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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 18, 2016

No injuries in Rosa Reef area fire; 
Structure a total loss

No injuries in Rosa Reef area fire;
Structure a total loss

Updated: At approximately 4:00 AM Sunday morning Karen Horn said she
heard an explosion. Horn, living just north of Ketchikan, said she looked out her window and saw a house across Tongass Narrows on Gravina Island had exploded into flames. - More...
Front Page Feature Photo By KAREN HORN

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Southeast Alaska: House Fisheries Committee hears concerns about potential negative impacts of B.C. mining operations; U.S. State Department Responds to Transboundary Concerns - The Alaska State House Fisheries Committee last week heard the concerns of numerous Alaskans and Canadians about the potential negative impacts of British Columbia (B.C) mining operations on rivers shared by the two countries.

“I haven’t eaten fish from the Fraser River in years - that is a loss of our culture. When I hear about B.C. mines, I worry about your culture here,” said Bev Sellars, chair, First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining. “We need this issue to be taken up by the International Joint Commission. You’ve got to get a binding agreement in writing.”

Commercial fishermen, business owners, municipal and Tribal leaders, world-renowned fisheries and mining experts, concerned residents and B.C. First Nations leaders told the Committee that large-scale mining in the watersheds of transboundary rivers including the Taku, Stikine and Unuk, poses a threat to jobs and livelihoods on both sides of the border.

Many who testified asked state leaders to formally request the involvement of United States and Canadian federal governments on this issue.

“The value of the transboundary rivers is not just important to Southeast salmon fishermen, but also affects the overall Alaska salmon industry,” said Chip Treinen, commercial fisherman and United Fishermen of Alaska board member. “In order to have binding commitments that protect habitat by encouraging the highest standards of environmental protection, elevation to the International Joint Commission through the Boundary Waters Treaty seems to be a necessary action. I hope that Governor Walker, Lt. Gov Mallott and the legislature will unite in encouraging Secretary Kerry to take this issue to the International Joint Commission.”

Recently, the State of Alaska and B.C. signed a non-binding agreement focused on transboundary waters. At last Wednesday’s public hearing, many Alaskans asked how the state will fill gaps unaddressed by the document. Specifically, many who testified requested financial assurances for liabilities and enforceable measures that would protect the clean water, fisheries, jobs and ways of life in the transboundary region.

“Presently, the B.C. government is not putting safety before economics as recommended by the Mount Polley Expert Panel,” said Dr. Dave Chambers, geophysicist and president of the Center for Science in Public Participation. “Moreover, B.C. is not implementing other key recommendations of the Mount Polley Expert Panel - a body appointed by the province to determine what went wrong at Mount Polley and how to avoid similar tailings dam failures in the future.”

According to a recent study from McDowell Group, the Taku, Stikine and Unuk Rivers combined account for $48 million in economic activity annually, including multiplier effects. The present value of the three watersheds combined is just under $1 billion over a 30-year timeframe. McDowell Group also notes that, with appropriate management, Southeast Alaska's transboundary watersheds can generate economic benefits in perpetuity.

In response to a letter that U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young (all R-AK) wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry last month, the U.S. State Department told the Alaska Congressional Delegation in a letter that it will remain in close contact with concerned Alaskans and are committed to identifying the best ways to resolve shared concerns about risks posed to water quality and livelihoods in Alaska by mining activities in British Columbia.

“I am encouraged that it now appears the State Department at least understands the importance of transboundary water issues to so many Alaskans, because understanding an issue is the first step in addressing it. And it is promising to see the State Department show an elevated interest in this topic, as demonstrated by recent trips to the state to meet with concerned Alaskans,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “That being said, I remain disappointed that the State Department refuses to address our questions and suggestions, such as to consider appointing a special representative for U.S.-Canada transboundary issues. And it is unacceptable that Secretary Kerry has yet to meet directly with Alaskans on such a hugely important issue. The State Department’s response is a step in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go until Alaskans’ concerns are adequately addressed.” - More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

New Study on Definition of "Alaska Native" Released; Study focuses on eligibility of future generations of Natives to hunt marine mammals - Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has released a statewide study on the current definition of "Alaska Native" and how the rule could affect future generations of Natives who want to hunt marine mammals.

New Study on Definition of "Alaska Native" Released

Student sewing seal moccasin at Sealaska Heritage Institute skin-sewing workshop.
Photo by Brian Wallace
Courtesy Sealaska Heritage Institute

The definition under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) allows only Natives with 1/4 blood quantum or more to hunt or use marine mammals for food or clothing and arts and crafts.

The study, conducted by Maritime Anthropologist Dr. Steve Langdon through Sealaska Heritage, does not make any recommendations but rather lays out several approaches the Native community may want to consider to protect their descendants' hunting rights, said SHI President Dr. Rosita Worl, who will present the study, Determination of Alaska Native Status under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, to the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) Board of Directors this week. AFN has not taken a position on changing the eligibility or maintaining the status quo.

The study also brings to light data that might alarm some sectors of the Native community, because findings indicate among other things that the proportion of the Alaska Native population becoming ineligible to hunt marine mammals under current agency enforcement policies is rising at an accelerating rate, Worl said.

"The result may be that in some communities especially around the Gulf of Alaska there may be few individuals eligible to hunt or utilize marine mammals in the not too distant future," said Worl, who emphasized that any decision to maintain the status quo or to advance an alternative eligibility requirement will remain with the Native community.

The issue stems from the way the federal government defines who is an Alaska Native and consequently who is eligible to hunt marine mammals, which are an extremely important component of Alaska Native life and the basis of rich cultural traditions of dance, song, oral traditions, ceremony and ritual. Marine mammals also play a significant role in food security and provide a source of revenue through the sale of arts and craft in areas where little income opportunities are available. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016


Ketchikan: Addressing Climate Change in Southeast Alaska - Southeast Alaska residents have concerns about climate change - with most of those concerns connected to water. Safe natural resources are a prime issue, in face of changes such as heavy rains causing flooding, ocean acidification, warmer waters, and snowfall variation, as well as invasive species, toxins, and warm spring seasons followed by frost affecting wild berry production.

To help communities address concerns, Davin Holen, the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory coastal community resilience specialist, collaborated in organizing the Southeast Alaska Climate Change Summit held last month in Ketchikan. Holen invited researchers who work on resources that are culturally important - salmon, yellow cedar, berries, shellfish, cultural sites, and human health.

Participating in the conference were 50 environmental managers and coordinators from Southeast Alaska tribes, and 30 professionals representing federal and state agencies, the University of Alaska, and nonprofits. Ketchikan Marine Advisory agent Gary Freitag gave a talk on aquaculture opportunities.

Chris Whitehead and Esther Kennedy from the Sitka Tribe of Alaska described current activities monitoring ocean acidification and testing for paralytic shellfish poisoning, and Ray Paddock from the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA) discussed plans for a 2017 survey to monitor fish consumption rates and water quality, to better understand seafood contamination. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

Southeast Alaska: Significant changes in the Health Insurance Marketplace this year - Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace begins November 1, 2016, and ends January 31, 2017. This year, Moda Health will not be available in Alaska so those insured by that company will need to move to a Premera Blue Cross plan.

“Many people are nervous that they will not be able to afford a Marketplace plan because the Premera Blue Cross plans were more expensive last year,” said Andrea Thomas, SEARHC Outreach and Enrollment Manager. “The good news is that the assistance from the federal government (premium tax credit) will go up and the majority of people will still be eligible for an affordable plan.”

Additionally, grandfathered plans in Alaska will be ending this year. Grandfathered plans had been exempt from many changes required under the Affordable Care Act for a limited amount of time. Alaskans with one of these plans must switch to other health coverage during this open enrollment period to remain covered in 2017. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 16, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Dead People ARE Voting - With Halloween so close to the November election, we may as well bring up the obvious link between ghouls and political hacks: Dead people are voting.

Reports are popping up around the country about deceased people who continue to vote, as recently reported by a Denver television station. That report prompted the Chicago Tribune's editorial board to publish a tongue-in-cheek editorial in which the editors admitted that dead people have influenced the outcome of Chicago elections for many years.

That reminded me of an odd experience I had in Chicago just before election time a decade or so ago.

I was in town on business for six or seven weeks and spent many spare hours touring the blues joints and restaurants that are legendary there. And then one night, after enjoying a wee few adult beverages, I swear I saw dead people marching up and down Michigan Avenue, stuffing their pockets with voter registrations and absentee ballots. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 16, 2016

jpg Will Durst

WILL DURST: The Gropage Report - If experts are correct in saying that Donald Trump needs women voters to win the presidency, the last two weeks have been the worst for any political candidate since the summer of 1984 when Michael Dukakis climbed into a tank and tried on a helmet.

This election has escalated way past PG-13, quickly hurdling both R and NC-17, and leaping into "Hands Over Your Ears Singing the La-La-La-La-La-La-La, I Can't Hear You" song. Concerned parents are even encouraging their kids to play violent video games rather than watch the news. "Smoke more dope."

Every time we think this election has sunk to a new low, the aerodynamically coiffed real estate mogul manages to dig another sub-basement. It's like he's trying to tunnel his way to China (or as he says it, JI-NA). - More...
Tuesday PM - October 16, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: DRESSING for DEBATE 3

Editorial Cartoon: DRESSING for DEBATE 3
Third Debate is Wednesday - October 19, 2016
By Bill Day ©2016, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Thank you, Ketchikan! By Michelle O'Brien - Once again, Ketchikan never ceases to amaze as a vibrant and welcoming community. The recent Open World Program delegation from Russia was greeted with open arms; from informative visits with local organizations, to a generosity that is unique to cemented the fact that Ketchikan is far and away a community unlike others. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

letter Bob Sivertson for State House By Tuckerman Babcock - The Alaska Republican Party stands in support of the positive change offered by Bob Sivertson for State House.

It takes a tough negotiator to protect local interests, and it takes someone who knows how to work most productively with other legislators from the area. There is no doubt that Bob Sivertson and Bert Stedman will make a powerful positive team for District 36.- More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

letter Vote Dan Ortiz By Susan Bachant - I am writing to share my reasons why I support Dan Ortiz. Throughout the years there have been many people representing us in various political avenues. Only one has ever asked me how I wanted him to represent my voice and that is Dan Ortiz. I have seen him go from door to door, talked with him in the mall, and even filled out an online survey from him wanting to know what I and all of the other folks that he represents think on a particular subject. I find this absolutely refreshing. Ask yourself, how any of our representatives actually do this? How many want to know what the people they represent want? Usually they get in there and pitch their own personal agendas. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

letter Two Untrustworthy Candidates By Donald Moskowitz - We know that many politicians make promises they cannot keep and they typically use manipulative and ambiguous language to hide their true ideas and feelings. They hope the public will forget their false statements. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

letter Response to Political Attack Ads By Rep. Dan Ortiz - It has come to my attention in recent days that groups from outside our district and outside Alaska have started to send out negative ads against me. Judging from where this effort is coming from, I take it in stride.

As your state representative, my only goal is to be your voice in the legislature. Residents of District 36 know that I actively request input from every side of every issue, and I listen to everyone. My goal has never been to appease big oil or the Railbelt, especially when their desires are in conflict with the needs of Southern Southeast. That being said, I am curious as to how these outside groups could possibly know what’s in the best interest for Southern Southeast Alaska. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

letter Thank You By Kolby Elliot - On behalf of my teammates and myself, I would like to thank my family, coaches, community, and peers for all of their support contributing to a successful Schoenbar Middle School Cross Country season. Please publish this thank you as a token of gratitude to all those who participated. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

letter School Board Replacement Pre-selected? By Carl Webb - I am embarrassed that we voters have failed to ask why School Board President Michelle O’Brien, who announced a long time ago that she would resign from the Board, chose to do it one week after the official election. She even announced the date. Because of that decision, the voters of Ketchikan were denied the right to select the new board member and the current Board will be making the choice. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

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Sunday - October 16, 2016

Ketchikan: Ketchikan, Saxman and Petersburg Residents Invited to Meet with Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office - The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and Trust Land Office announced plans to host community meetings to engage with the residents of Petersburg, Saxman and Ketchikan on the status of the proposed land exchanges and potential timber sales. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

Fish Factor: Sea Cucumber Harvest Impacted by Sea Otters By LAINE WELCH - Sea cucumbers are the most valuable of Alaska’s dive fisheries, especially in Southeast. Annual October harvests in Southeast Alaska hover around one million pounds and attract nearly 200 divers, who will fetch between $4 to $5 a pound for their pickings. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

Southeast Alaska: Alaska Island Community Services and SEARHC Announce Affiliation - Alaska Island Community Services (AICS) and SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) announced last week they are formally affiliating to enhance access to quality care for Wrangell residents and patients. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

Alaska: State of Alaska Receives Extension to REAL ID Requirements - Governor Bill Walker received notification from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week that Alaska received an extension to compliance with the REAL ID Act until June 6, 2017.
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

Alaska Science: Earth's expanding crust swallowed beneath Aleutians By NED ROZELL - Sometimes, a great idea arrives ahead of its time. A person squints at a raw landscape, thinks about it in his bunk on a heaving ship, dreams of it. He scribbles a diagram. He remains quiet years later as others rediscover the same thing. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 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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