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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

August 02, 2015

Front Page Photo By DEWIE HAMILTON

Sundown in the Tongass
Sunset as viewed from South Point Higgins Beach on Friday - July 31, 2015
Front Page Photo By DEWIE HAMILTON ©2015

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Fish Factor: First Pure Electric Passenger Vessel By LAINE WELCH - The first seagoing electric powered passenger vessel in the U.S. is set to launch next summer in Juneau.

First Pure Electric Passenger Vessel

Graphic courtesy Tongrass Rain Electric Cruise LLC

The E/V Tongass Rain is a 50 foot, 47 passenger catamaran designed for eco-education and whale watching tours. Its primary fuel source will be rain, delivered to the boat via Juneau’s hydroelectric power grid and stored in a bank of lithium batteries.

The more modern batteries are less than half the weight of a traditional lead acid battery, and they provide three times the power and charge three times as fast, said Bob Varness, president and manager of Tongass Rain Electric Cruise (TREC).

The hull of the craft, designed by Jutson Marine in Vancouver, has been certified by the Coast Guard for 150 nautical miles “for safe harbor” in six and half foot seas at 12 knots. Once the propulsion system gets the green light, Varness said building will be underway.

“No noise, no emissions … and the system only has one moving part, so you don’t have exhaust systems to deal with, turbo chargers or cooling systems, or injection pumps. Every 50,000 hours the battery manufacturer recommends pulling the motor out, putting new bearings and seals on either end and they send you the same one back,” he said.

Varness, who also is an independent Torqeedo electric marine motor dealer, said some alternative powers are being used by U.S. mariners on a small scale, but not in commercial fishing. His small troller runs up to 130 miles on a single charge and recharges for $1.25, and he believes electro-power would also be a good fit for salmon drift and gillnetters, jig and pot gear and other fisheries. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015

Southeast Alaska: $4 million agreement signed to complete young growth inventory, job training and development in Southeast Alaska - The U.S. Forest Service and the State of Alaska signed a $4 million challenge cost share agreement to work collaboratively to collect, analyze, and evaluate forest resource information to ensure sound, sustainable forest management practices across Southeast Alaska. The agreement will also directly support forest-related workforce development and improvements to forest industry infrastructures.

Specific timber objectives of the agreement address inventory work for young growth (50,000 acres) and old growth (20,000 acres) across federal lands, as well as inventory and treatment of young growth stands on State of Alaska and private lands.

This effort supports Secretary Vilsack’s steps to conserve the 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest by transitioning to sustainable, second growth forest management from an old-growth- dependent timber sale program while maintaining a viable forest products industry.

Alaska Regional Forester Beth Pendleton expressed her support saying, “The agency fully stands behind this agreement. It affirms our goals to transition to young growth forest management to promote small businesses, improve access to capital, and create quality jobs and sustainable economic growth in Southeast Alaska.”

Pendleton added that both the Forest Service and the State are seeking to promote job training and educational opportunities and maximize a forest restoration economy and by-product industry. For the Forest Service, this mission is delivered through the State and Private Forestry program. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015


Alaska: Attorney General Publishes Opinion on Tribal Protection Orders - Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards published a formal Attorney General Opinion last week regarding whether state and local law enforcement can enforce a tribal protection order that has not been registered with the court system. The opinion had been requested by Commissioner Folger, Department of Public Safety in order to provide clarity to the State Troopers in carrying out their duties.

This Opinion, published July 30th, concludes that a tribal protection order does not need to be registered with the court system before a State trooper or other officer can enforce it. The protection order will be immediately enforceable if it meets the criteria outlined in the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

“This Opinion provides clear direction to officers on the ground as well as the victims they seek to protect,” said Attorney General Richards. “There should now be no doubt that these protection orders must be enforced.”

The confusion over the status of tribal protection orders arose because of a conflict between federal and state law. State law requires that protection orders issued by other jurisdictions must be registered with the Alaska Court System before officers can enforce them. This would include tribal protection orders. On the other hand, VAWA clearly provides that states cannot require registration before enforcement and directs the State to enforce orders from other jurisdictions, in this case tribes, as though they were issued by an Alaska court. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015

Alaska: Commissioner works to raise awareness of minimum wage and other labor rights - The Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) has published an employee FAQ in Yup’ik, Tagalog, Korean, and Spanish. The department already has the document available in English and Samoan. Publication of “Know Your Rights” materials in multiple languages is part of the department’s effort to crack down on wage theft and human trafficking by raising awareness of Alaskans’ labor rights.

“These documents are intended to help hard-working Alaskans understand and stand up for their rights on the job,” said Commissioner Heidi Drygas.

The department is expanding multilingual outreach in response to Alaska’s increasingly diverse population. Alaska has the most diverse communities in the United States, and more than 100 languages are spoken in local school districts. Alaska’s Pacific Islander population more than doubled over the last decade, according to data from the U.S. Census. The Department of Labor has met with or given presentations to multiple community groups about labor rights, including the NAACP, Polynesian Association of Alaska, and the N.K.O.H. Hawaiian Civic Club. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015


Alaska Science:
Red-backed voles climb into scientific literature By NED ROZELL - A few years ago, Link Olson wanted students in his mammalogy class to see one of the neatest little creatures in Alaska, the northern flying squirrel. He baited a few live traps with peanut butter rolled in oats and placed them in spruce trees.

Red-backed voles climb into scientific literature

A northern red-backed vole climbing down a tree.
UAF photo by Todd Paris

When he returned the next day, he found no flying squirrels. Instead, peering back at him were the beady eyes of the mice of the North, red-backed voles.

The curator of mammals at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, Olson knew a bit about northern red-backed voles. He thought back to the few vole papers he had read and did not remember a sentence about their ability to climb.

A search led to just two references. One is a mention from author and biologist Ron Smith in his book about Alaska natural history: “This vole has been seen in trees.” The other was from me, in a column I wrote about a vole I saw in a spruce tree at 40 below.

Olson wanted to document the northern red-backed vole’s climbing in a science journal. For help, he didn’t have to look far. Working with him in the mammalogy lab was a guy quite enthusiastic about voles.

“I was immediately intrigued,” said Jon Nations, who will soon move to Baton Rouge to pursue a Ph.D. in mammalogy. “Despite these animals being found from Hudson Bay to Scandinavia, nobody had studied or written about them climbing trees. It seemed like it would be fun.”

Nations applied for grants. He raised enough money to design and execute a study. Near Fairbanks, he attached traps to the limbs of spruce trees, again baiting them with peanut butter and oats. He also set up motion-sensor cameras across from trees smudged with peanut butter.

It did not take long for the most common small mammal in Interior Alaska to appear. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015


Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: Acquiring a taste for foreign ‘food’ - "It's a delicacy in Japan."

That was a common refrain in my cannery days.

Fish eyes?

"It's a delicacy.

Salmon sperm?

"It's a delicacy."

Sea cucumber nostrils?

"It's a delicacy."

You get the idea.

So, natch, checking it out for myself this summer was something I "relished" (NOT a delicacy in Japan).

When you travel to a foreign land you look forward to trying all manner of new food. Things that you would never have considered edible are considered haute cuisine in the new land.

And, sometimes, things that in fact aren't edible find their way to your plate as well.

For example, I have had friends go to Africa and come back extolling all the different tasty ways that "sand" can be prepared.

Other people still swear that no Russian meal is done until you savor a scoop of flaming borscht ice cream.

And in Australia, of course, there is vegemite. It is a Godsend to vegans who can't bear the thought of "meatamite."

Since I have long believed that EVERYTHING is a delicacy in Japan, it was very exciting to go there find out the "ground truth."

And I suppose it doesn't get any more ground truthier than "natto."

Natto is such an "acquired taste," even to the Japanese, that the Imperial Natto Producers Council has spent millions of yen commissioning studies to show its remarkable health benefits. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015

jpg Political Cartoons: Cecil vs Baby

Political Cartoons: Cecil vs Baby
By Gary McCoy ©2015, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Youth Win Big with a Tobacco Excise Tax By Terrence Robbins - Ketchikan's leaders on the Borough Assembly and City Council have done a courageous and commendable job of addressing our youth tobacco use crisis with a proposed tobacco excise tax. The Municipalities of Anchorage (1991), Fairbanks (1993), Juneau (2003), and Sitka (2006) have collected similar excise taxes on nicotine products for years and the effectiveness is evidenced through much lower youth tobacco usage rates than Ketchikan's. Not coincidentally, each of these cities also reported malignant cancer mortality rates 29-104% lower than Ketchikan's exceptionally high rate. (AK Bureau of Vital Statistics Report 2012). Our representatives recognize that nicotine is an addictive and dangerous drug, especially to developing brains. They know that 90% of all adult smokers became addicted to nicotine before age 18, and 99% became addicted before they turned 26 (2014 Surgeon General s Report). They understand that youth are price-sensitive, meaning that youth have less disposable income to spend on tobacco than a typical adult has, and so, when retail prices increase, fewer kids start to use, or continue to use, addictive nicotine products. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015

letter Against tobacco tax By Rudy McGillvray - Lest someone accuse me of taking 'the easier path', I as a former user of tobacco and other nicotenic products am against this proposed tobacco tax. For a couple of reasons, one, if you end up with your cigarettes and associated products costing what they do in the lower 48 you will have set up a mechanism for the importation of black market tobacco. And, who will enforce the tax? It will cost you more to enforce the tax than you will gain in revenue. Think before you act, Ketchikan councils. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015

letter Open Letter to Insurance Company By Amanda Mitchell - Today we received a letter in the mail concerning our daughter’s broken arm and the treatment on which medical benefits were paid out. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015

letter Disappointing airline experience By Derek Meister & Jessica Lutton - Initially, many including myself were enthusiastic about Delta arriving in Alaska. I had been so far satisfied enough with Alaska Airlines, but I was optimistic that another airline would bring some healthy market competition and help lower fares. This most recent episode involving a trip I was making with my fiancé to Minnesota for a wedding was without a doubt the most disappointing, baffling, and infuriating airline experience we've ever had to endure. We fly out of Alaska regularly, and will be soon planning at least 4 more flights from Ketchikan, AK this year alone. We have been attempting to remain hopeful that Delta would do everything in their power to do what is announced on their aircrafts every trip; which is to "exceed our expectations" and to truly make us feel like we're part of "the Delta family." - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015

letter 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid By Susan Johnson and John T. Hammarlund - On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act. Most people who will become eligible for Medicare this year were in high school when this legislation was authorized. Today’s seniors were young adults busy with their lives and families. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015

letter Golfing at Fawn Mountain By Joe Ashcraft - We were minding our own business hitting wedges off the 30 yard line at Fawn Mountain on a lovely evening last week. Some guy comes up and asks what we are thinking of. He was pretty obnoxious telling us we would damage the artificial turf. We told him we always changed positions to make sure no one part would wear out too soon; and anyway people kick balls and use cleats all over it. - More...
Sunday PM - August 02, 2015

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