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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 21, 2007

Front Page Photo by Carl Thompson

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Fish Factor: Big push to expand aquaculture By LAINE WELCH - Offshore fish farms could be down in the deep within two years if legislation authorizing the new industry gets the go ahead from Congress - and according to industry insiders, it is expected to pass easily.

Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, announced last week that, at the request of the Bush Administration, he will introduce the National Offshore Aquaculture Act to Congress to help establish the new industry. The legislation would create a regulatory framework for fish and shellfish farming in U.S. waters from three to 200 miles offshore.

The big push towards expanding aquaculture stems primarily from the nation's $8 billion seafood trade deficit. More than 70 percent of the seafood eaten by Americans is imported from foreign countries. Globally, more than half of all seafood production comes from aquaculture.

Legislating the offshore industry flies in the face of Alaska's federal and state lawmakers. Senator Murkowski and Governor Palin have asked for a five year ban on offshore fish farming to allow time for more environmental and economic studies. Palin also wants a ban on farming certain species like halibut and sablefish, along with subsidies for the fishing industry to compensate for competition from U.S. backed fish farms.

But like it or not, the new industry is poised to move forward fast, and Alaska better pay attention.

"The world is experiencing an aquaculture revolution. Regardless of whether or not we have interest ourselves, we should be paying very close attention to what's happening so we can anticipate where our global markets are likely to be in the future," said Gunnar Knapp, an economist at the University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research.

Since the late 1980s Alaska has had a ban on fish farming of any kind. Knapp said he is not advocating rushing into aquaculture, nor does he believe Alaska should shut the door to the possibility of changes in the future.

"With any kind of resource development, what are the potential opportunities that we might take advantage of, responsibility and safely?

"My feeling is that we should go on more than a gut feeling and a knee jerk reaction of no change from where we are at the moment, to looking at the available evidence with regard to both environmental and market concerns and be sure we're making the right decision," he said.

"It strikes me as a little incongruous that we would take this attitude of no finfish farming whatsoever under any circumstances, and yet we have a very extensive salmon hatchery program that is of great economic benefit. We've made the judgment that any environmental or ecological risks are reasonable and controllable," he added. - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007


Alaska: An encounter with a bear whisperer By CRAIG MEDRED - Fifty miles northwest of Alaska's largest city, the roadless hills and boggy swamps of the Yentna River Valley have for years hidden the secret of bear man Charlie Vandergaw.

Far from the bear-viewing spectacle of Katmai National Park, and farther still from the hype that made a celebrity of the late Timothy Treadwell, a retired Anchorage science teacher has quietly transformed himself into what Treadwell only dreamed of being: a true bear whisperer.

What goes on each summer at Vandergaw's remote homestead is so far from the ordinary as to be almost unbelievable. Visitors tell of him petting black and brown bears, playing with grizzly cubs while sows stand by, sitting on bears and teaching them tricks. His own photographs show even more. They capture him easing to within feet of breeding grizzlies and nursing an injured brown bear.

From the air on an overcast day late last summer, the "Bear Farm," as it's known to some, doesn't look much different from dozens of other recreational homesteads sprinkled across the region.

As an Anchorage air taxi turns for its final approach, the scene appears unremarkable. But as the floatplane glides across a lake toward Vandergaw's Piper Cub, visitors get a first hint of the extraordinary. Protecting Vandergaw's floatplane is an electric fence - an unusual precaution against bears in this part of Alaska. Once on the ground, though, the need for the fence becomes quickly apparent.

Along the four-wheeler trail winding toward Vandergaw's cabin, the mud is thick with bear tracks and sprinkled with scat. Closer to the buildings, the bear sign increases.

Across a neatly grazed lawn under a poplar canopy, is Vandergaw painting one of his outbuildings. Ten, maybe 15 feet behind him is a sleek, 150-pound adult black bear acting for all the world like a Labrador retriever. Vandergaw pays the animal no attention.

There are regularly more bears, many more bears.

Sometimes, too, there are visitors, but not today. Vandergaw is alone and none too happy to have uninvited guests from the Anchorage Daily News. He promptly asks them to leave.

"I'm not looking for notoriety," he says. "My talking to you is not going to solve any of the problems you're going to create."

A discussion - some might call an argument - follows. Vandergaw eventually relents. Convinced that his love affair with the bears has become so widely known it can no longer be hidden, he begins to talk. Eventually, he invites the visitors into his cabin to see the huge and stunning collection of bear photographs stored in his computer. - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007

Willard Lear Jones

Obituary: Willard Lear Jones, 76 - Willard Lear Jones, age 76, died on April 5, 2007, in Ketchikan. His Haida name was Naastao of the Raven-Brown Bear Killerwhale Clan of Taas Laa Naas (Kasaan).

He was born on May 30, 1930, in Kasaan. He attended schools in Kasaan, Richmond Beach, Washington, Sheldon Jackson Junior and Senior High School in Sitka, and Oakland (Calif.) City College in diesel mechanic training. He lived in Kasaan, Sitka, Metlakatla, Big Delta, Oakland, Calif., and Ketchikan.

He married Mary Elizabeth Baines on March 15, 1951, in Sitka, and they recently celebrated their 56th anniversary.

Mr. Jones was employed as a commercial fisherman, diesel mechanic, high school teacher, and college diesel instructor at the Ketchikan Community College and University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan campus for 17 years. He was a Sealaska and Kavilco shareholder. He was Kavilco's first Chairman of the Board and a board member for 21 years.

He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict with training in Big Delta.

A member of the Presbyterian Church, Mr. Jones enjoyed singing in the Sitka, Metlakatla and Ketchikan choirs. - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007


 Public Meetings

The Ketchikan School Board will hold a regular meeting on Wednesday - April 25, 2007 at 6:00 pm in the City Council Chambers.
Agenda pdf (Information packet will be available Monday according to District Office)

Basic Rules

letterOut of control spending By Ed Fry - Sunday
letter"Honesty and Character" By Al Johnson - Sunday
letter Perpetuate Tribes Not Corporations By Don Hoff Jr. - Sunday
letter KGB Budget Review By Glen Thompson - Saturday
letter Do we need a new Public Library? By Judith L. Anglin - Saturday
letter Civil discourse By Wendy Gierard - Saturday
letter Thanks for making Ketchikan better! even at the Rock Pit... By Bobbie McCreary - Saturday
letter Family Activities By Carl Webb - Saturday
letter Explanations? By Charlotte Tanner - Saturday
letterA new America By Mike Isaac - Saturday
letter Integrity? By Rick Krueger - Saturday
letter Virginia Tech Massacre By Gavin Piercy- Saturday
letter "Family" By Julie Steiner - Wednesday PM
letter Ketchikan School Board By Rick Krueger - Wednesday PM
letter Penalties for dumping By Gavin Piercy - Wednesday PM
letter Margaret McCombs Story By Carolyn Frye - Wednesday PM
letterEarth Day By Tara Wilhelm - Wednesday PM
letter Virginia Tech Shootings By Glenn A. Bell - Wednesday PM
letter McCombs: Free to Roam By Amanda Chandler - Monday PM
letter Jim Elkins By Taylor Gregg - Monday PM
letter Honesty and character By Al Johnson - Monday PM
letterDo We Really Need a New Public Library? By Robert D. Warner - Monday PM
letter Ketchikan Garbage By Sonia Streitmatter - Monday PM
letterWorld Port, Superintendent, Library... By Robert McRoberts - Monday PM
letter Schools etc. etc. By Bill Thomas Sr. - Saturday
letter Open Letter: TLMP By Robert Pickrell - Saturday
letter DISCLOSURE APPROPRIATE By Pete Ellis - Saturday
letter Faith By Gregory Vickrey - Saturday
letter Chamber Lunch By Laura Plenert - Saturday
letter New Library building By Signe Markuson - Saturday
letter Thanks for Making Ketchikan Better! By Jerry Cegelske - Saturday
letter "Do we really need a new public library?" By Robert Fruehan - Saturday
letter Alaska Coins By Tom LeCompte - Saturday
letter Swan death: What a shame By Amanda Martin - Saturday
letter New Running Track! By Becky Maynard - Wednesday PM
letterA Time to Refocus By Michael Spence - Wednesday PM
letterDo We Really Need a New Public Library? By Robert D. Warner - Wednesday PM
letter Driving Team Announced! By Tom LeCompte - Tuesday PM
letterDon Young Guest of Honor at Pork Dinner By Carol Cairnes - Tuesday PM
letter Tongass Roads By Joan Hurliman - Tuesday PM
letter Swan Death over Easter By Terri-Lee Gould - Tuesday PM
letter In the interest of "facts" By Penny Marksheffel - Tuesday PM
letter Thanks Jim for your caring... By Anita Hall - Tuesday PM
letter A Bridge to Somewhere By John Maki - Tuesday PM
letter Trash By Rebecca Simpson - Tuesday PM
letter Bridge to Where? By Charlotte Tanner - Tuesday PM
letter Coming Home to Ketchikan By Aisha Marshall - Tuesday PM
letter More Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter


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The Week In Review By THOMAS HARGROVE - Thirty-three shot to death at Virginia Tech campus

Virginia Tech students and faculty suffered the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history Monday when English major Cho Seung-Hui gunned down 32 people before shooting himself. Cho, whom acquaintances described as a sullen loner, mailed video recordings to NBC the morning of the shootings in which he rambled against rich students and people he said had wronged him. "You decided to spill my blood," Cho said during the often-obscene tirade. "You had a hundred billion chances and ways to have avoided today." Several Virginia Tech students complained that police and university authorities were slow to warn them of Cho's first attacks.

Gonzales struggles to explain dismissals of prosecutors

Senate criticism grew louder after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony Thursday over why he authorized the firings of eight federal prosecutors late last year. Gonzales vehemently denied political motives, but frequently claimed a faulty memory when asked about the extent of his own involvement. "The notion that there was something that was improper that happened here is simply not supported," he said. Several key Republicans were unconvinced. "The best way to put this behind us is your resignation," said Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. White House spokesman Tony Fratto said President Bush believes Gonzales "can be effective going forward."

Ministers loyal to al-Sadr resign from Iraq Cabinet

Hopes for a political solution to Iraqi violence dimmed Monday when six Cabinet ministers loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr resigned in protest over the prime minister's refusal to set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Their exit raised concerns that al-Sadr's Mahdi Army might resume death-squad attacks that have killed thousands in Baghdad. Violence quickly escalated, with more than 80 execution-style civilian deaths discovered Tuesday and more than 180 deaths from suicide bombings Wednesday.

Reid says Iraq war is lost

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid angered the White House and several top Republicans Thursday when he said the U.S. military occupation of Iraq has failed. "This war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday," the lawmaker from Nevada said. Reid was referring to a wave of suicide bombings that killed more than 180 Iraqi civilians in a single day. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino called Reid's position "disturbing" and dared Democrats to cut off war funding. "If this is his true feeling, then it makes one wonder if he has the courage of his convictions and therefore will decide to de-fund the war," she said. - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007

Washington Calling: Crying 'Uncle Sam' over oil ... Pravda and Imus ... more By LISA HOFFMAN - Don't expect Capitol Hill to react to the Virginia Tech mass murder in any consequential way.

Unlike after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, when Democrats in Congress won new rules that limited the availability of some firearms, even fierce gun-control advocates like New York Sen. Charles Schumer are largely laying low.

Political strategists blame Al Gore's tie-breaking vote in favor of the restrictive measures as one reason he lost the 2000 presidential election, and Democrats are so hungry to win the White House back next year that they're not going to risk hurting themselves this time.

At most, Congress will likely dole out money that universities can use to buy and operate surveillance cameras, hire more security guards and install communications systems.


Seems the price of oil is too high even for Uncle Sam. Attempting to fill up the tanks in the nation's crude oil reserve after selling 11 million barrels of it to stabilize prices after Hurricane Katrina, the Energy Department solicited bids last month for 4 million barrels of crude. But the price offered by oil suppliers was far too steep. So, the department is trying again, setting a bid deadline of May 1. When the price is right, the contract will be the first direct purchase of crude oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve since 1994.


Now comes a handy glossary of election terminology, courtesy of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which this week unveiled an English-Spanish version and hopes to produce others in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog.

The first in the series offers Spanish translations for hundreds of phrases and terms of great import to America's electoral systems, including: hanging chads (perforaciones que no se han desprendido totalmente); deceased candidate (candidato fallecido), and catastrophic system failure (falla catastrofica del sistema).


The costs of treating the big megillahs of American illness - heart disease and cancer - increased by more than $50 billion between 2000 and 2004, according to new estimates from the federal Agency on Healthcare Research and Quality. The tab for heart care jumped to $90 billion from $62 billion; for cancer, it increased to $62 billion from $42 billion.

Even so, only about 3 million more people were treated for heart problems in 2004 than 2000, and about 1.6 million more for cancer.


So that's why Don Imus was canned! Pravda, that bastion of Russian journalistic excellence, tells us the radio star lost his job because he threatened to release secrets about the U.S. government's involvement in the 9/11 terror attacks. "Unable to attack such a powerful media figure as Don Imus, directly, the U.S. War Leaders(cq)... resorted to a massive media attack against him using as the reason a racial slur against a U.S. woman's basketball team."

Pravda said it expects actor Charlie Sheen will now bite his tongue before criticizing the Bush administration, lest he wind up like Imus, who Pravda believes likely will face jail time if he keeps threatening to spill the 9/11 beans. Who knew? - More...
Saturday - April 21, 2007

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