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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 28, 2011

Front Page Photo by CINDY BALZER

Life on "The Rock"
Front Page Photo by CINDY BALZER

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SEWARD'S DAY MARCH 28; Celebrating the Alaska Purchase By JUNE ALLEN - It was at the end of March 1867 that the sale of Russia's possessions on the far northwest shoulder of North America was negotiated. It was a curious transaction in that the sellers didn't particularly want to sell and the buyers were not all that interested in purchasing such a huge, seemingly worthless chunk of real estate. And even at the successful end of the negotiations between representatives of the two nations, the United States Senate approved the purchase of Alaska by only a single vote! It was the popular and powerful Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts who eased the passage of the treaty allowing the sale - and who also suggested that the nameless frozen properties in the North Pacific be named "Alaska."

It was two years after the close of the War Between the States and the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln that the Purchase of Alaska was engineered. At the time, Washington D.C. was a springtime quagmire of muddy and rutted, manure-fouled streets. Men carried side arms and spat tobacco juice. The seemingly lawless nation's capital still wore the in-progress look of a "created" community, the progress halted by the empty coffers of a country devastated by a long and costly civil war.

The two men who engineered the Alaska Purchase, U.S. Secretary of State William Henry Seward and Russian diplomat Edouard de Stoeckl - couldn't have been more different.

William Henry Seward had been Secretary of State under President Lincoln - against whom he ran unsuccessfully for the presidential nomination in 1860. After Lincoln's assassination, Seward remained as Secretary of State under President Andrew Johnson.

Seward was born to a wealthy family in New York state, became a lawyer like his judge father, and entered politics at a young age, becoming a two-term governor of New York before he exercised his presidential ambitions. As Lincoln's "right hand," he was said to have been an effective secretary of state.

Seward's most notable physical characteristic was his large "noble" nose, which he himself may have considered handsome. A proud and full profile photograph of him hangs in the Seward, Alaska, museum. In life, his nose definitely preceded him! He had a distinctive upper lip, an abundant head of hair, a passionate nature for causes, and a fierce determination.

His face carried the scars of an assassin's attack from the evening of April 14, 1865, when Abraham Lincoln was killed at Ford's Theater. Lincoln's assassination by renowned actor John Wilkes Booth was not a solo act but was a part of a much larger plot to kill the president, the Vice-President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War and perhaps others. However, some of the assigned assassins were less determined or trustworthy than others. The vice-president's assigned assassin got drunk to screw up his courage and passed out before he could act. The spared war secretary's potential assassin was never identified, a fact that fueled rumors that perhaps it was the Secretary of War himself who sponsored the deadly plans! - More...
Monday - March 28, 2011

Sitka: Meet Commercial Fisher Linda Behnken - Behnken has been fishing for halibut, sablefish and salmon in Alaskan waters since 1982. With her husband, she co-owns the Woodstock, a 40-foot boat home-ported in Sitka, a small community in Alaska’s southeast. Behnken is the executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen's Association, and she served on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for nine years.

Why did you get into fishing?

I came here because I wanted to see the wilds of Alaska and needed to earn some money for college. I very quickly fell in love with the community of fishermen and the family fisheries of southeast Alaska.

In what ways have you seen commercial fishing change in the last 30 years?

Probably the biggest change has been the switch from open access fisheries with sablefish and halibut to the individual fishing quota program, a catch share program that started in 1995. That had a huge effect on the fishery and the fishing. - More...
Monday - March 28, 2011

Fish Factor: Ocean Zoning will affect all users; Poachers biggest threat to Alaska fisheries says Begich By LAINE WELCH - Alaska Senator Mark Begich is quick to name the issue that’s giving him the biggest earful so far in his new post as Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries, and Coast Guard: “marine spatial planning.”  

The concept is listed as a top priority by the 2010 National Ocean’s Council which is already preparing to draft action plans on nine coastal/ocean objectives. It would affect all users and uses, on and beneath the oceans.

“I hear it over and over again,” Sen. Begich said in a phone call from D.C. “Let’s call it like it is, pure and simple – ocean zoning.” 

“I don’t think Dr. Lubchenco, the director of NOAA, appreciated my blunt categorization of it,” Begich added, “but as a former mayor, that’s what it is. You  are determining winners and losers in terms of utilization of the oceans, and that is what zoning does. - More...
Saturday - March 26, 2011


jpg Dave KifferDAVE KIFFER: Pondering a weighty matter - We used to weigh a lot less.

I know this for a fact because our scales were smaller.

For years we had one of those round silver and black scales in our bathroom and it only went up to 200 pounds. Then - like those produce scales at the grocery store - it would start over again.

Leaving one to do some quick math to come up with the actual number. And also having to remember how many times it had gone completely around!

For example, I had an uncle who was roughly the size of a small Caribbean nation. But according to our bathroom scale, he only weighed 126 pounds! (It was his second time around).

I was thinking about this as I was listening to a radio news program about new high tech measuring devices that will not only weigh you and determine the specific body fat of specific body parts but it would then transmit that data via a wireless receiver.

Just in case you wanted to immediately post the results to your Facebook status (uh huh).

Of course, the idea of that vital personal information being transmitted anywhere beyond my personal frontal lobe is somewhat horrifying enough. But here was the kicker.

Since we are "bigger" than we used to be, the scale would now be able to go as high 400 pounds. I’m not so sure that is a good thing.

Years ago, I was at a county fair outside of Seattle and there was one of those weighing machines. Of course, no one was going anywhere near it except for children to whom weighing “more” was a good thing.

Then I noticed a very large man step on the scale. It was like someone whaling away on one of those strong man ring the bell carnival games where you used  a mallet to make the ball go higher up a scale. The top of the weight scale read "What a big baby you are!" The ball rocked off the top of the scale.

"I already knew that," the big man huffed.

I was surprised the scale didn't ask him to get out of his car before weighing himself. - More....
Monday - March 29, 2011


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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696

letter Misappropriations or good business? By Gayle Brooks - We the people have been screaming from every corner of the U.S. about Government spending and misspending, and here we are in small town America adding to the pile. - More...
Monday - March 28, 2011

letter States Rights By A. M. Johnson - It has been a very frustrating past few days from Senator Begich and Representative Young's visits to Ketchikan. Frustrating from the standpoint of typical "No Action" visible from either of these two or Senator Murkowski, in taking firm aggressive stances on various Federal acts such as the Tongass Roadless Act, that are detrimental to Alaska and Ketchikan in particular. - More...
Monday - March 28, 2011

letter ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND GOVERNMENT By Charles Edwardson - I missed a recent Ketchikan townhall type meeting on economic development, as I was out of town. If I had attended, the first statement I would have made is: economic development and government are like oil and water and the borough assembly and city council are forms of government, and I would then gauge the response of the industry experts in the room before I engaged in any other talks about economic development. If some of the industry experts agreed it would be worth further discussion, but if no one agreed than it would have been a nice forum to catch up with friends and have a nice brainstorming session that will lead nowhere. - More...
Monday - March 28, 2011

letter Low income housing is a great need in Ketchikan By Shannon Nelson - Housing is defined as a combination of: Mortage or rent, insurance, gas, electricity, maintenance and phone. Housing should not exceed 30% to 36% or 1/3 of your monthly income. Rent should not be more than 25%. Transportation 18%, Food 14% household 7%, Savings 10%, Debt 10% and everything else 11%. - More...
Monday - March 28, 2011

letter Cost of Living in Ketchikan By Lewis Amundson - I have read the letters about the cost of living in Ketchikan and I have to say that it is not just high costs for electric, heat and rent. We live in a cornered market from bad doctors to poor airlines. I have lived here for 31 years - more than most and I'm getting tired of being walked on and have some big issues with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. We pay high prices for every thing purchased locally -- their answer is we have to ship everything in. So is that why I would have to pay $250 dollars for a pair of work boots purchased locally and could buy the same boots from Big J's out of Washington for $160 dollars? Don't try to tell me it costs that much to ship a pair of boots. - More...
Monday - March 28, 2011

letter Re: Upcoming State Herring Sac Roe Fisheries; Open Letter to Commissioner Campbell By Andy Rauwolf - As you may be aware, conditions exist that are severly impacting the marketability of our kazunoko (herring roe) in Japan.  It has been common knowledge for several years that younger Japanese are losing interest in this tradition.  Along with this problem, Japanese super markets reported that Russian herring roe outsold Sitka’s and British Columbia’s product in the year-end 2010 sales season.  This is due in part to lower prices for shipping.  There is also reported to be a backlog of unsold Sitka herring roe left over from last year’s huge harvest. - More...
Monday - March 28, 2011

letter An Apology to Our Customers By Brad Tilden & Glenn Johnson - Alaska Airlines experienced a computer system outage this past weekend that disrupted our operation, and we want to offer our profound apologies to the thousands of customers who were affected. We recognize we fell far short of our service commitment to you and are working diligently to determine the underlying causes of the failure to prevent a recurrence. - More...
Monday - March 28, 2011

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