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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 27, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By KAREN HORN

Ketchikan: Colors of Fall
Front Page Feature Photo By KAREN HORN ©2017


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Alaska: 75th Anniversary of the Alaska Highway - Today it seems logical that there would be a road connecting the 48 contiguous states with their continental sibling to the north. The idea of connectivity in the modern age is a forgone conclusion with some of the most remote areas in the Last Frontier being fully integrated into the digital age.

75th Anniversary of the Alaska Highway

This photo shows the pioneer road before the grade was dropped another 22 feet.
(Photo and caption courtesy of Missouri University of Science and Technology 2014.)

This week marks 75 years since the Alaska Highway was completed. Once known as the Alcan highway, it was the most expensive World War II project taken on by the United States government, in cooperation with the Canadian government. In an instant, this territorial outpost of the U.S. was recognized as an important strategic defense position against a potential Japanese invasion of the North American mainland. The result was a monumental effort that combined military and civilian workers in the United States and Canada.

Early Stages

The first serious proposal of a road between the then-Territory of Alaska and the United States was offered in 1929. The International Highway Associations, comprised of representatives from Dawson City, Yukon Territory; Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle; and Fairbanks, Alaska, convened to lobby Congress for this new access to the North. The results of a feasibility study in 1930 determined the road was feasible and could be built at a reasonable cost. However, arguments over the proposed route and funding over the next decade resulted in no substantive progress on the road. 

Initially, the Alaska Highway was built to service the military outposts that dotted the landscape of Alaska and provided much needed support in the form of airplanes and other military supplies to the Soviet Union through the Lend-Lease Act passed on March 11, 1941. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, the United States was officially thrust into World War II.  No longer was the U.S. just supplying aid to the Allies and sitting on the sidelines. A need to protect U.S. mainland and territorial interests became a reality that devastatingly hit home.

Construction of the Alaska Highway officially began March 11, 1942, about 90 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The initial shipments of construction equipment came by boat into the port of Valdez and by air to the various Northwest Staging Route airfields. These first shipments consisted of 174 steam shovels, 374 blade graders, 904 tractors and more than 5,000 trucks. These also included countless bulldozers, snowplows, cranes and generators. Two-hundred and fifty thousand tons of materials and 10,000 soldiers began the leap frog construction of the road. The bombing of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, by the Japanese on June 3-4, 1942, made all too real the threat of a mainland invasion. - More...
Friday PM - October 27, 2017

The Alaska Highway or, The 'Alcan': What did it have to do with Ketchikan? By JUNE ALLEN - In mid-October of 2002, the Washington D.C.- based American Road & Transportation Builders Assn. named the Alaska Highway and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system as Alaska's top two infrastructure projects of the 20th century. The pipeline, from the North Slope to Valdez, impacted Ketchikan along with other, farther north Alaska cities via jobs during the line's construction years and through the influx of state oil dollars in the years following its completion. But the Alaska Highway, the road that starts at Dawson Creek in British Columbia and continues for 1500+ miles to end at Fairbanks how does that have anything to do with Ketchikan?

The Alaska Highway or, The 'Alcan': What did it have to do with Ketchikan?

Caterpillar tractor with grader widening the roadway of the Alcan Highway
Courtesy the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs

That wartime highway hundreds of miles to the east and north dashed Ketchikan's hopes for a new road system across Revilla Island. Also dashed were plans for expansion of the town's unique little City Park and a road replacing Deer Mountain trail. And the present drive for today's proposed multi-million dollar bridge is not the first time Ketchikan has lobbied for a bridge! The proposal for a bridge - with ups and downs and lengthy periods of inaction, began in Ketchikan back in the 1920s!

It all really started with Henry Ford's production line automobiles that even a working man could afford. By the mid-1920s the United States was awash in autos of several makes and models of "touring cars" that rumbled along dirt roads, through mud and sand, and jolted through potholes all across the nation, traveling to see the sights and visit new places. This new pastime/industry was called tourism. The new industry led to the need for better roads, for paved interstate highways, for gussying up local attractions along the way to lure tourist dollars. As more and more roads were built, recreational travelers began to dream of more spectacular and exciting routes.

And thus, in the prosperous and roaring '20s, was born the dream of what was dubbed the International Highway, a road that was to begin (or end) at Barrow, Alaska, and drop down through the States and thence southward through Medico, Central America, into South America and all the way to tip of that continent! Today there are stories in the papers every year of travelers - bicyclists and motorcyclists and once or twice a walker - who attempt to travel all of North and South America top to bottom even though the highway as first envisioned was never built. In the touring '20s, such a project caught the imaginations of everyone from Alaska to Argentina. The press took up the vision of an International Highway with all its possible routes and scenic splendors. Such stories were fodder for years for newspaper features and for kitchen and barroom discussions across the nation! - More...
Friday PM - October 27, 2017


Southeast Alaska:
Man arrested after confessing to shooting - Wednesday at approximately 06:16 PM, Alaska State Troopers were notified by the Phoenix Logging camp on Prince of Wales Island that Brian Stanton (64 of Ketchikan) was deceased due to a gunshot at Keete Inlet approximately 15 air miles from Hydaburg on Prince of Wales Island. 

Investigation by the Troopers revealed Timothy Murphy (26 of Ketchikan) had confessed to shooting Stanton and had made multiple incriminating statements to employees of the logging camp. - More...
Friday PM - October 27, 2017

Fish Factor: Alaska Salmon Fishing Permits, Cautious Optimism By LAINE WELCH - It’s steady as she goes for the values of Alaska salmon fishing permits, with upticks in the wind at several fishing regions.

“There’s a lot of cautious optimism,” said Jeff Osborn of Dock Street Brokers in Seattle.

As well there should be after a salmon fishery that produced 225 million fish valued at nearly $680 million, a 67 percent increase over 2016.

Bristol Bay drift salmon permits trade more than any other due to the sheer volume (1,800) and it’s no surprise the value is increasing after one of the best fishing seasons ever. But they are not “rocketing up” in value, said Doug Bowen of Alaska Boats and Permits at Homer.

“They’re over $140,000 right now, which is up from the start of the season when they were down around $130,000-$135,000,” Bowen said. “But they are inching up and it seems there’s as many people who want to get into the Bay as there are who want to get out, and so the prices have kind of stabilized.”

Osborn at Dock Street agreed.

“They haven’t come up at Bristol Bay as much as I would’ve anticipated, but maybe that’s yet to come,” he said, referring to potentially strong 2018 salmon forecasts being released soon by state fishery managers.

The trend appears similar for permit values at other major fishing regions.

“It’s interesting that some years there can be a huge difference between a drift gillnet permit at Bristol Bay, at Prince William Sound or Area M on the Alaska Peninsula. For whatever reason, this year they are all about in that same $140,000 range,” Bowen said.

Elsewhere, the slide in the value of Cook Inlet drift permits reflects three lousy salmon seasons, despite being able to stack permits and fish extra gear. 

“That wasn’t enough to save the day,” Bowen said. “Those permits started at over $48,000 before the season after getting all the way down to the low to mid $30’s. They’ve inched back up to about $40,000 but that’s down from $60,000-$70,000 just a year or two ago.”

Kodiak seine permit values have increased from around $25,000 to over $30,000.
At Southeast Alaska, Bowen said there’s not a lot happening for drift permits at $100,000 and seine cards have “slipped a bit to the $180,000 range.”

Meanwhile, more fishing boat action is going on fueled by the extra $200 million or so circulating from a great salmon season.

“We’re seeing interest in buying and building new boats or upgrading to a bigger or newer boat,” Bowen said, adding “there is definitely movement with gillnetters and seiners.”  - More...
Friday PM - October 27, 2017


Columns - Commentary



MICHAEL SHANNON: Ever Wondered Why Hospitals Don't Give Estimates? - If your goal was to design a system that guaranteed high prices, encouraged waste and discouraged price shopping there is no need to start from scratch. Just adopt the U.S. health insurance market and you're good to go.

If we bought cars the way we buy healthcare it would work something like this. First you decide which car purchase policy to buy. Do you want a "bronze policy" that has a lower monthly premium, but a much higher deductible due when you pick up your new car? Which, by the way, is likely to be one of those suppository-sized Fiats, since that's the tier of car covered under bronze.

Or do you want to go for the "gold" policy that has much higher premiums, but also grants you the red-carpet treatment when you waltz into the Tesla dealership?

What's certain is, regardless of whether you opt for the suppository or the showboat, the final cost is immaterial. There's no window sticker glued to your new ride. No sitting on a metal folding chair in the salesman's cubicle while he "goes to check with his manager." There's not even any need to go to different dealers. Simply pick the one closest to home or the dealer with the best uppity coffee maker in the waiting room.

The dealer sends the invoice to the car purchase insurance company and you drive home. Price is no object when the company picks up the tab. Under that system we'd soon have two giant federal takeovers of the economy: ObamaCare followed by ObamaCar. - More....
Friday PM - October 27, 2017


MICHAEL REAGAN: Hail, the Queen of Collusion - Excuse me, but didn't I write this column already?

Didn't I point out a while ago that when it comes to asking the Russians to mess with our presidential elections the real pros of collusion have always been the Democrats?

Now I remember.

In a column for Newsmax late last year I pointed out several well-documented instances in 1979, 1980 and 1984 where prominent Democrats connived with Moscow to advance their own presidential chances or damage my father's.

Jimmy Carter, Ted Kennedy and Tip O'Neill each contacted the Soviets and asked them to do things that would undermine American foreign policy and keep my father from being elected or re-elected.

It didn't work, but it wasn't for the Democrats' lack of trying.

Last May on CNN I tried to remind Don Lemon of the Democrats' shameful record of colluding with the despots of Moscow, but he was too busy joining in the MSM's hysterical gang bang of Donald Trump to discuss such ancient history.

Lemon also didn't want to hear it from me that I thought President Trump did not collude with the Russians, but I told him so - or tried to. - More...
Friday PM - October 27, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Russia Dossier

Political Cartoon: Russia Dossier
By Nate Beeler ©2017, The Columbus Dispatch
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

Ketchikan School District's educational performance By A. M. Johnson - In an effort to continue the awareness of Ketchikan School District's educational performance, the following data has been mined from the state's report. The two segments of the report are given below for personal review on a statewide basis.

One has to realize in reviewing the data the state as a whole pretty much has failed to meet the educational goals desired, measured by a test the State has deemed a reasonable process to measure that progress. - More..
Friday PM - October 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Honor All Veterans By Donald Moskowitz - On this upcoming Veterans Day our families wish to remember all of our veterans, including our family members who served in all of the major wars from the Gulf War to Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI, the Spanish American War and the Civil War.

We are disappointed with the removal of statues of Confederate generals, and thereby contributing to rewriting U.S. history.  We believe these statues were placed to commemorate the service of some brilliant military minds and they were not meant to be racist.  About 150 Confederate generals graduated from West Point and served during the Civil War. - More...
Friday PM - October 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Say what... Byron "unhinged" perhaps? By Trevor Shaw - Before I get started, although I serve as the President of the Ketchikan School Board, I am speaking on behalf of myself as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Ketchikan School District.

Now, with that out of the way, I want to start by saying that I understand the general direction that the Lt. Governor is coming from. We do need a fiscal solution for our state. That said, I don't agree whatsoever with his rhetoric or ideological approach. His thought process of needing a new broad-based tax or "Alaska will become a colony" is severely misguided and nothing short of fear mongering. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 24, 2017

Opinion - Letter

If We Are To Succeed As A State, Alaska Can Never Go Back By Lt. Governor Byron Mallott - We need to have a serious conversation about our fiscal crisis.

Over the last 3 years, the Legislature has drawn down over $14 billion of Alaska’s financial reserves. With oil prices expected to stay essentially where they are, we won’t get that money back any time soon. We are down to the last of those reserves – barely $2.5 billion – as we go into the 2018 Legislature and the budget we must present to Alaskans. Governor Walker has called the legislature into special session multiple times over the last two years to pass a complete plan. The plan he presented – a complete plan – would have allowed us to close that gap in the first Legislature of his service. Instead, we find ourselves on the precipice of disaster. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 24, 2017

Opinion - Letter

AMHS - profitability By Laura Plenert - The AMHS is top management and overpaid staff HEAVY. It will never be profitable "as is". This is a picture perfect example of what is wrong with Government being in charge of a business that would be better as a private enterprise.

I have watched for years as the AMHS "system has CUT routes and services aboard their vessels. And yet they still cannot make themselves profitable. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 24, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Slashing education budgets is short-sighted By David Lovell - The legislature is now considering several reasonable revenue-raising options.  The alternative to a thoughtful revenue increase is to further cut spending and wreak further damage on the University of Alaska.  Slashing education budgets is an extremely short-sighted way to solve fiscal issues.  We're in this mess because for too long, public services have depended on revenue from unstable markets for things like fish and oil that we take out of our land and waters to ship out of the state. The only way out of it is to grow our human resources and attract employers who need highly skilled workers.  New businesses, bringing new jobs, would also be generated by graduates with the confidence and skills nurtured in college. - More...
Saturday PM - October 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Firewood Warning By Cheryl Henley- I have driven by a place with large rounds of yellow cedar that had a sign for sale. I called the number, and ordered a cord of firewood, split and delivered for $250.00 cash. I was so happy to get it, and then ordered 2 more cords. - More...
Saturday PM - October 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Uranium scandel By A. M. Johnson - I am compelled to offer an apology for the number of submissions by myself in recent weeks. The news cycle is providing the gist for the thinking which results in frustrations over open traitorous actions by high level placed politicians who are trampling the trust placed on their positions. Must like the current scandal among Hollywood elites, these political elites are allowed to skate free from crimes and high misdemeanors. Those frustrations are compelled to be stated. - More...
Saturday PM - October 21, 2017

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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