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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 25, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

Oldsquaw's Dinner
Pictured is a female Long-tailed Duck, also known as Oldsquaw. The photographer said she was amazed to see this duck swallow this large fish. Long-tailed Ducks breed in the Arctic and winters along both coasts of North America.
Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER ©2016

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Ketchikan: Governor: Public Meeting in Ketchikan to Discuss Fiscal Plan & Q&A - Representative Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan) will be joined by Alaska Governor Bill Walker and members of his administration for a special, mid-legislative session, trip to Ketchikan on Monday, February 29th.

“It is an honor to join Governor Walker (I) for this trip that will allow him and members of his administration to learn first-hand about the issues affecting Ketchikan,” said Rep. Ortiz.

During Monday’s visit, Governor Walker is scheduled to meet with local officials to discuss Ketchikan’s Gravina Access Project and the fiscal issues impacting Alaska. Governor Walker will also hold a public meeting at the Ted Ferry Civic Center beginning at 5 p.m. on Monday. - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016

Ketchikan: Ketchikan Man Charged in Thefts - The Ketchikan Police Department received a report that Joseph M. Wurzer, age 42, an employee of Fastenal, is alleged to have stolen approximately $37,000.00 worth of Fastenal merchandise using at least two fictitious accounts. The thefts were discovered after an internal investigation by Fastenal located in Ketchikan.

On February 11, 2016, approximately $18,000.00 of stolen merchandise was located in Wurzer’s personal storage unit. On February 20, 2016, Ketchikan Police Officers executed a search warrant on Wurzer’s home and located numerous stolen items from Fastenal with an approximate value of $1,600.00.

According to information released by Ketchikan Deputy Chief of Police Josh Dossett, approximately $3,700.00 of stolen merchandise was also recovered by individuals who had received the merchandise from Wurzer.

On February 20th, Wurzer was charged with Theft in the First Degree and he was transported to the State Jail and held without bail. - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016

Alaska: Bill Filed to Protect the Right to Sue in the Public Interest in Alaska - Legislation was filed this week that would protect public interest litigants in Alaska from having to pay large sums of money in attorney’s fees if they lose the case they are pursuing. Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) filed the bill Tuesday to repeal sections of Alaska Statutes that prohibit courts from considering whether a party is a public interest litigant in determining award of attorney’s fees and whether the party should be required to pay a bond.

“Individuals and organizations should be free to challenge laws and decisions if such a challenge is in the public interest,” said Rep. Josephson. “However, in Alaska many of these public interest litigants are wary of taking a case to court for fear of having to pick up huge sums in attorney’s fees. My bill puts that discretion back in the hands of judges who can best judge if a case was brought to protect the public interest.”

The sections of Alaska Statutes subject to repeal under Rep. Josephson’s bill were put in place in 2003 and follow the ‘loser pays’ principle for attorney’s fees. The new law was invalidated by a trial court but in 2007 the Alaska Supreme Court reversed that ruling and eliminated the public interest exception in Alaska, except for cases dealing with constitutional issues. - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016

Alaska: Bill Would Require Warning Labels for Foods Containing Harmful Additives - An Anchorage Senator would like to require that the food Alaskans eat and feed our families be clearly labeled if it contains toxins known to cause major adverse health effects. Yesterday, SB 199 was introduced by Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) to inform and educate Alaskans about the health effects of harmful food additives.

Synthetic food dyes were first identified as potentially harmful in the 1970s. Since then, numerous dyes such as Green #1, Red #1, Red #2, and Violet #1 have been banned in the United States over cancer concerns. The health problems associated with these unnecessary and harmful additives continue to grow. To date, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has, “collected more than 3,000 testimonials from parents who struggled to identify the food dyes as a contributing source of their children’s behavior issues.”

Numerous studies have shown links between synthetic color additives and a host of health concerns from allergies to behavioral problems in children, particularly those with ADHD and other behavioral challenges, and even cancer. Regarding adverse behavioral issues, in 2010 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded: - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016

Alaska: Bill Introduced to Protect Alaskans from Predatory Insurance Company Practices - Consumer protection legislation was introduced this week to prohibit insurance companies from raising rates or denying coverage based on credit scores without the customer’s permission. Currently, insurance companies are allowed to use credit scores to decide whether to cover someone and to set the initial rates. However, without the customer’s permission they cannot consider credit scores when renewing an existing policy. House Bill 367 would prevent Alaskans from being denied insurance coverage based on credit scores and would require the customer to give permission for credit scores to be used to calculate prices.

HB357 was introduced Wednesday by Representative Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks) Wednesday and has been referred to the Alaska House Labor and Commerce Committee.

“This is just common sense,” said Rep. Wool. “What do credit scores have to do with insurance? If you don’t pay your bill, your coverage gets dropped. When you rent a car you pay the same rate regardless of your credit score. Why should insurance be any different?”

Using credit scores for insurance is a relatively new practice. The first time credit scores were used to decide insurability in Alaska was in 1989 and credit scores were not used to set rates in Alaska until 1998. Credit scores are not used for health insurance, but are used by some insurance companies for homeowners, automobile, and other types of insurance. - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016

Biotoxins may affect human use of Arctic mammals By DEBORAH MERCY - Just the thought of harvested seal or walrus being contaminated with biotoxins is a big concern for Alaska residents who feed them to their families. But warmer temperatures in the Arctic are creating favorable conditions for toxin-producing harmful algal blooms and making this a reality.

Biotoxins may affect human use of Arctic mammals

Clam meat salvaged from the stomach of a walrus legally harvested for subsistence purposes near Little Diomede Island, Alaska. Fresh clam meat from walruses is a delicacy throughout the Bering Strait region.
Photo by Gay Sheffield

It is not known if algal toxins have always existed in the Arctic, but a recently published paper in the journal Harmful Algae reports that the toxins found in certain types of plankton are present in northern marine mammals.

The two most common algal toxins are domoic acid and saxitoxins. In 2015, both biotoxins caused significant illness and mortality in marine mammals along the U.S. Pacific coast. However, to date they have not been known to commonly exist in marine mammals foraging throughout Alaska waters.

Gay Sheffield, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Nome, is a co-author on the paper. Sheffield provided samples for the study from ice-associated seals both harvested for subsistence and stranded dead in the Bering Strait region.

While the amounts of toxins in the marine mammals do not exceed regulatory limits for food safety, their presence does generate food security concerns for the people of the Arctic.

Sheffield wonders if these toxins have always been in the Bering Strait. “Are these types of plankton new, or are they just what we’ve had all along? The project results don’t answer that but they do provide baseline data regarding low levels of biotoxins in northern marine mammals,” Sheffield said. - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016


How hunter-gatherers preserved their food sources; Prey-switching behavior helped stabilize an ecosystem - There is a nearly 10,000-year history of human presence in the western Gulf of Alaska, but little understanding of how human foragers integrated into and impacted ecosystems through their roles as hunter-gatherers.

How hunter-gatherers preserved their food sources

Sanak Archipelago Food Webs
CREDIT: Jennifer Dunne, Santa Fe Institute.

A new study of humans on Sanak Island, Alaska and their historical relationships with local species suggests that despite being super-generalist predators, the food gathering behaviors of the local Aleut people were stabilizing for the ecosystem.

The findings provide insights into how human roles and behavior impact complex ecological networks and offer new quantitative tools for studying sustainability.

With a team of ecologists and archeologists, the Santa Fe Institute's Vice President for Science Jennifer Dunne wanted to understand the niche humans filled in Sanak's marine ecosystems by compiling and analyzing local food web data.

"It's the first highly detailed ecological network data to include humans, which allows us to ask questions about how they compare in their roles to other predators," says Dunne. "Unlike most ecological studies that ignore humans or consider them as external actors, our analysis includes them as an integral part of the ecosystem."

For roughly 7,000 years, the Sanak Aleuts hunted marine mammals and fishes in the nearby open water and gathered shellfish and algae closer to shore. Dunne and her colleagues put together a precise picture of the local marine food webs by studying the bones and shells left behind in middens (trash heaps), through oral histories gathered from Aleut elders, and ecological data. - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016



Columns - Commentary

jpg Danny Tyree

DANNY TYREE: Parents, Learn That Teen Slang - If You Dare - Far out! Only a jive turkey would pass up the chance to read the Huffington Post article "14 Teen Slang Terms Decoded For Middle-Age Parents."

Some of the slang terms were fairly innocuous acronyms, such as OOTD (Outfit of the Day), PAP (Post A Picture) and GOAT (Greatest Of All Time); but phrases such as THOT and "Netflix and chill" are a little too risque for me to discuss in this forum. (Check them out for yourself online.)

On the plus side, articles such as the Huffington piece give parents a fighting chance at making sense of their kids' texts, both for the sake of clear interfamily communications and for the purpose of spying on the little darlings.

Of course some parents would rather remain blissfully ignorant of any signs that their babies are growing up and facing decisions about illegal substances and physical intimacy. ("I'd love to snoop on Junior's smartphone, but it's been a whole week since I had a colonoscopy and I really need to schedule another...")

Sociologists tell us that slang is a way for teens to put space between themselves and their parents' generation. Does that even work? Usually we get more of a blending of eras, as when doting parents observe ambitious teens achieving the Nobel Prize-worthy goal of shrinking "relationship" to "ship" and say, "Poor little tyke is plumb tuckered out."

Fine. Give teens 10 years and they'll be trying to DECREASE the space. ("Hey, favorite empty-nesters, do you think I could crash in the basement for five or 10 years?") Give them 30 years and they'll be trying to put space between themselves and cholesterol, mortgage balloon payments, ear hair and their own kids' college tuition.

If teens are really so embarrassed by their folks' musical tastes, clothing and technological cluelessness, perhaps parents should double down and create their own acronyms to embarrass their teens in front of their peers. Off the top of my head, I can think of IBYBB (I Brought Your Baby Book) and SIWYBTCFYLS (Sweetie, I Washed Your Bra That Compensates For Your Left Side). - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Moby Don

Editorial Cartoon: Moby Don
By Steve Sack ©2016, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Ketchikan Town Meeting Monday, Feb. 29th By Rep. Dan Ortiz - You may have heard that Governor Walker is coming to town on Monday. It is an honor for me to join Governor Walker for this trip that will allow him and members of his administration to learn first-hand about the issues affecting our island. I will co-host a town meeting with Governor Walker on Monday, February 29th at 5pm at the Ted Ferry Civic Center. - More...
Thursday PM - February 25, 2016

letter Ketchikan Ports & Harbors By Steve Corporon - The following information is provided in response to the letter Mr. Douglas Thompson sent to the Editor of Sitnews which was published on February 25, 2016. - More...
Friday PM - February 25, 2016

letter City of Ketchikan Mismanagement By Douglas Thompson - I wonder if the reality of the Ketchikan municipal budget has sunk in to local taxpayers? Most of us have received this year's tax bill recently and it is not pleasant. Right now you could be paying zero in property tax. Zero. A sum that would not impact any perceivable services to the citizenry. All that is required is a little maturity and fiscal discipline. Qualities which are totally absent at present. This is due to the unrestrained rule of "King" (called that by the Ketchikan City Council) Karl Amylon. The council in their sycophantic frenzy to curry favor with Amylon costs local taxpayers millions of dollars. Not only is he paid an absurd salary for a town of 7,000 people but the council then 'gifts' him with additional tax dollars. - More...
Thursday AM - February 25, 2016

letter Be the Change By Christine Furey - In the last few weeks a dark cloud has been painted over our beautiful little town. It happens every year, sometimes more. Drugs, drugs and more drugs! Is it not yet completely obvious that we are dealing with what some may call an epidemic and yet we seem to be doing very little to combat it on a large scale level. I am not in any way trying to discredit those agencies that are working very hard to do what they can and this includes the Ketchikan Police Department, among many others and their efforts don't go unnoticed. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 23, 2016

letter Missing Men in Ketchikan By Irene Anderson - I am a family member of one of Ketchikan's Missing Men, his name is Roy V Banhart and he has been missing since 12/30/14. I am very concerned about the Ketchikan community due to all the missing men that have not been accounted for. In addition to Roy (he would be 40 years old in April), there is Gary Hamilton, 69 years of age, almost blind. Mr. Hamilton was last seen on 11/13/15 at a bank (prev known to be beaten and robbed), Justin Nathan a 20 year old young man that did not make it down from Deer Mountain he ws last seen on 11/11/15. I found a post from a former family member (Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad) from Nov 2015 asking why the Alaska State Troopers would not answer their phone/return calls as that former family member had contacted the Juneau Coast Guard from what I read, it appeared that they were ready and willing to assist in the search for Mr. Nathan (helicopters,etc). Also missing is Thomas Booth, a 30 year old father of 2 children (4 months old and 10 yrs old. Mr. Booth was last seen on 1/2/16 at Safeway buying diapers. And, Angeline Dundas was found in the water in July 2015. She was a young mother. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 23, 2016

letter Marijuana advisory board By Kenneth G. Reese - On February 10, 2016, I provided the following testimony to members of the Alaska House. The purpose of my testimony was to to persuade the reconsideration of the current legislation the State is trying to pass in regards to A.S 17.38. The first priority is to pass an amendment to allow more time to work on current legislation. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 23, 2016

letter Tired! By A. M. Johnson - The following piece by a Robert Hall, whom I have no information on his validity, I fully agree with. I have adjusted Mr. Hall's piece to reflect my age and work history and an opinon which I believe is shared by many in my age group. - More...
Tuesday AM - February 23, 2016

letter Gas Prices in Alaska By Rep. Dan Ortiz - A daily goal of mine, as your House District 36 representative, is to create avenues for constituent communication. A belief in “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, motivates me to make constituent communication easy and inviting. - More...
Monday PM - February 16, 2016

letter IF THE TOILET IS OVERFLOWING AND YOU REPAIR THE SINK, THE TOILET IS STILL OVERFLOWING By David G Hanger - The very first thing everyone needs to get a handle on in this Alaska financial crisis is that the price of a barrel of oil is not the primary cause of this disaster. Nor have production levels on the North Slope in the past two years declined significantly. 200 million barrels went through that pipeline in 2013, and somewhere between 380 million and 390 million barrels of oil have gone through that pipeline in 2014 and 2015. For the last six months of 2015 the oil companies produced 20,000 more barrels per day. In 2015 oil industry employment in the state of Alaska actually increased marginally throughout the year. And the state of Alaska did not collect a dime in oil taxes from those rats, their buddies, in 2014 and 2015. - More...
Monday PM - February 15, 2016

letter Proposed legislature pay cuts By Charlie Freeman - The proposal to cut legislative pay, while sounding noble, is a really bad idea and here's why. Most people have to work for a living and cannot take 120 days off to go to Juneau for free. We already pretty much limit the legislative gene pool to lawyers and the retired, and that does not make for a representative government. What it does do is get you a government with a limited idea of what it takes to live here. - More...
Monday PM - February 15, 2015

letter TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE! By Robert B. Holston Jr. - H & R Block is giving away $32,000,000 in one month to lucky folks who file taxes through them. I’ve seen the ads and done the math. I called the local office and asked, “So where does the $32,000,000 come from?” She had no idea. I told her, “From your customers.” - More...
Monday PM - February 15, 2015

letter Wearable Arts By Dan Ortiz - Another year has passed and another successful Wearable Arts weekend has come. This is the 30th year of the famous Wearable Art Show, fondly referred to as simply ‘wearable’ by its seasoned participants. Thank you to the coordinators, artists, models and backstage volunteers who dedicated their time (and late nights!) to this Ketchikan tradition. I would like to extend a special thank you to Diane Palmer, who has participated in every one of Ketchikan’s Wearable Art Shows for the past 30 years. The hard work and cooperation a large event like this requires is an annual show of special dedication to the life of our community. - More...
Monday PM - February 15, 2016

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