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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
November 07, 2012

Front Page Photograph by JIM LEWIS

Ward Lake: Trumpeter Swans
The Trumpeter Swan is the heaviest bird native to North America and is, on average, the largest existing waterfowl species on earth. These birds often mate for life and both parents will participate in raising the cygnets, but only the female will incubate the eggs.
Front Page Photograph by JIM LEWIS ©2012
(Please respect the rights of photographers, never republish or copy
without permission and/or payment of required fees.)

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Alaska: Alcohol and drug abuse cost Alaska’s economy $1.2  billion - Alcohol  and  drug  abuse  took  a  heavy  toll  on  Alaska’s  economy  in  2010,  according  to  a  new  report  from  McDowell  Group,  funded  by  the  Advisory  Board  on  Alcoholism  and  Drug  Abuse,  Alaska  Mental  Health  Board,  and  the  Alaska  Mental  Health  Trust  Authority.

The  total  estimated  costs  for  2010  attributable  to  alcohol  and  drug  abuse  was  $1.2  billion.  Costs  by  category  include:  

•  $673.2  million  in  productivity  losses,  
•  $50.5  million  in  traffic  crash  costs,   
•  $217.7  million  in  criminal  justice  and  protective  services,   
•  $237.3  million  in  health  care,  and   
•  $13.2  million  in  public  assistance  and  social  services.   

“This  report  puts  the  devastating  impact  of  substance  abuse  on  our  state  into  concrete  terms,”  said  Kate  Burkhart,  executive  director  of  the  Alaska  Mental  Health  Board  and  Advisory  Board  on  Alcoholism  and  Drug  Abuse.  “It  will  inform  public  policy  and  help  us  measure  the  effectiveness  of  state  and  community  prevention,  treatment,  and  recovery  programs.”  

An  estimated  21,000  Alaskans  age  12  and  older  are  dependent  upon  alcohol,  according  to  the  2011  Alaska  Scorecard.  Of  the  estimated  16,951  Alaskan  adults  experiencing  serious  substance  use  disorders  (abuse  of  drugs  and  alcohol),  42.8%  are  low-income.  The  State  of  Alaska  spent  over  $35  million  in  2010  to  provide  substance  abuse  treatment  and  recovery  services  to  low-income  Alaskans.  An  additional  $11  million  supported  community  substance  abuse  prevention  programs  in  2010.  In  2012,  $9  million  in  one-time  capital  funds  was  approved  for  substance  abuse  treatment  and  prevention  services  over  the  next  three  years. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 07, 2012

Southeast Alaska: John Winther and Eric McDowell Named to Alaska Seafood Hall of Fame - United Fishermen of Alaska has posthumously named Alaska fishermen John Winther of Petersburg and Eric McDowell of Juneau to the organization’s Alaska Seafood Hall of Fame.

Beginning in the early 1980s, John Winther started building the Alaska Longline Company (formerly known as Prowler Fisheries) that is based in Petersburg, Alaska.   John was a Lifetime Member of the United Fishermen of Alaska.   John built a reputation as a fierce defender of the Alaska fishing industry and vibrant Alaskan coastal communities.  His freezer longline vessels are all homeported in Petersburg and he had a new freezer longline vessel under construction in Ketchikan, the first of its kind in Alaska, at the time he passed away.

Originally from Fairbanks, John served on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for six years, from 1983 to 1989, a pivotal time in Council history, and on the US Northern Panel of the Pacific Salmon Treaty Commission during the late 1980s through the mid 1990s. During his tenure on the Council, John was a leader in numerous actions that led up to the full Americanization of Alaska’s fisheries.  Serving under Chairman Jim Campbell, and later under Chairman John Peterson, he was instrumental in a number of major, watershed Council actions. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 07, 2012

Southeast Alaska: West coast experiencing decreasing trends in salmon spawning – The number of adult sockeye salmon produced per spawner has been decreasing over the last decade or more along the western coast of North America, from Washington state up through British Columbia and Southeast Alaska. A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences says that this widespread decrease in productivity has important implications for management of salmon stocks and requires research into its potential causes to help determine future management strategies.

"It is possible that the downward trends in productivity across the sockeye stocks south of central Alaska result from a variety of causes, such as freshwater habitat degradation or contaminants, that have each independently affected many small regions," says Randall Peterman. "However, the large spatial extent of similar time trends in productivity for over 25 stocks has occurred in both relatively pristine and heavily disturbed habitats. This suggests that shared mechanisms are a more likely explanation – for example, high mortality owing to predators, pathogens, or poor food supply that occurs across Washington, B.C., Southeast Alaska, and the Yakutat region of Alaska." - More...
Wednesday PM - November 07, 2012

Alaska, Northwest: Could exposure to copper make salmon prone to predators? - Minute amounts of copper from brake linings and mining operations can affect salmon to where they are easily eaten by predators, says a Washington State University researcher. Jenifer McIntyre found the metal affects salmon's sense of smell so much that they won't detect a compound that ordinarily alerts them to be still and wary.

"A copper-exposed fish is not getting the information it needs to make good decisions," says McIntyre, a postdoctoral research associate in WSU's Puyallup Research and Extension Center. Her research, conducted for a University of Washington doctorate with colleagues at UW and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, appears in the latest issue of the journal Ecological Applications.

Earlier research showed that copper impacts a salmon's sense of smell. Other research showed that when a salmon's sense of smell is affected, its behavior changes. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 07, 2012

Alaska: Microgreen farmer has a vision for the Alaska diet By NACY TARNAI - Bill Johnson has a vision: to get microgreens into as many Alaskans’ diets as possible.

Microgreen farmer has a vision for the Alaska diet

Bill Johnson checks his lettuce crop.
Photo by Nacy Tarnai

Johnson’s Family Farm is ready to churn out 5,000 plastic clamshell containers of microgreens each week for Fairbanksans, and owner Johnson is fairly bursting with excitement over his farm’s expansion.

“It’s such a difference,” he said. “I’m so proud of it.”

Johnson opened his first controlled environment hydroponic center nearly two years ago in Fairbanks on South Cushman and in September relocated to 30th Avenue.

The new facility is a 6,000- square-foot building in the warehouse district. Unbeknownst to passersby, inside is an oasis of humidity and greenery where Johnson grows microgreens, wheatgrass, basil and lettuce.

JFF grows microgreens from radish, sunflower and snow pea seeds as the staples, and is experimenting with beets, carrots, onions, cilantro, garlic and corn (at the request of a local chef).

The basil is a special heirloom variety, a blend of genesis and Italian large leaf. He currently has 900 basil plants growing. Lettuce is an especially tasty kind of Romaine that can last up to three weeks if properly stored with its roots attached.

Currently, JFF sells products to Homegrown Market, Lavelle’s Bistro, Zydeco Way, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital cafeteria, Double Eagle Restaurant, the Pump House, Gold Hill Express and Speedy Subs. The hospital is Johnson’s biggest customer but he hopes someday it will be the smallest, that he will have even larger buyers.

Soon, a retail outlet inside the warehouse will open, where customers can buy directly from him. Johnson dreams of the day when he has farms in Kodiak and Dutch Harbor, and is able to supply fresh greens to fishing crews. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 07, 2012


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letter Looking forward By Rep. Kyle Johansen - I would like to thank all the people who have helped me earn three terms in the Alaska State House of Representatives.  It has been the most rewarding professional experience of my life. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 07, 2012

letter Tsunami Letters By Tom LeCompte - I think any discussion of Lituya Bay should clarify what really happened there. As eloquently written by Hizzoner Dave a few years back, the Lituya Bay waves were more of a splash, albeit 1700 feet high, caused by pretty much the whole face of a mountain and glacier, way up in the back of the bay falling off into the water. The gigantic splash sloshed around the bay like a youngster sending splashes around the bathtub. When it reached the mouth of the bay it washed over th spit and carried a couple boats across and into the open ocean. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 07, 2012

letter Gas price relief, please! By Karen Ramsey - Just wondering how long it will take again for Ketchikan to see any relief in our gas prices around town. We’ve been hearing for at least a few weeks now that gasoline prices nationally have been falling, and the average today is $3.49 a gallon for unleaded. I for one do not believe the local stations are still charging $4.27 - $4.31 a gallon based on any higher-priced inventory they still have to sell off. That, of course, is the song and dance we always get by way of explanation for our inflated pricing. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 07, 2012

letter Broadway quality production By Deborah Hayden - Now that the electoral slaughter of our sensibilities is over, may I suggest one of the finest cures for your election-battered spirits you could possibly find: My Fair Lady. The delights, fun, superb performances, soul-restoring music and ingenious sets will fully heal you. You will laugh, guffaw and continue humming these songs to yourself for weeks to come. This is a Broadway quality production. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 07, 2012

letter In the future... By Dave Kiffer - I don't usually respond to letters about my opinion pieces because I feel that I have already had my say and that any responses to it are just part of the process and a "good thing" even if they call me a complete buckbrained eegit. - More...
Monday PM - November 06, 2012

letter Issue of abortion By Rob Holston - In response to Eric Muench, I feel that the issue of abortion is all too often confined to a description of a few "religious" faiths forcing their antiquated beliefs upon the rest of us. This is unfortunate in that the truth of the matter has to do with the destruction of a fetus. It is ironic that the political party that strives to diminish Big Government is "pro-life", yet ALL political parties agree that government's largest responsibility is to protect the people of the nation. So the debate SHOULD focus on when does a fetus become that person who deserves protection? - More...
Monday PM - November 06, 2012

letter Matt Olsen for State House Rep. District 33 By Dawn Rauwolf - I will be voting for Matt Olsen on Tuesday, Nov. 6 to be our representative for State House District 33. - More...
Monday PM - November 06, 2012

letter CHALLENGE DAY By Diane Gubatayao - Challenge Day is approaching and we are seeking adult volunteers who are willing to dedicate a day to supporting our students. There are three separate sessions:  Tuesday, November 13th and Wednesday, November 14th at Kayhi and Thursday, November 15th at Schoenbar. - More...
Friday PM - November 02, 2012

letter Why I cannot support the Republicans By Eric Muench - The Obama administration's approach to resource development in Alaska is harmful to the State and to the nation. The Outside urban liberal environmentalist agenda is driving Forest Service and Interior Department policies. But despite my wish to see a change in direction of those agencies, there are some more fundamental threats to us all than economic issues. Individual and religious freedom is being threatened and that makes it impossible for me to support Republicans in this election. - More...
Friday PM - November 02, 2012

letter Support Kreiss-Tomkins By Adrian LeCornu - My name is Adrian LeCornu and I have served my community for over 30 years, and have watched state legislators come and go, and once in a while they even show up in Hydaburg. - More...
Friday PM - November 02, 2012

letter Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins For Alaska House District 34 By Gavin Hudson - Every once in a while the political landscape shifts, providing rural people an opportunity to assert ourselves in our government. We can see this unfolding in the newly redrawn District 34, which includes Metlakatla, Craig, Klawock, Hydaburg, Kasaan, Kake, Hoonah, Angoon, Pelican, Klukwan, Elfin Cove, Port Alexander, Haines, and Sitka. - More...
Friday PM - November 02, 2012

letter House District 33 Race By Kathleen Wiechelman - I'll be voting for Matt Olsen in the upcoming election. Matt is honest, ethical, and I've watched Matt at enough Ketchikan City Council and School Board meetings to know that he asks a lot of thoughtful questions before he makes decisions on issues. He does his research and keeps himself well-informed. - More...
Friday PM - November 02, 2012

letter RE: Surviving the great tsunami By Paul Crowl - I rarely choose to take to a public forum to step in-between two opposing viewpoints, the one represented by Dave Kiffer's article "...surviving the great tsunami", and the other,  Brad Maushart's response of Oct. 30. But, I find myself appreciative of both perspectives. Though, I have to say that on the one hand, I find elements of Dave's original article a bit snarky, and elements of Brad's response a bit defensive.  - More...
Friday PM - November 02, 2012  

letter RE: We all Survived the Tsunami 2012 By Annie Fawcett - In my opinion it might be a wise idea for Mr. Kiffer to travel to Lituya Bay before down playing a Tsunami alert, to see how a large wave can give a haircut to a mountain. - More...
Friday PM - November 02, 2012

letter FairTax is different from the income tax By Glen E. Terrell - The income tax and the Internal Revenue Service have been “the law of the land” throughout the life of every American-born citizen working today.  We, as Americans, haven’t lived under any other system.  But, there is a much better way ­ it’s called the FairTax Act. - More...
Friday PM - November 02, 2012

letter RE: "We all survived the GREAT TSUNAMI ALERT OF 2012!" By Brad Maushart - In response to Dave Kiffer's column... weather, seismology, sports betting and many other things in this world are not an exact science. A variable of 1 degree, to one foot to one missed tackle can mean the difference between rain or snow, devastating tsunami or one inch wave or even a big payout or disappointment. If they were exact sciences, anyone could succeed at those jobs and I would most likely be replaced by a better speaker and definitely by someone who looks better. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 30, 2012

letter Critics of Timber Task Force Recommendations By Owen Graham - Recent critics of the Governor’s Timber Task Force recommendations claim that the establishment of a State Forest from portions of the Tongass would remove federal protections for salmon streams and would hurt fishermen, hunters, tourism operators and others. Those criticisms are unfounded. Both State and Federal land are required to maintain a minimum of a 100-foot salmon stream buffer and the State Forest Practices Act was designed specifically to protect salmon habitat. The Forest Service and the State Division of Forestry have both done a good job of managing timber harvesting without harming stream habitat. In fact, the salmon returns in Southern Southeast Alaska have doubled over the last 50 years, even in the most heavily logged watersheds. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 30, 2012

letter Albert Kookesh for Senate, District Q By Richard J. Peterson - I write this letter in support of Senator Albert Kookesh and his bid for the newly combined District Q. I have known Senator Kookesh for many years and have worked closely with him in my prior role as Mayor of Kasaan, now Council Member, and currently as Tribal President for the Organized Village of Kasaan and lastly as the President of the Southeast Island School District. It is not in any of these capacities that I endorse Senator Kookesh, however it is with these experiences that I draw upon to gauge the effectiveness, dedication, and determination of which Senator Kookesh has served his constituents. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 30, 2012

letter Matt Olsen for State Rep. District 33 By Mike Wisnewski - I'm glad Matt Olsen is running for state representative from our area. I've known Matt since he was a pre-schooler and I taught him in school here. He genuinely likes people, listens to people, and hears what they say. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 30, 2012

letter Voting No On Ballot Measure 1: The Constitution Shouldn't Be Messed With By Les Gara - How thrilled are you about the prospects that extremists would re-write our Constitution? I don’t know about you, but that would be, well, pretty schmucky.

Ballot Measure 1 shows up every 10 years to ask if you want a “Constitutional Convention” to re-write our State Constitution. This week I had dinner with a state Founding Father, Vic Fischer, who helped write the constitution. He and his Convention peer, Republican Jack Coghill, think letting people into the Constitution to push their pet peeves is a bad idea, especially in times when extremists on either side have pet peeves they want in the Constitution. The Constitution should be a regal document, not one with extremist ideas in it. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 30, 2012

letter Obama’s Failed Economic Policies By Donald A. Moskowitz - More people gave up looking for work in September causing the U. S. unemployment rate to dip to 7.8%.  The unemployment rate has hovered over 8% during Obama’s entire term up until last month.  The President promised a 5.6% unemployment rate by this time in his administration. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 30, 2012

letter Oil tax issue: Oil companies want more money By Matt Olsen - Representative Les Gara's October 19, 2012 opinion piece in the Ketchikan Daily News summed up the oil tax issue well; the oil companies want more money. $2 billion more. For a company like Conoco-Phillips, this would be in addition to the more than $7.5 billion profit they made from Alaska's oil just last year. Is this right? I don't believe so. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 30, 2012

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