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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

March 29, 2019

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Southeast Alaska: Guardian Flight Ends Search For Missing Crew - Guardian Flight’s two-month search for their three missing crew members and the company’s King Air 200 aircraft in waters off the coast of Southeast Alaska is coming to an end after exhausting all avenues of exploration and recovery.

According to the latest updates provided by Randy Lyman, Senior Vice President of Operations Guardian Flight, "The detailed and methodical search has not yet revealed any of the remains of our friends aboard the aircraft when it crashed. This is very disappointing to their families and our entire Guardian Flight team and extended family of first responders, air medical transporters and health care professionals."

The on-site team estimates it found 85-90% of the aircraft dispersed over a large debris field. Guardian Flight’s underwater search team has now located most of the aircraft pieces, including the fragmented fuselage and tail assembly. The second engine and landing gear have been identified as have propeller blades and other wing fragments. The search was successful in recovering the airplane’s Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), which has been transported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) headquarters in Washington, D.C. for further analysis. Lyman said, "We are thankful for the assistance rendered over the past two months by the NTSB’s regional office in Anchorage during trying times and despite difficult weather conditions during our search and recovery efforts."

"We have searched 7 square miles of ocean and ocean floor and traversed over 700 linear miles by ship to locate our cherished friends, the CVR and aircraft. Further, we have engaged Metron Scientific Solutions, experts in underwater search and recovery efforts, to aid us in the evaluation of our search to date. Our search team and the professionals in such efforts have concluded that we have exhausted all our remaining options in our underwater search and recovery efforts," said Lyman. - More...
Friday PM - March 29, 2019

Alaska: Federal Court’s Ruling on Crucial King Cove Land Exchange Disappointing Posted By MARY KAUFFMAN - The U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska released a ruling today that sets aside and vacates a small land exchange between the Department of the Interior and the King Cove Corporation.

For decades, residents of King Cove – a 1,000-person community on the edge of the Alaska Peninsula – have been fighting to build a road to nearby Cold Bay. Because there is no road, King Cove residents needing medical evacuations often go without care due to bad weather, or they face treacherous rides on boats or small planes.

“While it is disappointing that the federal court found process flaws in DOI’s explanation of the agreement, the King Cove Group will never give up our fight for this land exchange. It is so crucial for safeguarding the lives of our families,” said Della Trumble, spokeswoman for the King Cove Corporation. “This access is truly a matter of life and death for us.”   

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said in a prepared statement, “This is a disappointing case and a disappointing ruling."

Murkowski said. “There have been nearly 100 medevacs in King Cove – many carried out by the Coast Guard – since 2014 alone. There is no question that the people who live there need a single-lane, gravel, non-commercial road to protect their health and safety. I will never stop until this road is a reality and the nearly 1,000 residents of this isolated community have a lifeline for emergency medical care.” 

Alaska House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) also released a statement today on the U.S. District Court’s decision to block progress on a road connecting King Cove and Cold Bay. In his prepared statement Edgmon said, “The people of King Cove deserve reliable access to healthcare, and the fight to build a simple gravel road affording them that basic right has taken far too long. Today’s U.S. Superior Court decision to invalidate the plan to allow a land exchange between the Interior Department and King Cove Corporation is disappointing and presents an unnecessary setback.”

The land exchange agreement was signed a year ago by then-U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the King Cove Corporation, which is comprised of members from two local federally-recognized Aleut tribes. The agreement began a process of identifying land of equal value needed for a life-saving single lane, restricted-access gravel road between the remote and mostly Aleut (Alaska Native) community of King Cove and the nearby all-weather airport in Cold Bay. The Cold Bay Airport, with its paved 10,0000-foot-long main runway, located just 25 miles away, is the state’s fifth longest public runway. The agreement would have reestablished the traditional land link between King Cove and Cold Bay.  - More...
Friday PM - March 29, 2019


Alaska: Water samples detect low levels of Fukushima-related contamination By PAULA DOBBYN - A slightly elevated level of radioactive contamination connected to the Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected in the northern Bering Sea. The level of cesium-137, a radioactive isotope, is extremely low and not considered a health concern, according to state epidemiologists.

The sampling, conducted by residents of St. Lawrence Island, documents the Fukushima plume’s northern edge arriving in the Bering Sea for the first time, and shows levels of cesium-137 higher than they were before the 2011 nuclear power plant accident in Japan, Alaska Sea Grant agent Gay Sheffield said.

Cesium-137 is one of the byproducts of nuclear fission and is traceable in the environment. Measurable amounts of radioactive substances have been present in the ocean, including the Bering Sea, for a long time. These come from both naturally occurring and man-made sources, such as nuclear weapons tests and accidental releases from nuclear reactors.

In March 2011, a tsunami damaged Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, sending unprecedented levels of radioactive materials into the Pacific Ocean. St. Lawrence Island residents anticipated that Fukushima-related contamination would eventually reach the Bering Sea based on their knowledge of ocean currents.

“I knew that those Japanese currents would come to our waters and so that’s why I volunteered to do the testing,” said Eddie Ungott, a resident of Gambell.

Ungott has been collecting seawater samples for several years off the coast of Gambell. He sends them to Sheffield in Nome who then ships them to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts for analysis. During 2014, 2015 and 2017, the lab found very low levels of cesium-137, similar to those prior to the Fukushima nuclear accident. No testing was done in 2016 due to lack of funding.

The 2018 results, however, showed the presence of cesium-137 at levels slightly higher than before accident.

“It’s a small uptick but it’s enough to confirm it is Fukushima-related, and what the island residents have anticipated since 2011,” said Sheffield. - More...
Friday PM - March 29, 2019

Alaska: New tsunami evidence along one of Earth’s largest faults, the Alaska - Aleutian megathrust - Recent geological studies of a key section of the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska suggest Aleutian tsunamis may occur more frequently than previously understood.

The new findings indicate that the recurrence interval for large tsunamis generated in the eastern Aleutians ranges from 164 to 257 years, an important result that will inform updates to both the U.S. Geological Survey's National Seismic Hazard Map and the tsunami source models of the NOAA-led National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program.

These hazard products promote community preparedness and resilience to earthquake and tsunami hazards in Alaska and in all coastal areas of the United States. 

Comparing new research at Driftwood Bay, in the Fox Islands, with previous research at Stardust Bay near Dutch Harbor, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) to the east, scientists found long geologic records of earthquakes and tsunamis spanning more than a thousand years. In addition to increasing the accuracy of tsunami hazards assessments along the Alaska-Aleutian subduction zone, the findings highlight an important discovery: whether a subduction megathrust is locked or creeping today may not necessarily reflect its potential to generate large tsunamis.

These findings, published in the “Geological Society of America Bulletin” by a team of scientists led by USGS geologist Rob Witter, present strong evidence for the occurrence of eight tsunamis in the past 2,000 years at Driftwood Bay, which faces a locked section of the Aleutian subduction zone megathrust. A “locked” fault is one in which its two sides are stuck in their current position and are not moving in relationship to each other. In contrast, a “creeping” fault is one where the two sides of the fault are slowly and smoothly moving past each other, without creating earthquakes. When locked tectonic plates in a subduction zone break, the energy released can produce a giant earthquake and tsunami. - More...
Friday PM - March 29, 2019


Alaska: Kuskokwim Tribes Object to Proposed Kuskokwim Area Plan Changes – This morning Orutsararmiut Native Council, in coordination with other Yukon Kuskokwim tribal organizations, submitted another set of letters to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The additional letters were submitted because the Alaska Department of Natural Resources continues to issue permits and authorizations despite repeated requests for Government to Government consultation. The Orutsararmiut Native Council says the Alaska Department of Natural Resources has not responded to the repeated requests from tribes for consultation.

The letters, submitted as official comments on the proposed Kuskokwim Area Plan Amendments, highlights the proposed amendments’ sweeping changes to the Kuskokwim region to allow for both the proposed Donlin Gold mine and other future developments to move forward with no consideration of the impacts these activities will have on the region as a whole.

“We are sovereign Tribal governments in the local area covered by the plan and where the supporting facilities and infrastructure would be located,” the letters state, “We have not been given the opportunity to work with the commissioner to develop these proposed amendments or provide input during the process, as required by law.”

This approach to area plan amendments stands in sharp contrast to other DNR has carried out in other parts of the state, according to a news release from the Orutsararmiut Native Council. Similar proposed changes to Bristol Bay’s Area Plan proposed in 2013 were subject to a two-year public process. Then it included several public meetings in eight different communities, a 120 day comment period, two separate rounds of draft plans issued to the public, and significant collaboration between different entities including Tribes and both state and federal agencies. - More...
Friday PM - March 29, 2019

Alaska: Multi-Agency Investigation Results in Charges Against 18 Members and Associates of Violent White Supremacist Gang; Charges Include Murder in Aid of Racketeering, Kidnapping, Assault and Firearms - U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced Wednesday that multiple members and associates of a white supremacist gang known as the 1488s, have been arrested and charged for their alleged roles in a racketeering enterprise involving narcotics distribution, firearms trafficking, and acts of violence including murder, assault, and kidnapping. 

In a recently unsealed indictment, Filthy Fuhrer (formerly Timothy Lobdell), 42; Roy Naughton, aka “Thumper,” 40; Glen Baldwin, aka “Glen Dog,” 37; Craig King, aka “Oakie,” 53; Beau Cook, 32; and Colter O’Dell, 26, have each been charged with murder in aid of racketeering, kidnapping in aid of racketeering, assault in aid of racketeering, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit assault and kidnapping in aid of racketeering.  Two other key members, Nicholas M. Kozorra, aka “Beast,” 29, and Dustin J. Clowers, 34, previously pleaded guilty to murder in aid of racketeering in recently unsealed court documents.

“The highest priority of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Alaska, which is consistent with the priorities of the Attorney General of the United States, is to stop violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney Schroder.  “We will focus on chronic violent offenders, including criminals who unify through racial hatred and commit violent crimes.”

“While the violent crimes these individuals are charged with are certainly serious in and of themselves, their affiliation in support of a white supremacy enterprise is of even greater concern,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffery Peterson of FBI’s Anchorage Division.  “This impactful case demonstrates law enforcement’s abilities to penetrate even the most secret organizations through cooperation at all levels and sharing a common goal.”

“We are very proud of the meticulous work done by all of our trooper investigators and the investigators from our partnering agencies,” said AST Captain David Hanson, Commander of Alaska Bureau of Investigation. “This outcome was made possible through the effort and guidance provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which resulted in an array of federal indictments on numerous 1488 gang members.”

According to the indictment, the 1488s are a violent and “whites only” prison-based gang with approximately 50 to 100 members operating inside and outside of state prisons throughout Alaska and elsewhere.  The 1488s allegedly offered protection to white inmates if they joined the gang, and all members were required to “be white, look white and act white.”  Members allegedly often had tattoos incorporating Nazi-style symbols; however, the most coveted tattoo of 1488s members was the 1488s “patch” that could be worn only by “made” members who generally gained full membership by committing an act of violence on behalf of the gang. - More...
Friday PM - March 19, 2019

Alaska: Anchorage Man Sentenced for Possession Of Child Pornography - Kenny Appuallo Gregory, 29, of Anchorage, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason, to serve five years in prison, followed by a 20-year term of supervised release, for possession of child pornography. The sentencing announcement was made by U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder.

According to court documents, between April 2, 2016, and April 8, 2016, Gregory exchanged emails with an undercover law enforcement agent.  In these emails, Gregory offered to share with the undercover agent a link to images and videos of child pornography.  In his email, he attached a link to the Internet photo-sharing site that contained child pornography, and Gregory wrote, “And I hope you give me something nice, in return I’ll let you see my stuff.  Here you go and have fun.”  Gregory also sent via email a video showing the sexual molestation of a girl approximately 5 to 9 years old.

Law enforcement obtained a search warrant for Gregory’s email address.  The results of the warrant contained the emails described above.  Later, HSI agents contacted Gregory at his Anchorage residence and he agreed to speak with the special agents after being advised of his rights.  During his interview, Gregory admitted that he was the user of the email address with whom the undercover agent was communicating.  When shown the email communications, Gregory replied, “looks like you guys have it all down.”  A search of Gregory’s phone revealed approximately 300 images and videos of child pornography that Gregory had downloaded through the internet. - More...
Friday PM - March 29, 2019



DANNY TYREE: Men's Suits: Are They on The Endangered List? - My octogenarian aunt has spoken wistfully of one of her older relatives who had operated a boarding house and required college students to show up for breakfast wearing suit and necktie.

Slob that I am, I nonetheless take vicarious pleasure in watching footage of crooners such as Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin nattily dressed as they belt out songs with intelligible lyrics.

But according to the recent Wall Street Journal article "Men Ditch Suits, and Retailers Struggle to Adapt," such images may go from seeming quaint to seeming totally alien. Sports apparel has grown 17 percent since 2015, but the U.S. men's suit market has shrunk eight percent. Even Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recently loosened its dress code.

Yes, several generations of men have grudgingly accepted traditional blue, gray or black suits as The Way It Has Always Been ("Sweating profusely: it helps take your mind off of being just another cog in the machine!"); but we should step back and look at the longer timeline. Do you realize how many legal codes were written, wildernesses were explored, wars were won, masterpieces were painted, and inventions were brainstormed by men wearing togas, robes, buckskin, knee breeches, kilts, and smocks? 

"Sorry, Michelangelo. White out that ceiling and come back when you're in a more double-breasted phase."

I mean, when Jesus recruited sibling pairs as some of His apostles, he chose Peter and Andrew and James and John - not the BROOKS BROTHERS!

Diehard defenders of suits insist that we must Dress For Success. As their sales plummet, I must solemnly ask the stuffy executives, "How's that workin' for ya, Chuckles?" ("Oh, no - one of the rats leaving the sinking ship unraveled my fabric!")

I know that old-timers in the garment industry are trying to be the Adults In The Room when they bemoan slovenly dress codes, but they're embodying the WORST aspects of parents. ("Why should you wear a suit? Because!!! Now stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about!")

Even in work environments with relaxed dress codes, some employees insist on wearing a suit. These are the firebrands who risk inciting brawls in bars by wearing a gray flannel MACA (Make America Conformist Again) cap. - MORE...
Friday PM - March 29, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Burning Green New Deal

Political Cartoon: Burning Green New Deal
By Gary McCoy ©2019, Shiloh, IL
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jpg Opinion

The Corrupt Bastard's Club is Alive and Well. By Ray Metcalf - Today BP is in a joint venture with a Chinese company. Together, they are producing 3 million barrels per day from Iraq's Rumaila field. The two companies share a payment of $4.2 million per day for their services. Today BP, ConocoPhillips, and Exxon are providing the same service for Alaska with one big difference. In Alaska they are being paid over $12 million per day to produce a little under one sixth that amount. Alaska pays its producers 17 times as much per barrel as the competitive bid process has clearly gotten our big three producers in other parts of the world.

Below is a link that will take you to a copy of BP's contract with Iraq. The index of their contract provides you quick access to how owners and producers do things in the rest of the world. Click on the link and then click on the page that appears on our "Citizens For Ethical Government Web Site." Your second click will take you to the actual contract. link ). On page 9 of the contract you will find ( "1.75 “Remuneration Fee Bid” or “RFB” means USD two ($2.00) per Barrel of Crude Oil as bid and as utilized in Article 19.5.")

ED King, Alaska's oil economist who is advising Alaska's legislature remarked that I could not use the BP Iraq contract as an example because, according to ED king, BP "Simply walked into a producing field and took over under a technical services contract." -- Not true Ed King. BP Explored for, found, and developed Iraq's Rumaila field. Between discovery in 1953 and 1961, BP took profits from the field as they owned it. In 1961 Iraq reasserted ownership and began taking the lion's share of the profits, and in 1975 Iraq gave BP and their production services the boot. - More...
Saturday AM - March 30, 2019

jpg Opinion

Southeast Community Meetings – Public Comment Overview By Rep. Dan Ortiz - This past weekend, I had the opportunity to host three Community Meetings in Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan to hear input on the governor’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year. First and foremost, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to attend, especially those who had the courage to speak.

In Ketchikan, almost 130 people attended, and 51 people spoke during the 2.5 hours allowed for public comment. In Sitka, over 200 people attended and 61 people spoke. I’d like to share some comments and observations from the Sitka and Ketchikan meetings.

I began the meetings with an overview of our current fiscal situation, focusing on the relationship between department budgets and our Permanent Fund Dividend. We have a total of $5.27 billion available for Fiscal Year 2020 to fund both the state budget and this October’s PFD. That $5.27 billion total comes from our traditional revenues from oil and other taxes, along with the funds from SB26, which allows us to now use a portion of permanent fund earnings with a sustainable formula that will protect the fund for the long term.

We must make expenditures match revenues. To do this, the Governor’s proposed budget cuts $1.6 billion from last year’s budget (or takes shared revenues, like the raw fish tax, from local governments) in order to fund a “full” $3,000 dividend based on the historic formula used before 2016. - More...
Saturday AM - March 30, 2019

jpg Opinion

Beware of those proposing a state income tax. By Wiley Brooks - Near one-half of federal income tax filers pay zero federal income taxes. So, if there’s a state income tax tied to the federal system, as there once was, near ½ the filers will pay zero state income taxes.

If we must have a state tax, one reason among many is that I prefer a consumption tax over a tax on earned income. If there is a state tax, every household should feel it.

According to published IRS data, actual income tax non-compliance (evasion) rates are above 16%. Those who don’t pay what they owe in taxes, ultimately shift the tax burden to those who properly meet their tax obligations. - More...
Saturday AM - March 30, 2019

jpg Opinion

Feel-Good Politics Doesn't Pay the Bills By Rep. Josh Revak - Planning and readiness.

They are the most critical elements needed for success in any endeavor. Through six years in the U.S. military and two deployments to the Middle East, I had no choice but to accept that planning and readiness are, in fact, the greatest defenses one has when staring any adversity, or even death, in the face.- More...
Wednesday AM - March 27, 2019

jpg Opinion

"Ortiz Traveling Pre-determine Outcome Tour" By A.M. Johnson  - Let me be bold, I am willing to bet those who begged during the recent "Ortiz Traveling Pre-determine Outcome Tour" to be taxed (I suspect most of them being educators, union members or receive state benefits) are not now voluntarily donating money to the state in lieu of an income tax. - More...
Wednesday AM - March 27, 2019

jpg Opinion

Draft Dodger Trump (DDT) By Donald Moskowitz - President Trump continuously bashes John McCain about various McCain positions that Trump disagrees with, which is somewhat amazing since McCain has been dead for seven months. I believe DDT wants to be in the spotlight all the time and doesn't care if he receives negative criticism about his comments. - More...
Wednesday AM - March 27, 2019

jpg Opinion

Thirty years later, Council continues mission to combat complacency By Donna Schantz - On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef and spilled an estimated 11 million gallons of crude oil. Congress determined that complacency on the part of industry and government was a contributing factor in the accident and they mandated citizen involvement in the oversight of crude oil terminals and tankers. For the past 30 years, the Council has filled this role for Prince William Sound and its downstream communities, advocating for environmental safeguards to prevent oil spills and a strong response system should prevention measures fail.- More...
Thursday PM - March 21, 2019

jpg Opinion

Sustainable fiscal plan, reliable funding crucial for K-12 education By Norm Wooten, Dr. Lisa Skiles Parady, Sarah Sledge - Last month, Governor Dunleavy unveiled his proposed FY 2020 operating budget, which among other drastic cuts, slashed $330 million from education funding. This budget would devastate public education and leave a bleak future for our children and communities. These severe proposed budget cuts have damaged Alaska’s reputation as a desirable place to live. Thankfully, they’ve also galvanized many citizens across the state, who realize that now is the time, more than ever, for Alaska’s budget to prioritize the things we value. - More...
Thursday PM - March 21, 2019

jpg Opinion

Our Children Must Read by 9 By Jodi Taylor - Right now, Alaska’s public-school children are ranked dead last in the nation in fourth-grade reading proficiency, a key indicator used to measure academic success. In terms of school years, they are up to a full year behind their counterparts in other states. This means many of our fourth graders cannot read Charlotte’s Web or The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. While it may seem like such a simple, basic issue, the ability to read is actually the foundation of a child’s educational success; the value of reading cannot be stressed enough. - More...
Thursday PM - March 21, 2019

jpg Opinion

Traveling Big Top legislative circus By A. M. Johnson - In response to an article in the Alaska Daily Planet regarding the upcoming traveling "Big Tent Majority House Circus" to confirm "What?" The following was submitted in defense of District 36 Representative's perceived efforts with this movement. - More...
Thursday PM - March 21, 2019

jpg Opinion

The Subdivision That Never Was By Harlan Heaton - About forty years ago the State of Alaska designed a ninety six lot subdivision in the Mountain Point area. The State sold over half of these lots to the citizens of Ketchikan. When these lots were sold forty years ago, the buyers were told by the State that there would be access to their lots. - More...
Monday AM - March 18, 2019

jpg Opinion

School District failure to report child abuse By Margaret Cloud - Mark O'Brien is correct that school district employees annually sign that they are aware of their legal requirements to report witnessed abuse as well as report if there is cause to believe that abuse has occurred.  I had to read and sign the same type of document when employed by a private Alaskan school. - More...
Monday AM - March 18, 2019

jpg Opinion

Open Letter: Live Within Means By Byron Whitesides - We have known this time was coming for years, but our legislative leadership has failed to prepare for it, bringing us to this disaster, with no rational, SUSTAINABLE, way out but to cut the size of government, and live within our means. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

jpg Opinion

Open Letter to the Ketchikan School Board By John Harrington - I am here to talk about the Edwards' Mess. With the plea agreement, Mr. Edwards part in the mess has reached a conclusion. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

jpg Opinion

Budget and education By A. M. Johnson - Resolutions aside, the proposed Dunlevy budget pertaining to education, two points. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

jpg Opinion

Sealaska shareholders need Congressional Intervention By Dominic Salvato - 75 million dollars paid to a handful of people collecting it year in and year out over a ten year period. Paid by thousands of shareholders barely surviving. 

With no end in sight! - More...
Wednesday PM - March 13, 2019

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