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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 01, 2017

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Duke Island In Pond Bay
Front Page Feature Photo By MARGIE THYNES


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Ketchikan: Alaskan cruise industry began transforming 50 years ago; Italia, Spirit of London, Island Princess were among the first of the bigger cruise ships By DAVE KIFFER - By 1967, visitors had been coming to southern Southeast Alaska for more than 80 years, but compared to the visitor industry of 2017, tourism was still in its infancy.

Alaskan cruise industry began transforming 50 years ago

Spirit of London
Photo courtesy

Several small cruise ships had begun serving the area but most had no more than a couple hundred passengers. Only when the P&O Line Arcadia which arrived in 1970 with 1,300 passengers did the ships begin to resemble the leviathans that would arrive in the late 20th Century.

Steamers had been arriving in Southeast Alaska since the 1880s, but they were tiny compared to the current wave of ships and, most often, they carried people who were interested living and working in the Last Frontier rather than just looking at the scenery.

There certainly were tourists on those early ships (See "A Famous Artist Runs Aground in Loring," SITNEWS, Feb. 13, 2007), and most communities in the region already had curio and jewelry shops to entice the visitors. But most of the steam ship arrivals centered on commerce as the Inside Passage was the only way that goods, services and people traveled between Southeast Alaska and the rest of the world.

But in the 1950s, world wide economics dealt a blow to the steamship industry and air travel began to make its mark. In the early 1960s, the new state of Alaska began ferry service between Southeast Alaska, British Columbia and Washington also cutting into the sea based private commerce in the region.

By the 1960s, the only non-ferry ships regularly arriving in Ketchikan were Canadian ones; The Princess Patricia and the Prince George. (See "Canadian Liners Once Served Ketchikan," SITNEWS May 23, 2011).

But the Princess Patricia, a small coastal ship that carried less than 100 passengers, would be a harbinger of what was to come, even if it didn't seem so at the time. 

As is the case today, wintertime was not a busy visitor season in the 1960s and with the state ferries taking over the role of carrying goods, services and residents, the Prince George and the Princess Pat were usually laid up between November and April.

It was a Los Angeles entrepreneur named Harvey McDonald who seized on the idea of using the Princess Pat for three-day excursions between Southern California and Mexico in 1965.  

McDonald eventually expanded his operation and obtained larger ships, which had something the northern sea sailing Pat did not, air conditioning.  But in honor of the Pat, he named his new "line" Princess Cruises, which through clever marketing and a popular television show would eventually become, arguably, the most famous cruise line in the world.

In 1967, Princess Cruises chartered the MV Italia, a 492-foot, 425-passenger ship that was caught up in a bankruptcy proceeding. Initially, Princess operated the Italia in Europe and then Mexico, but by 1969 it was making regular visits to Southeast Alaska, frequently having to anchor up in harbors because it was too big to fit at some of the existing docks. Informally, the ship was called the Princess Italia, but the name was not changed on the bow and stern because it was a rental that was eventually returned to its Italian owners in 1973. - More...
Saturday PM - July 01, 2017

Solomon Atkinson Recognized as "Alaskan of the Week"

Solomon “Sol” Atkinson circa 1950's-60's
Photo courtesy

Southeast Alaska: Solomon Atkinson Recognized as "Alaskan of the Week" -  Solomon “Sol” Atkinson, of Metlakatla, an extraordinary Alaskan who served as one of the first ever U.S. Navy SEALs was recognized this week as part of Senator Sullivan’s series, “Alaskan of the Week.”

In recognizing Solomon Atkinson on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan san Atkinson has spent nearly his entire adult life serving our country with honor and dignity and now serves his community in Alaska tirelessly.

Atkinson was born in 1930 to Harris and Elizabeth Atkinson in Metlakatla, Alaska located on Annette Island on the Inside Passage, where so many Americans take cruises to see the glaciers and the whales. It is home to the only federally recognized Indian reservation in our State.

Sullivan said Atkinson could have continued to live in Metlakatla, where he was a commercial fisherman as a young man, but, like so many patriotic Alaskans, he chose to leave his home and join the military. Sol joined the U.S. Navy, and for 22 years - from 1951 to 1973 - he had by anybody's standards a remarkable patriotic military career.

In 1953, Atkinson volunteered for the Navy's legendary Underwater Demolition Team and was deployed to the Pacific, including Korea. Sullivan said, "Some history buffs will know and recall that the Underwater Demolition Team, the UDT, was the precursor to the present-day Navy SEALS - frogmen, as they liked to call themselves. In fact, Sol was on the very first Navy SEAL team created by President Kennedy in 1962, and I have a copy of the SEAL Team One plank owners certificate, commissioned on January 1, 1962, with Sol's name proudly displayed."

Atkinson became a Navy SEAL - the first Navy SEAL, literally. Sullivan said, "He became a SEAL team training instructor, training new Navy SEAL recruits. He was affectionately referred to as “the Mean Machine” by the Navy SEALs. He also had the honor of training 48 astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Jim Lovell, just to name a few, in underwater weightlessness simulations. His prized possession is a framed plaque bearing the signature of all those astronauts, all those American heroes whom he trained."

Atkinson completed three combat tours in Vietnam. By the time he retired from the military, he had earned numerous awards and medals for personal valor, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. - More...
Saturday PM - July 01, 2017

Alaska Native Civil Rights Leader Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law to be Commemorated on U.S. $1 Coin
Southeast Alaska: Alaska Native Civil Rights Leader Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law to be Commemorated on U.S. $1 Coin - The United States Mint has released candidate designs that commemorate Alaska Native Civil Rights Leader Elizabeth Peratrovich and Alaska’s Anti-Discrimination Law as part of the Native American $1 Coin Program.

The Act (Public Law 110-82) authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue $1 coins with reverse designs bearing images celebrating the important developmental and historical contributions made by First Peoples to the United States. 

“Elizabeth and Roy Peratrovich stood up to fight the unfair, inhumane, and degrading treatment of Alaska Native Peoples, and their efforts towards positive change reverberate to this day,” Governor Bill Walker said. “Their words and actions continue to be an inspiration and reminder of the power that all people have to impact their government; this honor is truly deserved.”

In 1945, the Peratroviches testified in front of the Territorial Legislature, reminding lawmakers of the Bill of Rights and the inherent equality of all people. The body was considering anti-discrimination legislation during a time when discrimination was widespread, and storefronts and businesses displayed “No Natives Allowed” signs. Elizabeth was the last to testify on the Alaska Anti-Discrimination Act, and witnesses say her passionate testimony ultimately led to the bill’s passage nearly 20 years before Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Elizabeth and Roy Peratroviche were deeply involved in their community, and served as grand presidents of the Alaska Native Sisterhood and Alaska Native Brotherhood respectively. They also helped the American Red Cross raise funds during World War II.

In a prepared statement U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski said, “Elizabeth Peratrovich stood up for those who needed a voice, when she witnessed significant discrimination against Alaska Natives. Her message was clear and powerful – that we must strive for equal rights for all citizens. This is great news for the Peratrovich family, Alaska Natives across the state, and for all of us as Alaskans.” - More...
Saturday PM - July 01, 2017

Southeast Alaska:
Lawsuit Filed to Force USFS to Disclose the Fate of Promised Timber Reforms - The U.S. Forest Service has been unable to identify the safeguards it claims to have recently adopted to prevent wide-scale commercial timber theft and fraud, according to a lawsuit filed on June 29th by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  The Forest Service’s own internal reviews in 2016 point to systemic failures leading to multi-million dollar losses for taxpayers on the latest major timber sales it conducted on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.

One 2016 “Washington Office Activity Review” uncovered by PEER found that two large Tongass commercial timber sales each racked up big monetary losses.  In addition, required inspections to prevent timber theft were bypassed. The review called for “an independent review” to “prevent similar issues in future timber and stewardship contracts” but according to PEER that recommendation appears to have been sidelined.

The June 20, 2016 Forest Service “Washington Office Activity Review” examined two large Tongass timber sales and found:

  • Staggering monetary losses in each, “close to 2 million” in one sale, an amount “more than double the original stumpage” according to a post-harvest Monitoring Report. In the other sale, Forest Service maladministration led to “a reduction in sale value exceeding $1,700,000”;
  • Despite being stewardship sales to improve forest health, the agency allowed companies to ignore prescriptions by “favoring removal in the larger diameter, more valuable species groups, such as western red cedar and spruce” while significantly undercutting far less valuable hemlock; and
  • Required law enforcement timber theft prevention inspections appear to have been bypassed. Nor could the forest produce a written contract or other “pertinent documentation” for this high-volume sale. That sale also allowed “purchaser selection of trees without prior marking” and the forest’s only follow-on monitoring was completely “reliant on the purchaser’s own data.”

In response to PEER publicizing this internal review in early April 2017, the Forest Service released a statement to media outlets that the agency had already addressed concerns by adopting unspecified improvements in its timber sale administration.  As the agency refused to answer questions or grant interview requests, PEER promptly submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents detailing these claimed reforms, as well as for a copy of its press statement which was not posted on its website.  

Despite repeated inquiries over the ensuing months, the agency produced nothing and on Thursday, PEER filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to compel release of the requested records.  

“The Forest Service’s reluctance to disclose these reforms suggests that its claims may have been cut out of whole cloth,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that employees are telling PEER that the agency has blocked any audits and has not changed its timber sale protocols. “Its own evaluations concede independent oversight on Forest Service timber sales is both sorely needed and long overdue.” - More...
Saturday PM - July 01, 2017


Governor Signs $4.9 Billion Operating Budget Bills Into Law - Friday, Governor Bill Walker signed into law House Bills 57 and 59, approving the $4.9 billion operating budget bills the legislature passed for fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018), without vetoes. State spending for department operations has been cut $145 million from the previous year, and total state spending on the operating budget has been cut $1.9 billion since fiscal year 2015—a 27 percent decrease in three years. Overall state spending has been reduced 44 percent in the past five years.

In passing its budget this year, the legislature set permanent fund dividends at $1,100 for each eligible Alaskan—and chose to pay for the $2.5 billion deficit entirely from savings. That leaves only $2 billion in the state’s main savings account - which pays for response to emergencies, like earthquakes, fires, and floods. - More...
Saturday PM - July 01, 2017

Alaska: EPA Moves to Rescind 2015 "Waters of the U.S." Rule - The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Army, and Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday they are proposing a rule to rescind the Clean Water Rule and re-codify the regulatory text that existed prior to 2015 defining "waters of the United States" or WOTUS. This action would, when finalized, provide certainty in the interim, pending a second rulemaking in which the agencies will engage in a substantive re-evaluation of the definition of "waters of the United States." The proposed rule would be implemented in accordance with Supreme Court decisions, agency guidance, and longstanding practice.

"We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation's farmers and businesses," said Administrator Scott Pruitt. "This is the first step in the two-step process to redefine 'waters of the U.S.' and we are committed to moving through this re-evaluation to quickly provide regulatory certainty, in a way that is thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public."

This proposed rule follows the February 28, 2017, Presidential Executive Order on "Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the 'Waters of the United States' Rule." The February Order states that it is in the national interest to ensure that the Nation's navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the States under the Constitution. To meet these objectives, the agencies intend to follow an expeditious, two-step process that will provide certainty across the country.

The proposed rule would recodify the identical regulatory text that was in place prior to the 2015 Clean Water Rule and that is currently in place as a result of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit's stay of the 2015 rule. Therefore, this action, when final, will not change current practice with respect to how the definition applies.- More...
Saturday PM - July 01, 2017




ANTHONY JOHNSTON: 4 ways the Supreme Court could rule on Trump's travel ban - The Supreme Court has decided to hear two legal challenges to President Donald Trump’s revised “travel ban.”

Among other things, the executive order Trump signed in March temporarily bars entry of nationals from six predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

In cases arising out of Maryland and Hawaii, lower courts had blocked applying the ban to all nationals from the six countries. Now, under the Supreme Court’s June 26 order, family members, students, employees and others with “a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” will be allowed entry. At the same time, the Supreme Court will allow part of the travel ban to go back into effect for “foreign nationals abroad who have no connection to the United States at all.”

The Supreme Court will hear the combined cases in October after the justices return from summer recess. Its decision will be its first major encounter with a president who criticizes the courts as political. As a professor of constitutional law who studies law and politics, I see four ways forward for the Supreme Court in these cases. - More...
Saturday PM - July 01, 2017


DANNY TYREE: Low-Impact Dirt Naps: Are They Right For You? - "Where have all the graveyards gone? Gone to flowers every one. Oh, when will they ever learn?" ---- Pete Seeger and Joe Hickerson.

"Well, excuse me for living!" That phrase is so 20th century! In the 21st century, we're moving toward "Well, excuse me for dying."

Yes, green burials and conservation burial grounds show prospects of catching on like cremation as end-of-life options.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, green burials are an attempt to decrease our carbon footprint and exist more harmoniously with nature. Among other distinguishing characteristics, they call for no toxic embalming fluid, no metal casket and no concrete vault.

Conservation burial grounds also discourage traditional tombstones, opting instead for small, unobtrusive flat pieces of naturally occurring limestone or even GPS mapping of the cemetery. The latter should be okay unless our friends in Russia or China carry out some mischief with our satellites. ("Why are you standing naked on my great-grandfather's grave? I know I'm in the right place. I can feel his restless spirit. What do you mean, that's just your hot tub agitator?") - More...
Saturday PM - July 01, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Travel Ban Fireworks

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


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letter Traffic suggestions By A. M. Johnson - Nothing better to do than reflect on a couple of issues related to Ketchikan traffic. Our traffic due to restrictive nature of our streets and roads, should be rated at a near 10 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most taxing. - More...
Thursday PM - June 29, 2017

letter A Call to Leadership By Randall Hoffbeck - When, after being in session for 160 days, I began to hear both the House and Senate leadership talking about passing just a budget and going home, I was reminded of a meeting I had last summer with a professor from the University of Potsdam. - More...
Thursday PM - June 29, 2017

letter Health Care By Ray Metcalfe - By week's end we will know if either of our Alaskan US Senators are willing to concoct an excuse to throw 100,000 Alaskans under the bus for the opportunity to stay in Senator McConnell's good graces. Oddly enough, the same vote will deliver a giant tax break to wealthy families, their families included... And by the way; have you ever wondered why the same industry complaining about the exorbitant costs of insuring their workers also pay lobbyists to lobby against Bernie Sanders proposal to lift the burden from their shoulders with better quality, lower deductible coverage through a single payer system? Bernie wants to expand Medicare to cover every American of every age through Medicare. - More...
Thursday PM - June 29, 2017

letter Protect Medicaid By David G. Katzeek - One day, we will tell future generations of our choice. Did we help our neighbors when they were sick, or did we ignore their needs? This is the question before all Alaskans when it comes to Medicaid. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 27, 2017

letter Open Letter: Rep. Jonathan S. Kreiss-Tomkins By Gregg Parsley - Several of us in the Southeast Alaska mariculture industry would like you to look into what it would take to begin the process for Federal Disaster Relief funds for our oyster industry here in Southeast Alaska due to Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP). We, Shikat Bay Oysters, have been shutdown for going on 4 weeks with no relief in sight, we have lost to date over $25,000 and once our parts per unit (ppu) numbers fall below the 80 ppu number we will still have to wait another two weeks before we are able to put oysters back into commerce. I can see us, Shikat Bay Oysters, loosing in excess of $40,000 due to this unusually early and unseasonably PSP outbreak. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 27, 2017

letter RE: Use for Taku By Kay Taylor - The idea of the Ferry Taku being used for lodging for our representatives to save money is great. We need to stop frittering away dollars. If the Ferry system is good enough for us then it is good enough for our representatives. Moving it to Juneau for housing would solve two problems. We need to cut down on per diem for our traveling representatives. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 27, 2017

letter Living Within Means By Lance Clark - I think Senator Gardner shows us exactly what the fiscal problem is. Living within our means is not a foreign idea to her, it's an evil one! To be good people we have to always spend more than we have. I don't know her personally but her way of thinking sounds insane. - More...
Tuesday AM - June 27, 2017

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

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