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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
February 20, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By SAM SAWYER

Prince of Wales: Thorne Bay
In the distance brightly shines a boat's light as she is coming in to safe harbor at Thorne Bay during a thick fog.
Front Page Feature Photo By SAM SAWYER ©2018

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Ketchikan: Gillam Crash transfixed Ketchikan; Dramatic rescue of survivors occurred 75 years ago By DAVE KIFFER - Seventy five years ago this month, while most Americans were transfixed by news reports of the World War II battles at Stalingrad and Guadalcanal, Ketchikan residents were following a dramatic local story: The crash and subsequent rescue of the survivors of the crash of famed pilot Harold Gillam's Lockheed Electra in what it now called Misty Fjords.

Gillam Crash transfixed Ketchikan; Dramatic rescue of survivors occurred 75 years ago

Harold Gillam in the cockpit of his Ski-equipped Waco
Donor: Don Dawson...
Photo courtesy Tongass Historical Society

The crash and rescue made national headlines but was particularly followed in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest because of Gillam's reputation as a high flying, risk taking bush pilot from the early days of Alaskan aviation. He was so well known for flying when other pilots wouldn't that other pilots often referred to weather to poor to fly in as "Gillam" weather. News reports of the day noted that Gillam had had more than his share of crashes, but had never had a fatality. He was called, not to his face, as "Thrill em, spill em, no kill em Gillam." That record would change in January of 1943.

Gillam had been flying in Alaska since the late 1920s. He was part of the birth of statewide aviation and although he was still training to be a pilot in 1929, it was he who famously found the wreckage of Carl Ben Eielson's plane in Siberia. He was also engaged, for a time, to Marvel Crosson, one of America's first female aviators, before she perished in a plane crash.

By the 1940s, Gillam had moved into the growing and more lucrative world of corporate air travel.  In late 1942, he was working for Morrison-Knudsen, a major contractor that was working at several sites in Alaska, as the territory ramped up its military installations to meet the perceived Japanese threat.

On January 5, 1943, he was scheduled to fly his twin engine Lockheed Electra from Seattle to Anchorage with five passengers. According to later news reports, Gillam found an oil leak in one of the engines and - as was often the case in the rough and tumble world of Alaskan aviation - chose a quick fix, a patch of tape and shellac. The repair delayed the plane's departure, meaning that with the short winter hours the plane would be in darkness when it arrived in Southeast Alaska.

By all accounts, it was a routine winter flight up the inside passage. Fog and overcast skies. Icing expected. Gillam flew on instruments the majority of the flight. One part of the trip was out of the norm. Because it was wartime, coastal flights were expected to maintain radio silence. Wartime procedures also had an effect on the flight. Gillam was planning to stop at the newly constructed military airfield on Annette Island near Metlakatla to refuel. In inclement weather aircraft used an instrument beam to pinpoint the Annette airport, but military protocol called for the beam to be changed sporadically to confuse any enemy aircraft trying to find the airfield. In this case, Gillam did not have the correct coordinates and - rather than flying directly toward the airport on his flight from Seattle - he was approximately 20 miles inland, flying over the coastal mountains near Boca de Quadra.

Just about four hours into the flight, shortly before he was scheduled to land at Annette, Gillam broke radio silence.

"I am in trouble," he radioed. "One engine is out."

Then silence.

When his plane didn't arrive at Annette, searchers began combing the area. After nothing was found in the first two weeks, the search was called off. It was believed that Gillam's plane had likely gone down in the water and would never be found.

But that was not what had happened. 

Losing altitude when the engine cut out, Gillam's plane had careened across a mountain top near Badger Lake approximately 15 miles east of the Annette airport and 20 miles south of Ketchikan. All six of the people on board had initially survived the crash, although one - Susan Baxter - a young secretary for the Civilian Aeronautics Administration - had been seriously injured and would die two days after the crash. Gillam himself received a serious head wound. The other people on board were Robert Gebo and Percy Cutting, Morrison-Knudsen employees; Joseph Tippits, an engineer for the Civilian Aviation Administration and Dewey Metzdorf, the owner of the Anchorage Hotel, which was the base for Morrison-Knudsen operations in Alaska. All of the passengers were suffering from broken bones that would limit their mobility. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

Not Enacting Fair Oil Tax Reforms Creates A Loss to Alaskans of $500-700 Million- A recent report from the Alaska Department of Revenue shows the state is losing more than a half billion dollars in annual revenue by not enacting the modest 25% tax on oil company profits passed by the Alaska House last year.

Regarding the role oil taxes play in Alaska’s multi-billion-dollar deficit, Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage) released a statement last week saying, “Asking the most privileged to contribute to fix our deficit is fair. Exempting the wealthiest corporations from chipping in is unfair to working Alaskans, seniors who live on modest means, and all of those who live without great privilege.  A 25% tax on company profits is modest.  It fairly taxes companies when they are profitable, and would have helped fund basic functions from public safety to senior and disability services to education.  It would also relieve pressure on future permanent fund dividends.”

In 2017 the Alaska House of Representatives passed oil tax reform legislation which would have imposed a modest 25% on corporate profits at current prices. At today’s prices, the Alaska Department of Revenue estimates the bill would have raised $700 million in additional revenue  to help close the budget gap. At the lower price previously forecasted by the Department for this fiscal year, the House profits tax would have raised an additional $540 million.  Last session the Alaska Senate did not agree to any tax reform provisions to raise what the House considered a more fair share for Alaska’s oil revenue, and they did not pass.

“Under current law, generous tax breaks leave Alaska with a vastly lower oil tax rate than that which is charged in North Dakota, Louisiana, and Texas. Under current oil tax law in Alaska, most fields that have come online since 2002, including all fields that come online in the future, enjoy a tax break that, at today’s prices, allows them to pay no production taxes at all for their first seven years of production.  Those early years are frequently a field’s highest production years,” said Gara.

Quoting a news release from Gara, currently North Dakota, Texas, and Louisiana do not provide similar 7-year production tax holidays. At today’s prices, taxes in North Dakota are 250% greater than in Alaska and Alaska’s royalty payments are also vastly lower than in the Lower 48 States.

Gara said, “We should work for a fair share of our oil, not a junior share. We should do that so we can fund safe streets, good schools, a strong University, and to relieve pressure on the Permanent Fund.”

Today, Senate Bill 206, repealing the per barrel tax credits established in 2014 under SB 21 has now been introduced in the Alaska Senate by Senator Wielechowski (D-Anchorage). Under current statute, a producer is eligible for up to $8 in tax deductions for each barrel of extracted oil depending on certain conditions, such as the market price of oil. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018


Alaska: Alaska Lawmakers Call for the State to Contract Only With Internet Service Providers that Practice Net Neutrality - Lawmakers from the Alaska House and the Senate sent a letter today urging Governor Bill Walker to sign an executive order to prohibit state agencies from entering into contracts with internet service providers (ISPs) that violate the principles of net neutrality. Under Article III, sections 1 and 24 of the Alaska Constitution, the Governor is declared the executive and that each department shall be under his supervision. Recently, the governors of Montana and New York signed similar executive orders.

"Free and open internet access is vital to all Alaskans and is heavily relied upon by educators, students, and small businesses," said Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage). "The Governor has the opportunity and the authority to prevent ISPs from degrading internet speeds based on content and charging additional fees for social media, music and video downloads, and social media access."

Lawmakers request the executive order state that to receive a state contract, an ISP shall not, with respect to any consumer in the state: block content, degrade internet traffic, engage in paid prioritization, and interfere with a user's ability to access content. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

Alaska: Commercial Hemp Farming in Alaska Unanimously Passes House - Yesterday, the Alaska House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances and to authorize commercial farming of hemp in Alaska. Senate Bill 6 passed the State Senate unanimously last April, and today the bill passed the house by a vote of 36-0.

The bill is sponsored by Senator Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer) who sought to build on the efforts to authorize industrial hemp by former State Senator Johnny Ellis from Anchorage. SB 6 was carried on the House floor by Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage).

“Hemp has the potential to be a shot in the arm for Alaska’s agricultural sector because of its many uses. Hemp products are used in textiles, nutritional products, furniture, paper products, and construction materials. Hemp cultivation is legal in 30 states, but it’s the success in Canada that makes hemp such an attractive prospect for Alaska, due to our similar climate. Hemp has the potential to have a positive economic impact on Alaska, which is why SB 6 has received such overwhelming and bipartisan support,” said Rep. Drummond. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

Alaska: Medicaid Work Requirement Bill Introduced in Alaska Senate - A bill requiring able-bodied recipients of Medicaid to pursue employment, volunteer service or subsistence activities, as a condition of eligibility, was introduced in the Alaska State Senate yesterday. 

“Obviously, we need to exempt those who are unable to work due to advanced age or health limitations,” said Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks) the bill’s sponsor. “However, the opportunity to contribute to one’s community through work or volunteerism should not be denied to any Alaskan. The requirement for work is not a punishment; it’s a privilege.” 

On January 11th of this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a new policy designed to assist states in improving Medicaid enrollee health and well-being through work and community engagement incentives under section 1115 of the Social Security Act. 

SB 193  is an effort to take advantage of the new policy by directing the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to apply for a section 1115 waiver to establish work requirements for eligible adults.  - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018




JOHN L. MICEK: Trump Wants New Bridges Without Paying For Them - President Donald Trump's plan to spend $200 billion in federal money to somehow spur $1.5 trillion in state, local and private investment in infrastructure reconstruction elicited a collective eyeroll when it was finally made public last week.

I'll credit Trump for getting the ball rolling on an important conversation. If there's anything that could spur bipartisan agreement in Washington, it's road and bridge repairs, broadband expansion, water works and port and rail improvements. 

Even the most hardened of small-government conservatives and ardent big government liberals agree that infrastructure spending produces a measurable public good.

But not the proposal the White House rolled out Monday. And here's why.

If the nation's 45th president had spent even a couple of minutes hanging around with state legislators, local mayors and city council folk, he would have very quickly realized that these local officials don't have the odd billion dollars or so hanging around for road and bridge repairs.

Barry Schoch, who served as transportation secretary under former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, and who helped usher through the passage of a more than $2 billion transportation funding package, called Trump's announcement an encouraging first step. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018


RICK JENSEN: I Had a Surprising Chat About Russia With My Barber - "I hope all these guys go to jail."

Everyone in the barbershop looked at Bart, the owner.

"Which guys?" I asked.

"The ones in the FBI investigation."

He grimaced when I muddied the waters, asking, "Which one?"

"You know which one. The Russia-collusion-in-the-election one. I just want them all to go to jail."


"Because that'll put an end to all this crooked campaign stuff. They already got one guy, Flynn, right?"

"Yup. General Flynn was Trump's national security advisor." 

I looked it up in my hair-splattered phone.

News reports say he told FBI agents he had not asked a Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, to "avoid escalating tensions over sanctions imposed by former President Barack Obama," and he also told agents he had not asked Kislyak to delay or defeat a pending resolution at the U.N. Security Council. 

Both of those statements proved to be false.

Above the sound of his expert clipping, Bart observed, "So, if you lie to a federal agent, it's a felony and you go to jail. Good. I'm tired of these politicians lying and stealing. Who else will they get?" - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Gun Congress

Political Cartoon: Gun Congress
By RJ Matson ©2018, CQ Roll Call
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

KEA Seeks School District Funding to the Cap By Dan Bockhorst - The Ketchikan Education Association is calling for the Borough to fund our school district to the cap. Here are some points to consider:

1. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) has a current-year operating budget of $44,115,565. Additionally, payments for school debt service add $3,510,233, and another $400,000 has been budgeted for school capital improvements this year. Those figures total $48,025,798. With a student population of 2,287, the total equals $20,999 for each student served by the KGBSD. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gun Violence By Rob B. Holston, Jr. - First let me say I own guns. I killed two deer this fall. I enjoy eating venison. I don’t pretend to have one silver bullet to solve the problem of gun violence in America today, but perhaps several bronze bullets.

I am conservative in my political views, yet will not support the NRA. I would support an organization that had a rational approach to controlling who owns weapons of mass destruction. We spend Billions to defeat rogue regimes around the world from attaining the A-bomb but allow 18 year-olds to walk in and lay down cash for an AR-15! - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

King Salmon Fishery By Angelo Martin - I have followed the King Salmon Fishery and see that it is in trouble, low counts of wild stock. I took special intrest with the King Salmon program that SSRA was implementing, I was on the board of directors of SSRAA. I FOUGH HARD TO KEEP THE PROGRAM GOING EVEN GOT volunteer of the year twice for the work in the King Salmon Fishery. Before I left it was in fairly good shape because of the hatchery program.l loved it.

Now I see it's in trouble, maybe bring back Sea Cops. I supported it with free printing and it seemed to help. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

A Strong Ferry System is Part of a Stronger Alaska By Gov. Bill Walker & Lt. Gov. Bryon Mallott - For more than 50 years, the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has served as a critical transportation link among Alaska’s coastal communities to Anchorage and to the Lower 48 and Canada. The marine highway system is a socio-economic lifeline for many of the 33 Alaska communities it serves, the majority of which are not connected to Alaska’s road system. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

THE FOUR Ps OF GOOD LOCAL GOVERNANCE By David G. Hanger - The four Ps of good local governance are power, plumbing, parking, and potholes. The first three are desirable in relative abundance; the fourth, potholes, none at all is optimal. Historically, with power and plumbing the City’s rep is so-so; plenty of power but plenty of power outages, too; with plumbing both in and out problems of potable water and problems with pollution that cause periodic health problems. But parking and potholes are our main concerns today. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Abortion By Robert B. Holston Jr. - Robert K. Rice claims to be a “realist” and then spouts sophomoric platitudes about a great grandpa choosing NOT to have an abortion.  How “realistic”. - More...
Saturday AM - February 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Infrastructure Package Must Include Permitting Reform By U. S. Sen. Dan Sullivan and Terry O’Sullivan - While pundits debate the merits of various infrastructure proposals, the very real problem of permitting reform has been overlooked. Almost four in 10 of our country’s bridges are at least 50 years old. More than 50,000 of those bridges were structurally deficient in 2016. There are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the United States—and in some places, like in Alaska, there are entire communities that don’t even have access to tap water and a flushed toilet. Much of our energy grid is at full capacity, one out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition, our ports need to be modernized and deepened, and many of our schools are crumbling. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 14, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Abortion Rights By Robert K. Rice - A M Johnson: if you're against abortion, don't have one. Let women decide if a fatal or life threatening back alley abortion is best for her, or if a safe professional abortion is better. - More...
Wednesday PM - February 14, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

K-12 Education Early Funding By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Funding for Alaska’s schools is one of the most important pieces of our state budget. Yet, each year, school funding gets caught in the cross fire of budget debates and ends up being one of the last measures passed by the Alaska Legislature. - More...
Saturday AM - February 10, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Alaska Military Youth Academy: Celebrating 25 years of changed lives By Maj. Gen. Laurie Hummel - The high school counselor lowered his head, peered over his reading glasses, and looked straight into the eyes of the young man before him.  “You’re not going to graduate this year.”  - More...
Wednesday AM - February 07, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Rebuild Our Depleted Military By Donald Moskowitz - The Budget Control Act of 2011 necessitated budget cuts for the Defense Department which had a huge negative effect on the readiness of our military. - More...
Wednesday AM - February 07, 2018

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