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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 18, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By RUSHCELLE HULL

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Alaska: 150th ALASKA DAY: What We're Commemorating By JUNE ALLEN - OCTOBER 18, 2017 is the sesquicentennial of the formal transfer of Alaska from Russia to United States.

150th ALASKA DAY: What We're Commemorating

Old Russian Fort, Sitka
Mr. & Mrs. William P. Smith photograph album, 1891, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library,
Courtesy University of Alaska Anchorage.

The United States consummated its Purchase of Alaska on the afternoon of October 18, 1867 as the Southeastern's October rains held off long enough for Russia's imperial double eagle flag to be lowered and the Stars and Stripes raised to flap wildly in the autumn winds atop a 90-foot flagpole on Castle Hill in Sitka. Few or none of either nation's dignitaries and troops standing at attention below during the ceremony were particularly happy about the event. Neither were the Tlingits from the nearby village, who were not allowed to attend.

The transfer ceremony had not run smoothly. The Russian flag had tangled and a bosun's chair had to be raised to cut the flag loose. It fluttered down and landed on a raised bayonet of a soldier below. At the sight, a Russian Princess fainted, demonstrating the general feelings of the Russian inhabitants. The American troops, unhappy over having been kept aboard the gunboats in Sitka harbor for ten days before the transfer rituals, were cranky and ready for some shore leave. Each side reflected the attitudes of their respective nations. Some of the Russians interests had not wanted to sell, and Americans, stirred up by editorials and cartoons in the national press, thought the Alaska Purchase was silly, expensive and unnecessary.

No money had yet changed hands. It would be months before a tightfisted Congress would let loose of the $7,200,000 to pay for the sale arranged by Secretary of State William Henry Seward on March 30 of that same year. That is the day we now celebrate as Seward's Day. But from that day on, the remarkable Russian-Alaska capital of New Archangel would be known as the American village of Sitka, to serve as Alaska's capital for the next 30-plus years.

Alaska had been claimed for Russia as early as 1741 after Vitus Bering sighted the mountain he named St. Elias and landed near Yakutat for a cursory exploration. The Russian-American company was formed to settle the new country to utilize the great untapped sea otter resource. By 1800 Kodiak was established, Sitka was under construction, and outposts were being established that would reach from the Kenai, into the Bering Sea and up the Yukon River at Nulato. The Russian-American Company tried to establish a colony of farmers at Yakutat, but the transplanted Russian peasants hated the vast wilderness, the climate and their hostile native neighbors. The agricultural experiment failed.

Sitka, however, under the governance of Russian-American Company manager Alexander Baranof, grew into a significant city. Baranof was a small man who wore a scarf tied under his chin to secure his wig in Sitka's whimsical winds. He married a native woman, raised their two children as upper class citizens, and created a city that was, according to some sources, called the Paris of the North. Sitka, planned and begun by Baranof, had a large church and a seminary, a hospital, schools and even a college, an orchestra, a sawmill, a foundry, a shipyard, a harbor light, Baranof's "Castle" with its parade ground, and all the amenities that could be provided in a remote location on the North Pacific Coast.

It was the concept of Manifest Destiny that led to the first ideas about a purchase of Alaska by the United States. The U.S., even through several disputes over U.S. ships in Alaska's waters, had maintained friendly relations with Russia. In fact, during the Civil War (1861-1865), Russian warships stood off New York Harbor as a show of friendship for the Union. But there was Manifest Destiny ("Go west, young man!"), the belief that westward-ho Americans would sooner or later - probably sooner - reach the Pacific Coast and take a greater interest in Pacific shipping and trade. Americans were seen by much of the rest of the world as aggressive and violent people. The Russians feared that if they didn't sell Alaska to the U.S., the Americans would simply turn their westward ho movement northward and take Alaska for themselves. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 18, 2017

House Republicans Push for Holding Special Session in Anchorage; Speaker Says Special Session Will Remain in Juneau - Members of the Alaska House Republican caucus urged House Speaker Bryce Edgmon to poll the full membership of the body on the topic of holding the upcoming special session in Anchorage.

“Conducting our business in Anchorage will better enable Alaskans to engage, and personally participate, in legislative deliberations on anti-crime legislation and the governor's proposed tax,” said Representative Chris Birch (R-Anchorage).

However, Speaker of the House Bryce Edgmon (D-Dillingham) provided information about why the upcoming Fourth Special Session should be held in the state capital of Juneau. According to the non-partisan Legislative Affairs Agency moving the session would incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional costs. This would occur just as lawmakers are wrestling with solutions to Alaska’s ongoing fiscal challenges.

Speaker Edgmon has informed the members of the Alaska House of Representatives that the special session will start as scheduled Monday morning and will remain in Juneau for the duration of the session.

“Juneau is the best equipped as well as the cheapest location for our work. Changing the location would require moving people and equipment at the last minute at great expense to the State of Alaska,” said Speaker Edgmon. “Alaskans are accustomed to being able to follow the daily work of their elected representatives online and on television through Gavel Alaska, but that service is only available in the state capital. Any perceived benefit from holding a session outside of Juneau would be far outweighed by the lack of transparency if Alaskans statewide can’t follow what we do and how we make decisions.”

Governor Walker stipulated that the upcoming Special Session be held in Juneau. To change that location the Alaska House of Representatives would have to first convene in Juneau before moving to another location. The entire House of Representatives, numerous agency and support staff, and equipment would have to be uprooted and moved, at great expense, to Anchorage.

“The House has been sensitive to the urgency around criminal justice reform and has held multiple hearing in Anchorage so that we are prepared to act quickly when the legislature convenes in Juneau. Moving the proceedings to Anchorage would slow down the legislature’s ability to take swift action,” said Speaker Edgmon. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 18, 2017

Alaska: State Receives $593,000 in Legal Fees from BLM - The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently paid the State $593,007.71 in legal fees as a result of a federal court’s decision that the federal agency acted in bad faith in a lawsuit involving the navigability of an Alaskan waterway.

“This award of attorneys’ fees is important not only because of the money we got back but because of the message it sent to BLM,” said Deputy Attorney General Ed Sniffen. “We hope this will convince the federal agencies to sit down with us and work through these disputes in advance, instead of forcing us to file needless litigation.”

In June 2012, the State filed a lawsuit to resolve a longstanding dispute over the ownership of lands beneath the Mosquito Fork, a tributary of the Fortymile River. The fundamental dispute was whether the Mosquito Fork was a navigable waterway, which, under the Submerged Lands Act (43 U.S.C. §§1301-1315) and equal footing doctrine, meant that the bed of the river is owned by the State. BLM’s refusal to acknowledge the State’s ownership created confusion and hardship for Alaskans seeking to use the river, particularly miners with state mining claims.  - More...
Wednesday PM - October 18, 2017


Alaska Science: Finding far-north lynx den part of cycle study By NED ROZELL - In her study of one of the farthest-north lynx populations in North America this summer, Claire Montgomerie used her ears. While looking at the satellite tracker a female lynx was wearing, Montgomerie saw the animal was hanging around a hillside north of the Arctic Circle, not far from Coldfoot.

Finding far-north lynx den part of cycle study

University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student Claire Montgomerie handles a lynx kitten she found at a den site near Wiseman this summer.
Photo courtesy Claire Montgomerie

The University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student suspected the lynx might have paused in its constant wandering to give birth to a den of kittens.

Montgomerie enlisted a few helpers from her base in Wiseman and headed to where she’d seen clusters of tracking points on her computer. After about 45 minutes in the boreal forest near the Dalton Highway, she got her break.

“I heard this little hissing noise,” Montgomerie said. “It was very subtle, like a breath.”

She approached the feline whisper, poked her head in some brush and parted a few birch saplings. There, at the root ball of a downed balsam poplar, were six lynx kittens the size of yarn balls.

Montgomerie’s work is part of a study of the factors contributing to the cycles of lynx and snowshoe hares. She is on a university and National Park Service team working out of Wiseman. The researchers, including Knut Kielland, Maddie McConnell and Donna DiFolco, are looking at hares, lynx and great horned owls at the northern edge of the boreal forest.

At the den site, Montgomerie picked up each tiny lynx — less than two weeks old and still with cloudy eyes that didn’t seem to focus on her — and weighed it. Each little cat was about 600 grams, about as much as a basketball, and fit in her palm.

“They were definitely one-handable,” she said.

She punched a tag in their ears in hopes of identifying the kittens again should she capture them as adults. Then she and her partners replaced the kittens and tried to make the site look as it did before they arrived. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 18, 2017


Columns - Commentary



JEFF LUND: Speak out by pushing up - Upstairs in what used to be the Nintendo room of my childhood home is an old wooden piece of luggage. In it are relics of a period of American History that’s been so fictionalized, I doubt if any kid today really understands the gravity. I sure couldn’t, but at least I had a living link. Grandma Ellen made planes for Beech Aircraft during World War II. Grandpa Roy came up from North Africa to Italy after the Allies turned the tide and pushed back against evil. The suitcase was his, in it are war-era maps of Italy, Nazi stamps and other heavy pieces of history. 

I was too young to remember the stories, but I do remember the people. I remember my grandparents who lived what we spend money to watch, then Google to check accuracy. It’s entertainment for us, it was life and news for them. 

I often wonder if I have what it takes to willingly put myself in a real battle, not the metaphorical ones we engage in now that we are free to apply those terms to things for which defeat is not total. 

A friend of mine tagged me in a viral post to support awareness for Veterans, police officers and first responders struggling with PTSD. 

There is not enough than can be done to truly and properly thank and support these men and women, but we have to try. 

The reason people can say, “Who’s going to pick a fight with us?” is because we have people waiting to hit back. The reason why the vast majority of the time, the vast majority of us can walk around safely is because we have people upholding a code of conduct. There is a voice that hears us when we cry out. We take time and energy from these people without fully appreciating the stability they provide when things are good and hope when things aren’t.

We criticize police conduct without the benefit of much context but with all the benefit of slow motion replay. 

People volunteer to make a living off helping people through trauma. My job is a bouncy house world compared to all of that. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 18, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Clinton Foundation

Editorial Cartoon: Clinton Foundation
By Rick McKee ©2017, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

AMHS Needs Forward Funding By Rob Holston - I certainly agree with Rep Ortiz re forward funding….. but see a larger problem…… OVERPRICED FARES! AMHS used to be the economical way to get to the lower 48…. no longer. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 18, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Taxes By Lance Clark - So let me get this straight, Mr. Ortiz says we're 2.4 billion dollars short and that's why we need new taxes. If my math serves me right, and correct me if I'm wrong, that's about $4800 for every person in the state figuring there is around a half of million people in Alaska. This doesn't count the money the state is already taking in just how much more they want. We have a spending problem, not an income problem. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 18, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Time to Cut the Fat By A. M. Johnson - Representative Ortiz has been very active in keeping the folks advised of upcoming subject matter regarding the budget shortfall gap. Never too much information and seeking more has been his byword. I thank him for the efforts. Often he and I serve as contrarians to ideas each present. While we pretty much are on opposite on most subjects government or social, there are moments we seem to agree. It all takes place in a gentlemanly process to which we are both pleased. - More....
Wednesday PM - October 18, 2017

Opinion - Letter

POW Hunting regulation By Mike Carney - Thanks Charles Edwardson for being able to see what is taking place on POW. I hunted POW for years as did many others that do not anymore because of the silly hunting regulation that divide Ketchikan from POW. When the Fed's made the rule that kept Ketchikan residents off federal lands in different places on POW the problems started. All it did was make some legal hunters into none legal hunters. - More...
Saturday PM - October 14, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: Tax Fairness By Lance Clark - I don’t think Ortiz, Walker, and company care about fairness.  They just want MORE money from anywhere they can find it, regardless of the implications down the road, or who they hurt along the way. - More...
Saturday PM - October 14, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Special Session Survey By Rep. Dan Ortiz - On October 23rd, the legislature will convene for its third special session to discuss potential revenue sources. Below, I have outlined two options that I will most likely have the choice to vote on during that session. - More...
Saturday PM - October 14, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE:Demand Tax Fairness By Jon Bolling - Mr. Dial's October 12, 2017 letter to SitNews merits a clarification. While it is true that some areas of Prince of Wales Island are not legally obligated to support local schools, the cities of Craig, Klawock, and Hydaburg are subject to the same required local contribution requirement to fund their schools as is the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. - More...
Saturday PM - October 14, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Demand tax fairness By Rodney Dial - The recent letter by former Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst details the greatest economic threat our community will likely ever face. Citizens of all political persuasions should give it consideration. - More...
Thursday AM - October 12, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Increasing Nonprofit Organization's Efffectiveness By Deborah Hayden - During September we heard often from candidates for borough Assembly that they wanted to increase the ability of nonprofit organizations to operate in a business-like manner or to be more self-sufficient. For the past three years, the Strengthening Nonprofits Collaborative has been engaged in projects that will enhance nonprofit operations in both these categories. - More...
Thursday AM - October 12, 2017

Opinion - Letter

WE ARE CONTINUING TO PROTECT ALASKA’S TRANSBOUNDARY WATERS By Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott - One of the best parts of my job, and one of the most challenging, is to keep working toward Alaska goals that are not easily and quickly achieved. Perhaps my role as an elder has given me patience in dealing with an ever-changing political landscape at the local, national, and international level. But that’s not to say I don’t get frustrated and impatient like you do when incremental movement seems agonizingly slow. - More...
Thursday AM - October 12, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Are there more hunting restrictions on POW targeted on non residents? By Chas Edwardson - My name is Charles Edwardson a native born Ketchikan resident and also an Alaska native, there is no distinction of separation in my view, although both perspectives need to be understood. I am also a dual resident having a home on Prince of Wales and in Ketchikan. - More...
Thursday AM - October 12, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: Open Letter to the NFL players By Joe Ashcraft - The pushing of the false narrative that the NFL players are protesting the flag, the anthem, or the American military brings into question the motives of any individual doing so. - More...
Thursday AM - October 12, 2017

Opinion - Letter

It’s Past Time to Achieve Parity Regarding State Education Funding: An Open Letter to Representative Ortiz By Dan Bockhorst - On October 23, the Alaska Legislature will convene its 12th session during your 3 years in office (3 regular sessions plus 9 special sessions) – far more sessions than during any other three-year period in the State’s history. - More...
Saturday AM - October 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

AMHS Needs Forward Funding By Rep. Dan Ortiz - The Alaska Marine Highway System needs forward funding. I don’t think I need to say it twice. If money is allocated to the AMHS for its future expenses, the AMHS can properly plan sailings which would: capture revenue from tourists (including those considering traveling with their RV’s or vehicles), allow businesses to send employees to neighboring islands, and provide more advance planning options for Alaskans. - More...
Saturday AM - October 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

SB54: Essential step in addressing public safety By Jahna Lindemuth & Walt Monegan - Crime is on the rise. We’ve been hearing a lot from Alaskans about their cabins, cars, shops, and homes being broken into. People feel scared and that fear is warranted.  The crime statistics confirm what we have been hearing in all of our Alaska communities.   As Alaska’s Attorney General and Commissioner of Public Safety, public safety is our highest concern. We agree action is needed to protect Alaskans. Passing SB54 during the special session is an important first step in this direction. - More...
Saturday AM - October 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

NO WORRIES THE SECOND AMENDMENT WILL JUST GET YOU TO HEAVEN THAT MUCH SOONER By David G Hanger - Some five hundred eighty-six casualties, 58 dead by gunshot, hundreds upon hundreds wounded by one man’s gunfire, and, wow, did those first responders do one hell of a job. (It took how long to even figure out where the shots were coming from?) You may have to go clear back to World War I to find a single tactical engagement that cost 586 US casualties. And you definitely have to go back to the first day of the First Battle of the Somme to find so many casualties inflicted in so short a time; the Newfoundland regiment, and that was accomplished by trained soldiers with multiple weapons and weapons systems at their disposal. Time to change USA to FFZ, as in free-fire zone. . - More...
Saturday AM - October 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Open Letter to the NFL players By A. M. Johnson - Following is an anonymous letter, author unknown which should be printed in every newspaper across this great Nation. It will not be but it should. - More...
Saturday AM - October 07, 2017

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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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