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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 31, 2009

Front page photo By JACY PIERSON

Prince of Wales: Great Horned Owl
Front page photo By JACY PIERSON

jpg Lu Young Photo by Mary Kauffman

Lu Young dies at 67
Lu Young & her husband,
Congressman Don Young, during a visit to Ketchikan in February 2008

Alaska - Lu Young dies at 67 By Mary Kauffman - Congressman Don Young's wife of over 46 years, Lu Young has passed away at the couple's home in Great Falls, Virginia. Lu Young was 67 years old.- More...
Sunday - August 02, 2009


Ketchikan: Revilla Hoped to Eclipse Ketchikan; Ward Cove Community Sought to Be "The Town of SE Alaska" A Feature Story By DAVE KIFFER - Most Ketchikan residents are aware that at in 1900 both Ketchikan and Loring were locked in battle to be the "big town" in southern Southeast Alaska.

Mr. Wacker at Wacker City sign
Donor: John P. Wacker, Photograph courtesy Ketchikan Museums

But what is less well known is that one of the most prominent businessmen in Ketchikan was rooting against his hometown by promoting a third option, the village of Revilla.

In 1900, Revilla was a small collection of shacks and a couple of small stores along the west side of Ward Cove, when former territorial Governor Alfred P. Swineford pulled a few political strings and - on April 7, 1900 - got the federal government to locate a post office in Revilla.

Swineford - who published Ketchikan's lone newspaper, the Mining Journal and was the local representative for one of the region's largest mining concerns, the Alaska Bonanza Mining, Trading and Transportation Company - had begun developing "Revilla" in 1899. After getting the post office established, he turned his attention toward an even bigger prize.

The federal government had already announced plans to relocate the custom house, the official entry point for Southeast Alaska, from Mary Island, some 20 miles south of Ketchikan.

Both Ketchikan and Loring, a more established community some 15 miles north of Ketchikan, were in competition for the custom house because it was believed that the winner of the competition would then become the dominant community in the area.

In addition to running the local newspaper, Swineford was also a vigorous supporter of Ketchikan's small mining industry. He was in his 60s when he came to Ketchikan in the late 1890s and had already had long careers in politics and the mining and newspaper industries.

As an activist in the national Democratic Party in the 1880s, he had worked tirelessly to elect Grover Cleveland president. When Cleveland was elected in 1884, Swineford was named Alaska's second territorial governor in 1885.

Alaskan 'Purchase' Wanton

Swineford had originally been opposed to the purchase of Alaska in 1867, according to an his 1909 obituary in the Marquette Michigan Mining Journal, a newspaper that Swineford had founded four decades before.

According to the obituary, Swineford had "denounced the Republican party (in 1880) for the wanton expenditure of money in the purchase of Alaska, calling it wild spending and accusing (US Secretary of State William) Seward of buying a magnificent $7 million refrigerator capable of producing nothing but ice."

Later, in an interview with the Marquette Historical Society, Swineford conceded that he was still opposed to the purchase of Alaska as late as 1884, but then his mind had been swayed by the potential mineral riches in Alaska.

He was involved with mining companies in Michigan and Illinois and he believed that - as territorial governor - he could help open up Alaska to mining. - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009

Ketchikan: Cause of the fire still under investigation - Ketchikan Fire Department personnel responded to a report of "smoke coming from Hometown Furnishings" at 1817 Tongass Avenue att 6:32 PM on Tuesday evening, A Ketchikan Police officer arrived within 2 minutes of the call and confirmed the fire. Fire Department personnel arrived within 4 minutes of the initial report and found fire on the exterior of the building near a rear loading dock area. It appeared the fire had also entered the building near an overhead door according to information provided by Jim Hill, Fire Chief Ketchikan Fire Department. Incident commanders arrived and requested a 2nd alarm, called for "all hands to report to the scene", and reported a "working fire" at that location.


Fire Department personnel respond to a report of "smoke coming from Hometown Furnishings"
Photo by Bill Meck

Water supply hoses across Tongass Avenue forced traffic to be rerouted to First Avenue for about the first 45 minutes of the fire. The fire on the exterior of the building was quickly extinguished but because the fire had started burning inside the walls, firefighters had to remove several sheets of metal siding to gain access to the fire.

According to information provided by Fire Chief Hill, the two-story building's lower level is occupied by Hometown Furnishings and the upper level is residential, occupied by employees of E.C. Phillips Co. E.C. Phillips is the owner of the building. With the help of E.C. Phillips management and civilians, Ketchikan Fire Department personnel evacuated the upper floor of the building and fire crews were able to quickly extinguished the fire.

Ketchikan Fire Department responded with two fire engines, one ladder truck and six support vehicles. A total of 18 Ketchikan Fire Department personnel responded to the call said Hill. Units cleared the scene at 8:24 PM. Damage to the residence and personal property is estimated at $20,000. Hill said the estimated value of the building and contents is about $3.5 million. - More...
Wednesday PM - July 29, 2009


Columns - Commentary

DAVE KIFFER: TOO DARN HOT, AGAIN! - It stands to reason that as you read this column it will probably be cold and raining.

In my defense, as I write this, we have just had our third straight day of 80 degree plus temperatures in Ketchikan and that is not a usual occurrence, especially in the last decade or so weather spotting in Soggy Salmon City.

For example, we all remember how lovely last summer was, don't we?

Let's roll tape!

The Fourth of July parade just about got rained out and 37 inches of rain fell in June, July and August last year We had 6 sunny days in June and 9 each in July and August. The temp never reached 80 on any day at all last year. Blah, blah, blah.

By the time really bad weather arrived in the fall, folks were at wits end because we "had not had a summer."

Like we ever really have "a summer" around here (present season excepted).

But was last year really so bad?

Sunburns were few and far between in 2008. I'm sure that we did little to increase our chance of skin cancer last year and (my, my) weren't all our complexions nice and dewy at the start of 2009?

At the least, we didn't hear all that whining that I have heard the last few days about how "darn hot" it has been.

It is a sad, but pretty true fact that for most long-timers any temperature much above 75 here is unpleasantly warm. When the humidity washes up over the 60 percent mark, you kinda feel like you are walking in water all day long. And when it only cools off into the low 60s at night, no one gets much sleep and we all get pretty cranky.

And then the fights break out as folks stand idly in front of the ice cream coolers at the grocery stores!

But I digress.

Of course, you are all wondering how this recent heat wave, and the generally nice weather we've had since Mid May stacks up.

Well, it certainly is the nicest summer - thus far - that we've had since 2004. Even if it rains all August long we will be under average for rainfall and temperatures are higher than normal.

For example, compared to last year, it has generally been about five to six degrees warmer every day thus far. And rainfall is a third of what it was last summer,

Global warming?

Well, not quite.

Most of the really, really, really hot weather was back in Ketchikan's' infancy. - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009


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Basic Rules

If you submit a letter and it is not published, please contact or call 254-1948. Your letter may not have been received.

letter Government amuck! By A.M.Johnson - Let me get this straight. In order to obtain Federal funds, encroachments over State right of ways have to be "Cleared". That means "Removed". - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009

letterWhy Ketchikan was built on a hill instead of Flatland. By Dan McQueen - When our fair city founders first got here they had a choice to build on a hill where every thing flows down hill to drain into and disperse into the Narrows or build on flat ground. - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009

letter911 Response By Eileen Small - All I will say, Mr. Hurley, is that if you had had a heart attack you'd be dead. Period! And 911 probably wouldn't have even FOUND you in that unfortunate condition til 45 minutes after you called them!!! - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009

letterSeptic fees By Lewis Nelson - I remember when my father Dan Nelson charged $75.00 for a 500 gallon septic tank and $125.00 for a 1000 gallons. It took us the better part of 3-4 hours in those days to pump a tank. Then we hauled it to the city sewer at the bottom of Carlana Street just behind the Ketchikan soda works. Between all of us boys and girls we all had a hand in working the lever on the back of that old truck and the new ones that came along and occasionally getting things sprayed on us that we had rather not. - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009

letterBears & Garbage By Lisa Martin - Having secure bear proof lids will help. We just need local residents willing to take part on keeping our area clean and safe. But doing this alone, takes a lot of time, effort and pride. Love your state and love your and your home town. I love to see and watch bears from a safe distance. - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009

letterLogjam By Mary Danforth - The Tongass National Forest. The home of the Grisly bear, the black bear, the bald eagle, Osprey, wolverines, black tailed deer, the wolf and the 'Island Wolf' found nowhere else in the world. All the wildlife mentioned here are greatly endangered of becoming extinct if we keep taking their habitat. We cannot ignore the fact that the cutting of these trees, this ancient forest, will do just that. - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009

letterObama "Shoots From the Hip" By Donald A. Moskowitz - President Obama has confirmed my fear of having a president with terrible judgment. - More...
Friday - July 31, 2009

letter Re: Dave Kiffer's 4 blocks wide column. By Mary Ida Henrikson - I understand one of the reasons our forepeople left Loring was the deep harbor issue. - More...
Sunday - July 26, 2009

letterThe bleak furture of the Republican party By Mike Issac - When Jon Huntsman (R) Governor of Utah won his second term in November there was already some talk of him running in 2008 in this part of the country. However back in May Obama made him Ambassador to China so that leaves Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckeebee and while we are at FOX News maybe Glenn Beck would like to try his hand at it. But with Sarah quitting her day job it not be looking good for her unless she runs for Lisa Murkowski's seat in 2010, then runs in 2016 if Huntmans or Romney can't beat the Messiah in 2012. - More...
Sunday - July 26, 2009

letterBears and Garbage By Eddy Hayne - When I was a young person growing up in Ketchikan in the early 60's, bears weren't a problem since the garbage dump was out past the ferry terminal a couple of miles out the road. After my family left in 1967, The dump was moved behind the city at the base of Deer Mt. I moved back to Ketchikan in 2001 and the bear problem moved to the downtown area. Then the city fathers started shipping the garbage out of town. Hmmm... The bears started moving their feeding areas to the town area. What a great solution huh? - More...
Sunday - July 26, 2009

letterA Solution to the Bear Problems By Julie Steiner - Bears are a real problem for everyone. Jennie Lawrence has a great idea for trying to keep the bears away from her garbage - only it doesn't work all of the time. I have tried both ammonia and bleach - sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. - More...
Sunday - July 26, 2009

letterGovernment competing with private business By Bill Nelson - I read with interest the Viewpoint titled OceansAlaska by Mike Dooley in particular the statement regarding why the exercise equipment was removed from the pool facility it was stated: "This is because the pool is supported by tax dollars, and private enterprise can't be expected to compete with that." Ketchikan can figure this out when our annoited Federal leader(s) cannot. For example the GM take over, the financial institution take overs and now a grab for the health care industry. Once private industry, that now or will compete with the federal government. - More...
Thursday PM - July 23, 2009

letter Bear problems to "Bear Valley" residents By Jennie Lawrence - I'm sure every single house in Bear Valley has had their garbage knocked down and strewn across their driveway or street. It's a constant problem and will never go away since the bears are so used to eating our garbage, it's easily accessible, and it's in their territory. - More...
Thursday PM - July 23, 2009

letter Re: Rude Behavior By A.M. Skidmore - Wow! Mr. Grant did I open up a can of worms or what?! I hope that you get some satisfaction from whatever comes of what happend to you in the store. I wish that I had the debating skills that the N.Y. graduate student has. - More...
Thursday PM - July 23, 2009

letterOceansAlaska By Mike Dooley - I agree with Rob Holston about OceansAlaska. Let's look at a similar situation. About 3 years ago the Mike Smithers swimming pool inherited an old cardio stair stepper from the rec. center. Many of us daily patrons of the pool used the machine. After about 3 months it suddenly disappeared. When asked, the staff simply said someone complained. After digging a bit deeper it turns out that the pool cannot add any new workout equipment that would compete with any private gym facilities. The old equipment that had been at the pool for 20-30 years is ok, but nothing new that would compete is allowed. This is because the pool is supported by tax dollars, and private enterprise can't be expected to compete with that. - More...
Wednesday AM - July 22, 2009

letterHealth Care Promises Broken By Connie Emmert - On Wednesday last week the article "It's Not An Option" in Investor's Business Daily was startling. - More...
Wednesday AM - July 22, 2009

letter911 System By Jon Hurley - I called 911 the other day because there was quite a lot of smoke and it looked like the Norquest bunkhouse was on fire and I was put to voice mail that said please call another number if you have an emergency. If I would have had a heart attack or other injury I can not write down another number and redial. - More...
Wednesday AM - July 22, 2009

letterPalin & other small things By Chris Elliott - If my friend Al Johnson is suggesting that "good" Republicans should not criticize Governor Palin, I have just one thing to say: Governor Palin is no Ronald Reagan. Whatever your party affiliation, it's time to stop holding your nose in the voting booth and start voting your conviction--regardless of the party. - More...
Tuesday - July 21, 2009

letterRe: Rude Behavior By Shieva Kleinschmidt - I must disagree with A. M. Skidmore's response to Vernon Grant's letter. Simply looking the other way in the face of racism is a way of enabling it. Given that we don't want a community where racist acts occur, we need to examine two issues: (i) how can we prevent people from endorsing (or continuing to endorse) racist ideologies? And (ii) given that some people are racist, how do we prevent them from acting on those beliefs? - More...
Tuesday - July 21, 2009

letterRE: Rude Behavior By Chris Barry - Mr. Grant, it is a shame that people like that are still in our community. What is even worse is that this person will get away with his actions and continue to treat others in the same manner. You can either ignore it and expect him to continue acting this way, or pursue further actions to ensure this man does not continue treating people this way. - More...
Tuesday - July 21, 2009

letter ASTRONAUTS By James Schenk - IN 1969 I WAS 10 YEARS OLD, A COMPLETE SPACE NERD. When the Apollo lander was headed for the surface of the moon, I was transfixed to the t.v. along with my brothers and sisters 40 years ago. We all watched with supreme pride in being AMERICANS and watching Armstrong take that first step onto the surface of the moon. We all cheered and hugged, I took pictures of the T.V. and my Family with the Astronauts walking on the moon, my heroes. - More...
Monday - July 20, 2009

letterRe: Rude Behavior By A.M. Skidmore - Don't worry about the person who was so rude to you Mr. Grant. He is obviously a very unhappy person. His rudeness and racism only goes to prove that he is so unhappy. Rather pity him, he will not last long in the retail trade. - More...
Monday - July 20, 2009

letterPalin Resignation By Jerilyn Lester - I agree with Georgianna Zimmerle 150% and would go even farther to say that the worst thing that has happened to Southeast Alaska since the logging shut down was Governor (not for much longer) Palin. I have come out and called her a thief both in letters to SitNews and to her face in an email to her. She started the work and then delayed it for 2 years so that she didn't have to move to the Governor's mansion in Juneau. She has stolen the money for the bridge to our airport, refused to even consider an alternative and then helped to stop any road to the outside world from anywhere in Southeast. - More...
Friday PM - July 17, 2009

letter Palin, bridge and other small things By A. M. Johnson - A timely quote: "No one knows where the future will take Palin, not even the governor herself. Her reemergence on the national scene and the scathing response from so many of her party peers underscore one thing, however: Republicans may hold dear their memories of the late Ronald Reagan. But his famous 11th commandment -- "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican" -- was laid to rest a long time ago." - More...
Friday PM - July 17, 2009

letterPALIN RESIGNATION GOOD FOR SOUTHEAST ALASKA By Cindi Davis - Well said, Georgianna Zimmerle! What a well crafted and sensible letter. - More...
Friday PM - July 17, 2009

letter OceansAlaska By Rob Holston - What a great letter of support for OceansAlaska by Tor Jorgensen . I would agree with it all IF it were private enterprize money footing the bill for OceansAlaska. But it is not. Please address the crux of the issue, "Tax dollars putting private business out of business." - More...
Friday PM - July 17, 2009

letter It's Time for Prison Reform By Tom Proebsting - There are more than 2.3 million persons behind bars in the U.S. according to last year's statistics. Prisons cost taxpayers in excess of $55 billion annually. - More...
Friday PM - July 17, 2009

letter Rude Behavior By Vernon Grant - On 4th of July @ 12:15 PM as my friend and I walked about heading north, on the right side of the road, we stopped in at a seafood store where they sell processed seafoods.And in a teasing happy mood, I stopped in to see what kind of samples they had for the holiday celebrations.As I entered the establishment, I noticed a woman standing there waiting and I said, we just stopped into see what kind of samples you have for today's celebrations. And she said the manager will be out soon and we can see what's available. Within a minute a man came out from the back and he was in a good mood, and said"We have some 4th of July samples of smoked salmon candy"  and he walked ahead of me towards the coolers on the right side. I had tried it before and I mentioned to him that I did not like that type of fish. - More...
Friday PM - July 17, 2009

letterPALIN RESIGNATION GOOD FOR SOUTHEAST ALASKA By Georgianna Zimmerle - On July 3, 2009 I listened with astonishment and unreserved delight as Governor Sarah Palin announced to the world that she would not seek a second term as Governor of the State of Alaska. And if that wasn't enough, she will resign at the end of July surrendering her Governor's seat to Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell in order to avoid the trappings of a "lame duck" governor. Her reasoning is about as silly as the rest of her rationale for abandoning, in mid-term, the highest elected office in Alaska. After a lengthy diatribe on the virtues of her two years in office, she launched into her many defensive excuses for walking away mid-term in a vain attempt to cloak the facts in pretty paper. It is laughable that she used a basketball analogy to describe her term and her resignation from the Office of Governor. She considers herself the "point guard" leading the team to success and passing off the ball for the sake of the team. I'm sorry but the starting point guard doesn't quit in the fourth quarter just because the game gets rough! She could just as easily avoid behaving like a "lame duck" Governor by simply doing her job. She could stay in the State and attend to State business instead of gallivanting off to spotlight functions across the country. She whined about the many ethics complaints occupying her time since her failed run for Vice-president. She need not address these "frivolous" ethics complaints if there is no validity to them. She is the one who chooses to spend time on them. She has staff that can tend to them while she works on State business. - More...
Sunday - July 12, 2009

letter Pools vs. Flotation Suits By Dan McQueen - I've been on the water all my life. Yes, I can swim. I earned my 1 mile merit badge in a lake in Eastern Washington. But even knowing how to dog-paddle ain't gonna save you in the North Pacific if you ain't wearing an exposure/life jacket suit at least. - More...
Sunday - July 12, 2009

letterSludge fee??? By Robert Bates - Maybe someone could enlighten me on the future benefits of paying this ridiculous quarterly sludge fee... I've been paying this fee for the last couple of years now, which doesn't even hold a candle to someone like my grandfather who has lived in the borough of Ketchikan since 1959. I know it's only 45 dollars every few months, but I see no reason for it. Sure you get a free pump out every couple of years, but my tank is not even close to being in need of one. - More...
Sunday - July 12, 2009

letterCapital move By Robert Stewart - I'm with Jackie Williams. Moving the capital from Juneau hurts all of Southeast Alaska, not just Juneau. We have voted against this move so many times it is ridiculous. - More...
Sunday - July 12, 2009

letterAK Airlines Fees By Kayla Edenshaw - I believe that it will change airfare prices for the better if Alaska Airlines had some competition. I have flown from Seattle to Nagasaki Japan for around $900 round trip. I have flown from Ketchikan to Seattle for almost the same price on some occasions. - More...
Sunday - July 12, 2009

letterEXXON Payments for Processors By Donald Kilbuck - I've done processor work, and that was before the (1989) Valdez Exxon Oil Spill. Although I have gotten a letter stating that I wouldn't get paid, I hear other stories that are far different. - More...
Sunday - July 12, 2009

letterCommunity Swimming Pool By Don Borders - I would like to comment on the process of building our community replacement swimming pool. I was raised in a town that lost many people on the Pacific Ocean waters due to them being unable to swim. That community is Reedsport Oregon, where the Umpqua River Bar which has a reputation for being one of the meanest unpredictable ones on the Oregon coast. After one winter after there were too many fishermen lost, the population raised the question why so many were losing their lives on the ocean waters? - More...
Thursday - July 09, 2009

letterFire Victims Thank Ketchikan By Shannon Guthrie - On June 13, 2009 our home caught fire. I was at the mall with my son and parents shopping at the Tongass furniture sale and definitely didn't expect anything like this to happen while I was out. We raced home to find several fire trucks, EMS personnel and an ambulance blocking the entire road. After watching my life burn to a crisp we felt hopeless. The place where my husband, son and I resided at for the last 2 years was gone. My Son's 1 year old Cocker spaniel was stuck in the house, his baby pictures, baby blankets toys, clothes... everything we knew was gone. We were lost and felt we had no where to turn. - More...
Thursday - July 09, 2009

letterOceansAlaska By Tor Jorgensen - I support OceansAlaska. I live and work in Ketchikan year around and have children who attend the local schools. I believe OceansAlaska would be a major benefit to our community. It will create jobs and a new seafood industry for Ketchikan. It will be a great resource for my kids and everyone in Ketchikan, especially in the winter, to learn about the ocean around us and get students involved in science and learning. The science center will make Ketchikan an attractive place for visitors (cruise, fishing lodges, B&Bs, ferry, yachts, etc) increasing their chances of visiting, returning, and staying longer and spending more money locally. It will help keep families and retirees (my parents) in our community, and help attract skilled workers. - More...
Thursday - July 09, 2009

letter4th of July Parade By Joann Flora - On behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters, I wish to extend our thanks to the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce for entrusting our matches with the responsibility of judging this year's parade. Five matches worked diligently to assess and score according to the categories of Best Theme Interpretation, Most Creative, Most Patriotic, Best Performance, Most Entertaining, Best Appearance, and Best of Show. It was an honor and a privilege to be the first youth group selected to perform this important job. We really enjoyed having great seats for viewing the parade and the delicious lunch courtesy of Steamer's. Thanks to all who made this possible and congratulations to this year's winners! - More...
Thursday - July 09, 2009

letterJuneau is the Capitol of Alaska By Jackie Williams - The first thing I would like to see Governor Parnell do is to, move the capitol back to Juneau, live in the Governor's Mansion (hire the chef back as there would be folks IN RESIDENCE to cook for, do any interviews as Governor from the Governor's Mansion that is officially located in Juneau, SE Alaska, USA. - More...
Thursday - July 09, 2009
letterThe Prophetic 'tongue in cheek' Kiffer By Ed Brown - June 08, 2009, Monday then Dave Kiffer prophesied the following in his column: Ketchikan, Alaska - Press Release from the Office of the President of the United States of America: April 1, 2017 --- President Sarah Palin announced this morning a plan to locate America's newest maximum security "terrorist/enemy non-combantant" permanent holding facility in Ketchikan. - More...
Thursday - July 09, 2009

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