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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
August 20, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

Herring Cove Black Bear
This big Black Bear was fishing and perhaps looked up to acknowledge the photographer before going back to fishing. Balzer is a familiar person to the bears at Herring Cove and one would wonder if the photographer is being acknowledged by this bear. Balzer respects the bear's space, keeps a safe distance, and uses a zoom lens to capture her remarkable photos.
Front Page Feature Photo By

Ketchikan: Additional charges filed against Macasaet By Maria Dudzak, KRBD - Additional charges have been filed against a 27-year-old Prince of Wales Island man accused of murdering his girlfriend. - Read or listen to this KRBD story...

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Ketchikan native trains to be a U.S. Navy pilot By RICKY BURKE - A 2008 Ketchikan High School graduate and Ketchikan, Alaska native is participating in the lengthy and rigorous training process that transforms U.S. Navy officers into Navy pilots.

Ketchikan native trains to be a U.S. Navy pilot

Ensign Mari Freitag
Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

Ensign Mari Freitag is a student naval aviator with the “Rangers” Training Squadron (VT-28), based in Corpus, Christi, Texas, that operates the T-6B Texan II aircraft. As a student, Freitag is responsible for learning everything about the aircraft she flies so she may become the best naval aviator in the fleet.

“I love being a student naval aviator because not only am I constantly being challenged on a day-to-basis but it’s pushing me to be a better person, officer and pilot,” said Freitag.

The T-6B Texan is a training aircraft that is powered by a 1,100 shaft horsepower, free-turbine, turboprop single-engine, four-bladed propeller, with a cruising speed of 310 mph.

VT-28’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly as well as instill leadership and officer values, Navy officials explained. Students must complete four phases of flight training in order to graduate, including aviation pre-flight indoctrination, primary flight training and advanced flight training. After successfully completing the rigorous program, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”

After graduation, pilots continue their training to learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet strike fighter jet, the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft or the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron. - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

Ketchikan: More Arrests in Meth and Heroin Smuggling Case - More information has been released regarding the investigation into the recent arrest of Zerisenay Gebregiorgis, age 34 of Washington State, for allegedly conspiring with other people to smuggle large amounts of meth and heroin into Ketchikan and into other Southeast Alaska communities.

Further investigation revealed that Gebregiorgis had sent an unidentified female courier with meth and heroin concealed inside of her to Sitka, the next step in the investigation was to identify and locate this person.

Alaska State Troopers announced Thursday, that the female courier was identified on 08/16/16, as Shammar Lynn Ferguson, age 32 of Washington State. The Sitka Police Department located Ferguson at the Sitka residence of Larry Johnson Jr, age 41 of Sitka, and Evelyn Calhoun, age 29 of Sitka.

Ferguson, Johnson, and Calhoun were all arrested and remanded at the Sitka jail for Misconduct Involving a Controlled Substance in the Second Degree after investigation revealed that Ferguson had internally smuggled both meth and heroin from Washington to Sitka on behalf of Gebregiorgis.

According to the Alaska State Trooper's Dispatch, the meth and heroin were then transferred by Ferguson to Johnson and Calhoun for the purpose of the drugs being sold with Gebregiorgis receiving a predetermined amount of money in return. - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

Southeast Alaska: Wilderness Guides Mauled by Bear - Coast Guard Air Station Sitka rescued two wilderness guides that were mauled by a bear on the Sitkoh Creek Trail last Thursday while leading a group of 20 passengers from the cruise vessel Wilderness Explorer approximately 30 miles north of Sitka.

The Coast Guard was able to locate and transport the two victims to Sitka for medical treatment. Follow up interviews by Alaska Wildlife Troopers revealed that the two victims were conducting a guided nature hike for several tourists when they were confronted by a sow and cub brown bear and ultimately mauled.

One of the victims did deploy pepper spray and the bears eventually departed the area. One victim was treated and released while the second victim was held with more serious injuries.

Forest Service law enforcement officers and state wildlife troopers have determined the attack was a defensive, non-predatory move by the bear.

“This case is a reminder of the constant dangers of the Alaska wilderness,” said Scott Giard, Lead Command Center Controller at Sector Juneau. “The close coordination with the Wilderness Explorer and our dedication to training in harsh environments allowed our crew to quickly medically evacuate the two to safety." - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

Fish Factor: Alaska Pink Salmon Fishery Set To Rank as Worst in 20 Years By LAINE WELCH - Alaska’s 2016 pink salmon fishery is set to rank as the worst in 20 years by a long shot, and the outlook is bleak for all other salmon catches except sockeyes.

“Boy, sockeye is really going to have to carry the load in terms of the fishery’s value because there’s a lot of misses elsewhere,” said Andy Wink, a fisheries economist with the Juneau-based McDowell Group.

The historical peaks of the various salmon runs have already passed and the pink salmon catch so far has yet to break 35 million on a forecast of 90 million. That compares to a harvest of 190 million pinks last year.

Weekly tracking through August 15 shows the pace of the Chinook salmon harvest (341,000) is down 42 percent versus last year in net fisheries, cohos (under 2 million) are down 20 percent, and the chum catch (12 million) is down 25 percent.

“As far as chums go, we’re probably looking at the second worst harvest in the past 10 years,” Wink said.

Severely reduced supplies of farmed salmon from Chile to the U.S. really put the onus on fresh fish this year, and Alaska processors ‘game planned’ for getting as much salmon into that market as possible.

According to commodities tracker Urner Barry, the fresh farmed salmon price index (based on combined average values) is up 33 percent across the U.S., going from $3.79 in January to $5.03 in mid-August. And a rising tide floats all boats.

“Yes, that kind of tide is really helpful and it makes our wild product that much more attractive,” he said. Conversely, when farmed prices are really low, it’s a much tougher sell.”

Both fresh and frozen sockeyes have been moving well – good news for a fishery that unexpectedly has topped 52 million. Not so for Alaska’s competitors - the sockeye fishery at British Columbia’s Fraser River was a complete bust, and Russia’s sockeye fisheries also were down considerably.

A big plus this year is that some currency rates are more favorable for buying Alaska.

“Another major thing is the 20 percent shift in the yen in our favor,” Wink explained. “The Euro hasn’t done much and neither has the Canadian dollar, but Japan is a big trading partner and the fact that their purchasing power has increased that much should be helpful.”

In terms of Alaska’s total salmon fishery value, any price gains from reds will likely be offset by the blowout with pinks. Less supply also should add some upward pressure to the disappointing 20-cents per pound paid to fishermen, Wink said, and pink roe markets could benefit from the stronger yen.

Market watchers now will be tracking how Alaska salmon in its various forms moves through the global market.

“We’ll definitely be looking at through-put and watching prices,” Wink said. “It’s another big sockeye harvest, so we need to get sales pushed through the market so it doesn’t back up in the spring. Hopefully, we’ll also see canned prices stabilize and those sales volumes come up.”

Alaska’s 2016 salmon forecast called for a harvest of 161 million fish. Through August 19, the salmon catch had topped 101 million salmon. - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016


Southeast Alaska:
INDIAN POINT RECOGNIZED BY FEDS AS HISTORIC PLACE - Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has prevailed in a decades-long effort to list the sacred X'unáxi (Indian Point) in Juneau in the National Register of Historic Places, making it the first traditional cultural property in Southeast Alaska to be placed on the register.

Indian Point
Photo courtesy Sealaska Heritage Institute

The recent announcement by the National Park Service means that the federal government recognizes the roughly 78-acre site as an historic place worthy of protection under the National Historic Preservation Act.

The Auk Tribe, the Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) and Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS), Sealaska Heritage Institute, Sealaska, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida, the Douglas Indian Association and other members of the Alaska Native community have fended off proposed development of the area also known as Auke Cape for more than fifty years, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

"Indian Point is as important to Native people as Plymouth Rock, Abraham Lincoln's log cabin and the Statue of Liberty are to Westerners. For nearly sixty years Native people have fought to protect Indian Point, and at long last the federal government has recognized that this area is sacred and is worthy of protection," said Worl.

"After all these years, we are extremely happy that the government has finally recognized that this site is a sacred site to us and its sacredness must be protected," said Auk Clan Leader Rosa Miller.

The listing was supported by the three landowners-the City and Borough of Juneau, the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management-as well as local and regional tribes and the State Historic Preservation Office.

The area is the original habitation site of the Auk Kwáan in the Juneau area. The Yaxtetaan clan moved from Young Bay, ultimately landing at X'unáxi (Indian Point) about 500 years ago, according to genealogical reckoning. They erected the first Dipper House at Indian Cove/Indian Point and lived prosperously for some time; eventually the village moved to the adjoining bay about a mile to the north where the name Aanchgaltsóow (Town that Moved) was applied to the new settlement.

The historic site was a lookout, refuge and meeting place and is the site of significant events in Auk history, including battles and encounters with other groups in which key Yaxtetaan leaders earned their titles and through which the clan established its status as owners of Auke Bay and the surrounding territory. In one story that has been passed down, the Auk leader (Kuwudakaa) challenges and ultimately defeats his Yakutat rival in a display of wealth-thus earning the name Yeeskanaalx (Newly Rich Man). This event has been memorialized in a name or title, a song and a story that are considered to be clan at.oówu (heritage property). - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: Praying for a Sweaty Flight - First of all, I am absolutely one hundred gazillion percent in favor of airplane security. I have no problem with TSA doing its dangedess to stop evil doers from doing evil to the plane that I am on.

Few things are more stressful to the average human being than being locked in a flying cigar 30,000 feet above ground with 150 other stressed out folks. It's like being in a crowded elevator that does not stop. On any floors. Ever.

So anything the authorities come up with to remove even the hint of "man made" danger to the process is okay by me.

I think there was one time in my decades of flying life that I was completely relaxed on a long plane journey. I had the pleasure of flying El Al, the Israeli carrier, to Europe. Not only were there all sorts of Uzi toting guys (and gals) in the departure lounge, but I'm pretty sure the ratio of passengers to air marshals on the flight was less than 3-1.

And the cabin crew was trained in at least six different deadly martial arts. including using an espresso machine and a single day old bagel to stop a dozen different terrorist scenarios.

So, when it comes to enhanced security, I say bring it on. - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

jpg Michael Reagan

MICHAEL REAGAN: Trump Needs More Votes, Less Applause - I've finally figured out what Donald Trump's main problem is.

No jokes, please.

It's because at his core he's an entertainer who's looking for applause, not a politician who's looking for votes.

Applause makes you feel good on stage at the Improv or at the end of a Broadway play. But it doesn't get you elected.

If Trump really wants to save what's left of Western Civilization from four years of President Hillary Clinton, he's got to learn how to get his message out to more voters.

When he gives his big policy speeches, he does fine.

The addresses he delivered recently about fighting terrorism and fixing the economy were generally good.

They'd make good stump speeches and he should shorten them to twenty minutes and repeat at least one of them every day. - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Hillary Spotter

Editorial Cartoon: Hillary Spotter
By Rick McKee ©2016, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Our Ferry System By Rep.Dan Ortiz - Is our ferry system serving you and your family? Are there ways in which ferry service could improve? How should our ferry system look ten years from now? These are questions I will work to address this weekend when I attend a ferry summit in Anchorage, with many of our own community members and other coastal Alaskans. After serving for thirty-two years as a teacher and coach, and especially after serving our district these past two years as your representative, I have a strong understanding of the economic importance the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) has to coastal Alaska. According to the recent McDowell report on our AMHS, for every dollar the states spends on the ferry system, at least two dollars are generated in the private sector. Primarily the hospitality industry, from bed and breakfasts to hotels and restaurants, benefits from our ferry system, but the AMHS also plays a key role in facilitating the shipping of goods into and out of coastal Alaska. We also can’t forget its importance to coastal Alaskan schools and their activities programs. - More...
Saturday PM _ August 20, 2016

letter Choose!! By A. M. Johnson - How does one delay a decision regarding voting for Trump or Clinton having vast political, philosophical, moral, honor, trustworthy differences? How does Senator Murkowski live with her position regarding that choice as she waffles about in the hither land? - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

letter Two Flawed Candidates By Donald Moskowitz - Clinton and Trump are flawed candidates running for President. Clinton has questionable scruples, and she has made significant mistakes. As Secretary of State she set up an unsecured private server in her home for government email communications and sent and received secret and top secret information. She had ultimate responsibility for the Benghazi debacle where our ambassador and other Americans were killed by Islamic terrorists. Her foundation accepted contributions from foreign entities. - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

letter Hillary or Donald? By Joe O'Hara - When you look beyond the virtually meaningless back-and-forth between Hillary and Donald, it becomes clear that somebody is 'yanking our chain'. - More...
Saturday PM - August 20, 2016

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

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