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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 07, 2012

Front Page Photo By ROBERT M. (MIKE) SMITH

Safe Harbor
Front Page Photo By ROBERT M. (MIKE) SMITH


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Fish Factor: Tracking debris; Marine trades move Alaska; Observer program; & Copper River! By LAINE WELCH - Soccer balls… motorcycles… reminders of the massive tsunami in Japan a year ago are now appearing along Alaska’s coastlines. 

“It’s safe to say that tsunami debris is here,” said Merrick Burden, director of the Juneau-based Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation.

Since January the MCA has been tracking where and the kinds of debris that is coming ashore, and whether it is  radioactive (none so far), at Kodiak, Yakutat, Sitka and Craig where the wreckage was first likely to hit.

“What we’re finding are wind driven objects like buoys, Styrofoam, and large containers, some of which contain materials that are potentially toxic,” Burden said.  “We’re finding drums full of things that we don’t know what they are yet.  So we’re looking at a potential large scale environmental problem, and what we’re dealing with now is just the start of it.”

Debris has been found in every area they’ve looked, Burden said, and mysterious sludge is washing up on some beaches, apparently from opened containers.  Just days ago, an enormous amount of floating debris was spotted off the southern reaches of Prince William Sound, making national headlines. But the worst is yet to come.

“Next year is when we expect the larger debris that is driven by currents rather than wind,” he cautioned.  “That should be comprised of entirely different types of materials, and it might even follow a different trajectory through the water and end up in different locations.”

“Part of the problem is that we don’t know what we’re dealing with, and it looks bad.  It’s obviously tragic, and it looks like it’s a pretty major environmental hazard as well,” Burden added.

Some references are being made to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, saying the impacts of tsunami debris could be worse and more widespread.

“We are dealing with something that will be scattered across the majority of the Alaska coastline as it sweeps across Southeast, through the Gulf, out to the Aleutians and spits up into the Bering Sea.  And it looks like some of these containers and canisters contain toxic materials that may be hazardous to human health. There is sludge washing up on some of these beaches, and we cont’ know what it’s comprised of, but it’s near a container that was recently opened.”

Alaskan mariners, fishermen, pilots and beachcombers can play an important role in tracking the oncoming tsunami debris.

“Let us know about the debris you’re finding – where it is, what it is comprised of, take a photo, and send to us,” Burden urged. “We are also sharing the information with NOAA and we’re all just trying to get a better understanding of what’s out there and what’s coming.” - More...
Monday - May 07, 2012

Alaska: State Department gives Seafood Industry a pass on new rules this season - Foreign students will continue to be allowed to work in Alaska seafood plants this summer, ensuring no disruption to the upcoming salmon season.  This after the State Department finalized an interim rule regarding the Summer Work Travel, or J-1 Visa program, which would not affect the seafood processing industry until November.  The J-1 program allows seasonal employment for foreign students at fish plants and other jobs in Alaska and across the country. The U.S. State Department announced changes to the J-1 summer visa program Friday.

The seafood industry in the largest private sector employer in Alaska, generating about 70,000 jobs annually.  The foreign student workers are provided the same housing and meals as other employees in seafood plants and work under federally regulated safety standards. In response to the continuing labor needs, Begich is considering legislation to establish a temporary work visa program for the seafood industry such as exists for agriculture and other sectors. 

“Alaska seafood processing plants depend on foreign students to meet their seasonal labor needs when they cannot find local or domestic workers for the jobs,” U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) said. “Abrupt elimination of this source of labor would have seriously disrupted the upcoming salmon season, affecting even fishermen and local fishing communities which depend on the seasonal processors.

In response to the annoucement U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in a prepared statement,  “Alaskans place the highest priority on hiring state residents; that’s why our unemployment rate is below the national average. But seafood processors tell me the J-1 visa program allows them to add critical seasonal staff when Alaska workers aren’t available. Changing that program without an opportunity for all interested parties to comment and time for the industry to adapt is not appropriate."

When the proposed interim rule was first announced, Begich said he spearheaded the questioning of the proposed changes, raising his concerns to the State Department and OMB in multiple letters and phone calls over recent months urging officials to listen to industry concerns and not expedite a decision regarding the J-1 visa program.  Begich staff accompanied fishermen to OMB headquarters to help make their case.  While reforms to the program are needed, as demonstrated by issues which arose elsewhere around the nation, abrupt action could have had a negative impact on seafood processing in Alaska. - More...
Monday - May 07, 2012 

Photograph by HOLLY PAULSON

Stevedore's flipped forklift rescued
No one was injured Friday afternoon when a forklift working on Berth 2 flipped over in the downtown dock area.
Photograph by HOLLY PAULSON
Read the KRBD news story

Ketchikan: First Bank Renews Partnership with PeaceHealth Ketchikan - Five years ago First Bank made a $100,000 pledge, payable over five years to the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center Foundation for the hospital’s Endowment Fund. Recently they made the final payment on that pledge. Shortly thereafter, President Bill Moran, announced First Bank’s intention to renew their commitment to invest in the health of our community by making another five-year $100,000 pledge.

President Moran cited the importance of the Medical Center, “The Peace Health Ketchikan Medical Center is an outstanding community asset that enhances the quality of life throughout our region. We feel privileged to be able to play a small role in this fine organization’s continuing long-term success.”

In addition to this pledge, First Bank continues to match their employees’ and Board members’ charitable contributions for more immediate community health care needs. This year’s focus is the creation of a Chemotherapy Infusion Suite which will provide a private, comfortable setting for patients needing infusion therapies.

“We are thrilled to continue this partnership with First Bank,” said Penny Pedersen, Executive Director of the Foundation. “This pledge is designated toward our Endowment Fund and will ensure our community has what it needs to deliver health, healing and wellness to our community, far into the future. - More...
Monday - May 07, 2012

Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom PurcellTOM PURCELL: What Are America's Pet Owners Thinking? - If you didn't think American civilization was in trouble already, this ought to worry you: Americans are hiring psychics to communicate with their pets.

According to Benjamin Radford of Discovery News, pet psychics claim they can use telepathy to communicate with animals, living and dead -- for about $85 an hour.

I can tell pet owners what their dog is thinking for half that amount: Rover wants you to scratch him on the belly and give him a treat. I'll pop my invoice in the mail.

But this isn't about telepathy so much as it is about our obsession with pets -- a reflection of a country gone nutty and soft, confused by our emotions.

Look: Pets, generally, are a great thing. Social scientists explain that in our fast-paced, transient society, pets help fill the void that was once filled by close friends and extended family.

I love dogs and wish I wasn't away from home so often or I'd get one.

But our obsession with pets is getting out of hand. Despite our sour economy, the pet-service industry continues to grow by $2 billion a year -- to $52 billion this year. - More...
Monday - May 07, 2012


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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696
Sitnews reserves the right to edit.

letter Progressive activism By Jim Guenther - I don't believe that corporations are people. The GOP does. I don't believe that the government should assert itself into the reproductive organs of my wife, or my female children, or of any woman. The GOP does. I don't believe that the ability to afford health insurance should determine if a human being should be kept alive. The GOP does. I don't believe that dangerous mental patients should be allowed to carry concealed assault weapons. The GOP does. I don't believe that the wealthy should pay a lower percentage of their income in taxes than middle-income wage earners. The GOP does. - More...
Tuesday - May 01, 2012

letter Sunken cement barge By Tim Finch - Nine years after it was written, I enjoyed the story of Bill Huckins and the sunken cement barge.  I was searching around on line for info on Bill's Dad and came across June Allen's article.  The older Bill occasionally worked with my Grandfather, Henry Finch Jr., also a diver.  His Dad, Henry Sr. first located the SS Islander the year after it sunk, in 1902, but couldn't do much beyond that, given the +300 foot depth.  Henry Jr. also worked with the Islander expedition starting in 1929 but did not go back after the first year.  A good decision in hindsight. - More...
Tuesday - May 01, 2012

letter Concerns About Discovery Center By Tom LeCompte - I have great concerns about Ketchikan this Summer, specifically the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center, (SEDC).This Alaska Public Lands Information Center is a natural history, native history, economic and recreation information clearinghouse for the Tongass National Forest. There are three other APLIC's in the state, Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Tok. - More...
Thursday - April 26, 2012

letter We've Got Talent By Judith Green - 'The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood' was SO well done. BRAVO! to each of the students who participated - whether you had a speaking or non-speaking part, job well done! It was so much fun to see each of you so well poised and positioned - just enjoying. The match-up of participant to parts was very (evident)successful. (Yes, "I got that") - More...
Thursday - April 26, 2012

letter Thank you By Brandy Cotter - The Sebring family of Michigan and I wish to thank all involved in the care of our loved one. - More...
Thursday - April 26, 2012

letter Unprofessionalism By Jerry Klein - I was at the KIC health clinic Wednesday (04-25-12). I found the triage nurse to be very cold and uncaring. She refused to help me cause it was a little late in the day and she refused to refer me to the ER. - More...
Thursday - April 26, 2012

letter “Walk the Change” May 4th By Karen Eakes - I am writing on behalf of the Strengthening Cultural Unity (SCU) task force of the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition.  This group has brought Challenge Day to Ketchikan secondary schools for the past three years and is currently working on plans and funding for the next school year. As a follow up to the Challenge Day events there have also been “Be the Change” student efforts at Schoenbar and at Kayhi. - More...
Tuesday - April 24, 2012

letter Girls on the Run 5K By Aftan Lynch- Saturday, April 28th, Girls on the Run will be hosting an untimed Spring 5K at Ward Lake at 10:30 am. Women in Safe Homes invites you to attend this event and run with or cheer on the participants. This season, over 35 girls are participating from three schools: Houghtaling, Point Higgins, and Fawn Mountain. - More...
Tuesday - April 24, 2012

letter Re: Boat Trailers By Ken Lewis - Supporting the local economy can be very frustrating, especially if you are a misunderstood parking space hog. Ode to the curbside sailors. - More...
Tuesday - April 24, 2012

letter Stop signs and crosswalks By Alan R. McGillvray - Well if there is one thing (or too many) that any city in the WORLD has it's STOP SIGNS. - More....
Tuesday - April 24, 2012

letter Good-bye Credit Card By A.M. Johnson - The following letter was sent to the mangement of Alaska Airlines regarding their credit card account managed by Bank of America. - More...
Tuesday - April 24, 2012

letter Inuit Drum Dancing By Carol Baines - Here in Southeast Alaska, we don't seem to get to see much of northern aspects of native culture. - More...
Tuesday - April 24, 2012

letter Second amendment attack by Congressional Socialist By A. M. Johnson - I recently sent the following letter to Alaska's Congressional Representative, Don Young. As I understand it, Senator Lisa Murkowski voted in favor of this legislation through SB 1813, legislation related to the highway construction funding. Her explanation to me was that the benefits of federal funding for construction including ferrys was too important. Yet, the content of the legislation included the following form of yet another effort to restrict and control the citizens of this Nation. RINO's such as Senator Murkowski are selling our Constitutional rights to the devil. While I am too old to suffer the consequences of this continued downward spiral to Socialism, my Grandchildren and worst, my Great Grandchildren, whom I am growing old with are the ultimate victims. - More...
Tuesday - April 24, 2012

letter The Closure of U.S. Oil Refineries By Donald A. Moskowitz - I recently wrote a letter on exported fuels by U.S. oil companies who reap higher prices paid overseas. - More...
Tuesday - April 24, 2012

letter RE: Care About Ketchikan By Judith Green - Bobby McCreary and KYI, ingenious idea! This does not attack nor condemn - just a great idea of support for our community. A way for anyone & everyone to have a part by their own choosing, not a guilt trip. - More...
Tuesday - April 24, 2012

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