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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
September 21, 2009

Front Page Photo by MIKE GATES

Thomas Basin
Front Page Photo by MIKE GATES


Alaska: Attorney General Will Vigorously Defend Alaska in Cruise Industry Lawsuit Against the State - Attorney General Dan Sullivan said Friday the Department of Law already is carefully reviewing the lawsuit by the cruise ship industry challenging the legality of the passenger excise tax enacted by citizens initiative in 2006. The lawsuit, Alaska Cruise Association v. Patrick Galvin, was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for Alaska.

"The cruise ship industry and the 1 million passengers who come to Alaska every summer contribute significantly to Alaska's economy," the attorney general said. "The Parnell administration will continue to work with the industry and Alaska businesses on ways to increase tourism and the economic opportunity it provides for Alaskans."

Attorney General Sullivan said, "Today's lawsuit, however, does not come as a surprise. The cruise ship industry has been threatening to sue the state ever since Alaska citizens voted to require passengers to pay their fair share of the costs of services and facilities provided to host them. The Department of Law will vigorously defend the state in this lawsuit."

The Alaska Cruise Association filed the complaint with the United States District Court in Alaska seeking relief from a $46.00 fee imposed on the passengers of its member cruise lines as a condition of their entry into Alaska (the "Entry Fee"). The Alaska Cruise Association is an Alaska-based, not-for-profit organization. Information provided on its website states the association was established to build strong partnerships between local businesses, communities and cruise companies. Led by life-long Alaskan John Binkley, the goal of the association is to work with businesses and public leaders to improve community relationships, increase economic benefits for Alaskans and address environmental concerns.

The Alaska Cruise Association released prepared statements on how various Alaskan businesses believe the $46 entry fee has affected them.

"Alaska is throwing road blocks while other countries around the world are opening up their doors. People don't realize that these actions can be the tip of the iceberg and the industry can decide that they don't need to come here anymore," said Shuana Lee, Shore Excursion and Marketing Manager for The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan.

Steve Hites, President, of Skagway Street Car said, "Absolutely negative. It has affected my business dramatically. We are losing three big ships and that will have a dramatic affect on my business for the 2010 season. The head tax has made Alaska less of a competitor all over the world. We have made it very difficult for the cruise ships to make any profit here. This is not because of the down economy; this is because we are no longer competitive with the rest of the world. The people who voted for this cruise ship head tax did not understand this industry."

"We are down 20 percent. I believe it's directly related to the $50 head tax. We have a lot of families who take our tour. Now people are not apt to take the tour we offer because it causes an additional expense," said Karen Hess, Vice President, Chilkat River Adventures, of Haines. - More...
Monday - September 21, 2009

FISH FACTOR: Salmon harvest will approach respectable number; Pinks trounced and Get steamed! By LAINE WELCH - Well, it won't be one for the record books, but Alaska's 2009 salmon harvest will approach a respectable 160 million fish.

We won't hit the preseason projection of 174 million fish, but it's still going to be a good catch in historic perspectives. It's a solid year pretty much across the board," said Geron Bruce, assistant director of the state commercial fisheries division.

The salmon shortfall stems from a no show of pink salmon at Prince William Sound by both hatchery-raised and wild fish. A harvest of nearly 40 million pinks was predicted at PWS this summer, but the catch came in at 16.5 million fish. Statewide, the total pink salmon harvest squeaked past 94 million fish, 20 million less than projected.

A couple hundred thousand chums might still be landed, and the statewide tally was nearing 17 million, not too far off the forecast. Likewise, coho catches are still coming in and likely to approach the 4 million fish forecast.

Bruce said the harvest of 321,000 king salmon this summer was mediocre.- More...
Monday - September 21, 2009

Southeast Alaska: ENERGY COMMITTEE HEARS FROM SOUTHEAST RESIDENTS - The Alaska House & Senate Special Committees on Energy heard from Haines and other Southeast Alaska residents and businesses on energy needs as part of their consideration in drafting a comprehensive statewide energy plan Wednesday. The hearing took place at the Haines High School Gym last Friday.

The committees heard resident, business, and stakeholder opinions on a host of energy topics, including those related to House Bill (HB) 218, which would create the Alaska Department of Energy.

"Southeast Alaskans are committed to clean renewable energy and a statewide energy policy," Committee Co-Chair Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, said. "What Southeast is doing with hydroelectric power generation could be brought to other parts of the state. What the committee learned from the people of Haines will help us craft an energy policy that benefits all of Alaska."

The committees were in Haines at the same time as the Southeast Conference, a regional economic and policy group that organizes throughout the year to discuss issues of regional importance. - More...
Monday - September 21, 2009

Alaska: Installation of Radiation Portal Monitors at the Land Borders Completed - U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the area port of Alaska has recently completed the installation of Radiation Portal Monitors (RPMs) at all of the land border crossings in the state. The locations include Alcan, Dalton Cache, Skagway and Poker Creek Ports of Entry.

According to a news release, Radiation Portal Monitors (RPMs) are detection devices that provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection with a passive, non-intrusive means to scan cargo containers and other conveyances for the presence of nuclear and radiological materials. These systems are capable of detecting various types of radiation emanating from nuclear devices, dirty bombs, special nuclear materials, natural sources, and isotopes commonly used in medicine and industry. - More...
Monday - September 21, 2009


Columns - Commentary

DAVE KIFFER: A Walk Down Memory Lane - I took a walk along First Avenue the other day and I noticed something was missing.

Although I have lived "Downtown" for that the last 17 years, I will always be a "West Ender" at heart. It is funny even in a small town like Ketchikan that we are still attached to our neighborhoods, particularly if we grew up there.

I was talking to a friend recently who grew up as a "Downtowner." Our paths had never crossed until Junior High. You would have thought we lived on different planets!

My mother's family moved out to the "West End" in the mid 1920s when her father went to work on the White Cliff School project, first settling on upper Austin Street and then moving into a house on First and Jefferson in the mid 1930s. That was the only home I knew until I went away to college in the mid 1970s.

In addition I spent several years as a paper boy on what was called the Avenue B route. It consisted of the entire length of First Avenue, then up Madison to Fourth and back to Washington Street.

You don't hear much about paperboys ­ or papergirls ­ anymore. Most of the remaining newspapers are now delivered in the wee hours of the morning by adult drivers.

Afternoon newspapers have pretty much disappeared into history and I suspect that most of those that remain probably have decided that it's just not safe to have children on the delivery routes any more. - More...
Monday - September 21, 2009

STAR PARKER: Why we're talking about race - again - The Democrats have lost the health care debate.

For months now, polls have been showing that Americans don't want the massive new government controls, regulations, taxes, and spending that Democrats are pushing.

Latest Gallup polling shows 60 percent saying that President Barack Obama's proposal will not expand health coverage without raising taxes on middle class Americans and without affecting the current quality of health care.

Forty three percent approve of how Obama is handling health care and 52 percent disapprove.

You would be hard pressed to find a Democrat or Republican who does not agree that we can improve how we deliver health care.

So the logical conclusion we'd expect now from well intentioned people would be that we go back to square one. We do what Obama promised but never did -- have a truly open, bi-partisan discussion, with all ideas are on the table, to generate the best possible product for the American people. - More...
Monday - September 21, 2009

DAN K. THOMASSON: Dangers of all Obama, all the time - Enough already, Mr. President!

Barack Obama's incessant pleas in behalf of health care reform have reached a decibel level seldom before achieved by anyone in his job. The appeals became a crescendo over the weekend with taped appearances on the three leading nationally televised Sunday morning public affairs programs and another with comedy host David Letterman on his late night show.

And to think it wasn't too long ago that presidents worried that too much television exposure might detract from the majesty of the office by making them all too familiar, warts and all, to the general public. When I was a kid, the president was sort of like the Wizard of Oz, this omnipotent, mysterious figure with a disembodied voice who guided us through our travails. Few of us ever thought we would meet him.

The "magic lantern" put an end to that, of course, and now boredom has replaced awe in the way many of us regard our chief executives, whom we realize are merely men after all and frequently as flawed as the rest of us -- a fact we don't particularly relish, considering that we elect each new one with the hope that they will cure all our ills. - More...
Monday - September 21, 2009


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letterAlaska Airlines Fails to Live Up To New Moto, "North of Expected" By Russell Thomas - Before Alaska Airlines rolls out another catchy slogan to adorn its uniforms and promotional material, they ought to spend some time talking with their team about how it might actually be implemented. Yesterday I watched as nearly twenty of their customers were left in the Ketchikan lobby because, although they had been in line for more than hour, they checked in too late for the flight. Although most of my 45 clients and their bags made the 6:15 a.m. ferry, the ferry was too full to allow our last van (carrying some of the luggage) to board the ferry. When the last van did arrive the lobby was stilled packed with people and fish that had arrived on the 6:15 a.m. ferry. The people whose luggage arrived on the 6:45 a.m. ferry lined up behind the others who were already patiently waiting in line. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterDrugs By Ken Lewis - It is understandable that we have an emotional outrage over drug use, locally, regionally and nationally. And that focusing upon our young adults just might curb future use. But if the reason we send our youth to public schools is to get the best education, then I will suggest the following: - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterTo pee or not to pee By Chris Elliott - I'm confused. Is the current drug testing policy, the one in place in the Ketchikan School District, unconstitutional? What about Acton v. Vernonia? Is it lawful to drug test students who participate in extracurricular activities? My suggestion or recommendation that parents and teachers work together on a plan for selective or suspicion-based drug testing was just that. Perhaps it wasn t as clear as it could have been, but I was envisioning a voluntary, confidential program. My whole point was that it should not be punitive. In addition, I would strongly disagree that the only information teachers have is gossip picked up in the hallways. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterTo Pee or Not to Pee By Kristenia Johnson - I would first like to say that while I agree that drug testing should be performed and more frequently with no interference from coaches, it is not the only problem facing children and teens today. I do not know if drugs or alcohol were involved in the recent suicides but there certainly was no reference of them in the police reports as I saw. This should show that a mental or emotional issue was prominent and along with the debate (and action) of drug testing should be the debate (and action) of helping our young adults with their mental and emotional wellbeing. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterWolves in Ward Lake area By Ardath Piston - It is always good to be aware of wolf activity in our area. I appreciate Meghan Hogben taking the time to inform everyone that the packs are making their way closer to town. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterWolves By Bev Newell - I read Meghan Hogben's SitNews letter about wolves. We have two of our cats missing since April to Sept 3rd. Our last cat went missing Sept. 3rd. We were told by Humane Society for Animals that wolves could have gotten our last cat. It is odd, three cats missing in four months. One of our neighbors cats went missing this summer too. That makes three cats that I know of missing. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterGas Prices By Steve Randall - While visiting Juneau this past week (Sept. 18, 2009), I was astounded to see gas prices at multiple service stations that were 60-70 cents a gallon cheaper than any in Ketchikan. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterCustomer Service By Cayenne Rowton - Moving to Ketchikan from larger cities in the south has been quite an experience. Mostly positive, I find this town to be refreshing in its simplicity and beauty. Being that there are limited places to shop for general goods, I too am a frequent visitor to the local Wal-Mart. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letter Mr. Fisherman Sculpture By Mary Ida Henrikson - Regarding the "Mr. Fisherman" wire sculpture divers found off the Arctic Bar Deck, don't you just love that art is everywhere in Ketchikan? - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterSobriety Walk By Wanda Isaacs - On Saturday, September 26, 2009 in Klawock there will be an island wide Sobriety Walk. The event is intended for families and individuals. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterReckless Health Care Changes By Donald A. Moskowitz - President Obama continues to pitch his reckless and unrealistic health care initiative to the public. "Big Brother" Obama wants Congress to pass a bill quickly before Congress and the public understand the plan. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterAbusive treatment of animals By Alka Chandna - Reports of color blindness experiments on squirrel monkeys at the University of Washington (UW) have only speculated on any relevance to human beings and have failed entirely to mention the pain and misery suffered by the hundreds of monkeys, cats, dogs, gerbils, and rats used by the experimenters over the past 25 years. These animals are invariably forced to endure lives of deprivation, terror, depression, and physical trauma. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterMega-disaster pool By James Schenk - Thank you Mr. Dial. I appreciate your watch. - More...
Monday PM - September 21, 2009

letterImportant Community Information By Rodney Dial - As you decide how you will vote on the proposed Pool bonds on October 6th, you may want to consider the following concerning the health of the City and Borough finances: - More...
Thursday - September 17, 2009

letterTo Pee or Not to Pee By Evan Bolling - Aside from the extreme unconstitutionality of the current drug testing system, the proposal for a "selective drug testing policy" offered by Chris Elliot is much MUCH worse. - More...
Thursday - September 17, 2009

letterSuicide and abuse problems in Ketchkan By Donna Teal - I have read all letters with interest lately on this subject. - More...
Thursday - September 17, 2009

letterNorth Slope seas contain oil and gas vital to US By Senator Lisa Murkowski - Alaska's offshore oil and natural gas resources are vital to the nation's strategic economic and energy security. That's why I strongly support responsible exploration and production in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. - More...
Thursday - September 17, 2009

letterDrug Testing By Chris Elliott - As parents we are sometimes (oftentimes?) oblivious to what is going on right in front of us. We can't see the forest for the trees. We can't believe that our child would lie to us or take drugs or routinely drink too much. We believe that because their friends come from "good" homes, everything is fine. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterKPU DIESEL GENERATION EXPLANATION By Pete Ellis - The reasoning behind running diesel generators at this time of year needs to be further explained by KPU so that we can understand the economics involved in not waiting to see the effect of Tyee connection access and the extent of lake level changes that will be occurring later in the year as affected by Tyee and our further rainfall. Or perhaps the Tyee connection will cost more than the diesel generation? - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterRE: They just don't get it By Dave Kiffer - On Sept. 8, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly authorized $6,000 for a voter pamphlet for the swimming pool bond issue AND the transient occupancy tax changes. It is now estimated that the pamphlet will actually cost approximately $3,200. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterYes to Proposition 2 By Mary Schulz - YES, it is time to replace the Mike Smithers' pool with a new facility. The movement to build pools in Alaska began 40 years ago. The State of Alaska recognized the value of pools in each community and developed a plan to assist with the pool projects through the Department of Education. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterAirlift Northwest's History By Shelly Deering - In 1978, a Sitka house fire left 3 children severely burned. Dr. Michael Copass, founder of Airlift Northwest, was teaching there at the time and spent the day assisting Dr. Longenbaugh in caring for and trying to arrange transfer of these critically injured children to the regional burn center in Seattle. The children died before this could happen. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterDon't be too quick By Evan Bolling - Let's play a quick session of Q&A. Question: Does Ketchikan have a major drug abuse problem? Answer:Yes. Question II: Is that drug abuse the major force behind the recent suicides? Answer: No. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterSuicide, Violence, and Drug Abuse. By Ken Bylund - At thirteen [1955], two friends and I went to see "Rebel Without a Cause" [a movie] at the local cinema's 25 cent matinee; a few weeks later one friend began acting out, the distraught, misunderstood, unreachable character of young Jim Stark, arguing with his girl friend - and she played her part too - both seeming to enjoy the drama... then he did something that stunned us all. Won't go into detail, just that we all went to the funeral parlor, saw his mother sitting in a chair, her back against black curtains, crying her eyes out -- we all felt bad -- there in his coffin, rosy cheeks and handsome, was our friend, Doug. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterRendezvous Senior Day Services Adult Day Program - Adult Day Services week is celebrated September 21-25th by centers like Rendezvous Senior Day Services across the nation. Alaska has 12 adult day programs across the state, two in Southeast Alaska. Rendezvous Senior Day Services currently has an adult day program, among other programs which support our community. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterEyes Finally Opening By Nicole Esau - Upon watching and reading SitNews lately I have to say that I am encouraged that the people of Ketchikan are finally opening their eyes! - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterI Do Not Assert A Stigma By Harold A. Maio - There is such a stigma regarding Mental Health. The sentence actually reads, "I associate such a stigma." It is the writer's statement. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letter Mayor's support of 347 Bawden EPA Assessment By Kenneth Carpenter - As the owners of 347 Bawden Street, we extend our public thanks to Mayor Lew Williams III for his writing a letter of support for EPA assessment on the behalf of the City of Ketchikan. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letter The Time Is NOW To Act By Kristenia Johnson - After my letter was published on Sitnews I received a number of responses from my friends and family congratulating me on saying what they have been thinking for years. I also received a reply from a man I did not know who shared his struggles with staying positive while growing up in Ketchikan and having to combat depression almost year round during the rain. He suffers from SAD. I also knew to expect those replies who did not whole or at all agree with my opinion, one opinion more personal to me was from my boyfriend. While he agreed with some of what I said he still had his disagreements and it hurt me to hear a semi-lack of support from him. I soon realized that this was my big test to understand that not everyone shares the same opinion. However, this is not about me or whether you believe my opinion is one sided or not. Aren't all opinions usually geered toward one side? This is about protecting and saving our children and our town from drugs, alcohol and disruptive behavior which will most likely lead to a life in and out and in jail again. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterSuicide By Tracey Horne Scadden - Having read Ms. Martin's letter on her thoughts about suicide.I applaud you for taking the stand it wasn't your fault. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterWolves By Meghan Hogben - This is a letter to warn people who are walking dogs in the Ward Lake area. Minutes before 8 pm tonight my boyfriend and I were walking our dog on the road down to Ward Lake, they were unmistakable -- wolves, five of them, and they wanted our dog. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letter RE: Memorial fund By Linda Beaupre - First of all, my condolences to the Azure family. Not only do they have to grieve for their son, but they also have to process the tragic circumstances of his death. I cannot imagine the heartache they must be experiencing right now. - More...
Wednesday - September 16, 2009

letterResponse to "Enough" By Rebecca Clark - I couldn't agree with Mr. Ziegler more! Drugs, murder and suicide seem to be a big problem; EVERYWHERE! It seems more threatening when it is closer to home. "Gatekeepers" is a suicide prevention coalition that had their open house last night. I encourage those in our community who want to be proactive in the fight against these monstrosities(both physical and spiritual) to attend upcoming invitations. - More...
Monday - September 14, 2009

letterKetchikan Youth By Sara Skan - After reading and agreeing with Public Nuisance by Harry Howard, it got me thinking. Yes, there are quite a bit of Ketchikan youth that is disrespectful, destructive amongst other things. However, there is also a side of our beautiful town's youth that is worth encouraging. Three of my four children are enrolled in the Ketchikan school district, on many occasions my oldest has spoken with me about the things that are said and done on the bus, the way the "older kids talk" It makes me nervous to send her off! She is learning things that she shouldn't know at her age, things their father and I should be discussing with them at what we feel is the appropriate time. As a parent I also know that I am responsible for teaching my children to have good judgment and knowing the difference between right and wrong. Having respect and compassion for their elders and one another. - More...
Monday - September 14, 2009

letterWorried By Rebecca Simpson - I am a concerned citizen of Ketchikan and worried about the children and young adults in our area. There is so many actions being taken by the young people in our area. With all the drug and alcohol use in this town, WHY isn't drug & alcohol awareness being taught to our students? - More...
Monday - September 14, 2009

letter RE: Too many suicides and attempts By Charlanne Heath - While I realize that this forum is intended to spout your own point of view to a community, Kristenia Johnson's letter is a typical one-sided point of view. - More...
Monday - September 14, 2009

letter Mental Health Stigma By Jan Cadero - This letter is in response to Mykayla Martin's letter regarding too many suicides or attempts. Mykayla, it is really sad that you at the young age of 17, have a strong opinion regarding suicide. And it is a tragic thing that anyone should have to deal with, but you should not say it is an easy way out. - More...
Monday - September 14, 2009

letterHealthcare reform By Dale Albertson - In reading Dale McFeatters' oped on Healthcare reform I was inclined to ignore this issue. However, truth always wins out. Revisit the "speech" on this matter to the joint session. It is empty of fact or substance, full of rhetoric and grandstanding. There is plenty of denial on issues dear to the citizens but empty of sources to back up those denials, just denial, oh, and threats against any who oppose the "reforms". Here is just one "fact" relative to peoples concerns: In an article by Byron York, Chief Political Correspondent, The Washington Examiner, entitled: "Health care reform means more power for the IRS", he claims that the IRS would become the main agency charged with determining if you have "acceptable" health insurance. This article inspired Herman Cain, "The Herman Cain Show" to do some research. He found the following little tidbit: "It's Division A, Title IV on pages 167-215 called Amendments to IRS Code of 1986. The expanded powers of the IRS in H.R. 3200 would empower the IRS to require taxpayers to show proof of health insurance coverage, collect fines on individuals and employers who did not have adequate proof of health insurance and determine whether your health insurance was a government approved plan." - More...
Monday - September 14, 2009

letterTime to say "Enough" By Zig Ziegler - There is a huge problem in Ketchikan that appears to be the undercurrent to much of the criminal activity, suicides and social problems we are experiencing. That problem is drugs, specifically, meth and oxycontin. I would be willing to wager that drug use is directly linked to so much of what our community has been facing over the past few years. Is Ketchikan alone in this? Certainly not. Is that an excuse for not taking on this problem head on? Absolutely not. - More...
Thursday PM - September 10, 2009

letter RE: Too many suicides and attempts By Kristenia Johnson - I am having a hard time believing that people in Ketchikan could solely blame a person for ending their own life.There are two (from what I understand) different suicides in a matter of a few months in Ketchikan and neither share two commonalities. - More...
Thursday PM - September 10, 2009

letterKyle Palmer Had KIC insurance...but By Wayne Beaupre - Ketchikan Indian Corp has refused to cover Kyle Palmer, a 23 year member of Ketchikan Indian Corp because, they were not notified first. - More...
Thursday PM - September 10, 2009

letterThey just don't get it By Jon Van Essen - I really find it hard to believe that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly feels the need to spend $55K to supposedly inform us voters all the details on why we need a new community pool. - More...
Thursday PM - September 10, 2009

letterMy Roof Thanks You! By Shauna Lee - I recently wrote a letter to Sitnews regarding my leaking roof and asked for ideas. I must say, Ketchikan didn't fail me. I had three phone calls and numerous letters with offers to help. I couldn't even get to them all so please know that to every one of you that called and wrote, I thank you so much!! - More...
Thursday PM - September 10, 2009

letter Sea Otters By Mike Moyer - In response to Mr. Jean Bland's letter to me concerning the truth about Sea Otters, I can only say that if there are no shellfish around Craig, Klawock, or Hydaburg now, then how did people survive in the old days there before the Russians wiped out the Sea Otters? - More...
Thursday PM - September 10, 2009

letterRE: Memorial Fund By Lisa McClould - Regarding the request from Deborah Harney, a child is a gift from God. - More...
Thursday PM - September 10, 2009

letterObama Attempts School Intrusion By Donald A. Moskowitz - President Obama continues to hover over us like "Big Brother". Tuesday, September 8, 2009 his targeted audience was our impressionable school children. - More...
Thursday PM - September 10, 2009

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