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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
August 11, 2015

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Ketchikan: Police investigating stabbing death - Ketchikan Police are investigating the stabbing of a man at a residence in the 1100 block of Park Avenue. The male identified as Wayne Nathan, age 33, was transported to Ketchikan General Hospital by ambulance and later died.

Officers of the Ketchikan Police Department responded to the report at approximately 8:40 AM. When officers arrived they found Nathan with a single stab wound to the upper abdomen.

According to a news release, officers contacted the male who allegedly stabbed Nathan, at the residence. Officers conducted numerous interviews with witnesses in the home and search warrants were executed. The name of the suspect of interest was not released. - More....
Tuesday PM - August 11, 2015

Alaska: Administrative Review of Department of Corrections - Governor Bill Walker announced Monday that his office recently began an administrative review on the Alaska Department of Corrections to look for ways to improve department policies and ensure inmate safety. The review is being led by Dean Williams, former Superintendent of the McLaughlin Youth Center and Special Assistant to Governor Walker, and Joe Hanlon, a retired Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I have been looking for ways to improve Department of Corrections’ operations since my first day in office, and this review is the critical next step to appropriately address these matters,” said Governor Walker. “I have assigned Dean Williams and Joe Hanlon to lead this administrative review because their experience in the criminal justice and corrections systems will allow them to better comprehend the information presented and provide valuable analysis of the department’s policies.”

“I spoke with Governor Walker about this review a few weeks ago and pledged my full support on behalf of the Department of Corrections. I look forward to working with Mr. Williams and Mr. Hanlon in their analysis of our department operations,” said Department of Corrections Commissioner Ron Taylor.

Williams spent 13 years working as a juvenile justice superintendent, overseeing the state’s smallest facility in Nome and the state’s largest facility, the McLaughlin Youth Center in Anchorage. In these roles, he conducted approximately 40 internal investigations on employee conduct, reviewed safety operations for the facilities, and was responsible for re-writing facility operations and personnel investigation policies. He also spent five years working in the Nome and Kotzebue district attorney’s offices, where he was responsible for follow-up investigation work on criminal cases. Currently, Williams is the Special Assistant to Governor Walker, a role he will temporarily step away from while leading this review. - More...
Tuesday PM - August 11, 2015


Alaska fires have burned more than 5 million acres - The 2015 Alaska fire season reached another milestone Friday by surpassing the 5-million-mark in the number of acres burned so far this season. According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center's daily situation report released on Friday August 7, a total of 743 fires have burned 5,013,053.4 acres to date. That total ranks the 2015 fire season No. 3 on the list of the largest fire seasons on record. The only two seasons with larger acreage totals at this point are 1957 at 5,049,661 acres and 2004 with 6,590,140 acres.

Alaska fires have burned more than 5 million acres

Terra Captures Alaskan Wildfires (Click here for a larger image)
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. NASA/Goddard, Lynn Jenner with information from Alaska Wildland Fire Information website.

The top grouping of fires (in the image) broke out around Hughes, Alaska. The village of Hughes has seen very little relief at all this season. Firefighting crews have worked hard to protect the village from the 133,125-acre Rock Fire that started June 19 and is burning just outside of town on the same side of the Koyukuk River as the village. Across the Koyukuk, is the 124,950-acre Isahultila Fire that started on June 21 and has most recently been joined by the Bakatigikh Fire, another lightning-caused fire that started on July 24 and is working its way down Hughes Creek to again threaten the village.

The bottom group of fires (in the image) is known as the Middle Yukon/Ruby Area Fires. The following fires are now being reported in the daily Incident Status Summary (ICS-209) as "Ruby Area Fires": Bruno Creek Fire#479 (15,302 acres), Trail Creek Fire #599 (31,699 acres), and Big Creek Two Fire #533 (332,669) acres. The following fires are in monitor status: Ruby Slough Fire #423 (49 acres), Eldorado Fire #576 (6 acres), Little Moose Fire #411 (4,835 acres), Melozitna 2 Fire #419 (3,357 acres), and the Gentian Fire #519 (19,692 acres). - More...
Tuesday PM - August 11, 2015


Technology aids recovery of 1952 Alaska plane wreck - On Alaska's Mount Gannett, pleasant weather can turn nasty quickly. Sunshine gives way to frigid rain; clear skies fall victim to thick storm clouds and fog. Not ideal conditions for exploring a 63-year-old plane wreck on an isolated, crevasse-riddled glacier.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Stephen Soloff stands next to the XMET system used at the Colony Glacier plane crash site in Alaska.
Photo Courtesy U.S. Air Force

In June, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, U.S. Air Force, Alaska Army National Guard and Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used a portable weather station (the Expeditionary Meteorology System, or XMET), developed with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), to monitor conditions at a 1952 crash site of a military transport aircraft.

"The XMET has been tremendously valuable," said Terri Paluszkiewicz, a program manager in ONR's Ocean Battlespace Sensing Department. "We continue to find uses for it in expeditionary situations like the recovery operations in Alaska."

Transported in a hard-shell case, the XMET is mounted on a tripod and can be assembled in five minutes by two people with no tools. The solar battery-powered system uses sensors to compile real-time measurements of rain, wind, temperature and visibility--relaying hourly weather information via satellite to planners who can use the data to cancel or proceed with a mission. Previously, such detailed information could only come from observers on the ground.

"The XMET was extremely useful in the crash site's environment," said Scott Katz, a special projects officer at Scripps. "The surface of the glacier can only be accessed by helicopter. The XMET provided valuable meteorological measurements to let recovery crews know if it was safe to fly each day, allowing them to make informed predictions and keep everyone out of harm's way."

The XMET resulted from a 2008 conversation between a Marine and Scripps researchers about the need for better weather-forecasting technology because of the dangers of flying in extreme desert conditions. The researchers reached out to ONR for support and, within a year, the XMET emerged and was soon being used by warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan. - More...
Tuesday PM - August 11, 2015


Columns - Commentary

TOM PURCELL: Renting, the New American Dream - Get this: Renting is the new American dream. And that doesn't bode well for America.

According to a report by the Urban Institute, American homeownership rates are the lowest they've been in years and will continue to decline.

Homeownership, which peaked in 2006 at 67.3 percent, now sits at 63.6 percent, according to the U.S. Census American Community Survey. It's been dropping ever since the financial collapse of 2008.

Between 2010 and 2030, the Urban Institute estimates, 22 million new households will form. The majority of them, 59 percent, will be renters, while just 41 percent will be homeowners.

Which means more households will vote for Democrats over Republicans.

According to a University of Virginia Center for Politics study, you see, "homeowners are much more likely to vote for Republicans than renters (34 to 18 percent), while renters are more likely to vote for Democrats than homeowners (44 to 35 percent)."

That's because the responsibility of homeownership — the continuous hassles, expenses and taxes — brings out the conservative in even the most diehard liberal.

Boy, did I learn that lesson the hard way.

I had my first taste of ownership 17 years ago after buying a fixer-upper that made Herman Munster's place look like the Trump Palace. The house nearly killed me.

When I tore off a rickety porch enclosure, I was stung multiple times by angry hornets.

It took me weeks to catch the mice in my attic, which woke me every morning at 3 a.m. as they scratched the ceiling, building their nests.

I nearly died the day ground bees attacked me. I poured a big cup of gasoline down their hole and nearly burned my house down when, after lighting it, flames shot out, 20 feet high. - More...
Tuesday PM - August 11, 2015

jpg Political Cartoon: War 'n' Peace

Political Cartoon: War 'n' Peace
By Milt Priggee ©2015,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Governor Walker: Boot the Boogie Man! By Richard Peterson - As a child I lived in terror of the BOOGIE MAN. The Boogie Man was a monster in my imagination who victimized children by frightening them into good behavior. If we misbehaved, we feared the Boogie Man would “get us”. Over time I learned this monster does not exist; he was just a fear based on misplaced and uninformed fiction. - More...
Sunday PM - August 09, 2015

letter Disappointed By Chloe Joy Lewis - Ketchikan is boring, there is nothing to do! How many times do we hear that from teenagers in every city? Well, it might hold some water in Ketchikan. - More...
Sunday PM - August 09, 2015

letter RE: Youth Win Big with a Tobacco Excise Tax By Chris Snyder - Regarding Terrence Robbins' letter: First of all thanks for identifying yourself as an advocate. It makes the discussion more honest. It does seem, however, that your advocacy is prompting you to play a little fast and loose with statistics. You say that "not coincidentally" cancer rates are higher in Ketchikan than Anchorage and Juneau because of youth smoking. Given that your risk of cancer and strokes plummets if you quit smoking, isn't the adult smoking rate more relevant than the youth rate? And if the adult smoking rates are similar in our different communities, then there are probably environmental reasons for the cancer disparity...pulp mill, shipyard, water supply, diet...right? That would make the youth smoking rate very coincidental. - More...
Sunday PM - August 09, 2015

letter Sin Tax By Ken Lewis - Here is an idea? Rather than patting each other on the back for imposing a 75 percent tax on a legal product, let tobacco users form a committee to decide where this 1.2 million dollars a year will go. - More...
Thursday PM - August 06, 2015

letter RE: Disappointing airline experience By Michael Nelson - I am a bit confused about the Delta woes letter. For the record, I am not an employee of Delta, just a frequent flier (mostly United and Lufthansa). - More...
Thursday PM - August 06, 2015

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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