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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 11, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By CARL THOMPSON

Mud Bight
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Front Page Feature Photo By CARL THOMPSON ©2018

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Ketchikan: Over Here: When the Canadians came to Annette to help defend Alaska during World War II By DAVE KIFFER - Visitors to Annette Island are often fascinated by the remains of what once was one of the largest airfields along the Alaskan coast.

The Annette Island airport was once the primary way that air passengers arrived in Southern Southeast Alaska from the 1940s to the 1970s. But it also played a significant role in the defense of Southeast Alaska and northern British Columbia during World War II. It was the home of the "first Canadian force ever based in U.S. territory to be tasked with the defense of the United States," according to historian M.V. Bazeau's presentation in the "Alaska at War" symposium in Anchorage in 1993.

Plans for the airfield preceded the war.  In the 1930s, air travel was growing in the United States and companies had begun service up the Inside Passage from Seattle. Because of the topography, there were few spaces suitable for runways for wheeled planes so most of the planes flying up the coast were sea planes or amphibious ones. Large carriers like Pan Am saw Alaska as a stepping stone to service to Asia and had begun using flying boats to reach Southeast Alaska, but plans were made to build land airports in the region.

The flat muskeg of southwestern Annette Island was a logical spot for a potential airport and the Civilian Conservation Corps - an important 1930s area governmental agency - began working on an airport. Since the land was owned by the Metlatakla Indian Community and was the only tribal reservation land in Alaska, the federal government negotiated a deal with Metlakatla. If the MIC would agree to allow the airfield to be built - on land approximately 10 miles from Metlakatla - then the federal government would build a road across the northern part of Annette Island to facilitate a ferry that could offer better access to Ketchikan, some 20 miles away.  It only took the federal government an additional 60 years to make good on that promise!

In the years prior to World War II, Alaska's isolation became an issue for the U.S. government and efforts were made to boost the territory's limited defenses. By late 1940 and early 1941, steamship traffic between Alaska and Seattle was at a peak and the U.S. and Canadian governments began discussing ways they could jointly boost their preparations for the war they believed was likely coming. Prince Rupert, with one of the best natural harbors between Seattle and Anchorage was a logical location for a build up, but it lacked an area near by to build a military airfield that could protect the harbor. All eyes shifted north to Annette Island, where the CCC had been attempting to build two large runways in the muskeg.

CCC historian Conner Sorenson wrote that the Alaska CCC had been tasked to build a "defense related project."

"In August 1940, a twenty man CCC crew from Ketchikan prepared quarters on Annette for the advance crew of army engineers," Sorenson wrote for a presentation at the 1993 Alaska at War symposium. "The main body of CCC enrollees and army engineers (400 of each) arrived later that month. Construction on the island involved the erection of a camp to accommodate 1,200 men and the construction of a five mile truck road to hall rock from a quarry, as well as a pipeline to bring water to camp. Bogs and lakes were filled with rock to provide a solid base for the runway itself."

As with many other war era projects time was of the essence. The first plane landed on the not quite complete 7,500 foot runway barely a year later, in September of 1941. A second, 5,000 runway was also completed. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor two months later, work to complete the airfield picked up significantly. With United States air forces - then part of the US Army Air Corps - stretched thin, an agreement was reached with the Canadian government to station military fighters and bombers at Annette.  Royal Canadian Air Force squadron No. 115 fighter squadron arrived in May of 1942.

"The workings of government are always intriguing - to avoid payment of customs duties on the Canadians' supplies, a special designation of these military units as 'distinguished foreign visitors' was made by the Secretary of State," Canadian historian Murray Lundberg wrote on his "Explore North" history website in 2006. Lundberg noted that air force operations of the 11th US Army Air Force in Alaska spread very thin, at seven different bases ranging from Annette to Dutch Harbor and that the intervention of the Royal Canadian Air Force was a welcome help.

By the late spring of 1942, Annette had also become a way station in the endless ferrying of aircraft and supplies farther north. In June, things picked up exponentially when the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor. Efforts at the Annette field took on more of a military bearing as many in the military and the communities of Ketchikan and Metlakatla became concerned that the air field could provide a temping target if the Japanese decided to occupy more Alaskan territory than the two islands they invaded in the far Aleutians. - More....
Sunday PM - March 11, 2018


Fish Factor:
Plastic fishing nets from Dutch Harbor go to Denmark for recycling By LAINE WELCH - More big bundles of old fishing nets will soon be on their way from Dutch Harbor to Denmark to be remade into high end plastics. It will be the second batch of nets to leave Dutch for a higher cause and more Alaska fishing towns can get on board. 

Last summer a community collaborative put nearly 240,000 pounds, or about 40 nets, into shipping vans that were bound for a Danish ‘clean tech’ company called Plastix. The company refines and pelletizes all types of plastics and resells them to makers of water bottles, cell phone cases and other items. 

“It seems so unreasonable and not logical to just throw it away when we know that if handling plastics right — if sorting and homogenizing it — you can actually reuse it over and over again,” said Axel Kristensen, Plastix CEO. The collaboration with Dutch Harbor is the company’s first venture into the U.S., he told radio station KUCB.

It was a news story about fishing nets being turned into footwear by Adidas that spawned the Dutch Harbor/Denmark connection, said Nicole Baker, founder of and leader of the net removal project in Dutch last summer.  

As a former fishery observer for five years, Baker had seen massive piles of derelict nets at far flung Alaska ports and the story inspired her to find a solution.     

“A light bulb went off in my head. I thought if this group is looking for more fishing nets to turn into shoes, I certainly know where they can get some,” Baker said. 

It turned out that Adidas can only use nylon nets it its footwear and fishing gear that targets cod, pollock and flounders is made of different plastics. With guidance and financial help from the Global Ghost Gear Initiative Baker connected with a taker and charted a course for Dutch Harbor.

“I went to different boats and knocked on the door and said hey, we’re doing net recycling, do you have any nets to get rid of, and if you do, would you go with me to the net yard and show me which ones they are,” Baker said. 

From there, others in the fishing industry kicked in.

“Swan Nets bundled them and delivered them to OSI (Offshore Systems, Inc.) where they were stored. They were loaded into containers and Trident and Plastix arranged the shipping,” Baker said. “They did not even require sorting. We basically bundled up the nets and put them in shipping containers and off they went.”

Baker believes that fishermen have so few options for net disposal, they are becoming more receptive to recycling. - More...
Sunday PM - March 11, 2018


Alaska Science:
A scientist’s view of Alaska, 150 years ago By NED ROZELL - One year before Alaska became part of America, 21-year old William Dall ascended the Yukon River on a sled, pulled by dogs. The man who left his name all over the state was in 1866 one of the first scientists to document the mysterious peninsula jutting toward Russia. He is probably the most thorough researcher to ever ponder this place.

On his first, three-year trip, Dall gathered more than 4,000 specimens from the hills and valleys of Alaska, from sea shells to great gray owls to a human skull. He sent them back by steamship to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where he later processed them all.

Dall wrote his own summaries of Native people and their dialects, made weather and climate observations, and catalogued all the fish, birds, mammals and plants he saw. His “Alaska and its Resources” was published in 1870.

Dall came to Alaska as part of a mega-project that did not go as planned. The Western Union Company president wanted to stretch a telegraph line around the world. An unknown part of that span was through Alaska, then known as Russian America.

The telegraph line already existed from Washington, D.C. to Portland, and across 7,000 miles of Siberia. A man named Robert Kennicott’s job was to find the best terrain through Alaska to link with a 40-mile cable that would be laid on the ocean floor across Bering Strait.

Kennicott had heard of William Dall from a naturalist at Harvard, near where Dall grew up in Boston. Kennicott hired him on when Dall was 20. His title was director of the scientific corps of the Western Union Telegraph Expedition of 1865-1868.

Before Dall’s first Alaska exploration was complete, a cable was draped across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, making the great northwestern route obsolete.

Dall, who took over for Kennicott after he died of a heart attack, got the news that his job had been terminated in a letter he received in the Yukon River village of Nulato. He read the letter one year after it was sent.

Before Dall’s first Alaska exploration was complete, a cable was draped across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, making the great northwestern route obsolete.

Dall, who took over for Kennicott after he died of a heart attack, got the news that his job had been terminated in a letter he received in the Yukon River village of Nulato. He read the letter one year after it was sent.

Dall had too much momentum to leave. He sent a letter back to Spencer Fullerton Baird of the Smithsonian Institution, who was sponsoring Dall’s sample gathering. Dall wrote Baird to say he was staying another year and hoped the Smithsonian could pay him the $200 they owed him and match that sum for the upcoming year. Baird knew a good deal when he saw one. - More...
Sunday PM - March 11, 2018




TOM PURCELL: Time to Nurture America's Irish-Inspired Sense of Humor - It's always grand in March of every year to pour myself a pint of Guinness and enjoy the glorious Irish wit.

It's my good fortune to be a fellow of Irish descent. I share my good fortune with a quarter of all Americans, who can trace their heritage to the rolling, green hills of Ireland - including my Uncle Mike, rest his soul, whose grandparents came to America from Ireland.

As a lad, I loved the way he and my father celebrated St. Patrick's Day: by swapping the same Irish jokes and witticisms that I've been retelling for years.

Such as the one about a famous Irish dancer who decided to go to confession one Saturday.

Father Sullivan began asking her about her work. She explained that she was an acrobatic dancer, but the priest didn't know what she meant.

"I'll show you, father," she said.

She stepped out of the confessional and went into a series of cartwheels, handsprings and backflips.

An elderly woman turned to another parishioner and said: "Look at the penance Father Sullivan is givin' out, and me without 'me' bloomers on!"

Catherine McHugh writes for that "the Irish indisputably have a way with language, as countless phrases and sayings born on the Emerald Island have been quoted across the world."

She shares some of the most memorable witticisms from famous Irish writers, politicians and entertainers, such as these two lines from the great writer Oscar Wilde: - More...
Sunday PM - March 11, 2018


DANNY TYREE: Plastic Packaging: Is This the Beginning of the End? - "There's a great future in plastics. Think about it? Will you think about it?"

That advice, delivered to Dustin Hoffman's character in the 1967 movie "The Graduate," enjoyed a good five-decade run. But it may be nearing the end of its shelf life.

According to the Washington Post, the Ekoplaza organic supermarket chain in the Netherlands has opened a pilot store (in Amsterdam) with an unprecedented aisle dedicated to 700-plus products that use absolutely no plastic packaging.

We're not talking about a return to the days of country store pickle barrels and cracker barrels, but Ekoplaza's special aisle does boast products enclosed in glass, metal and cardboard - as well as a plant-based biofilm that will break down within 12 weeks in a home composter, instead of clogging a landfill for centuries.

In conjunction with the British environmental group A Plastic Planet, Ekoplaza hopes to make it easy to identify and promote "green" products that don't rely on petrochemical packaging.

Like the dieting mantra "A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips," Ekoplaza wants to show the shortsightedness of inhaling a candy bar and casually leaving the wrapper for your great-great-great-great grandchildren to deal with.

Across the globe, people use more than one million plastic bottles each minute (mostly for water), according to Ekoplaza's website. Fewer than nine percent get recycled. - More...
Sunday PM - March 11, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Daylight Saving Time

Political Cartoon: Daylight Saving Time
By Rick McKee ©2018, The Augusta Chronicle, GA
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Teachers and guns By A. M. Johnson - Not to belabor the issue of teachers and guns in schools, it requires intense study of options. The excerpts from the following article establishe current application of existing armed teachers and staff. It should be noted that the NRA, an organization with the true purpose of the 2nd amendment as its heart and soul, offers courses in firearm training as an option in protection of children's districts who elect to take advantage of the training. - More...
Sunday PM - March 11, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

There are no easy answers By Amanda Mitchell - I do get the concerns about guns, but I don’t believe guns are the only thing that can cause harm to others in society. If I remember my history correctly, governments have posed a significant risk to life as well. Does this mean all governments are bad or that we should get rid of all governments? Of course not!  - More...
Thursday PM - March 08, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Treating the dignity deficit By Sen. Pete Kelly - Here’s the question: should Alaskans who receive Medicaid be required to work or volunteer as a condition of their benefits? - More...
Monday PM - March 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Sorry but the NRA is wrong By Michael Spence - Quoting Mr LaPierre in his most recent red-faced, impassioned speech regarding the Parkland School shooting: .. "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun." - More...
Monday PM - March 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

A Preventable Shooting Tragedy By Donald Moskowitz - The Parkland, FL shooter had a history of violent behavior. Police were called to his house many times, but they did not arrest him because the school board had an agreement with the police not to arrest any students.. The FBI received a viable tip indicating he wanted to shoot up a school, but the lead was not pursued. - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Take guns from criminal gang bangers By John Suter - On HB 75 the legislature should also add felon criminal gang bangers to the list that the government takes away their guns because they are a danger to themselves and the community at large.  We would have a lot less crime then.  - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Staff Training By A.M. Johnson - For the public that wishes to read current articles regarding the arming of school personnel.

Below are direct quotes from three of the four provided sources. Two quotes are not know as supporters of conservative thinking on most anything including firearms, however they do quote statements a bit more accurately than the author of the Taking the Law into your Own Hands is not an "Individual Freedom" would have you believing. One would ask the author of the letter to the editor to provide a bit more specifics on the basis for opinions offered as Fact. - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

This in not my father's NRA By Michael Spence - He was a combat veteran, an expert marksman, and a lifelong member of the NRA. When I was 12 he took me and my brother out to the sand dunes to practice shooting at tin cans. Before shooting, we learned from him how to carry, clean, and handle a .22 rifle, a shotgun, and a .45 automatic pistol. The rules he taught were ones right out of the NRA manual:

Always carry and store the gun with a safety on.
Never leave a loaded gun unattended.
Never point a gun at another person. - More...
Friday PM - March 02, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gun control By Rex Barber - Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights governments are instituted amongst men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. THAT WHEN EVER GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE TO THESE ENDS IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH AND INSTITUTE NEW GOVERNMENT. - More...
Friday AM - February 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Taking the Law into your Own Hands is not an "Individual Freedom" By Michael Spence - Once again the CEO of the NRA, Mr LaPierre, has taken the podium to expound on the rights of individuals to take the law into their own hands. In doing so he reveals again his huge misunderstanding of the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which does not entitle anyone to do so. - More...
Friday AM - February 23 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Gillam crash By John Tippets - I greatly enjoyed reading and appreciated Dave's article about the Gillam crash of 75 years ago. 

Yes, the men were extremely careful in stretching out the food items they had; cutting Sardines into five parts (or four after Harold left) and breaking candy bars into the small squares for one piece for each, each a day.  - More...
Friday AM - February 23, 2018

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. - 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. - 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

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