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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 28, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By CARL THOMPSON

Ketchikan's Bar Harbor Thursday evening... See the whale in the sky?
Front Page Feature Photo By CARL THOMPSON

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Close Call: Parents and local school districts empowered - Representative Wes Keller (R-Wasilla) today thanked Governor Bill Walker for giving greater control to parents and local school districts over education delivered to their children.

Keller’s House Bill 156 became law today without the Governor’s signature, but also without the Governor’s veto. HB 156 tells Washington, D.C. that Alaska has no intention of being a U.S. Department of Education experiment. Parents, not bureaucrats have the right to control the content and standards of education for their children. Under HB 156, when there is a conflict between education laws (federal or state) and parental educational choice, parents ultimately must always have the right to determine how to educate their children.

Governor Walker said, “This was a very close call for me. I received a lot of input on this legislation -- from both sides. Given that this bill will have a broad and wide-ranging effect on education statewide, I have decided to allow HB 156 to become law without my signature.”

“HB 156 sends the message that Alaskans are not here to be a ‘rubber-stamp’ of Federal education policy,” Keller, R-Wasilla, said. “It also makes strides to ensure that Alaskans define student assessment, privacy, school designators, teacher evaluation, special education, curricula selection, and education standards.”

The law creates a moratorium on statewide standards based assessments and provides the Department of Education an exemption from the procurement code to ease the burden of acquiring a new assessment tool by 2020. - More...
Thursday PM - July 28, 2016

Alaska: Palmer Correctional Facility Closing; Closing Flawed Says Alaska Correctional Officers Association - Answering the call to reduce the budget while still providing best transitional services for prisoners, the Alaska Department of Corrections announced Tuesday it is closing and repurposing the Palmer Correctional Center. Commissioner Dean Williams says “this plan will increase staffing and safety at other facilities.”

Commissioner Williams said, “the plan to repurpose Palmer Correctional Center will bolster operations throughout the institutions by increasing safety while also lowering costs.”

The Commissioner also indicated in the press that he had been in “regular dialogue about these scenarios” with the Alaska Correctional Officers Association (ACOA). However, according to the ACOA, this is inaccurate. The Alaska Correctional Officers Association said they had heard rumors of potential closures and had requested to meet with the Commissioner to discuss these rumors. In two separate meetings on July 1 and July 7 the Commissioner clearly stated to ACOA that no decisions had been made on closing any institutions and that Correctional Officers and ACOA would be part of the vetting process.

ACOA stated in a news release they had tried to schedule more meetings to receive information, but was continuously put off. Then, Tuesday morning, without warning and without having been given the opportunity to provide input, ACOA read that Palmer Correctional Center would be closed. According to ACOA, the Commissioner stated that he wanted Officers and the public involved in the decision, then acted behind closed doors and without taking input on the closure. Now the Commissioner is asking for input from Officers on how to enact his unilateral decision said ACOA.

Correctional Officers, just like all State employees, deserve to know what is happening with their jobs stated ACOA in a news release. That is why the Legislature thoroughly vets any cuts before they are made to a Department. Tuesday’s announcement completely circumvents the Legislative and public process said ACOA.

Brad Wilson, ACOA Business Manager said, “Despite telling Officers that the decisions would be transparent, the Commissioner put off Correctional Officers for weeks saying that they were ‘not sure’ and ‘no decisions have been made’ and then surprised all Officers today by announcing that Palmer Correctional Center was closing.”

APOC stated that as far as they know, no cost analysis has been seen by the Legislature or the Public. This is a short-sighted decision which will have a long-lasting, negative cost impact on the Department of Corrections according to APOC.

According to the office of the Alaska Department of Corrections. the plan to close the facility will be conducted in phases: Palmer Correctional Center’s minimum-security side (176 hard beds and 25 staff members) will shut down first. Many of the minimum-security prisoners will be moved to Pt. Mackenzie Correctional Farm, which is more conducive to transitional living. Inmates will learn valuable life skills, working with their hands, producing useful products, engaging with community volunteers and creating a better, peer-level environment to transition back to civilian society. A fully operational Pt. Mackenzie Correctional Farm will not only help the Department produce its own food, but will also provide a venue for local farmers to sell their excess produce every season to DOC for processing. - More...
Thursday PM - July 28, 2016

New rare species of whale identified - An international team of scientists who searched out specimens from museums and remote Arctic islands has identified a rare new species of beaked whale that ranges from northern Japan across the Pacific Ocean to Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

New rare species of whale identified

In 2004 Reid Brewer of the University of Alaska Southeast measured an unusual beaked whale that turned up dead in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. A tissue sample from the carcass later showed that the whale was one of the newly identified species.
CREDIT: Don Graves

Japanese whalers call the enigmatic black whales "karasu," the Japanese word for raven. The new species is darker in color and about two-thirds the size of the more common Baird's beaked whale, but so scarce that even whalers rarely see them.

A DNA analysis of 178 beaked whales from around the Pacific Rim found eight known examples of the new species, the scientists reported today in the journal Marine Mammal Science. The eight included specimens from the Smithsonian Institution and Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, a skeleton on display in an Alaska high school, and another that puzzled researchers trying to identify it when it washed up on an island in the Bering Sea.

"The challenge in documenting the species was simply locating enough specimens to provide convincing evidence," said Phillip Morin, a research molecular biologist at NOAA Fisheries' Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and lead author of the new study. "Clearly this species is very rare, and reminds us how much we have to learn about the ocean and even some of its largest inhabitants."

An earlier Japanese study had suggested that the black whales, sometimes considered a dwarf form of Baird's beaked whale, might represent a new species. That sent Morin in search of additional genetic samples to definitively answer the question and better understand the range of the elusive species.

He turned first to the Southwest Fisheries Science Center's marine mammal tissue collection, the largest in the world, and found two samples that appeared to represent a new species. One came from a whale found in Alaska's Aleutian Islands in 2004, whose skeleton now hangs on display at Unalaska High School. Then he and his colleagues pursued additional DNA samples from museums, research institutions and Japanese markets where whale meat is sold.

In 2014 scientists found a dead beaked whale on St. George Island, one of the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea. When it did not match any known species, they sent samples to Morin. Genetic tests later showed it to be the new species.

"We knew it was not any whale we knew from our area," said Michelle Ridgway, a marine ecologist with Oceanus Alaska who documented the whale in the Pribilofs and is a coauthor of the new research. - More...
Thursday PM - July 28, 2016


Alleged Bank Embezzler Arrested - A 23 year old Anchorage woman was arrested Monday and arraigned Tuesday in federal court on a criminal complaint charging her with bank embezzlement. The complaint alleges that she had embezzled over $100,000 from her former employer, Credit Union 1.

U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced the arrest of Shanice Mano. According to the complaint, Mano was a teller at Credit Union 1 when she accessed customer accounts without authority and transferred money to accounts that she had control over and from which she was able to make withdrawals.

The law provides for a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million or both. Under federal sentencing statutes, the actual sentence imposed will be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. - More...
Thursday PM - July 28, 2016

Alaska: BLM to Analyze Proposal For a Second Production Well in the NPR-A - The Bureau of Land Management announced Monday a Notice of Intent to conduct an environmental review for a proposed oil and gas production well in the 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A). If approved, the Greater Mooses Tooth-2 (GMT2) project would be the second oil and gas development project authorized on Federal lands in the NPR-A.

In a prepared statement, Alaska Governor Bill Walker said, "I am pleased the Bureau of Land Management will begin its environmental review of ConocoPhillips' proposed oil and gas development of Greater Mooses Tooth-2 project. At ConocoPhillips' request, I sent a letter of support to President Obama on this project. We received a call from the White House earlier [Monday] to let us know of this announcement and to discuss the regulatory timeline for this project. With the Trans-Alaska Pipeline three-quarters empty, I am committed to working with our federal partners to spur production. I thank BLM Director Neil Kornze and his staff for meeting with me and my team today on a collaborative path forward."

In August 2015, ConocoPhillips, Alaska, Inc. (CPAI) submitted an application for a permit to drill that includes construction of a drill site, access road, pipelines, and other facilities to support development of petroleum resources within the GMT Unit. - More...
Thursday PM - July 28, 2016

Alaska: New UFA Salmon Habitat Program Kicks Off with Survey of Commercial Fishermen; Survey Takers Enter to Win $500 Alaska Airlines or $200 LFS Gift Cards - United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) is kicking off a new program to connect Alaska commercial fishermen with useful and timely news about the health of the salmon runs that sustain the industry. Called the Salmon Habitat Information Program, or SHIP, UFA is starting with an opinion survey – with hefty prizes – for commercial fishermen.

“UFA hopes the Salmon Habitat Information Program (SHIP) will be a valuable resource for info about the health of salmon habitat that fishermen depend on. We believe that, working together, fishermen can be powerful advocates for pro-salmon policies that ensure commercial fishing jobs remain strong for generations to come,” said Lindsey Bloom, UFA’s Salmon Habitat Information Program (SHIP) Manager.

UFA is kicking off SHIP with an opinion survey because the organization wants to hear from commercial fishermen about Alaska salmon habitat and important issues.

“I want to invite all Alaska fishermen to steer the SHIP project by taking a short survey on what’s important about salmon habitat,” said Bloom. “That way, commercial fishermen can ensure the information SHIP shares is useful and relevant.” - More...
Thursday PM - July 28, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: Neither here nor there - If you put two Alaskans in a room together, it is only a matter of seconds before they start playing "can you top this" with travel horror stories. Unlike our "Outside" cousins, we collect plane and boat trip horror stories pretty much from birth. And they are always good ones.

Oh, sure, there are those occasional driving horror stories that popup.

For example, that time when traffic in Our Fair Salmon City was so awful that it once took me SIX WHOLE MINUTES to drive from Downtown to the West End.

And there was that day I was 10 minutes late to an appointment because some idiot actually drove down Tongass at 12.5 miles per hour.

Or that afternoon when I had to cool my heels for a minute or two because some absolute moron was blocking traffic trying to make a left turn across Tongass and no one in the other lane would stop to let him through. Quel horreur!

But I digress.

We save our tallest story telling efforts trying to describe the number of times we thought we were going to die on a plane flight, or that we thought we were going to regurgitate our lunches crossing Dixon Entrance.

Speaking of regurgance, the newest Independence Day movie should have been called "Regurgance" rather than "Resurgence." Nothing new to see here, citizens.

But I digress, again.

Anyway, while I would love to wade into my lengthy history of water borne travel adventures, there are only so many knots in a fathom, so I will stick to aerial ones. And I have a couple of new ones.

Longtime sufferers of this column have noted that I seem to have adventures whenever I decide to catch a plane out of K-Town.

Some have actually opined that perhaps I am somewhat accursed on that front. Really, Dave, it's just you, they say, our trips are fine!

Others have suggested that I announce in advance the flights I am on so they can make other arrangements. - More...
Thursday PM - July 28, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Hillary Coronation

Editorial Cartoon: Hillary Coronation
By Rick McKee ©2016, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter A Measurable Academic Goal for the District By Agnes Moran - The Ketchikan School Board is in the process of setting goals for the district and the superintendent for the upcoming school year. I think it is time the Board set tangible, measurable, academic based goals for the district that will have long term, positive impact on our community’s children. The primary goal I would like to see the School Board commit to is a 92% graduation rate (as calculated by the national standard adjusted cohort graduation rate used by the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED)) for the freshman students entering Ketchikan High School this fall. - More...
Friday AM - July 29, 2016

letter Finkenbinder Not A Serious Candidate By Bob Claus - Today I had the dubious pleasure of meeting Sheila Finkenbinder, a candidate for State House. She was visiting Prince of Wales Island, a major part of her potential district, for the first time. - More...
Friday AM - July 29, 2016

letter It rained on our parade! By Bobbie McCreary - What the heck, Ketchikan! Paintball “markers” (guns) without tanks are even safer than guns without ammo because there is no way to shoot…even if there were “ammo” (AKA paintballs) hiding inside the paintball marker. - More...
Friday AM - July 29, 2016

letter Ethan's Garbage Truck By Judith Green - What a wonderful change in the media this week. A heart warming account of a 6 year old boy who was granted his wish through that wonderful Make-A-Wish program. The story was picked up by local folks who turned out that morning to cheer him with signs and smiles and waves of delight. He rode in his very own garbage truck, his name emblazoned on the truck, with the greatest of smiles. Thanks to Make-A-Wish, and the media, for giving all of us a chance to enjoy this heart warming episode with Ethan and his family. - More...
Friday AM - July 29, 2016

letter Ketchikan's Missing By Irene Anderson - I would like to submit a follow up summation regarding the Missing & Deceased Men and Women in Ketchikan. - More...
Friday AM - July 29, 2016

letter Support Our Police By Donald Moskowitz - Police actions in Ferguson, MO; New York City, Baltimore, Baton Rouge and Minnesota have been in the news, and a few police officers have been seen using excessive force and shooting people. I believe a small number of police officers use excessive force, and these officers should be held accountable for their actions. - More...
Tuesday AM - July 26, 2016

letter RE: Oil Cans... By Angelo Martin - I first met David Hanger about 1980 when I first got to Ketchikan. His Mom and Dad were wonderful people. I was hired by their cruse ship fishing charters service in 1982. I consider David a very intelligent person, but his talents are wasted, he should write novels, run for local office. - More...
Tuesday AM - July 26, 2016

letter Thank you to Ketchikan Solid Waste facility By Victoria McDonald - As one of many Ketchikan citizens concerned about tansy ragwort, orange hawkweed, Japanese knotweed,and Scotch broom, we deeply appreciate the Solid Waste facility acceptance of hundreds of pounds of tansy ragwort. Dorica Jackson and I have taken close to 600 pounds from the Fawn Mountain area with another 300 pounds needing to be pulled. One local man has taken hundreds of pounds pulled from the Carlanna area. Wolfe Point is infested where 125 pounds have been removed. - More...
Saturday PM - July 16, 2016

letter Part 14: OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM; Summation and Conclusion By David G Hanger - When Sam Rayburn died he had $26,000 in the bank. He was the longest-serving Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, second in line of succession to the Presidency of the United States, an attorney who never took a fee or gift from anyone who might have any interest whatsoever before the government; and the standard, the very benchmark, for personal integrity and honor, both in and out of political office. When “Little Ben” Stevens, the unindicted co-conspirator in the VECO case that put Kott in prison, was President of the Alaska State Senate, he used his elected position to pocket more than a million in graft and payola. For this he should have gone to prison for at least 10 years, but an attorney general of the same political party let the case lapse. Since then the corruption of graft, payola, and special interest has been codified into law by the majorities in both the state senate and the house, so that they can continue their campaigns of personal graft and payola while concomitantly serving the needs of their corporate masters. - More...
Saturday PM - July 16, 2016

letter Loss of hundreds of lives, sparing a dog By Nancy Crawford - Thank you for your writing on the loss of hundreds of lives on Princess Sophia. Their lives were not lost in vain as I am sure that this disaster gave many ideas to make ship travel safer. - More...
Saturday PM - JUly 16, 2016

letter Muslim camps By A. M. Johnson - As often the case, each weekend edition of the Ketchikan Daily News' religious news carries some level of contentious religious news or article, picked off snide religious slanted AP provided articles. This week end it was the article on Muslim summer camps. In this apocryphal reading one would take away a vision of a Peaceful Religion promoted by Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) (A terror listed group) and other Muslim based anti Western political groups would and do use to undermine and hide the true record of the dark side of this political/religious diatribe by fooling the'folks'(infidels) not up on any religion (i.e. 'Low information voter/citizen). - More...
Saturday PM - July 16, 2016

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PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center - Ketchikan, Alaska

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Ketchikan Title Agency - Ketchikan, Alaska

Blueberry Arts Festival - Ketchikan Area Arts & Humanities Council - Ketchikan, Alaska

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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