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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 09, 2012

Front Page Photo By CARL THOMPSON

Ketchikan's 4th of July Fireworks
Front Page Photo By CARL THOMPSON
View a short video of some of the fireworks by Carl Thompson


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Alaska: Alaska settles security case for $1,700,000; OCR’s first enforcement action against a state agency By Mary Kauffman- The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the state Medicaid agency, has agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services almost two million dollars to settle possible violations of a security rule known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 Security Rule. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has also agreed to take corrective action to properly safeguard the electronic protected health information of their Medicaid beneficiaries. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has also agreed to take corrective action to properly safeguard the electronic protected health information of their Medicaid beneficiaries.

The Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) began its investigation following a breach report submitted by Alaska Department of Health and Social Services as required by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. The report indicated that a portable hard drive possibly containing electronic protected health information was stolen from the vehicle of an Alaska Department of Health and Social Services employee. Over the course of the investigation, the Office for Civil Rights found evidence that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services did not have adequate policies and procedures in place to safeguard electronic protected health information. Further, the Office of Civil Rights' said evidence indicated that DHSS had not completed a risk analysis, implemented sufficient risk management measures, completed security training for its workforce members, implemented device and media controls, or addressed device and media encryption as required by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Security Rule.

In addition to the $1,700,000 settlement, the agreement includes a corrective action plan that requires the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to review, revise, and maintain policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the HIPAA Security Rule. A monitor will report back to the Office of Civil Rights regularly on Alaska’s ongoing compliance efforts.

“Covered entities must perform a full and comprehensive risk assessment and have in place meaningful access controls to safeguard hardware and portable devices,” said OCR Director Leon Rodriguez. “This is OCR’s first HIPAA enforcement action against a state agency and we expect organizations to comply with their obligations under these rules regardless of whether they are private or public entities.”

Following the announcement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of the settlement agreement, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services' Commissioner William J. (Bill) Streur addressed what he called some misleading statements that have come about from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In a prepared statement following the settlement announcement, Streur said that entering into the agreement was not an admission of liability or that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services was in violation of the Privacy Rule or the Security Rule. Streur said, "Agreeing to complete our HIPAA compliance measures and paying a settlement amount is the only way for both parties to avoid costly and protracted litigation – a process with no guaranteed result and that could end up being more expensive for the state."

Commissioner Streur said, "The title of the OCR release suggests that Medicaid data may have been compromised. We have absolutely no indication that Medicaid data or personal information was lost or at risk." - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

Alaska: Rescued Beluga Whale Calf Dies – Despite intensive around-the-clock care by a team of experts, the stranded beluga whale calf rescued from Bristol Bay on June 18 passed away late on July 8 at the the Alaska Sealife Center in Seward, Alaska.

Rescued Beluga Whale Calf Dies

Baby Beluga Feeding
Photograph courtesy Alaska SeaLife Center

Over the past several weeks a team of marine mammal experts from the Alaska Sealife Center, Georgia Aquarium, Shedd Aquarium and SeaWorld has been providing intensive around-the-clock care to the calf. While the team faced a number of obstacles regarding the calf’s rehabilitation, it became evident Sunday that the young whale’s condition continued to decline. The team became more concerned as the evening progressed, but despite all efforts the calf passed away shortly after midnight.

The calf would have never survived as long as he did had it not been for the incredible care this expert team was able to provide – as this remains the first known U.S. rescue of a stranded live beluga calf since the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of this beluga calf,” said Tara Riemer Jones, president and CEO of the Alaska SeaLife Center. “But we are incredibly proud of the care that the multiinstitution animal and veterinary team provided. The knowledge they brought from the whales in their care at their home institutions allowed us to provide the best medical and animal care possible to this calf. There is more we will continue to learn about beluga whales as a result o fthis loss that will ultimately benefit beluga whales in the marine mammal community and in the wild.”

A full necropsy will be performed by ASLC veterinary staff later today (Monday). It is likely further tests will be conducted over the coming months, and a cause of death may never be known. - More....
Monday - July 09, 2012

Ketchikan: Alaska temperatures mixed in June - June temperatures and precipitation were mixed statewide. Like May, Barrow had the highest positive deviation in temperature, which the Alaska Climate Center noted as most likely an effect of the substantial warming observed for northern Alaska over the past decades. The second largest positive deviation in June was Fairbanks with 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The greatest negative deviation was observed in Juneau with minus 2.9 degrees, followed by King Salmon at minus 2.5 degrees. The mean of the nine stations gave a slight negative deviation of minus 0.4 degrees.

Precipitation was also mixed, with five Alaska stations reporting above normal totals and four reporting below normal. Juneau topped the charts in June with slightly more than double the normal rainfall. Kodiak had a nice June with just 14 percent of the average amount.

Ketchikan's average temperature of 52.7 degrees Fahrenheit in June was 1.4 degrees below the long-term mean. The highest temperature of the month, 81 degrees, occurred June 23. This high temperature tied the record set in 2004. The monthly low temperature, 37 degrees, was observed on the 4th.

Ketchikan's monthly precipitation in June of 9.85 inches was nearly 50 percent above the long-term mean of 6.6 inches. No new records were set in June for Ketchikan as in May.

Monthly precipitation in May for Ketchikan was high with 19.25 inches, more than doubling the long-term mean of 8.2 inches. Remarkably, 4.73 inches of rain fell May 6, surpassing the old record for the day of 2.4 inches set in 1959. This total received within a single day surpasses the long-term annual total for Barrow. On the following day, 4.26 inches of rain were reported, again smashing the previous record for this day of 2.6 inches, which was set in 1973.

In Juneau, the average temperature for June was 51.7 degrees Fahrenheit, minus 2.9 degrees below the long-term mean. The maximum temperature for the month, 82 degrees Fahrenheit, occurred on the 23rd. The minimum temperature was 41 degrees and was recorded on the 3rd, 5th and 10th of the month. No new daily extremes were observed.

Juneau's precipitation totaled 6.69 inches, more than double the normal of 3.24 inches. It rained on 28 days of the month and June 2012 was the wettest June on record. The month topped the 6.22 inches recorded in June 1996. Despite the high monthly record precipitation, there were no daily records set. The mean monthly wind speed was 6.7 mph, with a maximum gust of 37 mph occurring on 24th. The gust blew from southeast. Unsurprisingly, mean cloudiness was high at 90 percent and only one day registered as fair. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012


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letter MAIL BALLOT THE ONLY CORRECT VOTING SOLUTION By Pete Ellis - Michael Spence has certainly "hit the nail on the head" in terms of local election needs and results.  The mail ballot is the only solution in terms of determining what the local voting residents really want. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter 4th of July Fireworks By Catherine Brown - Thank you to all those who put together the festivities for the 4th and especially the fireworks display. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter “Oh, you’re so negative” By David G. Hanger - There is something particularly juvenile about the attitude that you can judge some other person, “Oh, you’re so negative,” and thereby invalidate anything that person might say. In the article that you were criticizing so harshly I actually discussed that local inclination briefly. Thus my simple observation that your ignorance has precluded the possibility that you begin to comprehend the fact that everything you said is far more negative than anything I have said. It even has a word or label by which it is called: nullification. It’s the old slay the messenger game because you don’t have the guts to deal with the message. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter Thank You By Sandy James- The Ketchikan Seventh-day Adventist Church would like to thank the community for supporting our Fund Raiser for a Sound System.  Shamburgers (veggie burgers) and Homemade Pies were a HUGE success. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012 

letter Thank You & Before the fireworks start By Ken Parks - I was at the fireworks display this fourth and was suitably impressed by the display, not so much from the locals shooting off roman candles as it was over my kids and almost at them a couple of times. This ironically enthused my kids and they still had a great time... I wanted to thank the City of Ketchikan and their workers for a great display, making it a fun and enjoyable as well as memorable event for my family. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter Whale watching By HelgaOhmer Ohmer - On Saturday morning (June 30), I enjoyed watching a big pod of killer whales going down the channel. I counted at least 12. All the boaters got out of the way, enjoying them from the distance. But not so for the two tourist outfits who turned around to get closer than comfort just for the sake of picture taking clients! - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter Spins & Facts By Paul Jarvie - Charley, thank you for your information. As a concerned voter you have taught me to check the facts for myself. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter A patch to grind??? By Joey Garcia - Bill Meck "Road" caption in the Jun 25 issue sure has something to reckon with. I think you should not go far inside the hillsides of Ketchikan to wrangle up enough spirits of something like what Bill was pointing about. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter Comeuppances By A. M. Johnson - Hummm, It would appear that I have been corrected by readers. I accept the comeuppances. Yet, there is good from this. The fact that these executive orders produce the wrong sided intent is made apparent. Kennedy, Bush, Obama whom ever. The bottom line is many of these executive orders affects the Constitution's intent of guarding against over bearing government intrusion or violation of our freedoms and rights under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter Harbor Bond Election By Eric Muench - I was glad to see the harbor bond proposition pass in last Tuesday's vote, especially since I had to go through the trouble of casting my yes vote fourteen times. It is empowering to have such influence on the outcome and still have thirteen other people beside myself responsible for repaying the bond debt. For that I thank the 93% of city voters who allowed us 7% to make the decision for them. Maybe in the next election, if the 93% oblige by staying away again, I might be able to organize a pressure group to show up at the polls and swing the vote to my preference. - More...
Friday - June 29, 2012

letter The seven percent voter turnout By Michael Spence - The recent 7 percent voter turnout for the bond election in Ketchikan illustrates the problem of the restrictive voting process in Alaska. Other states, for example Washington, send postal ballots to all registered voters. By receiving a ballot in the mail, a registered voter is able to cast his/her vote without jeopardizing job and or travel obligations. Alaska in particular has a large proportion of registered voters who work away from town (fishing, transportation industry, etc). Absentee ballots are not the answer either, (as is evidenced by this recent turnout), because they are often sent out late by the state/borough, and are hence received late by the election authorities. - More...
Friday - June 29, 2012

letter Gunalcheesh (Thank you) By Harvey Shields - The Cape Fox Dancers of the Saanya Quan Clan wishes to thank ALL OF YOU from the Ketchikan/Saxman area that contributed, helped, encouraged and supported the Cape Fox Dancers in their endeavor to attend Celebration 2012.  We were able to attend because of your generosity and support. - More...
Friday - June 29, 2012

letter Double Headed Plants By Chris Rose - I've seen this on my property with other plants; not often. - More...
Friday - June 29, 2012

letter Executive Orders? By Margaret Cloud - I was wondering about all the Executive Orders mentioned by Al so I did a quick internet search.  It appears that President Obama would have been a bit young to have signed Executive Order 10997 and according to government reports it was signed by President Kennedy in 1962. - More...
Friday - June 29, 2012

letter American voter is the problem, grow up and stop blaming those you elect By Erik Hovden -Congress is not the biggest problem America faces. That clearly would be the sheep who vote for Republicans or Democrats. They are two sides of the "Big Goverment, Tax and spend party" and you're not invited, but you do get the bill. - More...
Friday - June 29, 2012

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