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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 30, 2010

Front Page Photo By MIKE SMITH

Eagle in Flight
Front Page Photo By MIKE SMITH


Ketchikan: DOT&PF Purchases Ward Cove Land for AMHS - The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) purchased 30 acres of property at Ketchikan's Ward Cove, commonly known as the veneer mill/sawmill, for use by the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS).

"Acquiring this land will provide for AMHS' future growth and will be used to consolidate the ferry system's warehouse, headquarters building, working berth and other building spaces," said DOT&PF Commissioner Leo von Scheben.

According to Jim Beedle, DOT&PF's deputy commissioner of marine operations, proximity to the Ketchikan-based Alaska Ship and Dry Dock will also be advantageous for the AMHS where most maintenance is performed for the system's fleet.

DOT&PF paid $2.64 million to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough for the property including the former Gateway Forest Products veneer warehouse, and 9.5 acres of uplands near the warehouse and 20.5 acres of adjacent tidelands.

In addition to its plan to consolidate its main warehouses at the Ward Cove location, Beedle said the AMHS will soon begin the process of choosing a location on the property where it will begin designing a new headquarters building. - More....
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

Alaska Science: Polar bears of the past survived warmth By NED ROZELL - An ancient jawbone has led scientists to believe that polar bears survived a period thousands of years ago that was warmer than today.

Sandra Talbot of the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage was one of 14 scientists who teamed to write a paper based on a polar bear jawbone found amid rocks on a frigid island of the Svalbard Archipelago. The scientists determined the bear was an adult male that lived and died somewhere between 130,000 to 110,000 years ago, and that bear was similar to polar bears today. Charlotte Lindqvist of the University at Buffalo in New York was the lead author on the paper, published in the March 2010 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

An Icelandic researcher in 2004 found a fossilized lower jawbone, in excellent condition and complete with a canine tooth, on a narrow spit of land on the far west edge of Norway's Svalbard Archipelago. It was a stunning find because there aren't many fossils of polar bears around. The largest bears in the world spend most of their lives on sea ice, so they often die there, and their remains either sink or get scavenged by something else.

With bone and tooth in hand, scientists got to work with the latest techniques for finding the age of formerly living creatures and determining their genetic backgrounds. The latter is the specialty of Sandra Talbot. She is a research wildlife geneticist who earned her doctorate degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks by helping determine that the mitochondrial DNA of brown bears on Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof islands of Southeast Alaska is more closely related to that of polar bears than to the DNA of other brown bears.

Talbot says the evidence of a polar bear from 130,000 years ago shows that the creatures somehow survived conditions warmer than they face today. - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

Alaska: 32-year-old Coast Guard icebreaker breaks down, will not support 2010 Arctic mission - The U.S. Coast Guard announced Friday unexpected engine casualties aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea, one of the service's two large polar icebreakers, will eliminate their fall patrol providing Arctic support to Alaska this year.

32-year-old Coast Guard icebreaker breaks down, will not support 2010 Arctic mission -

Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea
U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The Polar Sea was scheduled to support operations in the Arctic as well as Arctic Crossroads 2010 operations in August but will likely be in a maintenance status and unavailable for operations until at least January 2011.

"It is disappointing the Polar Sea will be unable to support Coast Guard Arctic tasking this summer," said Rear Adm. Christopher Colvin, commander of the 17th Coast Guard District. "Arctic Crossroads is an important Coast Guard operation demonstrating presence and enforcement of sovereign rights in the U.S. Arctic maritime. Additionally Polar Sea was to provide critical search and rescue standby during a period of increased human activity in the U.S. Coast Guard's search and rescue coordination area of the Arctic Ocean."

Polar Sea was also preparing to conduct oil spill recovery exercises and extending community outreach activities to rural Alaskans Natives in the high latitudes.

The Polar Sea last patrolled Alaskan waters in February during a two-month deployment in support of Bering Sea Ecosystem Study. The BEST spring scientific cruise is part of a six-year study of the Bering Sea ecosystem supported by the National Science Foundation and the North Pacific Research Board centrally focused on examining the impacts of changing ice conditions on food web structure.

The Coast Guard's other large polar icebreaker, the Polar Star is in the process of being reactivated for service, but will not be ready until 2013. The Coast Guard Cutter Healy, with lesser icebreaking capabilities than the polars, remains operational and is currently conducting global warming research for NASA in the arctic.

The Coast Guard said a recent inspection of the Polar Sea's main diesel engines revealed premature excessive wear in 33 cylinder assemblies. The Coast Guard said an analysis into the cause of the excessive wear is underway and will be completed by mid-August. Depending on those results, the Coast Guard said additional repairs may be required, which could further extend the repair period beyond next January.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, was informed Friday that the U.S. Coast Guard Icebreaker POLAR SEA, the nation's only functioning heavy icebreaker, will be unavailable for service until at least January 2011 due to engine problems. She said in a prepared statement, "On a national level, this eliminates the nation's only heavy icebreaking capability and seriously imperils our ability to respond to emergencies in ice-covered and ice-diminished waters. This could clearly impact our ability to preserve and protect U.S. interests in the Arctic." - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010


Personal Finance: New law aims to protect you from overdraft fees By MOLLY YOUNG - A new law meant to keep a $3 cup of coffee from becoming a $40 headache took effect Thursday. Now banks must get a new customer's permission to cover debit charges that would put their account in the red -- and bring on a hefty fee.

While many have labeled the nationwide change a victory for consumers, some experts caution that the new rules could lead to new fees as banks scramble to come up with programs to make up for lost income.

Banks can no longer automatically enroll customers into so-called overdraft protection services that pay their debit card transaction even when they don't have the funds to cover them. The change will take effect Aug. 15 for existing customers. - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

Personal Finance: Losing a spouse can leave many women financially vulnerable By TIM GRANT - Losing a spouse brings with it a host of issues, not the least of which is how the surviving spouse will support himself or herself financially. Elderly widows, in particular, have a higher likelihood of facing poverty as they struggle with grief.

"A lot of times the surviving spouses, especially widows, are surprised at how much debt they have," said Rick Staszak, an adviser with Financial Network Investment Corp., an ING company in Green Tree, Pa. "Once their spouse dies, they are not only forced to manage everyday finances and figure out their investments, but also have to take on massive amounts of debt that was accumulated over the years." - More...
Wednesday - JUne 30, 2010

Columns - Commentary

DAVE KIFFER: I Oughta Be In Pictures - Well, actually, I am. Dozens of times a day.

You see, I work Downtown and as I go about my daily routine my picture is snapped over and over and over again.

It's pretty impossible not to take a starring role in someone else's travel photos if you spend any time in Downtown Ketchikan in the summer.

Look, there's me walking in front of the Chief Johnson totem pole.

Look, there's me walking under the Welcome Arch.

Look, there's me standing next to a Crossing Guard.

Later - in a thousand living rooms across the country - I am memorialized.

"Who's that guy in the picture?"

"Oh, just some Alaskan guy."

"Do they all look like such dorks up there?" - More....
Wednesday - June 30, 2010


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

letterLibrary Location By Suzan Thompson - An inaccessible rock pit? Would that be the one with the broad paved two-lane road sweeping past it? As opposed to an inaccessible cliff top requiring construction of an extremely expensive elevator, the realigning of two steep, narrow streets, and the elimination of the parking which local jurors depend on to keep from being loaded with overtime parking tickets as they do their civic duty down at the bottom of the hill? And that so that we can provide tourists with access to our library? - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

letterPlace it here, or place it there! By Joseph T. Craig - Everyone has their idea of where the new library, fire station, museum , or other buildings should be placed. I would like to inject my thoughts as well. - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

letterBorough loans By Angelo L. Martin - No , No , No. Have you not learned from past history? I was a Borough Assembly member when the mill closed and when we got the 25 million dollars as the economic disaster fund. I voted to give loans to the bowel factory, Veneer plant, etc. Only one word describes it -- DISASTER!! - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

letterThank You By Ben Hastings - I am the father of a handicapped young lady that every one in Ketchikan knows - Lizzy. We just came from the dedication of Opportunity House on Caralina and I was totally impressed. - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

letterNo Friend of the Taxpayers By Sam Bergeron - The City Council is no friend of Ketchikan's taxpayers. - More...
Monday PM - jUne 28, 2010

letterBill Walker for Governor By Andy Rauwolf - Bill Walker is the only candidate with a plan and the know how to bring low cost energy to every corner of the state. This is the crucial element that will allow our businesses to grow and develop. With a thriving economy and continued revenues from an in-state gas pipeline flowing into the state coffers Alaska will be a model for the rest of the nation, and our children will finally have a future right here instead of being forced to seek jobs elsewhere. - More...
Monday PM - June 28, 2010

letterS. 881: Sealaska Bill By Bob Claus - Last week, the U.S. Senate Energy Committee passed 26 bills out of the committee. Senate Bill 881, the Sealaska Bill, was not in this big group of lands bills. - More...
Monday PM - JUne 28, 2010

letterOil Spill Compensation Act of 2010 By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - We're entering the third month of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 22nd year since the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef. In the Gulf of Mexico, as much as 3 million barrels of crude have already spilled from the blown-out well, and in Prince William Sound there is still oil hiding under rocky beaches. - More...
Thursday - June 24, 2010

letterKetchikan Gateway Borough economic loan proposal. By A.M.Johnson - After reading the economic loan proposal on an Economical Development Loan program on the borough website, I am convinced that the concept of the borough staff and Assembly being in a decision position to loan money is not a healthy concept. - More...
Thursday - JUne 24, 2010

letterThe Case for Burying S 881 By Alan Stein - Two of America's most open and transparent Senators are on a campaign to keep legislation they wrote and cosponsered behind closed doors. - More...
Thursday - June 24, 2010

letterBill Walker has the plan By Ann Graham Radford - We recently attended the funeral of Governor Wally Hickel. It was a wonderful tribute to a great Alaskan. Wally loved Ketchikan and we returned the affection - we were the only District in Alaska where Wally won every election he ever entered, even the write-in! - More...
Thursday - June 24, 2010

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

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