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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
September 03, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By MIKE CARNEY

Steller Sea Lion
The photographer guessed the weight of this Steller Sea Lion at 2,000 pounds. Photographed at Ketchikan Airport's seaplane dock @ 10:30 Thursday morning.
Steller sea lions can travel vast distances – one was once tracked from Kodiak Island all the way to Ketchikan, a journey of more than 900 miles. The Steller Sea Lion is named for early explorer George Steller.
Front Page Feature Photo By MIKE CARNEY ©2018

Invitation to Local Candidates: The Ketchikan Regular Election will be held on October 02, 2018. As in the past, SitNews invites all local candidates to provide a candidate's statement and include the reason you are running, experience, and issues you would like to address. Photographs are also requested. No word limits.

Absentee in-person voting begins on Sept. 17, 2018.

SitNews deadline to recieve statements will also be Sept. 17, 2018 - the date voting begins.

Statements will be published as received. As always, this media exposure is provided as a free service to local candidates.

Questions for the Candidates: Click Here to Participate in the SitNews Online Forum.

Ketchikan City Council Candidates
3-Year Term, 2 Seats to Fill
jpg Janalee L. Gage

Janalee L. Gage
Filed 08/01/18

Candidate's Statement

  Sam Bergeron
Filed 08/23/18
  Dragon London
Filed 08/24/18
  Spencer Strassburg
Filed 08/27/18
Ketchikan City Mayor
3-Year Term, 1 Seat to Fill
  Robert (Bob) Sivertsen
Filed 08/01/18
Ketchikan Assembly Candidates
3-Year Term, 2 Seats to Fill
  Dan Bockhorst
Filed 08/01/18
  Austin Otos
Filed 08/02/18
  Danielle "Dani" Pratt
Filed 08/22/18
  Sven Westergard
Filed 08/24/18
  James Montgomery
Filed 08/24/18
  Felix Wong
Filed 08/27/18
Ketchikan School Board
3-Year Term, 3 Seats to Fill
  Matt Eisenhower
Filed 08/10/18
  Sonya Skan
Filed 08/13/18
  Rachel Breithaupt
Filed 08/17/18
  Bridget Mattson
Filed 08/20/18
  Lana Boler
Filed 08/21/18

Southeast Alaska: Father Duncan died 100 years ago; 'Apostle of Alaska' was 86 By DAVE KIFFER - A century ago, an 86-year-old man passed away in Metlakatla. He had been in ill health for some time, after falling several months previously. The official cause was "apoplexy" which was then what strokes and heart attacks were thought to cause.

William Duncan
William R. Norton, Photographs, ca. 1890-1920
Courtesy Alaska State Library, Historical Collections

William Duncan's death, on August 30, 1918, was noted in newspapers throughout the world. He was known far and wide as the "Apostle of Alaska." His role in founding two different Christian "utopias" in British Columbia and Alaska had made him famous - and somewhat infamous.

Duncan's role is founding the Alaskan community of Metlakatla has been well documented ( See The Founding of Metlakatla, SITNEWS, August 7, 2006).

Prior to coming to Alaska in 1886, Duncan had founded a similar community in Metlakatla, British Columbia, a village not far from the present site of Prince Rupert.

After a childhood in Yorkshire, England, Duncan joined the Church Missionary Society (CMS) and in 1856, at the age of 24, Duncan was sent to Port Simpson (now Lax Kw'alaams) in north western British Columbia, not far from the then Russian America border. Port Simpson was the primary Hudsons Bay Company trading post in the region and Duncan soon became concerned that life at the Fort was negatively affecting the Tshimshian Natives. Duncan had decided that the best path forward for the Natives was to assimilate into Anglo culture, but at a location that was remote from contact with the Anglo culture and its many negative tempations.

Duncan convinced 60 Fort Simpson Tshimshian to follow him to a location 25 miles south of the fort, near the present day site of Prince Rupert which would not be developed until half a century later ( See "Prince Rupert, Hays Orphan, Looks to the Future," SITNEWS, February 28, 2007)

Shortly after, more than 200 other Natives joined Duncan at the new site. In setting up his "model" community, Duncan stressed industry and the renunciation of traditional Native ways in order to more easily assimilate into the Anglo culture.

Among the new rules for the community were giving up alcohol and gambling as well as face painting and traditional Native healing practices. The potlatch ceremony was specifically banned. Residents were also required to send their children to school and to attend church. They were required to live in Anglo style homes and wear Anglo clothing.

Duncan's hold over the new community was almost immediately strengthened when a small pox epidemic swept communities along the North Coast and more than 500 people died at Port Simpson. Only five died in Metlakatla and Duncan told the villagers that it was God's favoring that had generally spared the community.

Unfortunately, Duncan's methods and his general ignoring of broader church rules were rankling his Anglican superiors.  At least one attempt was made to recall him to England, which he just patiently ignored.

Duncan was also beginning to deviate from church teachings in a variety of areas. Reportedly, Duncan ignored the sacrament of communion in Metlakatla because he was concerned that the Natives would misunderstand it, especially in relation to the cannibalism of some of the North Coast tribes that Duncan and other missionaries were working to eradicate.

Most notably, Duncan was trying to erase much of the Tshimshian culture because he wanted to assimilate them into western culture as completely as possible. A seemingly minor thing that rankled the Canadian Anglican authorities was the fact that Metlakatla residents referred to Duncan as "Father Duncan" even though he was a lay leader, not a minister.

Eventually,  Duncan began to see his superiors in Canada and England as the "enemy." He looked north of the border, where the United States was only minimally taking control of the new Alaskan territority. Duncan used connections he had established with the US federal government and obtained a "reservation" including Annette island and several smaller nearly islands for a second "Christian Utopia."- More....
Monday PM - September 03, 2018

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Fish Factor: Bounty Hunters; Fish Money; Hatchery Facts & More... By LAINE WELCH - Cell phones are being used by fishermen to bounty hunt for lost fishing gear for pay.

California fishermen created the retrieval project last year along with the Nature Conservancy to get ropes, buoys, pots and anchors out of the water after the Dungeness fishery so they don’t entangle whales, and Washington and Oregon quickly followed suit. Nearly 50 whales were taken on the west coast last year after the annual crab opener, one of the region’s largest and most lucrative fisheries. 

“They are using their cell phones and its GPS to take a picture of what the gear looked like, tell when they found it, and any identifying markings on the buoy – the vessel, the ID number, and also the latitude and longitude of exactly where they found it,”explained Nat Nichols, area manager for groundfish and shellfish at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game office in Kodiak. He added that it is not uncommon for gear loss rates in different fisheries to be “anywhere from  three to 23 percent.”

Under a special permit, the west coast bounty hunters head out two weeks after the Dungeness crab fishery closes to search for derelict gear.

“Dungies tend to be in shallower water and that means there is more wave energy and the gear can get lost or rolled up on the beach. A lot of it has a tendency to move around because it’s in the tidal surge,” Nichols said. 

The fishermen get paid $65 for every pot they pull up. The gear then goes back to the original owners who pay $100 per pot for its return.  

Whereas saving whales was the prime motivator for pot retrievals on the west coast, in Alaska’s crab and pot cod fisheries, it’s ghost fishing and gear conflicts.

“The animals go in the pots and starve and that rebaits the pot, so they will fish for years. That can kill a lot of animals because they’re doing it 24/7 and always rebaiting themselves,” Nichols explained.  

By Alaska law, all pots must use twine in escape panels that biodegrades in about 30 days. But sometimes the escape routes get blocked.

“At Kodiak, we average around 7,000 pots in the water for our small Dungeness fishery. If you lose 10 percent or even 5 percent, that’s a lot. It starts to build up over the years and get in everyone’s way. It’s a burden on everyone out on the water if they constantly have to avoid all this gear that is out there doing nothing.”

Gear recovery permits are issued to help with retrievals shortly after a crab or pot cod fishery closes; a state enforcement vessel also does a roundup of all the gear it finds. Nichols said the main focus is preventing the loss of pot gear in the first place

He believes a cell phone bounty program could work in Alaska and “it’s been talked about” at the Kodiak office, although it would be on a much smaller scale. 

“Even though we have quite a bit of gear in the water, I’m not sure it’s enough to really incentive people to go find it in compared to the west coast,” Nichols said. “Instead of retrieving hundreds of pots and having 20-30 people participating in the recovery, we may just have three or so.”

The cell phone idea hasn’t attracted any takers yet at Southeast Alaska, said Douglas-based shellfish biologist Adam Messmer in an email from a survey boat. Southeast is home to the state’s largest Dungeness fishery, where about 45,000 pots are dropped each year. - More...
Monday PM - September 02, 2018


Southeast Alaska: SHI acquires last Chilkat robe made by master weaver Jennie Thlunaut - The Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has acquired the last Chilkat robe ever made by the famed Tlingit weaver Jennie Thlunaut, one of the most celebrated Northwest Coast master weavers of the twentieth century who is credited with single-handedly keeping the tradition alive.

SHI was able to purchase the robe because the sellers, former Juneau residents Dr. Robert and Winni Page, agreed to slash the price to approximately one fourth of what the piece is thought to be worth, said SHI President Rosita Worl.

"Sealaska Heritage is a nonprofit with limited resources, and we couldn't pay full price. The uncommon generosity of these donors means that our artists will be able to study Chilkat weaving from the master herself, who made the robe at the end of her life and was considered to be a national living treasure," said Worl, who is Jennie's granddaughter and co-author of the biography Jennie Thlunaut, Master Chilkat Blanket Artist featured in the book The Artists Behind the Work. SHI Director of Culture and History Dr. Chuck Smythe also co-wrote the piece.

Dr. Page for years served as the only ophthalmologist in Juneau and the surrounding villages. Every year, he spent eight weeks traveling by boat to Southeast Alaska communities to treat patients with eye conditions. That was how he met Jennie.

He was so highly regarded that Wóochx Kaduhaa (Jimmie George, Sr.) of Angoon adopted him into the Dakl'aweidí (Killer Whale) clan. Shortly after the adoption, Jennie went to Dr. Page to offer the robe for sale. Dr. Page believes she wanted him to have it because he was adopted into a Tlingit clan.

Dr. Page, now 86, recently began to ponder what to do with it, and their former Juneau neighbor, Rose Risley, recommended that he contact SHI.

"I was worried about what to do with it because it is such an outstanding icon of Native art and history in Southeast Alaska," said Dr. Page. "It is very pleasing to me and my wife, Winni, that the blanket is now at Sealaska Heritage Institute. That is where it should be."

The robe is small and apparently made for a child. The provenance for the robe includes a notarized statement made by Jennie when she sold it to Dr. Page in 1985. In the statement, Jennie described the materials she used:

"I, Jennie M. Thlunaut, as the last of the authentic traditional Chilkat Blanket weavers certify that all the listed materials are true. The warp is made of yellow cedar bark with goat wool spun on the outer part of the warp. The yellow and black border is commercial wool and the rest of the blanket is real goat wool yarn dyed with commercial dye. The reason for the mixture of genuine goat wool and commercial wool and dye is the shortage of genuine materials. The goat wool is useable only when the goat hunting is out of season and against the law to hunt, and the native dyes are now hard to find because of the disappearance of certain trees and plants ... This blanket is the last one I will be weaving."- More...
Monday PM - September 03, 2018


Southeast Alaska: $20,000 Donation Creates More Opportunities For Hands-On Undergraduate Work - University of Alaska SE senior Mollie Dwyer spent her summer hiking up mountains with a backpack of test tubes to collect water samples from different stream sources. Last year she had her hands full of kelp assisting with research on their reproductive process.

Thanks in big part to her scholarship from Coeur Alaska Inc. Dwyer, a senior pursuing a B.S. in Environmental Science, Dwyer was able to dig into her studies quite literally during a paid internship through a collaboration of the US Forest Service, the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Laboratory and the University of Alaska Southeast. She is the latest recipient of the $2,000 UAS Coeur Alaska – Kensington Gold Mine Environmental Science Award which has just received another $20,000 donation from Coeur Alaska Inc. 

Pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Science, Dwyer is doing what many UAS students pursue - hands-on internships that take advantage of community partnerships. Currently Dwyer is assisting Drs. Eran Hood and Jason Fellman along with U.S. Forest Service Soil Scientist David D’Amore in research that may provide clues to how changes in our environment impact Southeast Alaska both environmentally and economically.

For Dwyer the scholarship allowed her take part in a summer internship collecting water samples from stream sites that run off glaciers, snowmelt and wetlands. “We are looking at what isotopes are carried over as it travels over landscapes and soil,” Dwyer said. “At UAS we get a lot of work in the field and in the lab. We have gotten to be a part of every aspect of the process.” 

The Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, hosted by the US Forest Service and housed in the Juneau Forestry Science Laboratory, was established in 2009 with a goal of expanding and enhancing education and research opportunities for university students with a focus on the environmental and economic climate of the Pacific coastal temperate rainforest.  - More...
Monday PM - September 03, 2018


jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: Labor Day Gets No Respect - Let us take a few minutes to talk about the most underrated holiday of them all: Labor Day. 

Poor baby. It gets less respect than a MAGA hat at a Bernie Sanders rally. Like a half-eaten chocolate chip cookie in the Great British Bake Off. Or a Super Soaker at a Northern Idaho gun show. The trailer for a Pauly Shore movie at the Tribeca Film Festival.

We treat it as the runt of the holiday litter without any proscribed traditions. Every year we wing it. No fireworks or clock-watching countdowns. No designated animal to eat or steal chocolate eggs from. No piece of vegetation to kill and either trim or gut. Maybe a couple parades so that politicians can get some waving-from-a-convertible exposure two months before the election. But that's about it.

Probably got something to do with being the seasonal signpost for closing the door on summer and staring down that long cold hallway to the deep dark heart of winter. The First Monday of September means the fun has expired and a big dollup of dreary is in the offing. The darkening of the light is nigh. The dividing line between wanton abandon and studious application. Raking dead leaves versus cutting verdant lawns.

The last pair of swim trunks has been worn outdoors and corduroy jackets are being pulled out of boxes from the basement. Time to take down the screens and chop a big cord of wood. Watermelons are replaced with pumpkins on the floor next to the produce bins. And holy moley catfish, there will be pumpkin. Spices, pies, dental floss, yogurt, vodka and Smashed Pumpkins marathons on the radio.

What we tend to forget is the meaning of Labor Day. Twenty-four hours we set aside to honor not the dead, but the living. This is not a paean to grieving heroes who have left us, but rather rejoicing at being a part of a larger functioning whole. Because when Americans pull together, we can accomplish anything. Even estimating the timing of the coals for a perfect medium rare Porterhouse.

It's a calendaric conundrum. To celebrate what it is we do for a living by taking the day off. Just one day out of 365 for the nine to five heroes that keep this country humming so they can sit back, relax and enjoy that unique moment where it's okay to toss around both the baseball and the football. - More...
Monday PM - September 03, 2018

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: The Higher Tech Gets, the Ruder We Get - Our rapidly growing incivility started with the invention of the telephone-answering machine.

Before the answering machine's widespread adoption, people answered their landline phones with a pleasant "hello," eager to learn who was calling.

To be sure, says social scientist James Katz, answering machines were considered rude in the '70s. 

By the '90s, however, most homes had them and lots of people were using them, quite rudely, to screen calls - people like my pal, Griffy.

Calls to Griffy's landline always made me grumpy:

"Hello, this is Griffy, leave a message at the beep." 

"Pick up the phone, Griffy, I know you're there!"

Griffy demanded his friends leave messages on his machine, but always hung up on mine - until the invention of the "star 69" feature.

When you punched "star 69" into your phone keypad, you'd get the number of the jerk who had last hung up on your machine. 

Boy, did that technology innovation escalate rudeness! - More...
Monday PM - September 03, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Labor Day

Political Cartoon: Labor Day
By Rick McKee ©2018, The Augusta Chronicle, GA
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Establishing Basic Protections for Salmon By Joe Mehrkens - Wild salmon stocks are under attack from all sides: ocean warming, habitat loss, over exploitation and pollution. While Alaska has enjoyed the benefit of good fisheries management, the cumulative impacts are taking its toll. Both professionals and non-professionals can see it in the watersheds around Southeast and in the salmon returns and harvests. One gillnetter moored across from me said he had only netted 7 Taku sockeyes this season. Simply stated, the risks of kicking the salmon can down the road makes a Yes on Ballot Measure 1 both critical and timely.

I’m a retired hydrologist and forest economist. At one time I worked with a fisheries economist and a fisheries biologist to illustrate the relative economic values of timber versus salmon along fish streams. Our findings helped support the 100’ minimum no-harvest forest buffers on salmon streams in the Tongass Timber Reform Act of 1990.

While the 100-foot no harvest stream buffers were largely based on peer reviewed research, more current research recommends much larger buffers. This finding is also consistent with our original analysis. When we looked at pure economics, the breakeven value between Coho salmon and streamside timber indicated the salmon stream buffers could be doubled (200 feet) and extended to smaller upstream tributaries to protect water quality. Nonetheless, the minimum 100’ buffers were legislated, and even this standard was reduced to 60’ for private Native Corporation logging. - More...
Monday PM - September 03, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Crisis at Waterfall By Austin Otos - The two waterfall bridges located on North Tongass Highway are a prime example of neglected local infrastructure that needs to be completely rebuilt in order to allow for basic access to the property owners that live beyond them.

The Alaska Department of Transportation has allocated $10 million to upgrade the bridges and has slated the project to begin spring of 2019. The replacement of these bridges is of less concern than the much larger underlying issue, building a water tank for fire emergencies.

Currently, The North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department has invested significant staff and volunteer hours, equipment, and has developed a strategy to meet the emergency demands of properties located past the bridges. What they lack, however, is accessible water to fight fires. A water tank would be an expensive endeavor that could cost as much as $1 million. Even though the cost of this project is daunting, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough could allocate money from PILT (payment in lieu of taxes), which are unrestricted funds given to local municipalities to offset losses in property taxes from non-taxable federal land within their boundaries. More importantly, PILT money is specifically granted to local communities to provide vital services such as road construction, public schools, and firefighting. - More...
Monday PM - September 03, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Statement of Withdrawal By Ghert Abbott - I decided to run on March 25th as a result of Representative Ortiz’s then failure to put forth a clear, comprehensive plan for both the protection and increase of the permanent fund dividend. On August 23rd, Representative Ortiz published a plan calling for a lower draw on the Earnings Reserve, a lower state share of said draw, a greater system of non-regressive revenue in order to support essential pubic services and a larger PFD, and a commitment to make increasing the PFD a top priority as the state’s fiscal situation improves. These proposals, if fully enacted, would mean a moving away from the horrifically unfair PFD tax imposed on us by Senate Bill 26.

In light of Dan Ortiz’s much stronger position in favor of the Permanent Fund Dividend, I felt it necessary to reevaluate my candidacy. Representative Ortiz supports fully funding our Medicaid Expansion, he has worked to protect our Pioneer Home, he has fought to reverse harmful cuts to our public schools, and he has defended our Marine Highway System.

Our Republican opponent Trevor Shaw in contrast favors taxing the PFD and cutting those very same essential services. In the June 14th issue of the Wrangell Sentinel, Mr. Shaw is quoted saying “I do think part of addressing the fiscal crisis is using a portion of the PF earnings…” On August 7th, the Ketchikan Daily News quotes Shaw stating: “I think that using a portion of the people’s permanent fund dividends is something you have to earn,” earn in this case being a euphemism for further cuts to public spending. Under Mr. Shaw’s preferred policies, working and middle class Alaskans will still be footing practically the entire bill for resolving the fiscal crisis. - More...
Monday PM - September 03, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Tribute To CAPT John McCain, USN By Donald Moskowitz - John McCain was shot down over Vietnam in October 1967 after completing over 20 missions. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. While McCain fought in Vietnam our fearless President got four college draft deferments. After graduating in 1968 Trump visited a doctor who provided him with a letter stating he had bone spurs in a heel and this enabled him to get a medical deferment from the draft. He later said the bone spurs were "minor".

CAPT McCain's passing brings back memories of my Naval service which culminated in June 1967, and I recall McCain was almost  killed in July 1967. - More...
Monday PM - September 03, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Some things to think about By A. M. Johnson - Political activity of recent months surely has raised questions, caused consternations, given rise to conspiracy theory among other categories of politics mechanics.

During these manifestations some challenging common sense thoughts come to the forefront that seem to be missed in the discussion. A few of those thoughts are volunteered for the purpose of awareness to the thinking process. - More...
Monday PM - September 03, 2018

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