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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 25, 2015

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Pair of Hooded Mergansers at Frog Pond
Front Page Photograph by SUSAN HOYT ©2015
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Alaska: Personal Use and Possession of Marijuana in Alaska, What You Should Know By MARY KAUFFMAN - Due to interest in the subject regarding the new marijuana law in Alaska which went into effect Tuesday, Governor Bill Walker provided a summary to accurately explain the current law in the state. As of February 24, 2015, people in Alaska age 21 and over can legally possess, outside of their homes, up to an ounce of marijuana and can grow up to six plants in their home (with up to three being mature, flowering plants). Adults may also give up to an ounce of marijuana and up to six plants to another adult.

Personal Use and Possession of Marijuana in Alaska, What You Should Know

Marijuana plants
Photo courtesy

According to information provided by the Governor in a news release, private consumption in Alaska will be completely legal for adults, although public consumption remains illegal.

February 24th is also the start of a nine-month rulemaking process for the State of Alaska to craft rules around the commercial aspects of legalization. Governor Bill Walker (I) introduced a bill on Monday to the Alaska State Legislature that would, if passed, create a Marijuana Control Board. That board will work with the public, stakeholders, municipal governments, and the Legislature to craft rules that best protect public health and public safety for Alaskans and its visitors.

Housed under the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, the Marijuana Control Board will be tasked with developing regulations covering all aspects of marijuana cultivation, processing, and commercial sale, including rules about marijuana concentrates, edible products, and packaging. The proposed legislation will give the board significant authority, including peace officer powers, to ensure that marijuana laws are enforced effectively and consistently. The Marijuana Control Board will include representatives from the public health and safety sectors, industry, and the general public, and will share administrative and enforcement resources with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Alaska statutes and regulations will control legal issues related to marijuana.

The state has nine more months to create regulations for a commercial marijuana industry where marijuana will be sold and taxed.

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced legislation which deals with the licensing and taxation of marijuana-related operations. Senate Bill 62 is regulatory legislation intended to work in conjunction with Senate Bill 30, which decriminalizes marijuana in Alaska’s statutes, as well as Senate Bill 60, which sets up the Marijuana Control Board. SB62 also clarifies vague or omitted information from the voter initiative passed last November related to licensing and taxation matters and reinforces the concept that commercial marijuana licenses are a privilege, not a right.

“The bill represents another piece in the puzzle we must solve as we work to build a strong framework for the commercialization of marijuana in Alaska,” said Senate Judiciary Chair Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage. “I think this bill helps provide Alaskans with the answers to questions they’ve had for a while: Who can grow and sell Marijuana? Where can it be sold and grown? How will I know how potent it is? And what are we doing to keep it out of the hands of kids?” - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015



Southeast Alaska: Tongass Advisory Committee Close to Agreement on Young Growth Management on the Tongass - The Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC) held its sixth meeting in Juneau from February 17-19, and reportedly continued robust discussions regarding possible Forest Plan Amendment recommendations to accelerate the transition to young growth forest management on the Tongass. According to Diana Portner, Mediator and Program Associate of the Meridian Institute, the members are optimistic that they are close to agreement on a framework for the young growth harvest component of the Amendment.

Committee members showed strong support for replacing old growth harvest with young growth harvest on a one-to-one volumetric basis, to ensure a successful transition. For harvest in more sensitive areas, they introduced the concept of “co-intent” – simultaneously achieving habitat objectives while increasing young growth timber harvest in those areas. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015

Alaska: Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect; 16,000 Alaskans to receive pay raise - Tuesday, Alaska’s minimum wage was set to increase from $7.75 to $8.75 per hour, a 13% increase. Approximately 16,000 Alaska jobs currently pay less than $8.75 per hour, meaning thousands of workers will see their pay go up. The minimum wage is increasing as a result of voters approving the minimum wage ballot initiative in November 2014.

“[Tuesday] thousands of Alaskans are getting a pay raise,” said Heidi Drygas, Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. “This raise is long overdue, is great news for Alaska’s lowest wage earners, and will increase the purchasing power of Alaskans.” - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015

Ketchikan: Federal subsistence fishery for eulachon; Closed in Federal waters within District 1 - The Ketchikan-Misty Fiords District Ranger Jeff DeFreest, under authority delegated by the Federal Subsistence Board, is closing the Federal public waters that flow into District 1 to the taking of eulachon from 12:01 a.m., Friday, February 27, 2015 until 11:59 p.m., April 28, 2015 due to anticipated low eulachon returns. Any eulachon caught in this area must be immediately returned into the water unharmed. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is closing the State managed eulachon fisheries in District 1 on the same date.

Few eulachon have returned to the Burroughs Bay area since 2005. Similar closures have been issued by the USDA Forest Service for eulachon within the Burroughs Bay area from 2005 through 2014.

The eulachon life cycle is typically a five-year period. Based on returns observed the last three years it is not likely a harvestable surplus will be present in 2015. It is anticipated that all eulachon returning to District 1 during 2015 will be needed for spawning to rebuild area eulachon populations. - More...
wednesday PM - February 25, 2015



Alaska: Geothermal Power Sources in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands Being Researched - Akutan, a small island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain, needs 4.2 million gallons of diesel fuel a year to keep the lights on and the houses warm for its fewer than 400 year-round inhabitants, at a high cost both literally and in terms of environmental damage.

Geothermal Power Sources in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands Being Researched

WWU Geologist Pete Stelling Researching Geothermal Power Sources in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands

Western Washington University assistant professor of Geology Pete Stelling is researching how to turn the island’s volcanic core into a geothermal power source that could not only cut the needed amount of imported fuel into a fraction of its current level but transform the quality of life for its inhabitants.

Central to the landscape of the island is the 4,275-foot volcano, Mount Akutan, which last erupted in 1992. Beneath its surface, pockets of water are being superheated by the volcano’s magma; utilizing this superheated water and its steam to generate electricity could free the island from its need to import so much fuel, said Stelling.

“The majority of electrical generation today surrounds boiling water and using the steam to drive a turbine, which spins a generator and makes electricity. The fuel – coal, oil, or natural gas, for instance – is used to boil that water,” he said. “Geothermal sources skip the need for a fuel and go to the superheated water right at its source to make the electricity, and this could happen at places like Akutan to make them far more energy independent.”

The perfect geothermal source, according to Stelling, occurs when the superheated water, over time, dissolves the surrounding rock and turns it into clay that acts as a cap, keeping the water and steam from escaping or losing pressure. Iceland, for example, is rife with these types of sources, one reason why the island nation is 80 percent powered by geothermal energy. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015


Alaska Agriculture: Peony farmers focus on agriculture labor needs By NANCY TARNAI - Obviously, Alaska’s farms can’t run without workers and there is growing concern among farmers about who is going to do the work required to keep them in business.

Peony farmers focus on agriculture labor needs

As the peony industry grows, so does the need for trained farm laborers in Alaska.
Photo courtesy UAF

At the Alaska Peony Growers Association winter conference in late January, a packed room of interested attendees listened to a panel discussion called “Alaska’s Peony Industry: World Class Flowers and Its Labor Needs.”

Joni Simpson, a high school counselor and peony farmer, said, “We don’t have the labor support.” She chose to slow the expansion of her farm for this very reason. “We want highly skilled workers and high wages for Alaskans,” she said.

“We don’t have a lot of ag programs in our state, which is alarming for us,” Simpson said. She hopes to spread the word to borough assemblies, Chambers of Commerce, businesses, policy makers, legislators and educators. “We need to build our workforce,” she said. Tom and Joni Simpson own Arctic Sun Peonies.

Calling the growing peony industry in the state “insane,” Simpson said, “If we don’t have experienced harvesters the industry can’t grow. This is very critical. Buds come in groups of hundreds with 24 hours of daylight; harvests are intense.”

Peony farms need employees who are familiar with farm tools and have skills such as being able to pull weeds without destroying plants. “It’s happened,” Simpson said. Workers are also likely to place tubing for drip irrigation and trim plants in the fall. “You can’t have anybody afraid of getting dirty on a peony farm,” she said.

Desired employee skills include dependability, punctuality, good work ethic, good attitude, ability to follow instructions, knowledge of agriculture, interested in learning new things, enjoy working outdoors and ability to use tools and equipment safely and efficiently, Simpson explained. There is room in the peony workforce for growers, harvesters, laborers and pack house owners and managers. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015

jpg Political Cartoon: Homeland Insecurity

Political Cartoon: Homeland Insecurity
Steve Sack ©2015, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Respect and Legal Pot By James Schenk - Respect, kind of the first rule in life to follow, to coexist with our fellow Human beings. With the Legalization of Marijuana now here, the number one rule to follow should be Respect! Be respectful first to your self, if you are unable to function as you would expect when using this substance do not do anything to put yourself, nor anyone else in danger. Respect the wishes and health of your family, like cigarettes and other smoke producing products, the best use is away from those who have no desire, nor should be around it, find a quite place outside your home or with no access to minors, no one who does not use pot deserves to be subjected to second hand smoke, or the actions of those not responsible enough respect the space of those who do not use pot. - More...- More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015

letter Changes are way overdue By Guy Lane -Since moving to POW Island it's not hard to see why some small towns just don't go anywhere. First I moved to Coffman Cove where my family was sold an undisclosed buried logging camp dump by the City Administrator which resulted in a lengthy lawsuit with the Defendants paying my family a settlement of $65,000. After the settlement was made, several past and present Coffman Cove Council members and or their associates can't just seem to leave my family alone and continue to harass and slander my family and business which will result in a new lawsuit being filed against them in the near future. My family was threatened and stalked for not wanting to be the proud owners of an undisclosed buried logging camp dump that contained hazardous materials and has since been designated as an illegal hazardous waste dump by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015

letter RE: War Powers act By Marc Kaiwi - ... Stand the Muslim President down NOW! This is the most racist statement I've heard since the 1960's! I'd ask you Mr. Johnson is it that you just don't like Muslims or is it that you simply object to a black President? Might I remind you that Mr. Barack Obama is currently the President of the United Sates of America, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and voted into Office twice by the American people via democratic vote! - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015

letter RE: War Powers Act By Mike Harpold - Al, this is what the man we both voted for in 2008, Senator John McCain, had to say about then candidate Barack Obama at a campaign rally in Minnesota in 2008: - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015

letter Daylight Savings Time Change By Mike Bethel - Where does the fact that we lose two hours in the evenings if we stop using daylight savings time come from? Metlakatla is not using daylight savings time and they are currently on the same time as Seattle. They gain an hour in the evening, not lose two. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015

letter RE: Culprit of wealth division By Stephen C. Eldridge - Paul Livingston starts off with a class warfare appeal, “The CULPRIT of wealth division is our federal tax code.” I see, in the besotted mind of a Socialist, the Tax Code CREATES “unfair” distribution of wealth TO the rich. Socialists have no concept initially that the wealthy EARN their wealth, legally. Socialists are blinded by their class hatred of the rich and thus cannot process the long known fact that the rich pay most all of the federal income tax, but that would not matter anyway because in their minds, the rich will NEVER pay their “Fair Share” of taxes, no matter how much they pay. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 25, 2015

letter Ward Creek Trail, Again By Eric Muench - A threat to Ward Creek Trail has receded for now but the risk is still there. The Ward Cove Group proposal to purchase and fully develop the Borough s 297 acres out the Revilla Road, including residential development of Ward Creek Trail in Tract B, has been withdrawn. That is good news, but we cannot let the matter rest there. A new proposal could be made at any time by anyone for any Borough vacant land. It would then be considered and possibly negotiated and approved by the Manager and Mayor and Assembly members. These people are not pushovers; they had serious concerns about the recent proposal, but it would have been better if the proposer had known beforehand what the intents and limits of the Borough s RFP were. It had been too open-ended. - More...
Friday AM - February 20, 2015

letter Shenanigans By David Nees - Jay Hammond must be rolling in his grave at the current shenanigans in Juneau. In his first term as Senator, the young Jay Hammond sought a way to protect Education and Fish and Game commissioners from political cleansing by the then new Republican administration. Sen. Hammond devised and passed a clever way to balance the system: An appointed board for fish management, another appointed board for game management, and an appointed Board of Education. The governor could not have more than four persons from his party on any of the boards. - More...
Friday AM - February 20, 2015

letter Do you hate SE Alaskan Children? By Ken Lewis - Gosh I hope the title caught your eye. Senator Anna MacKinnon wants you to think eliminating daylight savings time is good for you. She obviously either hates SE families or she thinks the northern communities (WANTS) are so valuable to us in SE, we are willing to eliminate yet another hour of afternoon daylight for recreation and basic sight for safety. If her ignorant bill should pass, the diference between a kid in Ketchikan prior to 1983 and her version of efficient use of daylight will be two less hours of after school, after work, after diner natural daylight. - More...
Friday AM - February 20, 2015

letter Hole In The Wall Dock Upgrade By Gail Jackson - The fishermen and hunters haul tons of gear up and down the docks, people that live off the grid haul their supplies up and down the docks. The dock is a working, surviving access to the Alaska waters and marine highway. The dock needs to accommodate those that us it. - More...
Friday AM - February 20, 2015

letter RE: Ketchikan gas prices By Ken Arriola - Mr. Weaver, we here in K-Town are quite accustom to rolling over and being content with subsidising big business be it fuel, food, housing, utilities, labor, shipping or transportation. - More...
Friday AM - February 20, 2015

letter War Powers act By A. M. Johnson - Senators Murkowski and Sullivan, enough screwing around with this Muslim President! On the war powers authorization stand firm, damn firm on terms which better include eliminating Terms of engagement - More...
Friday AM - February 20, 2015

letter RE: Feral Cats By Laura Plenert - What is missing here is the fact that the feral population - if neutered or spayed will eventually collapse because they can no longer breed. - More...
Friday AM - February 20, 2015

letter Culprit of wealth division By Paul Livingston - The culprit of wealth division is our federal tax code. The tax code has over 74,000 pages with $1.2 trillion in deductions, tax breaks, loop holes, etc. that go up in value with wealth and income. This is the buy and sell tax code game played by special interests, lobbyists and politicians. Do you think winners and losers are being picker? Do you think our present tax code leads to wealth division? Plus it divides us into classes. It has regressive taxes on jobs. The tax code is based on production (income, savings and investment). Production is what creates jobs, a higher standard of living and wealth for the country. Why punish good behavior? - More...
Friday AM - February 20, 2015

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