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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 02, 2009

Front Page Photo By MIKE SMITH

Steller's Jay
Front Page Photo By MIKE SMITH



Southeast Alaska: Murkowski Proposes Southeast Initiative to Aid Regional Economy; Effort Includes Timber Industry Retooling and Landless Native Compensation Bills - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today introduced two bills designed to stimulate the economy in Southeast Alaska, a region of the state that has been hard hit by the downturn in timber-related jobs.

The two bills are:

  • The Southeast Alaska Timber Industry Retooling and Restructuring Act to help firms retool to maintain jobs in the region.
  • The Unrecognized Southeast Alaska Native Communities Recognition and Compensation Act to set up urban corporations for Natives in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee and Haines.

In addition to the two bills introduced today, Murkowski announced that she will add to her Southeast legislative initiative with the introduction of two other bills following the upcoming Easter congressional recess ­ a Sealaska land settlement proposal and a measure designed to increase federal funding for new ferries and terminals.

Murkowski pointed to a recent Juneau Economic Development Corp. study by the McDowell Group that found that the Southeast Alaska regional population is declining and aging. The study found the average age of Juneau residents was 38.1 years ­ six years older than the state as a whole. The region also is losing private sector jobs, with 37 percent of the employment and 42 percent of all wages now coming from the public sector.

"The Southeast region has been hard hit by the downturn in the timber industry, by a growing decline in state government employment and by a potential decline in tourism," Murkowski said. "The region also is seeing a decline in population. It is time that we work to reverse these trends by offering a comprehensive federal program to settle Native land ownership issues and deal with declines in the timber industry."

Following are details of the legislation introduced today:

Southeast Alaska Timber Industry Retooling and Restructuring Act:

Joined by U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, as chief co-sponsor, Murkowski introduced legislation to help the Southeast Alaska timber industry modernize by moving into new types of timber operations as a way of stimulating employment in the Panhandle.

The bill would authorize up to $40 million in grants to long-time timber and timber-related companies in Southeast Alaska to help them either move into modern value-added processing or perhaps to take advantage of new non-timber economic opportunities.

"Given what we have seen in recent years as far as the price and availability of timber to our Panhandle mills, it is vital that we aid the industry to find innovative ways to make new products and develop new ways to provide year-round employment to Southeast's workforce. Given that the federal government has been a prime reason for the slowdown in timber activities, it is only right that it take the lead in providing assistance to get this struggling industry moving again," said Murkowski.

"Communities in Southeast Alaska have been hurting for years. Today's economic crisis has made it even harder for timber-based small businesses to survive," Sen. Begich said. "This bill will help the timber industry retool so they can be competitive and help ensure that we have a diversified economy in Southeast for decades to come."

Murkowski noted that back in 1954, the U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged the development of a sawmill and pulp mill timber industry in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast. From the startup of the pulp mills in Ketchikan in 1954 and in Sitka in 1961 to passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980, the Tongass was producing about 600 million board feet of timber a year, generating 3,500 direct and 2,500 indirect jobs and providing the largest number of year-round jobs in the region.

But following passage of ANILCA and the follow up Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990 the two pulp mills closed in the mid 1990s, and sawmills have tried to survive on the once anticipated 268 million board feet a year of allowable timber harvest. But a litany of federal forest policy changes from the Clinton-era roadless policy, to changes in Forest Service sale and road policies, to sale delays caused by litigation have resulted in harvest levels falling to 28 million board feet from federal lands and less than 50 million from private lands in 2008. That harvest level is far below the 192 mmbf reached in 2006 and about half of the 144 mmbf of 2007. Recent years have been drastically down from the 495 million board feet harvested from all lands as recently as 1997. - More...
Thursday - April 02, 2009

Southeast Alaska: ADF&G Announces 2009 Southeast Alaska Chinook Salmon Quota - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Tuesday that the abundance-based management system of the Pacific Salmon Treaty provides an all-gear Southeast Alaska Chinook salmon harvest quota of 218,800 fish for 2009. This is an increase of 48,800 fish from last year's pre-season quota of 170,000.

Utilizing data on the strength of West Coast Chinook salmon stocks that contribute to Southeast Alaska fisheries, the Pacific Salmon Commission's Chinook Technical Committee has determined that the 2009 Abundance Index for Chinook salmon in Southeast Alaska is 1.33. As specified in the recently revised 2008 Pacific Salmon Treaty Agreement, this level of abundance translates into an allowable all-gear catch for Southeast Alaska of 218,800 treaty Chinook. The 2009 harvest level takes into account a fifteen percent reduction from harvest levels allowed under the Chinook fishery arrangements in place from 1999 to 2008. Most Chinook salmon produced in Alaska hatcheries are not factored into the Abundance Index and may be harvested in addition to the treaty limit. - More...
Thursday - April 02, 2009


Alaska: Central Council and Sealaska Corporation Sign Historic Memorandum of Understanding - Bill Martin, President of Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Central Council) and Chris E. McNeil, Jr., Sealaska President & CEO announced that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed on March 27, 2009 between Central Council and Sealaska. The MOU is a historic agreement and strengthens opportunities for shareholders and members of both Native organizations. The intent is to provide business opportunities that will meet mutual objectives, including exploring business partnerships and investment opportunities in the region.

Central Council and Sealaska Corporation Sign Historic Memorandum of Understanding

Presidents Martin and McNeil sign historic MOU
Photo by Sealaska

"This is a challenging time for Southeast Alaska but there is potential for developing innovative and sustainable economies in Southeast," stated McNeil. "Collaboration amongst these Native institutions represents a new model to discovering solutions that will strengthen our region and benefit tribal members and Sealaska tribal member shareholders."
Sealaska and Central Council will work to identify and evaluate strategic plans then consider acquisition or startup of operating enterprises. The primary goals of the MOU are to:

  • Research new opportunities to improve the economic conditions of and employment opportunities for the Tribe's members and Sealaska's tribal member shareholders
  • Generate revenue for the Tribe and Sealaska
  • Enhance the Tribe's economic self-sufficiency and self-determination
  • Increase benefits and employment opportunities for tribal members and Sealaska tribal member shareholders
  • Enhance Sealaska's access to contract opportunities

"During this struggling economy it is important that we obtain maximum funding for our region through the stimulus act," said Martin. "I look forward to the Tribe working cooperatively with Sealaska to bring economic and employment opportunities to our tribal citizens and shareholders."

Central Council and Sealaska will focus on U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) federal contracting and mentor/protégé programs, renewable energy projects, labor force training and deployment, tourism and community infrastructure development. - More...
Thursday - April 02, 2009


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Basic Rules

letter Head Tax By Suzan Thompson - Mr. Edwardson is correct in his assessment that Alaska's $50 head tax is being used by some of the cruise lines as an excuse to pull a few ships from the Alaska run in the next year or two, and that it has little meaning for the average tourist. Try checking out Click on Boards, and then under Ports of Call, click on Alaska. On about page 6, there are two threads dealing with this topic. Nearly all of the cruisers who responded to this topic clearly stated that a fifty-dollar tax had absolutely no effect on their decision to cruise or not cruise to Alaska. Several of them said they had no idea there even was a $50 tax. They are far more concerned about the rising cost of the airfare to get to their embarkation points in Seattle and Vancouver than they are about this fee. - More...
Thursday - April 02, 2009

letter Tour Ship Head Tax By Lloyd B Ruaro - I have worked for Holland America corporate office for 5 years. I believe that they are bluffing that a head tax deters people from booking a cruise to our great state. - More...
Thursday - April 02, 2009

letterHead Tax By Susan Hoyt - Silly people. Do you possibly think that maybe the cruise ships are pulling out because there is a decline in the amount of people traveling these days?(Due to the economy ) - More...
Thursday - April 02, 2009

letter Shotgun Approach To Economy--The Budget By Donald A. Moskowitz - The Obama Administration is throwing many hundreds of billions of dollars at a multitude of programs, hoping for economic success. It appears the thrust of the policies encompass Rahm Emanuel's philosophy of "not letting a crisis go to waste". - More...
Thursday - April 02, 2009

letter U.S. Drops Case Against Former Sen. Stevens By Nathaniel Currall - Mr. Ortiz may wish to reconsider his lesson to the community of Ketchikan about politics, law and "Loyalty" in light of recent events. - More..
Thursday - April 02, 2009

WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT By Jacquie Meck - Gosh, I guess some people realize that WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT. We own it we pay for it .... out of every paycheck we make, and here in Ketchikan pretty much every service and product we buy and use. - More...
Thursday - April 02, 2009

letter Re: The Mayor Responds By Ken Bylund - Thank you for your response to Mr. Dial's, Questions for the Mayor, and clarification as to where you stand on these issues. I'm certain that everyone in this Borough would like to have that new library, a new heated swimming pool, and performing arts center [aka tourist restrooms], and skateboard park... etc., we really do. We want our citizens to enjoy all the pleasures of a prosperous and vibrant city/state. - More...
Tuesday - March 31, 2009

letter Ketchikan "Tea Party"? By Eileen Small - I have been hearing that many communities across the USA are planning "tea parties" to protest government spending, etc on "Tax Day" (April 15). - More...
Tuesday - March 31, 2009

letterTour ship head tax By Chas Edwardson - I doubt very highly that a fifty dollar head tax was a big factor in Princess Cruise's visitations or lack of. And now that they have made this public announcement about this (devastating tax), other cruise lines will make this claim to reinforce Princess' claims in an effort to put that fifty bucks back in their pockets. - More...
Tuesday - March 31, 2009

letterBig numbers By Mike Sallee - OK, I won't argue with Mr. McGillvray, but for the edification of the rest of those perusing this column, in America a billion is 1 followed by nine zeros, a trillion is 1 followed by twelve zeros. - More...
Tuesday - March 31, 2009

letter The Mayor Responds By Dave Kiffer - Dear Rodney, Thank you for writing and expressing your concerns.

As you noted, I can't answer all of your questions but I will try to respond to the ones that I can. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letter Mr. Dial's letter and a few of my own thoughts. By Derek Andrews - I think I have found the person I will write-in for mayor at the next election, if he is not going to run. Library project is wasteful in these economic times and that art should be funded by the private sector. The role of government should be to minimize expenses and focus those resources they do use to the greater good of the populous. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letterRE: Time for some climate realism By J.A. Rasmussen - Kudo's to Rep. Gato for publishing his opinion about man-made global warming. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letterNIGHTCRAWLERS By David G. Hanger - Escalation is wise only when you know you have a winning hand, so let this serve as warning to you AMHS employees who have been spying for your tax-cheating guru, Martin A. Kapp, that not only are you playing a very bad hand, you are also playing a very dumb one. If you want my address so you can get Marty Kapp to jump all over me with his threats of lawsuits, etc., rather than crawling around in the night and getting it wrong, you could simply ask. But no, just like your guru, you crawl around in the mud and hide from the light. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letter RE: Cruise Ship Head Tax By Dustin Hofeling - In the words of Chris Barry: "Silly people." Now you see what happens when taxes are increased. The cruise ships are pulling vessels. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letter Problem Bus Driver By Bryan Oftedahl - This is for the fellow customers of Ketchikan's public transit system. Is it really just me or is there one bus driver in particular who never seems to care about us? I have seen this bus driver fly right past bus stops with people waiting to get on and out of the rain yet he doesn't even flinch. I've been on the Blue Line while he skips going up to Wal-Mart so I have to wait while he goes out to Totem Bight then get dropped off on Shoreline Dr. (so long as he doesn 't skip that one too) and walk through the freezing snow to get to Wal-Mart. I've sat on Green Line and witnessed him go right past three people standing at the Baranof/ Tower Rd. stop. One day a woman came running up to the bus when he was waiting to pull back into traffic from the Plaza stop and she knocked and I mentioned that somebody was knocking on the door but ignored me and the woman, he refused to sacrifice a couple of seconds to open the door. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letterUAS Library Movies Questioned By Robert D. Warner - Recently I have noticed that the UAS Ketchikan Library is offering a series of "brown bag lunch" movies. The movies are scheduled from noon to 1:15 p.m. in the library.- More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letter Administration's Shotgun Approach To Economy - Part 1 of 3-The Stimulus By Donald A. Moskowitz - The recently enacted $787 billion economic stimulus plan designed to create jobs includes about $300 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses, which will not create jobs because companies are not hiring and consumers are saving their money, not making purchases they can postpone. The Commerce Department recently reported a U.S. savings rate of 5%, which is the highest since 1995. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letterUp to here with...well I simply can't say. By Marina Keirn - In response to the "dog poop" concern: I too am disgusted with the various "piles" deposited around town. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letter Dog Droppings By Hal Smith - Thanks Carrie Mueller, someone is finally saying something about the dog poop on the sidewalks by the Mary Frances Building. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letter Re: A Trillion dollars By Rudy McGillvray - Dear Ken, and everyone else who doesn't know that a trillion dollars is not what you think it is. - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

letter Re: Thanks to Young Democrats By A. M. Johnson - My error, without the Mark Steyn column involved, my letter to the Editor regarding thanks to young Democrats for their assumption of future fiscal indebtedness was left off or out of my post.  - More...
Monday - March 30, 2009

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