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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

February 14, 2020

Front Page Feature Photo by SUSAN HOYT

Bugge's Beach
Martin Bugge's Beach, Part of the 1915 Gold Nugget Claims
Front Page Feature Photo by SUSAN HOYT ©2020
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Ketchikan: Ketchikan YouTube News AMHS Rally BY LARRY JACKSON - Tuesday folks across the state rallied to support the Alaska Marine Highway. Ketchikan has several hundered AMHS employees. At Tuesday's rally, no local politicians were present. Listen as folks express their frustration and support of a integral part of our lives - the Alaska Marine Highway. - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

Alaska: DOT budget subcommittee vote to give AMHS a lifeline by adding $18.7 million to get ferries up and running - Thursday, Alaska’s ferries are one step closer to receiving badly needed funds as members of the budget subcommittee working on the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities’ budget voted to add $18.7 million into the AMHS budget.

This Alaska Department of Transportation budget proposal will now head to the Alaska House Finance Committee for consideration and the budget proposal will also be vetted on the House floor, in the Senate, and must be finalized by the governor before these funds are available.

Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) is a member of the DOT budget subcommittee, chair of the House Transportation Committee, and serves on the Alaska Marine Highway Reshaping Work Group. 

Representative Stutes said, “Shelves in grocery stores are empty. Alaskans are missing medical appointments. Mothers are turning to Facebook to find diapers for their babies. The Alaska Marine Highway System’s struggles are felt statewide.

Stutes said, [Thursday's] amendment is about making sure ferry service resumes so coastal Alaskans can get back to life as normal.”

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham), also a member of the subcommittee, said, “We need to do something now to get ferries operating.” - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

Ketchikan: Ketchikan man sentenced for fishery violations By MARY KAUFFMAN - David Vest,43, of Ketchikan, plead guilty on January 21, 2020, to tampering with and retrieving another person’s shellfish gear without permission and unsworn falsification in the second degree by making a false statement of material fact on in Alaska Department of fish and game commercial Dungeness tag replacement affidavit. 

Vest was charged on October 01, 2018, by the Alaska Wildlife Troopers Ketchikan Post with a 21 count criminal complaint which included interference with commercial Dungeness crab gear, interference with personal use gear, theft in the 3rd degree, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, unlawful identification of commercial Dungeness crab gear, failing to report Dungeness crab on fish tickets, unlawful possession of fish, theft in the fourth degree, mutilating commercially taken Dungeness crabs before a landing, and unsworn falsification.

Vest was charged after Alaska State Trooper conducted video surveillance and observed Vest aboard the F/V Silver Surfer near Etlion Island operating commercial and personal use crab pots that were not his. - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

Alaska: Governor Introduces Alaska Lottery Corporation Act - Governor Mike Dunleavy introduced legislation this week to establish the Alaska Lottery Corporation to organize, operate, and regulate an Alaska State Lottery. 

“In the face of low state revenues, my administration has been actively seeking new revenue sources to diversify our economy. Not only does this legislation have the potential of creating new business opportunities, the profits generated from lottery activities will be designated to K-12 education, domestic violence prevention programs, drug abuse prevention programs, foster care, and homelessness,” said Governor Dunleavy.

Dunleavy said,  “Alaska is one of only five states that does not have any form of a state lottery. I believe it is time we, as a state, have the conversation on the potential benefits that could come from a state lottery.”

The Alaska Lottery Corporation Act, SB 188/HB 246, would create a new Chapter 18 in Title 5 of Alaska Statute, establishing the Alaska Lottery Corporation as a new State-owned corporation within the Alaska Department of Revenue. - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

Alaska: Alaska Attorney General Warns of Phishing Scam Involving Alaska USA Federal Credit Union - Alaska Attorney General Kevin G. Clarkson warns of a phishing scam affecting Alaskans, with scammers pretending to be from Alaska USA Federal Credit Union. The scammers send a text message or email claiming the recipient’s account has been suspended, and that the recipient must click on a link that will take them to a webpage to reactivate their account. 

The text message or email may look legitimate, but it is not. The scammers are trying to steal your money and your identity. Do not click on the link or provide any personal information. 

Phishing scams where the scammer claims to be from a familiar company are common. In recent years, scammers have sent phishing emails and text messages pretending to be from well-known companies such as Netflix, Amazon, and VISA. 

Here is what you need to know: - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020


Alaska: Alaska House Votes to Expand Absentee Voting; HB 115 adds a permanent ballot option to Alaska’s absentee voting system - The Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to make it easier and more efficient to cast a ballot in Alaska.  House Bill 115, sponsored by Rep. Chris Tuck (D-Anchorage), adds a permanent absentee ballot option to Alaska’s existing absentee voting system. 

“Exercising the right to vote is key to a strong democracy. House Bill 115 removes barriers to this right by making it more convenient to vote by mail in Alaska,” Representative Tuck said. “Absentee voting is voting by mail. By simply adding a box to check on the absentee ballot application, Alaskans can routinely vote by mail, resulting in more participation and a stronger democracy.” 

Currently, the Alaska Division of Elections manages a small permanent absentee voter list that is limited to persons with disabilities, those who live in extremely remote locations, and residents of places such as assisted living facilities. Those on the permanent absentee voter list don’t automatically receive an absentee ballot. Instead, they receive an absentee ballot application. HB 115 expands the permanent absentee voter system to all eligible voters and removes the requirement to fill out a yearly absentee ballot application. - More....
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

Alaska Legislation Introduced to Close Oil and Gas Corporate Tax Loophole - Wednesday,  Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) introduced SB 186 which seeks to close a tax loophole that will arise from the potential BP Alaska, Inc. sale of its Alaska interests to Hilcorp Alaska, LLC, which is currently being reviewed by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and the Department of Natural Resources. Under Alaska law, the income of publicly held C corporations, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service, is taxed by the state.

While specific tax payments are confidential by state law, it has been estimated BP Alaska contributed approximately $25 to $60 million in recent years to Alaska’s general fund to support the costs of important state services. After taking over BP Alaska’s assets, Hilcorp Alaska, which is a privately owned company originating in Houston, Texas, and controlled by one person, would not be subject to Alaska’s corporate income tax.

“The State has a $2.6 billion deficit this year and massive projected deficits into the future,” said Sen. Wielechowski. “This loophole will cost Alaska tens of millions per year. There is no good public policy reason to keep this loophole and it should be closed.”  - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

Students Job Shadow At PeaceHealth Ketchikan

Students Job Shadow At PeaceHealth Ketchikan
Pictured: Holly Edwards and Morgan Elerding
Photo courtesy PeaceHealth Ketchikan


Ketchikan: Students Job Shadow At PeaceHealth Ketchikan - Fifteen Ketchikan High School students are seeing healthcare careers up close.

“I like Chemistry,” said Morgan Elerding, “but I don’t like blood.”

These are factors that will help Morgan determine her career in health care. The Ketchikan High School junior was helping with inventory recently at the PeaceHealth Ketchikan pharmacy.

She is one of 15 Kayhi students in the Medical Terminology class, often called Voc Med, who are job shadowing at the medical center and at other healthcare agencies in town.

“This is an interesting department,” she said. “I helped stock shelves and the other day I helped Holly (Edwards, Pharmacy Tech) prepare an IV Syringe for a knee surgery.”

David White is the instructor, “they learn 1200 medical terms – that can seem as overwhelming as climbing Mr. Everest, but we work together to learn the language of medicine and, at least, the nuts and bolts of how the different body systems work.

“By their second semester, the kids have a pretty solid foundation to begin shadowing in the different hospital departments.”

Over in med/surg, the inpatient department, Lauren Bromley talked about following in her grandmother’s footsteps. “My grandmother, Jane Monrean, is a registered nurse in Long Term Care. She has always talked about what a rewarding career it can be. We both like helping people and she loves being able to see and know the patients she works with.”

There are other examples of multi-generational caregivers at the medical center. Rita Fahey is a Radiology Technologist. Her daughter Kristen Milner is a registered nurse who was in the Kayhi class. Ultrasound Technologist Anna Peebles, another Voc Med student, and her mother Shannon Updike RN, a care coordinator, are also both long time PeaceHealth employees. - More....
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

Alaska's national forests contribute 48 million salmon a year to state's fishing industry

Alaska's national forests contribute 48 million salmon a year to state's fishing industry; Value of these 'forest fishes' from Tongass, Chugach National Forests exceeds $80 million
Sockeye Salmon in Juneau, Alaska.
Photo credit: Ali Freibott, US Forest Service


Alaska: Alaska's national forests contribute 48 million salmon a year to state's fishing industry; Value of these 'forest fishes' from Tongass, Chugach National Forests exceeds $80 million - Alaska's Tongass and Chugach National Forests, which contain some of the world's largest remaining tracts of intact temperate rainforest, contribute an average of 48 million salmon a year to the state's commercial fishing industry, a new USDA Forest Service-led study has found. The average value of these "forest fish" when they are brought back to the dock is estimated at $88 million per year. 

Led by the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station, the study used Alaska Department of Fish and Game data and fish estimates from 2007 to 2016 to quantify the number and value of Pacific salmon originating from streams, rivers, and lakes on the Tongass and Chugach, which are, respectively, the largest and second-largest national forests in the country. The study focused on five commercially important salmon species--Chinook, coho, sockeye, pink, and chum--caught primarily in four commercial salmon management areas adjacent to these two forests. 

"Pacific salmon fisheries are absolutely central to Alaska's economy and culture," said Adelaide Johnson, a Juneau-based hydrologist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station and the study lead. "We suspected that many of the ocean-caught Pacific salmon that support the fishing industry likely began their lives in forest streams that drain the Tongass and Chugach National Forests."

Johnson and Forest Service colleagues Ryan Bellmore and Ronald Mendel, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Stormy Haught, used a three-step process to determine the number of fish originating from the Tongass and Chugach. First, they calculated the total number of salmon caught in regional commercial harvest areas. They then subtracted the number of salmon originating from hatcheries--a process facilitated by the hatchery practice of marking juvenile fish--and the number of salmon that originated outside national forest boundaries, such as commercially caught fish that were born in Canadian rivers and rivers farther south in the contiguous United States.  - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020



Money Matters: WHICH IS MORE IMPORTANT; CONTRIBUTING TO A COLLEGE FUND OR 401-K? By MARY LYNNE DAHL, CFP® - David and Jean Smith are typical working people. They are married with 2 kids. David is 35 and Jean is 34. She recently returned to work now that their youngest child has started first grade. They are seeking some answers to their questions that they now have as a result of Jean returning to paid work.

They are meeting with their newly hired financial advisor, who is a certified financial planner with experience in personal financial planning and retirement planning. Their primary questions revolve around the issues of choosing to contribute, from Jean’s salary, to her 401-K plan at her new job or contributing to the college fund they have set up for their kids.

But first, the background details are important to consider. There gross annual income has gone from David’s earnings of $55,000 per year to $90,000 per year with the addition of Jean’s salary of $35,000 per year. Their monthly household expenses are approximately $4,000 per month. They currently have $5,000 n emergency savings at the credit union where they bank.

They plan to pay down the principal of their mortgage with part of their increased income and pay off some credit cards that they have not been able to pay off monthly. They are unsure of how long it will take to pay off the credit cards entirely. They also do not know how many years sooner their mortgage will pay off if they pay extra on the principal. Their main question, initially, is what to do with the $500 per month that they have calculated they will have as extra from Jean’s wages, after taxes, payroll deductions, and her efforts to pay down their debts.

After gathering enough data to get a solid picture of their total financial situation, the Smith’s and their financial planner lay out a cash flow plan, based on their budgeted income and expenses. Next, their financial planner examines their tax returns for the last several years to determine their tax bracket and to spot any tax issues that may cause problems later. She does not find any tax issues that would cause problems, and she does determine their tax bracket, based on the exemptions, standard or itemized deduction, child care credit and any other tax details.

Next they jointly go over the credit card debt and the mortgage. Their financial planner runs calculations on the mortgage to determine that the extra payments on the principal, if continued, will pay off their 30 year mortgage 9 years early. The credit cards are a bit trickier to figure out, but overall, if they want to pay these off entirely, it will take them about 2.3 years of dedicated effort and payments of about $300 per month, of which Jean will pay $150 and David will pay $150. David will also pay the extra on the mortgage principal.

They will pay off the highest interest rate card first, then the next highest, and finally the lowest interest rate card last. They could also roll all of the debt into the lowest rate card and reduce their out-of-pocket max payments by about $50 per month, which they are likely to decide to do. On the advice of their financial planner, they will have this discussion at home and let her know their decision. - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020


jpg Danny Tyree

DANNY TYREE: DO GREETING CARDS FACE A ST. VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE? - Spending a rainy Saturday afternoon reminiscing over congratulatory keepsakes stored in the attic. Clutching vintage Valentines purchased at an estate sale. Sorting through all those shoeboxes of yellowing mementoes in your late great-aunt Sadie’s House Where Time Stood Still.

(Mementoes as in “reminders that great-aunt Sadie spent all your inheritance on mothballs”!)

I’m afraid future generations will encounter fewer and fewer such heart-warming experiences.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal story, sales of paper greeting cards have declined 13 percent in the past five years. An increasing number of people in all age groups are relying on ephemeral texts and social media to commemorate major milestones such as births, weddings, anniversaries, promotions, graduations, achieving just the right lighting for this week’s selfie with the Egg McMuffin, etc.

Small greeting card companies are running scared, and even industry leader Hallmark is slashing costs and refocusing its attention on internet business.

Many of the independent owners of Hallmark brick-and-mortar locations are closing up shop, as Hallmark brainstorms opening retail outlets inside venues such as hospitals and hardware stores. (Surely there will be a joint-venture musical card that plays “If I had a hammer…I’d fix your porch before you break the OTHER leg, knucklehead.”)

To its credit, the company is also overhauling its phone app to make it easier to buy and send personalized paper cards. But considering recent news about software glitches, don’t be surprised if they wind up killing trees just to send out messages like “Congratulations on your bar mitzvah – or winning the Iowa Democratic caucus. One of those. I think. Runner-up mitzvah?”

People are busy and cost-conscious and dealing with commitment issues. In 1944 Hallmark launched the “When you care enough to send the very best” slogan. Nowadays, consumers are more like “When you care enough to tell your 13-year-old to tell Alexa to send your best friend from college whatever kind of emoji conveys ‘Losing all your children, pets and limbs in a house fire has gotta be a bummer, man.'” - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

jpg Political Cartoon: Needing More Arrows

Political Cartoon: Needing More Arrows
By Jeff Koterba ©2020, Omaha World Herald, NE
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Opinion

Stedman should follow local consensus and put ferries first By Joel Jackson and Malena Marvin - As residents of the towns near the proposed Kake Road, we firmly oppose it. The $40 million raised for this “road to nowhere” should instead support the return of the Alaska Marine Highway to our coastal Alaskan communities struggling without ferry service.

It is one thing to waste taxpayer money on a project no one is asking for, and another to do so while claiming funding for vitally needed and popular ferry services doesn’t exist.

This proposal would cross the rugged wilds of Kupreanof Island from the village of Kake to a salt water landing in Frederick Sound 12 miles from Petersburg. Because Kake is on Kupreanof Island and Petersburg is on Mitkof Island, the trip would still require a boat.

A 2004 estimate for a gravel road plus boat service to Petersburg was $145 million plus half a million annually for maintenance. In 2016, the Department of Transportation shelved the project citing the state budget crisis. Under Governor Dunleavy the project has risen from the reckless spending graveyard, with the state ironically spending a million dollars or more on the dead end project in 2019. 

The City of Kupreanof vehemently opposes the road, a formal study of Kake’s transportation options found Kake’s public sentiment on the road was mixed at best, and Petersburg residents have continually spoken out on record against the project. (While many supported extending Southeast Alaska Power Association infrastructure to Kake, this project is unrelated to the road being developed now.) - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

jpg Opinion

Minimum Qualifications for Alaska Police Officers Makes Alaska Safer By Bob Griffiths - Most people are bewildered when they find out people with serious criminal convictions are serving as police officers in rural Alaska.  It truly is shocking to learn that individuals convicted of felonies, sex crimes and violent domestic violence offenses are placed in the highest positions of trust and authority.  Police officers in Alaska, from Anchorage or Alakanuk and beyond, are all given significant authority over the rest of us; including legal authority to search people, vehicles and dwellings with and without warrants; arrest and issue citations; and detain others until arraigned in court.  Those of us working to assure only trustworthy individuals are placed in these critical positions of trust have been acutely aware of this long-standing problem for years.

There are challenges of recruiting, hiring, training and retaining police officers in small, rural Alaska communities.  APSC recognizes that local city officials struggle with extremely limited resources and a labyrinth of state statutes and regulations.  We also know that some local officials found themselves overwhelmed and chose the path of least resistance to resolve an immediate need; they hired a willing community member as a police officer despite their less-than law-abiding past.  

Unfortunately, Troopers and the Alaska Police Standards Council (APSC), the state agency charged with setting and enforcing minimum standards for police officers, have seen numerous instances of this strategy resulting in unspeakable harm in some communities.  News readers will be familiar with some of these stories, as they have often resulted in sad and sensational headlines.  There have been too many incidents that occurred where rural officers engaged in wholly inappropriate behavior such as having sex with a minor in a patrol car; soliciting a minor for sex via text; and being responsible for furnishing alcohol to a minor and having sex with the minor, before the minor died. Each of these rural peace officers had one thing in common, other than their arrests for victimizing residents while serving as rural village police officers; in spite of regulations requiring the state be informed by their local governments of their hire, the state was left in the dark.  Additionally, several of these officers had previously been convicted of disqualifying crimes and were prohibited by state regulations from ever acquiring a position as a peace officer in Alaska.  - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020  

jpg Opinion

ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MINDS? QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DOCK AND WARD COVE FIASCO By David G. Hanger - It certainly does not surprise me that Dick Coose’s fingerprints are all over this looming disaster. This particular buck-ass private of industry was fundamentally culpable for the train wreck that was Gateway Forest Products, the largest (and most corrupt) bankruptcy in the state’s history, and the wooden bowl scam, etc., and now he wants to sell your future away so he can toy with and burn rapidly through another $35 million of someone else’s money. Forfeiting local control of our docks for 30 years, and who knows how much more, means nothing to Dick Coose because long before then he will be dead and gone, but for many of you both you and your children will still be around.

For those unaware (I don’t know how that would be possible, actually.) Ward Cove and the old pulp mill is a highly contaminated Superfund site. Pile driving through the sand that was dumped into Ward Cove to cover (not remove) 40 years of polluted filth will begin the process of churning all this crap back up, and the screws and the rudders of these oversized hotels will do the rest.

Currently, were you to rent or lease business property at Ward Cove you will not only receive written warning notice that it is a highly contaminated Superfund site, you will also receive a video on the same subject.

Will all the tourists debarking at Ward Cove also receive a written warning notice and a video tape describing the polluted conditions? If not, I think that raises very serious questions of legal liability. As a tourist if you knowingly exposed me to the pollution of a Superfund site without notifying me well in advance, I would sue. I think others will tend to do so even sooner. If they are warned, will they even get off the boat? Or on it in the first place, for that matter? - More...
Friday AM - February 14, 2020

jpg Opinion

AMHS Update from the Legislature By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Let’s talk about the prospects of this year’s legislative session and budget deliberations as they relate to the AMHS. Our ferry system has been at the forefront of many legislative conversations: - More...
Monday PM - February 10, 2020

jpg Opinion

Museums’ Strategic Long Range Plan By Michele Zerbetz Scott - It’s time to update the Museums’ Strategic Long Range Plan and the Ketchikan Museums are requesting help from the community. Here is some history: - More...
Monday PM - February 10, 2020

jpg Opinion

Book Recommended By Rob Holston - ALASKA’S INSIDE PASSAGE by Dale Pihlman is a book I purchased as a “self gift” before Christmas and finished reading it in time to recommend it to several friends for their Christmas. I’ve known Dale for years and have admiration for his insights and I expected a good product yet his book delivers far beyond any expectations. - More...
Monday PM - February 10, 2020

jpg Opinion

Standing up for Alaska’s Pioneers By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Last year, I cosponsored and voted for House Bill 96, which reverses massive rate increases at the Pioneer Homes. This bipartisan legislation passed the House 35-4 and now is being considered by the Senate. If the Senate passes HB 96, we can reverse the devastating rate increases and provide critical financial stability both for residents and our Pioneer Home system. - More...
Tuesday PM - February 04, 2020

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