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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 21, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By MARIE-JEANNE CADLE

Three Honored with 2017 Red Apple Awards
Pictured are David Jensen and Bobbie McCreary
For their significant contributions to the education of Ketchikan's youth, the Delta Kappa Gamma International Epsilon Chapter honored three Ketchikan residents in a ceremony held Wedesday evening. David Jensen, Erik Jensen and Bobbie McCreary, all involved with Ketchikan Youth Initiatives' Youth Community Center Project, were presented 2017 Red Apple Awards. Each year these prestigious awards are given to community organizations or individuals for their significant contributions to the education of Ketchikan’s youth and families. - Read more...
Front Page Feature Photo By MARIE-JEANNE CADLE ©2017

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Ketchikan: Town hall meeting looks at budget plans and taxes By MARIA DUDZAK, KRBD -Rep Dan Ortiz held a town hall meeting in Ketchikan Thursday night. Ortiz shared the details of a fiscal plan to address declining State revenue, and gathered input from constituents. - Listen to or read this KRBD story...

Ketchikan: Flight service announced for Ketchikan By Bevan Hamilton - Flight service between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan will soon be available, on the wings of Misty Fjords Air. - Read this BC Local News story...

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Ketchikan: NEW KMC SURGERY CENTER NOW OPERATIONAL - Orthopedic Surgeon Steven Becker, MD, performed three surgical procedures yesterday (April 19). What makes this notable is that these were the first in the new surgical center at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center.


New surgical center - operating room.
Photo courtesy Ketchikan Medical Center

After many years and much work, it was opening day for the new operating rooms; a time for celebration and gratitude to the community for their investment in the future.

“Something like this new surgery center does not happen without the vision and committed efforts of an entire community,” said Nancy Tieman, interim chief administrative officer. “The vision started with a few people who took a long-term view of the health needs of our community. That vision spread and took root and now our entire community, for generations to come, will enjoy the benefits!”

For now, the old operating room will remain functional as a back-up, should the need arise, but the surgical team and vendors recently tested all the new equipment and systems and verified that everything is fully operational.- More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

Fish Factor: “Graying of the Fleet”; Fisheries Trusts Aims To Reverse Trend By LAINE WELCH - Numerous studies over the past decade have highlighted Alaska’s “graying of the fleet” (the average age of permit holders is 50), and the lack of opportunities for younger people to launch a career in commercial fishing.

State data show that between 1975 and 2014, more than 2,300 limited entry permits (nearly 28 percent) migrated away from Alaska’s rural fishing communities to non-residents.

A new measure gaining steam in the Alaska legislature aims to reverse that trend by creating fisheries trusts in which communities could buy permits and lease them to fishermen who otherwise could not afford them. 

“It’s good to recognize the problem, but it’s even better to try and do something about it,” said Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins (D-Sitka) sponsor of the legislation (HB 188).

Under the plan, regional trusts could buy or be gifted a maximum of 2.5 percent of the permits in any given fishery, and lease them for up to six years to fishermen who want to make the transition from deckhand to permit owners. The fishermen must then buy their own permits if they choose to continue in a fishery. The trusts would apply to all limited entry fisheries in Alaska.

At the outset, the trusts would be authorized in up to three Alaska regions that choose to opt in, and must be approved by two-thirds of any municipality. Board members would be recommended by cities and boroughs in each region and appointed by the governor. Unincorporated communities may also be included on the board. 

“Just as people often rent before buying a house, fisheries trusts offer an opportunity to run a boat and gain experience before making the six-figure decision to finance a permit and become an independent small business owner,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.

Interested stakeholders, which include Alaska Native groups, state agencies and fishing organizations from Southeast to Nome, have spent more than two and a half years developing the idea.

“We are continuing to craft and refine the model in terms of legality and policy,” Kreiss-Tomkins said, adding that the level of interest is very region specific. 

“Some are very bullish about the opportunity, some are not. That’s totally fine,” he said. “We expect some will watch and see how it goes, and then make a decision once they have more information.”

The measure is scheduled for hearings during the current extended legislative session although it is not expected to be put to a vote.

“We are taking it slow and steady,” Kreiss-Tomkins said. “In the interim, we are hoping to grow the conversation with fishing communities, economic development advocates and other stakeholders who would benefit from this tool in their tool box. Then we will be ready to revisit it next year.” - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

Alaska Receives $2 Million Federal Grant to Combat Opioid Abuse - Governor Bill Walker announced today the next steps in building a safer Alaska: the state will receive a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to combat heroin and opioid addiction. The funds come from the two-year State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants (STOG), and will go to support prevention, treatment, and recovery services focused on individuals suffering from opioid addiction.

“We continue to make major efforts to address this public health crisis, and it’s good to see that the federal government recognizes the work that has been done so far,” Governor Walker said. “I directed my commissioners to go after every grant available to address the state’s growing opioid epidemic, and we are doing just that. This funding will be of vital importance as we continue our efforts to address our opioid epidemic by providing the resources and the supports individuals need to break the cycle of opioid abuse, and create a safer Alaska.” - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

Alaska: Ten Alaskans Awarded as Top Volunteers; Alaskans from across the state recognized for selfless contributions to our communities - First Lady Donna Walker announced today the recipients of the 2017 First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Awards. More than 70 nominations from around the state were submitted. The top volunteers were carefully chosen by the First Lady and the members of the selection committee: Toni Mallott, Marilyn Romano, Hans Neidig, Gail Schubert, Lynette Sullivan, Geoff Welch, Laurie Herman, and Melissa Stepovich. Thanks to Alaska Airlines, ExxonMobil Alaska, Bering Straits Native Corporation, and Dateline Digital Printing, the awardees will be brought to Juneau and honored during a luncheon and ceremony at the Governor’s House in late May.

“Often, the volunteer work that Alaskans do goes unrecognized because publicity and notoriety are not sought, “ First Lady Walker said. “The recipients of these awards are committed to Alaska, making sacrifices for their communities, and setting an example for others who wish to give of their time and talents. I’m proud we’re able to recognize them.”

First Lady Bella Hammond began the annual recognition in 1975. The First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Awards recognizes Alaskans who have displayed an extraordinary personal commitment to volunteer service, and have made a major impact on their community or state. - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

Ketchikan: Ketchikan Fugitive Apprehended - The U.S. Marshals Alaska Fugitive Task Force (AFTF) traveled to Ketchikan on Monday at the request of the Alaska State Troopers (AST) to assist in locating and arresting 23-year-old Ketchikan resident, Thomas Shull on his outstanding warrants for Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree, Domestic Violence-Assault Fourth Degree and Petition to Revoke Probation for Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance in the Fourth Degree.

On Wednesday, the AFTF located Shull at a residence in Ketchikan. The AFTF, along with members of the Alaska State Troopers (AST) and Ketchikan Police Department (KPD) executed the arrest warrant.

According to information provided by the U.S. Marshals Alaska Fugitive Task Force, Shull fled to the attic of the residence and refused commands to exit. The AFTF, AST and KPD entered the attic where Shull continued to resist and refused to comply with commands. A taser was deployed and Shull was eventually taken into custody. - More....
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

Alaska: Governor Calls on Alaska Students to Help Name New Trooper K9’s - Governor Bill Walker is calling on Alaska’s sixth-grade classes to help name two of the state’s newest trooper K9’s. The dog-naming contest is a part of the Governor’s plan to build a safer Alaska and combat the state’s growing opioid and heroin epidemic. 

“Drug dogs are critical members of law enforcement and help reduce the amount of illicit drugs smuggled into Alaska communities,” said Governor Walker. “This contest gets students involved in our efforts to reduce substance abuse in Alaska, and educates youth about the dangers of drug abuse. I encourage all Alaska sixth-graders to participate in this exciting contest to help name two of our newest K9’s. Our future leaders deserve to live in a safer Alaska.” - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

he 2017 U.S. Coast Guard “Earth Day” Community Cleanup

The 2017 U.S. Coast Guard “Earth Day” Community Cleanup
2017 U.S. Coast Guard Ketchikan Earth Day Cleanup Volunteers
Photo courtesy Jerry Cegelske

Ketchikan: The 2017 U.S. Coast Guard “Earth Day” Community Cleanup - Thursday, twenty-one members of the U.S. Coast Guard volunteered to help make the community of Ketchikan a more beautiful place to live.  Cleanup work was done by the volunteers at Rotary Beach collecting the burned pallets and other abandoned material that has been dumpted there by irresponsible area users.  Work was also done on North Tongass where they cleaned up an old wood burning stove, a broken mirror, engine block, tires, oil cans, and other material people were "too lazy" to take to the landfill said KGB Code Enforcement Officer Jerry Cegelske.

Cegelske said the Coast Guard volunteers also cleaned the Whipple Spur and Whipple Creek Road of abandoned burned tires and rims, a burned couch and cushions, a motorcycle, auto parts, burned mattresses, and other material.

They found tossed away golf clubs, plastic drums and buckets, bottles, insulation, table legs, and other material on Revilla Road and additional material on Brown Mountain Road.  - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

Ketchikan: Celebrate Earth Day Saturday Across Alaska - Alaskans are encouraged to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday by working to safeguard achievements in protecting the natural environment of Alaska. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 and events are planned for communities across the state, including Ketchikan, Homer, Fairbanks,Palmer, Anchorage, Juneau, Dillingham,and Seward.

The March for Science is a celebration of science.  It's not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world.  

“In these turbulent times it’s more important than ever to look beyond ourselves and focus on the health of our environment, which is under threat from pollution, over-development, and global climate change,” said House Resources Committee Co-chair Rep. Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage). “Earth Day is a yearly reminder that environmental change is occurring in Alaska and impacting things like the timing of salmon runs, the migration patterns of caribou, and the strength and frequency of severe weather.” - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

Southeast Alaska: Heat Pump Expo Event Planned for Prince of Wales Island - Mark your calendars for Saturday May 6th, from 10 am until the afternoon, and plan to be at the Craig High School for an exciting event promoting air source heat pumps as a clean, energy-efficient technology for your home or business.

Southeast Conference, USDA Rural Development, and others will be hosting a special “Heat Pump Expo” for Prince of Wales Island. This consumer-centric event is designed to provide Prince of Wales families and businesses with information on how to use energy-efficient air source heat pumps to provide an affordable, environmentally sustainable source of electricity generated at local hydroelectric projects. The event will include installers, financial institutions offering loans, and agencies in a “business expo” style format, providing a “one stop shop” for consumer info on heat pumps. Additionally, the event will feature an educational webinar featuring information from installation and utility professionals, which will be simulcast from Prince of Wales, Kodiak, Anchorage, and Kotzebue. - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017


Alaska Science: Tundra swans take two distinct paths to Alaska By NED ROZELL - Skiing to work over a persistent spring snowpack, I looked up to see a large white bird flapping gracefully over the spruce tops. A few gentle honks confirmed it was a tundra swan.

Tundra swans take two distinct paths to Alaska

After a long winter when all the large birds were black, it was good to see one of the frontrunners of the billions now winging to Alaska.

Tundra swans can live to be older than 20. Perhaps this bird, about 15 pounds with a wingspan of almost six feet, had passed over the lowlands north of the University of Alaska Fairbanks many times. The swan was probably headed to northwest Alaska or the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

That’s according to a biologist who was part of a team that captured and released more than 500 tundra swans in 2007 and 2008. The birds were temporarily flightless as they shed old feathers and grew new ones in their favorite Alaska breeding areas: Cold Bay, King Salmon, the Yukon and Kuskokwim river deltas, Kotzebue Sound and the Colville River delta.

Craig Ely of the U.S. Geological Survey Science Center in Anchorage handled many of those swans and helped to implant satellite transmitters in the abdomens of 50 birds. Those transmitters lasted for a few years, enabling scientists to confirm a split in Alaska tundra swan populations.

Swans that spend their summers in tundra lakes north of the Brooks Range are East Coast birds in the winter, settling in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

Swans that breed south of the Brooks Range in the wetlands of western Alaska are West Coast birds in the winter, feeding in farm fields of Washington, Oregon and the Central Valley of California.

Though the East Coast and West Coast swans migrate wingtip to wingtip and pause in similar barley fields and lakes in Saskatchewan, the birds almost never follow their neighbors to a new place. - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017




MICHAEL REAGAN: A Subject the Media Should Cover - - Sometime this month I hope our rabid anti-Trump media find a little time to cover a subject that has been very important to me since I was eight - child sexual abuse.

Child abuse of all kinds is an epidemic here and around the world.

In 2015 about 700,000 American children were victims of neglect or physical or sexual abuse. How many more cases were never reported to authorities is unknown.

Neglect accounted for 75 percent of victims, most of whom were under a year old. About 17 percent suffered physical abuse and 8.4 percent suffered sexual abuse. Some kids were abused in multiple ways.

The long-term affects of abuse on children are well known. Abused children are more likely to end up arrested as juveniles and adults, more likely to commit violence crime and more likely to end up in prison and develop psychological disorders.

Child sexual abuse isn't something that affects just poor kids or is committed by a few "celebrity" predators like Jerry Sandusky, the convicted serial rapist, child molester and retired Penn State football coach.

American boys and girls of all ages, races, ethnicities and economic backgrounds are vulnerable. According to the experts, one of every three girls and one in five boys will be sexually abused before they reach 18.

These innocents won't be victimized by random strangers. Sixty-eight percent will be molested by a family member and 90 percent of victims know their abuser in some way.

So it's not just the parish priest, the gym teacher or the odd guy down at the end of the street we need to watch.

More than likely, it's Uncle Charlie. And whether it's in the family, in the church or in the school, it most likely will be the abuser who is believed and protected, not the child. - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: March for Science

Editorial Cartoon: March for Science
By Steve Sack ©2017, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Income Tax proposal By Kelli Carlin-Auger - I completely concur with the letter written by Chris Herby regarding the negative implications a state income tax will have on our community. Personally, I support further reducing state government. I have worked locally for state government and I have seen where cuts can definitely be made without a huge impact on the people of Alaska. I even support taking my (and my family's) permanent funds before implementing a state income tax. At least it's more equitable as it impacts all Alaskans and not just those of us working for a paycheck! - More..
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

letter Alaska's oil company owned legislature By Ray Metcalfe - Absent from Alaska's budget debate are comparisons of owner/producer profit sharing agreements in other oil producing countries. How do we compare? The big three want this question off the table. Our news outlets suffer a painful withholding of advertising revenue any time they address this issue. - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

letter Appreciation By Carl Thompson - As I opened up SitNews Wednesday morning after working all night, I saw a photo I took the other day was used as the front page feature photo. I was immediately thrilled to see it there, it is always such a huge compliment and a boost to the ego when she uses one of my photos. It got me to thinking about SitNews and how much I appreciate all the many hours of hard work and thought and love that goes into producing this website for Ketchikan. - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

letter Budget Vote By Rep. Dan Ortiz - For those following the issues facing our state, it’s no surprise that Alaska’s $2.7 billion budget deficit is the biggest issue. For the last five years, Alaska has had a budget deficit. Those deficits have caused the state to burn through at least $12 billion in savings, and we are quickly running out of savings. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 19, 2017

letter Alaska State Income Tax is Wrong By Chris J. Herby - I am writing this because yesterday my day started off with one of the biggest and worst shocks in recent memory. The headlines read AK House OK's income tax. As a community, we must stand up and show our outrage. We have been fooled by a con-man. As a ploy to get elected, Dan Ortiz ran as an Independent when he is clearly a Democrat. He joined with the Democrats in the State House to support our first state income tax in decades. We all realize that our state is in a budget crisis and something needs to be done to correct it. However, a state income tax is the worst possible thing that could be done. This will take hard working Alaskans' paychecks and make them smaller every week of the year. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 19, 2017

letter Kill The State Income Tax By Ken Leland - Lance Clark is right,once established any tax only increases, look at our local sales taxes. Looks like the "Dammed Democrats" with their tax and spend agenda are at it again, although some Republicans are also complicit. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 19, 2017

letter THE GREAT WHITE HYPE By David G Hanger - I actually had high hopes for Rodney Dial’s candidacy, a prospective breath of fresh air into the stale, insipid policies of dullness and torpor that permeates local and state politics. Instead in classic Randian fashion he calls upon us to kill or to displace the poor because they so obviously are the fount of all of our fiscal problems, that if these mooches, leeches, and parasites were to disappear (in Randian terminology to “perish as they should’) all of our financial problems would be solved. He even gives us a long drawn out description of his own PTSD in this regard, all incurred as a state cop. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 19, 2017

letter Degrade North Korean Economy By Donald Moskowitz - President Trump has pointed out the strong linkage between China and North Korea, and  he correctly assumes China can influence North Korea's weapons development program.  We must work with China on resolving this situation, and also on the Chinese encroachment in the South China Sea and the trade deficit imbalance. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 19, 2017

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

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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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