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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 23, 2009

Front Page Photo by MIKE GATES

Bugge Beach
Front Page Photo by MIKE GATES


Ketchikan: Ship Simulator Lab Upgraded - The Marine Transportation department of the University of Southeast Alaska Ketchikan completed a $65,000 upgrade this fall to the Ship Simulator Lab in order to better train maritime students. These upgrades included adding another helm station, increasing the number of 50" screens from one to three, and adding new local and other Southeast Alaska training simulation areas, including Ketchikan, Juneau, Wrangell Narrows and Snow Pass. The main benefit of a simulator is the ability for users to experience more learning events in one week than a person may experience out on the water in five or ten years. Another benefit is that a simulator is less expensive than running real vessels and if a user makes a mistake, there is no danger to property or people.

The upgraded simulator capabilities allow for the display of varying environmental conditions: any time of day or night with celestial bodies accurately displayed for date and time selected; varied states of visibility - fog, rain or snow; varied states of wind, sea and current with control of strength and direction. The simulator controller can initiate the movement of over 200 different types of vessels as well as aircraft, floating objects, person in the water, wrecks and land objects, as well as allowing for auto or manual steering. There are three models of ARPA Radar available (Bridgemaster, Furuno & Nucleus). It allows for ARPA on or off, interference on or off, no signal from a target and SART (search and rescue transponder).

The simulator controller can initiate error, defect, failure or warning alarms for engine, steering, GPS, depth sounder and gyro. It provides a variety of options for mooring and towing, including the choice of type and breaking strength of line, sending lines to the dock or object being towed as needed, and control of the winch. Other options include light and sound signals such as control of spotlight and navigation lights and ability to initiate sound signals and hear signals from other vessels, as well as ship movement recording and playback for debriefing. - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009

Ketchikan: North Tongass Residents Receive a Better ISO Rating - On a cloudy Saturday morning in April, the North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department (NTVFD) was evaluated by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) to see how North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department's firefighting capabilities matched up to their standards and other fire departments in the nation. The Insurance Services Office is headquartered in Jersey City, NJ.

By classifying communities' ability to suppress fires, the Insurance Services Office helps communities evaluate their public fire-protection services. The program provides an objective, countrywide standard that helps fire departments in planning and budgeting for facilities, equipment, and training. And by securing lower fire insurance premiums for communities with better public protection, the Public Protection Classification (PPCTM) Program provides incentives and rewards for communities that choose to improve their firefighting services.

The Public Protection Classification Service gauges the capacity of a local fire department to respond if flames engulf a home or commercial property. Insurance Services Office collects information on a community's public fire protection and analyzes the data using their Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS). Then they assign a Public Protection Classification from 1 to 10. Class 1 generally represents superior property fire protection, and Class 10 indicates that the area's fire-suppression program doesn't meet the Insurance Services Office's minimum criteria. This classification number is used by many insurance companies to base their insurance rates on.

Under Insurance Services Office ratings at the time, the North Tongass area was rated as a Class 9 for every structure within five driving miles of a fire station and a Class 10 beyond that. As the result of the extensive testing done by the ISO representative, NTVFD has been notified that as of January 1, 2010, the North Tongass area will now be rated at a Class 7/10. Currently 99% of all the structures in the North End are within five driving miles of one of two fire stations located in the north end. What does a two point change in the ISO rating mean?

Jack Davies of Davies-Barry Insurance put together some cost comparisons to show the effect a two point change in the ISO classification could have on insurance rates in the North End. Depending upon the carrier each person has, Davies indicated that residential insurers could likely see a 15% decrease in their premium upwards to 30% in some cases. Commercial insurers would most likely see a 15% decrease in their insurance costs. Davies did caution that rate payers will not see any savings until they renew their policies again. Insurance Services Office does not allow a person to renew early to take advantage of the new rate scale. If you have any questions, Davies suggests you call your insurance broker. - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009

Ketchikan: Officials provide update and information regarding flu - Officials from Local Public Health, Ketchikan General Hospital, Ketchikan Indian Community, and the City of Ketchikan Fire Department have been meeting regularly and working on plans for this year's flu season. The group decided it was prudent to get "accurate" information out to the citizens of Ketchikan regarding the flu and in an effort to do so provided the following information.

What are we seeing at Ketchikan General Hospital and the Clinics?

There have been minimal admissions to the Hospital with probable H1N1 since the end of September. Confirmed or detailed lab studies for these cases are still pending.

The KGH Emergency Department, PeaceHealth Medical Group Clinics and Ketchikan Indian Community Clinic are seeing an increase in the number of persons presenting with the ILI (Influenza-like Illness) symptoms (fever, cough, runny nose, congestion, muscle aches and pains, vomiting, diarrhea) over the past two weeks.

The predominant circulating virus in the State of Alaska at this time is H1N1, not the seasonal flu. So the chances are that if you have the ILI symptoms, you have H1N1. When we do a "flu test" it only confirms that you have the flu, not necessarily that you have H1N1.

Currently our rates of persons seeking health care and those testing positive for flu tests are below the state and national numbers.

The hospital and clinics have posted signs around their facilitates to help remind patients and visitors about influenza, covering your cough, hand washing and contact information for further information about the flu. .

The local medical community requests that if you have a fever, cough, runny nose and do not feel well, to not visit persons at the hospital and senior service facilities. Stay home, rest, wash your hands regularly, and get well. - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009


Alaska: State Sets Out Strategy Regarding Endangered Species Act; Department of Law files new briefs in lawsuit, warns of slippery slope - As the State of Alaska filed two legal briefs urging the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to reject the listing of the polar bear as "threatened," Governor Sean Parnell and Attorney General Dan Sullivan warned of a crossroads facing the state as resource development is being challenged through misuse of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

"Some are attempting to use the Endangered Species Act as a way to shut down resource development," Governor Parnell said. "I won't let that happen on my watch. I will support resource development and the jobs that are generated for our rural communities by taking strong action in the courts to advocate for Alaska."

The governor laid out a three-part strategy during a press conference Wednesday:

  • Support resource development through federal litigation to set aside the listing of the polar bear by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Ensure that the ESA is not used as a tool to lock up Alaska's land.
  • Continue to work cooperatively with the federal government and Alaska communities to provide economic opportunities while protecting wildlife.

Attorney General Sullivan said it's important to understand the dire consequences of the legal theory being advanced by groups that are misapplying the ESA and distorting its purpose.

"There are two competing visions of the future of Alaska," Sullivan said. "Ours is one in which responsible resource development proceeds apace and protections remain in place for wildlife, including polar bears, which we treasure. The other vision is one in which Alaska's resources are locked up, our economy languishes, we lose population and we lack the capacity to maintain schools, roads, bridges, harbors and airports, or to provide for public safety. It is imperative that this latter vision does not become a reality."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopted the "threatened" listing for polar bears last year, prompting the lawsuit by the state. - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009

Alaska: Governor Parnell Targets Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault Epidemic - With a focus on ending the scourge of domestic violence and sexual assault, Governor Sean Parnell on Thursday called for a unified prevention and enforcement effort.

"We can stop the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault by shedding silence and passivity," Governor Parnell said. "We can speak up and proclaim these acts to be unacceptable. Together, we can begin the change towards greater respect for one another."

In a speech to the Alaska Federation of Natives convention, the governor committed to changing the statewide culture of silence about the issues through education and raised awareness.

"We'll use the broadcast media to spread the message in Alaska that domestic violence and sexual assault are unacceptable," Governor Parnell said. "We'll teach our children respect and awareness of these evils." - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009


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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696.

letterWard Cove Park for Innovative Economic and Environmental Renewal (PIEER) By Alethea Johnson , Larry Jackson, Katie Jo Parrott, Wayne Weihing & Joanna Desanto - Twelve years after the closure of the Pulp Mill, Ketchikan is still grappling with how to handle Ward Cove. The Borough Assembly is poised to dispose of Ward Cove as quickly as possible and we understand their urgency. After all, we have been "sitting" on the property for a long time and it costs the Borough money every day to maintain it. One of the options under consideration is auctioning it off in pieces without any overall plan. But Ward Cove's greatest potential will not be realized by a scattershot approach to development. Rather, what would most benefit this community is a creative and comprehensive plan for the long term use of Ward Cove that encourages stewardship of the property. - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009

letterFire Safety Education By Liz Hook - I would like to send a thank you out to all the firefighters who donated their time to help run the Fire Safety Trailer this last month. I think it is wonderful that our local firefighters consider it to be their duty to teach fire safety education to all members of our community; not just the members who happen to live in their service area. - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009

letterCut Exports of Rare Earth Minerals By Sen. Lisa Murkowski - Clean energy technologies face a range of obstacles. The credit crunch has slowed capital investment, disputes have arisen over which lands are suitable for infrastructure, and the electric grid has sometimes proved incapable of handling new generation. Over the long run, however, our most difficult challenge may be our most fundamental: ensuring a stable supply of the raw materials needed to manufacture clean energy technologies in the first place. - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009

letterTolerance of others. By Charles Schilli - Mr Schenk, I have difficulty in finding anything hateful in Mr Johnson's post. What he is saying is, in fact, in line with many things I have run into as a live aboard. - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009

letterSimple Minded Labels By Charlotte Tanner - Thank you James Schenk. - More...
Friday - October 23, 2009

letterHaloacetic Acid By Peggy Ayers - In response to Kirk Amundson's letter regarding haloacetic acid; this link is very interesting and may provide some answers for him. -More...
Friday - October 23, 2009

letterOpen Letter: KPU By David G. Hanger - Upon further reflection I have concluded that our telephone conversation of last Thursday afternoon is so fascinating the whole town ought be in on it. Let us begin by pointing out that I called about the fact that you lied to GCI when they contacted you to transfer my account by claiming my ancillary phone numbers had been reassigned, when in fact you knew they had not been re-assigned; merely the beginning of the grotesque retaliatory tactics your company has engaged in. My call, after the concerned intervention of our mayor, was to reverse your previous nonsense of lying to GCI about my phone numbers, and to arrange for said numbers to be transferred to GCI. - More...
Tuesday - October 20, 2009

letterCongress, not the EPA, Should Lead Climate Battle By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - Congress is currently engaged in one of the most complex policy debates of our time -- how best to mitigate climate change without harming the economy. - More...
Tuesday - October 20, 2009

letterDrinking Water By Vanessa McElory Alderson - In response to Kirk Amundson's "Drinking Water" request, per a report on the U.S. Department of the Interior's website (they manage water in the western states), Haloacetic Acids may cause an increase in cancer. - More...
Tuesday - October 20, 2009

letterSimple minded Labels By James Schenk - I oppose the kind of hate you have so deliberately set out like most of your conservative ilk who have no manners and indeed, go out of your way to insult people with racial and mean attacks, as you have published here. - More...
Tuesday - October 20, 2009

letterConservative vs. Liberal By A.M. Johnson - Often there is debate on what differentiates a Conservative from a Liberal persona. the need has become paramount with the current political scene being played out by our current President and his Congress. - More...
Monday - October 19, 2009

letterFighting at bus stops By Kara (McElroy) Steele - My question to Karen Brown is WHY didn't you call 911 immediately seeing this all unfold??? That's where it apparently needs to start, then on to the parents about their children's behavior at the bus stop. Unfortunately this has been going on for sometime if they think they can do that openly around others. Next time call the police, and make sure they pursue on to the parents to start reeling in their kids. - More...
Monday - October 19, 2009

letterDisenrollment By Alice and Gene Sloan - If a family must move from their tribal area to find work, why must they be removed from the rolls? If a spouse chooses to live near their partner's family in a different community as many do, why should they be disenrolled/disenfranchised? In this vast world that is becoming smaller everyday with communicaton and travel, why must this type of action be taken? - More...
Monday - October 19, 2009

letter KIC Election October 19th: No to Proposition 2 By Axel & Kathleen Svenson - Get out and vote at the KIC Special election at the Mall Monday, 8 - 8! This election is crucial for all tribal members. The silence surrounding the election, and particularly the silence on Proposition 2, should speak volumes to you. This silence is a big red flag waving to all concerned. - More...
Saturday - October 17, 2009

letterWARD COVE FOCUS GROUP By Rob Holston - A group of local interested citizens met for nearly 2 hours on Oct. 13, 2009 at the offices of R&M Engineering to discuss Ward Cove. Trevor Sande provided maps of the pulp mill side of the cove with subdivision and roadway boundaries indicated. The subdivision plan had been previously prepared for a past owner of Ward Cove. - More...
Saturday - October 17, 2009

letterThank you all for a Successful Car Show By Laurel Bray - The Ketchikan Kruzers Car Club would like to extend a huge thank you to the Ketchikan Plaza for allowing us, along with the Ketchikan Harley Riders Association to have a car/bike show inside the Plaza on October 10th and 11th. To Judy and Dave Zenge and your Plaza staff, we can't thank you enough for helping us make this a successful show. Who would have thought 20 cars could fit inside the Plaza. We asked the public to vote for their favorite cars, by Saturday night we had a 3 way tie for all 3 places. We continued the voting on Sunday and the winners were: - More...
Saturday - October 17, 2009

letterKids at bus stops By Karen Brown - Every morning I take my foster grandson to the bus stop. We sit and wait until the bus leaves for Fawn Mountain. In the last few mornings we have watched children from the Houghtling Bus Stop. We have watched them fighting with each other. One morning, one little boy was being sat on while others were "tickling" him, rocks are thrown at kids and at other people's property. There are a lot of children here and some are rather small and can't fight back. My daughter went over and rescued the little boy who was being sat on, the day before or sometime last week she spoke to them about throwing rocks at each other and property. - More...
Saturday - October 17, 2009

letterDrinking water By Kirk Amundson - This is to ask a few questions -- what cancers does haloacetic acids cause??? How many years does this take to cause cancer??? Why are we spending 4.2 million if we don't know if this is going to fix the problem??? - More...
Saturday - October 17, 2009

letterFocus on the positive By Ivy Rose - I have tried really hard not to write any opinions on Sitnews and to say what is on my mind, but after reading so many of the letters written -- and granted the letters are just opinions -- it made me think. What if when we get put into situations that we don't like or agree with, we look at the situation as a whole? - More...
Saturday - October 17, 2009

letterAfghanistan Debacle On The Horizon? By Donald A. Moskowitz - President Obama is trying to decide our military strategy in Afghanistan. He is mulling over input from his civilian and military advisers, and members of Congress, but he cannot make a timely decision because of his lack of military and national security experience. His community organizing background is not very helpful in this situation. - More...
Saturday - October 17, 2009

letterRE: LAWYERS AND MEANINGFUL HEALTH CARE REFORM By Chris Elliott - Great letter! Between tort reform and making insurance companies compete across state lines, we'd have a winner! - More...
Saturday - October 17, 2009

letterLAWYERS AND MEANINGFUL HEALTH CARE REFORM By Andy Rauwolf - Thirty years ago my family doctor explained to me that one of the biggest reasons he had to charge so much for his services was because of the high cost of his malpractice insurance. Since that time this problem has only gotten worse. - More...
Tuesday - October 13, 2009

letter Noise Complaint? By Terri Wenger - Well today was a rough one and it's not over yet. We have had a car alarm going off for over 4 hours, and still going. There has been more than one complaint to the police department. A car alarm is loud and very irritating. Migraine Headache Style. But our police department can't do anything about it, why? I have a scanner and believe me the petty tattle telling that goes on and our police have to respond to is terrible in this town. This isn't petty, why can't you file a noise complaint on car alarms? Why do people use car alarms in this small town? - More...
Tuesday - October 13, 2009

letterRidiculous policies By Holly Finley - Oh Lordy don't get me started on how ridiculous KIC's policies are, perhaps they should take some notes from the Native hospital in Anchorage where I've had the pleasure of being taken care of completely by the doctors and staff. - More...
Tuesday - October 13, 2009

letter High Costs & Judgmental Medicine By Charles Moon - I am so sad that Mr. Parks feels the way he does about his medical care. The fact that he is alive and able to write his opinions means the system worked for him. I am sure Mr. Parks has a family and friends that love him. There is no price that can be put on a human life. I could have been his nurse at KGH or on the ambulance that saved his life. - More...
Tuesday - October 13, 2009

letterLittering By Dustin Hofeling - To the person(s) who sees fit to throw their McDonald's wrappers out their window on Ketchikan Lakes Road every single day - shame on you! How can you be so disrespectful of other people's property, the land, and our city? - More...
Tuesday - October 13, 2009

letterCustomer Service By Holly Finley - Poor and negligent customer service is on the rise. I understand we all have our days and your energy affects those around you, having said that, I'm not getting paid to shop at your store, however you are getting paid to provide a service. That is your purpose. If you are going to do a job, do it well. A smile and good manners goes a LONG way. - More...
Tuesday - October 13, 2009

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