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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 30, 2022

jpg SitNews Front Page Photo By ED CUSHING ©2022

Norwegian Bliss
The Norwegian Bliss towers over Bar Harbor recently as it sails south along Tongass Narrows.  The Bliss (4,000 passengers, 1,700 crew), at 1,094’, is the world’s 22nd largest cruise ship.  In comparison, the world’s largest cruise ship (Wonder of the Seas, at almost 1,200’ in length) has capacity for approximately 7,000 passengers and 2,300 crew.
SitNews Front Page Photo By ED CUSHING ©2022
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arrowCOVID-19 DATA SUMMARY – July 27, 2022
Reporting data for July 20-26, 2022
STATEWIDE OVERVIEW: 2,946 new cases;  0 newly reported deaths ;  83 hospitalizations
SE ALASKA POSITIVE CASES: Ketchikan 25, Juneau 103, Metlakatla 5, Craig 4, Haines 8, Petersburg 5, Sitka 44, POW-Hyder 5, Wrangell 7.
arrow COVID-19 DATA SUMMARY – July 20, 2022
Reporting data for July 13-19, 2022 (Not available online)
STATEWIDE OVERVIEW: – 3,815 new cases - 0 newly reported deaths - 67 hospitalizations* (The hospitalizations total in the overview reflects last week's TH 13TH data. Due to a technical issue.)
SE ALASKA POSITIVE CASES: Ketchikan 21; KBG 1; Juneau 160; Craig 5; Metlakatla 10, Sitka 47; Skagway 3; POW-Hyder 10; Wrangell 19, Petersburg 3.
arrow COVID-19 DATA SUMMARY – July 13, 2022
Reporting data for July 6-12, 2022
OVERVIEW – 3,449 new cases - 24 newly reported deaths - 67 hospitalizations
A male resident of Ketchikan in his 60s; A male resident of POW-Hyder Census Area in his 70s; A female resident of POW-Hyder Census Area in her 40s; A male resident of Juneau age 80+;
Ketchikan 41; KGB 1; Metlakatla 5; Juneau 128; Haines 9; Craig 1; Petersburg 7; POW_Hyder Census Area 5; Sitka 39; Skagway 6; Wrangell 46.
arrow COVID-19 DATA SUMMARY – July 6, 2022
Reporting data for June 29 - July 5, 2022
OVERVIEW:   3,323 new cases - 0 newly reported deaths - 56 hospitalizations 
SE ALASKA POSITIVE CASES: Juneau 111, Ketchikan  50, KGB 1, Sitka 29, Wrangell 7, Craig 3, Haines 7, Metlakatla  3, Petersburg 3, POW- Hyder 3.
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Alaska: 26-year old is the youngest and first-ever female Fire Boss pilot; Ketchikan grandmother very proud By KELSEY GRIFFEE - Aerial firefighting is a dangerous job and few make the cut in this fast- paced adrenaline-fueled world. Water-scooping Single Engine Airtanker (SEAT) pilot Mikaela Young, a born and raised Alaskan, fits right in, with her desire to do anything that, “gets the heart rate up.”

26-year old is the youngest and first-ever female Fire Boss pilot; Ketchikan grandmother very proud

Mikaela Young
Considered the youngest to ever pilot a Fire Boss and the first female in the world.
Photo courtesy Alaska Wildland Fire Information Center

At the age of 26, she is considered the youngest to ever pilot a Fire Boss and the first female in the world. She is praised for her impressive flying and instincts beyond her years, according to officials at Dauntless Air, the company that owns the contracted firefighting airplanes.

Young grew up homeschooled along with four siblings on an off grid, 320-acre homestead near Talkeetna, Alaska. Her family lived in tents for three years while building their house. When she turned 15, she started logging seven days a week to pay for her first truck. Young credits her work ethic to her parents.

Young also has family ties to Ketchikan as the granddaughter of local resident Louise Clark. Clark wrote in an email to SitNews that she is very proud of her granddaughter.

Young was inspired to get into the aviation world after participating in Build A Plane, a nonprofit that gives Talkeetna youth the chance to rebuild an airplane. After rebuilding a Cherokee 6, Young decided to pursue a career turning wrenches as an airplane mechanic.

Young had “wicked” motion sickness growing up and never thought she would be a pilot. But her need to “try everything” and learn more about the planes she worked on changed her mind.

She convinced a coworker to instruct her and within a year she had earned all her pilot ratings, including private, commercial, and multi-engine. She got her start in commercial aviation as a flight engineer and then moved up to piloting World War II DC-6 and C-46 planes, the giant cargo planes that transport fuel and food to remote Alaskan villages.

“I like the flying world more than the wrenching world because there is always something new. Different weather, scenery, and emergencies,” Young said. “Wrenching was a lot of the same tasks every day.”

She saw the Fire Bosses, the water-scooping airplanes that look much like crop dusters with floats, for the first time while flying cargo across Alaska. These floats give them the Fire Boss name and separate them from the SEATs flown in the Lower 48 with a wheeled configuration.

Then, a year ago, she met Mindy Lane, a SEAT base manager with the BLM Alaska Fire, and Sonny Amboni, Dauntless pilot, who explained the requirements to become an aerial firefighter. At the beginning of the fire season, the BLM AFS contracts four Fire Bosses to respond to wildfires throughout the state and orders additional when fire activity increases.

“I thought (Fire Bosses) were pretty cool and convinced (Dauntless Chief Pilot and Director of Operations) Jesse Weaver to hire me,” Young said. “Flying a Fire Boss is awesome! I love being the only one in the cockpit.”

A Fire Boss is an AT-802F aircraft equipped to scoop and drop 800-gallons of water on wildfires. Two postcard-sized scoops on the bottom of each float pylon fill the tank as the plane skims over water as little as 4-feet deep in a matter of 15-seconds. Their ability to scoop from a body of water near a wildfire make them a valuable firefighting resource, especially in Alaska, where fires are remote and there is an abundance of water.

“Flying a Fire Boss is challenging. Scooping is the most difficult thing I have ever done in an airplane,” Young said. “You are flying across water at 60 knots when you put the probes out to scoop water. Initially it dips the nose and you have to correct for that. As the hopper fills with water the plane starts to porpoise from sloshing water and you are eating the wake of the plane in front of you. You’re heavy and slow and the plane doesn’t want to fly.” - More....
Saturday - July 30, 2022

Alaska: Governor Dunleavy Signs Tribal Recognition Bill to Formally Recognize Alaska’s Tribes - Alaska’s state government formally recognizes all of Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes with Governor Mike Dunleavy’s signing of House Bill 123 on July 28th. The measure itself does not impact the current legal status of Alaska Tribes or change the State’s responsibility or authority. However, it does formally recognize Alaska’s Indigenous people.

“House Bill 123 codifies in law what Alaskans have long recognized: the important role that Native Tribes play in our past, present, and future,” said Governor Dunleavy. “I congratulate all the legislators who nearly unanimously voted for this bill and our hosts today, Julie Kitka with the Alaska Federation of Natives and Emily Edenshaw with the Alaska Native Heritage Center. I also want to thank Emil Notti and Willie Hensley for attending and speaking at this historic bill signing – we can’t tell the story of Native rights and unity without Willie and Emil.”

The bill signing ceremony was held at the Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC) and hosted by Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) President Julie Kitka and ANHC Executive Director Emily Edenshaw. The bill’s signing was celebrated by key authors and advocates of AFN and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Emil Notti and Willie Hensley. The signing of HB 123 signifies the State’s desire to foster engagement with Alaska Natives and tribal organizations.

“Today [July 28, 2022] is a historic day for Alaska and one that is long overdue,” said Representative Tiffany Zulkosky, HB 123’s sponsor. “While the inherent sovereignty of Alaska Tribes has been consistently affirmed in Federal policy, in rulings by the Supreme Court, and by Executive Order in 2018, the signing of House Bill 123 provides formal recognition in statute for the first time in our State’s history. I hope today is looked back on as the beginning of a new chapter of collaboration and partnership between the State and Alaska’s Tribes.” - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

Alaska: Governor Signs Bill Allowing for Opportunity of State-Tribal Compact Schools - Thursday, Governor Mike Dunleavy signed Senate Bill 34(SB 34), sponsored by Senator Gary Stevens, which provides the opportunity for Tribes to voluntarily apply to establish a State-Tribal compact school. Governor Dunleavy believes this legislation will expand school choice options while improving education outcomes.

“As an educator, I’m excited about this innovative step to facilitate pilot projects between the state and Tribes,” said Governor Dunleavy. “We can improve our education outcomes, increase school choice, and respect the heritage and culture of our Tribes. State-Tribal compact schools will create a new avenue for preparing our children to be productive and strong community members.”

“This is a historic opportunity to embrace our unique Alaska Native heritages, providing a means for local tribal governments to determine their own path for educating young Alaskans,” said Senator Gary Stevens (R-District P). “I’m proud to have contributed to and be a part of this historic occasion.” - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

Alaska: Governor Signs Three Bills Modernizing and Increasing Alaska Public Safety Laws - At the Alaska State Crime Lab in Anchorage yesterday, Governor Mike Dunleavy signed into law three bills aimed at increasing public safety for all Alaskans.

• House Bill 106, sponsored by Governor Dunleavy, aligns Alaska law with federal requirements regarding reporting missing persons under the age of 21.

• House Bill 325, sponsored by Representative Sara Rasmussen, updates the state’s domestic violence statutes, the definition of consent, and better protects victims of crime.

•  Senate Bill 7, sponsored by Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson, requires the Department of Public Safety to publish policies and procedures related to the conduct of peace officers.

Together, the three pieces of legislation embolden the state’s public safety laws and hold bad actors accountable for their actions. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

“Public Safety has been my top priority since taking office. No matter who they are or where they live, no Alaskan should live in fear. By enacting these commonsense measures, we’re making Alaska safer. We’re closing loopholes in our assault laws, keeping offenders accountable if they change their names, improving response times for missing persons while increasing protections for college-aged Alaskans, and codifying transparency in our public safety policies,” said Governor Dunleavy. 

jpg The monkeypox virus, shown in this illustration, can be transmitted through close contact between people.

Alaska reports first case of monkeypox
The monkeypox virus, shown in this illustration, can be transmitted through close contact between people.
Credit: Thom Leach/Science Photos Library

Alaska: Alaska reports first case of monkeypox - The Alaska Department of Health (DOH) and the Anchorage Health Department (AHD) announced yesterday the first case of monkeypox in Alaska. The person, an Anchorage resident, did not require hospitalization and is isolating at home. 

The individual had not traveled but was a close contact of an individual who had recently traveled outside of Alaska. 

The Alaska Section of Epidemiology is continuing to work to identify people who may have been exposed to monkeypox in Alaska. Any close contacts will be notified and offered vaccine. People with close contact exposure to monkeypox are generally advised to reach out to their clinician or public health center for evaluation. Testing for monkeypox is available in Alaska, as is a limited supply of the JYNNEOS vaccine. 

Vaccine is prioritized for people who have been identified as having close contact to someone with monkeypox within the last two weeks. Currently, vaccination to prevent monkeypox is not recommended for the general public. 

Monkeypox does not spread easily between people. Transmission is possible either through skin-to-skin contact with body fluids or monkeypox sores, through direct contact with contaminated items such as bedding or clothing, and through exposure to respiratory droplets during prolonged face-to-face contact. While anyone can get or spread monkeypox, in the current outbreak in the United States, most cases have occurred among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men.

“While the risk of monkeypox infection remains low for the general population, it is important for people who might be at increased risk for exposure to be aware of how to prevent transmission and what signs and symptoms to look for,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, state epidemiologist and chief of the Section of Epidemiology. 

Monkeypox symptoms typically start with flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, chills, muscle aches and exhaustion within 1 to 2 weeks of exposure. The rash appears soon after. Some may only develop the rash. People infected with monkeypox are typically sick for 2-4 weeks. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

Health: To Stem the Spread of Monkeypox, Health Departments Tap Into Networks of Those Most at Risk By - On July 23, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern. It was a contentious decision, with the WHO’s director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, making the final call and overruling the WHO’s emergency committee. The advisory committee’s disagreements mirrored debates that have been unfolding among public officials, on social media, and in opinion pages over the past several weeks. Is monkeypox a public health emergency when it’s spreading “just” among gay and bisexual men and trans women? To what degree do other populations need to worry?

Behind those questions are concerns about stigma and how best to allocate scarce resources. But they also reflect an individualistic understanding of public health. Rather than asking what the monkeypox outbreak means for them now, the public could be asking how the monkeypox outbreak could affect them in the future and why and how it could be contained now.

The longer monkeypox transmission goes unchecked, the more likely it is to spill over into other populations. There have already been a handful of cases among women and a couple of cases in children because of household transmission. In otherwise healthy people, monkeypox can be extremely painful and disfiguring. But in pregnant women, newborns, young children, and immunocompromised people, monkeypox can be deadly. Those groups would all be in danger if monkeypox became entrenched in this country.

Stopping transmission among men who have sex with men will protect them in the here and now and more vulnerable populations in the future. But with a limited supply of monkeypox vaccine available, how can public health officials best target vaccines equitably for impact?

It won’t be enough to vaccinate close contacts of people with monkeypox to stop the spread. Public health officials have been unable to follow all chains of transmission, which means many cases are going undiagnosed. Meanwhile, the risk of monkeypox (and other sexually transmissible diseases) isn’t evenly distributed among gay and bisexual men and trans women, and targeting all of them would outstrip supply. Such a strategy also risks stigmatizing these groups. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

Analysis: Why declaring monkeypox a global health emergency is a preventative step – not a reason for panic By KATHRYN H. JACOBSEN - Countries that are members of the United Nations are obligated to report cases of unusual diseases that have the potential to become global health threats. In May 2022, more than a dozen countries in Europe, the Americas and other regions of the world that had never before had cases of monkeypox started to report cases occurring within their borders.

In response, the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, convened a monkeypox emergency committee to track the evolving situation. At the committee’s first meeting on June 23, 2022, the members observed that the “multi-country outbreak” might be stabilizing as case counts had plateaued in several countries.

However, after thousands more cases of monkeypox were diagnosed in dozens of countries in July, it became clear that the outbreak had not stagnated. On July 23, 2022, Tedros declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.

As a global health expert who specializes in infectious disease epidemiology I do not think that most people need to be worried about monkeypox. This decision by the WHO, though it may sound ominous, is not a sign of bad things to come. Rather, it is a way to prevent monkeypox from becoming a global crisis. - More....
Saturday - July 30, 2022

SitNews Front Page Photo By ED CUSHING

Disney Wonder
Looming over Ketchikan, Disney Wonder with Deer Mountain in the background and beautiful Ketchikan day. The Disney Wonder (length, 984’) has capacity for 2,700 passengers and 950 crew.
SitNews Front Page Photo By ED CUSHING ©2022
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Alaska: Drug overdoses significant contributor to deaths in Alaska - Drug overdoses are a significant contributor to mortality in Alaska and represent an ongoing public health concern. Deaths by overdose have been increasing annually since 2018 according to the Alaska Department of Health. A new report designed to provide an update on the current state of Alaska drug overdose mortality through 2021 has recently been released. The Health Analytics and Vital Records Sections of the Department of Health notes that the data in this new report may be incomplete and should be considered provisional and subject to change.

Notable Findings:

• In 2021, there were 253 overdose deaths, up from 146 in 2020.

• The age-adjusted overdose death rate in 2021 was 35.2 deaths per 100,000 population, up from 20.2 in 2020.

• By sex, men typically experience higher overdose death rates than women.

• By race, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) people typically experience higher overdose death rates than other races.

• By age, young adults and middle-aged people between 25 to 54 years old typically experience higher overdose death rates than other ages.

• Anchorage had the state’s highest age-adjusted overdose death rate by region in 2021, at 49.3 deaths per 100,000, up from 31.4 in 2020.

• In 2021, there were 196 opioid overdose deaths, up from 102 in 2020. This includes 145 deaths involving fentanyl, up from 58 in 2020.

• Methamphetamine was involved in 154 overdose deaths in 2021, up from 62 in 2020.

• Out of the 778 drug overdose deaths between 2017 and 2021, 454 deaths (or 58.4%) involved a combination of two or more types of narcotic, sedative, or psychotropic drugs. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

Alaska: More than $2 million in grant awards announced by AMHTA - The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (Trust) awarded more than $2.3 million in grants to beneficiary-serving organizations in the final quarter of fiscal year 2022 (FY 2022). 

Trust grants are awarded throughout the year to Alaska nonprofits, Tribal entities, state and local government agencies, and service providers that serve Trust beneficiaries. Beneficiaries include Alaskans who experience mental illness, substance use disorders, intellectual and developmental disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and traumatic brain injuries. This quarter’s grants, part of the Trust’s approximately $25 million annual grant program, fund beneficiary-supporting programs and initiatives that align with the Trust’s mission and values.

“Understanding the importance of a robust system of care that Trust beneficiaries need to thrive, we are pleased to be able to support so many organizations and initiatives that provide essential support and services,” said Steve Williams, CEO of the Trust. “The Trust’s grant program is designed to support and improve Alaska’s full continuum of care, from prevention, to intervention and treatment, to post-treatment, and these awards really help address the system’s needs. We appreciate all efforts of Trust beneficiary-serving partners who are making real improvements in the lives of Alaskans.” 

Many of the projects funded by the Trust also receive funding from the philanthropic community, private donations, earned revenue, and other community support. The total value of the projects funded by the Trust this quarter represents an estimated $5,075,500. 

Among the grants awarded in the fourth quarter of FY 2022:

Ketchikan: Ketchikan Crisis Now Program Director 
Ketchikan Wellness Coalition, $100,000

Trust funding is supporting a full-time Crisis Now Community Planning Coordinator position in Ketchikan who will serve as the liaison between the local community implementation team, the Trust, and consultants throughout the development of improved behavioral health crisis response services in Ketchikan. Supporting this position and the stand-up of improved crisis response services in Ketchikan is a part of the Trust’s larger effort to transform mental health crisis response in Alaska.  - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022


Southeast Alaska: AP&T Awarded $29.3m USDA ReConnect Grant to Expand Fiber Optic Connectivity in POW Communities - Alaska Power & Telephone Company (AP&T) announced its subsidiary APT Wireless has been selected by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to receive a $29,344,717 grant award from USDA Rural Utility Service’s ReConnect grant program, to expand fiber optic connectivity in communities on Prince of Wales Island. AP&T will invest $9,781,573 in matching private funds. The project, called “SEALink South,” will involve developing fiber optic networks capable of 100 Mbps symmetrical service and higher to approximately 550 premises in the remote, rural communities of Craig, Klawock, and Hollis, helping to enhance telecommunication resiliency and redundancy for residents throughout the Tongass National Forest region.

AP&T estimates a marine route survey, permitting, and environmental review activities will occur in 2023. Construction would occur between 2024 and 2027, depending on timing of environmental and permit approvals.

The “SEALink South” project builds upon the success of AP&T’s “SEALink” project, which is proceeding 2 years ahead of schedule. SEALink includes a new submarine fiber optic cable between the communities of Prince of Wales Island, Petersburg, and Juneau, and fiber-to-the-home for all premises within the remote, unserved communities of Kasaan and Coffman Cove. The SEALink submarine cable is currently in British Columbia, pre-staged for installation beginning in November of 2022. Fiber to the home installation will occur in Kasaan and Coffman Cove in 2023.

“AP&T deeply appreciates this opportunity to invest alongside USDA and dramatically improve the quality and affordability of services it can offer to rural Alaskans,” remarked AP&T CEO Mike Garrett.

Garrett said, “For years, these communities have struggled to find economic sustainability within the challenging context of the Tongass National Forest. USDA’s investment will help put amazing new opportunities within reach, enabling remote work, distance education, telemedicine, and strengthening existing businesses and jobs. We are extremely thankful for all of the hard work by Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, advocating for federal programs like ReConnect, which have been instrumental in addressing the infrastructure needs of remote Alaska communities.” - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

Alaska: Over $116 Million in Infrastructure Funding for High-Speed Internet in Alaska - U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-AK) today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding over $116 million to improve high-speed internet access in numerous Alaska villages and communities. These grants were made possible by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), led by Senator Murkowski. The grants come through USDA’s ReConnect Program,which aims to ensure high-speed internet for all communities across the United States. 

Alaska has now received more than $2.1 billion from the IIJA, with billions more expected to flow to the state in the months and years ahead.  

“In nearly every rural and remote community I visit, broadband and connectivity are not just topic of conversations, but top priorities for residents and businesses alike,” Murkowski said. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

Alaska: Grant Roundup: Senator Murkowski Announces Federal Grants Heading to Alaska - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced the following grants to organizations, Tribal entities, and communities in Alaska:

Alaska - Statewide: $700,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the State of Alaska, Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) program to perform site characterization activities such as preliminary assessments and site inspections at potential or confirmed hazardous waste sites. - More....
Saturday - July 20, 2022

Alaska: Senate Passes Key Infrastructure Provisions for Alaska Ports and Harbors - U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) celebrated the passage of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 on the Senate floor. The legislation includes key victories for Alaska infrastructure, including increased cost-sharing for the Nome Arctic Deep Draft Port (resulting in community savings of $132 million) and authorization for the Elim Subsistence Harbor project.

Following unanimous passage in the EPW Committee, the legislation passed the Senate floor by a vote of 93-1. It now moves on to the House of Representatives.

“Alaska is a resource-rich, but infrastructure-poor state,” Senator Sullivan said. “The Army Corps of Engineers continues to do its vital work throughout Alaska, and this legislation provides the tools needed to support new water resources infrastructure and improve existing projects. Since serving as a senator for Alaska, I’ve been advocating for projects that will help our state realize its full economic potential and keep our citizens safe. - More...
July 30, 2022

SitNews Front Page Photo By CATINA MADISON

Tongass Narrows' Sunset
SitNews Front Page Photo By CATINA MADISON ©2022
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Alaska: Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Delivers Up to $93 Million to Help Alaska Improve Resilience of Transportation Infrastructure; PROTECT Formula Program will help Alaska address the climate crisis - In an ongoing effort to combat the effects of climate change and address the growing costs of extreme weather events negatively impacting communities, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced new guidance and $7.3 billion in formula funding to help states and communities better prepare for and respond to extreme weather events like wildfires, flooding, and extreme heat. This is a first-of-its-kind program, made possible by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

“In every part of the country, climate change is impacting roads, bridges, and rail lines that Americans rely on--endangering homes, lives and livelihoods in the process,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Buttigieg said, “Using funds from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we're launching this unprecedented effort to help communities protect their transportation infrastructure from extreme weather and improve routes that first responders and firefighters need during disasters.”  

The new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Formula Program funding is available to states over five years to make transportation infrastructure more resilient to future weather events and other natural disasters by focusing on resilience planning, making resilience improvements to existing transportation assets and evacuation routes, and addressing at-risk highway infrastructure.  In general, eligible projects include highway and transit projects, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and port facilities including those that help improve evacuations or disaster relief.  States are encouraged to work with regional and local partner organizations to prioritize transportation and emergency response improvements, as well as address vulnerabilities. 

Alaska will receive $17 million in Fiscal Year 2022 funding and is eligible to receive up to $93 million over five years to address climate change with a focus on resilience planning, resilience improvements to existing transportation assets and evacuation routes, and at-risk highway infrastructure. Severe weather events experienced by Alaska in recent years include storms and flooding. 

“We see the effects of climate change and extreme weather play out across the country every week, with extreme temperatures and rainfall and resulting flooding and wildfires that damage and in some cases destroy roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Stephanie Pollack. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

National: Reforms to the Electoral Count Act of 1887 Introduced - After months of bipartisan negotiations - led by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and colleagues on July 20th introduced two proposals which include legislation to reform and modernize the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that the electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President.  

“Election security and integrity are issues that we can all get behind. The events that occurred on January 6, 2021 must never happen again. I’m proud to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues on reforms to enhance election security and integrity, in order to ensure our elections are fair and safe,” said Senator Murkowski.

Murkowski said,  “Our legislation gives more clarity to states and Congress on the electoral count process; clarifies that when the successful candidate for President and Vice President is not clear, that all candidates have equal access to information important to an orderly transition of power; provides improvements to cybersecurity testing for voting systems; and enhances penalties for individuals who threaten election workers - just to name a few. There is nothing more fundamental than the right to vote, so we are taking necessary steps to bolster the public’s trust in our elections.” 

Quoting a news release, in developing the bills, the senators received input from state election officials, as well as from an ideologically diverse group of election experts and legal scholars, including the American Law Institute. Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) also provided helpful insight. 

“Debates over the political ‘rules of the game’ can be fraught with suspicion and jockeying for advantage. When these rules change, there must be buy-in from both parties to maintain trust in the system,” said Matthew Weil, Executive Director of the Democracy Program at the Bipartisan Policy Center. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

Columns - Commentary



DAVE KIFFER: In the Time of Dripitus Maximus - By the time you read this it might be sunny and 80 degrees.

That's what happens when someone comments in print about the weather. By the time the comment reaches the audience the weather has usually changed.

Unless you are reading it in Our Fair Salmon City, of course.

In all likelihood, it will be rainy and cold when you read this - as it is as I write this - because that is what summer in Wetchikan is.

We hear a lot about Global Warming, Climate Change, the Summer of Satan, whatever you want to call it. But since everything gets to Ketchikan 10 years after the fact, it ain't here yet.

And it probably never will be.

You see all those wonderful climate change models that agree on nothing seem to agree on one thing. One part of the North American continent will not get warmer and dryer. It will have more rain, more storms, more wind, more yuck for the next century. That area is the Pacific Ocean coast between Nanaimo, British Columbia, and Cordova, Alaska.

If you look at a map, the exact midpoint of that future Rainlandia is.....wait for it......Our Fair Precipatorially Blessed First City. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022


TAYLOR KOVAR: Ask Taylor: Using 401(k) Funds to Pay Down Credit Card Debt - Hi Taylor - I’m 24 and in a bit of a dilemma. I’ve got around 20,000 dollars in my 401(k), but I also have about $16,000 in credit card debt (I know, I know). Would it be a good idea for me to take the money out of my 401(k) and pay down this debt? The interest is starting to pile up and I'm worried it’ll haunt me forever. 

Hey Lisa - I wouldn’t say it’s a good idea. My gut reaction is to yell “Nooo!” Taking the penalty on an early withdrawal is a brutal loss of money, but I understand that there are many factors at play and different ways to look at this situation. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022


FINANCIAL FOCUS: Avoid these estate-planning mistakes Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - When many people hear the words “estate planning,” they assume it’s just for the wealthy. But that’s not the case because everyone can benefit from an estate plan. And when you’re creating one, you’ll want to avoid some common mistakes.

Before we look at those mistakes, let’s go over what estate planning is designed to accomplish. Essentially, an estate plan allows you to pass on your assets in the way you desire. But it can also specify other actions, such as naming someone to care for your minor children if you were no longer around. In creating an estate plan, several key documents are involved, including a will, a trust, a financial power of attorney and a medical power of attorney or a health care directive.

Now, let’s consider a few estate-planning mistakes:

• Not communicating your plans. You’ll need to inform your family about whom you’ve chosen as executor – the individual who will administer your estate – and whom you’ve named as the trustee – the person who will manage your trust’s assets. (You can also choose a trust company to handle this duty.) And to help avoid unpleasant surprises when your estate is being settled, consider letting your children or other close relatives know who will be receiving what. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022


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Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly 2022 Candidate By Austin Otos - I’ve had the honor to serve on the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly for three years starting in 2019. Since being elected, local government has undergone tumultuous changes starting with COVID, transitioning to having no cruise passengers, and ending with the community coming back into somewhat normalcy. I would characterize my short three-year term on the Borough Assembly as the “COVID Years”. Starting in 2020, the KGB declared a state of emergency and a two-year recovery process began. During those few years of economic recovery, the KGB was able to recuperate its loses from various federal and state government dollars such as the CARES Act, which helped restore tax revenue lost from an abysmal cruise ship year. With these funds, we were able to inject millions of dollars into the community into programs such as: rental/mortgage relief, daycare assistance, supplemental food programs, and local business grants. During the pandemic, both local governments worked together to provide services with minimum redundancy, which maximized the programs efficiencies. Without these crucial programs, the community would’ve had compounded social and economic problems. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

jpg Opinion

Our Ancestors Survived Against All Odds, We Owe It to Them to Vote By Deb Haaland - Many people don’t know that Native Americans didn’t have the right to vote in federal elections until we were granted U.S. citizenship in 1924 and that it wasn’t until the 1960s that the last state granted us the right to vote in state elections. This is the sad and ironic truth — even though Indigenous communities in North America are some of the oldest democracies in the world.  Participating in governing is a time honored and sacred tradition in our Indigenous communities. Our ancestors and relatives survived against seemingly insurmountable odds, which is why we owe it to them to make our voices heard at the ballot box. 

This is why I became an organizer in the first place. I knew that generations of laws restricting the right to vote for Native people impacted our participation in elections, and that it would take a concerted effort to register voters; ensure they had the information about voting dates, locations and hours; and personal outreach to increase voter participation.

With my voting rights champion, WWII veteran Miguel Trujillo in my mind, I would lace up my sneakers, drive out to remote communities in New Mexico, and go door to door. I can’t count how many times I knocked on someone’s door and heard that it was the first time anyone had ever reached out to them to register to vote. Since my organizing days in the early 2000s, we’ve made strides to increase the Native vote. But as we fast forward to today, we face the same battles. 

Recent attempts such as closing certain polling locations, limiting early voting, changing polling location hours, and even drawing maps to hush the voices of specific populations are consistent attempts to restrict voting access. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

jpg Opinion

FIRE ALL CURRENT CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS AS THEY COME UP FOR RE-ELECTION By David G Hanger - That includes the mayor whose recent article parodying vehicle choices was also pretty dopey in its comments about the bad roads around here and the tanks you need to drive on them. Visiting sister Kathy in Montana a few weeks back I watched a fellow named Thor disassemble and completely re-build the front end of my nephew’s big pickup truck. That took two days of hard work and would surely cost several thousands to do in K-town. I hear there is a lot of that kind of work in town; the car repair folks cannot keep up.

Consider the fact that a city like Anchorage has hundreds of roads and streets to maintain, cities like Seattle, San Francisco, or Los Angeles thousands, and what we are asking locally is for this bunch of clowns to figure out how to pave the incredibly bad sections of one road.

Awash in funny money for two years and more, and all we hear is about raises for bureaucrats and raises for city council members; no concern whatsoever about the wrecked infrastructure for which they are responsible that is costing locals untold tens of thousands of dollars in unneeded vehicle repair costs. - More...
Saturday - July 30, 2022

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