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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 24, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By CHARLES HABERBUSH

Thomas Basin
Thomas basin from berth one at low tide, and under moonlight.
Front Page Feature Photo By CHARLES HABERBUSH ©2019

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Alaska: Legislation introduced to increase the nation’s presence in the Arctic - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase the nation’s presence in the Arctic by supporting responsible research and development in the U.S. Arctic while giving those who live in the region a greater voice on policy and research. U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) cosponsored the bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Murkowski.

Senator Murkowski is considered the leading expert among her Congressional colleagues on Arctic issues and has worked continuously to raise awareness of the Arctic. At the beginning of the 114th Congress, Senator Murkowski and Senator Angus King (I-ME) formed the Senate Arctic Caucus, to advance issues important to the Arctic and to the people who live there. Murkowski is the U.S. Representative to the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region. Murkowski has also led the charge to recapitalize and expand America’s fleet of Polar Security Cutters (aka icebreakers).

“Our new reality in the Arctic is that we are seeing greater opportunities but also greater challenges, such as environmental changes opening sea routes year-round and an increased global interest in the area. These bills will both play a significant role in further developing a plan to address U.S. priorities in the Arctic, while incorporating the input of indigenous Alaskans who live there. This legislation will also encourage those who use our Arctic waterways to contribute to developing infrastructure such as ports and maritime shipping services, in order to ensure the safety and management of the region,” said Senator Murkowski. 

Murkowski said, “The Arctic is a national asset and should be treated as a national priority. I’m proud to lead legislation that will help us capitalize on opportunities that are critical to our Arctic strategy, allowing us to truly claim America’s leadership role in this region of global importance. I look forward to continuing conversations with Arctic residents and my colleagues in Washington to move these proposals forward.”

“The retreat of Arctic sea ice, improvements in icebreaking technology, and global demand for resources have led to an increase in human activity in the Arctic while also raising concerns about the future of the region. The SEAL Act will provide the coordination among federal, state, international, and local stakeholders necessary to support the needs of Arctic transportation in the years ahead,” said Senator Sullivan. 

“With increased attention and shipping traffic in the Arctic, it’s important that the people who live in the region have a seat at the table when it comes to developing policy,” said Senator Sullivan. “The Arctic Policy Act will create advisory groups that ensure local stakeholders and Alaska Native people are involved in charting the course for the future of the Arctic,” said Sullivan.

“This bill will empower native communities to play a leadership role in charting a way forward in the changing Artic region,” said Senator Schatz. “I’m proud to be working with Senator Murkowski to make sure the United States expands our role in this region in a responsible, strategic way.” - More...
Wednesday PM - April 24, 2019

Alaska: Why Russia gave up Alaska, America's gateway to the Arctic By WILLIAM L. IGGIAGRUK KENSLEY - One hundred and fifty-two years ago, on March 30, 1867, U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward and Russian envoy Baron Edouard de Stoeckl signed the Treaty of Cession. With a stroke of a pen, Tsar Alexander II had ceded Alaska, his country’s last remaining foothold in North America, to the United States for US$7.2 million.

That sum, amounting to just $113 million in today’s dollars, brought to an end Russia’s 125-year odyssey in Alaska and its expansion across the treacherous Bering Sea, which at one point extended the Russian Empire as far south as Fort Ross, California, 90 miles from San Francisco Bay.

Today Alaska is one of the richest U.S. states thanks to its abundance of natural resources, such as petroleum, gold and fish, as well as its vast expanse of pristine wilderness and strategic location as a window on Russia and gateway to the Arctic.

So what prompted Russia to withdraw from its American beachhead? And how did it come to possess it in the first place?

As a descendant of Inupiaq Eskimos, I have been living and studying this history all my life. In a way, there are two histories of how Alaska came to be American – and two perspectives. One concerns how the Russians took “possession” of Alaska and eventually ceded it to the U.S. The other is from the perspective of my people, who have lived in Alaska for thousands of years, and for whom the anniversary of the cession brings mixed emotions, including immense loss but also optimism. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 24, 2019

Polar Security Cutter Contract Awarded to Update Nation’s Arctic Capabilities

Polar Security Cutter Contract Awarded to Update Nation’s Arctic Capabilities
VT Halter Marine Inc., Pascagoula, Miss., has been awarded a $745,940,860 contract for the detail design and construction of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Polar Security Cutter (PSC) (formerly the Heavy Polar Ice Breaker)
Image rendition courtesy VT Halter Marine


Alaska: Polar Security Cutter Contract Awarded to Update Nation’s Arctic Capabilities Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, yesterday welcomed the announcement from the U.S. Department of Defense Contracting Office that VT Halter Marine Inc. of Pascagoula, Mississippi, has been awarded the contract to build the nation’s first new heavy Polar Security Cutter (PSC) in more than forty years. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Karl Schultz called the delegation to share the news and to thank them for their united efforts in support of this historic acquisition.

In February, Congress passed a funding bill that was signed into law which included a total of $675 million for the Polar Security Cutter program - $655 million to fully fund the first Polar Security Cutter and $20 million for long lead time materials for a second Polar Security Cutter, quoting a news release from the Alaska Delegation.

“This is an important and significant step towards an operational Polar Security Cutter to help meet our nation’s needs in the Arctic,” said Senator Murkowski. “As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have worked tirelessly to fully fund a polar icebreaker fleet and will continue to support the Coast Guard to make a U.S. polar capable fleet a reality. The U.S. cannot stand on the sidelines as other Arctic and non-Arctic nations continue to expand their icebreaker fleets and with it, their Arctic presence.” - More...
Wednesday PM - April 24, 2019

Ketchikan: Ketchikan Named the 'Best Up and Coming Housing Market in Alaska' - Ketchikan has just been named one of the top up and coming housing markets in America by Insurify. Winners were evaluated on metrics including home value growth, new construction, share of homeowners, trends in median sales price, and home value forecasts. The highest scoring city in each state was identified to form the list of winners.

And in the nation's 49th state, Ketchikan was named the 'Best Up and Coming Housing Market in Alaska' for creating an attractive community for homebuyers.

“A community’s ability to attract new residents is a good indicator of the quality of life it provides its citizens,” said Insurify CEO, Snejina Zacharia. “Those who are making the biggest strides in improving their housing markets should be commended and celebrated for their accomplishment.”

There’s always buzz around the best cities for real estate or the ideal communities for first-time home-buyers. These are typically long-established homeowning hotspots whose real estate markets are beginning to slow. So which communities are, in fact, seeing the fastest growth in housing markets nationwide? 

After the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent 2007-2009 recession, many regional housing markets around the country have been slow to recover. Additionally, others that have perennially dominated the real estate stage are seeing slowing or even declining trends in their sales prices as their steady growth becomes harder to sustain. However, despite these challenges, there are still communities in each state whose housing markets are growing in force.  - More...
Wednesday PM - April 24, 2019

Alaska: Recruiting for More than 4,000 Seafood Processing Workers - Alaskans looking for summer employment have the opportunity to work in the seafood processing industry. Employers are recruiting for more than 4,000 full-time temporary seafood workers and most offer transportation, room and board benefits for those who successfully complete their contract. Alaskans seeking to work in the seafood industry can consider current openings in Dutch Harbor, Naknek and Juneau just to name a few locations, and more than 14 seafood processing employers have openings at this time.

“Workers may contact their nearest Alaska Job Center to apply,” said Bernardita Dobson, lead Employment Services Technician in the Seafood Employment Office at the Anchorage Midtown Job Center. “These jobs provide an excellent opportunity for people who enjoy physical work, want to establish a work history, earn and save money quickly, move up the career ladder, and see other parts of Alaska.” 

The seafood processing industry has been working in partnership with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development to improve the rate of Alaska resident hire. Employing Alaskans can save seafood processors money by avoiding the cost of hiring foreign labor brokers, paying fees for labor importation, as well as reducing the high cost of transporting those foreign workers to Alaska. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 24, 2019


Alaska: Denim Day” Participants Stand in Solidarity with Victims of Sexual Assault - Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy and members of his cabinet joined millions of people across the world today by wearing denim as a show of solidarity with victims of sexual violence. It is the signature act of Denim Day, which is held each April as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

“The simple act of wearing jeans sends a powerful message across Alaska and the world that sexual abuse will not be tolerated,” said Governor Dunleavy. “Here in Alaska, there is a significant amount of work that remains when it comes to our rates of sexual assault and domestic violence. My administration is committed to this cause not just today, but each and every day of the year in order to protect Alaska’s most vulnerable and hold perpetrators accountable.”   

Alaska continues to have the highest rates of sexual assault and domestic violence in the nation. The Dunleavy administration believes we must strengthen our laws to hold sexual predators accountable for their actions. Earlier this year, Governor Dunleavy introduced a package of crime-fighting legislation, including SB 35 and HB 52 which targets sexual predators and holds them accountable for their crimes. SB 35 has received significant action in the Senate, however HB 52 has not moved from its first committee of referral, the House Judiciary Committee. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 24, 2019

Alaska: Scientific Teams Set Out to Track Unprecedented Changes in the Eastern Bering Sea - Over the past five years winter atmospheric conditions that influence the Bering Sea have been markedly different from previous years. Strong, warm winds out of the south—sometimes lasting more than 30 days—have forced sea ice northward. Water temperatures have been warmer than normal and NOAA scientists have observed some significant changes in marine species. They are in unexpected places, in larger or smaller numbers than normal, and many are thin. Scientists are also seeing changes in the numbers of young fish that are reaching maturity.

“We predict that changing environmental conditions will continue to affect the marine food web structure—and potentially the productivity of the northeastern Bering Sea shelf ecosystem,” said Robert Foy, Director, Alaska Fisheries Science Center. “This is going to be a critical year to survey this region.”

Beginning in April and continuing through September, NOAA scientists will conduct vessel surveys in the Bering Sea. Four of these are annual surveys that have been conducted for several decades, providing a good basis of data so scientists can detect trends and changes in the ecosystem. Anothersurvey, the northeastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey, has been fully conducted just two times in the past decade. In 2018, Researchers we completed a partial survey of the area. This year scientists intend to conduct a full survey to further establish a baseline of data for longer-term monitoring of changes that are taking place. 

The Important Role of Sea Ice and the Cold Pool in the Bering Sea Ecosystem

Sea-ice extent is the primary determinant of the cold pool, which structures the southeastern Bering Sea ecosystem. The cold pool is approximately a 30-m layer of cold bottom water that is 2°C or less and occurs near the seafloor. It results from melting sea ice in the winter and spring. It often covers a large area from close to shore out to the deep ocean, creating a barrier for commercially important fish species like Pacific cod and pollock that prefer warmer waters. As a result, they are usually restricted in their movements and confined to the southeastern Bering Sea and outer shelf (water deeper than 100 meters).

In 2017 and 2018 the maximum extent of sea ice in the Bering Sea was the lowest on record. The cold pool was dramatically smaller than usual and large numbers of adult Pacific cod and pollock were found in the northern Bering Sea in the spring and summer months. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 24, 2019



DAVE KIFFER: Guess we're not as gansta as we thought - Humans are obsessed with ranking things. Top ten this. Top ten that.  It seems like every other post on the internet these days is a ranking of some sort. Where do we stack up? You'd think we were all still in high school or something!

Of course, not all the rankings agree or make sense. For example, we have read recently that Ketchikan is the "poorest" city in Alaska. It is not, but the per capita income is lower than some other places. Then again, we have also read that Ketchikan is the "best place to live in Alaska" according to another ranking.

Apparently, money isn't everything, n'est - ce  pas?

Recently a group called SafeWise ranked all the cities in America based on crime statistics and determined which are safest.

It probably comes as no surprise that no Alaskan communities made the top 100 or probably even the top 1.000.000. We Alaskans like our alcohol and our sometimes violent problem solving methods too much to compete with those quaint "Mayberry"ish communities elsewhere. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 24, 2019


JEFF LUND: Waste of a good point - The worst thing on social media is when someone you don’t like has a great point. You had this whole little topic figured out. You felt really good about yourself because you had planted your flag on a side and there were plenty of others around you so you felt really welcomed and validated. Then some idiot has to go and ruin it with something that needs to be considered.

What do you do? 

You run the program. Get angry and run to the comfort of an untested world view. 


I was scrolling through social media the other day just to see the people with whom I collude. You know, check out my echo chamber, see my part of the salad bowl, melting pot, whatever metaphor we’re using now.  - More...
Wednesday PM - April 24, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Political Cartoon: Growing Up Is Hard To Do
By Jeff Koterba ©2019, Omaha World Herald, NE
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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An Opportunity For Nuclear energy in Alaska By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - The United States has long been a leader in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and within a few years Alaska could be on the leading edge of this clean, reliable and affordable technology. The next generation of nuclear systems - known as advanced reactors - could help relieve crippling energy prices in isolated villages and provide baseload power for an array of other applications. What’s more, the technology is safer than ever before.

Advanced reactors are not your grandparents’ nuclear plants. These systems use new materials, fuels, and methods to convert heat to electricity. Creative designs mean massive improvements in performance. Many are inherently safe and will never melt down. Refueling will occur even less frequently — once every couple of decades. Better systems to extract heat and generate electricity equate to higher efficiency and cheaper power. - More...
Friday PM - April 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

House Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Last week, the Alaska House of Representatives passed a budget for the State of Alaska. As a member of the Finance Committee and the Chair of the Education & Early Development, Fish & Game, and Environmental Conservation Department Finance Subcommittees, I am a part of the budget process from the beginning until the end. For the past month, we have dug into each department budget, asking critical questions, and analyzing impacts of potential cuts. The budget was an intense collaborative effort; we took amendments at all levels – in the subcommittees, in the full House Finance committee, and on the House Floor.

We protected some of our most vital services. We restored funding to the Senior Benefits Program, which was slated to be eliminated under Governor Dunleavy’s proposal. In public safety, we fully funded the Village Public Safety Officer (VPSO) program and added funds for new prosecutors and public defenders. - More...
Friday PM - April 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Update, Don’t Eliminate, Alaska’s Ocean Ranger Program By Rep. Zack Fields - Carnival Corporation was just caught dumping tens of thousands of gallons of liquid waste, as well as plastic bags and other solid waste, in Glacier Bay National Park’s pristine waters. An investigation into these crimes found that Carnival implemented a “brazen and secret” plan to scrub environmental records and hide their violations. It is evident that this is the worst possible time to repeal the Ocean Ranger Program, which provides independent oversight of cruise ships. Our state’s pristine habitat is one of the key reasons that people choose to live in and visit Alaska. It’s a critical part of our economy, our history, and our culture.

The Ocean Ranger program is was created by voter initiative to ensure that cruise ships abide by clean water standards. How much does this program cost the typical Alaskan? The answer is nothing. The Ocean Ranger program is funded by a head tax paid by cruise ship passengers, most of whom visit Alaska to see the breathtaking views and wildlife that the Ocean Rangers exist to protect. - More...
Friday PM - April 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Ranger Program By Robert K. Rice - Dunleavy is proposing to end the "Ranger Program" that puts marine engineers on the cruise ships to monitor their waste water discharges.

These Rangers are paid for by a $4 ticket fee paid by the passengers. This costs the State of Alaska, nothing! Who and how much was paid, by the cruise ships to end this program? - More...
Friday PM - April 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Equality: Net tax of zero By David G Hanger - I have to say this offer of pardons even before a crime is committed presents some interesting possibilities that I urge you to consider. Offering a pardon to your new head of Homeland Security for all crimes he may commit in the course of beating the living crap out of Hispanics from Central America, warehousing children in cages in the absence of their parents, and hosing carloads of Mexican policemen ala SICARIO 2, is the mark of genius; indeed a form of genius I doubt anyone else will ever even think to match.

So this has got me to thinking. During your campaign, the debates, and even in your time in office you have repeatedly emphasized that smart people like you don’t pay taxes. Your little darling, Jared Kushner, last year pocketed $345 million (while purportedly working for the government) on which he did not pay a dime in taxes. Jeff Bezos and Amazon, the richest man in the world and his company, did not pay taxes. In Trumpland, I gather, you are considered a complete dummy if you pay any taxes. - More...
Friday PM - April 19, 2019

jpg Opinion

Dunleavy must learn to balance a budget By Eric Muench - Budgeting is a matter of balancing revenue and expense. A shortfall of revenue to cover family expenses requires rethinking the budget. Luxuries like entertainment and vacation travels can be cut back or eliminated. But minimal living expenses like food, clothing and housing need to be paid, and if revenues won't stretch to cover them, additional revenues such as a second or better paying job or longer hours need to be considered. - More...
Thursday PM - April 11, 2019

jpg Opinion

Trump has not been ‘soft’ on Russia. He’s been tougher than Obama. By U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan - Now that the Mueller investigation is over, we can put to bed the persistent and erroneous allegations that President Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians to get him elected. Likewise, we should also put to bed another persistent and pernicious narrative: that the president and his administration have been “soft” on Russia. - More...
Sunday PM - April 07, 2019

jpg Opinion

THE SWINDLES OF GOVERNOR CRUDE & HIS OIL-SOAKED HANDLERS; A CALL TO REVOLUTION By David G Hanger - First, in your thinking. Then, in fact. This is indeed “a time that tries men’s (and women’s) souls.” History will record the series of governors beginning with Sarah Palin and concluding with “Days of Misery” Dunleavy as the “Oil Governors,” in hindsight recognizing that for any and all practical purposes these people were owned by the oil industry. History will further record Governor Michael Dunleavy as the worst governor in a series of pathetic examples of the genre, and a name that will be vilified beyond all others in this state a century and more from now. - More...
Sunday PM - April 07, 2019

jpg Opinion

Herring Cove vs. Clam Cove; Similar but different, challenges remain By Mary L. Stephenson - Revillagigedo and Gravina Islands have access to the state highways: Tongass and Narrows. Both experienced miners and loggers stripping land while homesteaders quietly staked out claims for a better tomorrow. Gateway Borough and Planning Commission has oversight of land for residential and commercial use; 1,160 square miles of untapped resources, wilderness and wonderment to the next generation exploring Ketchikan by 2029. - More...
Sunday PM - April 07, 2019

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