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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 06, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

Hummingbird Chicks
The photographer was invited to see a tiny hummingbird nest with chicks visible near a home's window. There were two beautiful baby hummingbirds in the nest. The chicks were not disturbed when photographed from a safe distance using a high focus lens.
Front Page Feature Photo By

Ketchikan: Contract for Vallenar Bay Timber Access Road awarded - The Alaska Division of Forestry announced the award of a $3.5-million construction contract for the Vallenar Bay Access Road to Rock-N-Road Construction of Petersburg. The project provides access to 2,500 acres of the Southeast State Forest from the existing road system on Gravina Island.

The contract is for construction of a forest road from the Lewis Reef area to the existing logging road on the southeast side of Vallenar Bay and establishes access across Vallenar Creek to State land on the west side of Gravina. The project was financed through the 2013 capital budget as part of the Legislature and Governor’s work to enable access to State resources. The project is projected over time to also benefit the community of Ketchikan due to its proximity to Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Mental Health Trust, University of Alaska and private land.

The 8.5-mile road will take approximately one year to construct. Site work is scheduled to start the first part of August 2016. The single lane road will be maintained per the Forest Land Use Plan. - More...
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Do We Have To Go Broke Before We Fix Alaska? Gov. Walker Asks the Legislature By MARY KAUFFMAN - During a press conference last Wednesday, Governor Bill Walker (I) accused Alaska Legislators of not accepting their responsibilities in addressing the difficult fiscal challenges facing Alaska.

Do We Have To Go Broke Before We Fix Alaska? Gov. Walker Asks the Legislature

Governor Walker askes the Legislators,
“Do we have to go broke before we fix Alaska?”
Photo from press conference video.

The Governor said he hears a lot of discussions about these difficult fiscal decisions, and yes they may be difficult but they are fiscally responsible. “That’s why we are elected, to come and make these difficult decisions,” Walker said.

”I’ve hear lots of discussions about ‘let’s get through this next election’” Walker said. It is time for legislators to stop taking about the next election and re-election and do what’s best for Alaska right now said the Governor. “Alaskans will embrace that kind of leadership,” said Walker. What ever it takes to get the job done is what has made Alaska a great state, difficult decisions have been made before and we need to do it again said Walker.

To those Legislators who say “Le’s start over fresh next year” - Walker said legislators said that last year and “here we are this year and here we will be next year”.

Governor Walker askes the Legislators, “Do we have to go broke before we fix Alaska?”

Last Tuesday, the Alaska State Legislature passed HB 256, the Alaska statewide operating budget; HB 257, the mental health operating budget; and SB 138, the capital budget. After a conference committee appointed to address discrepancies in the House and Senate versions of the operating budget bills closed negotiations late Tuesday night, the bodies passed a fully funded budget Tuesday afternoon, achieving $418 million in budget reductions for FY 2017. In addition to the $777 million in reductions achieved in last year’s operating budget, the 29th Alaska State Legislature announced they reduced the budget by $1.2 billion over two years.

Pink-slip notices will not go out as a result of what took place Tuesday. Walker said this is a good thing but a long way from being over and a single step in a journey that began over a year ago to put Alaska on a sustainable budget going forward. It’s a little unusual doing it the way said the Governor but it’s been done — doing the budget first, then addressing how you are going to fund the budget but that’s the way the Legislature chose to do so we will accommodate accordingly.

As of last Wednesday, there were 21 more working days for this special session and the Governor said he will continue advocating for his sustainable budget plan for Alaska.

The Governor said, “We can’t continue with business as usual. Last year, we did the exact same thing, reached into the savings account and pull out about $4 billion and we did the same this year of about $3 - 3.5 billion. That is not the answer.”

Addressing comments that the Governor and his administration have not engaged enough with Alaskans nor engaged enough with the Legislature the Governor said he was "offended" by these comments because he has watched his team travel the state, thousands of miles to sit down with community after community, with Legislative group after group to present the plan. If someone doesn’t understand the plan at this point or a legislator feels we haven’t done enough, the Governor said they have not paid enough attention. Walker’s Administration fiscal plan engagement noted 400+ meetings with Legislators, 120+ Legislative Hearings, and 65+ Town Hall meetings with Alaskans. - More...
Monday PM - June 06, 2016

Alaska: New Version of HB 247 Will Cost Alaska Hundreds of Millions of Dollars - Today, the Conference Committee created to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of House Bill 247 advanced a new version that the Alaska Independent Democratic Coalition said just continues unsustainable subsidies to the oil and gas industry that will cost Alaska hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The only member of the Minority on the Conference Committee is Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage). She objected to the new version of HB 247 and voted no on advancing the bill out of the committee.

“The people of Alaska will consider this Special Session a failure if we don’t address this unsustainable credit system for the North Slope, which is one of the most expensive components of the system of subsidizing the oil industry in Alaska. The Conference Committee version of the bill does not do that, so I was a no vote. I want a strong and vibrant oil and gas industry in Alaska, but paying out more in tax credits than we receive in production taxes is just a bad business deal for the people we are elected to represent,” said Rep. Tarr. “Additionally, the public was left out of the process because the meeting was noticed late Sunday for an 8:00 a.m. Monday meeting.”

HB 247 was originally put forward by Alaska Governor Bill Walker and his version of the bill would have offset Alaska’s fiscal gap by approximately $500 million. The bill was dramatically changed through the Republican-controlled committee process in the House and Senate to strip away nearly all savings and continue the unsustainable oil industry subsidies. Eventually, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate came together to pass a version of HB 247 that would protect Alaska from being overwhelmed by these tax credits, incentives, and subsidies for the oil industry. However, the Senate Majority promptly gutted that version of the bill in favor of continuing the unsustainable oil tax credit system. The Republican-controlled HB 247 Conference Committee waited until day 15 of the Special Session to meet and in the span of one meeting that lasted just over an hour, they forwarded a new version of HB 247 largely similar to the Senate version of the bill. - More...
Monday PM - June 06, 2016

Alaska: HB 374 stabilizes health insurance rates - Members of the 29th Alaska Legislature were thanked by Governor Bill Walker for their near-unanimous support Saturday of HB 374, which the governor introduced to ensure Alaskans do not have to pay more in health insurance premiums.

“Over the past two years, my team and I have received hundreds of calls and emails from Alaskans who say health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This legislation will provide relief from substantial premium increases for 23,000 Alaskans who are insured through the private marketplace as we continue work to bring more insurers into Alaska.”

In the past two years, insurance premiums in the individual market have increased almost 80 percent—the equivalent of an additional mortgage for many families. Three health care insurers have left Alaska since 2015. The remaining insurer told the state it cannot commit to continuing in the market, due to the high cost of providing care for a small population with rare and costly medical conditions. Without relief, the insurer would have had to pass on the cost to 23,000 Alaskans - or would have had to pull out of the state altogether, leaving those Alaskans without healthcare insurance options. - More...
Monday PM - June 06, 2016


'Mighty Ships' program takes notice of Kodiak fishing vessel By LAINE WELCH - Alaskan fishermen have raised the bar for big fishing boats with the F/V Northern Leader of Kodiak, and Discovery Canada producers of the popular “Mighty Ships” programs have taken notice.

'Mighty Ships' program takes notice of Kodiak fishing vessel

The Northern Leader was launched at high tide on January 26, 2013 and commissioned sea worthy in Seattle’s Puget Sound during the spring.
Photo courtesy J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding in Tacoma, WA

Mighty Ships producers search for unique ships around the world and its seven year run has featured a wide range of vessels including cruise ships, aircraft carriers, cargo ships, dredgers and more. The programs focus heavily on operational capabilities and technical aspects of the ships and also make use of computer-generated animation to show underwater operations.

What attracted them to the 184-foot freezer/longliner Northern Leader is its joystick controlled, eco-friendly propulsion system that runs on electricity, the first U.S. fishing vessel to do so, and its head to tail use of the fish.

“That’s the sweet spot--fully using the fish,” said Keith Singleton, vice president of marketing for Alaskan Leader Seafoods, a company started by Kodiak fishermen in 1991, and which now owns four fishing vessels in partnership with the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation.

The three-year old Northern Leader fishes primarily for cod in the Bering Sea. As it was being designed, Singleton said the group traveled several times to Iceland to select processing equipment that would fully utilize each fish. - More...
Monday PM - June 06, 2016

Alaska: Missing Alaska Army National Guardsman recovered By Sgt. Marisa Lindsay - The remains of Specialist Nephi Soper, an Alaska Army National Guard Soldier assigned to C Company, 1st Reconnaissance and Surveillance Squadron, 297th Cavalry Regiment, as a drill status (part-time) Guardsman, were recovered approximately 9 miles due south of the National Guard armory by search teams Sunday afternoon.

Soper was last seen on Feb. 18, 2016, when he was dropped off by a taxi at the Prospect Heights Trailhead in Anchorage. He was equipped with a large backpack and was prepared to hike through the Campbell Creek and Ship Creek Valleys.

Soper was found on Tanaina Lake, east of Tikishla Peak, in the headwaters of Snowhawk Valley. This was not his intended route. He was identified by a combination of physical recognition and clothing, as well as his military identification tags.

Search efforts most recently took place Saturday and Sunday morning, when Soper was found at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. The lead for the search effort was the Alaska Incident Management Team for Search and Rescue (AIMT-SAR) on behalf of the Alaska State Troopers, who worked in tandem with 10 agencies, to include the Alaska Army National Guard. Among the search crews were Guardsmen of the 1-297th Cavalry, with aviation support provided by 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment. - More...
Monday PM - June 06, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Jeff Lund

JEFF LUND: Post fishing rant - I just lost my fourth straight steelhead. Fourth! Not in the same day, but still! So I need to get my mind off the torture of spit flies and broken leader...

The first distraction came in a text from a former teaching colleague in California about stereotypes vs. racism.

I’m an optimistic dude, but I also realize that some things will forever be.

People will always be intolerant, racist, sexist, elitist, etc.

Even if they aren’t, a little semantic gymnastics can fix that. It’s an unfortunate by-product of the freedom those we honored on Memorial Day provided us.

Freedom from tyrannical rule has been perverted into a freedom from responsibility, freedom from accountability and freedom to be a donkey, particularly with the First Amendment.

But what can we do about it? Is the burden of responsibility on me to not say offensive things in the interest of civility? Or on me to not be offended by someone exercising his or her free speech? Civil is a pretty subjective word, one we have the freedom to define on our own.

The First Amendment allows us to argue which candidate would ruin our country less, or slower. It allows us to get angry and say things and offend other people because their world-view is different. When our truth doesn’t match with someone else’s, we make it. Restrict the parameters of experimentation and we can guide our conclusions. It allows us to call others narrow-minded while not being bothered by a legitimate attempt to understand and respond.

It allows comedians to make us laugh at the observations that became stereotypes.

Maybe we shouldn’t laugh sometimes, but we have the opportunity to, the freedom. Some might argue that being able to laugh at our differences is a more effective way to get along than to eradicate potential insensitivity in favor of sameness. - More...
Modnay PM - June 06, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Ryan's endorsement

Editorial Cartoon: Ryan's endorsement
By Adam Zyglis ©2016, The Buffalo News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Part 10: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - Before we go into detail about the northland rapture known as “the Beginning,” let’s take a moment to study the near-term financial consequences for folks living in the Ketchikan area. Duly note that much of the damage intended to be done has already been done, and it is impossible to reverse what has already transpired. The financial duress thereby created at the state level has already led the intransigent group sponsoring the “Coghill Abomination,” the true rulers (gangsters) of the State of Alaska, to avoid any debate or compromise on the subject by financing the state budget using $5.5 billion from the earnings reserve account of the Permanent Fund. That is most of the cash in the earnings reserve fund, and that leaves the Permanent Fund in aggregate with an estimated value of $46 billion. - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016

letter The Harbor Poo-patrol By Nancy Elizabeth York - It's only human nature to resort to nasty name calling of our politically appointed city officials when our personal lives are encroached on by those enforcing more rules and regulations on us. That said, I shall refrain from engaging in or joining in on the frey. However, I will donate my two cents worth regarding the proposed Poo-patrol. - More...
Monday PM - May 23, 2016

letter Why I Voted Against SB91 By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Wouldn’t Alaskans experience violence if a gunman shot into their home? SB 91, a crime reform bill that ignores victims’ rights, says shooting into a home is ‘non-violent.’ - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter Alaskans have no meaningful oil & gas rights By Daniel Donkel - I wish all Alaskans better understood the oil business, but it is clear Alaskans do not have any meaningful oil and gas rights like other oil and gas states in the nation do. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter Part 9: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - HB247, the much-heralded clawback of these insane oil tax credits, was passed out of the State House and referred to the State Senate where its fate is dubious at best. Hailed by our elected officials as the means by which a billion dollars will be saved between now and 2020, if passed it will save at best around $200 million, and is otherwise a gutted piece of junk. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter Political legacy By A. M. Johnson - A bit of political Presidential history reflected as the current President establishes his legacy. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter Addendum RE: Poo Journal Wanted! By Douglas J. Thompson - It was so obvious that in my addressing Marie Zellerman's letter I skipped it but in retrospect I think the issue should be highlighted. That is the "charge" by the harbormaster that her boat didn't qualify because it "did not have the original helm station as designed by the original architect" or words to that effect. I was told almost the same thing in that my engine had to be the original engine as designed by the original architect. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

letter RE: Poo Journal Wanted! By Douglas J. Thompson - In regard to Marie Zellmer's letter in Tuesday's Sitnews: Sad to say but it is very predictable what will happen on Thursday at the Council Meeting. No matter if she has nine or nine hundred people there. She will be given her sixty seconds to voice her concern and then be gavelled down. While she is speaking the Ayatollah Amylon (sitting on the elected dais although he is an employee and not elected) will be shuffling papers and whispering back and forth with his acolytes in total disrespect. Then the useless harbormaster (inflated to Port Directer) will stand up and mumble something about it is needed and necessary without any rational justification. The sycophantic seven agree and nothing is changed. - More...
Friday AM - May 20, 2016

By David G Hanger - For the first quarter of 2016 ConocoPhillips recently announced a loss of $1.5 billion on its worldwide operations. While it is somewhat reasonable to assume the remaining three quarters of 2016 will be better, estimates about oil prices throughout the remainder of this year still run from a low of $20 to a high of about $80. So it remains possible that overall ConocoPhillips will lose even more on its worldwide operations by the end of this year. - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

letter Poo Journal Wanted! By Marie Zellmer - Things have gone too far down at the docks. New Ketchikan City ordinances are about to be enacted and enforced, and no one knows about them or what they really mean to people who have chosen to live on the water. Don't get me wrong, many of the harbormasters I have worked next to, gone to school with, and built sets for plays with, and I have considered them friends, but when they go to work my home is there. The harbormasters have convinced the council to enact rules such as... anyone who stays on their vessel for 15 days is a live-aboard and must have a coast guard approves toilet installed with a storage tank, and keep daily logs as to how much it is being used and how often it is being pumped out at one of the only three pump stations on the island. This will also affect the fishing industry if the wording is followed. - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

letter Our taxes for Health and Fitness By Joe Ashcraft - After a really arduous work day, my daughter convinced me to take her to the Fawn Mountain track for a few laps. This has been an almost nightly affair over the past few summers. And as I travel Southeast and the rest of Alaska on business, when asked about Ketchikan my response has included the track, the pool and the rec center as additions that make Ketchikan a really livable town. - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

letter Drive Careful By Robert Jahnke - In the Ketchikan and outlaying areas we have now entered the green up phase of the year when the road side ditches and open areas are greening up drawing deer into areas dangerous to them and drivers alike. - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

letter RE: Incarceration Conditions By Bonnie J Abbott - You are absolutely, one hundred percent CORRECT! Thank You for caring and speaking out on this horrible disease. Maybe more citizens will step up and voice their opinion on every last word in your awesome letter!!!! - More...
Tuesday AM - May 17, 2016

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