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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 28, 2008

Front Page Photo by Dan Zink

Misty Fjords: Brown bear grazing
Taken without zoom or telephoto.
Front Page Photo by Dan Zink



Ketchikan: IFA Eliminates Double Runs - The Inter-Island Ferry Authority announced Thursday that a second Hollis- Ketchikan- Hollis run each Friday, scheduled between July 4 and September 5, has been cancelled.

IFA board chair Dennis Watson stated that burgeoning fuel costs and a shortfall in anticipated funding from the Federal Transit Administration dictated that the board cut operating costs. Advance bookings for the second round-trip on Fridays were not strong, said Watson. Customers with reservations on the cancelled IFA sailings will be offered confirmed space on regular daily sailings of their choice, with a 50% fare discount. - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008

Alaska: Supreme Court's Will Review Ruling on Kensington Mine - Governor Sarah Palin on Friday commended the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to review a Ninth Circuit Court ruling that had invalidated a federal permit for tailings disposal at the Kensington Mine near Juneau. The state of Alaska and Coeur Alaska had both filed petitions asking the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit Court's decision, which had essentially forced the company to relocate and redesign the mine's tailings disposal facility.

"This is a step in the right direction," Governor Palin said. "Alaska has stringent development laws and regulations. These standards were rigorously applied by the federal and state agencies in permitting the Kensington project. We are confident the justices will agree that this project can be developed and managed in an environmentally safe manner."

Kensington is a gold project 45 miles northwest of Juneau. A Supreme Court decision reversing the Ninth Circuit and upholding the original permit could allow for construction to take place next year, leading to potential production later in 2009. The mine is currently expected to reach as much as 150,000 ounces of annual gold production in early years of operation. Over the life of the mine, Kensington is expected to produce more than one million total ounces of gold.

The Supreme Court's decision should also provide direction on how certain federal technology standards, which are in addition to state water quality standards, apply in determining the location of tailing impoundments for future projects.

"We need the Supreme Court to decide once and for all what the federal rules are for dealing with mine tailings," Governor Palin said. "The federal laws have been interpreted differently by different courts at different times. The resulting uncertainty makes it more difficult for everyone involved in the permitting of mines in Alaska."

"This is a very exciting day for Kensington Mine, Juneau, and the State of Alaska," said Rep. Don Young (R-AK). "On average, only seven percent of certiorari petitions filed are actually heard by the Court; I think it's a great victory for Alaska that the Court saw this as a serious and important case." - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008

Fish Factor: Anger and frustration expressed over Supreme Court's Exxon decision By MAGGIE WALL - Kodiak fishermen woke Wednesday to a raining, howling storm outside. Ends up it was the perfect background for the howling storm of anger and frustration that would be expressed over the U.S. Supreme Court's Exxon decision.

"It's a crappy day all around," said Scot Gilliland who was a salmon seiner in March of 1989 when the Exxon Valdez went hard aground and sent 11 million gallons of oil spilling into Prince William Sound.

Gilliland has a wife and two young sons, "There isn't going to be a college fund set up for the kids," he said shortly after the ruling was made known around town.

"I haven't actually had a chance to read the decision yet. But my first comment is that it's amazing how money can purchase justice in this country. A jury of your peers apparently doesn't stand for much because they [the courts] can change it whenever they want."

He says Exxon's money and vast resources bought valuable time.

"They stretched it out long enough for the whole political climate to change so that they were able to have a court that was favorable to them to hear it."

They stretched the case out so long that of the original nearly 33,000 claimants, 3,000 died while waiting for a decision in the case. - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008

Alaska Science: Due for a spell of the roaring 90s by NED ROZELL - My dad never liked the heat. On humid days in upstate New York, he'd ride out hot spells by sitting in his underwear in front of an electric fan. He got no relief on his only trip to Alaska, when two days of 90-degree June temperatures forced him to hunker down inside my small cabin.

Recent cool temperatures got me to thinking that I hadn't seen a 90-degree day in a fair chunk of time. But my memory is among the wobbliest of datasets, so I turned to a professional. According to Eric Stevens at the Fairbanks Forecast Office of the National Weather Service, more than a decade has passed since Fairbanks, one of the warmest places in Alaska, reached at least 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

"August, 1994," Stevens said over the phone, remembering the last time Fairbanks reached 90 degrees. "This is the longest stretch of no-nineties in the Alaska climate record, since 1904."

Fairbanks reached 93 degrees on Aug. 5, 1994, and hasn't reached 90 degrees in the 14 years since.

"It's global blanding," Stevens joked. "We don't seem to have many 90s or minus-60s anymore . . . Fairbanks doesn't get into the 90s very often, but based on the climate record, we're kind of due." - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008


Columns - Commentary

Dave Kiffer: No Food For You! - So what will $50 buy you these day?

How about 4 inches?

It seems that if you take advantage of a $50 first class upgrade on our "state" airline, they make it very clear to you that you will not get a meal with your "upgrade."

Basically, all you are paying for is more buttspace. Four inches to be exact.

And on a cross country flight that might not be a bad thing, especially if - like me - coach seats stopped being comfortably wide enough for you when your feet finally started to reach the floor. And - hey - I'm not much of a wide body, so that's saying something.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting next to a very large fishing-type gentleman from Texas who probably should have been charged for both his seat and half of mine. So if the upgrade would have been available I probably would have taken it, even without much of the "complimentary" service you normally get in First Class.

So how do I know about the "no meals for you upgraders" policy?

Two different people have told me about their recent experiences in First Class on Elastic Air.

Much like the Soup Nazi on Seinfield, they were told welcome to first class and "no food for you."

In fact, one person was even told she couldn't even pay for one of the $5 picnic packs they were selling in Coach. So she had the pleasure of absolutely no food at all on a lengthy flight.

Fortunately, they did give her the complimentary alcoholic beverages so all was not lost.

It does seem a long, long, long way away from the Golden Samovar service of the past though. Alaska Airlines is squeezing hard to try to reduce costs as much as possible and we passengers are the ones feeling the pinch.

I guess this makes sense in an era when fuel costs are doubling between the time a plane takes off and reaches its destination. You just wish they didn't have to be quite so snotty when it came to making sure the "upgraders" realize they really, really, really aren't First Class after all.

Especially since these "upgraders" are actually paying the airline an additional $50 for what would otherwise be an empty seat (and allowing the airline to then "regift" the now empty coach seat because just about every AK air flight has standby in coach these days).

Oh well, just the Spirit of Alaska, I guess.

Still, we do need to be happy that Alaska Airlines isn't hang glinding off the bankruptcy cliff like a lot of other airlines. - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008



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Basic Rules

letter Open letter: Gravina Access Priorities, Public Spending for Roads By Michael C. Spence - In my informed opinion, as long as the road system and infrastructure of Ketchikan on the Revillagigedo Island is poorly maintained, with vast areas either unpaved or pothole-ridden, it is a travesty to spend any more public money on roads on Gravina Island. For example, Tongass Avenue near the main post office, Tongass Highway from Revilla Road to Refuge Cove are a mess. Revilla Road is unpaved over much of the area above Ward Lake recreation area, as is South Tongass Highway from mile 8 to the end of the road at Beaver Falls. Both of the latter roads are frequently used by local residents and visitors. There is inadequate pedestrian access throughout the road system in Ketchikan, and critically inadequate in the downtown area where thousands of tourists and residents alike are on the streets during the Summer. - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008

letter Our Fuel for the Future By Gov. Sarah Palin - Summer is officially here. And during this time, we like to put the winter months behind us and focus on the longer and warmer days. But we are in the midst of an energy crisis across the nation and in Alaska. And the warmer summer months will only provide a brief respite from the colder months and the increasing need for fuel which lay ahead. - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008

letterCustomer service By Cecelia Johnson - I recently had a pleasant surprise walking into a business downtown, "Crazy Wolf Studio." I felt like a celebrity and I was treated with respect. Why the surprise? I am a local resident. - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008

letter Instead of a tale of two cities, we have two different tales of floating cities By Sen. Kim Elton - Cruise ship compliance with Alaska's environmental laws likely is okay if the question is "can they do lunch?" Ask more relevant questions, though, and compliance apparently is more difficult to assess. - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008

letter Oil from ANWR/ gas price reduction By Marlowe Thompson - I have no expertise in the petroleum business. I am retired and trying to convince my U.S. Representative Democrat Mike Thompson (no relation) to change his view and vote to drill in ANWR. He stated in a letter to me that it would take too long, 10 years, to get oil to the Lower 48 and would only lower the gas price about 1.5 cents. - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008

letterMoving Forward?? By Jerilyn Lester - It seems to me that Governor Palin is just intent on ripping Alaska off for all it is worth. First the Governor steals the money for the bridge promised to Ketchikan 30 years ago only to build another one across Knik Arm because it takes too long to drive around. Now the Governor is taking jobs and money out of the state and sending them to Canada. - More...
Saturday - June 28, 2008

letter Moving Forward with FERC By Governor Sarah Palin - We learned this week that British Petroleum and ConocoPhillips have filed some very preliminary paperwork to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC as it's called. FERC is the United States' federal agency which, among other things, reviews and authorizes liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines. FERC is ultimately the governing body which will issue one or more certificates of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) for the Alaska gas pipeline. This is the same certificate that AGIA requires our project partner to pursue. - More...
Monday - June 23, 2008

letter I QUIT! By Patricia M. Davidson - I am encouraging all Senior Citizens to join me in some soul searching of your own, whether or not you should be driving a car! Let's face it, age isn't helping us, come on old people, I am one of you, I'm 86. Give it up! Show your maturity. Quit while you are ahead and give your family peace of mind. - More...
Thursday PM - June 19, 2008

letter 'Only Fools Run' Disability Advocacy Memorial Awards By Kevin Gadsey - The Fifth Annual 'Only Fools Run at Midnight' is coming up soon on the evening of Saturday, June 28. Last year, Southeast Alaska Independent Living started a new tradition by giving awards the three individuals, Safeway, and the City of Ketchikan for improvements and advocacy related to disability issues. - More...
Thursday PM - June 19, 2008

letter U.S. Postal Service By Charlotte Glover - I want to add my voice in support of our amazing postal service. Given the increases in other goods and services in my life, I think a letter is a bargain at 42 cents! Countries around the world have much higher postal rates and do not offer as much door to door delivery or six day a week service as our US Postal Service does.
- More...
Thursday PM - June 19, 2008

letter Killing the work force By Roberts McRoberts - I've had this thought going around my head for a while, mostly since the state said how flush their budget is since the price of oil went up. Our legislators are just chomping at the bit to spend it on things in their areas. Meanwhile, we the users of oil are dying from the price we are paying. Fuel is now our biggest operating expense, pushed insurance right out of the way. - More...
Thursday PM - June 19, 2008

letter And Bravo To... By Scott Davis - Denise Buker brought up a good point that I am reminded of daily in my work as well. Customer Service. This is something that I pride myself with personally and keep promises and commitments delivering on time and rapid customer service. - More...
Thursday PM - June 19, 2008

letter Stimulus Checks By Jerilyn Lester - Sorry Ms Hemli, but you are mistaken. I, who make an income in the $3,000 to $75,000 range like you have said would get the full $600, didn't. I also got $300 dollars and it is becuase I didn't pay taxes this year I got a refund because I bought a house. So I got cut in half as well. - More...
Thursday PM - June 19, 2008

letter The State's Capital Match: Investing in Our Future By Gov. Sarah Palin - Since the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act was voted into law by Alaskan legislators last year, some people have questioned the necessity of the state's potential $500 million capital match. The question has been asked, even by some of those who voted for it, "is AGIA worth $500 million?" While the fact that AGIA was passed so resoundingly would appear to be a strong indicator, it bears repeating now and until legislative action is taken this summer - the answer is unmistakably yes. The $500 million provided under AGIA is an investment in our resources that will pay for itself directly as well as indirectly. - More...
Saturday - June 14, 2008

letter Gas Pipeline By Ed Stahl - We are building a 48 gas pipeline and what direction is it going? The wrong way, east to Canada, not towards Fairbanks, Anchorage, Valdez and other coastal communities of Alaska, on board American-built tanker ships. We could fuel our cars, boats and homes on this gas, and there is no such thing as a natural gas spill. - More...
Saturday - June 14, 2008

letter A review: Hosie shines his feature length AGIA gig By Sen. Kim Elton - Spencer Hosie is to oil and gas litigation as actor Johnny Depp is to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest -- charismatic and very, very, very successful. So it's not surprising Hosie's 90-minute 'Pirates of Deadhorse' gasline gig was strong on both substance and style. - More...
Saturday - June 14, 2008

letter United States Postal Service By Rhonda Payne - In reference to the letter by Robert McRoberts 6/10/08, while the Postal Service may do some "stupid" things (as has been the case with every business in America), raising rates is not one of them. What other service can you purchase that never raises rates? What other company tells you MONTHS in advance that the price of goods is increasing (as did the Postal Service) and then gives you a one year grace period as Mr. McRoberts suggests? What's wrong with purchasing the additional postage to use with your old stamps? - More...
Saturday - June 14, 2008

letter Bravo to Susan Round! By Denise Buker - Over the past few years I have noticed that in this town, customer service has declined, severely. The level of respect for elders and others has dwindled away!! - More...
Saturday - June 14, 2008

letter RE: Stimulus Checks By Misty Archibald - When I drive by the low income housing units around town and I see hummers parked outside in resident spaces, quite honestly I can say that that really ticks me off. We have people all over the country who abuse the system. They claim their minimum wage salary, but not the $100-$200 they make in tips from various jobs. - More...
Saturday - June 14, 2008

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