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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 23, 2015

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Ketchikan: State Selects Preferred Gravina Access Alternative, Again - Ketchikan Gateway Borough and City of Ketchikan officials were informed Thursday by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities that it will recommend the Gravina Access Project Alternative G4v as the state’s preferred alternative to the Federal Highway Administration. With a preferred alternative selected, the state will begin the necessary steps toward finalizing the federal environmental process.

Ketchikan International Airport
Alternative G4v does not include a new ferry service or new ferry terminals.
Courtesy KGB

Alternative G4v does not include a new ferry service or new ferry terminals. According to the Alaska Department of Transportation, "Alternative G4v is a ferry service variant that will improve existing ferry facilities for airport travelers and the movement of heavy freight." The alternative includes a passenger waiting facility, a new heavy freight dock and other amenities to improve access for ferry travelers and transporting freight to and from Gravina Island. Additional ferry service and associated terminals would be provided when an increased demand warrants additional service.

The estimated construction cost for the preferred alternative is $23 million. Funding that has been previously set aside for the Gravina Access Project will finance construction and related activities.

The federal environmental process, known as the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, was distributed for public review in June 2013. ADOT&PF will conduct an informational public workshop on the preferred alternative in early 2016. A timeline for when construction may begin is not yet known.

The nine build alternatives included six bridge alternatives and three ferry alternatives. The Final EIS which was distributed to the public and federal and state agencies on July 30, 2004, identified Alternative F1 as the FHWA’s and DOT&PF’s Preferred Alternative. The FHWA issued a Record of Decision on September 15, 2004, and identified Alternative F1 as the Selected Alternative. Alternative F1 would cross Tongass Narrows via Pennock Island with two bridges: a 200-foot bridge over the East Channel and 120-foot bridge over the West Channel.

On Sept. 21, 2007, Governor Sarah Palin announced that the State could not fund the selected Alternative F1 bridge alternative identified in the Gravina Access Project Record of Decision and directed the Department of Transportation to look for the most fiscally responsible alternative for access to the airport and Gravina Island instead of proceeding further with Alternative F1.

The 2004 Preferred Alternative F1 included a road segment on Gravina Island to connect the bridge over West Channel to the Airport Access Road. The road segment, referred to as the Gravina Island Highway, started approximately 3.4 miles south of the airport runway and continued north to the intersection of the Airport Access Road and Lewis Reef Road. The DOT&PF had moved forward with construction of the Gravina Island Highway prior to Governor Palin’s announcement and completed construction of the highway in the fall 2008. The Gravina Island Highway cost approximately $26 million and is now open and provides public access to lands on Gravina Island. Access to the highway is by ferry. - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015


Alaska: Special Session Convenes Saturday -Lawmakers will convene in Juneau for the third Special Session of the 29th Alaska Legislature on Saturday, which Governor Walker called last month. During that time, the Legislature will consider the Governor’s proposal to buy TransCanada’s share of the gas pipeline and gas treatment facility giving the state 25 percent control over the project, and his proposal to impose an ad valorem tax on gas leases that are not committed to the Alaska LNG project. Governor Walker stressed that these items are critical to moving forward a gasline project in the best interest of Alaskans.

“With a $3.5 billion budget deficit, building a gasline is our state’s number one get well card,” said Governor Walker. “The purpose of this briefing is to outline my special session legislation to lawmakers, so they have a clear understanding of my intent. I want this session to be a success, so starting out with this informational briefing is critically important.”

“I am looking forward to working with lawmakers during this special session,” Governor Walker said. “It is imperative that we not only have a seat at the table in the Alaska LNG process but that we have taken the steps to incentivize our partners to choose to commit the gas within their leases to an Alaska LNG project.”

The House and Senate Resources Committees will meet on Saturday, October 24 to consider a gas reserves tax proposal by the Walker Administration. As of Wednesday, October 21, legislation had not been presented to the Legislature for review. The House and Senate Finance Committees will meet to consider the TransCanada buyout and what is ultimately a $7 billion decision for the State of Alaska.

“The Legislature is looking forward to delving into the details of these critical measures,” Senate President Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) said. “Unfortunately, we have lost some time to prepare and work on these issues because of the delay in receiving the bills, but nonetheless, we are ready to tackle these issues and move a gas line project that is in the best interest of Alaskans. We will have to make up for that, but we will get there by hitting the ground running with the Resources and Finance Committees meeting as soon as we gavel in.” - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015

jpg Sheila Spores honored for silviculture work

Silviculturist Sheila Spores
Photo courtesy USFS

Sheila Spores honored for silviculture work - Tongass National Forest Silviculturist Sheila Spores was awarded a prestigious national Silviculture Excellence Award for her outstanding performance and support of the Forest silviculture program.

“Sheila is a true advocate for silviculture,” said, Forest Staff Officer Charles Streuli. “She has created and maintained key contacts in the public and private sector advocating for professional forest management policies and projects. Sheila’s many accomplishments include facilitating and coordinating the completion of the Tongass Young Growth Strategy and being a key player in the development of the Forest Planning and Projection Model.”

Sheila has been involved in the Tongass silviculture program for more than 20 years. In 2006 and again in 2014 Sheila was named Alaska Region Silviculturist of the Year. - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015

Ketchikan: KVRS Reports Successful Rescue - The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad's duty officer was contacted Wednesday shortly after 6:00 pm by the Alaska State Troopers reporting a 37 year old female was lost in the Perseverance Lake area.

It was reported the woman had gone hiking on the Perseverance Trail with her boyfriend around noon. The two had split up around 1:00 pm when the boyfriend returned to their vehicle at the trailhead. When she did not return to the vehicle as expected the troopers were contacted.

The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad setup a command post at the trailhead and ground and canine search teams were deployed on the Perseverance trail and in the Connell Lake area. - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015

Ketchikan: The Alaska Community Foundation Announces $164,000 in Grant Awards Statewide - The Alaska Community Foundation announced 13 grant awards totaling $164,000 to meet basic needs in 10 communities across Alaska. Among the 13 grants awarded, Ketchikan's Women in Safe Homes received a grant for $20,000.

This competitive grant cycle, the first of its kind for ACF, met general operational and program support for nonprofit organizations who are meeting Alaskan’s most fundamental needs across the state. These grants will help support safe homes for women at risk, meals for seniors, shelter for homeless individuals, and support victims of sexual violence and assault. - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015



Southeast Alaska: Forest Highway 43 project completed - Multiple projects reconstructed 23 miles of one-lane gravel to a two-lane asphalt road—improving traffic safety and significantly shortening travel times on Prince of Wales Island. In the past, it took four hours to travel from Whale Pass to Thorne Bay. Now the trip takes two hours. The 12- mile section from Coffman Cove to Sarkar Bridge was completed in September.

Forest Highway 43 project completed

The Tongass Forest Highway 43 (Prince of Wales Road) gravel road was upgraded and realigned to a two-lane paved highway with a 35 mph design speed to improve safety.

“The Forest Service with the assistance of their design consultant, DOWL LLC, designed and provided contract administration for Southeast Roadbuilders, who is a local contractor,” said Engineering Staff Officer David Morton. “Positive economic impacts beyond local jobs during the construction phase are increased transportation opportunities for the POW communities and access to forest resources. The project also aided a hydroelectric power transmission line to be installed to the remote community of Naukati, reducing their electric rates by over half.”

“Completion of this project provides safe, reliable road access for the residents of Whale Pass and visitors”, said Thorne Bay District Ranger Rachelle Huddleston-Lorton. “In addition, it helps implement island-wide goals of increasing tourism and visitor opportunities”.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, this project significantly increases the ability of motorists to safely and easily access the roads leading to the communities of Naukati and Whale Pass. The new highway provides a smooth asphalt surface free of the potholes that used to plague the motorists of north Prince of Wales Island. In addition, new safety features like new bridge rail, guardrail, longer sight distances, and clear zones designed to modern highway standards dramatically reduce the risk that drivers used to face. - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015


Columns - Commentary

jpg Karl Frisch

KARL FRISCH: Corporate Vultures Circling State Unclaimed Property Laws - Over the weekend, the New York Times published a nearly eight thousand-word story detailing the fate of those who die alone in the Big Apple.

Using the life and death of George Bell, who passed away some days before he was discovered in his home this past July, the Times recounts the arduous process that New York City public employees embark upon to make certain the estates of people like Bell end up in the hands of its rightful beneficiaries.

In the case of Bell — spoiler alert — distant relatives and friends he had not communicated with in years inherited his nearly half a million dollar estate, no doubt surprised both to have been named beneficiaries in the first place and also that Bell was of such ample means considering his modest lifestyle.

Bell's beneficiaries were eventually united with their share of his estate, but an untold number of Americans never learn that a deceased loved one has made arrangements for them, leaving behind life insurance policies, bank accounts, and other property.

By law, insurers and banks are required to try and find those entitled to this "unclaimed property." If they are unable to find those named by an insurance policy, they are required to turn the money over to state unclaimed property departments. If they fail to do this and instead choose to sit on it, they are unjustly rewarded with the ability to continue profiting from the investment of someone who is now deceased. - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015


SUSAN STAMPER BROWN: Pushing Back America's Darkness by Speaking Out - Darkness abounds. Nonetheless wisdom beckons, reminding those who'll listen to make the very best of the dark days we're in rather than allowing these dark days to get the best of us.

However, that's not easy. Darkness is easier to adapt to than light. Here in Alaska, summer's glaring midnight sun is pretty offensive at bedtime. But the extra light is good, providing lots of time for healthy activities, leaving a healthier, better you at summer's end. In sharp contrast, winters up here offer minimal light. The lack of light makes it feel almost natural to do what's in reality, unnatural. If you give in to that which you feel you cannot control, you participate in unhealthy things like under-exercising, over-sleeping, overeating and substance abuse. The bad choices made in winter's darkness aren't much noticed until after the summer sun begins to shine its "offensive" light on the fatter, lazier, dependent, unhealthy you.

You miss the darkness because it covered over who you are like a comforting, warm winter blanket. And you loathe the light because it exposes the person you became while subsisting in the darkness.

I believe this is where we are today in anti-God, anti-what's-right America. Too many people have effectively relinquished their First Amendment rights, somehow believing that political correctness will keep them safe. As uncomfortable as it might be, though, America's only hope lies with those who dare step out of the silence to boldly speak truth into a messed-up world that's getting darker by the minute. - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015

jpg Political Cartoon: Afghan war

Political Cartoon: Afghan war
By Adam Zyglis ©2015, The Buffalo News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

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letter Re: Wanted, Your Opinion By Ken Bylund - Rodney Dial outlined a detailed and smart alternative to an Alaskan State income tax that will certainly meet opposition from State Legislature for not being invented there, and every Chamber of Commerce in Alaska for being hazardous to their cash registers. - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015

letter Obliviously Sailing Into Danger By Donald A. Moskowitz - As a former naval officer who was an officer of the deck underway, navigator, and meteorology officer, and on track for ship command, I am appalled by the decision of the Captain of the El Faro container ship to head into a ferocious storm at sea.
The Captain departed Jacksonville, FL on September 29, 2015 on a southeasterly course for San Juan, PR. This course took the ship on a track near the Bahama Islands and straight into the storm. At the time of sailing the storm was designated a tropical storm with winds of around 45 or 50 knots and seas running about 20 or 25 feet. Soon after the ship left port the storm intensified to hurricane strength, and the National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning, which the El Faro should have received, forecasting winds of 125 knots and seas of 40 to 50 feet. - More...
Friday AM - October 23, 2015

letter Avoid the Frenzy - Enroll in Health Coverage Early By Susan Johnson - Many people find the frenzied pace of November and December a bit overwhelming. School concerts, parent-teacher conferences, holiday parties and events, shopping, work deadlines, inclement weather, family visits, travel, additional church and community activities, and other events can leave individuals and families stretched thin and exhausted. If you pick up a winter cold or the flu during this period, it’s even worse. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 20, 2015

letter RE: Wanted, Your Opinion By Rodney Dial - Representative Dan Ortiz, since you are asking for local input regarding state taxes; like you, last legislative session I watched the presentation of Mr. Teal, State Legislative Fiscal Analyst regarding the State deficit. I feel it is important for you to communicate to your constituents that even a whopping 10% State Income tax would only generate 100 million annually, or approximately 1/30th of the current budget deficit. The primary reason being that according to the State Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development only about 300 thousand of the State's 750 thousand residents are considered gainfully employed. Further, approximately 47% of those gainfully employed pay no Federal Income taxes and under the proposed State income tax legislation would pay no State income taxes if instituted. In essence this means that an State Income tax would be paid by roughly 180 thousand, of the 750 thousand population base. - More...
Sunday PM - October 18, 2015

letter Leave the Permanent Fund Dividend alone By David G. Hanger - If a business voluntarily de-funds itself by giving away all of its products for free or for much less than their cost, no one is going to be surprised when the business crashes, nor is anyone likely to have sympathy for the bonehead who did this to himself. Certainly no one is obligated to re-fund him because he was stupid enough to de-fund himself. So why should anyone in the private sector be expected to re-fund the government when that government decides of its own volition to de-fund itself? - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Steps for Change By Diane Gubatayao - October is both Domestic Violence Awareness Month and National Bullying Prevention Month. In some respects the two are related as they both involve interpersonal violence. Two years ago, we learned from the UA Justice Center Victimization survey that 50% of women in Ketchikan report being the victim of domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime. That’s one out of two; perhaps your friend, your neighbor, your relative, your co-worker, or perhaps you. And we also know from youth surveys that bullying is a serious issue for our students. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Gun control By Norbert Chaudhary - I'm a firm believer in the Second Amendment and this talk of gun restrictions has me deeply disturbed. Now Obama wants to take executive action forcing typical average Americans who sell more than 50 guns per year to be treated the same as any other gun dealer! This will require them to have background checks done on every single person they sell guns to! - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Federal taxes By Rudy McGillvray - I too support, Mr. Brooks and his idea for National Sales tax, for the reason that every one's money is his own and should only be taxed when he decides to spend some, to get needed or wanted items. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Alaska Marine Highway System By Brita Alander - Remember the friendly days of our State Ferry System? The State Marine Highway would change schedules for our students' sporting events or other community events like Gold Medal. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

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