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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 11, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By DANIEL PETERS

Man's Best Friend
Beautiful Southeast Alaska and man's best friend, Tikka.
Front Page Feature Photo By DANIEL PETERS ©2018

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Ketchikan: Ketchikan nurses ratify three-year labor contract after rallying for more staffing, higher wages - The Alaska Nurses Association praised the victory of its Ketchikan Registered Nurses local bargaining unit, which recently ratified a three-year labor contract agreement with PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center. Ketchikan nurse members voted overwhelmingly in support of the agreement, which followed several months of negotiations that ended with a community rally and three days of mediated bargaining.

The contract helps to address nurses' concerns about safe staffing and includes increased training opportunities across multiple areas to ensure nurses are prepared to maintain exceptional patient care in times of high need. The agreement also addresses much-needed wage increases essential to recruiting and retaining highly qualified nurses at the medical center in a competitive health care market, and improved scheduling to prevent nurse fatigue and burnout. 

Quoting a news release from the Alaska Nurses Association, prior to the agreement, Ketchikan nurses were the lowest-paid nurses within the PeaceHealth hospital system, despite facing higher costs of living and challenges with recruitment. 

“We are excited to have reached an agreement on a contract that will provide opportunities for growth in our profession and help to retain our talented nurses in the Ketchikan community,” said Ketchikan Registered Nurses bargaining team member Rebecca Albrant, RN. “Ultimately, this agreement furthers our efforts to provide safe staffing and a high quality of care for all patients.” - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2018

Southeast Alaska: House Passes Legislation to Update Assessment System Used by Alaska’s Only Dive Fishery Association - The Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation Saturday to update the protocol used by the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association to charge an assessment to its members to help manage and support the geoduck, sea cucumber, and sea urchin fisheries.

House Bill 354 changes the assessment mechanism from a vote by a majority of permit holders to a three-quarters vote of the Board of Directors and a majority vote of permit holders participating in the election.

The current assessment method requiring a vote by a majority of all permit holders to authorize an assessment change has proven unfeasible because many permit holders no longer participate in the dive fisheries because the permits are nontransferable. 

“The current system to change the assessment is not working because of the difficulty of getting a majority of permit holders to participate in elections. The simple change to the system called for in House Bill 354 recognizes the reality of who participates in these vital dive fisheries and makes the needed changes to allow the annual assessment to be adjusted in a reasonable manner,” said HB 354 sponsor Rep. Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan).  - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2018


Family Nurse Practitioner joins Primary Care - Catherine Henderson FNP joined PeaceHealth Medical Group in March. The Family Nurse Practitioner now sees patients at PHMG Primary Care.

Family Nurse Practitioner joins Primary Care

Catherine Henderson FNP
Photo courtesy PKMC

A Nurse Practitioner is different than a doctor but NPs are certified to do medical diagnoses, prescribe medications and provide basic medical services.

Henderson knew from a young age that she wanted to be a nurse and completed her undergraduate degree at Western Kentucky University in her home state. She received her graduate degree from the University of Arizona. She also served six years in the United States Air Force.

She also knew she wanted to live in Alaska after a cruise introduced her to our great state. Henderson has spent time in several rural communities across Alaska providing care and education.

She and her husband and youngest son relocated from the Seattle area where she most recently worked at Swedish Hospital and other medical centers in ICU/Trauma/ER. Henderson's son is a student at University of Alaska Southeast and, like two of his older sisters, he plans a nursing career. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2018

Ketchikan: Spring is Here, Be Bear Aware - In Southeast Alaska and points beyond, word has it that bears are waking and starting to move. And that can mean only one thing: It’s time for Alaskans to assume their best “bear aware” behavior.

The Alaska Dept of Fish and Game Division of Wildlife Conservation's Dirctor Bruce Dale of the Region I Ketchikan office is reminding residents the bears will be waking up and leaving their dens any day now.

Quoting a news release from Dale, it’s that time of year to take down bird feeders. Bird feeders typically turn into bear feeders, seed and suet draws bears to homes in early spring, so those attractants should be removed and stored until late fall.

Feeding bears, even unintentionally, is illegal. Leaving attractants out, be it in the city or Borough, can result in fines.

Some tips provided by Dale to keep in mind as bears wake up and become active include: - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2018


Melting of Arctic mountain glaciers unprecedented in the past 400 years - Glaciers in Alaska's Denali National Park are melting faster than at any time in the past four centuries because of rising summer temperatures, a new study finds. 

Melting of Arctic mountain glaciers unprecedented in the past 400 years

Scientists spent a month in Denali National Park in 2013 drilling ice cores from the summit plateau of Mt. Hunter. The ice cores showed the glaciers on Mt. Hunter are melting more now than at any time in the past 400 years.
Photo Credit: Dominic Winski.

New ice cores taken from the summit of Mt. Hunter in Denali National Park show summers there are least 1.2-2 degrees Celsius (2.2-3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than summers were during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries. The warming at Mt. Hunter is about double the amount of warming that has occurred during the summer at areas at sea level in Alaska over the same time period, according to the new research. 

The warmer temperatures are melting 60 times more snow from Mt. Hunter today than the amount of snow that melted during the summer before the start of the industrial period 150 years ago, according to the study. More snow now melts on Mt. Hunter than at any time in the past 400 years, said Dominic Winski, a glaciologist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire and lead author of the new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. 

The new study's results show the Alaska Range has been warming rapidly for at least a century. The Alaska Range is an arc of mountains in southern Alaska home to Denali, North America's highest peak. 

The warming correlates with hotter temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean, according to the study's authors. Previous research has shown the tropical Pacific has warmed over the past century due to increased greenhouse gas emissions. 

The study's authors conclude warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean has contributed to the unprecedented melting of Mt. Hunter's glaciers by altering how air moves from the tropics to the poles. They suspect melting of mountain glaciers may accelerate faster than melting of sea level glaciers as the Arctic continues to warm. 

Understanding how mountain glaciers are responding to climate change is important because they provide fresh water to many heavily-populated areas of the globe and can contribute to sea level rise, Winski said. 

"The natural climate system has changed since the onset of the anthropogenic era," he said. "In the North Pacific, this means temperature and precipitation patterns are different today than they were during the preindustrial period." - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2018



MONEY MATTERS: ELDER FRAUD: IDENTIFYING IT, REFUSING IT AND REPORTING IT By MARY LYNNE DAHL, CFP® - Unfortunately, fraud schemes that target our senior citizens are becoming very common. They represent a serious risk to a retired person, especially one who lives alone or has begun to suffer from any kind of mental or physical decline, which may ultimately be all of us. Therefore, this has the potential to threaten the security and well-being of everyone, so pay attention to the facts I will present in this column and take action if it is necessary to protect yourself, a loved one or a friend.

Here are some facts, and they are disturbing. According to David Bowden, acting deputy director of the FBI, elder fraud is a serious and growing threat to Americans. The FBI is involved in a cooperative effort with other law enforcement agencies across the country to identify and prosecute the crooks who target elderly Americans. The FBI has opened more than 200 cases of financial crimes against elderly individuals during last year alone. According to a report by CNBC, older Americans lose $36.5 billion per year as a result of being victims of financial scams, fraud, exploitation and outright theft. Financial fraud statistics in almost every state indicate that the trend is growing, despite efforts by law enforcement to catch and prosecute the perpetrators of elder fraud. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2018


Social Security Matters: Ask Rusty - Why the big deal about COLA increases? And, Speeding up Social Security Disability Claims By RUSSELL GLOOR, AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor - Dear Rusty Why the big deal about COLA increases? -   Seems like everyone makes a big deal out of the annual Social Security increase.  The way I see it, why bother?  For the 2017 benefit year my wife's Social Security increased by .03% but her Medicare increased by 3% for a net gain of 0 dollars.  My Social Security increased by the same .03% but my Medicare increased by 5% for a net gain of 0 dollars.  For the 2018 benefit year my wife's Social Security increased by 2% but her Medicare increased by 17% for a net gain of 0 dollars.  My Social Security increased by the same 2% but my Medicare increased by 22% for a net gain of only $8.10 (.005%).  Why does the government even bother with all these changes since the end result is that you net out no increase or just a small fraction of the actual increase?  Makes no sense to me.  Thanks for your column. I enjoy it. Signed: Disillusioned - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2018

jpg Jeff Lund

JEFF LUND: Why I should hate steelhead fishing - After returning from a steelhead trip I tried to understand why I looked forward to hiking a long way for just a few fish, in the cold. I tried to convince myself I shouldn’t like it. 

So, here’s why I should hate steelhead fishing.

I don’t catch a lot of fish

The point of fishing is catching. Steelhead sometimes don’t bite even when you do everything right. They don’t stack up like salmon during the summer or fall runs so getting one per day is the goal, catching six or more with a fly rod is near an anomaly. 

What I do catch, I don’t keep

I sent a picture of a steelhead to a group chat. A reply was, “Dinner?” I replied simply that I had venison thawing and didn’t get into the phases of a fish in freshwater and how a spring steelhead that was a holdover from the fall and would likely not taste very good; nor did I mention that I couldn’t stomach killing a steelhead. Taking a limit of salmon from a river that has tens of thousands isn’t putting too much of a dent into the population. Killing 1 of 400 or so can have a much more profound impact going forward. Steelhead are sturdy and resilient as proven by the fact that they return to the ocean after spawning then repeat the process unlike salmon. It’s also illegal on many rivers. So, what I’m doing is also completely unnecessary by “getting my own food” standards. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2018

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Cost Is What Ails Health Care - "I'm lucky to have health insurance, but I still can't afford to go to the doctor."

"Ah, yes, you speak of a growing problem in health care. According to, between 'a third and a half of people age 45 to 59 and a quarter of those 60+ went without needed health care in the past year due to its cost.' That was the finding of a recent survey by West Health Institute and NORC at the University of Chicago."

"My health insurance used to cover most of my costs. Now I have extremely high deductibles that require me to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in. That's making me avoid going to the doctor."

"You are not alone. According to the findings, nearly half of the 45 to 59 year olds surveyed 'did not go to the doctor last year when they were sick or injured.' Nearly half skipped recommended medical tests or treatment."

"It's even worse than that. Due to the expensive deductibles and co-payments, I stopped getting my annual physical. I know an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but I simply can't afford preventive care." - More...
Wednesday AM - April 11, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Bloodsuckers

Political Cartoon: Bloodsuckers
By Pat Bagley ©2018, The Salt Lake Tribune, UT
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

But Wait, There's More! By Dan Bockhorst - I appreciate Rodney Dial’s illuminating and sobering comments published in SitNews on April 4. I also value his diligence and discipline in safeguarding taxpayers’ money.

Reflecting on Mr. Dial’s commentary brought to mind the phrase popularized by Ron Popeil, an inventor and marketing personality: "But wait, there's more!"

On April 11, the School Superintendent will submit his budget proposal for next fiscal year to the School Board. The Superintendent has matter-of-factly advised the School Board and Borough Assembly that he will seek a $3.9-million “discretionary” cash contribution from the Borough.

However, because the Superintendent neglected to put his proposal in context, taxpayers and local officials may not appreciate the nature of his quest. The $3.9 million discretionary contribution which the Superintendent plans to seek, amounts to a whopping 12.59% increase over this year. But wait, there’s more! - More...
Sunday PM - April 08, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

RE: Ketchikan is one of the highest taxed areas in Alaska By Jerri Taylor-Elkins - Mr. Dial, I am writing in response to your opinion piece posted to Sitnews on April 4, 2018. First let me say that I appreciate your service to our community and the time you took in both writing and encouraging feedback from your constituents. I would like to clarify a few things in regards to your statements about homelessness and the types and number of shelters in Ketchikan.

We have in Ketchikan, WISH (Women in Safe Homes) who s primary focus is taking in women and children in crisis due to domestic violence and sexual assault. They will accept women and children facing homelessness on a short term basis, however their primary mission is NOT homelessness. At present there is no facility in Ketchikan equipped to shelter homeless youth or children.

So in fact there are only two non-profit shelters in Ketchikan whose focus is the homeless citizens. Park Avenue Temporary Home (PATH) is a night time (5pm 9am), 31 bed short stay shelter that does not allow its clients to be under the influence of drugs/alcohol prior to entry. - More...
Sunday PM - April 08, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

What happens when Ideology triumphs over Reason By Michael Spence - Both of my parents experienced the horrors of World War II firsthand. Like most American men in the early 1940's, my father joined the US Army. As a combat engineer, he saw some of the worst fighting from the beaches of Normandy to the liberation of France and Germany in 1944 and '45.. He lost his younger brother in the war effort. My Mother, who was German, lived through the the misery of bombardments from the Allied forces. Her home city was leveled to rubble. Somehow she and my grandmother survived, but many of their friends and family did not, and their lives were never the same again.

I often wondered how it came to pass that the German people, an advanced culture whose nation achieved great economic and educational success, could have succumbed to a such catastrophic end as witnessed in the 1930's and 1940's. The vast majority of Germans were hardworking, peace loving people. The culture that brought to the world the printing press and some of the the greatest advances in art, science and medicine of the 20th century, was somehow brought to a state that practiced mass warfare and genocide on a scale never before seen in human history. - More...
Sunday PM - April 08, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Ketchikan is one of the highest taxed areas in Alaska By RODNEY DIAL - I have been on the Borough Assembly for a year and half now and thought I would pass on my observations/opinions of local government and the concerns I have moving forward. First, let me state that these are my own personal comments and I am not claiming to represent anyone… except the taxpayers.

As most of you may remember, the last two budget cycles have been challenging for the Borough. Last year the deficit was nearly a million dollars. Creative efforts on behalf of the Assembly and Borough Staff allowed that deficit to be closed without a sales or property tax increase.

The budget deficit for this year was initially projected at approximately ½ million, however that recently changed, primarily due to a significant increase in property assessments and an increase in sales tax revenue. Those of you who recently received your assessments probably noticed that your prior year assessment amount was listed on the form for comparison to your new assessment. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 04, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Getting More Resources Against Trafficking our Kids By Senator Dan Sullivan - Most Americans and Alaskans think that human trafficking is a problem that happens in other, far-away places. And many are shocked to realize that it's happening right here, in America and in our state, and that the problem is actually increasing, dramatically.

A disturbing study last year found that one in four girls, and one in five boys, who were receiving services from Covenant House Alaska, reported being victims of sex trafficking. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported a whopping 846 percent increase from 2010 to 2015 of children who were being trafficked — an increase that the organization attributes to the internet. - More...
Sunday AM - April 01, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Should there be a new professional responsibility to help victims of unknown emerging technological crimes? By Liberty-Anne Johnson - Living in the interior of Alaska - prior to Ketchikan - in the 1980s, I learned that it was required by state law to stop and help those who found themselves in a ditch along the ALCAN highway. Law enforcement and emergency couldn’t always arrive first or immediately given the vast highway paired with a low ratio of Alaska State Troopers and the distance required to travel. Provision of first response or aid expected to be administered by those who stopped was above normal skills thought required in those circumstances in other states and those married on the border specially trained for life-threatening incidents. - More...
Sunday AM - April 01, 2018

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