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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 27, 2011

Front Page Photo By CARL THOMPSON

Inverted Tail-lob
While on its back, this orca raises its flukes above the water's surface and brings it down with force.
Front Page Photo By CARL THOMPSON


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Southeast Alaska:
Low Tide Reveals Rare Marine Reptile Fossile Find By Theresa Bakker - Sometimes finding a fossil is as easy as a walk on the beach. That’s what happened in May when a member of a geological team working in Southeast Alaska chanced upon a find during an extremely low tide.

Low Tide Reveals Rare Marine Reptile Fossile Find

An extreme low tide near Kake in Southeast Alaska in May revealed the tail of a thalattosaur fossil.
Photo by Patrick Druckenmiller

Something caught team member Eugene Primaky’s eye. “I instantly thought ‘fish’ and brushed it with my boot to make sure it wasn’t a branch.”

The fish turned out to be a fossil of a prehistoric marine reptile called a thalattosaur. It may be the most complete fossil of its kind found in North America.

Tongass National Forest geologist Jim Baichtal immediately sent photos to University of Alaska Museum of the North earth sciences curator Patrick Druckenmiller.

“Then we went through the process of eliminating what it could be,” Druckenmiller said. “We know the rocks are about 220 million years old. Based on the age of the rocks and what I could see in the picture, I was 99 percent sure that’s what it was.”

Thalattosaurs are rare, prehistoric marine reptiles. They range in length from between three and ten feet and have long, flattened tails and paddle-like limbs. Some have downturned snouts, like modern lizards. They evolved from land-dwellers and became extinct at the end of the Triassic Period.

Druckenmiller and his museum colleague, Kevin May, traveled to the site in mid-June to collect the specimen from an outcrop near Kake. The location lies in the intertidal zone, so the fossil would only be exposed during extreme low tides. That meant they needed to excavate during a two-day window and would only have four hours each day, when the tide was at its lowest, to retrieve the fossil. If they missed their chance, the outcrop wouldn’t be exposed again until October.

The team used rock saws to hack a series of steps down to the layer of rock surrounding the fossil. On the first day, they were able to complete the excavation just five minutes before the site was submerged. Druckenmiller spotted more bone penetrating the rock, so the team removed an even larger section on the second day, hoping it would contain the rest of the skeleton. - More...
Wednesday - July 27, 2011

Southeast Alaska: 36 Alaska post offices identified for "Post Office Study" - The United States Post Service is reviewing 36 Post Office locations in Alaska to determine if the areas continue to require a physical post office to conduct most of the communities' postal business.

After the release of Postmaster General Patrick Donohue's “post office study” of potential closings, Governor Sean Parnell said in a prepared statement, “Postal service is crucial to rural communities in Alaska." He said, "Many rely on the mail for the necessities of everyday life, from paying bills, to conducting business, to shopping, to staying in touch with friends and relatives."

Parnell said his administration is studying the proposal and will work with affected towns and villages to mitigate or avoid negative consequences. "It is my hope that the federal government will find cost savings while also demonstrating their understanding of the importance of mail service, particularly in our state’s rural communities,” said Parnell.

The 36 Alaska post offices identified for review are mostly in remote rural Alaska with two located in Southeast Alaska. View Alaska Post Office Reviews in a map.

In response to a United States Postal Service (USPS) announcement that nearly 3,700 post offices across the country will be reviewed for potential closure, Sen. Mark Begich weighed in Tuesday with the Postmaster General on his concerns with 36 Alaska post offices targeted for possible closure.

Begich told Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe that post offices in rural Alaska serve unique roles in their community, are often the only source of medicine and food and that replacing them with a computerized kiosk is simply unworkable. - More...
Wednesday - July 27, 2011

Alaska: Scientists identify hibernation-inducing signaling mechanism By Marie Gilbert - Hibernation is an essential survival strategy for some animals and scientists have long thought it could also hold promise for human survival. But how hibernation works is largely unknown. Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have successfully induced hibernation at will, showing how the process is initiated. Their research is published in the July 26 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

A hibernating animal has a reduced heart rate and blood flow similar to a person in cardiac arrest, yet the hibernator doesn’t suffer the brain damage that can occur in people.

“Understanding the neuroprotective qualities of hibernating animals may lead to development of a drug or therapy to save people’s lives after a stroke or heart attack,” said Kelly Drew, senior author and UAF professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the Institute of Arctic Biology.

Hibernating animals survive by severely reducing their metabolism, a condition called torpor, in which oxygen consumption can fall to as low as one percent of resting metabolic rate and core body temperature to near or below freezing temperatures. - More...
Wednesday - July 27, 2011

Columns - Commentary

Bob CiminelBOB CIMINEL: Burning Really Tiny Trees - I’ve never been into wood-burning stoves.  Being raised literally on top of the Pittsburgh Coal seam, everyone I knew in my early childhood had coal furnaces and burned coal in their fireplaces.  My memories of wood smoke were Boy Scout campfires.  The scoutmasters always insisted we build our fires with wood or we would have had those fires burning coal quicker than you can say, “Always Be Prepared.”

Wood-burning stoves became popular during the energy crises of the 1970s.  A lot of my friends and neighbors pulled out their fireplace hearths, crammed in a compact wood-burning stove, and turned their thermostats down to 65 degrees.  Never mind that it was cold enough to hang meat in the rest of the house, that spot in front of the wood stove was toasty warm and smelled wonderful.  Splitting firewood wood was good exercise too – so they told me.

I missed the revolution when stove manufacturers began selling stoves with stokers that burned wood pellets.  When I was growing up, only the rich folks had stokers for their furnaces; the rest of us had to get up before dawn and start shoveling coal into the furnaces to get some heat in the house.  Lord knows the wrath that would fall on the person who let the fire die out overnight.  Some of us became better at stoking a furnace than the fireman on a steam locomotive.  And we learned how to bank the fire at night so it would quietly smolder and be ready to roar back into life in the morning.  Unfortunately, I lost those skills around the time Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog went to the top of the charts and life as I knew it was never the same again. - More...
Wednesday - July 27, 2011



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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696

letter Snagging in the derby By Eric Tyson - In reply to Mr. Skidmore. You are misinformed sir. Snagging is allowed in the derby. The official rules state "Entries must be caught according to Alaska Sport fishing regulations." Alaska sport fishing regulations allow snagging. I have also been informed that at least one fish on the derby ladder was snagged, and he also received another prize for that fish. - More...
Wednesday - July 27, 2011

letter Diabolical Deficit Ceiling issues By A. M. Johnson - The current time is 11:00 AM local 7/26/11. I have just attempted to connect to Senator Lisa Murkowski's, Senator Begich's, and Representative Don Young's offices to send the following letter regarding the pending negotiation on the Debt Ceiling issue. Access is denied at this time. To what this denial is chargeable I have no idea. Either is it a planned "System Failure" due to the nature of the issue, or the system has been over loaded by public submission such as my own. - More...
Wednesday - July 27, 2011

letter Large structures By Paul Jarvi - Thank your lucky stars Mr. Harris that the Alaska Ship and Dry Dock Company is doing business in our town. I am sorry for the obstruction of your view because of the new buliding. I am over joyed with the jobs that the new building is and will generate in Ketchikan. - More...
Monday - July 25, 2011

letter The Lord’s Table By Charlotte DeVere Hunt - On behalf of The Lord’s Table, I would like to publicly thank Don and Pam Thornlow of The Narrows Inn.   On July 3, The Narrows hosted a pig roast with all the trimmings.    All the proceeds were to benefit to The Lord’s Table. - More...
Monday - July 25, 2011

letter RE: King Salmon derby by Alan Skidmore - With all due respect Mr. McQueen... NOT!!! Read the derby rules, no snaggy waggy allowed, although it would be hard to tell but, for the most part people are honest. - More...
Monday - July 25, 2011

letter Green thinking or hydrocarbons By Ed Fry - As we know, Alaska is well advertised rich in resources.  The mass media is making it well known that renewable energy is a short term cure for our addiction to fossil fuels.  So begs the question that in order to re-tool our workforce in green technologies, introduction of new educational programming needs to be developed and implemented through a structured certification program; when will we see this programming at the university level? - More...
Monday - July 25, 2011

letter Block Iran on the Arabian Peninsula By Donald A. Moskowitz - The Iraqi Shiites have increased their attacks on American troops in Iraq.  June saw 14 U.S. soldiers killed, which is the highest death toll since 2008. - More...
Monday - July 25, 2011

letter Alaska needs to get out from under AGIA By Bill Walker - Last week Dan Fauske, Executive Director of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, released the long-awaited report on the in-state bullet line. The Legislature and Mr. Fauske's team are to be commended for their good start. Unfortunately, the analysis was limited by the constraints of the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA). - More...
Tuesday - July 19, 2011

letter Ketchikan By Greg Harris - When I look at Ketchikan sometimes it makes me wonder if the Planning and Zoning Committees are run by Laurel and Hardy. There is no other reasonable explanation for the way this town of Ketchikan is laid out. - More...
Tuesday - July 19, 2011

letter Recent major fire in Ketchikan By Ernie Mueller - In regards to the July 13 fire in Ketchikan, the American Red Cross provided assistance to the family of nine displaced by the fire. This assistance was provided through Katherine Wylie, a very busy disaster volunteer in Ketchikan. She made sure that the family had temporary lodging in a local hotel, and that they received financial assistance from the Red Cross for food, clothing, bedding and other needs. - More...
Tuesday - July 19, 2011

letter Ketchikan King Salmon Derby By Dan McQueen - I was just informed that one of the longest donating businesses to the King Salmon Derby may quit donating. I asked the owner I was talking to why they were that upset? His answer needs to be made public! - More...
Tuesday - July 19, 2011

letter Weatherization Assistance in Saxman, Ketchikan, Prince of Wales By Carrie James - Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority is accepting applications for the 2011 Weatherization Assistance Program Grant year. - More...
Tuesday - July 19, 2011

letter Ultra Run of one By Charles Edwardson - My name is Charles (Chas) Edwardson and I am representing only myself. No other groups, boards, corporations, assemblies, clubs, or committees are affiliated with this letter. - More...
Tuesday - July 19, 2011

letter RE: Thank you, Don Thornlow By Vanessa Nowland - I know where I'll be taking my business in the future. - More...
Tuesday - July 19, 2011

letter Thank you, Don Thornlow By T.J. Wilson - A recent severe house fire in Ketchikan displaced many individuals, mostly children. In an effort to assist these people, my daughter called the hotels in town for a room for one night since the fire completely destroyed their home and contents, and it happened in the afternoon. With the exception of Don Thornlow of The Narrows, every other hotel in town declined to donate a room for the night, and a couple of these owners, managers were rude about it. Don Thornlow did not have an empty room as they were fully booked, but he did say "If one was available it would yours." No one else did. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter Building a Barn at a Local Gravel Pit By Robert D. Warner - Recently a citizen wrote to SITNEWS that the design for the new library looks like a "barn."  Ketchikan cannot solve its public library problems by simply building a "barn" at a semi isolated local gravel pit and dump site.  That's the easy part.  It is more of a challenge to build quality collections and assemble a library staff that knows what they are doing.  This important challenge reminds me of the definition of a library inscribed on a coffee cup in my collection. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter Tongass Road Work By Laurie Sivertsen - Good grief, are we all immature?!? I'm talking about the cones for the road construction on Tongass Avenue, and the idiot(s) who find it fun to knock them over and run over them. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter Home Rule By Ed Fry - Having followed a disappointed taxpayer threads, the checks that are going out for consulting economic development, it points to the direction of "stalemate" in innovative thinking.  So it makes me think of "the five ape theory." - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter Another tour incident By Christina Bush - We have enough tour vehicles on the road during the tour season, it seems to me that the popular land and sea tour bus/boat is a bit much considering drivers have proved difficulty seeing around their own vehicle. I have personally witnessed this specific tour bus/boat make mulitple close calls with parked cars and pedestrians in cross walks.
I have decided to post this letter because of a recent incident where a bus/boat bumped or cliped a child riding a bike causing minor injury. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter"Home-Ruin" Government By A. M. Johnson - Regarding the move to Unify (cancel) consolidate (cancel) Home Rule the Ketchikan Gateway Borough: If you voted for Unification or Consolidation, then you will really want Home Rule. This is an end run to achieve the goal of Unification/ Consolidation. If you were opposed to Unification or Consolidation and voted against, you will not be happy with a Home Rule Borough. Even with the assurances that there no authority to propose a move towards the two offerings. Bet me!! - More...
Monday - July 11, 2011

letter Just Imagine By Tara Jollie - The nation’s June jobs report listed national unemployment at 9.2% with an estimate of 16.2% as the more realistic rate measure of American joblessness.  It went on to say the private sector created 18,000 new jobs in June; not nearly enough to claim a viable recovery from the recent recession.  I hate to be insensitive to the nation’s unemployed, but imagine a 9%, or even 16%, unemployment rate in rural Alaska.  We would be dancing in the streets. - More...
Monday - July 11, 2011

letter Ketchikan & Chloramine Disinfection By Susan K. Pickford - It is my understanding that Ketchikan will be converting to a chloramine disinfection system in the public drinking water.  I am the director of The Chloramine Information Center in Pennsylvania. I have been corresponding with Thomas and Kristine Bellanich, customers in your water district and submit this letter together with them.  I would ask that you consider this letter and the information attached to this email in educating your readers as to whether it is prudent to proceed with Chloramine in your water system.  I sent a similar letter to the mayor, council and water company manager prior to the July 7th meeting. - More...
Monday - July 11, 2011

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