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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 22, 2010

Front Page Photo By HEIDI ERICKSON

Tongass Sunset
Front Page Photo By HEIDI ERICKSON


Alaska: New law increases coverage for Medicaid adults needing upper and lower dentures - A bill signed into law recently by Governor Sean Parnell allows eligible Medicaid recipients to access two years worth of adult dental Medicaid benefits when they need an upper and lower denture at the same time.

The annual limit for adult dental services is $1,150. Two years worth of benefits are typically needed to get a full set of dentures. Former regulations meant Medicaid recipients and dentists had to time any construction and placement of matching upper and lower dentures to overlap two state fiscal years. The new regulations allow patients to get upper and lower dentures at the same time.

Medicaid-eligible adults utilizing the two-year combined coverage for dentures would be eligible for emergency dental services only the following year.

"While the annual limit is adequate for Medicaid-eligible adults needing an upper or lower denture, the coverage limits have been problematic for adults needing a set of dentures," said Dr. Brad Whistler, a dentist with the state's Division of Public Health. "Besides improving the quality of life for eligible recipients needing a set of dentures, the changes support how dentists typically provide these denture services." - More...
Tuesday - June 22, 2010

Southeast Alaska: Haines man may be second to die of PSP - This morning at 5:16 am, Alaska State Troopers responded to 57-year old John Michael Saunders' residence on Mud Bay Road in Haines responding to a report that Saunders was found deceased. Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was on scene and had pronounced Saunders deceased.

Saunders had been medi-vacced to Juneau on Saturday. According to officials at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, the patient, 57-year old John Michael Saunders from Haines, reportedly developed symptoms consistent with PSP after eating Dungeness crab in Haines on Friday. It is believed that the PSP came from the viscera (guts). PSP is not normally found in the crab meat. Symptoms included tingling in his lips, numbing in his body, weakness and poor coordination. Saunders was medevaced to Juneau on Saturday and released from the hospital Monday morning.

The crab was reportedly caught in front of Jenkins Rock near the Chilkat Inlet of Lynn Canal. No one else who ate crab caught at the same time reported any symptoms.

DEC and DHSS officials warn the public not to consume the viscera from recreational and subsistence harvested crabs. Crab meat is not considered to be a source of PSP. Additionally, DEC plans to begin testing crab from the implicated southeastern area. - More...
Tuesday - June 22, 2010

Alaska - National: Court Decision prohibits the federal government from enforcing deep-water oil drilling ban - A federal judge in New Orleans Tuesday issued a preliminary injunction blocking a federal moratorium on deep-water oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a prepared statement, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell commented on today's ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman finding that the Obama administration's moratorium on off-shore drilling was arbitrarily imposed.

"Today's ruling by Judge Feldman is good for the nation," Governor Parnell said. "Unfortunately, legal action isn't going to put Alaskans to work this summer, but this decision indicates that the courts are going to uphold the law and operators can expect to be treated fairly or be able to seek recourse. We hope this sends a clear message to federal agencies to grant the permits that Shell will need to drill in the Outer Continental Shelf in 2011."

U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) also commented in a prepared statement. "Today's decision by the Louisiana judge overturning the Obama Administration's temporary ban on deepwater offshore oil and gas development shows the moratorium was overreaching. It should serve as a shot across the bow to the administration and Congress that American workers must continue to develop America's energy resources within our borders," said Begich.

Begich said, "Companies demonstrating solid exploration and development plans and oil spill response plans should be able to develop our nation's abundant oil. Lifting a ban on deepwater activity, which carries greater risk than low-pressure, shallow-water development like in Alaska, hopefully will get responsible exploratory drilling planned by Shell in Alaska's Arctic waters back on track soon." - More...
Tuesday - June 22, 2010

Alaska: Editor out after Palin-McGinniss set-to - The Wasilla, Alaska, newspaper managing editor said he was let go soon after he wrote a veiled threat directed at an author living next to Sarah Palin.

In a May 29 editorial in The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Tom Mitchell told author Joe McGinniss -- who is renting the house next door to the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee's family home as he writes a book about her -- that "Alaska has a law that allows the use of deadly force in protection of life and property."

Those words created a firestorm around an already hot topic, the online magazine Alaska Dispatch reported Monday. Mitchell apologized, saying he didn't mean any harm should befall McGinniss and the Frontiersman suspended comments on the editorial after 428 postings.

Two weeks after the editorial was published, Frontiersman Publisher Kari Sleight said in an e-mail, "Tom 'TC' Mitchell has resigned his position at the Frontiersman to pursue other efforts. His resignation is effective immediately. We wish Tom well in his future endeavors." - More...
Tuesday - June 22, 2010


Fish Factor: Gubernatorial candidates comment on challenges facing Alaska's seafood industry By LAINE WELCH - What are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing Alaska's seafood industry? Jobs, adding value and high energy costs were common themes given by five major candidates for governor during the famed fisheries debate at Kodiak. Here's a sampler of the candidates' responses:

"We need to put more jobs in the hands of more Alaskans. That is the biggest opportunity," said Senator Hollis French. "That should be our objective - to make sure our children and the Alaskans who want to get jobs can get them on the boats, with the processors, on the beaches, wherever the jobs are."

"The biggest hurdle is to prevent our fish from being caught and processed by individuals who don't have a stake in our state, who don't have an economic interest in our communities," French added. "What you want is a strong waterfront community where individuals who want to live and work here have that opportunity. So the opportunity is to provide jobs for Alaskans, and the hurdle is outside ownership."

For Ralph Samuels, the biggest opportunity is to manage the fishery resource so it continues to grow.

"We can't start fighting over how we allocate between gear types, between communities and user groups. We have one of the best managed fisheries on the planet, and we need to make sure we keep basing decisions on science and not on politics," Samuels said.

The high costs of energy and transportation are the biggest hurdles to the industry, Samuels said.

"When you get out to Kodiak and along the Peninsula and down the Aleutian chain, you have all these associated costs to ship fish and personnel that some of your competition around the world don't have," Samuels added. "Those are the hurdles we have to address through policy in deciding what the role of government should be."

Adding more value to fishery products "in every way we can" is Bill Walker's vision for the seafood industry.

"In Alaska, because of the cost of energy, we send out fish that is partially processed and other countries finish the processing of our resource. That's wrong," Walker said. "An economy is when you have value added in your state. A colony is when you send out the resource and have someone else add value to it. Adding value also could create jobs in rural Alaska."

Walker agreed the biggest obstacle for the seafood industry is the cost of energy.

"Twenty percent of the cost for fish processors is the cost of energy," he said. "We have to get the cost of energy down."

Governor Sean Parnell said the number one priorty is maintaining a sustainable resource, and he agreed that "value added" provides the greatest opportunity for the industry. - More...
Monday - June 21, 2010


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Questions, please contact the editor at editor@sitnews.us or call 617-9696.

letterProposal to purchase property for Fire Station 7 By Ed Fry - In response to both Chief Hull and Mr. Dial, the questions that were asked were on target and appropriate; thank you Mr. Dial for calling the questions. - More...
Monday - June 21, 2010

letterBill Walker has an Alaskan Plan! By Barb Lander - Bill Walker, Republican gubernatorial candidate deserves your consideration. He is a lifelong Alaskan that like most real Alaskans has a broad and varied background. Most recently he has worked as a lawyer focusing primarily on oil and gas issues, but he has also done construction, worked as a laborer building the pipeline and had a stint commercial fishing. - More...
Monday - June 21, 2010

letterCity improvements By Casey Eberle - First of all let me say, that yes I am a new resident of Ketchikan. It seems that many in this town feel that unless you have been here for an extended period of time you aren't a "local", but I am here for the long haul, and there are several things about this town that I have noticed. - More...
Monday - June 21, 2010

letterS 881 By Judy Magnuson - We are still waiting to see the new revised S 881 bill, hopefully we will have enough time to adequately assess the new impacts of this legislation on the communities of Southeast. From what we have heard so far I feel that the new bill will not be any different than the last one, places will have been moved around effecting different communities more and others less, but the main objections to this bill will remain the same. Sealaska will still be given millions of dollars of infrastructure paid for at the taxpayers expense, in essence a bail -out of a private corporation by the taxpayers because of their own failure to properly utilize the land they were originally given. The second growth alone cost the taxpayers $10 million in thinning on the 20,721 acres of young growth, plus costs of roads, log transfer facilities, bridges, decades of maintenance, costs of planning, studies, loss of 184 acres with established long term research plots, and loss of 7,359 Geological Special Areas. - More...
Monday - June 21, 2010

letterProposal to purchase property for Fire Station 7 By Dave Hull - In reference to Mr. Rodney Dial's questions regarding the proposal to purchase property for Fire Station 7, he asks that I answer questions he poses in his letter to the editor. For the record, these are excellent questions that I am sure are being asked by many. I encourage others to call, write or stop by and talk. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letterLet Everyone Vote By Penny Hamlin Connelly - I have been a townie pretty much my whole life, taking for granted being able to vote on all issues concerning the city and the borough. Imagine my surprise when I moved out North a few years ago, went to vote, and discovered part of my election ballot was missing. I went into total Ketchikan Culture Shock. "What do you mean I don't get to vote on city issues?" Took me awhile to get over it, but I did. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letterLibrary By Mark Johnson - The Library has served us very well since it started way back when in 1901 now it's time for us to serve it well and build the new building. Now we'll get much of it paid for with matching funds that we will lose at the rate we are going and that is not going to get us anything. The current building is too small so moving to a new site is the only real option. The downtown site that was the main street school has been rejected twice already. There are problems with all the sites we could have a library on, not one of them is perfect and no place we choose to build can be, but we have a site picked and money in the bank as well as plans in the works. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letterS.881: Same Pig, Different Sunglasses and Wig By Sandy Powers - The proposed revisions of the rehashed Sealaska bill S.881 reflect but little difference from previous versions. Some of the selections of the high-value roaded timber got switched with other selections of high-value roaded timber. Parts of north POW were spared immediate impact but Edna Bay, Hollis, Thorne Bay and other areas were hit as hard or harder in return. Some brand new areas were added, such as two tidal energy sites and two geothermal sites. A hydroelectric site is still proposed for Josephine Lake. 190,000 acres of additional LUD-II style lockups on Kuiu, Prince of Wales, Kosciusko, Kupreanof and a couple other islands recommended by staffers, and no doubt SEACC are thrown in for good measure. How ironic - the very groups and politicians who call for transparency and public involvement now eagerly override those guiding principles when it serves their own personal interests. The revision claims new protection for karst, but the Forest Plan already identifies and protects karst. This politically motivated bill hatched up behind closed doors only panders to the special interests of a private corporation and foundation-funded green groups. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letter Re: Tax Payers Revelation By Peggy Green - I think Don Borders makes perfect sense in his article regarding the Library, and other Government offices. I too think that the Borough offices should utilize the Ward Cove property. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letter Federal Government Unprepared for Disasters By Donald A. Moskowitz - Our federal government under two administrations has dropped the ball with a major regional problem and unfortunately the Gulf oil spill debacle succeeded the hurricane Katrina debacle in the same region of the country. Where are FEMA and other government agencies when these problems occur? - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letter Re: A letter to North Tongass residents By Daylene Currier - I applaud Rodney Dial's ambition and his open-mindedness to this issue. So many people argue about what is right and wrong, and of course, theirs is the only opinion that ever matters. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letterA letter to North Tongass Residents By Rodney Dial - My wife and I work 2 jobs each, 7 days a week. We are trying to be responsible citizens providing for our families, and preparing for our future. It's a challenge to say the least when just providing simple things like braces for our children costs $800 per month. - More...
Tuesday - June 15, 2010

letterLibrary Site By Suzan Thompson - Being old enough to remember when the downtown core was a thriving, vibrant business and residential district, and having a lot of nostalgia for the days when there were about fifty little mom-and-pop businesses down there which were open all year long, I was one of those people who really wanted to see the library stay downtown. However, after having been to almost all the meetings where the location of the library was a topic of discussion, and having listened to all the public comment and all the pros and cons, even I am finally convinced that the Copper Ridge site is the better choice. - More...
Tuesday - June 15, 2010

letterTax Payers' Revelation By Don Borders - The current outcome of the various state primaries for political seats have reflected the voices of the people concerned with the excess big government spending by electing conservative primary candidates. Elections this fall are going to be an eye-opener for the current elect. - More...
Thursday - June 10, 2010

letterYES! The Public Library Should Stay Downtown By Robert D. Warner - Three cheers to the grass roots folks responsible for the petition drive to keep the Ketchikan Public Library in the downtown core area. It just makes good sense that a public vote on the issue would be the first step in deciding possible locations for the public library. I find it most unfortunate that this critical step was never taken or encouraged by city and library managers. As a result, significant funds have been spent and public frustration aroused with little accomplished. We are very fortunate that this group moved forward to ask city residents where they would like to locate their public library. - More...
Thursday - June 10, 2010

letterSummer Dungeness fishery By Mike Moyer - It's a serious issue that demands serious attention and we need to have the resource on our minds. Being a commercial fisherman is a good thing. I come from a commercial fishing family and am proud of that. - More...
Thursday - June 10, 2010

letterDemocracy Is Messy By Samuel Bergeron - Winston Churchill said "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried". I'm grateful I live in a country that allows its citizens to criticize and challenge its government. The decision to start a ballot initiative to require the City to build a future library on property it already owns and keep it in downtown Ketchikan was well considered by our group. We are made up of planners, builders, citizens, land developers, local business leaders, realtors and concerned community members of both the City and Borough. We are united in the concept that the library should be centrally located downtown so all of the public has convenient access. After all, it is a Public Library. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 09, 2010

letterLower property tax rate is good for all By Rodney Dial - On Tuesday as I was reading the paper you could have knocked me over with a feather after I saw that the Borough Assembly reduced the mill rate (they had been discussing raising it). As a frequent critic of local government I feel that it is only right to say "thank you". - More...
Wednesday PM - June 09, 2010

letterThank you By Becky Burnham - Thank you to the officers and volunteers who risked their lives to save our friends (and my bridesmaid), Stacie Cavner's, life, and the lives of all who could be saved in the plane. - More....
Wednesday PM - June 09, 2010

letterCapital Budget By Maj Gen Thomas H. Katkus - Alaska requires infrastructure to reach resources and improve the economy. Governor Sean Parnell created the Alaska Military Force Advocacy and Structure Team (AMFAST) to provide recommendations for cooperative projects that support and expand the military industry in our state. As chairman of the AMFAST, I am pleased to tell you that our short-term strategic plan has already yielded success! - More...
Wednesday PM - June 09, 2010

letterLibrary Location By Amanda Kiely and Drew Lindner - The purpose of a public library is to provide its patrons with resources, information, and materials. As of late, though, it seems this central objective has been completely lost in the debate over where to build our new library. - More...
Wednesday PM - JUne 09, 2010

letterMilitary support and Tanana Bridge project By Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus - The State of Alaska and the communities of Fairbanks and North Pole should join me in thanking Rep. Mike Kelly and Governor Sean Parnell for supporting the rail bridge over the Tanana River. This bridge is the first step in completing our rail connection to Fort Greely and to Canada. More importantly, it provides dependable year-round access to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex. This training area is one of the largest in the country. Reliable access provides an exceptional opportunity to all branches of our military to exercise and train in a realistic and challenging environment without public disruption. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 09, 2010

letterDungie clarification By Chris Snyder - Apparently Mr. Moyer misunderstood the relevant gist of my letter. So, I repeat: "...if there are legitimate conservation issues, then by all means lets restrict crabbing--for everyone." That is not a question. It is a statement. - More...
Monday - June 07, 2010

letterCOURTESY By Cecelia Johnson - My family and I were out enjoying the sunny weather recently and took a drive out North. We stopped in a store to purchase a refreshing bottle of water and snacks. An unnamed store has a very rude clerk. This individual's whole persona exhibited ill manners! We need Mystery Shoppers. Another Northend store clerk was also very rude. I purchased an item and received a "look of disdain" with no thanks before I walked out! - More...
Monday - June 07, 2010

letterRE: Library Location By Pat Long - Kudos to Nathan Brooks for a well thoughtout and reasonable letter. - More...
Monday - June 07, 2010

letterLibrary Location: Ballot initiative By Chris J. Herby - It seems that here in Ketchikan there always needs to be a divisive issue to keep everyone from getting bored. This year's issue appears to be the location of the proposed new library. - More...
Friday - June 04, 2010

letterLibrary Location By Nathan Brooks - There are many generations of my family living in Ketchikan. There are always issues in any community which cause conflicts and differing opinions. However, Ketchikan is reaching a level of constant conflict which is making it difficult for me and mine to want to live here any longer. - More...
Friday - June 04, 2010

letter Ketchikan City Council and private business By Charles Edwardson - I would like to retract any statements about the Ketchikan City Council meddling and intervening in the private sector. I criticized them for meddling and intervening in a cab company's request to invest their own money to improve their own business, - More...
Friday - JUne 04, 2010

letterBill Walker for Governor By Lawrence "Snapper" Carson - As Alaskans we have a lot to be thankful and grateful for. What a beautiful place to work, play and live. Its stewardship should be of utmost importance to all us. We have the opportunity this year to elect a governor who has the interest and ability to make Alaska a better place for all Alaskans. His name is Bill Walker, he was born in Alaska and has worked and raised his family as a life long Alaskan. - More...
Friday - JUne 04, 2010

letterMemorial Day By Joel W Jackson - This past Monday my family and I had the honor of attending Ketchikan's Memorial Day services at our local cemetery. It is a tradition that my mother passed on to me and I have tried to pass on to my children. - More...
Friday - June 04, 2010

letterCrab Question By Mike Moyer - To answer Chris Snyder's' question: Yes there are legitimate concerns over the handling of crab by the commercial fleet during the summer months and increased mortality occurs during this time. It is known that simply handling crab causes stress and increases mortality. Handling crab during the summer months during molting and mating increases that mortality even more. The numbers of crab handled by commercial boats would obviously be greater than sport fishers because they are using more pots and trying to target more crab. - More...
Friday - JUne 04, 2010

letterReal Men By Al Johnson - My comment to Representative Ethan Berkowitz, "Real Men do not KILL Babies". - More...
Friday - June 04, 2010

letterRe: Dopey Mushers By Alan R. (Rudy) McGillvray - What a wonderful thing is propaganda. Mr. William R. Hearst launched a propaganda assault against hemp (marijuana by another name) because he could make paper more cheaply using wood pulp instead of hemp pulp. He and Harry Anslinger of the FDA, (a tool of a tax and spend rich Democrat, J.P. Morgan, who was Sec. of the Treasury at the time) saw a way to turn a whole class of people into criminals. So they all launced a propaganda campaign against Pot, hemp, marijuana, and managed to turn public opinion, against a mostly harmless substance, that did not even approach illegality or harmfullness of heroin, but through their propaganda campaign, managed to turn it into something even more powerful than heroin. Peoples' perception. - More...
Friday - June 04, 2010

letterCommander-In-Chief Went AWOL By Donald A. Moskowitz - As a Navy veteran, I am appalled President Obama, our Commander-In-Chief, did not lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2010. Instead, he went on vacation. - More...
Tuesday PM - June 01, 2010

letterLibrary Location By Chris Elliott - It would be interesting to know what the community's reaction was when the new high school was built at the top of that huge hill "out the road" (Fourth & Madison). -More...
Tuesday PM - June 01, 2010

letterGulf Oil Spill By A.M.Johnson - Just a thought. Do you suppose that Cletus and Barney, a couple of rednecks, hold the solution to cleaning up the oil spill? - More...
Tuesday PM - June 01, 2010

letterSlow moving vehicles By Kim Morton - Just wanted to post a rant about the slow moving eclectic golf carts that I have ran into out south and now out by Wal-Mart. I am pretty sure these cars need to stay in town and seeing them driving down the road when it's supposed to be 50 mph is frustrating to say the least. - More...
Tuesday PM - June 01, 2010

letterIllegal Immigration Healthcare Costs Affect YOU! By Elizabeth Lee Vliet, M.D. - The national spotlight is on Arizona for doing what the Federal government and previous Governor Napolitano refused to do: rein in an invasion of illegal aliens bankrupting our state (Arizona). At an August 2009 healthcare Town Hall in Phoenix, legislators said that more than half of Arizona's 4 billion dollar budget deficit was the result of paying for three areas of services to illegal immigrants: education, healthcare, and incarceration. - More...
Tuesday PM - June 01, 2010

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