alaska has always needed a voice in Washington. From the Trans Alaska Pipeline to the Native Claims Settlement Act to present day debates about oil exploration, our economic opportunities are closely linked to federal policy. That means our federal representatives must be effective, not just loud. - More...
Thursday AM - January 29, 2015

letter Poor Cleanup By Don Petrey - I am writing this letter to bring to light the recent accident. I drove by right after it happened and then about 2 hours later. And the one thing that really concerned me was all the antifreeze coolant and oil that was left on the road. All that material got washed into the storm drains as we got some rain. - More...
Thursday AM - January 29, 2015

letter RE: Discovery's Alaska Bush People is unreal By Janice Paschke - You are so right. This family is a joke! They all have new boots, new tents, new guns, tacky cheap jewelry - I could go on forever. You can tell by the way they act that the show is scripted and everyone wants their close ups. - More...
Thursday AM - January 29, 2015

letter Starting Fresh By Jerry Cegelske - The New Year offers everyone an opportunity to start fresh. Starting fresh can be something personal like improving your diet or health, but it can also be something community oriented, like doing a better job of doing your part for the community. For some businesses, one way to be better at doing your part as a better member of the business community is by keeping on top of your obligations to collect and remit sales taxes. - More...
Monday PM - January 26, 2015

letter Off-leash is lethal By Gretchen Moore - Have you ever heard the sound it makes when a vehicle traveling at 55mph hits a dog standing in the road? As the owner of Groomingdales located at 12 miles N. Tongass, I've heard the sound more times than I can count on all of my fingers and toes and it never gets easier as it echoes in your head, over and over. I never can seem to run fast enough to the road to get to the pet in need. - More...
Monday PM - January 26, 2015

letter Discovery's Alaska Bush People is unreal By Clay Slanaker - I am very disappointed in the portrayal of Ketchikan and the rest of Southeast Alaska by the Discovery channel. The reality of the show is left far behind the scenes. No one shoots at a Sitka blacktail deer with their scope covers closed, nobody leaves town with dental issues that could cause death, and nobody that leaves town with dental issues buys two boats with the possibility of dying in the bush just to impress the masses! - More...
Monday PM - January 26, 2015

letter Open Letter: Public funds for Governor's ball By A. M. Johnson - Following is the content of a personal email to Ketchikan Assembly persons requesting that public funding not be utilized in the cost of the upcoming governor's ball in Ketchikan. The intent is not to be taken as a slap at the governor or the tradition. It is the objection of using this symbol of celebration with public funding in trying times the current and years out reflect. - More...
Monday PM - January 26, 2015

letter Go Gridlock By David Levine - Now that the State of the Union has been delivered, it’s time for all the usual suspects to start chiming in with all their predictable comments. The Republicans undoubtedly will call the President obtuse for refusing to heed the recent election as a call to rethink his policies, and his Democratic Party allies will line up behind him, cheering his tenacity in the face of an increasingly unforgiving opposition. But because that opposition now has a majority in Congress, virtually nothing that the President has proposed will ever see the light of day. So the State of the Union ends up being nothing but bluster and theater, containing vague, flowery ideas never having any chance of coming to fruition. Politics as usual as they say. Cynics might get angry at this exercise in futility, deeming it a colossal waste of time that serves to do nothing more than poignantly illustrate a broken political system in Washington. - More...
Monday PM - January 26, 2015

letter Time for Real Fix for Healthy Forest Management By Dan Shoun - I think it’s time for Senator Murkowski and her colleagues to quit bashing the Forest Service and take a good look in the mirror to see where part of the problem resides! We stand ready, in many Western States to work with Congress on the real fix for Healthy Forest Management and how Counties and Schools are compensated for these otherwise untaxable lands! - More...
Monday PM - January 26, 2015

letter Out of control government By Tom Dowdy - An Article V Amending Convention of States is on the move. Now no one can deny the Article V movement has truly swept the nation. The desire to curb the federal government's abuses is not limited to northern states or southern states, red states or blue states. Americans from all stripes realize something must be done, and they understand a Convention of States is the best way to do it. - More...
Monday PM - January 26, 2015

letter Time for an Article V Amending Convention of States By Jeff Kroyer - America is currently under attack. This time it is from within our borders and from many of our fellow citizens. Our constitution is being trampled upon by many people, from the President, Congressional Leaders and Supreme Court Justices. The abuse of Executive Decrees by the president, as well as the irresponsible and reckless spending by the federal government, has us on the road to perdition as a nation. - More...
Monday PM - January 26, 2015

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