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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
November 26, 2012

Front Page Photograph by Cindy Balzer

Blue Heron
This Blue Heron was photographed Sunday at
Ketchikan Creek just as it was taking flight.
Front Page Photograph by Cindy Balzer ©2012
(Please respect the rights of photographers, never republish or copy
without permission and/or payment of required fees.)

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Ketchikan: Property tax increase proposed in City's 2013 budget; Water rate increase 5%, wastewater rate increase 10%... (SitNews) - The proposed 2013 City of Ketchikan General Government Operating and Capital Budget has been submitted to the City Mayor and City Council Members and the budget meeting process began this evening. The Ketchikan City Council must adopt a final spending plan or budget no later than the third day before the beginning of the next fiscal year, which is December 29, 2012. At least one public hearing on the proposed budget is required prior to adoption of the final spending plan.

The programs and services contained within the proposed budget for 2013 were developed by various City of Ketchikan departments and were reviewed and modified as necessary by Ketchikan City Manager Karl Amylon and the Finance Director Robert Newell, Jr. According to the proposed budget's transmittal letter, direction from the City Council, the various City Advisory Boards and the general public were considered prior to finalization of the proposed spending plan.

In order to address an expected deficit, City of Ketchikan management made the following recommendations to the Ketchikan City Council and have incorporated these recommendations into the proposed 2013 Budget:

Raise the mill levy from 6.2 to 7.2. This will increase property tax revenues by $816,600 and the payment in lieu of taxes from the City’s enterprise funds by $177,000.

Transfer $486,947 from the Fire Station Bond Construction Fund to fund the debt service on the fire station bonds. The amount that can be transferred is limited under the bond covenants to the amount required for annual debt service. There is approximately $1,014,000 available in the bond construction for debt service.

The City of Ketchikan currently receives $6.20 per $1,000 of assessed valuation from property owners located within Ketchikan city limits. Management is recommending that the City raise the amount it collects to $7.20 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The effect of this action would be a property tax increase of $200 on a home assessed at $200,000 and would raise approximately $817,000. This additional property tax revenue would be dedicated to provide for a portion of the $846,491 required for the annual debt service on the general obligation bonds issued to finance the construction of the Ketchikan’s new fire station and library facilities and replace the loss of raw fish tax revenue.

Certain assumptions were made in submitting a comprehensive and complete budget for 2013. The key assumptions used by staff in developing the City of Ketchikan's 2013 Budget are : - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012

Alaska: Report says Alaska has highest unfunded state pensions liability - The challenges facing government pension plans have gained new public prominence and attention of late. There is no denying that the pension liabilities of our nation's states and local governments represent a significant financial challenge. Public pension costs and liabilities have escalated, pressuring the finances of state and local governments still hampered by the recession. These pressures are expected to persist and perhaps even intensify.

Morningstar, Inc. (NASDAQ: MORN), a leading provider of independent investment research, in a research report published today, "The State of State Pension Plans: A Deep Dive into Shortfalls and Surpluses," has analyzed current data for pension plans administered by all 50 states. Morningstar's municipal credit analysts found that based on two key funding metrics, the state of Wisconsin had the strongest-funded pension plan system, while Illinois had the weakest.

One of the key findings reported Alaska has the highest Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability (UAAL) Per Capita of $10,000, this is despite its higher, although still poor, funded ratio of 59.2%. This means, each person in Alaska would need to pay $10,000 to fully fund Alaska's unfunded pensions liability. - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012

Alaska: Catastrophic eruption transforms Alaska landscape - Over 100 years ago on June 6, 1912, people in Juneau, Fairbanks, and Dawson City heard an explosion. There was no way for them to know the boom came from hundreds of miles away, nor that it was the starting gun for the largest volcanic eruption of the 1900s. No one then could fathom that in the next three days a mountain would collapse upon itself, or that ash and hot gases would explode from the ground six miles from that mountain, creating a landscape of hot ash and 500-foot geysers of steam. The Novarupta-Katmai eruption of 1912 was hard to imagine then just as it is now, over 100 years later.

Catastrophic eruption transforms Alaska landscape

A view of an ash covered home in Katmai Village on August 13, 1912, nine weeks after the eruption.

In three days of the summer of 1912, about 40 square miles of the world’s best bear habitat was transformed into instant badlands, burying the downwind valley, now known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, in more than 500 feet of ash and volcanic rock. - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012

Southeast Alaska: Continued Uptick in Cruise Traffic to Alaska in 2012 - During the 2012 cruise season, a record 933,900 revenue passengers moved through the Port of Seattle's two cruise terminals, further solidifying Seattle as a port of origin for Alaska-bound cruises.

The Port of Seattle estimates that the record passenger number of Alaska-bound cruises generated more than $416 million in annual business revenue for Washington, $18 million in Washington and King County taxes while creating 4,319 Washington jobs. Each time a homeport ship docks in Seattle, it contributes $2.1 million to the local economy according to Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton.

"The cruise business is good not only for King County, but for our entire state," said Creighton. "Our goal is to have cruise passengers extend their stay a few more days to discover what else Washington has to offer and to increase tourism spending statewide."

During 2012, cruises to southeast Alaska operated at 109.95 percent of passenger capacity, the result of having multiple guests – usually families – sharing a cabin. - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012

Nationwide: States Report New High School Graduation Rates Using More Accurate, Common Measure - The U.S. Department of Education released data today detailing state four-year high school graduation rates in 2010-11 – the first year for which all states used a common, rigorous measure. The varying methods formerly used by states to report graduation rates made comparisons between states unreliable, while the new, common metric can be used by states, districts and schools to promote greater accountability and to develop strategies that will reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates in schools nationwide.

The new, uniform rate calculation is not comparable in absolute terms to previously reported rates. Therefore, while 26 states reported lower graduation rates and 24 states reported unchanged or increased rates under the new metric, these changes should not be viewed as measures of progress but rather as a more accurate snapshot. - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012

Columns - Commentary

DAVE KIFFER: JUST ANOTHER BORING FALL - Wow, in two recent weeks Our Fair Salmon City survived not just a tsunami alert, but a hurricane as well. And they say nothing every happens around here!

I previously chronicled the "tsunami" so let's revisit the "hurricane."

But not without a slight disclaimer.

I missed it. Sort of.

The day of the "hurricane" I was on a plane headed to the frigid north.

You see, I've decided that what I really want to be is Mayor of Wasilla (N0T!), so I have spent  weeks on end in that part of the state to get a feel for the politics on the Mad Zoo Valley.

In truth I have made four round trips to Anchorage in the past six weeks for a variety of reasons.  Talk about a bit of “spoilage” on the Milk Run!

Anyway, that morning we rose out of the buffeting winds at the airport and circled south toward Annette Island and right into - the hurricane.

We were apparently the last plane to leave before the airport was shut down for high winds. Lucky us.

Actually it wasn't too bad. For a few minutes it was the aeronautical equivalent of plopping one's nervous posterior on one those mechanical bulls that were so popular after "Urban Cowboy" in the 1980s.

Yee haw!

Anyway, we got turned around pretty quick and then rode the winds north to Wrangell in something like seven minutes.

Okay, I exaggerate. The flight from Ketchikan to Wrangell lasted 12 minutes and 41 seconds. We WERE riding on a hurricane after all.

Ironically, as we were taxiing to take off, I opened up a copy of Flying magazine and absently turned to a column on how to avoid mistakes made by other pilots.

Pilots in general love to read about mistakes made by other pilots. Sure, the information is instructional. But really it’s all about enjoying the smug feeling you get you when realize "geeze, I would never do that. What a moron that other eegit was." - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012


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letter RE: Dumping By Laura Plenert - Also, be considerate of other areas - like the "end" of the road, or the parking area available at the bottom of the Calanna Lake trail. It is disgusting to see people's trash just thrown in a public area. - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012

letter GAC pool By Amber Williams-Baldwin All last year swimming twice a week I had to sometimes wait 30 minutes for a " family room/ handicap room" . I am very happy that there're no stairs (except for the slides). If last year having two family rooms-handicap rooms wasn't enough, why would we only put in two again? Would anyone want to take their child out of a warm bath & let them wait 5,10,15-30 minutes to dry off? No? Then why didn't we put in several small just family rooms separate from handicap rooms? I think that was a HUGE mistake to both parties. - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012

letter Abortion, rights and choice By Marie Zellmer - I have been reading a lot about the abortion issue on Sitnews lately and I felt that I should add a little of what I know, personally. I will admit publicly that I have had two abortion procedures. Why? Is it because I don't like children? I can't afford to raise one, or have the guts to give it up for adoption? Or, because I am selfish and I don't want to have the responsibility of another life? The answer is no to all of these questions. - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012

letter RE: Fix It By Laura Plenert - Mr. Garcia, try talking to the store manager. I'm sure he would be able to help you. Bottom line, you cannot pay the lowest price and expect the highest quality. - More...
Monday PM - November 26, 2012

letter There once was a girl who gave up By Jordan Flory - On September 13, 1995, that girl was born, bright eyed and innocent to the ways of the world. All was good. As she grew up she learned about the hardships of life. Not only did these hardships cause her to become numb and distant, she also felt that there was no way out. That no one understood. That NO ONE could help. Her heart felt cold and empty. Somehow, it didn’t matter how many friends she had. It didn’t matter that she had a loving supportive family waiting at home. She knew there were people to talk to, but she didn’t know that there were people who understood. Giving up on living was the only possible fix she could see. - More...
Friday PM - November 23, 2012

letter Dumping items over the 3rd Ave. bypass By Vanessa Bruns - I ask that the residents of Ketchikan be more thoughtful and respectful when they are wanting to dispose unwanted items. The 3rd Avenue Bypass is not a dumping ground. There have been many items thrown over the 3rd Avenue railing ranging from bicycles, household garbage, cans, bottles, insulation, animal remains from hunting or fishing trips, small appliances, and scrap wood to name a few. What individuals may not realize, there are houses below the Bypass. - More...
Friday PM - November 23, 2012

letter Unwanted Pregnancies By Chris Elliott - My apologies to Mr. Jarvi. When he asked Mr. Holston to "convince the males...not to start the problem...", I thought he was talking about males taking responsibility for birth control. In response to Ms. Irizarry’s comments, I say (sans sarcasm): While conceiving is a 50-50 proposition, in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, it is almost always the female who shoulders the responsibility for the child. - More...
Friday PM - November 23, 2012

letter Abortion By Rob Holston - Sorry Paul, I don't see the comparison of Roe V Wade with crossing Ketchikan Creek. I do see several valid comparisons between Roe V Wade being the "law of the land" and other "Laws of the Land" observed as pathetic reminders of our historical past & present. Here are a few: women are property; only property owners can vote; slaves can be purchased, held, sold or killed; natives can be killed or put on reservations; Jews can be killed (by the millions); pre-born children can be killed (by the 10's of millions). - More...
Friday PM - November 23, 2012

letter Fix-It By Joey Garcia - Perhaps it is high time for me to reconcile my own with David Boone's opinion of "Fix It Right". It is a very sad note that in the electronics department of Ketchikan's Walmart, sans [sic] the smile of the employees to help out a customer. What it missed along this line is the knowledge of assigned people in their electronics IT department area. - More...
Friday PM - November 23, 2012

letter The old swimming hole By A.M.(Al) Johnson - Back in the days of yore, prior to 'Indoor Swimming', a young lad grew up living on the south side of Ketchikan in the area of "Buggy Beach" a tidal pool, now referred to as "Rotary Beach'. For the first toddling years of living near this location, mother would take me wading, allowing me to chase beach crab, throw rocks and enjoy the feel of water. As I grew, the time to learn to swim was nearing and one day, while treading water behind a floating log, I slipped off in water at deep end of the tidal pool. Not knowing how to swim, and near the third time down, a local Boy Scout, Harry Johannsen saved my live. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 20, 2012

letter Re: Open letter to the Ketchikan Borough Manager By Agnes Moran - Thank you for voicing you concerns about the Gateway Aquatic Center (GAC). The issues you raise have been previously identified by GAC staff and they are actively working with the contractor to resolve them. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 20, 2012

letter Reproduction & Responsibilities By Shari Irizarry - With all due respect and without expressing any opinion on abortion per se, I thought condoms, and "whatever else is available to men" were the answer to unwanted pregnancies. If you can't be bothered to use contraception, maybe you should consider the cost of child support for the next 18 years. Perhaps that would stick in your mind and make you a little more careful. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 20, 2012

letter Once again my point... By Paul Jarvi - I think Ms Elliott missed the point of my letter. Contraception is legal and the law of the land. Mr. Holston seems not to understand this point. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 20, 2012

letter Israel Will Strike Iran By Donald A. Moskowitz - According to various intelligence agencies Iran could have nuclear armaments ready for use against Israel by early 2013.  The devices could be nuclear bombs, or more likely, nuclear warheads on missiles. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 20, 2012

letter FIX IT RIGHT By David Boone - I have been an appliance repairman for 40 years.  My natural inclination is to fix things.  As I look at the state of national affairs today, nothing seems to be working right.  One hardly knows where to begin the repair.  May I suggest tax reform? - More...
Tuesday AM - November 20, 2012

letter Stifling our economy By John S. Fellows - I am a retired foreman from the Dow Chemical Co. My political affiliation is independent. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 20, 2012

letter Open Letter to the Ketchikan Borough Manager By Peg Travis and Dave Hirchert - We are writing with our concerns of the “new” Gateway Aquatic Center. We are disappointed in the design and construction of the facility and feel the citizens are paying for a building of inferior design and workmanship. - More...
Friday PM - November 16, 2012

letter Stopping the Use of Cigarettes By Alan R. McGillvray - I had been wanting to stop smoking cigarettes for some time. In my desire, I finally figured out that it was the first light-up in the morning that set the day. The idea that since it was that first cigarette that set me up for smoking for the day, why not just not light it up and set a whole different tone on the day. Well I tried that, and it WORKED. I still have not lit up that first cigarette of the day. That was some 3 & 1/2 years ago. - More...
Friday PM - November 16, 2012

letter RE: Abortion By Chris Elliott - Regarding Mr. Jarvi's letter: "...convince the males of our great land to not start the problem..." ? With all due respect and without expressing any opinion on abortion per se, I thought birth control pills and IUDs and whatever else is available to women were the answer to unwanted pregnancies. Unless a woman is raped or her contraception fails her, she will not become pregnant. Let's convince the females to take advantage of what's available. - More...
Friday PM - November 16, 2012

letter Ketchikan Homeless Shelter Food Drive By Gary Boatwright - The Ketchikan Homeless Shelter (PATH) is conducting its annual food drive. Collection boxes will be at local grocery stores or donations can be dropped off at the Shelter at 628 Park Avenue (across from the American Legion). - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2012

letter RE: Issue of Abortion By Paul Jarvi - You have good points my good friend about the fetus, however Roe V. Wade is the law of the land. It is not a question of how to get across Ketchikan Creek. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2012

letter Fair Tax Needed By Roy T Newsom - The income tax creates a stagnant economy for the United States.  Companies have moved overseas to give their investors a tax advamtage.  They will not return to the U.S. until our system gives them an advantage in the world market. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2012

letter Col. Archie Van Winkle Is Missed By Stephen C. McGowan - On Veteran's Day we missed Col. Van Winkle, Alaska's favorite son. To his daughter for thanking me, for the Letter, you are most certainly welcome. The sad thing is that a lot of Americans only remember those who served, and those who are serving, on this Day. I asked a stranger when she mentioned the Marine Corp Patch on my sleeve if she had served our country in the military, she replied "no". I asked why not? She hesitated, and said, "That's why we have people like you". - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2012

letter RE: Gas price relief By Paul Jarvi - Ms Ramsey, I just sold my beloved Ford F150. Think about an electric car. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 13, 2012

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