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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 08, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By DONNA MICKEL

Colors of the Tongass
Last Thursday night's sunset as viewed along the Tongass Narrows in beautiful Southeast Alaska.
Front Page Feature Photo By DONNA MICKEL ©2017

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Ketchikan: The Day that Margaret Bell saved two plane crash victims; Local author, who wrote about 'heroes', 'heroines,' was also one in real life By DAVE KIFFER - The  most successful author to have called the Ketchikan area home was Margaret Bell, who published a dozen novels in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Focusing on their younger protagonists, Bell's novels - published by major companies like Morrow - are what would now be called "young adult" novels and featured many stories that she had lived in her decades in Alaska.

The Day that Margaret Bell saved two plane crash victims; Local author, who wrote about 'heroes', 'heroines,' was also one in real life

Margaret Bell on Gravina Island  beach across Tongass  Narrows from Ketchikan
Source: Ballard Hadman  Collection, Ketchikan Museums
Courtesy: Alaska State Library

But one day, in 1965, Margaret Bell became a "heroine" in a real life Alaskan adventure story.

For many years, Bell lived in the village of Loring, more than a dozen miles north of Ketchikan, using her black and white former Navy boat to go back and forth between her home and Ketchikan. And that was what she was doing the day she participated in a dramatic rescue.

According to the February 2, 1965 edition of the Ketchikan Daily News; Don Moore, 35, a shift engineer at the Ketchikan Pulp Company and Tim Victorson, 21, a KPC power house employee had taken Moore's single engine Luscombe float plane for a flight and landed in the waters of Moeser Bay, between Knudsen Cove and Loring.

"Moore gunned the engine of the little plane for the take-off from smooth waters," the Daily News reported. "Then something happened. Moore said that with about 200 feet altitude, the controls jammed, the plane nosed down.  He regained control, but it was too late, as one wing dragged, dumping the plane into the water, smashing one float and seriously damaging the rest of the plane, except for the engine."

As luck would have it Bell was returning from Knudsen Cove to Loring after dropping off her husband, Sam Wiks, who was heading to Ketchikan for his regular shift on the Alaska State Ferry Malaspina.

"Moore and Victorson crawled out of the wreckage, which did not sink," the Daily News reported.  "With the paddles they managed to get the wreckage ashore after half an hour of arduous effort. They struggled along the rough shore toward a cabin, each step for Moore (who had a spinal injury) a painful movement.  Then they heard the purr of Margaret Wiks 10-horsepower engine, heard her cut the speed, attracted by the plane wreckage.  Then she saw the castaways."

The Daily News reported that that Bell picked up the two men and headed for nearby Deep Bay where she knew a resident had a radio.

"As they sped along, a sheer-pin broke and our heroine found she had no tools for the replacement," the Daily News reported. "They all paddled, or rowed for half an hour or so.  Then, Moore, getting stiffer from his injury all the time, discovered a pair of pliers.  They went ashore and Victorson replaced the errant pin.  Soon they made Deep Bay."

The Coast Guard was contacted and the cutter Cape Romain rendezvoused with them in Clover Pass. The two men were taken to Knudsen Cove and an ambulance took them to the hospital.

"Mrs. Wiks gunned the little motor (of her boat) and headed once again for Canoe Pass, the route home, not knowing that she had become a heroine," the Daily News concluded. - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017

Fish Factor:
Salmon Season Kicks Off Soon By LAINE WELCH -  Alaska’s salmon season officially gets underway in less than two weeks!

The first fishery for sockeye and king salmon is set for May 18 at Copper River and the town of Cordova is buzzing, said Christa Hoover, executive director of the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association. 

“The mood changes at the start of May with all the folks back in town and boats going in and out of the water,” she said. 

Enthusiasm among the fleet of more than 500 drift gillnetters has not been dampened by a reduced harvest projection.  Fishery managers expect a Copper River salmon catch this season of just 889,000 sockeyes, 4,000 kings and 207,000 coho salmon.

“Regardless of the forecast from one year to the next, fishermen just want to have their nets in the water. It’s what they do and they are ready to go,” Hoover said.   

The marketing group, which is funded and operated by local salmon fishermen, is again working with Alaska Airlines to whisk away the first catches to awaiting retailers and restaurants in Seattle. Every year, images of airline pilots carrying the famous “first fish” off the plane make headlines around the world and add to the media hoopla surrounding the Copper River catches. The salmon are first hand delivered to three chefs who have a cook off on the Sea/Tac airport tarmac. The dishes are served to airline guests who select a winner. 

The Cordova group also use the opportunity to promote the fact that Copper River salmon isn’t just a “May event,” Hoover said. 

“We do a lot of outreach to help people understand that there are five months of wild Alaska salmon coming out of Cordova, especially with cohos into the fall,” she explained, adding that they also are broadening their salmon messages to build more awareness and appeal for the entire Prince William Sound fishery.  

Alaska’s total salmon catch for 2017 is pegged at 204 million fish, nearly one million more than were taken last year. 

The breakdown for the five species calls for a sockeye salmon harvest of nearly 41 million, a decrease of 12 million reds from last year. Coho catches should increase slightly to nearly 5 million; for chums, a catch of nearly 17 million is an increase of more than one million fish. The projected statewide take of pink salmon is 142 million, an increase of nearly 103 million humpies over last year. For Chinook salmon, the forecast calls for a catch of 80,000 in regions outside of Southeast Alaska, where the harvest is determined by a treaty with Canada. The all-gear Chinook catch for Southeast in 2017 is 209,700 fish, 146,000 fewer than last year.  - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017


Alaska: Wasting disease devastates Kachemak Bay sea star populations By LAUREN FRISCH - In one year, sea stars have almost disappeared from Kachemak Bay, Alaska.

Wasting disease devastates Kachemak Bay sea star populations

A sea star with wasting disease lies on Kachemak Bay’s shore in spring 2016. Wasting disease caused this star’s arm to disconnect from its body.
Photo by Brenda Konar

This is likely the aftermath of a sea star wasting disease episode. The disease causes lesions, and may result in the loss of arms, making a sea star look as if it is melting or decomposing. Similar episodes have been spreading across the southern coast of Alaska and as far south as Baja California.

“In spring 2016 we counted 180 sea stars during our intertidal surveys, which was high in the books,” said Brenda Konar, a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. “Just one year later, we counted only five sea stars.”

Konar and CFOS professor Katrin Iken are part of Gulf Watch Alaska, a monitoring program established by the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council to better understand how intertidal and other marine ecosystems were affected by the 1989 oil spill. The intertidal zone is the area between high and low tide. Konar and Iken monitor Kachemak Bay on the Kenai Peninsula near Homer.

Their transect lines are small subsections of the intertidal at various locations around Kachemak Bay. They are used to represent the entire bay. These snapshots are helpful, because you can’t measure every beach in Kachemak Bay. By monitoring these transect lines every year, Iken and Konar can get a sense of how the bay is changing over time.

Sea stars are important top predators in intertidal ecosystems. They help keep prey populations in check, which helps maintain species diversity. Without sea stars, the kinds of species that dominate these intertidal communities could change.

“We will have to keep monitoring this area to see any long-term changes,” Iken said. “It could be that the prey of sea stars, such as mussels, limpets or chitons become more abundant, or maybe other predators become more abundant for at least awhile.” - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017



jpg Jeff Lund
JEFF LUND: South for the... summer? - I can get excited about fishing, and I often do. 

Next on the agenda other than trolling for May kings around here, is a trip to California for a wedding, then to Montana for fly fishing adventures near Yellowstone National Park. 

Yeah, I know, it’s weird. Every summer I have to explain why I would leave the state for two weeks or so when I endured a winter specifically to enjoy the outdoor summer bonanza. 

It’s one of those things you have to do once in a while to remember why you live here. 

The wedding is near Truckee, so it is surrounded by really great high Sierra Nevada trout waters. Since the hotel was filled, I rented a little cottage on a river and plan on arriving a day early to harass some trout. - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017

jpg Christine Flowers

CHRISTINE FLOWERS: House GOP to the Sick: Suffer More - 35 years ago this week, my father passed away at the age of 43. 50 years ago this week, my baby brother was born. He never saw his 43rd birthday, dying unexpectedly at 30. These two events have always been connected in my mind by the proximity of time and the poignancy of loss: I miss you Daddy, happy birthday Jon.

Rarely do I think of one without the other, even in normal times. But these are not normal times. These are the days when we have started to examine the character of our society, forced into this moral contact sport by outside events (the election of a president some love and some hate) and an evolving sense of justice (Black Lives Matter, LGBT Lives Matter, Unborn Life Matters).

The thing that has really brought that into focus for me has been the health-care debate. As I write this column, the GOP attempt to dismantle Obamacare has cleared the first hurdle, in the House.

I'm not trembling, because I have insurance. It's not the best kind or the cheapest, and I have no love for the company that presumably protects me, but I have insurance. - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017


SUSAN STAMPER BROWN: Cleaning Up Democrats' Health Care Mess - Last time they were in charge, Democrats created the dumpster fire we know as Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, which is nothing more than a failed wealth redistribution experiment.

Historians will look back at the Obama years and note the rise of Democrat Party lemmings who threw themselves off the Obamacare Cliff in a fit of melodramatic sanctimoniousness. They will question why Democrats passed a bill they knew from the beginning was a pile of excrement and then left it for someone else to clean up.

And that cleanup is upon us, given some people are asked to pay premiums the equivalent of small house payments to pay for policies requiring $10,000 (or more) in out-of-pocket costs. Ironically, Democrats promised Obamacare would lower costs.

Historians will also ask how leading Democrats like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama never second-guessed their decisions even while watching Obamacare collapse from within. - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Obamacare vs Trumpcare

Editorial Cartoon: Obamacare vs Trumpcare
By Nate Beeler ©2017, The Columbus Dispatch
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Alaskans Get the Short End of the Stick By Norma Lankerd - I'm writing to COMPLAIN on why Alaskans who live and reside in the State of Alaska year around ALWAYS get the short end of the stick?  As soon as the Tourist season comes around the price of everything in Alaska always increase.  I live in Metlakatla, i do my shopping in Ketchikan because i can get more for my $$, but now that its the beginning of the summer season the cost of the Alaska ferry system from Metlakatla to Ketchikan has discontinued the 1/2 price off for the driver and the price increased $5.00 more just for a 45 minute ride, IT WOULD BE DIFFERENT if our State would allow the Lituya to run 7 days a week instead of Thursday through Monday.  I believe the Lituya is practically the only Ferry that keeps the Ferries afloat.  Even the hotel prices have gone up in the Ketchikan area, more so that the Tourist season is here. - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017

letter Pleased With USCG Work Crew By A.M. Johnson - Recently in the past couple of days, working outside I noticed that the Pond Reef marker beacon was one-blinking during daylight hours and two very erratic in the blinking sequence. - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017

letter RE: House Majority Coalition's Bogus School Tax is Disappointing By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Mr. Bockhorst is correct. If the legislature implements the Education Funding Act, we can’t dedicate monies collected to any government spending, as the Legislature can’t adopt dedicated taxes. Our intent is to put the monies into the Public Education Fund to forward-fund education. The bill language says we “may” do this, because we cannot make a law saying we “will” do this. I have spoken with Dan Bockhorst about the inherent inequity in how property taxpayers in organized boroughs bear a greater burden to pay for education compared to those in unorganized areas. I have explored, and will continue to explore, legislative actions to mitigate this inequity. - More...
Wednesday PM - May 03, 2017

letter House Majority Coalition's Bogus School Tax is Disappointing By Dan Bockhorst - The Alaska State House passed the Education Funding Act (House Bill 115) on April 16 by a unanimous vote of all 22 House Coalition members. However, none of the other 18 members of the House voted for the bill. The measure is now under consideration in the Senate. - More...
Monday PM - May 01, 2017

letter Stop Corruption By Andrée McLeod - There’s a very important bill stuck in the Democrat-led House Majority Coalition that needs to be on the books in order to stop corruption in the Capitol.  SB 5 is sponsored by Senator Kevin Meyer (R, Anchorage) and has already passed the Senate unanimously. - More...
Monday PM - May 01, 2017

letter Alaska’s Future: A Tale of Two Legislative Visions By Rep. Paul Seaton - Education is perhaps the single largest responsibility of the Alaska state government. The Alaska House Majority Coalition has made clear that our constitutionally mandated obligation to provide K-12 education and to support the University are amongst our highest priorities. - More...
Thursday PM - April 27, 2017

letter Safe Alaska, Free From Violence By Gov. Bill Walker, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott - As governor and lieutenant governor, our decisions are infuenced by the roles we held long before we took office. As husbands, brothers and sons, we cherish the strong women in our lives. As grandfathers and fathers, we want to ensure a safer Alaska. It is one of our administration's highest priorities. - More...
Thursday PM - April 27, 2017

letter Income tax By A. M. Johnson - For those supportive of a State (Teacher) Income Tax. Nothing is stopping each of you to submit a check to the State in any amount your little heart desires. Nothing. Aaaaaa, but that is not the goal, the goal is for ME and the remaining private citizens to pay an income tax so that YOU are able to continue to enjoy life at the level you deem or negotiate desirable. - More...
Thursday PM - April 27, 2017

letter Income Tax By David G Hanger - What is the problem, Mr. Abbott; I really do not get you people? Why should we have a state income tax or a state sales tax? Why should this discussion even be considered valid by someone? We are paying a bunch of multi-national oil companies well over a billion dollars a year for the privilege of getting filthy rich on our oil. Why don’t we just shut down the oil industry? An industry that costs us more than $1.2 billion a year every year for at least the next 10 years is not an industry that needs to exist. - More...
Thursday PM - April 27, 2017

letter A Sales Tax Verses an Income Tax: Which is better for Ketchikan? By Ghert Abbott - In the ongoing standoff between the House and the Senate over the income tax, there is talk that the Senate Majority will offer the House a sales tax and present this as a compromise. So if the choice before us is either a state income tax or a state sales tax, both taxes being superior to essential service cuts, then it is important to evaluate which tax would be better for our town. To determine this we first need to answer four questions: Which tax is the fairer tax, socially and geographically? What would be the economic impacts of each tax? How transparent is the tax and hence how accountable to the taxpayer? And how would each tax apply to Alaskan residents verses non-residents? - More...
Tuesday PM - April 25, 2017

letter Collage Performance By Judith Green - THANK YOU to all the KCC musicians that performed Saturday night at the Ted Ferry Center. A wonderful evening of music once again brought to the community under the direction, guidance and care of Roy McPherson. - More...
Tuesday PM - April 25, 2017

letter A Tip of the Hat By A. M. Johnson - The story in Friday's issue of the USCG service personnel involved with the clean up effort are commendable. A tip of the hat to these fine examples of Americans young folk. That they are exposed to the obvious uncouth ignorant souls that provide the fodder for the reason of such efforts is an embarrassment or should be, to the community. It is apparent that a percentage of the population was disadvantaged by not having proper parental guidance growing up. One only has to reflect on the character of the young folk in the service of our country and those who casually toss trash out of car windows to make a rational judgment as to the quality of the participants picking up and those throwing. - More...
Tuesday PM - April 25, 2017

letter Income Tax proposal By Kelli Carlin-Auger - I completely concur with the letter written by Chris Herby regarding the negative implications a state income tax will have on our community. Personally, I support further reducing state government. I have worked locally for state government and I have seen where cuts can definitely be made without a huge impact on the people of Alaska. I even support taking my (and my family's) permanent funds before implementing a state income tax. At least it's more equitable as it impacts all Alaskans and not just those of us working for a paycheck! - More..
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

letter Alaska's oil company owned legislature By Ray Metcalfe - Absent from Alaska's budget debate are comparisons of owner/producer profit sharing agreements in other oil producing countries. How do we compare? The big three want this question off the table. Our news outlets suffer a painful withholding of advertising revenue any time they address this issue. - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

letter Appreciation By Carl Thompson - As I opened up SitNews Wednesday morning after working all night, I saw a photo I took the other day was used as the front page feature photo. I was immediately thrilled to see it there, it is always such a huge compliment and a boost to the ego when she uses one of my photos. It got me to thinking about SitNews and how much I appreciate all the many hours of hard work and thought and love that goes into producing this website for Ketchikan. - More...
Friday PM - April 21, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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