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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 21, 2023

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Ketchikan Historical: The Day Ketchikan Tried to Quarantine Wrangell; First City Mayor claimed that northern neighbor had smallpox outbreak By DAVE KIFFER - People are often surprised by how much "competition" there is between the communities in Southeast Alaska. Even though some of the towns are hundreds of miles apart, they are still highly competitive when it comes to industries, quality of life issues, and even sports.

The closer cities like Wrangell and Petersburg, Haines and Skagway and Craig and Klawock are particularly competitive in many areas, although that competition often takes the tone of warring siblings more than anything else. They frequently compete for state resources and often are at odds when the state looks to save money by expecting one city to provide certain state services for the other, especially if it means closing an existing facility in one community to save money.

Even the more far spaced cities are competitive. Ketchikan and Juneau may be 230 miles apart, but they have been competitive in many areas for more than a century and consider each other their "blood rival" especially in high school sports. Sitka stands apart from either town and cheerfully tweaks both, in, usually, friendly competition. 

One thing that is generally clear is that any attack from Outside the region generally pulls all the communities together in defense. The recent Washington court decisions that could shut down the Southeast Summer Troll Season is an example of that, as nearly all the communities in Southeast have stepped up to fight any fishing closure. Southeast communities are also generally in agreement that mines on the Canadian side of the transboundary rivers could harm the environment in Alaska without providing any appreciable economic benefit to Southeast itself.

Of course, none of this precludes Southeast localities from trying to occasionally get the upper hand over each other. And this is the story of an "incident" of possibly just that in 1920.

It comes from a time when Ketchikan and Wrangell, approximately 90 miles apart, were still engaged in vying for supremacy in Southern Southeast and it comes courtesy of Wrangell historian Ronan Rooney, whose website is the go-to place for the history of the "Gateway to the Stikine."

Rooney was recently researching something else when he came across interesting story in the Jan. 29, 1920 edition of the Wrangell Sentinel entitled "An Unexpected Quarantine Against Wrangell." The subtitle added "But Was Too Short a Duration to Do Any Harm."

According to the story, the steamship City of Seattle had just arrived in Wrangell on one of its regular 1920 runs up the Inside Passage. But it was no normal arrival.

"No sooner had the steamer tied up at the dock than a local transfer man attempted to go aboard as usual," the Sentinel reported. "A guard at the gangplank turned him back, at the same time informing him that no Wrangellites would be permitted to go aboard nor would any through passengers be permitted to come ashore."

When asked where the "quarantine" came from, Wrangell officials were told it had been ordered by Ketchikan Mayor Robert Petty. At first local officials, including Mayor Pritchett, thought the "quarantine" was either a joke or a prank, but they discovered that the crew of the City of Seattle was taking it all very seriously.

"When asked what it was about, Capt. Bob McGilivray very courteously explained that Ketchikan had established a quarantine against Wrangell on account of smallpox at Wrangell," The Sentinel reported. "He also stated that before sailing from Ketchikan notice was served on him personally by Ketchikan authorities that if passengers were taken on board or permitted to go ashore at Wrangell, his vessel would be quarantined."

The only problem, it soon became clear, was that Ketchikan didn't have any authority to implement such a quarantine on any other community. From 1919 to 1922, the Spanish Influenza outbreak caused some communities to limit ships from the Outside from arriving in their communities, but no community had the authority to declare any “quarantine” in another community. That was up to the Territorial Board of Health. - More...
Sunday - May 11, 2023

Trixie Bennett KIC’s new Tribal Health Administrator

Ketchikan: Trixie Bennett KIC’s new Tribal Health Administrator - Ketchikan Indian Community (KIC) has selected Trixie Bennett as their next Tribal Health Administrator, following a rigorous selection process. KIC is a federally recognized Indian Tribe with over 6,400 members. In her new role, Bennett will be responsible for managing a multimillion-dollar annual budget and overseeing the Tribe's healthcare services, including the KIC Tribal Health Clinic at 2960 Tongass Avenue.

Bennett first came to work for KIC in 2000, as Quality Management Coordinator, and worked in clinic administration from 2000 to 2018. She went on to serve on the Tribal Council from 2018 to 2023 and as the Tribe's president in 2022. During that time, Bennett attended UAS Ketchikan, receiving an Associate of Applied Science degree, followed by Alaska Pacific University where she completed her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration & Management. In addition, she is the owner and operator of Tongass Tonics.

KIC's Tribal Health Clinic employs roughly 120 people across its medical services, providing primary care, a walk-in clinic, women’s health, pediatrics, behavioral health, dental, laboratory, pharmacy, purchase and referred care, as well as wellness and diabetes services. Bennett's selection comes as KIC sharpens its focus on improving access to high-quality, relevant, and trauma-informed medical and behavioral health services for its members. The Tribe is committed to bringing self-governance to a new level and has been using change management practices to achieve this goal.

"Having grown up in Wrangell, we had to travel for all of our healthcare needs, and I was shocked how often patients had to travel long distances for care even though they were available in Ketchikan," Bennett reflected. "I was inspired when KIC began running their own clinic to meet its citizens' healthcare needs right in Ketchikan. This commitment to self-governance continues today and I’m so pleased to be selected to lead the team as we strive to care for and meet our patients' needs even better in the future." - More...
Sunday - May 21, 2023



Southeast Alaska: Island Air Express Joins Kalinin Family of Companies; Alaska Seaplanes, Island Air Express, and Above and Beyond Alaska continue to operate as distinct companies, with the ability to share common resource - The founder of Klawock-based Island Air Express and Kalinin Holdings, owner of Alaska Seaplanes and Above and Beyond Alaska, last week made a joint announcement that Island Air Express has joined the Kalinin family of companies. In announcing this new partnership, the partners emphasized continuing the same industry-leading service customers of Island Air Express have valued for years.

“Safe and reliable ‘IFR Only’ operations are the hallmark of our company, and our team has delivered that in Southeast Alaska for over 15 years,” said Island Air Express founder Scott Van Valin. “By joining with Kalinin and Alaska Seaplanes, we now have access to increased maintenance support and resources, more streamlined administrative services, and a growth path for our employees to advance as we expand services.”

“This is a case of two mutually-esteemed peers recognizing that the best way to grow is to join forces and share knowledge and resources,” said Kalinin Holdings President Kent Craford.

Island Air Express (IAX) was established in 2008 and has since become the largest Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) wheel plane operator in the Ketchikan/Prince of Wales market. With a focus on safety and innovation, IAX has become a recognized leader in the industry. IAX pioneered IFR operations in single-engine aircraft in Southeast Alaska, which contributed to a spotless safety record and increased schedule reliability. Their fleet includes Cessna Caravans and a Pilatus PC-12. - More...
Sunday - May 21, 2023

Alaska: Alaska Troopers Conducting High Visibility Enforcement Effort; Click It or Ticket Campaign to run through June 4th - Alaska State Troopers and Alaska Wildlife Troopers across the state will be conducting additional traffic patrols through June 4th as part of the Click It or Ticket campaign. Nationwide it is estimated that 2,549 lives could have been saved in 2017 if everyone utilized a seatbelt.

While Troopers will be focused on identifying drivers and passengers not utilizing seatbelts, they will also be on the lookout for dangerous drivers and drivers operating their vehicles under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“As summertime arrives in Alaska, many will take to the roadways to enjoy everything that our beautiful state has to offer, and I would encourage all Alaskans to wear your seatbelt anytime you climb into a vehicle,” said Colonel Maurice Hughes, Director of the Alaska State Troopers. “Seatbelts save countless lives each year, and this year it might save your life during a weekend of fishing and camping.” - More...
Sunday - May 11, 2023

Scientists to hunt for clues about Arctic Ocean glaciation

Scientists to hunt for clues about Arctic Ocean glaciation

Research assistant professor Louise Farquharson works at an ancient raised marine shoreline on the north shore of Teshekpuk Lake near Alaska’s Arctic Ocean coast in 2013. The ancient shoreline is believed to have formed due to an ice shelf pressing down on the Beaufort Sea coast.
Photo by Ben Jones


Alaska: Scientists to hunt for clues about Arctic Ocean glaciation By ROD BOYCE - Evidence indicates a thick ice sheet, not annual sea ice and icebergs, covered the Arctic Ocean at some point during the last 140,000 years. Now, University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists will be looking for more geologic proof of the ice sheet’s existence, sources, behavior and extent.

UAF Geophysical Institute scientists will focus on the Beaufort and Chukchi seas region, both offshore and onshore. 

They hope to discover the extent of glaciation and improve understanding of the timing of glacial advances and retreats. Those cycles are thought to have occurred approximately 140,000 to 70,000 years ago, a period known as the mid- to late Pleistocene Epoch.

“The story of the Arctic Ocean is much more complicated than we may have originally thought and involves processes that we haven’t really considered before,” said Louise Farquharson, a research assistant professor at the UAF Geophysical Institute and the lead investigator.

Farquharson is working with UAF geophysics professor Bernard Coakley, who specializes in the history and formation of the Arctic Ocean, and research associate professor Andy Aschwanden, who studies glacier and ice sheet responses to atmospheric and oceanographic changes.

The National Science Foundation is funding the two-year project. 

The researchers will build a geographic information system database of existing marine and terrestrial geologic evidence that could relate to a 1-kilometer thick glacier in the Beaufort-Chukchi region. Researchers will use that database to test the hypothesis that glaciation was extensive in the western Arctic Ocean at several points during the late Pleistocene.

A second component would use that database to model what type of climate would have allowed the initial glaciation and subsequent advances and retreats. That will also give scientists information about the main ice sources that contributed to the buildup.

The scientists hope to obtain additional funding for that research.

Knowledge gained through the two research efforts can improve understanding of how climate change affects today’s high-latitude ice sheets, Farquharson said. 

Earth now has only two ice sheets, both of them high-latitude: Greenland and Antarctica. The two sheets cover 3% of Earth’s surface and 11% of the planet’s land. During glacial periods, ice sheets covered up to 8% of Earth’s surface and 25% of the land. - More...
Sunday - May 21, 2023

Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: CURING OUR LONELINESS EPIDEMIC - There is a loneliness epidemic in the United States, but there are some simple ways we can address it.

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report titled “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.”

The report found that even before the covid lockdowns chased us into months of isolation in our homes about half of U.S. adults reported experiencing measurable levels of loneliness.

Loneliness brings with it considerable health implications.

When a human lacks connection with other humans, his risk of premature death is comparable to someone who smokes 15 cigarettes a day, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

This translates into a 29% greater risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of strokes and, for older adults, a 50% increased risk of developing dementia.

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy shared with NPR some of the reasons for our increased loneliness:

“In the last few decades, we’ve just lived through a dramatic pace of change,” he said. - More...
Sunday - May 21, 2023

jpg Peter Funt

PETER FUNT: ALL IN A DAY’S DELETIONS - I spend the first half hour of my day reading — or, to be more accurate, deleting — emails. Lacking the nerve to “unsubscribe” for fear I’ll miss something of moderate importance, I trash an average of 75 messages every morning, without ever getting beyond the subject line.

Guaranteed to go: Emails beginning with my first name or warning of my last chance to do something. I also delete anything containing an exclamation point.

Among the subject lines on a recent Tuesday: “Our editors want to hear from you!” (The Hill). “Last chance: save on essential spring stories” (Des Moines Register). “Just Arrived!!” (GolfEtail Deals). “Peter, this deal will be music to your ears” (SiriusXM). “Peter, your bonus content is available” (USA Today). “Peter: Love this for you!” (Etsy).

According to a company called Content Marketing Institute, the “10 Best Practices to Write the Perfect Email Subject Line,” include: “Make it personalized,” “Use power words,” “Appeal to vanity,” and “Create FOMO” (fear of missing out). Clearly, none of these practices works on me.

I receive a lot of email newsletters, few of which I actually read. I’m especially annoyed by contrived chattiness, with greetings such as, “Hi, it’s Ashley. Today is Tuesday, so we’re almost halfway to the weekend!” The subject line on one newsletter I quickly deleted was, “Tuesday, I am fading” (The Daily Skimm).

I rely on several news services for overnight updates, but I tend to immediately trash all emails concerning: Tucker Carlson, debate over the deficit, the crypto market, or warnings about El Niño.- More...
Sunday - May 21, 2023


FINANCIAL FOCUS: Four ways to use cash wisely Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - There has been a lot of talk about a “cashless” society, but it’s not here yet. In fact, cash can still be a valuable element of your overall financial picture – if you employ it wisely. But how?

Consider these four key uses of cash:

• Everyday spending – Of course, you need sufficient cash on hand to pay for your cost of living – mortgage, debt payments, utilities, groceries, etc. You’ll likely rely on your savings or checking accounts to pay for these needs.

• Unexpected expenses and emergencies – It’s never a bad idea to establish a monthly budget. But, as you know, life is unpredictable – and sometimes you may encounter “budget-busting” expenses, such as a major home repair or a large medical bill. If you haven’t planned for these costs, you might be forced to dip into your long-term investments, such as your IRA and 401(k), which can result in taxes, penalties and less money for your retirement. A better alternative is to prepare in advance by building an emergency fund containing up to six months’ worth of living expenses in cash, or at least in a highly liquid account, held separately from your regular checking or savings account so you won’t inadvertently spend the money. - More...
Sunday - May 21, 2023



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Schoenbar Spring Concert By Judith Green - In a galaxcy far, far, away... was the spring concert and it was OUTSTANDING!

These students had such a fun night - the flow was easy and so well coordinated. There were even Star Wars characters in and out during the evening -and some of the student members were dressed to fit the theme.

Ms Jamie Karlson - THANK YOU! What a fun program! You did amazing with these middle school students! You too were dressed to fit the theme - and you even joined in with the chorus while the jazz band played "Counting Stars".

Cantina Band was arranged by one of our talented community members - Thank you to Austin Hays, it was just right for Schoenbar students!

There was a classical piece by Gustav Holst "Mars" a section from his larger work "The Planets". - More...
Thursday - May 11, 2023

jpg Opinion

RE: Southeast Ferry Survey by A.M. Johnson By Rep Dan Ortix - I can say without doing a survey that it’s well known that folks in our district want ferry service to Prince Rupert. Over the last two years, there has not been one topic that I have heard more about from my District 1 constituents, than the importance of the AMHS to restore regular reliable service to Prince Rupert.

I fully agree with the concerns you raise about affordability and convenience.

Over the last four years I have been working with the Department of Transportation and AMHS management  to get this ferry service going again. The reason for lack of service this summer has to do with not being able to fully crew both the Columbia and the Kennicott. The Department has known about these crewing issues for some time and needless to say I’m disappointed this was not resolved in time for summer service. - More...
Thursday - May 11, 2023

jpg Opinion

Corrupt Process Makes for Bad Government By Veri di Suvero and Andrée McLeod - We appreciate the arduous task legislators are charged with to assemble a balanced budget in order for Alaskans to live, play, work, and study in this great state.

However, the Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG) objects to the 67% legislators’ salary increase on the basis of the corrupt process by which these salary increase decisions have been handled.

First, the State Officer Compensation Commission (SOCC). They submitted a report on January 24, 2023 which recommended salary increases for the Governor, Lt. Governor, and executive department heads. The Commission specifically did not recommend salary increases for legislators in a statement:

“No recommendations are being submitted for the legislator as the commission believes further discussion is necessary.”

The Legislature unanimously rejected the SOCC’s recommendation.

On March 14, 2023, the governor removed and replaced all members of the State Officers Compensation Commission. The SOCC held a "public" meeting the next day, on March 15th, for which the public was given less than two days' notice and no agenda or attachments. The five new Commission members met in a short 15-minute meeting. They waived the 20-day public notice requirement, provided a couple of anecdotal statements about the cost of living in Juneau, and voted to amend the report to include the 67% legislative pay raises without any explanation or supporting documents for this significant expense whatsoever. - More...
Thursday - May 11, 2023

jpg Opinion

Ferry to Prince Rupert Needed By David Alderson - I agree with Mr. Johnson and Frank Murkowski in need of the ferry to Prince Rupert. Also, Mary Dahle’s information she shared on the - More...
Wednesday - April 26, 2023

jpg Opinion

Open Letter to Rep. Ortiz: Southeast Ferry Survey By A.M. Johnson - In receipt of the recent survey, you have asked input for.... well and good, may I suggest an additional survey, one that ask Southeast residents which southern terminal they prefer for the Alaska Ferry, Bellingham or Prince Rupert?  - More...
Wednesday - April 26, 2023

jpg Opinion

Thank you Ketchikan By Michelle O’Brien - On behalf of First City Rotary, I would like to humbly thank our community for your overwhelming welcome of First City Rotary’s Polish Open World Delegation. This is the second time that Ketchikan was tapped as an Open World Program location, with a group of Russians visiting Ketchikan approximately seven years ago. From what I understand, it’s somewhat rare to be selected twice as a host community. Our Russian group had an environmental focus, and this year’s Polish group concentration was Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. - More...
Wednesday - April 26, 2023

jpg Opinion

GRIFTING AWAY ON THAT SLIPPERIEST OF SLOPES; OR LEAVE THE SENIORS ALONE By David G Hanger - What a pathetic waste this city council is!!! As described by a former elected official they are a dull bunch of “tax and spend” Trumpistas, an observation clearly reinforced by their asinine conduct as the worst of “tax and spend” liberals while purporting to be small government fascistas; in short a gaggle of ungrounded idiots. Please recall these people; we simply cannot afford this kind of ignorance. In a year when the March inflation report was 10.4% per annum this bunch of bird brains jacked up the sales tax to 8% thereby burdening even further the locals trying to make ends meet while buying in stores that are increasing their prices 10% weekly. - More...
Wednesday - April 26, 2023

jpg Opinion

Why small businesses should care about the debt ceiling By U.S. Senator Ben Cardin - Starting or running a small business can be a challenge in the best of times. It requires bravery and personal risk. The financial risk is very real: Almost 65% of entrepreneurs rely on personal and family savings for startup capital, and others rely on their personal credit cards. - More...
Wednesday - April 26, 2023

jpg Opinion

Earth Is In Trouble By Donald Moskowitz - On April 22,2023 we celebrated Earth Day, but unfortunately our earth is in serious trouble.- More...
Wednesday - April 26, 2023

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