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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 25, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By SHERRY POTTER

Guess Who's Not Coming To Dinner
Tossed paws over the deck railing, then looked around, posed no danger nor any damage, and left soon after. Photographer watched this curious bear from her kitchen window.
Front Page Feature Photo By

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Ketchikan: Joplin pleads not guilty to murder, theft by Leila Kheiry, KRBD - A 32-year-old Washington State man pleaded not guilty Monday to first- and second-degree murder charges related to the March 16 death of Ketchikan surgeon Dr. Eric Garcia. - Listen or read this KRBD article...

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Southeast Alaska: Forest Service purchases land in Cube Cove returning it to Wilderness - Today marks the completion of the purchase of four additional segments of a multi-segment land acquisition in and around Cube Cove on Admiralty Island using congressionally appropriated funds.

In July of 2016, a landmark purchase agreement was signed between the Forest Service and Shee Atiká, Incorporated to return over 22,000 acres of land back into Wilderness within the million-acre Admiralty Island National Monument. Due to the size of the property, the purchase agreement established a method to acquire the property in segments. Today’s purchase of four segments, comprising 7,570.21 acres, together with the 2016 acquisition segments of 4,463.45 acres, combines for a total of 12,033.66 acres purchased to date. The segments purchased so far represent 52.6 percent of the Cube Cove property with 10,856.61 acres remaining.

When this purchase is completed it will be the largest transfer of lands from a private inholding back into Forest Service-managed Wilderness in the history of the agency. Admiralty Island is located within the Tongass National Forest, which is the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world, home to large populations of brown bears and other wildlife and also critical watersheds for salmon and fish stocks. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Southeast Alaska: Draft Record of Decision issued for Wrangell Island Project - The draft Record of Decision and Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Wrangell Island Project were recently released for public review.  The scope of the project is to develop/implement a multi-year project involving a variety of timber harvests and road construction.

Earl Stewart, Forest Supervisor for the Tongass National Forest, selected Alternative 2 in the draft ROD. The Selected Alternative would harvest about 56 million board feet of timber with associated road construction. The Selected Alterative includes public access management which was developed in cooperation with the public and City and Borough of Wrangell. The Selected Alternative also provides public access for subsistence firewood collection. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Southeast Alaska: UA Board of Regents approves joint UAS-UAF Fisheries degree - Students at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) in Juneau will now be able to earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in light of action by the UA Board of Regents in June 2017. 

The new degree is expected to increase the number of Southeast Alaska students who earn an undergraduate fisheries degree and are prepared to work in fisheries development, management, and research. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Alaska: Governor Signs Legislation to Increase Opioid Awareness, Education, and Monitoring - Governor Bill Walker today signed major opioid reforms into law in what is called a critical next step in Building a Safer Alaska.

HB 159 allows patients to execute a Voluntary Nonopioid Directive, making it clear that they do not desire to be administered an opioid. The confidential information would be provided to an individual’s healthcare provider or hospital, and is revocable at any time.

Alaskans will also be able to request partial fills of opioid prescriptions from pharmacists, without voiding the remainder of the prescription. Additionally, the legislation limits first-time opioid prescriptions to no more than a 7-day supply with exceptions, strengthens reporting and education requirements for pharmacists and healthcare providers, and requires the controlled substance prescription database to be updated daily starting July 1, 2018, instead of weekly, to increase communication among providers and transparency. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Alaska: Door-to-door paving scam prompts statewide warning - A new scam is coming right to Alaskans front door and Representative Tammie Wilson (R-North Pole) is encouraging people to be aware so they do not fall victim. Rep. Wilson took charge of the issue by calling state agencies who protect consumers after she received numerous calls from people in her district sharing their experience with scammers.

The Alaska Attorney General’s Office is warning Alaskans that individuals or companies are going door-to-door offering paving services that mislead consumers by violating the Door-To-Door Sales provision and the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

The way the scam typically works is individuals claim they have leftover paving materials and are able to pave driveways or sidewalks for a discounted rate. The actual work done by the pavement scammers is shoddy and below all paving standards. Additionally, when the work is done, a homeowner is told the job will cost much more than promised, in some cases double. Scammers sometimes try to represent themselves as a local business by using a vacant lot for their business address or by sporting a work vehicle with Alaskan license plates.  - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Alaska: Bearded Seal Listing Poses Significant Implications for Native Communities Throughout Alaska - The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation filed a petition Friday for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court in response to a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in October of last year. The ruling upheld the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) 2012 decision listing the Alaska population of the bearded seal as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). 

Bearded Seal Listing Poses Significant Implications for Native Communities Throughout Alaska

Bearded Seal (Erignathus barbatus)
Photo Courtesy Center for Biological Diversity

Joining Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC) in the petition are the State of Alaska, the North Slope Borough, the Northwest Arctic Borough, the Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and NANA Regional Corporation.

“A listing of a bountiful and healthy species solely upon uncertain speculation 100-years into the future is not scientific and would greatly impact our entire state,” said Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. “I hope the U.S. Supreme Court will take up this case and require that these decisions are supported by reasonable scientific evidence, not speculation.”

"This is yet another example of federal overreach threatening the quality of life and economic viability of Alaska Native communities," said Rex A. Rock Sr., ASRC president and CEO. "The Ninth Circuit's decision will have detrimental effects on growth and sustainability in our region, at a time when the state's economy is already on unstable ground." 

Rock continued, "By accepting uncertain 100-year climate projections as the basis for a threatened listing, the appellate court has undermined the statutory requirement that threats to a species be foreseeable. The Ninth Circuit's permissive standard for the listing of species not only creates unnecessary regulatory burdens on the North Slope, but sets the stage for additional species to be considered for ESA listing throughout the entire state."

"If the ESA listing for bearded seals were to stand, it would require us to recover a population that has not yet declined," said Bruce Dale, Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. "That is simply not possible and a poor use of resources."  - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017


Study Finds Toxic Mercury is Accumulating in the Arctic Tundra - Vast amounts of toxic mercury are accumulating in the Arctic tundra, threatening the health and well-being of people, wildlife and waterways, according to a UMass Lowell scientist investigating the source of the pollution. 

Study Finds Toxic Mercury is Accumulating in the Arctic Tundra

University of Massachusetts Lowell Prof. Daniel Obrist spent two years in the Alaskan tundra where he and an international team of scientists investigated the source of high levels of mercury pollution in the region.

A research team led by Prof. Daniel Obrist, chairman of UMass Lowell’s Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, found that airborne mercury is gathering in the Arctic tundra, where it gets deposited in the soil and ultimately runs off into waters. Scientists have long reported high levels of mercury pollution in the Arctic. The new research identifies gaseous mercury as its major source and sheds light on how the element gets there. 

“Now we understand how such a remote site is so exposed to mercury,” Obrist said. Although the study did not examine the potential impact of global warming, if climate change continues unchecked, it could destabilize these mercury deposits in tundra soils and allow large amounts of the element to find its way into Arctic waters, he added. 

Obrist recently completed two years of field research in the tundra, tracking the origin and path of mercury pollution. Working from an observation site in Alaska north of Brooks Range, he and an international group of scientists identified that gaseous mercury in the atmosphere is the source of 70 percent of the pollutant that finds its way into the tundra soil. In contrast, airborne mercury that is deposited on the ground through rain or snow – a more frequent focus of other studies – accounts for just 2 percent of the mercury deposits in the region, Obrist’s team found. 

The new research is the most comprehensive investigation on how mercury is deposited in the Arctic. The full results of the study, which was supported by the National Science Foundation, appear in the July 13 edition of the prestigious academic journal Nature. 

Mercury is a harmful pollutant, threatening fish, birds and mammals across the globe. The dominant source of mercury pollution in the atmosphere is hundreds of tons of the element that are emitted each year through the burning of coal, mining and other industrial processes across the globe.  - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017


Health Care: Senate GOP opens health care debate. Now what? By JEFFERY LAZARUS, DAVID MCLENNAN, AND RACHEL CAUFIEFL - On July 25, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell narrowly managed to keep a Republican effort to reform health care alive. We asked our experts to consider the importance of this procedural vote and what happens next.

Which bill will it be? By Jeffrey Lazarus, Georgia State University

Senate Republicans have voted to start debate on a health care bill. The “motion to proceed” – which marks the start of debate on bills in the Senate – reached a majority on the strength of “yes” votes from senators who previously voted “no,” including Rand Paul, Dean Heller and Shelley Moore Capito; John McCain’s quick return to Washington after a brain cancer diagnosis; and a rare tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence.

While this is a major step in the legislative process in the Senate, it’s important to remember that today’s vote is procedural, not substantive. No bill has passed. All that has happened is that the Senate will begin formal debate.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell depended on a couple of factors to help get the motion passed. First, members are more likely to support their parties on procedural votes than votes directly attached to whether a bill should pass. Second, this particular procedural vote has almost no substance; nobody knows what the Senate bill will look like, so it’s unclear what exactly the Senate just agreed to debate. Since the health care bill is massively unpopular, this lack of substance probably helped get marginal senators on board. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Health Care Debate Alaska: Senate Votes 51-50 to Proceed With Health-Care Debate - The U.S. Senate voted today 51-50 to beign debating a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Vice President Mike Pence casted the tie breaking vote to advance the health care bill to the floor. Alaska's senators were split with U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) voting yes to proceed with the health-care debate and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voting no.

Governor Bill Walker reacted to the U.S. Senate’s approval of a Motion to Proceed to debate on repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Walker said, “As I have said before, I will not support any healthcare bill that hurts Alaskans or their access to care. Alaskans deserve a fair and transparent process so they can understand how this legislation will impact their lives and families; thus far, that has not been the case."

Senator Murkowski said in a prepared statement, “I voted ‘no’ today to give the Senate another chance to take this to the committee process."

Murkowski said, “I have repeatedly said that healthcare reform, and especially major entitlement reform, should go through the committee process where stakeholders can weigh in and ideas can be vetted in a bipartisan forum." - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Senate Passes Procedural Health Care Vote

Editorial Cartoon: Senate Passes Procedural Health Care Vote
By RJ Matson ©2017, Roll Call
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

37th anniversary of the Legislative coup By Ray Metcalfe -June 12, 2017 was the 37th anniversary of the Legislative coup toppling Juneau's State House Representative Jim Duncan's Democratic Majority Caucus. The Legislature had been at a standstill for about three weeks. The Bush Caucus, all Democrats, was unhappy with the share of the legislative pie the Majority was offering. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The Republican Healthcare Bill is Horrible for Alaska, Regardless of its Name By Ghert Abbott - The first version of the Republican healthcare plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) raised premiums, increased deductibles, reduced coverage quality, lowered the subsidies that help people buy insurance, financially penalized senior citizens, and drastically cut Medicaid for rural states, all in order to pay for tax cuts to the top 1%. As a result, 24 million Americans were to lose their health insurance, 45,000 of them Alaskans, of which approximately 1,000 would have been Ketchikan residents. When Don Young provided one of the essential votes in the ACHA’s passage out of the House, he claimed there was no cause for concern as the Senate would substantially improve the legislation. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Tansy Ragwort By Farrel Lewis - I spent the last two days pulling tansy ragwort in the Cambria area.  I just dropped off five garbage bags full of the stuff at the landfill to be burned.  This is the perfect time to pull it up, after it bolts the roots release far easier from the soil. Unfortunately, you cannot just pull the blooming plants and leave them on the ground to die, doing research on this subject I found out that the seeds will still mature.  These plants need to be disposed of properly. - More..
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: Fact versus fiction By Rodney Dial - Summer is a busy time for most of us in Ketchikan. Personally, I have better things to do than respond to Rep. Ortiz’s latest letter, however it presents a great opportunity to show how politicians like Ortiz play the word game to deceive and mislead. For example: - More...
Wednesday PM - July 19, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Re: NRA Propaganda By D Jay O'Brien - The violent images in the NRA video Mr. Chaudhary references are indeed disturbing. The video is a compilation of segments from actual events that have occurred in our cities and on our college campuses since the last election. Is this video clip propaganda or just depictions of the new reality of violence that may be brought upon someone for their beliefs and political leanings? - More...
Wednesday PM - July 19, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Giving Alaska's oil away By Ray Metcalfe - Alaska doesn't have a budget problem; Alaska has bribery problems, and gullible legislator problems. Alaska allows oil companies to extract fair payment for their services from net oil production revenues. Additionally, they keep 90% of our ownership equity; equity other owner states keep. At today's prices, the big three are making over $17 per barrel plus cost of production and delivery from our oil. (See ConocoPhillips' quarterly reports) That's about $9 Million per day, or $3.2 billion per year. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

NRA Propaganda By Norbert Chaudhary - The politically partisan, hate filled NRA recruiting video posted a few days ago is shocking but sadly not so surprising. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Budget cuts By Liz Bruce - All this reduction in spending is good but the problem is there are so many promised benefits and retirement we can't afford. You sit in a position where you can vote to keep state employee and teacher benefits intact when we can't afford those benefits as a state. New taxes are regressive and too easy to rely on. Our household has not seen an increase in income since 2011 but we have to live within our budget. It is time for the state to quit promising benefits we can't afford. You can't expect taxpayers to always come up with more. - More...
Tuesday PM - JUly 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Fact versus fiction By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As an elected official, it’s my responsibility to keep Alaskans informed with factual and relevant information about the issues that affect them. As I write I’m busy working for you up in Juneau, so here’s a quick rundown of fact versus fiction. - More...
Sunday AM - July 09, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Please Be A Responsible Pet Owner By William J. Miller - We have tried to be good neighbors and have politely asked our neighbor to keep their dog out of our yard as it has unfortunately gotten into the habit of depositing poop outside the entry to our home. The last encounter with the dog resulted in baring of teeth and challenging us. I’m pretty sure there is a leash law in the borough and although we are avid pet lovers and owners, we are at the point of contention in our household as my wife wants to file a formal complaint with animal control but I am reluctant since it will no doubt drive a permanent wedge between neighbors. - More..
Sunday AM - July 09, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Gilmore Hotel By Kitty Meredith - My mother, Mary Patricia Gilmore Fox, told me that she was born in the Gilmore Hotel on October 23, 1905. Her parents, Peter Francis Gilmore and Mary Eleanor Fitzmaurice Gilmore and my mother moved shortly after into a large Victorian house they had built on Grant St., across from Ketchikan School. The house was called “the Irish Castle”. On the front of the house, high up on the tower area, was a large green shamrock. - More...
Sunday Am - July 09, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Tribute to Sol Atkinson By A. M. Johnson - Regarding the tribute to Sol Atkinson, I met Sol during my careers in the early 70's where Metlakatla was involved. Sol must have retired recently to this introduction. He was a standout personality on the first meet without knowing of his military history. - More...
Sunday AM - July 09, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Neutralize North Korean Threat By Donald Moskowitz - North Korea continues to expand its nuclear weapons program and is making progress in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the Western U.S.  It is working on miniaturizing nuclear weapons to fit on ICBMs by early 2018, and it threatens to attack the U.S. with nuclear warheads. - More...
Sunday AM - July 09, 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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