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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 22, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By ADAM BREMER

Whale Breaching
The precise motives behind humpback whale breaching behavior are uncertain, according to the Whale Trust organization. However, a variety of different theories on the action do exist. One such theory is the transmission of messages.
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Ketchikan: New Chief Admin Officer of Ketchikan Medical Center Announced - Edward Freysinger will be the next Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center beginning August 7th.

New Chief Admin Officer of Ketchikan Medical Center Announced

Edward Freysinger, the next Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) at PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center
Photo courtesy PeaceHealth

Freysinger has almost 30 years of executive healthcare experience in both human resources and administration management. Most recently, he served as chief executive officer at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital in Hood River, Oregon, which, like KMC, is a full-service 25-bed critical access hospital. 

Freysinger's nine years with Providence gave him an appreciation for faith-based healthcare systems. He looks forward to continuing to lead an organization with a strong mission focus. PeaceHealth, a Catholic Healthcare Ministry, was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace in 1890. 

He began his healthcare career in Michigan with McPherson Hospital in Howell and Oakwood Healthcare System in Dearborn, and then with Exempla Healthcare in Denver, Colorado, before transitioning to Providence. 

Freysinger holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Eastern Michigan University, and a master's degree in health services administration (MHSA) from the University of Michigan. He has been involved in several healthcare-related associations over his career as well as civic and social service organizations. In 2015, he received a Citizenship Award for Hood River by the Helping Hands Domestic Abuse Shelter. - More...
Thursday AM - June 22, 2017

Alaska: Alaska’s credit ratings placed on negative CreditWatch - Governor Bill Walker reacted to Standard & Poor’s (S&P) announcement Monday that Alaska’s credit ratings are being placed on a CreditWatch with negative implications.

S&P’s announcement comes days after Governor Walker called the 30th Legislature into its second special session to focus initially on passing an operating budget so that government services can continue past July 1 of this year.

The Standard & Poor’s (S&P) report cites the lack of a budget for fiscal year 2018, continued reliance on savings to pay for government services, and a lack of new revenues as reasons for the negative outlook. The move means Alaska’s AA+ general obligation (GO) bond rating is in danger of being lowered yet again if a complete fiscal plan is not adopted this year.

The CreditWatch action reflects S&P's view that Alaska could remain structurally imbalanced for fiscal 2018 based on the impasse for budget negotiations regarding adopting fiscal reforms. As noted in prior S&P reports, without structural fiscal reform in the 2017 legislative session, S&P would likely lower the state debt ratings.

Over the next 90 days, the S&P expects Alaska will enact a fiscal 2018 budget. If Alaska uses a significant amount of its reserves again and remains structurally imbalanced, S&P would likely lower the rating. However, if Alaska should adopt a balanced budget with fiscal reforms that does not significantly rely on reserves, S&P may remove the state's ratings from CreditWatch without downward rating action. - More...
Thursday AM - June 22, 2017

Alaska: Health Insurance to be Provided for Dependents of Fallen Peace Officers and Firefighters -  Governor Bill Walker signed legislation Wednesday to ease the financial burden of families and dependents of peace officers and firefighters who make the ultimate sacrifice. House Bill 23 is the culmination of years of effort by advocates, loved ones, and community members - and provides continued health insurance coverage for the surviving dependents of those killed in the line of duty.

Insurance to be Provided for Dependents of Fallen Peace Officers and Firefighters

Governor Walker signed the bill Wednesday at the Trooper Gabriel Rich and Trooper Scott Johnson Memorial Park in Fairbanks.
Photo courtesy Office of the Governor

The need for this legislation was first brought to policymakers’ attention in 2013 and 2014 with the deaths of three state troopers and a police sergeant whose surviving family members highlighted their need for continuing health insurance coverage.

“Peace officers and firefighters put themselves on the line every day, and our state and communities grieve when their lives are lost in that service,” Governor Walker said. “The state has a moral responsibility to take care of the spouses and children of public safety officers who died while protecting us. I’m grateful to the legislature for passing this bill, and for the immeasurable efforts of survivors Nikki Toll, Angie Rich, Brandy Johnson, Natasha Brandt, and countless others who advocated for and supported this bill.”

HB 23 continues insurance coverage for families of those who die in the line of duty while serving Alaskans through the creation of a special fund financed through legislative appropriations, contributions from municipalities, and donations.

The dependent survivors of state peace officers, law enforcement, correctional officers, parole and probation officers, and firefighters would be eligible for continued coverage; the legislation allows municipalities to opt-in to the fund. The bill is designed to ensure that the families and loved ones of those killed in the line of duty will have health insurance coverage for at least 10 years, or until they are eligible for such coverage through other means. - More...
Thursday AM - June 22, 2017


Study: Halibut charters adapt to economics and regulations By LAUREN FRISCH - Increasing fuel prices and new regulations have caused halibut charter fishermen to change fishing locations, according to a new study by University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers.

Study: Halibut charters adapt to economics and regulations

This halibut sculpture decorates the Homer Spit.
Photo by Anne Beaudreau

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, highlights the importance of understanding how economics and regulations may affect fishing locations or species preferences in recreational fisheries.

College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences doctoral student Maggie Chan and professor Anne Beaudreau studied how charter fishing locations outside of Homer and Sitka have changed since the 1990s. The analysis is one piece of a larger effort to understand how external factors influence fishing behavior and opportunities.

The researchers interviewed charter fishermen in Homer and Sitka to learn about where they fish, what they fish and how this has changed over time. Fishermen were given a map for every decade in which they had fished and were asked to identify general areas they used. Individual maps were combined to visualize changes across decades.

“Our main goal was to identify any big shifts in where fishermen were going,” Chan said.

The researchers found an individual’s motivations for changing locations were often intertwined with fishing regulations and socioeconomic variables that were outside of a fisherman’s control.

Since the early 1990s, charter fishermen in Homer have consistently traveled about 10 times farther to their fishing spots than Sitka fishermen. This was in part because traveling farther allowed the fishermen to also target salmon, rockfish and lingcod. When fuel prices increased in the early 2000s, though, some charter fishermen started fishing closer to home.

In contrast, Sitka fishermen changed locations primarily because of a new regulation. In 1999, a Local Area Management Plan eliminated charter and commercial fishing in Sitka Sound during summer months. This new regulation forced charter fishermen to travel 25 miles or more to catch halibut, even though population numbers in the sound were high. - More...
Thursday AM - June 22, 2017

Bear situations at Helm Creek and Helm Bay cabins

Photo courtesy USFS

Bear situations at Helm Creek and Helm Bay cabins - The Ketchikan-Misty Fiords Ranger District of the Tongass National Forest, in coordination with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is extending the closure for Helm Bay Cabin until July 6, 2017, and opening the Helm Creek cabin for reservations, effective immediately. Both cabins were previously closed due to damage sustained by aggressive bears in the area. Initially, it was thought that one bear was damaging both the Helm Bay and Helm Creek Cabins, however, a site assessment showed that two bears had been involved, one at each cabin.

The Helm Creek Cabin, located on the east shore of Helm Bay near the mouth of Helm Creek, sustained significant damage to doors, windows and the outhouse. Last week, the aggressive bear was taken under a state-issued permit and repairs have been made.

The Helm Bay Cabin, located on the west shore of Helm Bay behind Forss Island, also sustained significant damage to doors, windows and the outhouse. Adverse weather conditions and difficulty in finding the bear have made resolution of the situation difficult, necessitating an additional 14-day extension of the current closure. - More...
Thursday AM - June 22, 2017

Personal Finance: Millennials: Plan For Retirement Now Or Pay The Price Later - Millennials are a stressed out generation. 

A study by the American Psychological Association reported that the group of Americans in their early 20s to late 30s came in at a 5.4 stress level on a scale of 1-10, higher than the American average of 4.9.

Among the things keeping them up at night are predictions of being the first generation that will be less well off than their parents – and that includes retirements that potentially will be less secure. No longer do millennials have the pensions to look forward to in retirement like their parents and grandparents before them, and no longer do they have the confidence that Social Security will help at least supplement some of their retirement income. 

“Every generation has had its own set of trials and adversaries to conquer,” says David Rosell, financial professional and author of Keep Climbing: A Millennial’s Guide to Financial Planning. “However, today’s generation of young adults faces a uniquely challenging environment. And saving money for retirement is a luxury that many just can’t afford.” - More...
Thursday AM - June 22, 2017




PETER ROFF: The Jones Act Keeps America Secure - For some time now the Jones Act, a federal law requiring all cargo moved by water between two point in the United States be transported on ships built, owned, and crewed by Americans, has been on the list of items targeted for elimination by reformers looking to save money for the taxpayers.

The argument opponents make, recently echoed in a study conducted by Thomas Grennes for the Mercatus Center, is the act raises the costs of any goods transported domestically by ship. In making the case against economic protectionism he and other neglect the significant national security implications inherent in the matter.

No one would call Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao anything other than a conservative with a strong preference for free market solutions to public policy questions. Yet she recognizes the value of the Jones Act, which earlier this year she called "a very important program that secures national security"

"This is an area that I'm very familiar with," she said. "The national security of the Merchant Marine fleet of this country is part of the way that we are able to be effective overseas and protect this country. So I am a great proponent of the U.S. flag Merchant Marine fleet," something the Jones Act makes possible. - More...
Thursday AM - June 22, 2017


JOE GUZZARDI: Outside the Beltway, No One Cares about Russia - With the media devoting nonstop attention to alleged Russian hacking into the presidential election, President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, and former FBI director James Comey's testimony, zero attention has been given to developments in the White House that could help American workers.

Russia, climate change and FBI rumors consume Capitol Hill insiders; outside the Beltway, people want President Trump to make good on his "Buy American, Hire American" executive order. Across the nation, the order of the day is jobs, not D.C. gossip and fake news.

Among the most frustrating employment roadblocks are the multiple nonimmigrant visas, most notably the H-1B that either keeps Americans from getting jobs or results in their displacement from jobs they already hold. Over the last two years, several headline cases brought H-1B visa abuse into the spotlight. Disney's firing of about 250 Americans, and its replacement of them with foreign-born visa holders, stands out as the most egregious case, and was the focus of a 60 Minutes segment titled "You're Fired."

Often, H-1B applications are fraud-ridden which adds another level of despair for suddenly unemployed Americans. But, in a positive development, Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley wrote to the Department of Homeland Security to ask what measures, if any, it proposed to take to eliminate H-1B employer misuse. - More...
Thursday AM - June 22, 2017  

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Hate

Editorial Cartoon: Hate
By Rick McKee ©2017, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter RE: Wildlife Recovery Following the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill By Paul D. Boehm - Just to make sure that your readers have accurate and balanced scientific information you should note that the USGS’s fine work on recovery of sea otters (summarized in Deep Sea Research) largely overstates the effect of the oil spill in delaying recovery of sea otters. - More...
Monday PM - June 19, 2017

letter Why There's Gridlock By Sen. Berta Gardner - I'm not surprised that at day 154 of the 2017 legislature, my inbox is stuffed with messages from Alaskans asking what is going on, asking for a budget, asking for a fiscal plan, decrying or begging for income taxes, opposing cuts to education, etc. Here is the essence of my response to folks. - More...
Monday PM - June 19, 2017

letter Sealaska Board of Directors By Dominic Salvato - The news coming out of Juneau is Sealaska shareholders want to reduce the size of the board of directors. Passing Sealaska resolutions are impossible under current ANCSA election rules. - More...
Monday PM - June 19, 2017

letter The Race to Alaska By Michael Spence - Kudos to the Northwest Maritime Center for running its third successful Race to Alaska. Ketchikan has a long and rich maritime heritage and makes an ideal venue for the sport of sailing and the promotion of maritime trades. - More...
Monday PM - June 19, 2017

letter Use for Taku By A. M. Johnson - As a suggestion regarding the Alaska Ferry Taku currently for sale without any apparent takers at what is soon to be a ridiculous reduced price. Would it not be better than paying a huge mooring sum while making the sales attempt, to move the Taku to Juneau and provide housing and meals for the legislature. Rather than paying out $250 dollars a day per legislator, provide room and board. - More...
Tuesday PM - June 13, 2017

letter State Spending By Nancy Amend - Cut government spending first! Once a tax is implemented it will only increase with mis/overspending not being resolved. Alaska's government has 95% of the PFD, why are they taking any of the people's 5%? - More...
Tuesday PM - June 13, 2017

letter Child marriage is a human rights abuse By John Suter - I saw on One American News that the state of Alaska allows girls at the young age of only 14 to be able to get married.  This is outrageous.  Sec.25.05.171 needs to be corrected so that the state does not have child marriages.  It needs to be corrected to the age of 18.  If a girl is too young to vote, then that girl is too young to marry. - More...
Tuesday PM - June 13, 2017

letter Alaska's fiscal situation By Rodney Dial - Visualize the State of Alaska as a large lifeboat. On that boat half the seats are in the middle and half are on the outside edges. Those sitting on the edges, the workers, are paddling while those in the middle are enjoying the free ride and first class services. This continues for some time until the boat hits a fiscal iceberg and begins to sink. - More...
Friday PM - June 09, 2017

letter Looming Government Shutdown By Senator Berta Gardner - For years, Republicans in the legislature have stonewalled all efforts to create a stable, durable fiscal plan.  This must stop.  We cannot accept a plan simply because it averts a government shut down this year, while all but guaranteeing one next year. The can has been kicked far enough and it’s time for a long-term solution. - More...
Thursday AM - June 08, 2017

letter Finding fiscal waste By A. M. Johnson - In a citizen's effort to assist in finding areas of the state budget woes, the following site and information was passed to Representative Ortiz [Dan]. Knowing Dan's desire to fine solutions along with refining departmental cost it is felt that Dan will confirm the numbers this report exposes and take the appropriate actions to eliminate the obvious always hidden from the public, cost to taxpayers that needn't be. - More...
Thursday AM - June 08, 2017

letter Understanding the Legislative Standoff: The House Plan Versus the Senate Plan By Ghert Abbott - The best way to understand the reasons behind the current legislative standoff is to examine the House Majority’s fiscal plan and the Senate Majority’s fiscal plan side by side, in order to determine their respective goals and values. - More...
Monday PM - June 05, 2017

letter State Shutdown By Lance Clark - So now Governor Walker and the Alaska House Majority Coalition are saying if we can't have an income tax, i.e. our money, they'll shut down the state. All I can say is I hope they never get elected for anything anywhere ever again. - More...
Friday PM - June 02, 2017

letter The Solution is in the Non-Partisan Middle By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As of June 1st, the Alaska State Legislature is in the middle of the “special session” called by Governor Bill Walker. The Governor called us into special session because we reached the end of the 121st day of regular legislative session without fulfilling our one required legislative duty – to pass a state operating and capital budget out of both the House and the Senate for the Governor’s signature. The two bodies are currently at odds and at nearly a standstill over the issue of establishing a fiscal plan. So far, there has been no compromise to find the middle ground. - More...
Friday PM - June 02, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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