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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

August 07, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By SKYLER MAKUA

Why is the Sunset Red?
During sunset hours, the light passing through our atmosphere to our eyes tends to be most concentrated with red and orange frequencies of light. For this reason, the sunsets have a reddish-orange hue. The effect of a red sunset becomes more pronounced if the atmosphere contains more and more particles. 
Front Page Feature Photo By SKYLER MAKUA ©2017

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Fish Factor:
2017: Most Fishing Deaths in 13 Years By LAINE WELCH - “It’s time for a checkup from the neck up” – meaning an industry time out to evaluate fishing operations and behaviors, advises Jerry Dzugan, Director of the Sitka-based Alaska Marine Safety Education Association  for over 30 years. 

Dzugan was speaking in response to the 11 fishing deaths that have occurred in Alaska so far this year. It’s the most in 13 years and follows a 76 percent decrease in commercial fishing fatalities since the 1980s.

 “The causes are still capsizing, sinkings, swampings and man overboards (MOBs). They haven’t changed much,” Dzugan said. “People need to step back and focus on the basics, such as making sure your vessel is stable and water tight, and that your crew is protected from man overboards.”

Flooding and loss of boat stability are the cause of fifty percent of all fishing fatalities. Between 25 to 35 percent are from falling overboard, which is easily preventable. Dzugan said a long term federal study of over 500 Alaska fishing fatalities showed that not one MOB was wearing a life jacket. 

“You don’t fall in the water and die right away. You’ve got a half hour to an hour before you succumb to hypothermia. The biggest risk is drowning and we’ve had a solution to that for hundreds of years, and that’s a life preserver,” he explained.

There are a lot of “cultural barriers” to wearing PFDs (personal flotation devices), Dzugan said, combined with a lack of awareness of what is available today. The arguments heard in AMSEA training workshops are that PFDs are uncomfortable, they get snagged on things and they are difficult to work in. Minds are slowly changing, he said, and more fishing operations are now requiring that PFDs be worn on deck.

“When you show them products that are built in to your coveralls or comfortable vests that help keep you warm and help absorb shocks from banging around on deck, they go out and buy them,” he said. 

Test trials by fishermen bear that out. 

In a 2012 study  by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 400 Alaska fishermen wore six different PFDs for one month aboard crab boats, trawlers, longline and gillnet vessels. They then rated the gear for performance and comfort with a Mustang auto-inflatable PFD vest coming out on top. 

Most of the fisherman-approved models have PFDs built into suspenders, including Guy Cotton or Stearns rain gear. Stormy Seas, Regatta and Stearns models also feature yokes and bibs that clip into Grundens deck gear. Prices for the PFDs range from $125 to $200 and most are available at local gear shops.

Along with wearing life preservers, Dzugan said all vessels should have a mechanical way to get people back on board, at least with blocks and tackle, and a boarding ladder. 

“Make sure the crew knows what to do in that situation.  If you fish alone, be sure you get yourself back on the boat,” he stressed. 

Many man overboard alarms have an engine shut off capacity (most are in the $400 range), and Dzugan advises not going out on deck alone without telling someone, especially at night. More than half of all MOB’s are not witnessed. 

He added that a lot of fishermen don’t have good technical knowledge of vessel stability.

“A swamping takes just one wave,” he cautioned.

Have respect for anything that changes a boat’s center of gravity,  and make sure your vessel is water tight.

 “Even if the vessel originally had a water tight bulkhead, people drill holes through them for piping or electrical passages and don’t fill them up again,” he explained. “People get other priorities and they defer maintenance and often forget about the watertight integrity of their vessel.”

Vessels also should have high water alarms in every space and good pumps.

Check your immersion suits and other survival gear, Dzugan stressed, and do onboard safety drills. The U.S Coast Guard Fishing Vessel Safety Act states “the master, or other person in charge of each commercial fishing vessel, must ensure that basic safety drills and instructions are given to each crewman at least once each month.”

“It’s tough for the Coast Guard to enforce,” Dzugan said. “A lot of people think doing a drill is talking about it around the galley table once a year.”

Another cause of fishing accidents is simply fatigue and not getting enough sleep.

“All the studies show that your decision making decreases the longer you go without sleep, and you start making stupid mistakes,” he said.

Another lifesaving safety tip: pay attention to weather forecasts. Dzugan said.

“Mother Nature doesn’t care a whit about you,” Dzugan said. “If there’s a storm forecast, don’t go out. It’s not worth it.”  - More...
Monday PM - August 07, 2017  

Front Page Feature Photo By GLORIA CONSTANTINE

Red Sunset
When we see a red sky at night, this usually indicates high pressure and stable air coming in from the west. Basically good weather will follow.
Front Page Feature Photo By

Southeast Alaska:
Family Gives "One-of-a-Kind" Chilkat Robe to Sealaska Heritage Institute - In a move that staff at Sealaska Heritage Institute said stunned them, a family from Seattle has given a valuable, ancient Chilkat robe to the institute in an effort to return it to its ancestral home and repatriate it to tribal people.

Family Gives "One-of-a-Kind" Chilkat Robe to Sealaska Heritage Institute

The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, chose Sealaska Heritage Institute in part because it has a robust arts program through which it teaches Northwest Coast arts in an effort to perpetuate ancient practices.

A donation of this magnitude is unprecedented at Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI), and the donors’ generosity has elated staff, said SHI President Rosita Worl, noting that current and future generations of weavers will now get to study this robe made by their ancestors.

“These donors easily could have sold the robe for thousands of dollars to a private collector, and it would have been lost to us. Instead, the family elected to return it to the tribes,” said Worl. “We believe the Chilkat robe is imbued with spiritual dimensions, and because of this noble family, we are welcoming an ancestor home.”

The process of donating the blanket started when a daughter in the donating family noticed a similar blanket in her AP art history textbook. It was featured there as an important cultural piece as well as significant in the history of art. She then vigorously (and successfully) lobbied her parents to return it to its appropriate owners, the family wrote.

SHI will celebrate the robe’s return in a public ceremony scheduled Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Walter Soboleff Building in Juneau. Everyone is invited to attend.

The donors purchased the robe in the 1990s, and at the time, an opinion on the piece was offered by Bill Holm, a nationally-recognized expert on Northwest Coast art and formline design. Holm in 1995 estimated it was made around the turn of the century or perhaps in the early 1900s and noted it was very similar to two robes featured in the book The Chilkat Robe by George T. Emmons. Emmons thought the robes in the book depicted an osprey or thunderbird standing with outspread wings, but the noted anthropologist John Swanton believed they depicted a beaver with alder - its food, Holm wrote. Holm said he tended to favor the interpretation of a bird, rather than a beaver, but that “either interpretation can be defended.” A Northwest Coast art expert who studied a photo of the robe on Sealaska Heritage Institute’s behalf thought it might depict a Raven because the beak is not curved.

Holm noted the robe donated to Sealaska Heritage Institute differs only in detail from the robes in Emmons’s book but that some of those details are unique to the robe.

“For example, I know of no other robe with two long, squared tertiary solid Us, one blue and the other yellow, together like this,” wrote Holm. “There are some unusual and some unique features to the design, and to my recollection, it is one of a kind.”

Holm also noted that the robe was in good condition and showed little fading. - More...
Monday PM - August 07, 2017


Southeast Alaska:
Coast Guard Cutter Maple reaches Northwest Passage during historic voyage - The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Maple reached the Northwest Passage Thursday during their historic voyage accompanied by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier and crew underway in the Amundsen Gulf, Canada.

Coast Guard Cutter Maple reaches Northwest Passage during historic voyage

The USCGC MAPLE in the waters off Sitka.
Photo courtesy USCG

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Maple, a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender last homeported in Sitka, Alaska, departed July 12, 2017, on this historic voyage through the Northwest Passage.

The Maple crew has transited 3,014 miles since they departed Sitka July 12. The cutter is serving as a ship of opportunity to conduct scientific research in support of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The Maple crew has deployed a sonographic buoy used to record acoustic sounds of marine mammals and assisted the research scientist aboard the cutter analyze the data retrieved from the buoys. 

The crew used their buoy-tending skills and equipment to recover a high-frequency acoustic recording package (HARP) that is attached to the buoy. The device was developed by the Whale Acoustics Laboratory at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and is used to record underwater sound in a broad range of frequencies, including the sounds made by Arctic marine mammals. The crew also assisted the scientist’s with zooplankton sampling and measuring the properties of seawater at various depths and locations after a successful recovery and reset of the HARP.

“One of our primary missions during this transit is to provide scientific support,” said Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Armstrong, commanding officer of the Maple. “Maple is scheduled for a year-long dry dock in Baltimore this August for repairs and upgrades. It is exciting to transit the Northwest Passage with an opportunity to assist with research aimed at understanding various species in this remote part of the world. Protecting life here begins with understanding it.” - More...
Tuesday PM - August 07, 2017

Columns - Commentary



TOM PURCELL: Living to 125 Too Much of a Good Thing? - "A 125-year life expectancy for human beings? I have zero desire to stick around that long."

"Ah, yes, you speak of a debate among scientists over human longevity. I read about it at Business Insider. Some scientists argue that the maximum age humans may live is 115 years, whereas others argue that 125 years is possible."

"A hundred and twenty-five years of watching Republicans and Democrats going at it? The heck with that."

"Living is rife with challenges, to be sure. But living a long life has its upsides. Wouldn't you want to visit your parents and other family members for a lot more years than most of us are able? Wouldn't you like to see them all at a Sunday dinner several more times than most human beings are able?"

"Maybe with your family. My family has taken years off of my life!"

"I see, but wouldn't it be awesome if some of our finest human beings could stick around longer? Don Rickles, one of the greatest entertainers ever, died this year at 91. How great would it be to keep him around for two more decades?"

"True, but if Rickles were to stick around longer, that means annoying celebrities would stick around, too, and keep yapping at us every time a Republican becomes president."

"There are other upsides to a longer life. What if we could keep our greatest minds around longer? Where would the world be if Einstein had another 25 years to unlock the mysteries of the universe?" - More...
Monday PM - August 07, 2017


RICK JENSEN: O Canada! If Only Liberals Knew All the Facts - Canada is often touted in the United States as the panacea of health care, leadership, love, peace and thick bacon.

Listening to Democrats Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters and Chuck Schumer, one would think there are no Canadians waiting longer than Americans for life-saving surgeries or just to see a doctor in an emergency room.

Canada is perfect!

Since liberals enjoy the comparative phrase, "industrialized nations," there may be some angst or denial in the fact that the Canadian Institute for Health Information has given their emergency room rating a failing grade.

According to the independent non-profit, established to provide actionable information about the nation's health care system, "....compared to other industrialized countries, Canada has the highest proportion of patients reporting excessively long waits in an emergency department."

On average, it takes nearly four hours to see a doctor after you've arrived at a Canadian emergency room. In fact, 29 percent of Canadians checking into emergency rooms have to wait four hours or longer before being seen by a practitioner.

Last year, Quebec's health and welfare commissioner reported 35 percent of patients in the province have to wait five hours or more for care.That's not just bad, it's the very worst in the western hemisphere.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control reports the average wait time to see a doctor in U.S. emergency rooms is thirty minutes. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Ocean Trash

Editorial Cartoon: Ocean Trash
By Steve Sack ©2017, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

Wheelchair accessible, cab service By Roger & Gwen McDonald - Sourdough Cabs, owned by Zach Boles, has stepped up to provide handicap, wheelchair accessible, cab service to the disabled and mobility challenged folks in Ketchikan. On Saturday, August 5th, Blueberry Festival day, my wife, who is in a wheelchair, and I called for and used the accessible cab service to enjoy the Festival. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Chaotic Commander - In - Tweets By Donald Moskowitz - As a veteran I am concerned with the chaos our Commander-In-Tweets creates with his child-like tweets.  How can our military put faith in him when he continually tweets out ridiculous accusations and false information, and questions advice from his generals?  How can we believe what he says? - More...
Monday PM - August 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Health Care Vote By A.M. Johnson - Senator Murkowski, you are in a word, a Fraud. Pure and simple. You and your two RINO cohorts, Collins and McCain own Obamacare Senator, with the projected increases of cost to Alaska and the resulting decline of healthcare access. - More...
Tuesday PM - August 01, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Capital Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Later this week, the Legislature will convene for its third (and hopefully very brief) special session to pass a capital budget. Negotiations with the Senate have been completed and I’m confident that a compromised version of the capital budget will pass out of both bodies. It will meet the minimum needs of the state and it’s residents in terms of infrastructure investment. - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

PFD's Future in Supreme Court's Hands By Dr. Jack Hickel - Governor Jay Hammond, Permanent Fund founder, knew this time would come – the time when politicians would move to spend the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) without public consent. Hammond believed in the PFD as Alaskans’ right to share equally in the resource wealth saved in the Alaska Permanent Fund and as a way to protect the Fund. Ever since the start of the PFD in 1983 the dividend has been the politicians’ target for spending. Today, politicians are working to grab a large percentage of the people’s PFD. That is exactly what Hammond and other Alaskans warned against and opposed during past failed attempts. - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

37th anniversary of the Legislative coup By Ray Metcalfe -June 12, 2017 was the 37th anniversary of the Legislative coup toppling Juneau's State House Representative Jim Duncan's Democratic Majority Caucus. The Legislature had been at a standstill for about three weeks. The Bush Caucus, all Democrats, was unhappy with the share of the legislative pie the Majority was offering. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The Republican Healthcare Bill is Horrible for Alaska, Regardless of its Name By Ghert Abbott - The first version of the Republican healthcare plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) raised premiums, increased deductibles, reduced coverage quality, lowered the subsidies that help people buy insurance, financially penalized senior citizens, and drastically cut Medicaid for rural states, all in order to pay for tax cuts to the top 1%. As a result, 24 million Americans were to lose their health insurance, 45,000 of them Alaskans, of which approximately 1,000 would have been Ketchikan residents. When Don Young provided one of the essential votes in the ACHA’s passage out of the House, he claimed there was no cause for concern as the Senate would substantially improve the legislation. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Tansy Ragwort By Farrel Lewis - I spent the last two days pulling tansy ragwort in the Cambria area.  I just dropped off five garbage bags full of the stuff at the landfill to be burned.  This is the perfect time to pull it up, after it bolts the roots release far easier from the soil. Unfortunately, you cannot just pull the blooming plants and leave them on the ground to die, doing research on this subject I found out that the seeds will still mature.  These plants need to be disposed of properly. - More..
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: Fact versus fiction By Rodney Dial - Summer is a busy time for most of us in Ketchikan. Personally, I have better things to do than respond to Rep. Ortiz’s latest letter, however it presents a great opportunity to show how politicians like Ortiz play the word game to deceive and mislead. For example: - More...
Wednesday PM - July 19, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Re: NRA Propaganda By D Jay O'Brien - The violent images in the NRA video Mr. Chaudhary references are indeed disturbing. The video is a compilation of segments from actual events that have occurred in our cities and on our college campuses since the last election. Is this video clip propaganda or just depictions of the new reality of violence that may be brought upon someone for their beliefs and political leanings? - More...
Wednesday PM - July 19, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Giving Alaska's oil away By Ray Metcalfe - Alaska doesn't have a budget problem; Alaska has bribery problems, and gullible legislator problems. Alaska allows oil companies to extract fair payment for their services from net oil production revenues. Additionally, they keep 90% of our ownership equity; equity other owner states keep. At today's prices, the big three are making over $17 per barrel plus cost of production and delivery from our oil. (See ConocoPhillips' quarterly reports) That's about $9 Million per day, or $3.2 billion per year. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

NRA Propaganda By Norbert Chaudhary - The politically partisan, hate filled NRA recruiting video posted a few days ago is shocking but sadly not so surprising. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Budget cuts By Liz Bruce - All this reduction in spending is good but the problem is there are so many promised benefits and retirement we can't afford. You sit in a position where you can vote to keep state employee and teacher benefits intact when we can't afford those benefits as a state. New taxes are regressive and too easy to rely on. Our household has not seen an increase in income since 2011 but we have to live within our budget. It is time for the state to quit promising benefits we can't afford. You can't expect taxpayers to always come up with more. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Fact versus fiction By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As an elected official, it’s my responsibility to keep Alaskans informed with factual and relevant information about the issues that affect them. As I write I’m busy working for you up in Juneau, so here’s a quick rundown of fact versus fiction. - More...
Sunday AM - July 09, 2017

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