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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 10, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER ©2017

Harbor seals sometime jump out of the water to make faster time swimming and they sometime have been mistaken for dolphins when they "porpoise". The photographer said there were no predators nearby to account for the behavior.
Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER ©2017

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Alaska: Fisheries Trusts Bill to Empower Coastal Communities Set for First Hearing - The more Alaskans fishing in Alaska’s commercial fisheries, the better. 

That’s the vision behind House Bill 188, sponsored by Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka), which will be heard in the House Fisheries Committee for the first time on Thursday, April 13. HB 188 empowers fishing communities to access the economic opportunity of fisheries right off their shores.

Alaska’s commercial fisheries employ over 30,000 people and have been the economic engine of Alaska’s coastal communities for over a century. There are no shortage of Alaskans, especially rural Alaskans, who are extraordinarily good at running a boat and logging 18-hour days slaying salmon. But it’s becoming harder than ever to break into the industry, especially for Alaskans with more limited access to capital. 

HB 188 gives regions in Alaska the option to establish regional fisheries trusts. Similar to and complementing the hugely successful Commercial Fishing Revolving Loan Fund, regional fisheries trusts provide a mechanism to help Alaskans enter Alaska fisheries.

If - and only if - a region chooses to establish one, a regional fisheries trust would be able to hold and temporarily lease permits to Alaska fishermen for a limited period of time, offering a stepping stone between deck handing and taking out a loan for individual permit ownership. Just as you often rent before buying a house, fisheries trusts offer fishermen the opportunity to skipper a boat and gain confidence, experience, and resources, better situating them to make the six-figure decision to finance a permit and become an independent fisherman and small business owner. - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017

Alaska: Fixing Alaska’s Flawed Oil Tax Credit System; Oil industry's hold is strong in Juneau - The Alaska House of Representatives today passed legislation the Alaska House Majority Coalition says will reform Alaska’s flawed and unsustainable system of oil and gas subsidies. Without changes, the State of Alaska is projected to pay out more in oil tax credits in Fiscal Year 2018 than the state will take in from production taxes.  Production tax revenue used to be Alaska’s leading source of revenue.

“Passage of this bill is a major step forward to the larger goal of putting in place a comprehensive fiscal plan to protect our economy from sliding deeper into recession,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham).

Edgmon said, “This bill is a compromise that protects future investments by the oil industry in Alaska without devastating our budget and leaving the state on the hook to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies without being able to cover those costs.” - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017

Alaska: Right to Try for Terminally Ill Alaskans Unanimously Passes AK House - The Alaska House of Representatives today unanimously passed legislation to increase patient rights in Alaska.  House Bill 43, also known as the “Right to Try” bill, is sponsored by Representative Jason Grenn (I-Anchorage).  It allows terminally ill patients who have exhausted all FDA-approved treatment options and do not qualify for clinical trials to gain faster access to safe, but experimental drugs in an effort to save their own lives. 

Over one million Americans die from a terminal illness every year.  Many spend years searching for a potential cure, or struggling in vain to get accepted into a clinical trial.  In fact, of those patients who apply for clinical trials, fewer than three percent are accepted.  For the other 97 percent, new treatments seem out of reach.

“This is an issue that goes beyond state and party lines,” said Rep. Grenn.  “I believe the right to attempt to save one’s own life is fundamental, and terminally ill Alaskans should have the same access to treatments as those living other parts of the country.” - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017

Southeast Alaska:
Alaska Senate Supports Petersburg Land Grant - In an effort to promote economic development, the Alaska State Senate unanimously approved a measure today granting Petersburg additional acres of land.

Senate Bill 28, sponsored by Sen. Bert Stedman (R-Sitka), grants the Petersburg Borough approximately 14,666 acres of land. This is an increase of 12,770 acres from its current level and brings the borough’s land entitlement to a similar level as received by other boroughs.

“I appreciate the support from the Alaska Senate for Petersburg,” said Sen. Stedman. “SB 28 gives Petersburg the land it needs for future economic development. I also appreciate the support from Governor Walker and his administration. The bill is the result of months of discussions by myself, my staff, Mayor Jensen and the Department of Natural Resources, which started back in the fall.” 

Alaska law encourages the formation of boroughs in a number of ways, including providing a fair amount of state lands for a new borough to develop and become more self-sustainable. Petersburg became a borough in 2013. But due mainly to the large amount of United States Forest Service (USFS) land in the surrounding area, it received only 1,896 acres out of 2 million acres in the borough. - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017

Ketchikan: Two hikers rescued after becoming lost on Deer Mountain - A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, Alaska State Troopers and Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad rescued two overdue hikers from Ketchikan's Deer Mountain Friday night.

The Alaska State Troopers identified the hikers as Anthony Cox, age 24 and Robert Smith, age 24 both of Ketchikan who became lost on Deer Mountain.

“We were fortunate that these hikers were able to recognize they were in a survival situation early on," said Lt. Matt Herring, a Coast Guard Air Station Sitka pilot. "They took the necessary steps to ensure they were rescued."

Watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector Juneau received an agency assist request from Alaska State Troopers and launched the aircrew. The hikers signaled their location to the helicopter, which was near a cliff with tall trees and knee-deep snow. - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017

Ketchikan: Discovery Center welcomes Coast Guard and Ketchikan community with free, special opening - In celebration of the upcoming commissioning of the Coast Guard Cutter John F. McCormick, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center will be open to the public, free of charge, from 10 AM to 4 PM on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

“We are thrilled to welcome the USCGC John F. McCormick and the Coast Guard community to Ketchikan and the Tongass National Forest,” center director Leslie Swada said. “Exploring the Discovery Center is a great way for newcomers and local residents alike to connect with the stories behind Southeast Alaska’s wild places and vibrant cultures.”

The Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick (WPC 1121), the 17th District’s first 154-foot Fast Response Cutter homeported in Ketchikan, will be commissioned on Wednesday morning (Apr. 12th) at the USCG Base Ketchikan.

The CGC John McCormick is the first of six Sentinel-class cutters that will homeport in Alaska. The 154-foot vessel is designed to patrol coastal regions and features advanced command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment, including the ability to launch and recover standardized small boats from its stern. - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017

Weimer Wins 5K Ken Teune Stampede Run

Carlos Weimer placed first in the 5K race (21:54)
Photo courtesy Bill Elberson

Ketchikan: Weimer Wins 5K Ken Teune Stampede Run - A touch of rain did not dampen the spirits of Ketchikan's walkers and runners Saturday, April 8th, during the Ken Teune Stampede, the first event of the season. It is co-sponsored by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Recreation Center and the Ketchikan Walking and Running Club. 

Young fast runners dominated the one mile event.  First place belonged to 11 year old Aidan Miller at 5:52.  First female was 12 year old Ella Stockhausen at 7:42.

Carlos Weimer placed first in the 5K race (21:54) despite starting at the very back of the pack.   First 5K  female runner was 12 year old Anneliese Hiatt at 22:26.  Race Director Fred Jorgensen said;  “Thank goodness the snow is gone.  We thought we would have to do this race on skis”. - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017  


NED ROZELL: Life returning to island destroyed by eruption By NED ROZELL - Nine years after it erupted, Kasatochi Island is just beginning to resemble its neighbors.

Life returning to island destroyed by eruption

Least and crested auklets perch on a rock in the Aleutian Islands.

Kasatochi is a speck in the middle of the Aleutian chain between Dutch Harbor and Adak, about 75 miles east of the latter. The volcanic island had no modern history of erupting until August 2008. In a few days that summer, the island changed from the lush green home of a quarter million seabirds to a gray pile of ash.

Two biologists escaped the island aboard a fishing boat less than one hour before the eruption. The cabin in which they were living disappeared, vaporizing in a hurricane of hot gases and ash.

Following the eruption, Kasatochi seemed dead. Scientists visiting the island one year later searched for one hour before finding the first sprigs of vegetation. A few insects survived the eruption deep within rock folds, but Kasatochi was a quiet place that stunk of sulfur.

The island was muddy and inhospitable, but scientists saw something there: A great opportunity to monitor the return of life to a place that reset itself in a most violent fashion. Studiers of insects, plants, soils and other features have tried to return each summer to document changes.

Jeff Williams, assistant refuge manager for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge based in Homer, is a biologist who visited Kasatochi many times before it erupted and had his boots in the mud shortly after. He said the island’s resurrection is progressing to the point where certain seabirds are perhaps as abundant as they were before the eruption.

The biologists who narrowly escaped Kasatochi — Ray Buchheit and Chris Ford — were there to study auklets as refuge scientists had for years. Auklets are hand-size seabirds that are so numerous on some Aleutian islands they fill the air like pepper flakes swirling on a breeze. - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017

Alaska: Bill Legalizing Industrial Hemp Production Passes Alaska Senate - Today, a bill legalizing industrial hemp production unanimously passed the Alaska State Senate.

Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Shelley Hughes (R-Palmer), defines hemp as an agricultural product and removes it from the state’s list of controlled substances. 

“The commercial possibilities of hemp are numerous and versatile,” said Sen. Hughes. “Hemp can be used for fiber products, such as clothing and paper, as well as for building materials and insulation, among thousands of other products.” 

Industrial hemp has been grown in the United States since the first European settlers arrived in the early 1600s. An early draft of the Declaration of Independence was penned on hemp paper and even founding fathers George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams grew hemp and advocated for its commercial production. Industrial hemp was a staple crop of 19th century America. In Alaska, there are references to the growing of hemp in the early 20th century. - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017




TOM PURCELL: Bugs for Dinner - "Bugs? They want us to eat bugs?"

"Ah, yes, you refer to an increasing number of reports and studies that are encouraging humans to consume edible insects, rather than meat."

"Consume insects? The wife goes ballistic every time she sees an ant or a spider. She’ll never put one in her mouth."

"Well, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations suggests that she and millions of others must get over it. According to a 2013 FAO study, our current farming and food production practices cannot keep up with the Earth’s rapidly growing population. Insects, however, which are both nutritious and plentiful, can feed a lot of people."

"Cow dung is plentiful, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ever eat it!"

"The FAO and other organizations also argue that our current farming and food production practices are bad for the environment."

"I get it: Another attempt by elitists to make Americans feel guilty about the grub we eat!" - More...
Wednesday PM - April 10, 2017

jpg Will Durst
WILL DURST: A Covey of Political Caucuses - During the Trump Care Meltdown, when the same Republicans that chanted "Repeal & Replace" for seven years folded like a broken down lawn chair in a category 5 hurricane, we learned about a couple mysterious Republican Congressional Caucuses instrumental in torpedoing the AHCA. These two groups come from such opposite sides of the political spectrum they undoubtedly have dartboards with each other's pictures tacked to the middle. 

The Freedom Caucus is made up of members that formerly self-identified as Tea Partiers but changed their name to interact with civilized people. Of course, we're referring to those unsung heroes of the Democratic process: forced to trudge the minefields of ego and weather the storms of unconscionable incompetence, those brave patriots that soldier on in relative obscurity as Congressional staffers. 

Way over on the other side is the Tuesday Group, moderate Republicans, which in the 1960s were known as the Wednesday Group. Seriously. You got to wonder if there's a "2nd Thursday in Months that Don't Have an R in Them Group" because if so, they haven't been much of a factor lately. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 10, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Vouchers

Editorial Cartoon: Vouchers
By David Fitzsimmons ©2017, The Arizona Star
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Oil Revenue - Senate Budget By RK Rice - "Meanwhile, there is no consideration of oil tax subsidies for which next year's bill will be a cool $1.37 BILLION when the state will earn production taxes of just $87 MILLION. While schools are denied the funding they need, the oil and gas industry rolls along untouched by cuts. The contrast could not be more stark." - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017

letter No to Alaska Income Tax By Lance Clark - In response to Rep. Dan Ortiz' letter, he mentioned a modest income tax. There is no such thing. Once an income tax is established it just gets bigger and bigger. - More...
Monday PM - April 10, 2017

letter Budget Proposals; Let your voice be heard By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As expected, it’s been a challenging legislative session, and from here on, the budget will be the forefront of every discussion. Both the House and the Senate are creating Alaska’s budget, but it’s clear that the bodies have differing approaches. - More...
Saturday PM - April 08, 2017

letter Thomas Basin, Spruce Mill Sheet Pile Fix By Charlie Freeman - It is my understanding that the proposed fix for the rusted out sheet pile in front of the old Spruce Mill property is to dump rock and fill in front of it, on the basin side, to contain the sluff. This, if true, may well be the worst idea since the T-pier. - More...
Saturday PM - April 08, 2017

letter Private Health Insurance is gouging us By Michael Spence - According to Alaska Dispatch News, Premera Lifewise of Alaska recently announced it had profited $18 Million from Obamacare plans last year, and another $20 Million in Individual Health plans. These figures were sharply higher than what the company officially predicted which was $2.7 Million.During the same year, it was reported, the deficit-bound State of Alaska subsidized Health Insurance industry in Alaska to the tune of $55 million dollars. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 05, 2017

letter Walker's big take from economy By James Dornblaser - The Ketchikan Borough Assembly faces a dilemma! Sales tax issues are foremost on their agenda. Same is true with most of our state's local governments. They face the question of how to make up the shortfall caused by our governor's brainchild of confiscating 1/2 of all our permanent fund dividends last fall. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 05, 2017

letter Think About It By Donald A. Johnson - I noticed with interest that Lisa Murkowski voted with the Democrats to fund elective abortions thru Planned Parenthood. This is just one example (and there are many) of why we have excessive taxes and the average working man cannot make ends meet. - More...
Monday PM - April 03, 2017

letter HB 159 is a State Government overreach By John Suter - In regards to HB 159, prescription pain medications are regulated by the Federal Government and Medical Professionals.  HB 159 is a State Government overreach, which will consequently cause harm to seniors, the chronically ill and those who are recovering from surgery.  HB 159 is treating monitored prescribed pain killers as if they were illegal drugs.  Taxing prescribed opioid drugs is attacking the weak; those who are undergoing treatment for pain.  Limiting prescribed opioid drugs will make it more difficult for those people who are ill because they will have to rely on others to take them to the pharmacy on a weekly basis vs. a monthly basis.  Right now under Federal Law people who need prescribed pain medicine must see their doctor on a monthly basis.  If HB 159 passes then, those who are in need of pain management will need to see their doctor on a weekly basis.  - More....
Monday PM - April 03, 2017

letter What’s obvious to Alaskans continues to bewilder legislators By Curtis W. Thayer - Decisions regarding the size and funding of government impact all Alaskans so it’s important to have current, comprehensive information to help make wise choices. Each year, the Alaska Chamber asks Alaskans a broad range of topics. When it comes to funding State government, we find issues like taxation and use of the Permanent Dividend will forever be contentious. Alaskans are evenly split on restructuring the Permanent Fund to pay for state spending. How these overarching issues color Alaskans thinking is obvious when you look at the numbers. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 29, 2017

letter Oil companies bought Alaska legislature back By Ray Metcalfe - In 2004 I speculated in an ADN op-ed that several members of both houses of our legislature were taking bribes from oil companies with Bill Allen and VECO acting as their surrogate. While I only had a smattering of hard evidence, my real confidence in risking that the most powerful people in Alaska would not sue me for saying it stemmed from my confidence that bribery was the only logical reason any legislator would pretend to believe that profits to the big three producers needed to be increased at our expense or they would leave. Over and over I had documented that oil company profits in Alaska dwarfed oil company profits in other parts of the world. Over and over I documented that other countries kept a much larger share of the profits than we were keeping. Over and over seated legislators would pretend to believe and act on oil company rhetoric that I knew that they knew had to be false. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 29, 2017

letter Alaska Income Tax By Lance Clark - Here we go, a nice new income tax to punish anyone who is even a little successful. All an income tax does is take money away from private businesses and service providers and feed it to the government greed monster, which will always need more. Unlike the state, when our income goes down we spend less. The less we spend the more businesses suffer and either lay off or drop out. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 29, 2017

letter Invitation to Welcome Interim Pastor By Steve Kinney - Please join us at the Ketchikan Presbyterian Church on April 2nd to welcome our interim pastor, the Rev. Dr. Robert Nicholson. He is eager to share God’s Word with us! Worship is at 11:00 followed by coffee and conversation. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 29, 2017

letter Fake News Prevalent in Alaska By Bethany Marcum - During this legislative session, fake news has been prevalent in Alaska. We’ve heard our state budget cannot be balanced without an income tax; we must cap the PFD and restructure the Permanent Fund to create a long-term budget plan; Alaskans don’t understand enough about our fiscal situation to be able to vote on a solution; and state government has already been cut to the bone and more reductions are unreasonable. Well don’t believe it - it’s all fake news. - More...
Monday PM - March 27, 2017

letter An Open Letter to the Legislators, Councilmen and Assembly of Ketchikan By Terri Wilson - Friday morning I read the article about changing the way you tax senior citizens, and I've had enough of the idiocy of the State of Alaska, City Council and the Borough Assembly! Every one of you should resign, get REAL PEOPLE in to make wise decisions -- like housewives who have to budget! - More...
Monday PM - March 27, 2017

letter Stop Cash Payments to Oil Companies By Dan Ortiz - It’s time to roll back the high cashable credits we pay to oil companies. House Bill 111 is a bill which amends the current oil and natural gas tax structure to remove or edit pieces of the current oil tax system that do not benefit Alaskans. - More...
Monday PM - March 27, 2017

letter The American Health Care Act Is What Repeal Looks Like By Ghert Abbott - As the American Health Care Act was the best possible repeal legislation that House Republicans could create, we’d do well to consider the full significance of last week’s debacle. What would repeal have meant if it had been successful? And what does its total political failure mean for American healthcare? - More...
Monday PM - March 27, 2017

letter WHY I LOVE KETCHIKAN By Laura Plenert - On a recent Friday night when my power went out – there were strange noises – crackling, crashing etc. I sprang out of bed to check the house. Everything seemed in order. When I got up on Saturday morning, parts of my home had power, parts didn’t. I smelled a burned wire smell in my living room and noticed the porch lights on – and wouldn’t switch off. The switch was very warm. I went to the breaker box to shut off that breaker. I noticed 5 other breakers had “popped”. I called a friend who is an electrician – Wayne Walters. He advised that the first step was to get in touch with KPU to make sure the power into my home was ok. I called KPU and spoke to a very tired employee who said he would put me on the list. Afraid to turn anything on, I went outside to start shoveling. During a “shovel break” – Mark Adams – from KPU (who lives a few doors down) came to my door and said he heard I had problems. There was a bucket truck in the area – so the 2 KPU employees in that truck stopped and checked the power to my home. Everything checked out OK. In the meantime, Wayne called me back – he had an employee (Art from Channel Electric) who was nearby and would come to check on interior electric. A short time later Art showed up – he replaced the burned switch and checked out the breaker box. - More...
Monday PM - March 27, 2017

letter Town crier By Rodney Dial - I think most are starting to come to grasp with the state budget deficit and what it means; Ketchikan is a smart town. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 22, 2017

letter "THOSE PEOPLE" ARE YOU AND ME By Janalee L. Minnich Gage - My blood pressure is high, even though it's going on 21 years since May 31st 1995... I still get worked up, it still brings tears to my eyes, not for the reasons you might think, nor out of regret or anger, but out of the harsh lesson I witnessed. - More...
Wedesday PM - March 22, 2017

letter How Will Don Young Vote? By Ghert Abbott - On March 14th I spoke on the phone with a staffer for Congressman Don Young’s Washington office about my concerns regarding the Trump-Ryan American Health Care Act, which will repeal the Affordable Care Act. If this bill becomes law the Medicaid expansion will be rolled back and Alaskan Medicaid cut, an estimated 1,000 Ketchikan residents could lose their healthcare, Federal subsidies that help Alaskans buy insurance will be cut by 75%, Alaskan insurance premiums will go up and coverage quality down, and elderly Alaskans will be forced to pay more. When all of these effects are taken together, I believe they will greatly harm rural Alaska and result in people dying for lack of affordable care, and I told the staffer this. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 22, 2017

letter The Age of Propaganda By Michael Spence - In the 1970's scholars dubbed it the Information Age , a future in which computers would increase all levels of communication between humans. It was widely believed then that such an increase in access to knowledge would transform our world for the better. Where isolationism and illiteracy were once common, there would be a trans-formative shift towards education, democracy, and prosperity. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 22, 2017

letter Rebuilding Our Military By Donald Moskowitz - As a Navy veteran and a strong supporter of our military I commend President Trump for initiating a program to rebuild our military with a defense budget increase of $54 billion, but it should be decreased by $1.3 billion and the $1.3 billion added to the Coast Guard budget within the Department of Homeland Security so it is not cut by $1.3 billion. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 22, 2017

letter SAY NO, PROTECT TAKU By Chantelle Hart - I am a Taku River Tlingit (TRT) woman from Atlin BC and I have lived my entire life in fear of “the mine” that might come to my home territory and cause disastrous impacts to my community and the surrounding environmental areas. Even as a young child, I lived with terror and unarticulated fury over the various investors that have come to capitalize off the Tulsequah Chief mine. First there was Redfern (later called Redcorp Ventures), and they went bankrupt – but the long and drawn out legal battles my First Nation became embroiled in was a tremendous financial sacrifice we have not yet recovered from. My people have never been able to breathe easy for long, because there is always a wolf at the door, attracted by the possibility of profit. - More...
Saturday AM - March 18, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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