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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 23, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By TERRI JIRSCHELE

Evening Sailing From Ketchikan
In the distance is the cruise ship Seven Seas Mariner departing Ketchikan on
Friday at approximately 10:00pm. As photographed from Pennock Island.
Front Page Feature Photo By

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Southeast Alaska:
State Partnership with Southeast Conference Established to Reform State Ferry System - Governor Bill Walker signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday establishing a partnership between the state and Southeast Conference, a regional economic development organization, to reform and revitalize the state’s ferry system.

State Partnership with Southeast Conference Established to Reform State Ferry System

Governor Walker Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Southeast Conference to Improve Ferry System as other officials look on...
Photo courtesy Office of the Governor

“For over 50 years, the Alaska Marine Highway System has served as a critical transportation link for Alaska’s coastal communities,” said Governor Walker. “The ferries are a lifeline in many communities, and the economic benefits are felt throughout the state.”

In recent years, the AMHS has experienced rising costs and decreasing budgets. Ferry users have expressed concerns about service reductions, system unreliability and interruptions in service. The state’s current fiscal challenge adds imperative to taking a comprehensive look at the mission, governance, financing and operations of the state’s ferry system, with a goal of ensuring the system’s long-term viability. Input from stakeholders across the state will be a hallmark of the process initiated by this MOU.

“The ferry system is an essential part of our statewide transportation infrastructure,” said Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott. “I look forward to a robust process of public engagement as we look to transform the system for the future.”

Southeast Conference was incorporated in 1958 to lobby for a regional transportation system that eventually became the Alaska Marine Highway System. “Southeast Conference was instrumental in creating the ferry system,” said Board Chair Garry White. “We look forward to this new opportunity to help move the marine highway system into the next phase so it can continue to provide vital transportation to many of Alaska’s remote communities.” - More...
Monday _ May 23, 2016

Alaska: Former Prosecutor Sentenced to 13 Years in Largest Money Laundering Scheme in Alaska History - U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced today that a former Anchorage resident and former municipal prosecutor was sentenced to 160 months (over 13 years) in prison for perpetrating a massive wire fraud and money laundering scheme encompassing $52 million. This is the largest wire fraud and money laundering conviction by amount ever prosecuted in Alaska.

Mark Avery, 57, who last resided in San Francisco, California, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline. In addition to the prison term, Avery was also ordered to serve five years of supervised release, pay a $100,000 fine, and pay restitution to the May Smith Trust in the amount of $45,925,737.57. Avery was convicted on Feb. 29, 2016, following a two-week jury trial, of three counts of wire fraud, six counts of money laundering, one count of bank fraud, and one count of making false statements to a bank.

Avery was indicted by a federal grand jury in Anchorage in 2013. The indictment alleged that he defrauded the May Wong Smith and the May Smith Trust, of over $52 million dollars. Avery was, at the time, a trustee of the trust and used his influence to obtain access to $52 million of trust assets, all of which he expended in a period of six months. The jury’s verdict found that, in 2005 and 2006, Avery siphoned over $31 million of trust assets in a wire fraud scheme that defrauded the May Smith Trust. - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016

Alaska's Salmon Season Officially Underway By LAINE WELCH - Alaska’s salmon season officially got underway on May 16 with the arrival of thousands of sockeye and king salmon at the Copper River near Cordova, and high prices were the talk of the town.

The first opener produced a catch of 25,000 sockeye and about 1,500 kings.

“It was pretty slow to start. Small fish, not too many of them,” said Kelsey Appleton with Cordova District Fishermen United.

Following a trend seen over the past couple of years across Alaska, the salmon were healthy but much smaller. Weights taken on several hundred samples after the 12 hour fishery showed sockeyes averaging just 4.2 pounds, 15 percent smaller than last year when fish size was the smallest seen in 50 years. Sockeye salmon normally average six pounds.

“It’s bad for our economy and bad for our fishermen; it’s not necessarily bad for our fish,” said Dr. Rob Campbell, a biological oceanographer with the Prince William Sound Science Center.

“It’s just been astoundingly warm in the entire North Pacific for two or three years now, and for most cold-blooded things like salmon or plankton or what have you, in warmer conditions they tend to reach a smaller final body size,” he said.

Of course, the biggest fish story of the day was the price for the first fish - $6.50 a pound for sockeyes and $9.50 for kings! That compares to starting prices last year of $5.15 and $6.50, respectively.

“Crazy high prices, which is fantastic,” said Appleton.

The prices typically drop as more salmon come on line across Alaska, but those starting prices are some of the highest ever. It will fuel optimism across the state after last season when the value to fishermen fell by 40 percent.

Overall, Alaska’s salmon fishery this year calls for a harvest of 161 million fish, down by 40 percent from the 2015 catch. The shortfall stems from a huge decrease projected for pink salmon with a harvest forecast of 90 million, a drop of 100 million humpies from last year. - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016

Alaska: Governor Signs Proclamation Encouraging Alaskans to Buy Local - In an effort to promote local businesses and job growth, Governor Bill Walker signed a proclamation this month naming May 2016 Buy Alaskan Month. Alaska is home to more than 69,000 small businesses, which make up 96 percent of all employers in the state. Alaska’s small businesses employ more than half of the state’s private workforce.

“Entrepreneurs and small business owners truly embody the Alaskan spirit of independence and self-reliance,” Governor Walker said. “Whether it be creating more jobs or donating money to youth hockey, Alaska-owned businesses are at the heart of our communities and make our state thrive. When we buy in-state, those dollars continue to circulate in our economy. With Alaska’s current fiscal challenge, it is absolutely critical to support and encourage local economic development.”

National studies have shown that local retailers return an average 52 percent of their revenue to the local economy. - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016


Southeast Alaska:
Rebecca Himschoot of Sitka Named to State Board of Education- Rebecca Himschoot, a teacher in Sitka, has joined the State Board of Education & Early Development. She holds the public seat for the First Judicial District, replacing Kathleen Yarr of Ketchikan, whose term has expired. Himschoot’s term expires on March 1, 2021.

“It is an honor to serve on the State Board of Education and Early Development, and to play an active role as the board works toward their stated goals of modernizing Alaska’s schools, increasing local control of schools, and ensuring the highest quality educators for all Alaska children,” Himschoot said. “We have many opportunities to work in partnership with families, communities, districts, the Department of Education & Early Development, and lawmakers as we navigate the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act and Alaska’s budget challenges. I am honored to bring the voice of a practicing teacher to the important conversation surrounding public education in Alaska.” - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016

Southeast Alaska: Southeast Alaska Business Among ACT Semifinalists in College and Career Readiness Campaign - Bullwinkle’s Pizza in Juneau has been named a semifinalist in the national ACT College and Career Readiness Campaign. The campaign recognizes students who challenge themselves, high schools and community colleges that defy expectations, and businesses committed to educational and career advancement for their employees and communities.

“We have valuable employees from all walks of life, from the halfway house to the university. Many of my employees have never had opportunities to make choices to become successful. I like giving all my employees opportunities to make choices to improve themselves,” Mitch Falk, owner of Bullwinkle’s Pizza, said in a statement.

When Falk bought the 43-year-old business in 2007 he expanded on its founder’s commitment to support education through college scholarships. From a diverse staff of 55 - half of whom are Alaskan Native - 30 employees have received scholarships in the past eight years. Mr. Falk also created a partnership with the Juneau School District to support youth education initiatives and reimburses employees’ tuition for math and science courses at the University of Alaska Southeast, provided they earn a “B” or higher. - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer
DAVE KIFFER: Happy as a Marten Crossing the Road! - Just about a year ago, those wacky pollsters at Gallup up and decided that Alaskans were the happiest people in America.

If you recall, I questioned some of their methodology, because I know for a fact that Hawaiians are happier than Alaskans.

For example, every day that 5 inches of cold, wet precipitous deluges upon us I am pretty sure that we are all wishing we were in Hawaii and you can take that to the First Nui Kala Bank.

Yes, life in Our Fair Salmon City has its moments, such as when whales are cavorting inside our harbors and martens are dragging chickens across the road causing car crashes.

Which of course led me to have to answer several Outside emails to explain what a "marten" is. It would have been easier, of course, to just say weasel, but that would have been taxonomically incorrect. And this time of the year, you do not want to taxonomically incorrect.

Imagine THAT audit.

"Uh, Mr. Kiffer, we have some questions about some of these deductions. Just what do you mean by 'stock lossage due to mustelinae predation?' "

Well, you see, I was just trying to answer the question about why the chicken crosses the road and.......

Anyway, the folks up in Los Anchorage at the Alaska Dispatch News (nee Anchorage Daily News) are also curious about Alaskan happiness so they commissioned a poll to determine how happy Alaskans are.

On a scale of 1-7 (apparently they were too cheap to go 1-10), 750 Alaskans surveyed say they are 5.4 happy.

Fine. That means that Alaskans are 77 percent confident about being happy. Well, okay. That does sound a little fishy. The only thing that I am 77 percent confident about is that it will rain tomorrow.

That and the fact that I am also 77 percent confident that one of my fellow Alaskans will complain to me about something or someone tomorrow. There is reason that Our Fair Salmon City is also known as "Kvetchikan." - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Hillary and Bill Can Fix The Economy

Editorial Cartoon: Hillary and Bill Can Fix The Economy
BY RJ Matson ©2016, Roll Call
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Part 10: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - Before we go into detail about the northland rapture known as “the Beginning,” let’s take a moment to study the near-term financial consequences for folks living in the Ketchikan area. Duly note that much of the damage intended to be done has already been done, and it is impossible to reverse what has already transpired. The financial duress thereby created at the state level has already led the intransigent group sponsoring the “Coghill Abomination,” the true rulers (gangsters) of the State of Alaska, to avoid any debate or compromise on the subject by financing the state budget using $5.5 billion from the earnings reserve account of the Permanent Fund. That is most of the cash in the earnings reserve fund, and that leaves the Permanent Fund in aggregate with an estimated value of $46 billion. - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016

letter The Harbor Poo-patrol By Nancy Elizabeth York - It's only human nature to resort to nasty name calling of our politically appointed city officials when our personal lives are encroached on by those enforcing more rules and regulations on us. That said, I shall refrain from engaging in or joining in on the frey. However, I will donate my two cents worth regarding the proposed Poo-patrol. - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016

letter Why I Voted Against SB91 By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Wouldn’t Alaskans experience violence if a gunman shot into their home? SB 91, a crime reform bill that ignores victims’ rights, says shooting into a home is ‘non-violent.’ - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter Alaskans have no meaningful oil & gas rights By Daniel Donkel - I wish all Alaskans better understood the oil business, but it is clear Alaskans do not have any meaningful oil and gas rights like other oil and gas states in the nation do. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter Part 9: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - HB247, the much-heralded clawback of these insane oil tax credits, was passed out of the State House and referred to the State Senate where its fate is dubious at best. Hailed by our elected officials as the means by which a billion dollars will be saved between now and 2020, if passed it will save at best around $200 million, and is otherwise a gutted piece of junk. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter Political legacy By A. M. Johnson - A bit of political Presidential history reflected as the current President establishes his legacy. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter Addendum RE: Poo Journal Wanted! By Douglas J. Thompson - It was so obvious that in my addressing Marie Zellerman's letter I skipped it but in retrospect I think the issue should be highlighted. That is the "charge" by the harbormaster that her boat didn't qualify because it "did not have the original helm station as designed by the original architect" or words to that effect. I was told almost the same thing in that my engine had to be the original engine as designed by the original architect. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter RE: Poo Journal Wanted! By Douglas J. Thompson - In regard to Marie Zellmer's letter in Tuesday's Sitnews: Sad to say but it is very predictable what will happen on Thursday at the Council Meeting. No matter if she has nine or nine hundred people there. She will be given her sixty seconds to voice her concern and then be gavelled down. While she is speaking the Ayatollah Amylon (sitting on the elected dais although he is an employee and not elected) will be shuffling papers and whispering back and forth with his acolytes in total disrespect. Then the useless harbormaster (inflated to Port Directer) will stand up and mumble something about it is needed and necessary without any rational justification. The sycophantic seven agree and nothing is changed. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

By David G Hanger - For the first quarter of 2016 ConocoPhillips recently announced a loss of $1.5 billion on its worldwide operations. While it is somewhat reasonable to assume the remaining three quarters of 2016 will be better, estimates about oil prices throughout the remainder of this year still run from a low of $20 to a high of about $80. So it remains possible that overall ConocoPhillips will lose even more on its worldwide operations by the end of this year. - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

letter Poo Journal Wanted! By Marie Zellmer - Things have gone too far down at the docks. New Ketchikan City ordinances are about to be enacted and enforced, and no one knows about them or what they really mean to people who have chosen to live on the water. Don't get me wrong, many of the harbormasters I have worked next to, gone to school with, and built sets for plays with, and I have considered them friends, but when they go to work my home is there. The harbormasters have convinced the council to enact rules such as... anyone who stays on their vessel for 15 days is a live-aboard and must have a coast guard approves toilet installed with a storage tank, and keep daily logs as to how much it is being used and how often it is being pumped out at one of the only three pump stations on the island. This will also affect the fishing industry if the wording is followed. - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

letter Our taxes for Health and Fitness By Joe Ashcraft - After a really arduous work day, my daughter convinced me to take her to the Fawn Mountain track for a few laps. This has been an almost nightly affair over the past few summers. And as I travel Southeast and the rest of Alaska on business, when asked about Ketchikan my response has included the track, the pool and the rec center as additions that make Ketchikan a really livable town. - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

letter Drive Careful By Robert Jahnke - In the Ketchikan and outlaying areas we have now entered the green up phase of the year when the road side ditches and open areas are greening up drawing deer into areas dangerous to them and drivers alike. - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

letter RE: Incarceration Conditions By Bonnie J Abbott - You are absolutely, one hundred percent CORRECT! Thank You for caring and speaking out on this horrible disease. Maybe more citizens will step up and voice their opinion on every last word in your awesome letter!!!! - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

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