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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
September 21, 2015

jpg Shania Sommer reveals 2015 PFD amount Monday morning...

34th Dividend is $2072
Shania Sommer reveals the 2015 PFD

Front Page Photo Courtesy Office of the Governor

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Alaska: Importance of Permanent Fund for Posterity Emphasized - Alaska Governor Bill Walker and Lt. Governor Byron Mallott Monday morning underscored the importance of a stable fiscal future for future generations of Alaskans, as they broke from tradition in announcing the amount of individual Alaskans’ permanent fund dividend check. Shania Sommer, a seventh-grader from Palmer Junior Middle School, announced the exact amount of the check. Shania is a 12-year-old student enrolled in the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program. - More...
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Ketchikan: Philippine Red Cross Proposes to Buy $80M Susitna Ferry for $1.7M By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly recently approved the sale of its never used, ill-fated $80 million Susitna Ferry still berthed in Ketchikan.

Philippine Red Cross Proposes to Buy $80M Susitna Ferry for $1.7M

The Susitna Ferry continues to be berthed at Ward Cove in Ketchikan
while the Matanuska-Susitna Borough continues to work to sell it.
Photo courtesy Matanuska-Susitna Borough, SitNews file photo August 12, 2014

If the sale goes through, the Susitna Ferry will be plying the Philippine Sea delivering food and supplies to island shores and serving as a floating hospital after hurricanes if a near-final sale is completed between the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and the Philippine Red Cross. The Assembly gave Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey the approval to finalize the deal late on September 1, 2015.

For $1.75 million, the international humanitarian organization hopes to buy the Susitna Ferry, a ship that is said to be capable of operating as both a cargo-loaded barge that can haul itself onto shore and a twin-hulled vessel that cuts through choppy seas. The Susitna was built as a smaller scale prototype for the U.S. Navy, which funded most of the construction costs for the $80 million vessel. The ferry never left the Ward Cove dock near Ketchikan where it racked up more than $2 million in storage and insurance bills since the Mat-Su Borough acquired it in 2011.

The Mat-Su Borough will make repairs to the engines prior to completion of the sale and prior to delivery. Three of the four engines were damaged during heavy rain earlier in 2014. The rain damage was estimated to be approximately $1M.

The Philippine Red Cross wants to put the vessel's agile operating modes to work in the disaster-prone Philippine Islands. Richard Gordon, Chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross and also a former Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, highlights how. “There is an average of 170 maritime accidents in the country every year, mostly in the Visayas area. The ship will be used to provide disaster relief and emergency services. It will also provide search and rescue services after maritime disasters. The Susitna will serve as a mobile clinic/hospital ship serving some of the most isolated of the 7,107 Philippine Islands.,” he said. “This ship will also be made available to other Red Cross societies in other countries for saving lives. Other government and non-government organizations involved in disaster relief and recovery operations may avail of the vessel,” Gordon said.

Mat-Su Borough Manager Moosey inherited the project when he arrived at the Borough four years ago. The Susitna Ferry was an attempt at connecting the two miles of water separating the rural, growing Borough and land-crowded Anchorage with ferry passenger service. The ship was also intended to serve as a rescue craft if passenger airliners fell into icy Cook Inlet. A ferry terminal was built on the Mat-Su Borough side, but ferry landings on both sides of Knik Arm were never fully funded.

For over three years, the Borough enlisted ship brokers worldwide to sell the vessel, and tried to entice 500 members of a ship owners organization to buy the vessel, followed through on dozens of dead-end offers, and tried to give the vessel to several other American government entities. The Philippine Red Cross is the closest the Borough has come to selling the Susitna.

“I’m elated that this ship will be put to the noble work of saving lives after disasters in the Philippines. We exhausted our options on disposing of this vessel. It’s time to give it new life, and release our taxpayers from the burden of its upkeep,” Moosey said. - More...
Saturday PM - September 19, 2015



Ketchikan: 2nd Race to Alaska 2016 Announced - 2nd Race to Alaska 2016 Announced - The details for the second Race to Alaska 2016 were revealed at an event at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, and while the format of the race remains largely identical to the inaugural race, the most significant change is a challenge issued by race organizers to Larry Ellison: If the former Oracle CEO and his America’s Cup Team can simply complete the Race to Alaska onboard a boat that has been in the America’s Cup, he will earn an honorary set of R2AK steak knives, the race’s iconic second place prize.

2nd Race to Alaska 2016 Announced

S/V Team MOB Mentality arriving in Ketchikan -- finished 2nd with 8 days, 3h, 45m in the race from Washington to Alaska July 15, 2015. The first place team was Team Elsie Piddock with 5 days, 1h 55m.
Photograph By Christopher Thompson ©2015

Now in its second year, the Race to Alaska is a 750-mile boat race between Port Townsend, WA and Ketchikan, Alaska, that has few rules: no motors onboard, no prearranged support. There are no handicaps or classes for different types of vessels and the first to cross the finish line gets $10,000, the second place team gets a set of steak knives.

The idea is simple: Get a boat. Start in Port Townsend. Using only wind or muscle, make your way to Ketchikan - no engines, no support crew. At the end of 750 miles, the winner gets a $10,000 cash prize.

Stage 1- Qualifying leg from Port Townsend, WA to Victoria BC. Racers have 36 hours to do the 33 miles without assistance to qualify for the second stage to Ketchikan, regardless of weather. The first stage is pass/fail, times are not added to times in second stage.

Stage 2- Victoria to Ketchikan - 700 miles with two mandatory waypoints at Seymour Narrows and Bella Bella. There are no handicaps or divisions, and winner takes all. In 2015 less than half of the boats that started finished.

In its first year the summer of 2015, only 15 of the 35 teams that entered crossed the finish line in Ketchikan. The race was started to demonstrate what can be possible without an engine, and that adventure can be had on virtually any budget. Teams finished in vessels ranging from racing trimarans, open sailboats, outrigger canoes, and a kayak. One team finished in a boat they had pulled out of the blackberry bushes just a few months before.

“Someone called this race ‘The America’s Cup for Dirtbags’, but we try to be inclusive so we wanted to invite Larry to make sure that even fancy sailors felt welcome,” said Jake Beattie, R2AK creator and Executive Director of the Northwest Maritime Center, the non-profit organization behind the race. The invitation was also an experiment. “Last year there was a lot of fear among the racers that he would show up in multi-million dollar boat and turn this good natured, grassroots thing into an arms race. But the more we thought about it, the less we were sure that an America’s Cup boat would actually make it. They sail fast but seem to break a lot.” - More...
Saturday PM - September 19, 2015


Fish Factor:
'Crab Map' Reflects Big Drop in Bering Sea Crab Fisheries By LAINE WELCH - Catches for Alaska’s premier crab fisheries in the Bering Sea could take a dip this year based on results from the annual summer surveys.

The annual report by NOAA Fisheries called “The Eastern Bering Sea Continental Shelf Bottom Trawl Survey: Results from Commercial Crab Species” (long dubbed the ‘crab map’) shows tables reflecting big drops over the past year in abundance of legal sized males for both snow crab and red king crab at Bristol Bay. (Only legal males are allowed to be retained for sale.)

But there is a bright side -- both stocks appear to have strong numbers of younger crab set to recruit into the fisheries in coming years.

The crab surveys – done since the 1970s - are conducted using trawl nets during June and July each year, and cover a span of 140,000 nautical square miles. The data from this summer show that for red king crab, legal male abundance was 8.7 million crabs, a 30 percent decrease.

“In 2014, the harvest level was set at 9.98 million pounds, so one likely extrapolation may be a reduction in harvests in the 15 to 25 percent range,” said market expert John Sackton.

An encouraging sign is that 99 percent of the females observed in Bristol Bay had full egg clutches, indicating high mating success.

According to Jake Jacobsen of the Inter-Cooperative Exchange which represents 70 percent of crab harvesters, the value of the 2014 Bristol Bay red king crab fishery, based on a dock prices of $6.77 per pound, was nearly $68 million.

For snow crab, the survey numbers were down substantially, and Sackton predicts catch reductions will likely “be in excess of 20 percent” of last season’s 68 million pound harvest.

The 2014 value of the snow crab fishery, based on a fishermen’s price of $2.04 per pound, was about $139 million at the docks.

Last season’s biggest surprise was a whopping 15 million pound Tanner crab catch, the largest in 20 years. (Bairdi Tanners are the larger cousin of snow crab.) This summer’s survey showed levels of male Tanner crabs continued to increase, especially in the Eastern Bering Sea where the legal male biomass is the second largest since 1994.

Most crabbers received $2.42 a pound for their Tanners making that fishery’s dockside value worth $36.5 million.

The report also noted that for a second year in a row, average bottom and surface temperatures were warmer in both Bristol Bay and the rest of the eastern Bering Sea relative to recent years

Catch quotas for the 2015 Bering Sea crab fisheries will be announced within a couple of weeks. The crab fisheries open on October 15. - More...
Saturday PM - September 19, 2015


Alaska Science:
Wood bison finding home in Alaska By NED ROZELL - These nights, Tom Seaton is dreaming less about red-brown, steaming, humpbacked hulks. He's also getting more sleep, knowing dozens of wood bison that galloped to freedom behind his snowmachine last spring are wandering new country, munching grass and having babies. So far so good in the attempt to stock Alaska with a giant that vanished from the swamps not long ago.

Wood Bison - Final Bison Released July 2015
Photo courtesy McGrath Museum
& Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center

"It's turning out better than I could have hoped for," said Seaton, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks. He is head of a project in which 130 wood bison are now roaming the low grass and sedge country near the village of Shageluk. Shageluk is a village of 130 people on the Innoko River.

In this "intense monitoring stage," Seaton recently flew out to the new herd to sample portions of their bison patties, in order to see what they are eating. He issued this report on the creatures, most of which had been living for years in captivity at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage.

"Now that I've seen them on the landscape for a few months, I'm confident they can do anything a wild bison can do," Seaton said in his Fairbanks office.

The massing creatures adapted to boreal wetlands have been seeing the territory since they were airlifted and boated to their former stomping grounds during a few complicated 2015 missions.

By monitoring satellite transmitters clinging to massive necks by belts designed for elephants, Seaton has watched the bison make huge clockwise loops through the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge and beyond. One cow has swum the Yukon and is north of Russian Mission. A few bulls also crossed the big river and almost made it to Unalakleet on the Bering Sea coast.

Seaton is pleased to see most of the bison circling back to near their introduction points near the village of Shageluk.

"One of my biggest worries was they'd go away to where they couldn't find each other again," he said. He got a bit nervous when he watched some of the collared animals dispersing as far south as the Kuskokwim River.

"But then they did a big loop back," he said. "They were just exploring. Now they know the hills, the flats, where the good vegetation is." - More...
Saturday PM - September 19, 2015

jpg Political Cartoon: GOP Debates

Political Cartoon: GOP Debates
By Bob Englehart ©2015, The Hartford Courant
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Open Letter: Dear Delta and Future Delta Fliers By Derek Meister - In the interest of veracity, it will suffice to say here that prior to the writing of this final letter regarding our experiences with Delta Airlines, there were indeed several very bizarre and disappointing events that occurred including, but not limited to, compensatory letdowns and wholly unexplainable phone call redirections to apparently scam-oriented sweepstakes prizes. And then it all changed. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 15, 2015

letter Matt Eisenhower By John & Jillian Malouf - I am pleased to write a letter of reference for Matt Eisenhower for the position of School Board Member of Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District. - More...
Sunday AM - September 13, 2015

letter POW Gas Prices By Rev. Edmund J. Penisten - The lead article concerning high motor fuel costs in Alaska incorrectly lists the average price of gasoline on Prince of Wales Island as being $3.32 as of September 8. The least costly gasoline on POW has been $3.879 for the past few weeks, and it is sold by the Alaska Commercial Company gas station in Klawock. - More...
Sunday AM - September 13, 2015

letter Republican leadership bullied By A. M. Johnson - It's a continued frustration watching Republican members of Congress continue to allow the criminal acts by this President regarding how the three branches of government work without any pushback. And now the complete surrender to the breaking of law, by the President with noncompliance of the 'Corker’ law passed requiring the President to present ALL facets of details included ‘secret side deals’ with or related to the Iran agreement. - More..
Sunday AM - September 13, 2015

letter RE: "Stop Feeding the Beast" By Wiley Brooks - I'm not going to get into a pxxxing contest with a gadfly who spent his professional life profiting from a politically corrupt, archaic tax system. Much of his rhetoric is laced with demagoguery. Mr. Stephen Eldridge has been discredited by numerous taxation experts. - More...
Sunday AM - September 13, 2015

letter FairTax marketers By Stephen Eldridge - The FairTax marketers are attacking AK. On the same day that SitNews published my reply to AK FT Director Wiley Broojs' letter, they published two more FT propaganda Letters-I replied to one of those two, Joe' O'Hara's and here reply to Amerogo Cimino's. - More...
Sunday AM - September 13, 2015

letter Flat Tax vs FairTax By Stephen Eldridge - Sitnews recently published my reply to AK FairTax (FT) Director Wiley Brooks' Letter along with a Letter from another FT marketer Joe O'Hara whose Letter explains NOTHING specific about the FT, but merely offers generic propaganda. - More...
Sunday AM - September 13, 2015

letter A DISTINCT & PREDICTABLE PATTERN By David G Hanger - The inefficiency, incompetence, and outright corruption that monopolies always bring is once again on display in Southeast Alaska with the now annual “GREAT ALASKA GASOLINE GARGANTUAN PRICE GOUGE & RIP-OFF” in full flood. I am sure we will hear that redundant chiming of excuses why all this has to be, but remember one simple thing: They are all a bunch of damned lies. Every year after the Fourth of July gasoline prices go down, the past two years incredibly dramatically, because of seasonal declines in demand, and generally stay down until after Thanksgiving, i.e. the onset of winter. Everywhere but Southeast Alaska where the rigged deal is in. All evidence indicates our politicians belong to Crowley [shipping], bought and paid for. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter Ketchikan's cigarette tax By Chris Elliott - I'm down to 2-3 cigarettes a day, so a tax on them isn't going to hurt me much, but I think our government leaders are missing out on a real cash cow... BOOZE! If they're just looking for an easy mark, booze is going to bring in a lot of extra cash if a hefty tax is levied on it. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter RE: Are You Ready for Back to School 2015? By Amanda Mitchell - Recently, Susan Johnson, wrote into the Sitnews about ‘tighter immunization laws’ in many states. As a clarification, in our State you are allowed religious and medical vaccination exemptions. Hopefully, one day in our State there will be personal exemptions as well. Yes, some states are moving to take your rights away to define what you can or cannot do with your bodies. Some would like States to have full control to define what is healthy and then force you to do what it defines as best. If you believe you have a right to force someone against their will to inject something into their body or alter it for your safety, well-being or desires, then you incorrectly put your responsibility onto somebody else. (So much for tolerance and acceptance of a way a person is or was born, huh? ) Also, if you believe you are responsible for what I or any other person does with our bodies, then you have deemed yourself to be our master and owned by you. Disturbing to say the least as slavery was abolished long ago, but also this paves a very dangerous path for genetic engineering and transhumanism to eventually lead to genocide for those that don’t quite measure up to the ‘health’ standards defined by man. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter THORNE BAY RESIDENTS BEWARE OF THE CITY COUNCIL By Guy Lane - I filed a complaint against the City of Thorne Bay and spoke against the City Council and Administrator, I am now being harassed by the City to an unprecedented level as they attempt to take my constitutional rights and means to protect my family away, this could happen to any resident who makes a complaint or grievance against the City, "there has been recent complaints from several residents of being intimidated and the City Council refused to hear their complaint during a council meeting and or just belittled them". - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter Terrorists? By Robert B. Hoston Jr. - Hillary Clinton is now comparing Republican presidential candidates to terrorists. Terrorist are known for barbaric acts of taking innocent lives, even beheadings and not caring for women. Clinton is comparing presidential candidates to terrorists as she touts women’s rights to healthcare, i.e. “the right to kill" their pre-born children by abortion. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter Open Letter to President Obama By Brett Veerhusen - The Seafood Harvesters of America (the Harvesters) represents 17 commercial fishing organizations from Alaska, to the Gulf of Mexico and New England. As its Executive Director, a life-long Alaskan fisherman, Bristol Bay fisherman, and the son of a man who has fished for 45 years in Alaskan waters, I [welcomed your recent] visit to this great state. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter Global warming By Duane Hill - Inuit verbal tradition includes stories about warmer years, so "global warming" is nothing new. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter Trump The Loose Cannon By Donald A. Moskowitz - Donald Trump should not be a candidate for President of the United States. He is a volatile "loose cannon" who is out of control, and I am not referring to the immigration issue, which has to be addressed by more logical minds. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter Rebirth of America and the World By Joe O'Hara - There is a multitude of 2016 presidential hopefuls - physicians, business people, politicians, liberals, a socialist, and many conservatives - all claiming to have the best interests of the American people at heart. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter Federal income taxes By Amerigo M Cimino - I am heartily in favor of the Fair Tax. Which I think is the only fair way to finance our Federal Government. The Fair Tax is Fair, because it treats every person as equals! There is no discrimination. as race; color; or creed! The Fair Tax is Blind, exactly as our figure of Justice! - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

letter RE: "Stop Feeding the Beast" By Stephen Eldridge - Mr. Brooks, the Alaska FairTax (FT) Director continues to spew FT propaganda that is false and misleading. He once again pounds on the evils of the current system which we all agree with, including those of us who favor a very flat income tax. He claims (falsely) that "The IRS would be terminated and collection of consumption taxes would become a state level responsibility." That is false on all levels. - More...
Wednesday PM - September 09, 2015

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