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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
September 06, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By APRIL DIXON

Ketchikan Canoers
Going to Kasaan a day before the Re-Dedication of Naay I’waans (the Chief Son-I-Hat Whale House), the photographer met the Ketchikan canoers making their way to Kasaan. Paddling all the way from Ketchikan, a 30+ mile paddle, the canoers left Ketchikan at 8am and were expected into Kasaan around 6:30pm on September 02, 2016. The photographer is from Klawock.
Front Page Feature Photo By

October 04, 2016
Ketchikan Borough Election
This is the 14th year, Sitnews has provided FREE web exposure to all local Ketchikan candidates to provide information for consideration by their constituents.
Responses will be published as received and not edited.

KTN Borough Assembly
3 Year Term
2 Seats Open
jpg Rodney Dial
Rodney Dial
Filed 08/01/16
Statement Published 08/30/16

Keith Smith

  Susan Pickrell
jpg Judith L. McQuerry
Judith L. McQuerry
Filed 08/25/16
Statement Published 09/08/16
  David Timmerman

KTN Borough Mayor
3 Year Term
1 Seat Open

David Landis (Unopposed)

KTN City Council
3 Year Term
2 Seats Open
  Judy Zenge

Julie Isom


Spencer S. Strassburg

KTN School Board
3 Year Term
2 Seats Open

Conan Matthew Steele


Trevor Shaw


Kim Hodne

  1. Local candidates are invited to provide for their constituents' consideration basic background information, experience and qualifications for the public office for which they seek.
  2. Candidates are invited to address for their constituents what they would like to accomplish if elected and issues of concern.
  3. Send Photographs & include your web address for a link.
  4. Email to by September 15, 2016 (Deadline: Absentee voters may vote as early as 15 days prior to the Borough election: absentee in person, absentee by mail, or by electronic transmission.)

Southeast Alaska:
Hope Closing Services in Southeast Alaska By MARY KAUFFMAN - After two decades of delivering services to persons with developmental disabilities in the Ketchikan and Juneau areas, the Board of Directors of an Anchorage-based non-profit organization made the decision to cease delivering services in Southeast Alaska.

Speaking today with Roy Scheller, Hope Community Resources, Inc's CEO and Executive Director, Scheller said he earlier traveled to both Juneau and Ketchikan to personally meet with the families of those receiving services and with the employees to explain the Board's decision. Scheller said a 90-day notice of the cessation of services in Southeast Alaska was provided to all involved. Scheller said today marks day 60 of the notice and the services in Southeast Alaska are set to discontinue at the end of this month.

After meeting with the majority of employees and families associated with Hope's Southeast Regional Office, Scheller said he established a transition team to work with all those involved to assure that if possible everyone had a safe landing with a new service provider organization or position of employment within Hope.

This decision, made in the spring of 2016 by the Board, was reluctantly made after almost two decades of providing a full range of services to Southeast Alaskan’s experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities living in the area. The decision to withdraw from the Juneau and Ketchikan service areas was difficult; and only made after careful and repeated review by both management and the Board of Directors, according to Scheller.

Scheller said Hope Community Resources, Inc has heavily subsidized operations in the Southeast since inception, and the organization’s ability to continue this level of financial subsidy has diminished, resulting in Hope examining how and where they will conduct business. Scheller said Hope Community Resources, Inc's overall funding is not related to the decision to cease services in Southeast Alaska but the decision was made because of the increase costs of operation in Southeast Alaska and the level of subsidy required from Hope to maintain the services in the area.

The Juneau and Ketchikan offices provide services to about 36 people, with the cost of doing business in Southeast much higher than in Anchorage and other areas of the state. Last year, Hope subsidized almost $300,000 providing services in Southeast Alaska, partly, because of the costs involved in supporting 57 employees.

According to Scheller, individual transition plans have been arranged for all Hope's Southeast Alaska clients but for three. The expectation is those three will have their transition plans finalized soon. Where possible and desired, numerous Hope employees in Southeast Alaska were able to transition as employees to new support organizations as the recipients they worked with while at Hope.

Scheller said the Hope's Southeast Alaska Nursing Oversight and Care Management position may be continued by Hope for a short while until that service is picked up by another agency.

Hope operated one assisted living home in Juneau with the majority of services in Southeast Alaska provided to families and adults living on their own.

Services provided by Hope Community Resources, Inc in other areas around the state will not change. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

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Southeast Alaska: Naha River National Recreation trail ramp replaced - The ramp accessing the Naha River National Recreation trail from the boat dock has been replaced. The Naha River National Recreation trail, roughly 15 miles north of Ketchikan, was damaged during a November, 2014 windstorm. The damaged ramp was removed for safety. The replacement ramp was formerly used at Naukati.

Naha River National Recreation trail ramp replaced

Contractors recently replaced the ramp at the Naha River National Recreation Trail.
Photo courtesy USFS/USDA

Hikers are advised the Naha trail boardwalk may be slippery and may need repair.

The Ketchikan Resource Advisory Committee funded ramp repairs and installation and the Committee plans to support trail improvements at a later date. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

Fish Factor: Bering Sea Crab Fall Fisheries Harvest Outlook Low By LAINE WELCH - Bering Sea crabbers were stunned last week when the outlooks for the upcoming fall and winter fisheries were revealed.

Results of the annual summer surveys by state and federal scientists showed that numbers of mature male and females dropped sharply across the board for the big three: opilio (snow crab), their larger cousins, bairdi Tanners, and red king crab.

“I don’t think anybody was expecting the numbers to be as low as they ended up. That was a shock,” said Ruth Christiansen, science adviser and policy analyst for the trade group, Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.

Managers use different criteria for setting quotas for the three crab species. For snow crab, the state chooses from what they believe is the most reliable of three data sets. Christiansen said she feels sure that fishery will be a go, albeit with a smaller catch quota.

“I’m not worried about that one not opening. But given the information we have and the state’s tendency to always be cautious, the catch will be lower than the 40.6 million pounds from last year,” Christiansen said.

The harvest strategy for bairdi Tanner crab is based on a threshold of mature females. Not enough females means no fishery, and the survey results showed a drop of nearly 60 percent from just a year ago. But the crabbers believe the bairdi are still out there – they’ve just moved to a different spot.

“It’s not one of those things where we don’t think the crab is there, it’s a result of the survey not being able to find them,” Christiansen said.

The surveys are standardized and trawl samples are taken from the same stations each year throughout the eastern Bering Sea.

Bairdi crab catches have been on a steady climb since 2013, approaching 20 million pounds last season, and the fleet has logged good catches. The crabbers believe the cause of the disappearing crab is changing ocean conditions, pointing out that 2016 is one of the hottest years on record for Bering Sea water temperatures, both at the sea surface and on the ocean floor.

“We’ve seen dramatic drops in crab numbers from last year to this year. It’s not an overfishing issue or fishing mortality or natural mortality. Something else is going on,” Christiansen stressed.

The outlook for red king crab at Bristol Bay is a bit brighter. The survey numbers for both males and females were down, but managers use a different balancing act there to set catch quotas.

“The state bases its strategy on the spawning biomass, which is a combination of the males and females, and even though one went up and one went down, the balance is the same. So we are not anticipating that catch to change dramatically,” she explained.

The red king crab quota last season was about 10 million pounds.

Crab scientists are now busily crunching the raw data and will present more complete findings to the industry later this month. The Bering Sea crab quotas will be released in early October; the fisheries open October 15. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

Alaska libertarians select Joe Miller as Senate candidate; Will Be on Ballot - At the urging of disenfranchised voters across the state of Alaska, 2010 Republican Nominee Joe Miller today filed his paperwork to run for United States Senate.

Joe Miller

Due to Libertarian candidate Cean Stevens’ withdrawal from the race and a unanimous vote of the Alaska Libertarian Party’s board of directors, Joe Miller will appear on the November ballot as the Alaska Libertarian Party Nominee. Miller seeks to be the first third-party nominee to win a federal seat in decades. Also running for the people's U.S. Senate seat are incumbent Senator Lisa Murkowski and Alaska Democrat Ray Metcalfe.

Miller stated, “I am grateful to Cean Stevens and the Alaska Libertarian Party for their vote of confidence. It is humbling. They could not have been more gracious and helpful. This is an historic opportunity for liberty-loving Alaskans to lead this nation to a post-partisan future of limited constitutional government. I’m calling on all Alaskans of good will to join us in this effort. Together we can make history!”

“Alaskans deserve a real choice,” said Miller. “The choice between a Democrat, a Democrat-backed independent, and a Republican-In-Name-Only - who has been one of Barack Obama's chief enablers - is no choice at all.” - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016


Successful conservation efforts pay off for humpback whales - Endangered humpback whales in nine of 14 newly identified distinct population segments have recovered enough that they don’t warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries said today. International conservation efforts to protect and conserve whales over the past 40 years proved successful for most populations. Four of the distinct population segments are still protected as endangered, and one is now listed as threatened.

Humpback Whale and Baby, NOAA Photo
Photo courtesy NOAA Communications

Commercial whaling severely reduced humpback whale numbers from historical levels, and the United States listed all humpback whales as endangered in 1970. NOAA Fisheries worked nationally and internationally to identify and apply protections for humpback whales. The International Whaling Commission’s whaling moratorium, imposed in 1982, played a major role in the comeback of humpback whales, and remains in effect.

“Today’s news is a true ecological success story,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Whales, including the humpback, serve an important role in our marine environment. Separately managing humpback whale populations that are largely independent of each other allows us to tailor conservation approaches for each population.”

Two of the four populations that remain endangered are found in U.S. waters at certain times of the year. The Central America population feeds off the West Coast, while the Western North Pacific population does so in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: Attack of the Killer Bagpipes - Many of you know that I have been fighting with musical instruments most of my life.

Several times a week I engage in pitched battles with a variety of saxophones, flutes, clarinets and other sordid instruments of misintonation.

I guess it's not really a war, because most wars have a finite time span. For me and my instruments it has been more like everyone's favorite police action, the Korean War. The stalemate continues a half century later.

But at least the Koreans had the sense to put up a demilitarized zone and avoid contact. I just can't keep from trying, foolishly, to get all these infernal instruments to succumb to my will.

This may come as a bit of surprise because I suspect that many of you think that playing a musical instrument is an "unmitigated joy," a "wonderous thing," the gift of "music" from the Divine. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

JEFF LUND: No Turning Back - The plan looked good on Google Earth, but on real earth, I wasn’t so sure. So I scrapped it and kept on the trail until I was near the top of Mahoney Mountain.

All directions of the open alpine called me. I had cell phone reception, so I texted my buddy and informed him hunting had turned to hiking and since I was part way through the traverse, I was going to finish it.

Judging by how docile the Deer Mountain side of the traverse was, I figured it would be pretty easy since I was already on the ridge. But the ridge isn’t really connected. It dives down into a fussy little pass, then ascends back up above 3,000 feet. I picked my way down the slope and encountered…ropes? Maybe this is why the Forest Service trail guide states: “Hikers…should be experienced with the use of maps, compass and/or GPS as well as having knowledge of the trail route.”

Lesson learned. No problem.

Down one rope to the bottom of the cut in the ridge, then up another. Then another. Then sleep climbing. Sweat. So much sweat. I had my pack, my rifle and was wearing fleece-lined camo pants. Yeah. Fleece-lined in 70 degrees. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Congress in session

Editorial Cartoon: Congress in session
Lawmakers return Tuesday to Capitol Hill for a short election-season session with Zika funding, avoiding shutdown topping its list
By Dave Granlund ©2016,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter An historic opportunity for Alaska’s future By Governor Bill Walker - In the final stages of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, many quit their jobs prior to the completion of TAPS because they wanted to be first in line to work on the gasline. Alaska expected construction to begin that quickly. But that was nearly 40 years ago. Efforts to monetize the billions of dollars of stranded North Slope gas, such as the projects advanced by the Yukon Pacific Corporation and the Alaska Gasline Port Authority did not materialize, primarily due to lack of access to gas. For the first time, Alaska now has assurances by the North Slope leaseholders that the gasline project will have access to North Slope gas. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter Naay I’waans (The Great House) Re-dedication Ceremony By Rep. Dan Ortiz - On Saturday, September 3rd I, along with approximately 800 other visitors, had the privilege of attending the Naay I’waans (The Great House) Re-dedication Ceremony in Kasaan. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter Deer Mountain By Norbert Chaudhary - It's a bit of a stretch to use the popularity of the Lumberjack Show as justification to continue outdated practices of the past and to log Deer Mountain - as was recently written in a letter supporting Mental Health's ultimatum. Using that same logic, Dolly's House is quite popular so why not bring back prostitution? After all, along with clear cut logging, Ketchikan's Red Light District provided jobs and was once a major contributor to our local economy. But of course we have moved on in our growth as a community and as a state. Or have we? - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter The Deer Mountain Threat By Michael Spence - In response to Mr Graham's letter defending the ultimatum of logging Deer Mountain by the Mental Health Land Trust if its demands are not met by Congress: To most people who live here, use of the term Trust is a little disingenuous as to who is the real beneficiary of this scheme. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter In Praise of Public Servants By Michael Spence - Since the 1980's there has been a gradual erosion of respect and appreciation for the true public servants of our country. Indeed some politicans have promoted an ideology that public service is somehow inferior to private enterprise. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter Ketchikan City Council Elected to Serve the People By Shawn D. Kimberley - Like many other residents of Ketchikan, I have been watching closely as our elected City Council addresses the Marijuana bill passed by Alaska voters. What I, and many other have witnessed, is nothing short of a disorganized, squabbling, unproductive attempt at addressing the bill. Our city council was VOTED in to REPRESENT the people and to SERVE the community. However when it comes to this all important measure, they have performed very poorly as a group. - More... Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter Open Letter to Sen. Sullivan: What I want By A. M. Johnson - I don't go to public meetings any longer particularly with politicians. Not meant as a slap, rather, same o, same o. In reading Senator Sullivan's comments being in Ketchikan, particular the Deer Mountain logging issue, one of the many reasons for the civil war was the South recognizing that the North with all of its industrial power and resources would one day by the shear force of numbers, eliminate 'State Rights' as it was recognized during the day. (Slave ownership being but one subject) - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter Thoughts on Labor Day By Rep. Dan Ortiz - The history of America's economic success, and our high gross domestic product compared to the rest of the world has much to do with our country being blessed by an abundant and varied supply of natural resources. From our flowing rivers, to our vast farm lands, to our rich supply of energy resources, across the U.S., America has the the comparative advantage in terms of natural resources. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter Being Prepared Is Not Just for Scouts By By Susan Johnson - No matter where you live, a natural disaster can strike at any time. Here in the Northwest, we’re told to expect the next big earthquake at any time. Many of our majestic mountains are dormant volcanos. The natural beauty of our forests can turn into horrible forest fires from a carelessly thrown cigarette butt. Extreme winter storms are a serious risk. Floods are common throughout our region and we also get the occasional tornado. While disasters are sometimes instantly fatal, survival often depends on whether you are prepared. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter Dangerous Donald Trump By Donald Moskowitz - Dangerous Donald Trump might be a threat to our viability. He could try to assume dictatorial powers and abolish the Constitution, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Some of his supporters are far right extremists. His candidacy is reminiscent of the Fascists in Germany, Italy, and Japan during the 1930s and 1940s. - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter Logging Deer Mountain By Rosa Gaona - I am from Ketchikan and currently living in Juneau, Alaska and I feel very strongly that logging Deer Mountain is a quick fix but a very bad idea. Whoever is in charge of this idea for quick monies needs to consider the impacts involved! - More...
Tuesday PM - September 06, 2016

letter Proposed Logging on Deer Mountain By Owen Graham - There have been a number of articles, letters and op-eds about the Mental Health Trust plans to harvest timber from portions of its Deer Mountain and Petersburg properties if our Congressional Delegation is unable to enact legislation to exchange these parcels for timberlands elsewhere. Rhetoric from the usual anti-development critics about saving Deer Mountain and destructive logging is disingenuous. The past harvests in the region have not harmed fish or wildlife habitat and the extensive road system that the logging established has greatly benefited the local communities and has provided enhanced recreation and tourism opportunities. The Great Alaska Logging show near the docks in Ketchikan is a major tourist attraction and a helicopter partial cut on the slopes south of town will not harm our tourism industry. - More...
Friday PM - September 02, 2016

letter Communities that value nearby Trust land have had years to secure community interest in it By Russ Webb - The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority recently took the first step to authorize sale of timber on land near Ketchikan and Petersburg. This action has generated some strong emotions reflected in statements of support, objection, and even some accusations and threats. Here are the facts. - More...
Thursday PM - September 01, 2016

letter Thinking Outside the Box: A Better Solution for the Mental Health Lands Debacle By Rebecca Knight - The Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community believes there are better solutions than a land exchange to solve the highly controversial Alaska Mental Health Trust debacle. The exchange is detailed in Senator Murkowski’s Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Exchange Act of 2016 (S.3006). [1] Specifically, what should be pursued instead is either a federal buy-out or a land transfer with the State, not Feds, from existing State forestlands. Clearly, AMHT’s threats that Murkowski’s bill be passed— or else—have angered many. Further, moving the impacts of large-scale, destructive logging out of the local public’s eye to Prince of Wales Island and elsewhere on Revilla Island only caves-in to the Trust’s threats and simply shifts the destruction to old growth forests already highly- fragmented by decades of logging. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter Save Deer Mountain By Norbert Chaudhary - How can we save Deer Mountain? Why not a petition to Governor Walker to fire the entire Mental Health board? If they want to threaten the people of Ketchikan then why not return the favor? - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter Deer Mountain By Doug Barry - Deer Mountain is not just a landmark; it is an iconic trademark. It adorns many a piece of beautiful art, it's what I picture whenever I think of Ketchikan. It was a view I enjoyed from the windows of my boyhood home, a sight I will always hold in my heart. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter AMHS Reform Post Summit By Rep. Dan Ortiz - During my 1½ years as southern Southeast Alaska's state legislature representative, I've been door to door many times throughout our district seeking the peoples' opinion. One concern many constituents share is the efficiency, safety and reliability of our ferry system. I have heard from many southern Southeast locals - from Wrangell to Metlakatla - about their expectations of our ferry system. Most of the thoughtful suggestions can be boiled down to this: our ferry system must become more responsive to the needs of Alaskan residents who live and do business in coastal communities. The AMHS needs to become more insulated from political regime change and be provided reliable financial planning with long-term funding. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter Recall Walker/Mallot By Sandra Browne - Kudos to Mr. Hangar on your letter for recall of Mr. Walker and Malott. I fully agree, its high time to oust them out of office, now before he really does damage to our state funding? I shudder to think what's next on his list of what to steal from next. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter “ObamaCare” By Rob Holston - A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device, or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered to perform a simple task in a complicated fashion, generally including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883–1970). - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 2016

letter Americans must get solidly behind Trump By Joe O'Hara - Americans unquestionably cannot allow the scandal-ridden, divisive, Hillary Clinton to become leader of our beloved Country. - More...
Monday PM - August 29, 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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