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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 03, 2016

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Tongass Narrows' Sunset
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Ketchikan - Statewide: New Report Highlights Need for Alaska Hire Policies; Study shows nonresident hire rates and wages grew in 2014 - A new Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development report shows the nonresident hire rate grew in the year before Governor Walker took office, continuing a four-year trend. Some industries created more jobs for nonresidents than for Alaskans, and one industry saw a contraction in Alaska jobs alongside growth in jobs for nonresidents. Overall, Alaska’s nonresident hire rate reached 20.8% and nonresidents took home $2.6 billion in wages.

“This report highlights the need for Alaska Hire policies, and that is exactly what we’re focused on,” said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “Reversing the growth in nonresident hire won’t be easy but we will do everything in our power to promote Alaska Hire.”

The new study reports a total of 9,569 workers in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough with 64.1% of that workforce number local residents. According to the report, in Prince of Wales-Hyder 65.5% of workers are local residents; in Juneau 73.4% of workers are reported to be local residents; in Sitka 64.9% of workers are reported to be local residents; in Wrangell 51.7% of workers are reported to be local residents; and in Skagway, 29.8% of workers are reported to be local residents. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 03, 2015

Alaska: U.S. Senators Keep Working To Fix Backlog of VA Appeals By MARY KAUFFMAN - As of January 2016, about 400,000 veterans have appeals pending with the Veterans Administration leading to new legislation now being introduced that will establish a new, voluntary five-year pilot program to help reduce the large backlog of appeals made by veterans to the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

“It is astonishing to me that an average veteran waits nearly 1,000 days – or almost three years – for the VA to resolve an appeal of one their benefit decisions. Proud veterans across the U.S. – including more than 77,000 in Alaska – should not have to endure these absurd, multi-year wait times just to see their cases resolved. I am hopeful that – with the support of my colleagues – this bill will create a less-bureaucratic appeals express lane through which the VA can resolve its growing backlog of appeals quickly and favorably for all of our nation’s veterans,” said U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK).

U.S. Senators Sullivan, Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced S. 2473, also known as The Express Appeals Act. U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke (El Paso, Texas) authored The Express Appeals Act in the House, H.R. 800.

The Express Appeals Act would establish a new channel whereby veterans, upon receiving a decision on an original claim by the VA, would have the option to file an express appeal with the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA), in lieu of the traditional appeals process.

The express appeals process would consolidate the traditional process aimed at reducing veterans’ wait times. First, the appeals pilot program would omit the remand process, in which the BVA sends a veteran’s appeal back to the VBA for additional evidence development, saving the veteran an average of 545 days.

Second, the veteran would submit a “Statement of Argument,” detailing how the VBA decided their original claim incorrectly, in place of the VBA’s own time-consuming development of a “Statement of Case,” saving veterans an average of 408 days.

Additionally, entrance into this program would be completely voluntary and a veteran would be able to exit the express appeals process at any time and re-enter the traditional pipeline at the end of the line with no adverse consequences.

U.S. Senator Bob Case said, “Veterans have performed dedicated service to this country and it is our obligation to make sure their benefits process is as seamless as possible. It is unacceptable that our veterans are waiting on average three years to receive a decision on their appeal. With nearly one million veterans in Pennsylvania, it is crucial that we work to ensure that veterans get timely and accurate decisions on their appeals. As co-chair of the Senate VA Backlog Working Group, I am proud to join my colleagues on this important bill which will streamline the process, allowing quick resolve for benefits appeals and addressing the ever-existent backlog that we have been trying to defeat." - More...
Wednesday AM - February 03, 2016

Ketchikan: No Injuries in Van Fire By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Ketchikan Fire Department responded to a 2003 van fire Monday afternoon at 3rd Ave and Jefferson Street and upon arrival the crew found a the engine compartment of a 2003 van fully involved. Ketchikan City Police officer were first on scene and were successful in slowing the fire from spreading using extinguishers prior to the fire crews' arrival.

No Injuries in Van Fire

2003 Van Fire
Photo courtesy Ketchikan Fire Department

According to public information provided by the Ketchikan Fire Department, their fire crews were able to quickly put out the fire, which kept the majority of damage to the front half of the van. The Ketchikan Daily News reported the van driver, Joe Austin, said he was driving in the van when he smelled something buring. Ketchikan Daily News reported the driver said the fire started in the van's fuse box.

Vehicle fires are nothing new and there can be a variety of reasons causing a fire to ignite, as noted in the GMC recall in October of 2015. At that time, General Motors issued its 4th recall of another 1.4 million vehicles dating back to the 1997 model because of oil leaks which they had determined caused engine fires. GMC found that cars that leaked oil can catch fire, in some instances with reported damages to garages and homes if park inside or close by. The October 2015 recall was needed, according to GMC, because repairs from the first four recalls to correct fire problems didn’t work. GMC said more than 1,300 cars still caught fire even after they were fixed by dealers.

In 2010, GMC also recalled 5,000 heavy-duty Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana passenger and cargo vans and halted production and sale of the vans until a fix for a suspected faulty alternator that possibly caused engine fires could be determined.

There are other manufacturers who have issued recalls such as Mercedes-Benz which recalled their Sprinter Vans in 2014 due to fire risks. (To learn more about safety recalls visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration's website - More...
Wednesday AM - February 03, 2015



Alaska Science: Cook Inlet Basin amplifies earthquake shaking by NED ROZELL - Millions of people live in dimples on the Earth's surface — often near the ocean, in lowlands between mountain peaks too rugged and cold. One of these global indentations, Cook Inlet Basin, recently showed another characteristic of the planet's basins — they quiver like a bowl of jelly during an earthquake.

Many people in Anchorage got rattled during the recent 7.1 earthquake on January 24. Carl Tape did not feel the earthquake in Fairbanks, but in another way he knows it better than almost anyone. Last summer, Tape and his colleagues at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks installed seismometers across Southcentral Alaska. One of the instruments is just 30 miles from the epicenter of the January 24 earthquake.

"I'm feeling pretty fortunate that we put these out and then we get a magnitude 7 within 50 kilometers," he said as he worked on computer visualizations of earthquake waves in his Fairbanks office. "You need to be close to the source to see the details."

Tape and other seismologists use the ground's reaction to earthquake waves to better define what makes a sedimentary basin and what happens there in an earthquake. Not only do the people of Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula live in a basin, but so do those living in Tokyo, Los Angeles and Seattle.

"It's unfortunate because basins cause a strong amplification of ground motion," Tape said. "And damage, just like in this earthquake."

The Cook Inlet Basin lies beneath the narrow ocean arm of Cook Inlet and the western half of the Kenai Peninsula extending to Anchorage and the Mat-Su valley. It consists of a deep bowl filled with mud and loose rock. The town of Nikiski, for example, rests on a four-mile-deep unstable bed of mud mixed with rock. Beneath that is a foundation of 65-million year old rock.

The shape and structure of Cook Inlet Basin is no secret. Geologists have mapped its depths since before the 1950s, when drilling began for oil and gas.

Tape and fellow seismologists find the petroleum maps intriguing, but they are more interested in the plate of Earth's crust that lies beneath. Scientists think it might be 30 miles thick there, but no one knows.

They do know that basins are places that trap earthquake waves, slowing them down and splashing them into each other like water in a bathtub. Some places within the basin shake more and shake longer than others even though they are farther from an earthquake's epicenter. That happened during the 7.1 earthquake, with people in Anchorage reporting greater shaking than some people on the eastern Kenai Peninsula. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 03, 2016



Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Immoral Girl Scout Cookies - The Girl Scout cookie season is upon us — which means people with nothing better to do will criticize Girl Scout cookies.

According to the International Business Times, one critic, a professor of medicine and public health at the University of Arizona, says it makes no sense for the Girl Scouts to "sell something so unhealthy."

She told IBT there is a disconnect between the sugary, fatty cookies the scouts sell and the organization's mission of "building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place" Hey, if you don't think Girl Scout cookies make the world a better place, try dipping a sleeve of Lorna Doones into a pitcher of ice-cold milk.

Look, the Girl Scouts organization was founded in 1912 to help girls develop physically, mentally and spiritually. Its annual cookie sale has become a tasty part of American culture since it originated in 1917 — well before something as innocuous as a cookie could cause so much angst. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 03, 2016

jpg John L. Micek

JOHN L. MICEK: Iowa Reveals Problems for Clinton Trump - It's so on.

Instead of a coronation, Democrat Hillary Clinton, the ultimate political insider, left Iowa on Monday in the middle of an honest-to-goodness campaign against a septuagenarian, self-described Democratic Socialist who'd promised his supporters a political revolution.

For Republicans, Donald Trump, the bloviating former reality TV star who boasted that voters would get so sick of winning with him that they'd beg for the occasional loss, found himself awkwardly trying to be gracious in defeat to Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who speaks in the cadences of the pulpit and dresses in the suits of a mortician.

Always full of surprises, Monday's heavily attended caucuses, held in school gyms, community centers and meeting halls from Sioux City to Cedar Falls, yielded a bushel basket full of them.

And while Monday's winners may not end up their respective party's presidential candidates, the Hawkeye State's charmingly anachronistic and equally quaint nominating contests were about as close as America gets to the kind of direct democracy that our kids learn about in social studies classes. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 03, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Cruz wins Iowa

Editorial Cartoon: Cruz wins Iowa
By Adam Zyglis 2016, The Buffalo News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter GAS PRICES IN KETCHIKAN By Kenneth G. Reese - Everyone wonders why we pay so much for gas here. It's simple, because the petroleum company here likes to rip you off. That is why. Because they can. - More...
Monday AM - February 01, 2016

letter CALL TO REVOLUTION By David G. Hanger - "These are the times that try men’s souls.” We are betrayed; are being betrayed every minute, every hour of every day by a state legislature purportedly elected to serve the people, that is no longer a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” but rather a sordidly sold out and corrupt mess that is of the oil companies, by the oil companies, and for the oil companies. This government has forfeited its legitimacy and must be expunged and replaced by an institution that in fact represents the state of Alaska and its citizens. What this government has intentionally done is to peonize, impoverish, and bankrupt its entire citizenry. By intentionally forfeiting essentially all of its current revenue sources it has left a financial hole in the road that will require 80% of the income of every Alaskan to fill. That is not a joke. The crash will be irreversible as early as January 1, 2018. - More...
Tuesday AM - January 26, 2016

letter Let's Cut Legislators Lavish Accommodations By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Legislators should be held to a high standard. They should lead by example in this fiscal crisis by cutting their own per diem and getting their work done in a timely manner. Legislators will primarily need to address our fiscal situation this session. The per-barrel price for Alaskan crude is below $30, so we now have a projected budget deficit above 3.5 billion dollars. Despite the fact that I voted to cut the budget by $900 million during the last legislative session, cuts will continue to be part of the solution to our budget crisis. I've co-sponsored two pieces of budget-cutting legislation. One will cut government spending on legislative per diem. The other will hold legislators accountable to a ninety day session. This is common sense for any fiscal conservative. - More...
Friday AM - January 22, 2016

letter 50th Anniversary of Arbor Day in Alaska By Laura Charlton - My name is Laura Charlton. I am a 25+ year resident of Ketchikan, a Registered Consulting Arborist, and also current Chair of the Alaska Community Forest Council. We have put together a number of small grants offering money to non profits 501.C3 or municipalities to help communities celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Arbor Day in Alaska. - More...
Friday AM - January 22, 2016

letter Navy Boats In Peril By Donald Moskowitz - As a former Navy enlisted and Navy officer, I am disappointed with the capture of our two riverine boats and crews by the Iranians in the Persian Gulf. - More...
Friday AM - January 22, 2016

letter What We Heard During Six AMHS Community Engagement Meetings By Michael Neussl - The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) held six community engagement meetings across coastal Alaska last month. During this time the department also held numerous meetings with AMHS vessel and terminal staff. The purpose of the meetings was to involve Alaskans in the decision making process that AMHS is facing due to the reality of a declining operating budget. - More...
Monday PM - January 18, 2016

letter THE STATE FINANCIAL CRISIS IS A SHAM & A SCAM AND SO IS THE PROPOSED SOLUTION By David G Hanger - The average price paid for North Slope oil in fiscal year 2015 was $73 a barrel which exceeded by a fair margin the state’s forecast of $67 a barrel. In the meantime in the second half of calendar year 2015 North Slope oil production was 20,000 barrels per day more than last year. (Figures from State of Alaska, various reports.) Total production levels for 2014 exceeded 95.25% of the production levels of 2013. - More...
Wednesday PM - January 13, 2016

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