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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
November 29, 2007

Front Page Photo by Amanda Houts

Ward Lake: Reflections
Front Page Photo by Amanda Houts

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Alaska: Heating today with an idea from yesterday By NED ROZELL - With the rising price of heating oil, some people are looking to the past for ways to heat their homes.

Bill Reynolds of Fairbanks next to his masonry heater.
Photo by Ned Rozell.

Masonry heaters, huge masses of stonework wrapped around a sinuous channel through which hot gases flow, are now appearing in Alaska homes. The clean-burning, efficient heaters existed for centuries in Europe and Scandinavia, but didn't reach the shores of America until after the oil crisis of the 1970s.

Bill Reynolds and his wife Brenda Norcross of Fairbanks have heated their 1,400 square-foot house with a masonry heater for more than two winters. Reynolds said they have used two-and-one-half to three cords of wood per year to heat their home, which stays at a constant 70-to-72 degrees Fahrenheit in winter.

A masonry heater looks kind of like a traditional fireplace, but it fires like a wood stove, only faster and hotter. Reynolds fires his heater once a day if the temperature is warmer than minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside and twice if it's colder. He stacks an armload of dry wood in the firebox and lights a golf-ball size piece of paper beneath the wood. Air drafted from outside his home gets the fire going like a blast furnace. After his wood disappears in about an hour, the stonework slowly releases the heat, warming the house for the next day or so. When he is firing the heater, the stovepipe leading from his house emits no smoke, just squiggly air distorted by heat.

Reynolds, the owner of Solutions to Healthy Breathing, a company he designed to improve the air quality of peoples' homes, said his wife has asthma, which made it difficult to use a traditional wood stove.

"In two years (of using the masonry heater), she's had no (asthma) attack," he said. "I couldn't open a wood stove door in the past."

He likes the heater for other reasons, too. - More...
Thursday AM - November 29, 2007

National: 2 out of 3 middle class American families on shaky financial ground, according to new report - Fewer than one in three middle-class families in America is financially secure, and the remaining majority are either borderline or at high risk of falling out of the middle class altogether, according to a new study published this week by Demos and the Institute for Assets and Social Policy (IASP) at Brandeis University.

By a Thread: The New Experience of America's Middle Class is the first comprehensive report to measure economic stability across the American middle class. Based on national government data, By a Thread is the first in a series of reports and briefing papers that will utilize the new "Middle Class Security Index" developed by the non-partisan policy center Demos and IASP/Brandeis.

This Index measures the financial security of the middle class by rating household stability across five core economic factors: assets, educational achievement, housing costs, budget and healthcare. Based on how a family ranked in each of these factors, they were defined as financially "secure", "borderline" or "at risk". - More...
Thursday AM - November 29, 2007

Health - Fitness: Is organic better? It depends By CAROL NESS - Fans of eating organic have always believed that organic fruits and vegetables packed a bigger nutritional punch than conventionally grown produce.

But until pretty recently, hard scientific evidence has been lacking.

Studies that seemed to prove the theory often turned out to be poorly designed -- the organic and conventional crops weren't grown in the same area or weren't the same variety, for example. Or the samples were too small, the studies too short or they were flawed in some other way, according to food chemist Alyson Mitchell, an associate professor in the Department of Food, Science and Technology at the University of California-Davis. - More...
Thursday AM - November 29, 2007

Science - Technology: North American drought trapped carbon in air By BILL SCANLON - The 2002 North American drought left an extra 360 million tons of heat-trapping carbon in the air, equivalent to the pollution caused that year by 200 million U.S. cars, according to a study released this week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The prolonged drought cut by half the continent's ability to absorb carbon dioxide, said the study.

Most atmospheric scientists say increased carbon dioxide is the main reason the planet's average temperatures are creeping up.

NOAA used its powerful new modeling system CarbonTracker to analyze data.

CarbonTracker found that in North America, humans released 1.9 billion metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year -- through burning fossil fuels. - More...
Thursday AM - November 29, 2007


Columns - Commentary

Michael Reagan: Speak English, Get Ahead - It's no secret that in America knowing how to speak the English language is the basic requirement for success ­ if you can't speak the language everybody else speaks, you are back at the Tower of Babel wondering what everybody around you is trying to say.

For any youngster starting out in life, knowing and speaking the common language is the first step in moving up the ladder. And in the United States, English is the common language, and has been from the beginning. The Constitutional debates were conducted solely in English. Only English is spoken in Congress and in the world of business, not only here in America, in most of the world. - More...
Thursday AM - November 29, 2007

Dale McFeatters: How the war in Iraq might play out ... - President Bush is planning a treaty with Iraq, to be finalized next summer, which will have the practical effect of handing the war and the president's tactics to his successor as a fait accompli. Whoever the next president is, it will be very tough to disentangle us from the war.

As for the war, there are a couple of fascinating developments. The surge is working, maybe only temporarily, but it is working. Violence has fallen dramatically; large areas of Baghdad are something close to normal; and the refugees have begun to return.- More...
Thursday AM - November 29, 2007

Martin Schram: Declare victory and get out - The Democratic presidential pack is desperate. Five senators, a governor and a representative are seeking one surefire way to capture hearts, minds and votes whenever they are asked what should be done about Iraq now that post-surge statistics show violence there has at least temporarily declined.

Their quandary is based on a false perception that many think and no one speaks: The misguided notion that good news for the U.S. military is bad news for Democratic presidential prospects. - More...
Thursday AM - November 29, 2007

Preston MacDougall: Chemical Eye on Reprogramming Cells - In the classic film "All About Eve", a legendary lead actress was mischievously delayed from taking the stage of the long-running play "Aged in Wood". Eve Harrington was the young understudy's name, and this program change would have been announced to the audience, which contained a curiously large number of Broadway critics. Such is how a star is born.

Dramatic news last week, from the world of science, tells of how stars of the cellular world - stem cells - were born from mature cells that had been "aged in skin". While no amount of plastic surgery will turn Dame Judi Dench into the next Broadway starlet, two teams of scientists have succeeded in reprogramming human skin cells into behaving like human embryonic stem cells. - More...
Thursday AM - November 29, 2007



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Basic Rules

letter Toward a Solution - 4-wheelers and snowmachines By Craig Moen - Goodness! I guess I hit a nerve awhile ago with my comments on 4-wheelers and snowmachines. I really have sympathies with nearly everyone that has made a comment on the subject. I've had a lot of fun in the Bush with snowmachines and 4-wheelers. My main points, which hopefully haven't been forgotten are: - More...
Thursday AM - November 29

letter RE: Invasive Plant Species By Tom Heutte - The USDA Forest Service is acting to counter the threats posed by invasive species to our natural ecosystems. Invasive plants can upset the balance of nature in a variety of ways. We have surveyed much of the Tongass National Forest for invasive plants and are in the early stages of managing invasive plant populations on the Forest. - More...
Wednesday AM - November 28, 2007

letterRE: Relief is in site By Kara Jeanne Blazier - Mr. Jaehnert, I agree at first glance the Fair Tax aka Federal Consumption Tax is a scary prospect when one considers a 23-30% tax on consumable goods, but once one takes the time to delve into the particulars of this tax system it becomes a little more exciting. - More...
Wednesday AM - November 28, 2007

letterBachmann has never supported a federal sales tax By Rich Dunn - Today, Sit News published a viewpoint piece by Paul Jaehnert called, "Relief is in sight". - More...
Wednesday AM - November 28, 2007

letterYouth and Ketchikan - something to do! By Jose Sambrano - I totally agree with Tryg Westergard. We do need places for ATVr's to ride. We would like to invite you to the KYI Leadership meeting Wednesday 11/28, 6:00pm at 640 Park Avenue, across from the American Legion so that we can help you with reaching youth. - More...
Wednesday AM - November 27, 2007

letter Girls Next Door By Kim Quinn - For those hundreds of people who came out to see Holly, Bridget and Kendra when E! was filming The Girls Next Door earlier this year - the Ketchikan / Craig episode is scheduled to air December 23rd. Special thanks to KJ, Mike Elerding, Craig Elementary School, Barnaby's, Cape Fox, Captain Mike Holman, Ruth Ann's, Good Fortune and everyone else who helped out that week. - More...
Wednesday AM - November 28, 2007

letter Local Politics By Samuel Bergeron - Good policy is made when we include all segments of the community on our Boards and Commissions.

Mike Painter made a motion at last Monday nights Assembly meeting to exclude Charlene Dima from participating in the Borough s Planning Steering Committee because of her involvement as a sponsor of the Jewelry Store Initiative. This should cause all of us to wonder why a member of the Borough Assembly is trying to exclude Charlene, a member of a free and open society who has the right to bring forward ballot initiatives, from the downtown planning process. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 27, 2007

letter South Tongass Cleanup By Jerry Cegelske - In April of 2003, I took a ride with Richard Burton who gave me what was known to others in the Borough as "The Burton Tour". This was not a tour for tourists, although some may have been interested in it. We started one morning at the end of North Tongass at Settler's Cove. Sadly to say, we didn't get very far before Dick told me to pull over and check out trash that had been dumped at one of the pull outs. It was inspected and marked on the map. Sometimes we only traveled a block or so before we stopped again to view more trash that had been dumped. It was amazing how much trash had been dumped along the road. Pull outs, Whipple Creek, Mud Bight, and other areas were littered. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 27, 2007

letterT.A.L.K event focuses on need for teen facility (ies) By Karen Eakes - One idea continually comes up at T.A.L.K. (Teens and Adults Linking in Ketchikan) events no matter what the stated topic happens to be-the need for some kind of teen " after school hours" facility that will provide a place for teens to gather and have a safe place to "hang-out," study, and visit. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 27, 2007

letter Are the roads done?? By Charles Edwardson - I am interested in why Secon paved the streets and then proceed to continuously cut holes in the new pavement and fill in their patch work with concrete. Concrete is much harder than asphalt these two materials do not seem to go together, I am not a highly qualified road worker but my suspicion is these areas will be a constant maintenance hassle. That is just an observation as I said I am not a highly qualified road worker. This section of road may or may not be done I do not know, but if it is I think this city has been taken for a ride. This undoubtedly is a very technical job, I cannot even imagine the logistics and man power this kind of job demands. But after over a year I would have expected a better looking product. I am referring to the section of road from the airport parking lot to A&P. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 27, 2007

letter ATV 4-Wheelers By Phil McElroy - I have read and tried to digest the 4-wheeler complaints posted on Sitnews. I have a couple of suggestions...

Parents: Please heed and follow the manufacturers recommendation that no person under the age of 16 years old should operate a 4-wheeler. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 27, 2007

letter4-Wheelers By Katie Shull - I see the problems that both sides of this discussion have brought out. I understand, having grown up here, that there are few places where kids and teenagers are allowed to ride ATV's or other such equipment. However, this does not excuse the inappropriate and dangerous use of ATV's anywhere. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 27, 2007

letter 4 wheelers By Danielle Diggins - I agree with everyone on both sides. When I lived in Ketchikan before they shut down Whipple, it was the place to go, but we always had someone ask us if we had been in the pits where the blasting agents are. Of course we never went in there but other kids had because of hills and what not. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 27, 2007

letter 4-Wheelers By Jen Brewer - Regarding the issue of the use of 4-wheelers and snowmachines; it's not just kids that need something to do. I'm an adult, and the happy owner of a 4-wheeler. It's good, clean fun. (if you don't believe me, come over when we get some snow and listen to the kids squealing with delight when I pull them on their sled with my 4-wheeler) - More...
Tuesday AM - November 27, 2007

letterRelief is in sight By Paul G. Jaehnert - For those low-wage earners who are having trouble keeping a roof over their head and putting meals on the table, relief is in sight. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 27, 2007

letter Giving Thanks By Mark O'Brien - I am sitting here at Seattle's Swedish Hospital, looking out the window on a clear, crisp Thanksgiving morning. It couldn't be more appropriate to be here today, this traditional day of giving thanks. - More...
Monday AM - November 26, 2007

letterSnowmachine people By Robert McRoberts - Mr. Moen's letter really was quite mean. As Mr. Ferry stated, we are a large group of people in this community - snowmachine people, that is. - More...
Monday AM - November 26, 2007

letter 4-Wheelers By Selena Hockema - I agree with Tryg all the way!! There is no place here in Ketchikan for kids to go hang out and be kids. There are lots of problems with kids drinking and experimenting with drugs and it is sad to see nothing happening to change this. - More...
Monday AM - November 26, 2007

letter 4-Wheelers and Snowmachines By Lee Caskey - I am guessing that some folks don't fully comprehend the limitations of this island. I've been around here for several years so let me fill you in on a bit o' history... More...
Monday AM - November 26, 2007

letter 4-wheeler damage By Dave Person - When I posted my note on 4-wheeler damage, I knew someone like Mr. Westergard would mention the "it takes a village to raise a child" business. If you feel that strongly about it, get started doing something. Find a piece of land that is far enough away from homes so that residents aren't irritated by the constant whining of 4-wheeler and dirt bike engines or the inevitable mud bog eyesore the riding park will become. Then figure out how much it would cost to build the trails and purchase insurance in case of accidents. Then bring your proposal to the borough, council or some granting agencies and see if anybody else likes your idea. - More...
Monday AM - November 26, 2007

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