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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 02, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By STEPHEN SPEIGHTS

Day 1, Ship 1
The CRYSTAL SERENITY was the first ship of the cruise season sailing into the port of Ketchikan on Sunday, May 1st.
Front Page Feature Photo By STEPHEN SPEIGHTS ©2016

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Ketchikan - Statewide:
Three From Ketchikan Among 2016 Volunteer of the Year Recipients - First Lady Donna Walker announced today the recipients of the 2016 First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Awards. More than 90 Alaskans from around the state were nominated for the awards. Recipients were carefully chosen by the First Lady and members of the selection committee. Winners will be honored during a luncheon at the Governor’s House on Wednesday, May 4.

“The volunteer work that Alaskans do, day in and day out, often goes unheralded. These are not the kind of people who wait for things to change, wish for conditions to be different, or get involved simply seeking recognition,” said First Lady Donna Walker. “Highlighting the commitment and character of these fine Alaskans shows our appreciation for their sacrifices and encourages others to help build up their communities through giving of their time and talents.”

First Lady Bella Hammond began the annual recognition in 1975. First Lady 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...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016

FISH FACTOR: Duty put on fishermen to fund budget shortfalls by ‘test fishing’ By LAINE WELCH - In the face of Alaska’s multi-billion dollar budget shortfalls, state policy makers are putting the onus on fishermen to cover the costs of going fishing.

“One of the sources we have to offset general fund decreases is increased test fishing. We don’t like to catch fish or crab or anything just to raise money, but in this climate we’re having to look at that long and hard,” said Scott Kelley, director of the Commercial Fisheries for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.

Test fishing is typically done by department chartered vessels to assess stocks, run strength and other projects. Now in many regions costs for those management necessities are being shunted to fishermen and processors.

“I’m not 100 percent sure when we first started fishing specifically for money, but I do know we did so in Southeast for herring in 2003,” Kelley said. “We’ve also done some test fishing for revenue in Upper Cook Inlet. Such fisheries are not popular with anyone and in times of greater budget prosperity, the legislature has provided general fund increments to allow us to not do such projects.”

Nowhere is the practice more unpopular than at Bristol Bay.

“The legislature cuts the budget and says Bristol Bay can catch fish with a private contract with a processor, and use that money to pay for operating expenses like in-river test fish projects or counting towers or the Port Moller test boat,” fumed Tim Sands, area manager at Dillingham, adding that the price paid for the fish is a fraction of its true value.

Last year’s contract for $100,000 paid out at 30 cents a pound shared by fishermen, processors and the state. That compared to a base sockeye price of 50 cents a pound for non-contract fish.

“So you have to catch at least three times as many fish to pay the bills as you would if they had a regular flat tax,” Sands said. “It drives me nuts because it is so inefficient. They could have had a .25 percent tax in Bristol Bay and raised all the money we needed last year. Nobody likes taxes. But taking fish away from the fishermen before they catch them is just as much of a tax as taking money out of their pockets after they catch the fish. At least they can write that tax off.”


This year’s $250,000 test fishing contract was covered by the fishermen-funded Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, a group funded by a one percent tax on their catches.

Fishermen would have to catch up to 1.8 million pounds of sockeye this summer to cover the test fishing contract costs. Sands said the contract next year could reach $400,000.

“That’s sockeye that would’ve been caught by industry and instead goes into department contract vessels and things like that. That doesn’t go over very well for reasons I totally understand,” Kelley said.

Other sources also have stepped up to fund local fishing needs.

The Bristol Bay Salmon Research Initiative provided $60,000 to keep the salmon counting tower at Togiak operating.

“Our tower escapement projects are the basic backbone of our management,” Sands said. “To not have them means we can’t forecast for the system. We don’t have information to adjust escapement goals, or fish counts with the accompanying age compositions we get from the sampling tower. I figure we would lose 8-15 percent of our annual harvest because we would not be able to extend fishing periods at Togiak if we didn’t have that tower in.”

Elsewhere, costs to save the Coghill River lake weir at Prince William Sound were covered for this year by the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation. Test fisheries also will be used in several other regions to raise money, including a $200,000 tab for Southeast salmon seiners to cover costs for aerial surveys, Scott Kelley said

“I’ll bet that won’t be the end of the list when all is said and done,” he added.

Salmon starts

Alaska’s salmon season officially kicks off in just a few weeks with runs of reds and kings at Copper River! State managers have put the 500-plus fleet on notice that the famous fishery will likely open on May 16.

“Oh my gosh, it’s so exciting to see all the boats coming in and out of the harbor. A lot of our seasonal cannery workers are returning and everyone’s got nets strewn out in their front yards getting mended. You can feel the energy pulsating,” said Erica Thompson-Clark, project assistant and social media whiz at the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association, funded by area fishermen. - More...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016


Alaska: Pot Projected to Raise More Money than Flawed Oil Tax in the Near Future - Projections from the Alaska Department of Revenue show that marijuana taxes, alcohol taxes, and hunting and fishing license fees will each raise more revenue than Alaska’s flawed oil production tax in two or three of the next four years. House Finance Committee member Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) says the projections are a clear indication that the Parnell-era oil tax law is broken and must be fixed.

“When pot raises more than oil production taxes, it’s a siren call that we have to fix a system that lets companies deduct their oil taxes down to almost nothing,” said Rep. Gara. “Current law creates nearly a billion dollars in oil company cash payments for tax credits and deductions this year. That doesn’t make economic sense.”

Rep. Gara has been joined by many lawmaker from both sides of the aisle in calling for meaningful reform to the broken system of subsidizing the oil industry in Alaska.

“It is crucial that we all drop our ideological and party labels, and come together to fix a broken system of unaffordable oil company subsidies,” said Rep. Gara.

The Alaska Department of Revenue estimates that marijuana taxes will raise about the same or more revenue than the Parnell-era 2013 production tax (known as S.B. 21) in two of the next four years. Even if oil prices go up, both Fish and Game license fees and Alaska’s alcohol tax are projected to raise more state revenue than Alaska’s oil production tax in 2018, 2019, and 2020. - More...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016

Alaska: Alaska Republicans Choose Delegates to Cleveland – The Alaska Republican Party Convention on Saturday approved the slate of delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland which starts on July 18, 2016. There are 28 delegates and 25 alternates selected. The delegates include the party chairman, national committeewoman and national committeeman.

“We have a great depth of diversity and geography represented in our delegation, and I’m very proud of our nomination committee for the hard work and outstanding results,” said Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock. “Alaska Republicans will be well-represented in Cleveland and reflect the wishes of the voters in the Presidential Preference Poll.” - More...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: Is Ketchikan Really All That Beachy Keen? - First a disclaimer. I was born and raised in Ketchikan. I have left several times, but I keep coming back (a very bad penny) and I generally like it here. It is a great place to be. But I am not one of those folks who insists Ketchikan is so GREAT that it is the ONLY place to be.

Recently, I was chatting with a boyhood friend and he said “I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I simply can’t imagine BEING anywhere else. This is the BEST place on earth. I could NEVER live anywhere else.”


Well, I guess I am not enough of a Ketchikan lifer.

I repeat, I like it here. But I can imagine other places. And not all of them are bad.

That said, there apparently is another reason to live in Ketchikan. One that never occurred to me before now.

It seems that when it comes to fun in the sun, Ketchikan is more outstanding than I realized.

I was pretty danged bemused to read last week that Outside magazine has made Ketchikan a finalist in its “Best Beach town” contest. - More...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016

JEFF LUND: This May be the fastest month - This time of year is scary because in just a few weeks it will be summer, so there’s this big temptation to rush through May.

It’s scary because once you start peddling to pick up speed, you can’t seem to slow it down in time for summer. Before you know it, it’s September. The only choice I have is to drag my feet and have as much fun as possible in May.

This delicate, vital time of year starts with a trip to Tucson for Mom’s hip surgery, which certainly isn’t a vacation, but it will be the second time my brother, Mom and I are together since she had a brain aneurysm that almost killed her. Family reunions are much more enjoyable when ICU’s aren’t involved.

So we’re meeting down there to cheer Mom’s new hip. The procedure can apparently be done pretty easily and she’ll be out of the hospital within two days if all goes well.

Tucson is great because it’s where I went to college, so when the 2000s station on Sirius plays, I am taken to El Minuto for chicken burritos enchilada style, Sabino Canyon for hikes and of course various other college events given the right song. Sometimes I’m caught shockingly off-guard by an artist like Ludacris. I’m not really a Ludacris fan, but a few of his songs are woven into the fabric of my collegiate nostalgia whether I like it or not. Don’t even get me started on Nelly or BBMak.- More...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016

TOM PURCELL: Our Growing Rudeness and Incivility - "Sticks and stones may break my bones, and people sure are rude these days."

"Ah, yes, you speak of a recent survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It finds that '74 percent of Americans think manners and behavior have deteriorated in the United States over the past several decades.'"

"You got that right. I was at the movie theater talking to one of my pals on my cellphone and some elderly jerk behind me asked me to stop."

"Sorry, but the study finds that people generally think such behavior is unacceptable. However, there is an age divide. People between 18 and 29 think it is fine to use cellphones in restaurants whereas only 22 percent of people over the age of 60 think it is acceptable."

"Who doesn't like to talk on his cell while chomping on food? Those old fogies should get with the times!" - More...
Monday PM - May 02, 201

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Opioid Epidemic

Editorial Cartoon: Opioid Epidemic
By Adam Zyglis ©2016, The Buffalo News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Sitnews reserves the right to edit.

letter "Oilcan" By A.M. Johnson - Reading the author of the series "Oilcan", the thought comes to mind that we may have the wrong guys in Juneau representing District 1. - More...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016

letter The Fireside By Ken Leland - Oh yes, I definitely remember the Fireside. Loved their Prime Rib. I was the Broadcast Engineer at KTKN and lunch time was a snap, hardly even got wet ducking next door from the Station. - More...
Monday PM - May 02, 2016

letter Part 6: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, & OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G. Hanger - Alaska’s Future(.org) is a classic example of an entity that should never be granted non-profit status. It is the dictatorial fiefdom of one Ron Duncan, co-founder and CEO of GCI, and no dissent or questions are tolerated. When our own Mary Kauffman asked as a reporter a routine question (x2), rather than responding the question was simply deleted. Agree with Duncan or else is what this operation is all about. [The question weeks ago: Why are so many opposing comments deleted from Alaska’s Future's FaceBook page?] - More...
Friday AM - April 29, 2016

letter Europe Under Attack By Donald Moskowitz - Since WWII Europe has welcomed tens of millions of Muslims from Africa and the Middle East who replaced the murdered Jews of Europe. - More...
Friday AM - April 29, 2016

letter State Sponsored Enabling: Welfare for Life By Rodney Dial - I began researching the information for this letter months ago. The portions of this letter dealing with the State’s Public Assistance/Welfare Program, also called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) were difficult to come by. First, this information is not publicly available and to get it required months of work, contacting various elected officials up to the Governor’s office, filing of Freedom of Information Act Requests and even the threat of a civil suit. As you will see in this letter, I was initially given false and misleading data by the State and only after continued efforts was I able to obtain the following information all Alaskans should be aware of. Most of this letter was written weeks ago when it appeared that the state was refusing to assist me with this research project. I have updated the letter with the new information I received from the state (4/26). - More...
Wednesday AM - April 27, 2016

letter Remember The Fireside? By June Allen By Debbie Gorzycki - I remember the Fireside. I was stationed at USCG Base Ketchikan in 1983-4. Many of us would walk over to the Fireside to listen & dance to the band on Friday & Saturday nights. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 27, 2016

letter Boca De Qurada H2O By A. M. Johnson - In reading the recent Ketchikan Daily News article on anticipated shipping of a natural resource, water, from Boca De Quara followed by a second article focusing on the opposition to the endeavor; typically the usual case of anti-anything resource development, leap out in vocal opposition without any details of the concept, none, just a knee jerk reaction to a perceived capitalist project. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 27, 2016

letter Incarceration Conditions By Vicky Foley - As a community, I believe we need to get a better understanding of addiction. I am not saying I know the answers, but I do think that the way we punish those people that get arrested for drug charges needs to be reassessed. Here in Ketchikan, our facilities are not suitable for retaining a person for very long. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 27, 2016

letter An Open Letter to the Members of the Alaska House and Senate By Jerry Cegelske - Recently I heard one of you on the radio talk about dealing with the Alaska Permanent Fund in solving the State budget crisis. What was said was "I don't think the Alaskan people are going to accept us using the Permanent Fund to fix this." - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016

letter Oil Tax Credits By Dan Ortiz - Aaskans are the beneficiaries of the state’s investment. Our constitution requires the State of Alaska to manage our resources to the maximum benefit of the people. Government’s fiduciary duty to its citizens is to make prudent investments and establish a sustainable budget. The State of Alaska must make responsible and wise business decisions, as we are an owner state. The current oil and gas tax credit system, with its many layered and net operating loss credits, does not do that. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 20, 2016

letter Part 5: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - At this moment all Alaskans are being victimized by a massive propaganda blitz designed to deceive you in to believing two out-and-out lies: 1) That low oil prices are causing the State of Alaska’s financial disaster, and the massive depression that is in process of developing; and 2) That the only solution to our dilemma is to spend down the Permanent Fund as quickly as possible. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 20, 2016

letter Guns on UA campus By Pat Bethel - John Suter and others opposed to guns on U of A campus need to change the Alaska constitution. Article 1; section 1.19 "...The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed by the state or political subdivision of the state...". article 7; section 7.2 "The U of A is hereby established...". - More...
Wednesday PM - April 20, 2016

letter RE: Time for timber to face the harsh realities of their own making By Owen Graham - I'd like to offer a few corrections to the Boat Company letter that was posted on Sitnews on Friday, April 8, 2016.

The Boat Company letter says Viking Lumber is threatening to close down unless they can continue cutting down old growth trees What the Boat Company does not seem to understand is that sawmills cannot physically manufacture lumber without a log supply. It is just a reality, not a threat. - More...
Saturday AM - April 16, 2016

letter RE: Time for timber to face the harsh realities of their own making By Brian Brown - Hunter MacIntosh, who is obviously an angry and misinformed ideologue, in addition to peddling falsehoods in his April 8, letter (Time for timber to face the harsh realities of their own making) accuses we in the timber industry as engaging in distortion and receiving subsidies among other things. - More...
Saturday AM - April 16, 2016

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