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February 11, 2022

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Ketchikan News: School board picks Southwest Alaska principal Michael Robbins as Ketchikan’s next superintendent. Posted by Eric Stone, February 11, 2022 - KRBD.ORG

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Ketchikan - Statewide: 2021 Annual Alaska Small Business Survey Report Released; Economy shows signs of recovery, but some challenges still remain Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Alaska Small Business Development Center released its 5th annual Small Business Survey Report and noted in the survery the past three years have been the most challenging they have seen in the Alaska SBDC’s 35-year history.

Almost 700 Alaska businesses responded to the 2021 survey, providing one of the most complete overviews of how the state’s small business sector has fared during the COVID-19 pandemic and the more recent economic recovery.

“Overall, this survey found that businesses were much more optimistic about the economic future,” notes Alaska SBDC Executive Director Jon Bittner.

Bittner said, “In 2020, for the first time since the Alaska SBDC launched the survey, more businesses thought the economy would get worse rather than improve in the next 12 months. In 2021, the trend flipped back into more positive than negative outlooks.”

There are still a variety of barriers that businesses will have to overcome, however. Shipping costs, the rising cost of goods and finding employees were all listed as significant roadblocks to recovery.

Almost all of the businesses surveyed indicated they were looking to grow or maintain their current workforce in 2022. Unfortunately, they also indicated it was difficult or very difficult to find anyone to fill those positions. They listed several reasons, including: a lack of qualified applicants, not being able to pay enough and seasonal issues, as the biggest challenges to hiring. While all areas of the state are having difficulty finding employees, some regions are particularly hard hit. The Kenai Peninsula had the most difficulty of any area surveyed due to a lack of qualified applicants.

The survey noted the last two years have seen a significant increase in the number of businesses seeking and receiving funding, primarily due to the creation and deployment of a variety of relief funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) and American Relief Plan (ARPA) Acts.

Moving into 2022, the survey sees indications that businesses are recovering financially from the COVID-19 driven economic slowdown with over 45% indicating this year’s revenues were higher than last year. Unfortunately, the survey is seeing a higher-than-normal number of businesses indicating that they will close in the next six months without new funding or a significantly improved economic situation.

“Alaska needs to help its businesses transition from a hunker down to a sprint forward mentality. The rest of the country is beginning to recover and we can’t afford to be left behind,” Bittner said.

Securing funding, growing the available workforce and economic stability were all listed as things businesses needed to thrive and grow in 2022. Quoting a news release, the Alaska SBDC joins our businesses in their optimism for the future and looks forward to a year of growth for our industry sectors and communities. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022

Fish Factor: Crabbing From the Panhandle to the Bering Sea & Other Fisheries By LAINE WELCH - Frigid February fishing in Alaska features crabbing from the Panhandle to the Bering Sea, followed in March by halibut, black cod and herring.

Crabbers throughout Southeast will drop pots for Tanners on February 11 and they’re expecting one of the best seasons ever. Fishery managers said they are seeing “historically high levels” of Tanner crab with good recruitment coming up from behind. 

The catch limit won’t be set until the fishery is underway but last year’s take was 1.27 million pounds (504,369 crabs), which weigh 2.5 pounds on average. Crabbers know they will fetch historically high prices based on the recent pay-out for westward region Tanners.  

Prices to fishermen at Kodiak, Chignik and the South Peninsula reached a jaw dropping  $8.50/lb for the week-long fishery that ended in late January and produced 1.8 million pounds of good looking crab.   

Back at Southeast, crabbers also can concurrently pull up golden king crabs starting on February 11. The harvest limit is 75,300 pounds, up from 61,000 pound last year. The crabs weigh 5-8 pounds on average and last year paid out at $11.55/lb at the Southeast docks. 

A Tanner crab fishery kicks off at Prince William Sound starting March 1 with a 61,800 pound catch limit. The fishery could run through March 31 unless the quota is taken earlier.  - More...
Sunday PM - February 06, 2022

Mariculture Conference Announced, Mariculture for Alaska’s Future: Status, Challenges and Opportunities

Mariculture Conference Announced, Mariculture for Alaska’s Future: Status, Challenges and Opportunities
Harvesting kelp
Photo By Michael Penn,
Courtesy University of Alaska

Alaska: Mariculture Conference Announced, Mariculture for Alaska’s Future: Status, Challenges and Opportunities - The University of Alaska (UA) is hosting a mariculture conference in Juneau on April 12-14, 2022. The conference is scheduled to take place at Centennial Hall and will focus on the status of mariculture in the state, including challenges and opportunities for developing the industry. 

Mariculture as related to the cultivation of marine organisms in their natural environment and the enhancement, restoration, and farming of shellfish and seaweed, is poised for success in Alaska. The purpose of the Mariculture Conference is to support continued development of mariculture in Alaska through consideration of accomplishments and opportunities in the areas of research and education, policy and regulation, and industry growth. The conference will bring together mariculture stakeholders, including practitioners, regulators, policymakers, scientists and others from Alaska.

Attendees will be invited to contribute and build on previous accomplishments including, The Alaska Mariculture Task Force Mariculture Development Plan and a Final Report to the Governor identifying actions and a roadmap for continued development of the industry. This conference follows the Alaska Mariculture Workshop held in Ketchikan in January 2020, hosted by the NOAA Fisheries Office of Aquaculture and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022

Alaska: ACLU of Alaska settles case against Governor Michael Dunleavy and former Chief of Staff Tuckerman Babcock - The ACLU of Alaska and State of Alaska finalized a settlement in Blanford and Bellville v. Dunleavy last Wednesday. The settlement resolves a lawsuit after a federal district court ruled in October that the Dunleavy Administration violated the First Amendment rights of two former Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) doctors who refused to write pledges of loyalty to the administration. 

Dr. Anthony Blanford will receive a lump sum of $220,000 and Dr. John Bellville will receive $275,000 for damages, lost wages, and attorney’s fees. 

Wednesday’s settlement marks the end of a years-long battle to defend the First Amendment rights of non-unionized state employees, who were subject to unprecedented demands by the Dunleavy Administration immediately after it took over state leadership in 2018. Exempt and partially exempt employees, including the doctors represented in this case, were told to provide a written pledge of loyalty to Governor Dunleavy’s political agenda and were told if they didn’t, they’d be terminated.

In this country we’re not supposed to have to sacrifice our freedom of thought in order to keep our jobs. I hope the Governor of Alaska stops doing this to the people he is supposed to be governing,” said Dr. Bellville. “We elected him with the expectation that he would protect our freedom of speech rights, not force us to give them up under the threat of losing our livelihood.” - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022

KIC swears in elected Tribal Council and AHB members; elects new officers

KIC swears in elected Tribal Council and AHB members; elects new officers
L to R: Norm Skan, Vice President; Judy Leask Guthrie, Secretary; Trixie Bennett, President; Chas Edwardson, Treasurer


Ketchikan: KIC swears in elected Tribal Council and AHB members; elects new officers - The Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council officially swore in three members to its Tribal Council and two members to its Advisory Health Board (AHB) during a special meeting on January 24, 2022.

Sworn in to the Tribal Council were Norman Skan, Melissa Johnson, and Charles “Chas” Edwardson, all reelected incumbents. Also sworn in was new Advisory Health Board member Roberta Hull and Kim Wilson who was elected to joined the AHB after recently stepping in to fill a vacant seat.

Trixie Bennett is the new KIC president and Tribal Council chair after a vote from Council, with Norm Skan being elected to serve as vice president. Chas Edwardson was elected as treasurer, having served in the position a number of years ago. Judy Leask Guthrie was unanimously voted to continue serving as secretary.

Each nominee was given the opportunity to share their wishes for serving as officers of the KIC Tribal Council. Numerous topics were brought up by nominees including working to achieve the Tribe’s important strategic goals, transparency with Tribal members, enhancing the compliance program, and wise management of Tribal finances.

For more than 20 years President Trixie Bennett has served the Tribe in various capacities including serving as a Tribal Council member and Vice President and working in tribal health administration, safety, quality management, and improvement. She looks forward to putting her experience working with Tribal administration and Tribal Council to work to further the strategic plan and mission of KIC for the benefit of the Tribal community.

“It's a huge honor and a privilege to have the other Tribal Council members select me, entrusting me to facilitate and move forward our strategic plan in service of our membership," Bennett said. “I know we have the same goals and we want the best for our Tribe.”

Past president Gloria Burns, Marcie Fields, Gianna SaanuGa Williard Flanery, Melissa Johnson, and Lloyd Ruaro round out the Tribal Council.

Gloria Burns reflected on her presidency over the past year, expressing her gratitude for the support of the Council and for the efforts of past Presidents, thanking them for setting an example of the dedication and hard work necessary to lead the Tribal government and community. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022

Market Squid Multiply in Warming Alaska Waters

Market Squid Multiply in Warming Alaska Waters
Market squid at NOAA Fisheries Little Port Walter Research Station, Southeast Alaska.
Photo Credit: NOAA Fisheries/John Eiler


Southeast Alaska: Market Squid Multiply in Warming Alaska Waters - During 80 years of monitoring at NOAA Fisheries Little Port Walter Research Station, small numbers of market squid had been sporadically reported. That changed in 2015, when Alaska Fisheries Science Center biologist John Eiler observed several hundred spawning market squid swimming in and out of  the station fish trap and laying eggs on the netting. Large schools of squid and successive spawning events have been observed in subsequent years. 

In a new study, Eiler documents evidence of a growing abundance of this typically southern species in Southeast Alaska. He examines how climate change may be driving this northward shift.

“The big question is, are they here to stay?” Eiler said. “Is this an ephemeral shift supplied each year by migration from the south? Or are market squid establishing a stable population in Southeast Alaska?”

Climate Change May be Driving A Northward Trend

Market squid, also called opalescents for their kaleidoscopic color-changing skin, inhabit nearshore waters along the Pacific coast of North America. They range from Baja California to Southeast Alaska, but are historically most abundant in the southern part of their range. 

This small species is both economically and ecologically valuable. It has been California’s largest fishery by both volume and value since the 1990s. It is also an important prey species for many fish, sea birds, and marine mammals.

Over the last two decades market squid have multiplied in warming waters off Oregon and Washington. This squid boom opened new opportunities for commercial fishing. The value of market squid landings in Oregon was $0 in 2015; by 2020, it rose to $6 million. As landings surged in the Pacific Northwest, they dropped in California.

The northward movement of market squid is part of a larger trend. Warming in the North Pacific has been accompanied by migration of many southern species, from plankton to predators, into subarctic and arctic waters.

Market squid populations are particularly sensitive to temperature fluctuations because of their one-year life cycle. 

“If environmental conditions are unsuitable for a year or two, long-lived species can often ride it out,” Eiler explained. “Market squid are dependent on continued spawning year after year, because of their short lifespan. They spawn and die.” - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022

Schedule for Ketchikan School Superintendent Finalist - Feb. 8-9, 2022


Alaska: Forty-Nine Scholarships Now Open at The Alaska Community Foundation - The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) is offering 49 scholarship opportunities to choose from in 2022. The scholarships cover a broad range of eligibility criteria, including academic successes, athletic accomplishments, intent for vocational training, and geographical location. With so many to choose from, every student has the chance to find their perfect fit. Most scholarships currently open for submission have a deadline of March 17. Students are encouraged to start the application process as early as possible and to reach out to ACF with any questions.

ACF's scholarships are established thanks to the generosity of Alaskans looking to give back to the next generation. Many are created in honor of inspirational individuals who left a legacy of educational advancement or have spent a lifetime creating opportunities for Alaska's youth. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022

Alaska: Alaska Senate Passes Legislation Establishing an Easily Accessible & Searchable Online Checkbook for all State Finances - The Alaska State Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 25 last week, sponsored by Sen. Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), to establish a searchable online checkbook so the public can easily view details on government spending, incoming revenues, and the total amount of state employees. In 2019, the Frontier Group, an organization that provides information and ideas to help citizens build a cleaner, healthier, and more democratic America, ranked Alaska 45th in the nation on making public finance data readily available to the public. 

“Alaskans have the right to know what the State is spending its money on. With an online, easily accessible and searchable database, Alaskans can easily access government spending records and, in turn, make Alaska a leader in government finance transparency,” said Sen. Wielechowski.

All 50 states operate websites that make information on state expenditures and revenues accessible to the public. Currently, the State provides data in various spreadsheets and webpages on the State of Alaska website. SB 25 requires the State to create a user friendly website to make this information more accessible and requires more information to be included. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022

Southeast Alaska: Jury Convicts Juneau Man on Multiple Sexual Assault Counts - A Juneau jury last week convicted Wilbur James, 66, of Juneau on multiple counts of sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor and attempted indecent viewing or photography.

The jury deliberated for about three hours before finding James guilty of sexual assault in the second degree in addition to sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree, sexual assault in the third degree, five counts of attempted indecent viewing or photography of a minor and six counts of attempted indecent viewing or photography of an adult.

James is being held without bail at the Lemon Creek Correctional Center. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 10 before Judge Daniel Schally. He faces a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022

Columns - Commentary



DAVE KIFFER: Great Expectorations - Sometimes progress is a good thing.

Yeah, I know people of my demographic tend to spend a lot of time fussing about how anything newer than the Johnson Administration (Lyndon, not Andrew) is not as good as in the old days.

And while that is certainly true about things like music ("You whippersnappers call that music? It sounds like an amplified bowel movement!"), it is probably not true across the board, even if shouting "get off my lawn" remains a very pleasant pastime indeed.

For example, here is a change I can get behind.

The other day, I saw someone spitting on the sidewalk. Now, this was unusual enough that I noticed. Once upon a time, it was so normal, I would have taken no notice. People used spit all the time. It was as if they were just "itching" to get out of their houses, so they could proceed to spit on the street and sidewalk and not get in trouble for it. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022


TOM PURCELL: BEATING INFLATION IS LAUGHABLE - In these inflationary times it’s not easy to laugh as you watch the value of your hard-earned savings being destroyed.

But I chuckled out loud when I read some of the tips offered by Bloomberg News to beat inflation, which is at its highest point in more than 40 years.

Since Americans have enjoyed low inflation and stable consumer prices for a long time, Bloomberg explains, Americans are “a little rusty on basic inflationary-era tactics.”

Bloomberg turned to the long-tortured people of Argentina for guidance, as they have become experts at navigating hyperinflation rates as high as 50 percent in a typical year.

The tips the Argentines offer are the polar opposite of everything my Depression-era parents taught my sisters and me about managing our money — nutty tips that suddenly make sense in a nutty world.

Here’s the first one: spend your paycheck immediately. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022


FINANCIAL FOCUS: Consider These Types of Tax-Smart Contributions Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - This year’s tax-filing deadline of April 18 is not that far off, but you still have time to make some moves that could favorably affect your tax returns. So, you may want to consider making some tax-smart contributions.

You have until the April 18 filing deadline to contribute to an IRA, or to open one for the 2021 tax year. When you invest in a traditional IRA, your earnings can grow on a tax-deferred basis and your contributions may be tax deductible, depending on your income level. And as a result of recent legislation, you can now fund a traditional IRA past age 70½, as long as you have earned income.

If you invest in a Roth IRA, your contributions aren’t tax deductible, but your earnings can grow tax free if you don’t take withdrawals until you’re at least 59½ and you’ve had your account for five years. For the 2021 tax year, you can put up to $6,000 in an IRA, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. (If you’re a high earner, the amount you can contribute to a Roth IRA may be reduced or eliminated, while contributions to a traditional IRA may not be tax deductible.) - More....
Monday PM - February 07, 2022


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To the Citizens of Ketchikan By Trixie Bennet, Norman Skan, Chas Edwardson, Judy Leask Guthrie, Gloria Burns, Gianna Willard Flanery, Marcie Haynes, Lloyd Ruaro (KIC Tribal Council) - To the Citizens of Ketchikan,

The Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council is disgusted by incidents that happened during a Kayhi versus Metlakatla boys' basketball game. These racist actions by the Ketchikan pep club were hurtful and divisive by nature. The themed attire was disrespectful to our sisters and brothers and our neighbors in Metlakatla.

We have all witnessed the racially charged incidents all across the country and are witnessing it in our community. It is imperative that all of our children feel safe in our school district and that we celebrate all cultures and differences. To insure this does not happen again, we look forward to an apology, the results of the investigation, solutions, and a plan of action.

Ketchikan's history of racism has produced Alaska Native civil rights leaders such as Nettie Jones and Elizabeth Peratrovich, two of our state's most effective advocates for desegregation, anti-discrimination legislation and civil rights. Nettie's daughter Irene attended Ketchikan's Main Street School and Elizabeth Peratrovich was a Kayhi graduate.

We must increase sensitivity and understanding between races and groups of people. As the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District continues to look into the situation, Ketchikan Indian Community stands ready to contribute in any way we can to help the community heal. Cultural education and understanding are key to that healing. We want our local educators and administrators to participate in cultural educational opportunities. One such opportunity later this month is Sealaska's virtual "Our Cultural Landscape: Culturally Responsive Education Conference", designed to help educators build their cultural foundation.  - More...
Thursday PM - February 10, 2022
jpg Opinion

Ward Cove bus debacle By Lisa Ferretti - In efforts to move thousands of people daily from the north end to the city center I hope that you would take a moment to consider those who actually reside in the area. The continued noise, traffic congestion and road degradation are just the tip of a bad plan. School bus schedules as well as those commuting daily for local jobs will most likely be delayed by the parade of tourists who have no idea as to the local concerns for their brief excursion to the city center.

In observing those who disembark and later return to these floating cities their time table is limited for actually spending time in Ketchikan. The float plane services as well as charter fishing schedules will not coincide with the tourists who come to enjoy the salmon capital of the world. Please take a moment to walk through the actual time table for a tourist. How long does it take to get on and off the long does the line last to get on a bus... how long does a line of buses take to get back and forth to  the city center... and not just the time table of a bus driving but the trip itself with real folks using the only road going north and south. Has anyone thought of the path of an emergency vehicle trying to get through the bus blockage to actually save lives?

Ketchikan is a prized tourism location. How prized will it become when the reality of visiting the city reveals itself? What Ketchikan does not need is bad press. Tourists will opt to stay on the ship as it is too hard and too inconvenient to get to the city center or not able to fish or fly. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022

jpg Opinion

RE: A National Popular Vote Is Closer Than You Think By Sean Parnell - A recent commentary by Matt Mackowiak left out some critical details (“A National Popular Vote Is Closer Than You Think,” January 30), starting with the fact that if Alaska joined the compact, the votes of Alaskans would be largely irrelevant in determining who the state’s three presidential electors vote for. In both 2016 and 2020 Donald Trump was the clear choice of Alaska’s voters, but under the compact it would have been forced to cast its votes for Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

It is also wildly optimistic of Mr. Mackowiak to predict that it is “only a matter of time” before the eight states where the compact passed at least one legislative chamber join the compact – in five of the states he refers to the compact either died quickly once the public learned of it or it passed one chamber more than a decade ago, with little interest since in picking it back up. In the other three there is strong bipartisan opposition to the compact. National Popular Vote is a real threat and may one day go into effect, but it’s unlikely to happen soon and certainly not with the states he suggests will join. - More...
Monday PM - February 07, 2022
jpg Opinion

Biden is the worst president in history and Murkowski supports him By Kelly Tshibaka - Joe Biden is the worst president in the history of the United States. He could not have accomplished this humiliating “achievement,” though, without Senator Lisa Murkowski’s consistent support. - More...
Sunday PM - January 30, 2022
jpg Opinion

China Controls Critical Supplies By Donald Moskowitz - Alan Dowd documents some problems with China in The American Legion Magazine of December 2020, and I liberally quote from the article.  - More...
Sunday PM - January 30, 2022
jpg Opinion

Don’t pay too much attention to guesses about how US Supreme Court will vote on abortion rights – experts are often wrong By LAWRENCE STROUT - The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will not be handed down until late spring or early summer 2022, when the court typically issues verdicts. - More...
Sunday PM - January 30, 2022

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