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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 07, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By TERRI JIRSCHELE

Emerald Princess Reflections
The Emerald Princess was photographed from Pennock Island during her visit to Ketchikan Saturday. The first big cruise ship of the season to visit Ketchikan was the Ruby Princess on Thursday, May 3, 2018.
Front Page Feature Photo By TERRI JIRSCHELE ©2018

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Fish Factor: Commercial Fishing One of Most Dangerous Jobs By LAINE WELCH -  Commercial fishing remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation, with a fatality rate that is 23 times higher than for all other workers. 

Vessel sinkings account for half of all fishing fatalities; second is falling overboard - deaths that are largely preventable.

From 2000 through 2016, 204 U.S. fishermen died after falling overboard, according to a just released study called Fatal Falls Overboard in Commercial Fishing  by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Nearly 60 percent of the falls were not witnessed, and almost 90 percent of the victims were not found.  

In all instances, not a single fisherman was wearing a PFD (personal flotation device).

“I think there is a social stigma against it. It’s a sort of macho thing. I also think there is a lack of awareness that there are really comfortable PFDs,” said Jerry Dzugan, director of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association  for over three decades.

Today’s life jackets are not the bulky, cumbersome clunkers that most people are familiar with from childhood or have stashed in the cubbies of recreational boats. Newer models are lightweight and built right into rain bibs, or fit comfortably over or into deck gear. 

“I’ve got a couple that are so comfortable that when I leave my boat, I forget I have them on,” Dzugan said. 

He estimated that less than 10 percent of Alaska fishermen wear PFDs while working, whereas “a few years ago it was less than five percent.”

According to the NIOSH report, the number of falls overboard decreased on average by 3.9 percent annually during the study’s time frame.  Most falls occurred on the east coast (62), followed by the Gulf of Mexico (60). Alaska ranked third with 51 deaths overall. 

Alaska’s deadliest catch might surprise you – it’s the salmon drift gillnet fishery with 16 fatalities. 

“When things go south on a small open boat it happens quickly,” Dzugan said. “Swamping, being hit by a wave and not being able to recover. Sometimes they are fishing alone or with just two people, often in open waters. All of those combine to have those being a particularly high risk.”

Dzugan believes wearing a PFD on deck is the number one way that fishermen can save themselves from becoming a statistic. Second is doing onboard safety drills.

“Everyone needs to know what to do in the case of an emergency. And every crew member needs to be part of the risk assessment on the boat, not just the captain,” he said. “Also, make sure your boat is watertight, keep your survival gear maintained and practice with it, and get enough sleep.” 

The NIOSH report also recommends reducing fall hazards on deck and using man overboard alarms and recovery devices. 

“It costs less than $100 to rig up your own floating lines to trap someone inside and tie them off to a cleat on the rail until you can get them back on the boat,” Dzugan said. 

Although fishermen have been somewhat slow to adopt preventive measures, he said there has been tremendous improvement in Alaska.

“It’s been a total cultural change. In the 1970s there was an average of about 38-40 fishing deaths a year in Alaska; it’s averaged 3.5 over the past five years,” he said. “The arc of improvement in fishing vessel safety has been a long one, but it’s been steadily upwards. I’m very optimistic.”

[The fatality numbers already have skewed upwards since the data in the NIOSH report were compiled through 2016. Total U.S. fishing deaths have risen to 224, according to report author, Samantha Case of NIOSH in Anchorage. In Alaska, there were 10 fishing deaths in 2017; six were from the sinking of the crab boat Destination in the Bering Sea.] - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018


Alaska: State Report Highlights Negative Health Impacts of Alcohol Misuse in Alaska - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Section of Epidemiology released a report today detailing the negative impacts of alcohol misuse throughout Alaska. 

Alaskans experience higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and binge drinking compared to most other states, and the rate of alcohol-related deaths has increased by 25 percent since 1999. 

“While the recent increase in opioid and methamphetamine use has garnered much-needed public attention, alcohol misuse continues to be a long-standing health challenge,” said Dr. Jay Butler, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer and Division of Public Health Director. “This report is a reminder that alcohol misuse is an important driver of ill-health and death in Alaska and it needs greater attention.” 

The report tallies the wide-ranging impacts of alcohol misuse and discusses the work being done across the state to address the problem. 

Long-term excessive drinking can lead to widespread health problems, including birth defects, brain damage, cancer, heart disease, liver damage, and skin disorders, among other conditions. 

In 2015, Alaska ranked third highest among states for alcohol-related deaths. Alcohol-related death rates continue to rise in Alaska; from 15.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 20 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015. 

Alcohol misuse reaches beyond individuals and can result in trauma that lasts for generations. In 2016, nearly half of all Alaska children in foster care or living in out-of-home placements came from a home with alcohol abuse by a parent or guardian. 

Alcohol-misuse also places a strain on Alaska’s economy. In 2015, alcohol use disorder cost the state about $1.84 billion in lost productivity, incarceration for criminal offenses, and medical treatment or hospitalization.

One bright spot highlighted in the report is a significant decline in youth consumption of alcohol. Alaska high school students (grades 9-12) who reported ever drinking alcohol declined from 80 percent in 1995 to 54 percent in 2015. Binge drinking is also down among youth, from 31 percent among traditional high school students in 1995 to 13 percent in 2015. Alaska’s youth rates are also lower than the U.S. averages. 

“The teen years are a time of increased susceptibility for developing problem drinking. These data indicate a change in youth behavior that we hope will continue into adulthood,” said Dr. Butler. “Prevention among teens is critical, as are early intervention efforts that help people avoid misusing alcohol before they cannot stop.”  - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018


The news Alaskans have been waiting to hear for 40 years - The Alaska LNG Project reached a historic milestone today as BP Alaska and Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) announced the parties have agreed to key terms of a Gas Sales Agreement, including price and volume. The terms are captured in a Gas Sales Precedent Agreement signed May 4, 2018.

The parties anticipate finalizing a long-term gas sales agreement in 2018 for AGDC to purchase BP Alaska’s share of 30 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas from the Prudhoe Bay and Point Thomson units. BP operates the Prudhoe Bay field – the largest oil and gas field in North America and owns a 26 percent share of Prudhoe Bay as well as a 32 percent share of the nearby Point Thomson field.

“BP has a long history in Alaska and Prudhoe Bay,” said Bob Dudley, BP Chief Executive. “We are very pleased to be part of the State’s vision to bring Alaskan natural gas to new and expanding markets globally. We think this is good for the State, good for BP and good for the environment.”

“The Alaska LNG project has made significant progress over the past year, and BP is pleased to sign this agreement,” said Janet Weiss, BP Alaska President. “This is an important project for the future of the Alaska oil and gas industry.”

This development comes just six months after President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping witnessed the signing in Beijing of the five-party joint development agreement to monetize Alaska’s natural gas.

“This Gas Sales Agreement is a significant factor in progressing the Alaska LNG Project,” said AGDC President Keith Meyer. “We have secured the customers, we have progressed on the pipeline build with regulators and the finance community and now we have a commitment that there will be gas to sell and put through the pipeline. I look forward to continued negotiations to secure supply from other North Slope producers.”

Governor Bill Walker thanked BP for its commitment to the project.

“This agreement means Alaskans are one step closer to cleaner air, more jobs and more affordable energy to power homes and businesses,” Governor Walker said.

Walker said, “Having BP, one of our longtime partners on this project, commit its share of the gas for sale underscores the progress we continue to make as we work toward building a stronger Alaska.”

“During my call last week with BP’s chief executive officer, Bob Dudley, I thanked BP for its commitment to the Alaska LNG Project. I also commend Keith Meyer and his team at AGDC that worked to make this historic deal happen,” Walker said.

Walker said, “This agreement means Alaskans are one step closer to finally monetizing the vast reserves of natural gas on the North Slope. The end result will be thousands of jobs, a significant reduction in energy costs to power homes and businesses, and cleaner air. Having BP – one of our longtime participants in this project – commit its share for the gas on the sale underscores the progress we continue to make to build a stronger Alaska."

The Alaska AFL-CIO is also pleased the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) and British Petroleum (BP) have agreed to key terms of a Gas Sales Agreement to commit gas to the upcoming Alaska Natural gas pipeline. - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018

Alaska: Alaska is the Most Profitable Region for ConocoPhillips In the World "by a Wide Margin" According to Legislative Research Division -  The Alaska legislature's non-partisan research division determined that, "On a barrel of oil equivalent (BOE), Alaska is the most profitable region for the company by a wide margin" in the first quarter of 2018. According to the report, ConocoPhillips netted $26.18 per barrel of oil produced in Alaska, more than twice the next most profitable region, Asia Pacific/Middle East, at $13.01. Alaska earned ConocoPhillips $445 million of its $1.14 billion profits during that quarter. Alaska was also the most profitable area in the world for ConocoPhillips in 2017. 

The findings of the research report reviewing the profit data by ConocoPhillips were released Saturday by Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage).  

"Our tax system is flawed. We all want the oil companies to succeed financially - and they are - but Alaska can simply no longer afford to offer the most generous oil tax credits in the world," said Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage). "It's fundamentally unfair to take thousands of dollars in Permanent Fund Dividend checks from Alaska families every year to give to the oil industry in the form of enormous tax breaks."

According to the Alaska Department of Revenue Spring 2018 Revenue Forecast, in 2018 Alaska is projected to collect $3.90 per barrel in production taxes and allow $1.2 billion in deductible oil tax credits to major oil producers. Governor Bill Walker and the Republican Senate Majority have opposed changes to the state's oil tax system, instead seeking to deplete the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve and cut PFDs to balance our budget. - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018




MONEY MATTERS: ARE ANNUITIES THE SOLUTION TO VOLATILE MARKETS? By MARY LYNNE DAHL, CFP® - Recently, I have been asked by quite a few people to explain annuities.

Having been in the business of financial planning and investments for over 34 years now, I am familiar with patterns and cycles that are almost predictable. One of these patterns is that some people get so rattled by the ups and downs of the market that they start looking for investments that offer relief from the volatility by promising guarantees. Seeking a guarantee is understandable, of course, but is it a good idea? Well, in order to answer that question, let’s take a closer look at annuities.

Annuities are insurance products. They mimic other investments for a very specific reason, which is that they were invented to compete with other investments, mutual funds in particular. In the beginning, insurance companies sold insurance to offer protection from losses resulting from death, fire, accident, etc. However, at some point, insurance companies noticed that people were putting money into mutual funds and the insurance companies wanted a piece of that market. In order to get a foothold in the mutual fund marketplace, they invented annuities. This allowed the insurance companies to compete for the investment dollars going to mutual funds. The result is that annuities have become a very profitable source of revenue for many insurance companies. - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018

jpg Jeff Lund

JEFF LUND: Brochure weekend: before and after  - Friday Preview - A student reminded me of that 81-degree day last spring. The rest of the class nodded half with the wonderment of that glorious afternoon, and half unsure, as if maybe it didn’t happen. Last summer was a sasquatch, it showed up once in spring, then vanished leaving us all questioning whether it really happened. We did have that nice week in August, but by that point, the damage was done. 

I mention this because it was nice today, will be nice tomorrow, and for the weekend. I can’t help but wonder if this is our only shot at summer. I’m not a cynic by any stretch. I have Gore-Tex and am not afraid to use it, I’d just prefer not to, you know? I’d like real summer.  

It is interesting how much the mood can undulate with the weather. During college in Arizona, it was never a concern. I wore flip flops every day. Every. Day. Putting shoes on felt weird, and constrictive and hot. The pronounced tan line on the top of my foot was one of more treasured attributes of my fleeting youth.  - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018


JASE GRAVES: Defenseless Driving - My eldest and most expensive child recently reached one of those teen milestones that parents often consider with a combination of dread and hopefulness.No, I'm not referring to her first solo trip to a beauty salon, from which she might return either lovelier than ever, or looking like an adolescent version of Pennywise the clown. I'm talking about earning her learner license to operate our largest and most embarrassing family vehicle while at least one parent develops advanced gluteal clenching skills in the front passenger seat.

Although we have several driving academies in town, my daughter chose to complete her driver's education through an online program (in between taking kissy face selfies).Then the idea was for me to "teach" the driving portion of the curriculum since I already provide an after-school shuttle service to her various extra-curricular activities that always require more than one expensive outfit.And having gone through driver's ed myself many years ago, I figured I could do at least as well as my own instructor - a friendly football coach who mostly read the paper and warned me against swerving to dodge roadkill. - More....
Monday PM - May 07, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Generational Shopping Gap

Political Cartoon: Generational Shopping Gap
BY Jeff Koterba ©2018, Omaha World Herald, NE
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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U.S. Coast Guard Earth Day Community Cleanup By Jerry Cegelske - Once again members of the U.S. Coast Guard participated in the cleanup of areas of the Borough where trash and litter have been intentionally dumped over the last year.  This is the 13th year they have taken time to clean up various areas of the community, including some of the most challenging areas to work in or to remove the trash from.   Some of the main areas worked on Friday the 27th were Whipple Creek, Revilla Road and Troller’s Creek under the new bridge on Knudson Cove Road.  It was nice to see their enthusiasm as they attacked the litter and trash dumped at those areas.  The fact that the weather cooperated with sunshine and ideal temperatures with no rain may have had something to do with it.

Troller’s Creek was a challenge as it is about 50 feet from the bridge to the creek bottom.  The members working there brought up two televisions, tires, bicycles, a garage door, an old computer, a transmission and other car parts, a trash can they used to get trash from the creek bed to the bridge, boat trailer jack, lumber, pipe, along with a lot of other trash.  One treasure was a steel Coke can that you had to use a pointed bottle opener to open.  It is expected that this is one area that will be worked on next year as they were not able to remove everything that was in the creek before it got too late in the day. - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Restitution for Victims of Violent Crime By Fred Dyson - The Alaska Legislature just united 60 to 0 to strike a great blow for restitution for the victims of violent crime by passing HB 216.  This bill allows the "Criminal Fund" which comes from the Permanent Fund Dividends of incarcerated felons to be used as "bridging monies" to reimburse victims when the perpetrator is unable to do so.  It does NOT release the perpetrator from his/her responsibility to pay the victim or reimburse the "Criminal Fund".  HB 216 also provides dollars for child support and much needed treatment for both victims and perpetrators. - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

THE OWNED MAN By David G Hanger - While there is little to no doubt that U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan has not read any portion of this new tax law he hypes so loudly, it is less clear whether he is just crass and stupid, and expects you to be the same, or whether he is just being intentionally deceitful, for any advantage this new tax law might provide the individual citizens and taxpayers of this state is purely accidental; and in many instances instead of a substantial tax decrease you will be getting a substantial tax increase, in some individual cases as much as 40%+. Mr. Sullivan is the bought and sold property of special interests and the possessor of the moniker, Senator Conoco-Phillips, a well-earned appendage. In 2018 his buddies will pay 7% of the total revenue collected by the U.S. Government, and 85% is collected from you in the form of individual income tax and payroll tax charges: $218 billion from corporations (7%), $1.7 trillion in individual income taxes (50%), $1.2 trillion in payroll taxes (35%). As a special treat to individual Alaska taxpayers Senator Conoco-Phillips signed off on outlawing all travel deductions and union dues, etc. for anyone who gets paid on a W2. No one, of course, travels much for work in Alaska, so hardly anyone (beyond the thousands affected) will see their individual tax liabilities spike by 10% to 40%. - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Regulation of education stifles progress By Dan Weber - Have we lost sight of the purpose of America’s education system? It is supposed to be focused on providing the nation’s next generations with the knowledge, moral values and skillsets they need to be responsible and productive citizens. However, federal over-regulation has created an intrusive atmosphere in our schools that stifles progress.

Education consultant and activist, John Danielson, points out that schooling is a local matter. Danielson has served as senior advisor to one US Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, and Chief of Staff to another, Rod Paige. - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

An Argument on How Traditional Prevention is Ending in Our Society By Liberty-Anne Johnson - In February, it was reported online by KRBD that Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly needed to appropriate the 15% of tobacco tax revenue as previously agreed through ballot measure. Despite being a victim of brain and eye hacking via remote to be professionally polite and disclose current circumstance, I decided to write a letter to the Ketchikan Borough Assembly about the appropriation given my former prevention position in that community. Writing the letter from a more personable level rather than professional prevention analytical perspective which seemingly resulted according to the KRBD article immediately after that meeting with report of absent in-depth discussion from the borough assembly with additional request of agency proposals by them with additional testimony by the communications manager from the medical center at that specific meeting. My suggestion was to appropriate the funds for small grants for proposed projects by individuals, small independent groups, the art community, and local businesses to conduct related projects with possibility partnering with other businesses. Further ideas for tobacco tax uses through these grants included promoting or developing social media content, or other research advancements related to tobacco prevention or cessation rather than seeking typical agency outcomes to give the community some buy-in. - More...
Monday PM - May 07, 2018

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