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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
August 08, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By CHARLES HABERBUSH

Night sailing of the cruise ship Regatta from Ketchikan's Berth 1, July 27th.
Front Page Feature Photo By CHARLES HABERBUSH

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A "New" Museum for Ketchikan - Built to commemorate the centennial of the 1867 purchase of Alaska, Ketchikan's Centennial Building has been home to the Tongass Historical Museum for almost 50 years. With last week's approval to move forward on the renovation of the main floor of the Museum, the Ketchikan City Council invested in another 50 years dedicated to sharing Ketchikan's unique history and heritage.

A "New" Museum for Ketchikan

Ketchikan's Centennial Building
Photo courtesy City of Ketchikan

The Centennial Building has housed and safeguarded Ketchikan’s treasured history in the form of artifacts, photographs, archives, and other important historical items. $1,256,950 in funding allows the renovation of the main floor of the Museum to move forward that will also showcase Ketchikan’s vibrant history through exhibits and public programs, and will provide Ketchikan and her visitors with accessible restrooms and an updated, welcoming facility. The funds, a combination of Public Works Sales Tax funds and Commercial Passenger Vessel funds from both the City and the Ketchikan Borough, open the doors to a bright new era for the Ketchikan Museums. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2016

Alaska: New USF&W Service Rule Opposed; Preempts State's Wildlife Management Ability - U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) on Friday condemned the recent rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that would fundamentally alter wildlife management on Alaska’s 77 million acres of national wildlife refuge land.

Sullivan says this rule targets the State of Alaska’s proven, science-based wildlife management strategies that have been subject to rigorous public review and participation. Instead, the Fish and Wildlife Service rule preempts the State’s management authority, a principle that was enshrined in the Alaska Statehood Act, and further protected in the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s rule severely restricts the State of Alaska’s efforts to sustainably manage wildlife and minimizes the participation of Alaskans in future decisions affecting the use of its refuges,” said Senator Sullivan. “Even more alarming, the FWS ignores the intent of federal law and promises made to Alaska at statehood. Plain and simple—this rule reflects a callous attitude toward Alaska’s culture and conservation ethic and threatens the careful balance currently employed to sustainably manage wildlife populations to protect subsistence and recreational opportunities.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also slammed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) for finalizing this new rule.

“The Fish and Wildlife Service has once again decided that it knows what is best for us, and is trampling Alaska’s long-standing right to manage wildlife in refuges,” Murkowski said. “What we know, from experience, is that this will not end well for anything but predator populations. I find it shocking that this administration’s policies are pointing to a future where we can fill our freezers with genetically engineered salmon, but not the moose and other game we have traditionally harvested in a sustainable manner from our refuges.”

Among other fatal flaws listed by Murkowski, the FWS rule fails to recognize that the State of Alaska, not the federal government, has clear primacy over wildlife management under legal authority provided by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, the Refuge Improvement Act, and the Alaska Constitution. The implications of the FWS rule are also far-reaching, as Alaska has 76.8 million acres of refuges, and it will likely serve as a model for similar takeovers in the Lower 48.

The State of Alaska is also strongly opposed to new regulations by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the state says erodes fish and wildlife management authority on Alaska's national wildlife refuges. Scheduled for publication on Friday, August 5, the new regulations will override the state's sovereign authority to manage fish and resident wildlife in Alaska's 16 national wildlife refuges.

"This is continued erosion of the state's authority to manage fish and wildlife for the benefit of Alaskans," said Bruce Dale, Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation. "We are proud of our science-based, constitutionally mandated programs to sustainably manage habitats, predators, and prey to feed Alaskans".

"Although the Service itself conducts predator control on refuges, it just does not approve of state efforts to increase the number of ungulates available for food in Alaska," said Dale. "Moose, caribou, deer are important sources of natural food and food security for many Alaskans and cornerstones of the subsistence way of life."

The new regulations require that fish and wildlife be managed for natural fluctuations, superseding the state's ability to manage stable wildlife populations for subsistence and other consumptive uses under the sustained yield concept. Dale said the regulations, which affect national wildlife refuge landholdings of nearly 77 million acres statewide, will have significant impacts on Alaskans, especially those who rely on wildlife for food.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, the regulations also contradict the State of Alaska's role under agreements made in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act to manage fish and wildlife on all lands in Alaska. The regulations also limit public input for discretionary closures of activities on refuges and create a confusing third tier of regulations for resource users. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2016

Three teenagers injured in accident;
Alcohol suspected a factor

Fire fighters use jaws of life to save lives. 8/3/16. 8:30 pm
Front Page Feature Photo By DALE CURTIS ©2016

Ketchikan: Three teenagers injured in accident; Alcohol suspected a factor - Alaska State Troopers responded last Wednesday evening to a single vehicle collision on D1-Loop road approximately 10 miles north of Ketchikan.

Investigation by the Troopers reported Kailee J. Tavares, 17 years-old of Ketchikan, was northbound on D1 Loop when she drove off the road and struck a tree.

Tavares and two other 17 year old passengers were transported to the Ketchikan Medical Center by the North Tongass Fire Department for injuries from the collision. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2016

Fish Factor:
Sockeye salmon catch tops 50 million By LAINE WELCH - Two big fish stories have been spawned so far by the 2016 Alaska salmon season: 1) sockeyes save the day; and 2) colossal pinks.

A larger than expected sockeye salmon catch that has topped 50 million will salvage a summer that has seen lackluster catches of other salmon species, notably, those hard to predict pinks.

“I think if you’re a Bristol Bay fisherman, you’re probably pretty happy, and if you fished anywhere else in the state, it probably hasn’t been a great season for you,” said Forrest Bowers, deputy director of commercial fisheries at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The Alaska salmon catch so far of 88 million fish is little more than half way to the preseason forecast of 161 million salmon, down 40 percent from the 2015 harvest.

Pink salmon, the “bread and butter” fish for the fleet, were projected to come up short this year, and so they have in the big three producing areas: Southeast, Prince William Sound and Kodiak.

“We really haven’t been any bright spots in terms of pink salmon across the state,” Bowers said.

The Panhandle fleet has taken less than 10 million pink salmon so far on a forecast of 34 million.

“Right now it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll hit that number,” he said “We would’ve expected to see more catch at this point. We still have half the run to come in, so it should be well over 20 million.”

The story’s the same at Prince William Sound where pink catches were at nine million on a forecast of 32 million.

“We are below average in terms of run timing so it’s unlikely we’ll hit the forecast there,” Bowers said.

Kodiak’s pink salmon fishery is being called the slowest since the 1970s, with only 1.5 million humpies taken so far.

“The catch and the escapement is currently running at about a quarter the strength it should be at this time of the season,” said James Jackson, regional manager at Kodiak.

What’s running big is the size of the fish, which usually weigh about four pounds on average.

“I’ve had a 14 pound pink on my scale,” said Tyler O’Brien, a Kodiak salmon tender operator. “And lots of 10 pounders.”

Jackson concurred that a parade of porky pinks has come through his office.

“The larger size is an indication of no competition for food out in the ocean, and that usually means you have a weak run. It’s not always true, but yeah, big pinks,” he said.

(The world record pink salmon weighed 14.49 pounds and was caught in 2001 in the Skykomish River, WA, according to

So far the total Alaska pink salmon catch is at 25 million; the forecast called for 90 million. Perhaps the puny catch will help push up disappointing prices for pinks, which were in the 20 cent range at the Alaska docks.

The opposite is true for Alaska’s sockeye salmon fishery which has yielded larger than expected catches already topping 51 million fish. The bulk of the “big money” fish, of course, came from Bristol Bay where a catch of 38 million was far larger than expected.

“Historically, the 2016 season will probably be the largest sockeye harvest at Bristol Bay since 1995,” Bowers said. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2016


Alaska Science:
Elephant Point and forests on ice By NED ROZELL - For all the descriptive Alaska place names out there — like the Grand Canyon, the Wall of China and the three Death Valleys — there are some that make you wonder.

Forests growing on both Bering and Malaspina Glaciers in southern Alaska.
Photo by Martin Truffer

Elephant Point is just south of the Arctic Circle on a tundra peninsula north of Buckland. Village residents are at Elephant Point right now, living at their fish camps and catching salmon. Elephant Point was the site of a village where 100 people once lived. It is also where the Lomen brothers of Nome operated a reindeer farm with corrals, a slaughterhouse, cold storage and worker housing.

Neither fishing nor reindeer ranching explains the name, but librarian Judie Triplehorn solved the mystery of Elephant Point with a document she placed on my desk. In it, a writer for the Edinburgh Museum in Scotland in 1829 hailed the arrival of "two tusks of the Mammoth, brought home by Captain Beechey."

Frederick Beechey was an English explorer who sailed all over the world. On one of his trips, he was the first to map a feature other sailers had missed: San Francisco Bay. In 1825 and 1826, he explored Bering Strait and the northwest Alaska coast, mapping and naming features as he went.

At Elephant Point, members of his party found two tusks, each longer than 10 feet.

"The mammoth to which the largest belonged must have been fifteen or sixteen feet high," wrote the museum writer, who described the unusual nature of Elephant Point noticed by the men who camped there. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Phil Kerpen

PHIL KERPEN: Bureaucrats to Dump Billions in Student Loans on Taxpayers - Regulations are flying out the door in in Washington, where an already hyper-aggressive Obama administration is looking at its last chance to move its agenda forward while sidestepping the Republicans in Congress.

Many of the expensive rules in areas like energy, health care, and finance have drawn widespread public and media scrutiny ---- which makes it all the more curious that what is likely to be the single most expensive proposed regulation of the year, a Department of Education rule that would discharge billions in student loans, has gone almost completely unnoticed.

The proposed rule, titled the "Borrower Defense to Repayment Regulations," would create a stampede to file claims for loan forgiveness based on a newly broadened, vague standard requiring only that a plaintiff allege a school made a "substantial misrepresentation." This phrase is defined broadly as any "statement" or "omission" with a "likelihood or tendency to mislead under the circumstances." - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2016

jpg Bob Ciminel

BOB CIMINEL: My Problem with Hillary - I really shouldn’t have a dog in this fight. My choice in the Primaries was Ted Cruz, not because he was a Republican but because he was a Constitutional scholar. Interestingly, so was Barack Obama, or so he claims. President Obama, however, evidently has not read the Constitution in a long time, at least since becoming President of the United States. I’ve read it; it’s an easy read, and although the language might be more familiar to 16th Century readers it is not difficult to understand.

I don’t believe Hillary Clinton has recently read the Constitution either. I would take it even further and suggest she can’t remember the Preamble, something I was required to memorize in elementary school. I attended parochial schools from 5th grade through high school, and although prayers and catechism were our first priority the schools did not neglect American civics. So, being soundly grounded in religion and patriotism from an early age, plus serving in the military, you may understand why I might have an aversion to Ms. Clinton. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2016

jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: The American People Can't Be Trusted - So the conventions are over and we've entered the penultimate stage of this presidential demolition derby. Your muted murmurs of"yippee" and "hooray" have been duly noted. That's enough, put the horns away, this is not an overly large celebration.

It took a year and a half, but the presidential field has winnowed down to the major political parties' two anointed nominees: the Donald and the Hillary. Let us pray. More polarizing figures could not be found with the superconducting magnet at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

Thus far the process has been everything but pretty or boring. The fights to both party's nominations were vicious, petty, puerile, perverse, depraved, savage, a slapstick parody and a sham with a little surrealistic burlesque thrown in for good measure. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Obama's Ransom

Editorial Cartoon: Obama's Ransom
By Gary McCoy ©2016, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Taxing Citizens Out of Ketchikan By Rodney Dial - If you have been reading my SitNews letters over the years, you can remember how I correctly reported: 1)That if borough and city governments consolidated it would cost us millions. Proven true less than two weeks after voters defeated the last consolidation attempt (2006). Consolidation would have cost us over 2.2 Million dollars every year since (now over 20 million saved because we did not consolidate). 2) That approval of the library and fire station bonds would result in tax hikes. Proven true when the City manager used them as justification for three tax increases (two property, and one sales tax increase). 3) That the last tax increase (2014) was, in part, to provide for the continued expansion of local government; that would allow the City to renovate the towns 2nd Museum (we have two), without a vote of the people. - More...
Tuesday AM - August 09, 2016

letter PFD Automatic Voter Registration simplifies voting for all Alaskans By Dan Ortiz - Alaska is in the bottom 20% per capita of registered voters. Now, more than ever, Alaskans should exercise their right to vote. In my previous profession as a social studies/current issue teacher at Kayhi, I tried to instill in my students the value of citizen participation within the communities that they live. One of the most significant ways that this can be achieved is by simply voting. - More...
Tuesday AM - August 09, 2016

letter Re-elect Dan Ortiz By Douglas Thompson - A couple of topics have crossed my mind recently. One of them is I have not seen any report on how much Celebrity Cruises have paid the City of Ketchikan for the damage they did to our dock. I am very curious as once again in the on going trend of mismanagement Amylon gave the repair without getting any competitive bids. The pile driving company was sitting idle in Ward Cove and is here for most of the summer. It wasn't that long ago that cruise ships anchored out and shuttled in visiting passengers as a matter of course. Calling the damage an "emergency" seems to be a bit far fetched. Most especially when bids could be let and an special session of the city council could be called in seven days to choose the winning submission. Hardly a time issue. - More...
Tuesday AM - August 09, 2016

letter The Graduation Rate -- Worth Paying Attention By Bobbie McCreary - Thank you Agnes, for researching the information needed to present your challenges to our Ketchikan school district to increase our graduation rate. As you and many others are aware, this is a critically important issue for us to monitor and work for improvement in the district's results in order to positively influence the opportunities for our youth to succeed as they face the obligations of adulthood. The Empowering Youth task force of the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition spent considerable time after its formation surveying our students and determining how to develop meaningful information that addressed the graduation rate for a cohort of ninth graders that were targeted to graduate four years later. We researched what definitions were used in other locales and on the federal level and after determining the 9th grade cohort was the most meaningful analysis, worked with the school district to determine how to report that information, making necessary corrections such as adjusting for students leaving or joining the district during that four year period. - More...
Tuesday AM - August 09, 2016

letter Get a Healthy Start to the New School Year with Vaccinations By Susan Johnson - In August, you’ll see back-to-school ads from virtually every store. These ads will try to convince you that you need to buy clothes, shoes, computers, school supplies, sporting equipment, lunch making materials, cleaning wipes, and a myriad of other products. Children legitimately need some of these items. Other items are in the nice to have category. The average family will spend in excess of $600 per child for back-to-school items—and significantly more for college-bound students, especially when they need to furnish that freshman dorm room. Back-to-school has become the second largest shopping season in the year. - More...
Tuesday AM - August 09, 2016

letter Tansy status? By A. M. Johnson - I recently completed the clearing of the remaining Tansy off our North Tongass property, an annual event. In viewing the adjacent properties some State and others private,this must be a record year for Tansy bloom. Reminds one of the 'Yellow Brick Road" from Wizard of Oz. - More....
Tuesday AM - August 09, 2016

letter Keep Public Lands Public - And the Wildlife They Protect! By Daniel M. Ashe - Woody Guthrie captured something essential about our nation when he penned the classic American song, “This Land is Your Land” more than 75 years ago. He understood that one of America’s best ideas - and one of our defining values - was the decision to set aside some of our most wildlife-rich lands and waters for permanent protection for the benefit of all Americans. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2016

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for