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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 20, 2010

Front Page Photo by LISA THOMPSON

M/V Susitna
Tug Boat Jenny B is docking the new M/V Susitna in Ketchikan last week. The M/V Susitna is to be homeported at Port McKenzie (Anchorage area) once it passes its sea trial. The M/V Susitna draws 13 1/2 feet as she sits in the water now, but the car deck lowers to allow her to practically drive on shore and allows the cars to drive down a ramp to shore; at this point she draws 4 1/2 feet of water. The M/V Susitna can carry 20 vehicles & 130 passengers, she will use her thruster to get away from the shallow waters & then uses her props when she gets into deep water. Her thrusters all have filters on them to prevent dirt & crude from entering & clogging up the system. She also has ice cutting capabilities, of a 2 foot thickness & she cuts in an upward direction not the standard downward thrust. The Navy does have equipment onboard to test her capabilities & if she does well they will consider ordering a larger version. She will also be equipped with emergency rescue equipment and used as a rescue boat.
Front Page Photo by LISA THOMPSON


Alaska: Alaska to Join Lawsuit Challenging National Health Care - Alaska Governor Sean Parnell today announced that the State of Alaska will join 20 other states in challenging the constitutionality of recently enacted federal heath care reform legislation. Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan released a detailed legal memorandum in which he analyzes the potential legal claims and recommends the constitutional challenge.

"With the enactment of health care legislation, the federal government has reached well beyond the scope of its authority - into the lives and freedom of Alaskans," Governor Parnell said. "This case is ultimately about the extent to which the federal government can exert power over the states. It has critical implications for the liberty interests of all American citizens. Alaska must join this important litigation."

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains an individual mandate that requires U.S. citizens to purchase federal government-approved "qualifying" health insurance coverage beginning in 2014. Those who refuse to purchase a government-approved health insurance plan will have to pay a tax penalty of $695 per year or 2.5 percent of their annual income, whichever is higher.

"The individual mandate is an unprecedented federal action," said Attorney General Sullivan. "Never before has the federal government required people to buy a good or service as a condition of being a lawful resident in the United States. The authority to require American citizens to comply with this mandate should be challenged as beyond the scope of Congress' Commerce Clause powers as enumerated in Article I of the Constitution. By joining this suit, we are defending the bedrock constitutional principles of federalism, limited government, and individual liberty."

The governor emphasized that the decision to sue is more about Alaskans' liberty interests than about health care legislation. "Health insurance coverage is not in the public interest if it's achieved through a constitutional short-cut that expands federal power at the expense of states' rights and the liberties of citizens," he said.

In a prepared statement Congressman Don Young (R-AK) said, "I commend Governor Parnell and Attorney General Sullivan for taking a step towards ensuring freedom for Alaskans."

Young said, "The recently passed health care legislation was a steep infringement on the liberties of the American people and an intrusion into their lives. This Administration force-fed America a bill that will increase premiums while growing inefficient government bureaucracy by establishing nearly 160 new boards, commissions, and programs.The health care legislation is absolutely unconstitutional and joining in this lawsuit is the right thing to do for Alaskans."

"I fully support the Governor in this endeavor. I have already signed on as a cosponsor to H.R. 4910, a bill to repeal the health care legislation, and will do whatever else I can to help him with this at the federal level," said Young.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) also commented on the announcement that Alaska is joining 19 other states in a lawsuit against the federal government over the new health care. The 19 states are challenging the legal requirement for everyone to purchase health insurance and the Medicaid mandate on states. - More...
Tuesday - April 20, 2010

Southeast Alaska: Bill to Establish Southeast State Forest Passed - Alaska Governor Sean Parnell yesterday welcomed the news that House Bill 162, which establishes a Southeast State Forest, has passed the Legislature.

"The passage of this legislation comes at a time when our Southeast communities need some positive economic news," the governor said. "I'm pleased that the administration and the Legislature are working together to provide timber jobs and other opportunities for this region of Alaska."

This forest, covering 25,291 acres, is the third in the Alaska State Forest System and the first addition since the Tanana Valley State Forest in 1983. - More...
Tuesday - April 20, 2010

Alaska: DPS Commissioner Extends Studded Tire Deadline - Alaska Department of Public Safety Commissioner Joseph Masters issued an emergency order on April 14th to extend the studded-tire deadline on Alaska roads south of 60 degrees north latitude from April 15 to May 1. The extension makes May 1 the deadline for all Alaska roads. According to AS 28.35.155, April 15 and May 1 are the normal deadlines to have studded tires removed; however, the order extends the studded tire season deadline due to poor road conditions in parts of the area south of 60 degrees north latitude.

The 60 degree latitude line crosses Alaska south of Ninilchik and north of Happy Valley and just north of Yakutat in the Southeast. These communities, with the exception of the Sterling Highway, were subject to the April 15 deadline. The Sterling Highway that runs across the Kenai Peninsula falls under the normal May 1 deadline. - More...
Tuesday - April 20, 2010

Alaska: Tourism Tax Reduction Welcomed - Alaska Governor Sean Parnell yesterday welcomed the passage of Senate Bill 312, which reduces the cruise passenger excise tax from $46 to $34.50. Recognizing the significant impact the decline in cruise ship travel has on Alaska jobs and Alaska businesses, Governor Parnell introduced legislation that sends a clear message to cruise passengers and the industry that Alaska welcomes visitors. Many elements of SB 311, proposed by the governor, have been incorporated into SB 312.

"Alaska businesses have suffered because of the impacts of this tax," Governor Parnell said. "We need to incentivize tour travel to Alaska and build our businesses. Enactment of this bill will put litigation between the cruise industry and the state behind us and allow us to focus on restoring tour travel. I appreciate the Legislature's consideration of this bill." - More...
Tuesday - April 20, 2010

Alaska: Attorney General Sullivan Hails Passage of Major Crime Bills - Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan welcomed final action by the Legislature this weekend on four major criminal justice bills that are part of Governor Parnell's 10-year plan to end the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault in Alaska.

"The governor put forward an ambitious legislative package as part of our comprehensive strategy to end this scourge against our women and children, and the Legislature strongly supported these important initiatives, which will clearly help keep Alaskans safer," Sullivan said. - More...
Tuesday - April 20, 2010


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letter Sealaska lands bill By U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski - In a letter concerning the Sealaska lands bill printed on April 14, an Edna Bay resident stated that it was "stunning" that Sealaska had already filed for lands to complete its entitlement under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), as if the matter of filing for lands meant that the current bill is not needed to complete rational land conveyances due Sealaska's 20,000 Alaska Native shareholders. That is not the case. - More...
Wednesday - April 21, 2010

letterOpen Letter to the KGB Mayor & Assembly By Johnnie Laird - Mayor Dave Kiffer and Ketchikan Assembly, I am disappointed that you passed a resolution in favor of the Legislation and didn't join in solidarity in opposition with Sitka, Port Protection, Point Baker, Edna Bay, Hollis, Whale Pass, Thorne Bay, Craig, Naukati, Kake, The US Department of the Agriculture, The US Department of the Interior and many others. - More...
Wednesday - April 21, 2010

letterMay is ALS Awareness Month: Let's STRIKE OUT ALS!! By Linda Kreider - May is ALS Awareness Month!! I will be representing Alaska for the 4th time since 2006, when this disease took my father away from me, my mother, brother and sister and the rest of our family. My sister-in-law, Teri Teal will be travelling with me this year for the 1st time! We leave Ketchikan on Friday, May 7 and will return May 12. We will meeting with our Senators and Representatives on Tuesday May 11. In the past few years, I have been able to have a State of Alaska Proclamation declaring May as ALS Awareness Month for the State of Alaska, and am hoping that we can get the City of Ketchikan, as well as the Ketchikan Gateway Borough to do the same!! - More...
Wednesday - April 21, 2010

letterChanges By A. M. Johnson - As the Country watches the huge social changes imposed by the current liberal administration, many are and more are, becoming concerned as to the Nation holding together with civility. I can not attest to the validity of the following piece, however, even if it were not written by the person listed, it still tells well!! - More...
Wednesday - April 21, 2010

letterTrails and drunks. By Patti Fay Hickox - Where are they going so fast? We only have about 30 miles of road. "What's the hurry, what is everybody hurrying for." Drivers do not stop for people in crosswalks. Remember when most of us walked and smiled and waved at the people going by in cars. People slowed down to wave at their neighbors. I came to Alaska to get out of the cities and a fast pace of life. Now Alaska is moving faster. Everybody going so fast they have no time for their neighbors. - More...
Wednesday - April 21, 2010

letterRe: Married Man's Trail By Laurie Hodne - It was funny timing when I sat down to look at the letters to the editor and the very same subject I was debating on writing about happened to be a "peeve" for someone else. I am not a frequent hiker on Married Man's Trail, but was there when I was searching for the Easter Treasure Hunt and was appalled by the trail and its lack of upkeep. Is that City property? - More...
Wednesday - April 21, 2010

letterMarried Man's Trail and other stuff By Kara McElroy- Steele - Regarding Ms. Susan Coady's letter about Married Mans trail, I have two things to say. Back in the day (if you lived there for 25 yrs you should remember this), it was common place down on the Tongass dock, for homeless drunks to sit and sleep, behind it and in front of it (before it turned into Tourist Central!). You would also see them hangin out around the loop of bars all the way around the corner by Tom Sawyers. - More...
Wednesday - April 21, 2010

letterThanks from The Mainframe LAN Gaming Center By Ryan Avila - I would just like to thank everyone who came down and supported our business this weekend. We hope to continue providing a safe environment for the youth of Ketchikan so that they have a fun alternative to doing drugs and drinking (which is a large problem in Ketchikan). - More...
Wednesday - April 21, 2010

letterHope this resolves the issue By Paul Jarvi - Ms. Catron, Please excuse me for stating an opinion. - More...
Wednesday - April 21, 2010


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letterCity Council Should Reject KPU Telecom Sale By Mike Harpold - The Daily News correctly notes that the 13 vote margin in the recent special election asking to sell KPU Telecom, an election that turned out only 13 percent of the voters, was not a mandate. Never the less, a decision was made, and the issue passes to the city council which now must act in the interests of all the people on our island. - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letterEnsuring Accurate "TRIBAL" Counts By Marilyn Blair-Catron - I think it funny how they are telling us to put in either KIC or OVS in place of the names of our "Tribes." One being, Ketchikan Indian Community and the other being the Organized Village of Saxman. Do you see anything in those words helping to "Ensure Accurate Tribal Counts?" I sure don't. - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letterMarried Man's Trail By Susan Coady - I have lived in Ketchikan for 25 years. I spend my days with children. As the weather has improved, I have been spending the days with the children doing as many outdoor activities as we can. I have two very serious issues that need to be looked at for the safety of our children. - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letterSealaska Land Bill By Chasina Worman - As an Alaskan resident and commercial fisherman, I am writing to voice my opposition to the Sealaska Bill (S.881) . This legislation will be detrimental to Southeast Alaska. Sealaska has selected prime parcels, that are currently public lands, that they would like. Some names around Ketchikan that my family and I frequent and enjoy are: Dog bay, Naha, Clover Creek, Shrimp Bay, Burns Narrow, Bostwick, Gravel Point (Duke Isand), Chasina Pt., just to name a few. Plus an additional 46 acres in Misty Fjords. This land will become private and will be owned by a native corporation. This legislation gives land that the public uses and enjoys to a timber centric corporation. - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letter An Open Letter to SEACC Concerning HR2099 & SB881 By Roger DiPaolo - Dear SEACC Directors, I know that my fellow residents of Edna Bay with whom I have spoken all feel exactly the same as I am expressing in this letter to you. - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letterSealaska's Land Bill: Mediation to Nowhere By Alan Stein - On April 19th at Douglas Library across from Juneau, a mediation will most likely occur between Sealaska Corporation on one side and three green groups on the other. Mediating will be Bruce Bothello, mayor of Juneau. - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letterTHE AMERICAN PUBLIC DESERVES ANSWERS ON S.881/HR.2099 By Myla Poelstra - During recent discussions and debate across Southeast Alaska over the merits of Sealaska's Land Bills, many issues and concerns have come to light. While efforts have been made by Senator Murkowski's staff to address region wide opposition, cited by testimony given at Town Hall meetings of over 75%, many problems remain and more questions are being asked about a proposal to take highly valued public lands out of forest service management domain and place them into the hands of a private corporation known for it's egregious logging practices. - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letterReduce Oil Consumption To Counter Russian Resurgence By Donald A. Moskowitz - During the past few years Russian oil revenues have generated a surplus of $500 billion, and Russia is using this money to rebuild and expand its military after many years of neglect. - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letterRE: Thanks for the Memories, Inga / Francine By Signe Markuson - Not all the fisherman living in the houses at Bar Harbor were POOR. My father Harold Markuson grew up in one of those homes with neighbor and his best buddy Larry Erickson.  - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letterRe: The Real Issue By Marilyn Catron - I personally read Mr. Hanger's original opinion regarding KPU's customer service. - More...
Wednesday - April 14, 2010

letterBoard of Fish Deceit and the Company Line. By Lloyd Gossman - The Board of Fish recently opened a commercial summer Dungeness crab fishery that had been closed for nearly 25 years because of the waste. They did this under the guise of needing to gather new data. The fishery is going into its second season and no attempt has been made to gather data. That is the deceit. - More...
Saturday - April 10, 2010

letterKetchikan's "Special" Election? By Robert D. Warner - Will the Ketchikan City Council have the courage to recognize that last Tuesday's special election was not a clear mandate from city voters to sell KPU Telecommunications? Major questions about this issue remain. - More...
Saturday - April 10, 2010

letterMr. McPherson to the AK High School Hall of Fame By Greg Buxton Jr. - How awesome to find out about Mr. McPherson getting the nod to the Alaska High School Hall of Fame! I was fortunate enough to be taught by him for the first time back in 1980. I was just learning to play the "drums" and had attended the Summer Fine Arts Camp in Sitka, AK. I was truly a novice then, and Mr. McPherson was extremely patient with me. He'd challenged us all to put in the time to improve no matter what abilities we had then. - More...
Saturday - April 10, 2010

letterIs this fair? By Rob Holston - When Walmart showed interest in "invading" Ketchikan there was much concern and discussion. As in most small towns, the fear came mostly from small business owners who had invested their lives and quite possibly their homes and 80 hour work weeks into making their businesses successful. The fear of unfair competition was at the crux of the controversy. Walmart paid a fair market value for the property, pays property tax & charges sales tax. Walmart invested THEIR money. However, OceansAlaska uses tax payer's money, public funding, to invest in their mega-tourist-atraction. The government "gives" OceansAlaska 28 prime acres for the government subsidized cost of $1 (ONE) US dollar! - More...
Saturday - April 10, 2010

letter S 881/ HR 2099, Response to Steve Lewis By Carol Cairnes - Steve Lewis's solution is to pass the problem on to other folks and keep this treacherous legislation alive. Value is not what is due Sealaska under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, land is. The value rests in what Sealaska makes of it. - More...
Saturday - April 10, 2010

letterComing to you soon in a favorite waterway and anchorage near you! By Betsey Burdett - Did you know that there is a company that is applying with the State of Alaska to run an oyster farm and hardening beaches in and on the Tatoosh Islands? They are called Tatoosh Oysters, LLC and intend to put in floating docks, a floating caretaker cabin, and utilize beaches as a hardening area. - More...
Saturday - April 10, 2010

letterTea Party Protest? By A.M.Johnson - As April 15th draws near, I ask if the local Tea Party group will have a "Tea Party" protest at the usual haunt of Jefferson and Tongass? I read of many such events being planned and publicized across America now to encourage interested citizens to participate. As frustrated as I am towards the direction our Country is taking under this administration, I would welcome a local opportunity to share with like thinking Americans. - More...
Wednesday - April 07, 2010

letterThe Sealaska Lands Bill, S.881: A Problem with a Solution By Steve Lewis - Senator Murkowski's Sealaska Lands Bill, S.881, presents a problem to residents of SE Alaska. Few would suggest that Sealaska should not receive the lands due it under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), but there are many who feel that the current bill will cause serious damage to karstlands and the underlying caves, create permanent rifts among Southeast Alaskans, and provide Sealaska with more than it was due under ANCSA. - More...
Wednesday - April 07, 2010

letterSealaska Landless By Vernon Grant - As a Sealaska landless shareholder, this is my perspective on this landless issue. First of all if we let the government slide on the promise to fulfill the ANCSA that they have signed and left unresolved to be out voted by communities that have not been awaiting the passed 40 years for this land issue to be finalized, this will be a blow too our own state and give way to a mind set that they can get away with not upholding any and all promises made too any sect or bill. - More...
Wednesday - April 07, 2010

letterIce Skating Rink and Dog Park By Tony Gwynn - I'm pretty sure that most people in Ketchikan would love to have an indoor ice rink and an indoor/outdoor dog park. Myself included. So I say this next part with all due respect. If you are passionate about an indoor ice rink or dog park then take the necessary steps to create those two very worthwhile dreams!!! But please don't steal the hard work and vision of the proposed Ward Cove indoor recreation facility. - More...
Wednesday - April 07, 2010

letterRoy McPherson By Jason Alderson - Way to go Roy!! Some of my favorite memories are going into McPherson Music as a teenager and looking at the drums! Even though I had long hair, jeans with holes in them and a leather jacket (it was the 80's!!) Roy and Tina always treated me with respect and worked with me so that I could purchase the drums I wanted. - More...
Wednesday - April 07, 2010

letterKPU TELEPHONE SALE: VOTE NO By Pete Ellis - So it is sort of like voting to sell your birthright and the right to choose services to be offered and their cost. A contrary vote is for the unknown. A yes vote results in an inability to provide further input as to any sales analysis, other than the limited opportunity to appear before the Council and urge their rejection or further negotiation of a sale proposal. Voting NO guarantees continued control and input. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterVote "YES" to look for a buyer By Patti Fay Hickox - Voting yes [on Tuesday, April 6th] only means the city can look for a buyer for telecommunications. Ketchikan KPU cannot complete against GCI, AT&T etc. in the telecommunications business. We would need to buy massive equipment to keep up. This would suck out all the money and some day we will have to sell because GCI etc. has a lot more money to build these connections. We cannot keep up with these big outfits. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letter Monty Hall and City Hall By Michael McNally - Sitnews readers of a certain age will remember a once popular game show, called Let's Make a Deal. The classic gimmick of the show was that contestants, having obtained a prize of moderate value, would be offered a chance to trade their prize in, sight unseen, for what was behind door number three. The trick was, only the show s host, Monty Hall, knew what was behind door number three and while it could be a valuable prize the contestants also ran the risk of losing what they had. It was an excellent gimmick for a game show, but it is a poor way to conduct public policy. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterNew terminals in Metlakatla, Part 2 By Steven G. Booth - I would hope that the M/V Lituya would be home ported in Ketchikan unless and until appropriate security infrastructure is available in Annette Bay with the scenario of dismantling the Chester Bay Terminal. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterSealaska Bill, S.881 By Bob Claus - I thank Arne Fuglvog of Senator Murkowski's office for traveling to Edna Bay and meeting with the residents there. I was glad to have been able to attend as well, and was impressed by the measured tone and thoughtful responses opposing the Sealaska land selections on Kosciusko Island from everyone who spoke. 100% of the community attended the meeting and opposed S.881. I also heard a great amount of hope and optimism for the future of Edna Bay and our other small communities surrounded by the Tongass National Forest so long as they continue to have community input through the forest planning processes. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letter S.881 is not the solution for Southeast Alaska By Sandy Powers - Community hearings on Senate Bill 881/HR 2099 held in Edna Bay and Point Baker/Port Protection last week reconfirmed that a majority of Southeast Alaskans are opposed to this bill that would give 80,000-some acres of public-owned, roaded National Forest land to Sealaska Corporation. There was unanimous opposition from these three communities, with residents from age 13 to 82 speaking passionately of how their lives and futures would be forever adversely changed by this legislation. Hearings in other communities throughout Southeast were held earlier in the month. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterTaxpayers asked again to bail out a Corporation By Judy Magnuson - Why is the taxpayer again being asked to bail out a corporation? Why are small communities, the public, and businesses that depend upon public lands for their livelihood and recreation being asked to give it up for a private corporation? Sealaska's Vice President spoke in Ketchikan on March 31st , stating the Corporations need for S-881 to pass quickly, because they only have two years of timber harvest lands left. Whose fault is that? - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterRoy McPherson By Doug Edwards - Thank you for the excellent article about Roy's induction into the Alaska School Activities Association Hall of Fame. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterFawn Mountain Track and Field By Miguel Torres - I remember arriving in Ketchikan during the summer 0f '06 and looking forward to the upcoming Kayhi football season. Having lived in Texas for many years and enjoying quite a few Friday night football games, I inquired into the Ketchikan football tradition. I was referred to Blaine Ashcraft, high school football and commissioner to the Ketchikan football youth league.  - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterPerformance Scholarships Will Help to Improve our Schools By Larry LeDoux - The Governor's Performance Scholarship proposal would award substantial postsecondary scholarships to Alaska students who take a challenging curriculum in high school and meet thresholds for performance on grades and tests. The scholarships would be used at Alaska institutions, both technical and academic. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterHoly Name By Brandon Fast - I think more people should go to Holy Name Catholic School. At Holy Name we have a bully free environment and small class sizes. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterHealth Reform By Jim Kempsell - Lamentably, Socratic form of debate (actually listening to an opponent, recognizing they may have some valid points) is virtually non-existent in this age of sound bites and "gotcha". - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

letterCommunity By Joey Tillson - The other day I had lunch with an out of town friend. Her and I had gone to school together in Juneau for many years and for 29 years of my life, I lived in Juneau but was born in Ketchikan. It was wonderful to catch up with her and discuss how our lives had changed and progressed. - More...
Monday - April 05, 2010

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