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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 25, 2009

Front Page Photo by CINDY BALZER

Front Page Photo by CINDY BALZER



Alaska: American West Steamboat Company, LLC Pleads Guilty to Pollution Charge Related to Empress of the North Grounding May 14, 2007 - Friday, Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy sentenced American West Steamboat Company, LLC for violating a state criminal law that makes polluting state waters illegal. The charge arose out of the May 2007 grounding of the Empress of the North.

Passenger Rescue
Photo courtesy AK Dept. of Law

Judge Levy ordered the company to pay a $200,000 fine and serve 18 months of probation, with the condition that it not violate any more laws, including any environmental laws and regulations, and abide by its Safety Management System and Fleet Instructions. Judge Levy suspended $150,000 of the fine. The remaining $50,000 will be deposited into the state's General Fund and credited to the Oil and Hazardous Substance Release Prevention and Mitigation Account. The legislature created the Mitigation Account to provide funds to investigate, contain, and clean up spills of oil and other hazardous substances and to protect human health and the environment.

American West Steamboat Company operated the Empress in Alaska waters during the 2007 summer tourist season. On May 14, 2007, the Empress struck Rocky Island as it negotiated a turn from Lynn Canal into Icy Strait. Rocky Island, about 20 miles southwest of Juneau, is charted and marked by a navigation beacon. The allision punctured the hull of the vessel and caused it to drift and then ground on Hanus Reef.

The Empress crew, Coast Guard and Good Samaritan responders transferred all 200-plus passengers to other vessels. (Image 2). No one was hurt. Had anyone fallen into the water during the allision or the transfer to other ships, they could have sustained significant injuries. The Coast Guard described the accident in a subsequent letter to American West Steamboat Company as "the most significant marine casualty in Southeast Alaska this [2007] summer" because it "imperil[ed] hundreds of lives and threaten[ed] pristine waterways just miles from the entrance of Glacier Bay National Park." - More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009

Alaska: NOAA Fisheries opens comments on proposal limiting charter halibut boats - NOAA Fisheries has opened comment on a proposed program designed to limit the number of charter boats in the guided sport halibut fishery in Southeast Alaska and the central Gulf of Alaska.

"The guided sport charter halibut sector has been growing steadily in recent years," said Acting Regional Administrator Doug Mecum. "The proposed limited access program is intended to stabilize the guided charter sector while maintaining access to the halibut charter fishery for small rural coastal communities." - More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009

Ketchikan: Unique ministry on the sea faces uncertain future - For over twenty years, the M/V Christian has traveled the waters of southeast Alaska, visiting isolated communities to provide pastoral care and opportunities for worship and fellowship. Today the Christian is sitting in dry dock in Wrangell, Alaska; its mission suspended and its future uncertain due to a decline in giving, attributed to the national recession.

Unique ministry on the sea faces uncertain future

M/V Christian on Blocks

The M/V Christian, a 65-foot, 75-ton vessel has been used for ministry since it was launched in 1971. Originally a Lutheran outdoor ministry for youth in the Puget Sound area, it was brought to Alaska in 1988 to begin outreach to remote villages in Southeast Alaska. Two years later Lutheran Association of Missionaries and Pilots U.S., based in Wisconsin acquired the boat.

Just as Alaska's state ferry system serves as a highway link for coastal communities, the M/V Christian is unique to the Lutheran Association's network of pastors. Originally staffed by airplane pilots who traveled to Native American and Canadian villages, the M/V Christian is the only sea going vessel sponsored by the association and its only Alaskan outreach program.

Pastor/Skipper Stan Berntson, former pastor of First Lutheran Church in Ketchikan took over the helm of the M/V Christian in April 2008. His wife, Sharon Geldaker serves as nurse advocate/first mate and joined him in September. Together they sailed throughout southeast Alaska carrying out the M/V Christian's tradition of cross-cultural ministry providing worship services, pastoral care, counseling, sacraments, vacation bible camps, and education classes. - More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009

Alaska: Alaska Education Commissioner Reviews Recent Legislative Session - The just-completed legislative session lays the groundwork for significant improvements in Alaska's public schools, Education Commissioner Larry LeDoux said recently

"We are grateful to Governor Palin and the legislators for their leadership in taking steps to address the needs of Alaska's school children," Commissioner LeDoux said.

Among other education-related accomplishments, the Alaska State Legislature approved a pilot preschool program and authorized more money for Head Start; appropriated the second year of a three-year increase in school funding; financially supported efforts by the Department of Education & Early Development to assist struggling schools; and took steps to ease the transition of military families to their new schools when they move to Alaska.

Governor Sarah Palin praised the Legislature for approving funding for numerous education initiatives and programs she requested, including the $2 million pilot preschool program.

"This is great news for Alaska," said Governor Palin. "Working together, we have made decisions that are going to positively impact the lives of many children. My goal is to try and make sure education funds actually produce measurable improvements in student achievement, particularly for minority and special needs students." - More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009


Fish Factor: 50 Years of Alaska's Seafood Industry Celebrated By LAINE WELCH - When it comes to taking pride in Alaska's fisheries, differences are set aside.

50 Years of Alaska's Seafood Industry Celebrated

Governor Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Stevens at Kodiak dinner
Credit Dennis Zaki, Alaska Report

That proved true at a statehood anniversary celebration last Thursday in Kodiak that highlighted 50 years of Alaska's seafood industry.

A remarkable mix of roughly 225 people were lucky enough to get tickets to the event at the Golden Anchor on the U.S. Coast Guard base. It included a seafood smorgasbord, entertainment and a rare chance to rub elbows with special guests- Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Ted Stevens.

Senator Stevens arrived early, looking spry and happy. He tirelessly posed for pictures and signed event programs, all the while shaking hands with friends and fans. Stevens was clearly in a 'comfort zone;' he remarked several times "it's so good to be home."

Governor Palin and Todd appeared right on time for dinner and (as with Ted Stevens) there was a buzz as soon as they entered the building. At first, the governor appeared a bit tense and uncertain, but there was a friendly vibe in the room and she soon visibly relaxed. Palin happily posed for pictures throughout the evening and spoke comfortably and casually with the throngs of mostly women who gathered around her.

Fishing has always been part of Alaska's history, said historian Bob King, who began the evening's festivities. King authored a new booklet titled "Sustaining Alaska's Fisheries: 50 Years of Statehood" at the request of ADF&G and given out at the dinner. - More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009

Craig: SOUTHEAST ALASKA RESIDENT INDICTED BY FEDERAL GRAND JURY ON CHARGES RELATING TO VIOLATIONS OF THE LACEY ACT - United States Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced Wednesday, that Douglas L. Smith, a resident of Craig, Alaska, was indicted by the federal grand jury on one count of conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act, one count of attempting to violate the Lacey Act, and one count of violating the Lacey Act.

The three-count indictment charges Smith, age 31, as the sole defendant.

The indictment charges Smith with three counts relating to the illegal killing and attempted illegal sale of sea otters and a the illegal sale of a Steller Sea Lion hide in 2007. The Steller Sea Lion is on the Endangered Species list in Southeast Alaska and is currently listed as a threatened species.

The indictment alleges that beginning in July 2007, and continuing through October 2008, Smith conspired with an unnamed co-conspirator in an illegal scheme to unlawfully harvest sea otters in order to sell their hides. It is alleged that Smith agreed to permit the unnamed co-conspirator to use his boat for the illegal killing of sea otters. In exchange for permitting the co-conspirator to use his boat, Smith would get a percentage of profits from the subsequent sale of the sea otter hides by his co-conspirator. The indictment alleges that neither Smith nor the co-conspirator were Alaskan Natives, which, under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, prohibited them hunting or killing sea otters. The Marine Mammal Protection Act also prohibits non-Alaskan Natives from possessing any non-authentic Native handicraft made from marine mammals or their parts. - More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009


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Basic Rules

letterRE: HIGH RENTAL COSTS By Zak Young - Mr. Steiner has a valid point, which is very simply "BUY A HOUSE, END OF STORY!" - More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009

letter School Districts Will Pilot Ideas for Publicly Funded Preschools By Larry LeDoux, Alaska Education Commissioner - Giving our children high-quality care from birth to age 6 is one of the best ways we can prepare them for success at school -- and throughout their lives. The Palin administration will help more Alaska parents achieve this level of care, whether their children are at home or in preschools. - More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009

letterFiddler Problem By Rodney Dial - RE: The fiddler on the roof carving on Creek St. not being in compliance with zoning laws.- More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009

letterCommercial crab restrictions By Trygve Westergard - I heard a rumor that fish and game opened Bostwick Bay along with some others to commercial crabbers? Why was this opened? - More..
Saturday - April 25, 2009

letter Parking By Rhett Jackson - I agree with Jackie Keizer; parking on Deermount is already strained to the max as these old city houses weren't planned as well as other newer homes. If the city would buy the rock quarry behind Deermount and turn it into a parking lot that might be an option but one has to wonder if taking the parking off Deermount by fiat caters to folks who aren't residents. I would have to bring my car up the 48 steps to my house if this happens. - More...
Saturday - April 25, 2009

letterParking for residents By Bobbie McCreary - I strongly support Jackie Keizer's comments and put in my own plea. Please, look first to a more global, city-wide parking plan first and do NOT take a piecemeal approach to parking issues. If you "squeeze" parking in one place, it will just "pop up" in another. We all know there is inadequate parking space allocated in the central part of town to park the vehicles driven by people who live there. - More...
Thursday - April 25, 2009

letter Tea Party Report By Connie Emmert - A PajamasTV report estimates that about one million people came out for the Tax Day Tea Parties across the nation!  What a huge success!  Not only that, but a Rasmussen poll this week showed that 51% of Americans viewed the tea parties favorably, while only 33% viewed them unfavorably. - More...
Thursday - April 25, 2009

letterRemoval of Parking on Deermount St. By Jackie Keizer - I am writing in regard to the notice that appeared in the Weekend Edition stating that "the City of Ketchikan Joint Safety Committee is soliciting input from the public regarding removal of on-street parking for all the north side of Deermount Street." - More...
Thursday - April 23, 2009

letterThe High Cost of UAS Administration By Robert D. Warner - Rapidly rising costs for higher education are a major worry to college students and their parents who struggle to find funds to cover these increases. - More...
Thursday - April 23, 2009

letter Man Caused Disasters By A.M.Johnson - U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has demonstrated yet another shallow or corrupt example of the "Kenyan's" cabinet talent, by claiming that the "War on Terror" is really a "Overseas Contingency Operations" and then this. - More...
Thursday - April 23, 2009

letter Re: Drivers By Alan R. McGillvray - Well by now, we should all know that there are two ways to drive on the roads and streets, around and about Ketchikan; either WAY TOO FAST, or WAY TOO SLOW. - More...
Thursday - April 23, 2009

letterContempt for "tea baggers" By Richard Easbey - Well, well, well. In David Hanger's screed published 04/21/09, he manages to parrot just about every DNC talking point/leftist ad hominem I've seen since last Wednesday's Tea Party. And he starts off magnificently with the elitism and snobbery which only a leftist is capable of, with his remark about Republicans not reading. Yep, that's right, Dave. Those of us who don't agree with statists like yourself are just a bunch of dummies. Thanks for clearing that up. Oh, and by the way: calling us "tea baggers" is so last week. What is it with the left's obsession with this particular sex act? What are you, 12? (If you don't know what "tea-bagging" is, ask a middle schooler.)  - More...
Thursday - April 23, 2009

letter RE: THE FIZZLE IN THE DRIZZLE By William H. Davis - Mr. Hanger, you have an opinion. Great. Americans can voice that opinion in anyway that they want to, be it in a letter to the editor or standing on a soapbox...on a street corner. Either way is perfectly acceptable under the law. - More...
Thursday - April 23, 2009

letterRE: Timber Industry Retooling By Dave Abeyta  - I'm in agreement with Keith Stump's comments & information. I've spent half my working life (15 years) in the northwest logging industry & one thing is for sure forest management is an imperfect science in the works. The Forest Service sends out well intentioned, college educated people to tell loggers what's best for the forest. In spite of what the preservationists think we loggers care about what is best for the trees so they will be there for us & our children. - More...
Thursday - April 23, 2009

letter Reply to High Rental Costs By Mark Steiner - Buy a house, end of story. - More...
Thursday - April 23, 2009

letter High Rental Costs By Katherine Wood - I too think rental costs in Ketchikan are extreme. I have two children and I am renting on my own for the first time. It is such a struggle, not fun at all. I am a hard working person who has a fairly good job and I can never get ahead. It makes me sick when I talk to my mom in Oregon who rents a 3 bedroom 2 bath brand new house with a 2 car garage, a grassy front yard with a fenced grassy back yard and a dog and she only pays $750 a month. I pay $1007 a month not including utilities and that's in a 2 bedroom 1 bath APARTMENT in a four-plex. - More...
Thursday - April 23, 2009

letterHigh Rental Costs By Zak Young - I read the letter about the high cost of rentals in Ketchikan, and myself am in the mad dash search for an apt due to circumstances beyond my control, and am having the same issues. The writer hit the nail on the head! I usually am a person who tells it how I see this is what I see!! - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letterUnbelievable Renters By Susan Hoyt - I read the letter "Unbelievable Rental Costs". I am not defending high rents but I must add that I have had my share of great renters and I thought I might share just a couple stories. - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letterTHE FIZZLE IN THE DRIZZLE By David G. Hanger - This "tea bagging" nonsense is a classic example of that old adage, the difference between Democrats and Republicans is Democrats believe what they read; Republicans just don't read. Believing what one reads has always exemplified stupidity; one must follow the footnote trail to determine the writer's ideology, method, and motivation, none of which has anything to do with belief. Not reading epitomizes and enhances ignorance, and ignorance is certainly the primary message broadcast by the "tea baggers." - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letter Regarding Tax Day Tea Party By Connie Emmert, Laura Antonsen, and Dick Coose - Thanks to all of you who came out to the sign waving Tax Day Tea Party!  It was a great turn out, and you were true patriots for standing out there in the cold and wind.  We and our fellow tea party patriots across the country made history and surely we have begun to make an impact in congress. - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letterTax Tea Party By Eileen Small - Ms. Gay, there is a petition circulating in support of the tea party's concepts. I have one copy in my office if you'd like to drop by and sign. Also, there will be a "like event" on July 4 and you are definitely welcome to come. - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letter"Tea Party" By Lou Ann Richardson - Ketchikan's "tea party" made one of the New York Times Op-Ed articles, (Gail Collins, 4/18)....along with Texas. We're famous yet again. - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letter Open Letter: Refund anticipation loans By David G. Hanger - On behalf of the consumers and the taxpaying citizens of the state of Alaska, first and foremost, but in this instance contributing to the enhanced well-being of the citizens of all of the states, I respectfully request the immediate outlawing of refund anticipation loans, an abomination that has brought loan sharks and incompetents into the fields of accounting and of tax preparation, thereby degrading the standards of this profession to an embarrassing degree, while bilking the consuming public for high fees and high rates of interest, constituting as much as 20% to 30% of a taxpayer's refund, for a loan that lasts no more than five to ten days. - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letter Re: Drivers By Doug Johnson - I share some of Mr. Harper's frustrations. I see just as many over cautious drivers driving well under the speed limit for no apparent reason. Maybe they lack the driving skill necessary to manipulate the corners at speed, maybe they have no place to go and don't care how long it takes them to get there. - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letterALASKA AIRLINES TICKETS By Chas Edwardson - If it cost me let's say 300 dollars to get from here to Seattle, I would probably go there at least 4 to 5 times a year just to dry off. Ironic? total= 1200 to 1500 bucks. - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letter Tickets By Heather Wills - Exactly, we don't have that option here, we don't have any options here and they know it. Alaska airlines has a Monopoly in Southeast Alaska and they know it, it's not just Ketchikan that gets the shaft either, tried flying out of Juneau lately? - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letter Re: Drivers By Floyd Crocker - A classic case of road rage, Give yourself a few more minutes and enjoy the trip. - More...
Tuesday - April 21, 2009

letterKFD Dispatchers By Dave Hull - I want to start off by saying that the Ketchikan Police Department and Alaska State Troopers dispatchers deserve all the accolades given them for the performance of their duties. In fact, they can't be given enough. I have been involved with emergency response for the last 34 years and have taken great comfort many times in the calm, warm voice coming out of my handheld radio speaker. Just knowing someone is there when I key the microphone is of great reassurance. I must object, however, that one group has been left out of the honors recently bestowed by the Borough Assembly. The group I am referring to is the dispatchers with the Ketchikan Fire Department. They are still there filling in when needed and doing an excellent job but were referred to as 'others' in the proclamation. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letterUnbelievable Rental Costs - Letter removed by request.
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letterHelp save the Dungeness! By Lloyd Gossman - Everyone needs to help stop the Ketchikan area summer commercial Dungeness crab fishery. It hasn't taken place for 20 years because it was a bad idea back in the day and it's a bad idea now. As of now, this fishery is scheduled to start on June 15th, right when most of the Dungeness are soft shelled and reproducing. Millions of pounds of Dungeness will be wasted because of the high mortality rate of the soft-shelled crab. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letterRE: Timber Industry Retooling By Keith Stump - I read, with some dismay and perhaps even some amusement, Mr. Hjerpe's attempt to pan Sen. Murkowski's Southeast Alaska Timber Industry Retooling and Restructuring Act. Amused by yet another OIE ("Outside Instant Expert") postulating and perpetuating ad nauseam something somebody told them was true (but really isn't), and dismayed that others with equal ignorance will possibly believe it and extend the vicious cycle of propaganda. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letter Hydaburg School By Frances C. Natkong - On April 9, 2009, the Board of Education of Hydaburg City School District met in a regular school board meeting and voted unanimously to retain the present CEO of Hydaburg school. There was one board member absent that night so was not counted in the vote. Their logic in retaining the CEO is "he's saving the district money and it's not feasible to hire a superintendent at this time." I've done some computing and both the CEO and his significant other's salaries combined are outrageous! The school board hired SERRC to do a superintendent search and that was not brought up at the meeting, the president skipped right over that on the agenda (more money going out without just cause). It makes me wonder how much was spent on the superintendent search and why weren't any of the candidates for the position even considered? - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letter Three if by mandate By Ken Lewis - And then there was dark! Can one of the smarter people on this Island explain in real terms what House Bill 19 will do for evening outdoor activity in South East Alaska? My fear is the Snooze Alarm Junkies are trying to steal another hour of our evening outdoor activity time, for the sake of fewer hours separating Anchorage and a Hash Bar in Socialized Europe. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letterClose Encounter of the Squirrel Kind By Joseph Miller - Just wanted to say, we had a squirrel encounter last night. Two of our flying squirrel friends found their way into my home. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letterTruth Scenario! By Arilee Bird - Chas Edwardson, I raise you high for your succinct portrayal of what's gone on for years. I used to spit my coffee like you, and then have morning 'incredulous blowouts', and finally started wondering: "Where the heck do I get in line for these outrageous handouts?" Lie like a rug, devise a devious hell-bent-for-failure plan, sell the council and Ta-Dah! Make big lying 'doo-doo', and come out of it with big bucks, and smelling somewhat like a rose, but leaving a stench. Apparently if one is not part of the "inner circle" that keeps it going. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letter Drivers By David C Harper - May or may not be a stupid pet-pieve of mine, but why do 99.99% of drivers either drive too fast, or waaayyyyy too slow? It seems most are confused as to which driving habits they should use during each season. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letterTea Party By Gay D. Peters - I did not know the Tea Party was going to happen here or I would have been there. I do not check this web sight all the time. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letterALASKA AIRLINES TICKETS By Julie Steiner - I wanted to respond to Kim Morton's letter from April 6 - I agree with her 100%. We live in a town that the only way out is by ferry or plane. I have a big family, and trying to buy airplane tickets costs a ton of money. Oregon - Washington - why are they getting these deals on Alaska Airlines when they have a whole lot more choices on which airline to choose - we sure don't have that option here. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letter Landless settlement due years ago By Anita Edenshaw - I am a landless share holder, most of my family didn't live long enough to see the long awaited settlement, and it's about time people quit playing games and settle. Get the landless people who are willing to put the time and effort in fighting for our land or money. It's long over due. Have them inform the shareholders on the progress if any at all times. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

letterCombat Somali Pirates By Donald A. Moskowitz - The Somali pirates continue to wreak havoc on commercial shipping off the coast of Africa. There are about 20 ships with over 300 hundred hostages currently being held by the pirates for ransom. - More...
Thursday - April 16, 2009

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