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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 23, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By JAMES WIDDIFIELD

Klawock: October Sunrise
Front Page Feature Photo By JAMES WIDDIFIELD ©2018

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Ketchikan: Princess Sophia Sank 100 Years Ago; 350 passengers, crew died in the waters near Juneau By DAVE KIFFER - It has been one hundred years since the worst marine disaster to ever strike the Inside Passage occurred. But even in communities that were directly affected by the disaster, there has been little to remember the sinking of the Canadian steamship Princess Sophia and the loss of her 350 passengers and crew.

Princess Sophia Sank 100 Years Ago; 350 passengers, crew died in the waters near Juneau

Princess Sophia in Juneau - View of port side, smoke streaming from stack.
Winter and Pond 1883 - 1943
Photo courtesy Alaska State Library - Historical Collections

The story itself has been the subject of two books, a play, a musical, a upcoming opera, and numerous historical articles (See "The Grounding of the Princess Sophia," SITNEWS, Dec. 5. 2005). And yet, it is a story that often surprises the residents of Southeast Alaska when they hear about it.

Discussion of the sinking of the Canadian Railway ship often feels like a story of a time from the depths of history rather than something that happened when the grandparents of today's residents were around.

Although the sinking of the Canadian Pacific Railway steamer and the loss of all aboard put many in mind of the Titanic disaster six years before, it wasn't long before other news events knocked it off the front pages and it became a footnote in the history of the Inside Passage.

First of all, World War I came to an end barely three weeks later.

And the Great Influenza of 1918 was also killing millions of people world-wide and also seriously affecting Alaska and the North Coast (See "When the Great Influenza Shut Down Ketchikan, SITNEWS, Nov. 26, 2008).

Even the sinking of the Sophia itself was only one part of the strongest recorded storms to ever hit northern British Columbia and Southeast Alaska (See "The Killer Storm of October, 1918, SITNEWS, Oct. 25, 2008)

So, while the sinking of the Princess Sophia was a major tragedy that shocked residents up and down the coast, as well as deep into the Yukon Territory because a great many of the people who died were prominent citizens of the Klondike, the incident itself quickly faded from the public consciousness. It became just another tragedy along a coast where ship sinkings were all too common in an era with few safety measures taken to deal with the numerous hazards to navigation.

Ironically, the Canadian Pacific line had asked the United State Lighthouse Service (the forerunner of the US Coast Guard) to put a light on Vanderbilt Reef in 1917 because of concerns over the narrowness of Lynn Canal at that point and the heavy winds that blew ships off course during area storms. At the time of the grounding there was only a small unlit buoy to mark the reef. But with American resources being funneled towards the war in Europe, the request was put off. Two years after the sinking a navigational beacon would be put on the reef.

What happened to the ship is well known. The why is less clear.

The Sophia was making its last run of the season south from Skagway on Oct. 23, 1918. Because it was the Sophia's last run last run of the season, the ship was full and many of the passengers were people who lived and worked in the Klondike during the summer mining season and were heading for warmer climes for the next few months. It has been estimated that 125 of the victims were residents of Dawson City. More than 70 people on board were employed by the White Pass Railway and its steamship operations. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

Alaska: Dunleavy and Begich just a few points apart Results of the fourth independent tracking poll in our series show Dunleavy still in the lead but Begich catching up fast - With just two weeks to go until the General Election, the Ivan Moore Alaska Survey Research's fourth independent tracking survey of likely Alaska voters conducted October 19-22 shows Senator Mike Dunleavy with a much reduced lead since the exit of Governor Bill Walker from the race. Democrat Mark Begich shows a substantially improved approval positive-negative rating, now that he has become the de facto challenger to Dunleavy.

The Survey asked the race question two ways. In the first scenario, Governor Walker withdraws and endorses Begich and in the second scenario, Governor Walker withdraws, endorses Begich, and then plays an active role in his campaign, including “making appearances at events and in advertising, talking particularly about continuing his work promoting gasline issues” - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018


Southeast Alaska: New provider well suited for rural practice at PHMG POW - Justin Lange Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine has joined PeaceHealth Medical Group Prince of Wales.

New provider well suited for rural practice at PHMG POW

Dr. Lange’s philosophy of care makes him well suited to rural primary care. He is interested in establishing long-term relationships with his patients and their families. His wide-ranging medical education emphasized rural medicine and providing full spectrum care to the entire family. He is interested in preventative health and working together with his patients to jointly manage chronic disease and acute concerns.

Dr. Lange received his Bachelor of Science in Sports Science from the University of Idaho. He then headed to Missouri for his Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at A.T. Still University, Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.

His medical residency was in Family Medicine in Anchorage. He was a participant in the WWAMI TRUST, the Targeted, Rural Underserved Track, a program of the University of Washington School of Medicine whose goal is to provide a connection between underserved communities, medical education, and health professionals in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

Alaska: Reading Proficiency and Dyslexia Task Force Holds First Meeting - The first official meeting of the Legislative Task Force on Reading Proficiency and Dyslexia authorized by the Alaska Legislature through House Bill 64 last session was held yesterday.  The twelve-member task force met to study the latest research on how children learn to read and look at ways to effectively put this knowledge into practice.

Approximately 47,000 students in Alaska did not meet state standards in 2015, leaving them insufficiently prepared for the challenges of the future. However, new research shows that even children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties can become excellent readers with the right approach to learning.

“The work of the task force will help us identify and promote the most effective learning techniques needed to improve reading scores for all students,”  said task force chair  Rep. Harriet Drummond  (D-Anchorage).

The task force will examine the effects of current Alaska statutes on reading proficiency and dyslexia, as well as researching practices in other jurisdictions. The task force will make recommendations to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and education of children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties in Alaska. The task force’s final report is to be submitted by March 29 of next year.

The 12-member task force is made up of three members of the Alaska House of Representatives, three members of the Alaska State Senate, and six members of the public representing teachers, parents, students, administrators and nonprofit organizations.

The first meeting was teleconferenced with presentations by Posie Boggs, IDA Alaska, Alaska Reading Coalition; Dr. Donna Dearman, Mat Su School District; and Camille Booth of Ketchikan. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

Southeast Alaska: Sitka Felon Charged for Illegally Constructing, Possessing a Pipe Bomb - U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced yesterday that a Sitka man has been indicted on federal charges alleging he illegally constructed and possessed a pipe bomb. 

Zachary Loewen, 28, of Sitka, was named in the indictment charging him with possession of an unregistered destructive device, unlawfully making a destructive device, and for being a felon in possession of an explosive.  Loewen’s arraignment hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 25, 2018, at 11:30 a.m.

According to the federal indictment, on or about Oct. 4, 2018, Loewen knowingly possessed and made an explosive device, specifically a pipe bomb, not registered to him in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Records.  The indictment further alleges that, on Oct. 14, 2018, Loewen knowingly received and possessed a combination of parts intended for the construction of pipe bombs.  

According to state court documents, after failed attempts at purchasing a firearm due to his prior felony convictions, Loewen began purchasing materials to construct a pipe bomb. On Oct. 4, 2018, near Herring Cove Road in Sitka, Loewen allegedly attempted to ignite the bomb with a candlewick fuse, but abandoned the explosive device after a failed ignition.  - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

Southeast Alaska: Skagway Man Indicted for the Illegal Export/Import of Walrus Ivory, Lacey Act Violations - ASkagway man has been indicted on charges alleging smuggling of walrus ivory and the illegal export and import of walrus ivory in violation of the Lacey Act.

James Terrance Williams, 67, of Skagway, d.b.a. Inside Passage Arts, was named in the 10-count indictment charging him with smuggling walrus ivory from the United States, smuggling walrus ivory into the United States, illegal sale of smuggled ivory in violation of the Lacey Act, and Lacey Act false labeling.  

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), walrus ivory cannot be exported out of the United States, nor imported into the United States, without a permit.  The indictment alleges that, in October 2014 and March 2016, Williams illegally exported raw, unworked, walrus ivory tusks from Alaska to Indonesia for carving.  He would then smuggle the carved walrus ivory back into the United States, disguising the illegal nature of the transportation by falsification of records, all in furtherance of illegal sales of the ivory. 

This scheme involved numerous Lacey Act violations.  Specifically, it is alleged that, in the years 2014, 2015, and 2016, Williams would then sell the carved walrus ivory as merchandise, knowing that it had been unlawfully transported into the United States from a foreign county.  Furthermore, it is alleged that, Williams knowingly made or submitted false records and accounts for the importation, transportation, and sale of carved walrus ivory tusks. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018


jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: The Rain is Falling, The Rain is Falling - Social Media is a wonderful thing.

Although based on what I see on Facebook lately,  there is an awful lot of Anti-Social Media out there.

But I digress.

Social Media is a wonderful thing. We stay in much closer connection with folks because they share cute cat videos and offensive political memes with us.

And they are also very quick to pass along important information - "news you can use," to quote a long ago journalism slogan.

And no, I do not mean "news you can use to smack someone over the head with." The kind you get from either Fox News or MSNBC. I mean news that might actually benefit the recipient. Not that cute cat videos and offensive political memes aren't beneficial. On some level. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

jpg Jase Graves

JASE GRAVES: A Tribute To Teachers - With school back in full swing, I'd like to say a few words about teachers, without whom none of us would know what in the heck to do with the word "whom."

I come from a long-ish line of teachers myself. My mother taught elementary and middle school for over thirty years, and my grandmother also had a brief stint practicing the pedagogical arts.I guess you could say teaching is in my blood - like a serious infection. In fact, "pedagogy" kind of sounds like the name of a disease. 

"I'm sorry, sir, you have an acute case of pedagogy, and I'm afraid we don't have an ointment for that."

Some folks may labor under the delusion that teaching is a relatively easy career - with short workdays, summers off, loads of holidays, and late nights praying fervently for catastrophic levels of precipitation when snow is in the forecast. (Ok, maybe that's just me.) Sure, teachers may get a little more time off than some professionals, but they need these precious moments of psychological rehab to keep from setting their hair on fire and running naked through the streets - especially when snow is in the forecast. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Midterm Polls

Political Cartoon: Midterm Polls
By Nate Beeler ©2018, The Columbus Dispatch, OH
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

No on Ballot Measure 1 By Chelsea Goucher - As President of the Board for the Ketchikan Chamber, I can say with confidence that I care deeply about this community, its residents, our way of life, and our collective socioeconomic well-being.

Several months ago, the Ketchikan Chamber Board voted to oppose Ballot Measure 1 and tasked me with writing an op-ed in order to share our thoughts and inform those who may still be unsure about this issue. Knowing intuitively that Ballot Measure 1 would be contentious on its face for fish-centric communities like Ketchikan, I did not take this task lightly; I wanted to be absolutely sure that the opinion of the Ketchikan Chamber reflects accurately our community’s maritime values and history. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Expect impacts to our local communities By Lisa Parker - Salmon have always been an integral part of our economy, as well as a fundamental part of our identity as Alaskans. We measure the value of salmon not only in escapement numbers and dollars, but also in their ability to enrich our lives and connect us with the land we cherish and call home.

Alaskans have long supported salmon-friendly policies and regulations. And that support has paid off in the most robust wild salmon runs in the world. In fact, our state has more than 18 state and federal policies that address salmon habitat protections. These policies have been enacted and/or updated over the years, with annual revisions and additions to the list of protected habitat. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Support Dan Ortiz By Steve Kinney - We will soon be going to the polls to select a representative for House District 36, and I m speaking in support of incumbent Rep Dan Ortiz. Whether you read about him in the Point of View section of the Ketchikan Daily News, or listen to him at an Open Forum gathering in town, or talk with him in person, Representative Dan Ortiz is consistently working to communicate with you and me, his constituents.

The son of a teacher-powertroller father and a teacher-leader mother, Dan has become a legislative leader in both education and fisheries management. Dan has used his knowledge of government to implement a strategy of independence. He is harnessed to no-one else's wagon, and can cast his vote for all Alaskans regardless of party affiliation. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Vote Mike Dunleavy for Governor By Chris Herby - Well it now looks like we have a real race for Governor in our great state.  I personally think it’s unfortunate that Bill Walker decided to get out of the race.  Unfortunately Mark Begich will now have a chance of winning.  This would certainly not be good for Alaska. 

Last year the Alaska House of Representatives and the Governor supported implementing a state income tax.  Fortunately for working Alaskans, the Senate was able to stop it.  We need Mike Dunleavy as Governor to protect Alaskans from a State income tax and to protect our permanent fund dividends.  Alaskans had the intelligence to vote Mark Begich out as our US Senator.  I hope enough of us now show the same common sense and keep him out of Juneau.  His answer to everything is always simply raise taxes.  - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Climate Change Voter By Norbert Chaudhary - I’m going to get right to the point.

1) Human caused climate change is FACT and is already causing tremendous changes in the environment we all live in.

2) According to NASA, CO2 levels are significantly higher now than they have been in the past 650,000 years resulting in global warming and ocean acidification.

3) If we don’t take immediate action we face a collapse of the ecosystem that has sustained humanity from our very beginnings. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Trump's Tariffs Hurting States By Donald Moskowitz - President Trump is trying to correct a trade imbalance by imposing tariffs on products imported from China. China has retaliated by imposing tariffs on our exports to China.

Trump's tariffs will cost automaker Ford $1 billion in 2018 and 2019 and require significant layoffs. Exports from the BMW plant in Greer, SC are down 35% in August 2018 versus August 2017. Honda USA is incurring hundreds of millions of dollars in unplanned costs because of Trump's steel tariffs.  - More...
Tuesday PM - October 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

SUPPORT BALLOT MEASURE 1 By 58 Scientists & Managers - We the undersigned are retired state and federal agency scientists and managers with considerable experience in salmon biology, habitat and management in Alaska;  - More...
Thursday PM - October 18, 2018  

jpg Letter / Opinion

Support For Dan Ortiz By Eric and Heather Muench - We support Dan Ortiz for reelection to the State House because he is independent and not the puppet of big-shot leaders of either party, That leaves him able to support legislation that is best for Ketchikan and for Alaska. - More...
Thursday PM - October 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Vote No on Ballot Measure 1 By Andy Rauwolf - As a 50 year resident involved in commercial salmon harvests and conservation issues, I can attest to what former Governor Murkowski stated in his Oct. 13-14 point of view article. - More...
Thursday PM - October 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Salmon initiative isn’t the answer By Frank Murkowski - If Ballot Measure 1 passes, our fisheries, oil, gas, timber, minerals and even tourism would be severely restricted. The state's annual Permanent Fund  dividend would be significantly reduced over time. There would be no gas line, further oil development or new mines. Without the jobs and revenue from resources, state services would be severely curtailed. Specifically, where would the money come from for education, police protection, the environment and yes, even the quality of our Alaska lifestyle? The worst scenario would be a state in chaos facing bankruptcy. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 16, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

A No Vote for Ortiz By Micheal McColley - Dear Dan Ortiz you seem to forget that you helped the governor take the Permanent Fund and split it in half between the people of Alaska. You seem to forget there is a new guy running for governor who wants to put the Permanent Fund back. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 16, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Politics With Coffee By Judith Green - Thank you, Dan Ortiz, for offering to meet constituents over coffee. And staging these coffee chats during the daytime on Saturdays. Much appreciated. - End of Letter...
Tuesday PM - October 16, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Deeply Flawed Supreme Court Justice By Donald Moskowitz - The Republican controlled Senate rammed through the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court out of fear of losing control of the Senate in the upcoming mid-term elections. The vote was along party lines, 49 Republicans and one Democrat for him, and 48 Democrats against him. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 16, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Alaska's Independent Spirit By Gavin Hudson  - I have read many times over the years that Alaskans are notoriously difficult to poll and that we do not neatly fit into one category. I believe this stems from a fiercely independent spirit held by each and every Alaskan. We are a strange and interesting mix of urban and rural. Corporate and Tribal. Inland and Coastal. Progressive and Conservative. There are so many competing interests that ebb and flow throughout our state. But in our hearts, we are all hard working Americans who want good clean air to breathe and water to drink. We want a strong economy that provides good jobs. We all want good schools, roads, marine highways, and a functioning government that works as hard as we do to ensure we all get a fair shake. But still, we are difficult to categorize.  - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Ballot Measure 1 Could Affect Your Home Too By Neil MacKinnon - There's a good chance you've heard of Ballot Measure 1, but if you're like most Alaskans, you're probably still wondering, "What does it do?" The ballot measure language itself is lengthy and extremely technical. Let me explain in simpler terms what it does, and why First Things First Alaska Foundation firmly believes you can stand for salmon and stand for Alaska without Ballot Measure 1. - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Yes on Ballot Measure 1 By Tim Bristol - The Alaska Policy Forum is part of a nation-wide network of Koch brothers-funded extreme right-wingers advocating for the privatization of public education, “right-to-work” laws and elimination of most safeguards for our air, land and water, and its recent claims that those who are advocating for updates to Alaska’s existing salmon habitat permitting laws are “outsiders” is a classic deflection. The fact is, large-scale industrial development poses real risk to Alaska’s wild salmon runs, and now is the time to modernize salmon habitat laws. - More...
Friday PM - October 12, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Dunleavy is the one who is untrustworthy By Barbara McDaniel - In Mike Dunleavy’s recent column, “A Deficit of Trust,” the former, partial-term state senator blames others for his own failures as a legislator, a very common but deceitful defense tactic. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

False personal attacks on Mark Begich By Deborah Bonito - Given the current lack of public trust in our political system and the dangerous lack of honesty and accountability in the current national political discourse, it is important that our campaign set the record straight on the Lt. Governor’s disappointing decision to knowingly launch false personal attacks on Mark Begich - someone he has known personally for decades.  - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Our Progessive Senator By Rex Barber - Hence forth the name Lisa Murkowski will be synonymous with Obama. Clinton and traitor. She voted present on Judge Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court. This is the very act which defines a cowered. If she didn't want to vote for the man at least she should of had the [courage] to say NO!!! (I guess no dosn't mean no) - More...
Tuesday PM - October 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Vote Yes on Prop 1 By Robert K. Rice - In response to “Tracking the outside money by Larry Barsukoff. The facts on the money raised are as follows: Supporting Prop 1 $475,000; Opposing Prop 1 $8,670,000. Follow the money. - More...
Friday PM - October 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Political Winds of Change By Austin Otos - The 2018 Ketchikan Gateway Borough municipal election has come to a close. With 6 candidates running for office, our community had the opportunity to vote for a wide array of individuals. Thankfully, Ketchikan chose 2 candidates that represent the future of our community. Voters were clear that newer and younger voices take precedent over experience and past ideals. - More...
Friday PM - October 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Murkowski By Rob Holston - Lisa Murkowski may be a fine woman but she’s just not the right Senator for Alaska right now. - End of letter...
Friday PM - October 05, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Roadless Rule Public Comment Period By Rep. Dan Ortiz - The US Forest Service is seeking public comment on exempting the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule. The comment period ends on October 15th. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 03, 2018

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