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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
November 11, 2015

Front Page Photograph By KEN ARRIOLA

Termination Dust
Blanketed on November 9th by four inches of that fresh stuff, is Mahoney Mountain's southern view from Twin Peaks summit, near Ketchikan
Front Page Photograph By KEN ARRIOLA

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Fish Factor: Where have all the crab gone? By LAINE WELCH - The popular January Tanner crab fishery has been called off for the third year running throughout the Westward Region (Kodiak, Chignik and the South Peninsula), leaving fishermen and managers wondering where all the crab has gone.

Where have all the crab gone?

Tanner Crab
Photo Courtesy ADF&G

State managers for several years have been tracking a huge plug of crab that appeared poised to enter the 2016 Tanner fishery, but based on this summer’s surveys, the crab have failed to materialize.

“In 2013 saw a very large cohort of juveniles in the survey estimated at over 200 million crab, which was one of the largest we’ve had going back to the early 1980s,” said Mark Stichert, area manager at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game in Kodiak. “We saw those crab again in 2014 and they were a year older and a year larger, however, there was a fairly significant decline to about 113 million crab. And then in 2015, unfortunately, that number dropped again significantly to just over 40 million total crab in the survey around the Kodiak area.”

Stichert speculate the Tanner drop off is due to increased predation by growing numbers of cod, pollock and flatfish throughout the Gulf regions,
along with other environmental factors.

“We’re seeing continued recruitment into the fishery, meaning juvenile and small crab generations are being spun off every year,” he said. “We don’t completely understand why those crab aren’t maturing through the population to get to the legal size.”

It takes about six years for the Gulf Tanner crab to grow to their mature, two pound size.

A fleet of 50 or more Kodiak boats and about 30 at the Alaska Peninsula target Tanners. The mid-January fishery, which in past years has dwindled to around one million pounds, is usually worth several million dollars to fishermen.

“It’s a bummer because the money is good and it’s just down right fun to catch local crab,” said Tyler O’Brien, a Kodiak fisherman. “I understand why we need to stand down another year, but I just hope they are able to do good surveys with the tight budget situation.”

By the way -- Tanner crab is spelled with a capitol T because it is named after discoverer Zera Luther Tanner, commander of the research vessel Albatross, which explored Alaska waters in the late 1800s. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015


Travel grant renewed for rural Alaska veterans accessing health care - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs renewed a transportation grant in the amount of $250,000 to the State of Alaska Office of Veterans Affairs to provide transportation options to veterans residing in five rural areas who need to travel to health care services.

“Last fiscal year, this grant reached out to more than 5,900 veterans in rural areas,” said Verdie Bowen Sr., director of the State of Alaska Office of Veterans Affairs. “Our transportation partners transported Alaska’s veterans across more than 220,000 miles and more than 67,000 nautical miles round trip at no cost to veterans. We provided the first step in ensuring our veterans in some of our rural communities have access to quality care.”

The following five boroughs will continue to receive grant money for transportation under this program: Denali, Matanuska-Susitna, Kodiak Island, Kenai Peninsula and Prince of Wales-Hyder. Veterans living in those communities qualify to use an array of transportation options so that they may seek the health care they need. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

Alaska: Walmart Hires More Than 580 U.S. Veterans in Alaska - Walmart announced that it has hired more than 580 veterans across Alaska since the launch of its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment in May of 2013, which guarantees a job offer to any eligible U.S. veteran honorably discharged from active duty since that time.

Walmart has hired veterans into every aspect of its 13 facilities in Alaska, including Supercenters, Discount Stores, and Sam’s Club locations. The flexibility and scheduling opportunities the retailer offers makes it possible for transitioning service members to make their own path, whether that is pursuing educational goals, finding a meaningful new career path or finding a place to land after leaving the armed service, while deciding what’s next.

“We’ve experienced a tremendous response in Alaska to Walmart’s support of veterans.” said retired Brigadier General Gary Profit, Walmart’s senior director of military programs. “We believe veterans represent the largest, diverse, talent-rich pool in the world and are an essential segment of the next generation at Walmart.” - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

Ketchikan: McGuire Named to Local TSS Management Team - Renee Schofield, CEO of TSS, Inc. has announced the addition of Jo McGuire, to the staff. McGuire has joined TSS as the Senior Projects Manager. She will cover all aspects of management, with special emphasis on project and leadership development. McGuire hails from Colorado Springs, Colorado and has been in the drug and alcohol industry for a number of years.

“We’re excited to have Jo join our team. Her leadership style fits very well with the way I like to run my company, giving us extra hands to carry our growth forward. She has hit the ground running and will be an asset to each of our offices, as well as our clients, with her extensive background in the drug screening industry. We could not have made a better selection for this very broad position.” says Renee Schofield, TSS CEO.

McGuire is an international speaker on drug screening, particularly with regard to the marijuana legalization in several states. She has keynoted several conferences in regards to marijuana and the workplace, advises policy makers on employer’s rights to a safe and drug-free workplace, and provides certified training for the drug screening industry. She served on the Governor’s Task Force in Colorado during the recent constitutional amendment in her home state and chairs the Marijuana Education and Outreach committee of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA). - More....
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

Southeast Alaska: Sealaska Announces December Distribution - Sealaska directors approved a December distribution to shareholders totaling $17.5 million. According to Sealaska, the total distributions in 2015 to Sealaska shareholders will total $30.4 million.

“Sealaska is in a strong position to utilize investment capital to make new operational investments,” said Sealaska President and CEO Anthony Mallott. “This will add to our net income and help us reach our goal of profitability before ANCSA Section 7(i) and investment income. The executive team and board have taken deliberate steps during the last two years to focus on financial stability and show operational improvement.”

According to a news release, Sealaska management continues to follow priorities outlined in the strategic plan including growing operations in relevant industries and creating a disciplined investment process. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015


Ice-age lesson: large mammals need room to roam - A study of life and extinctions among woolly mammoths and other ice-age animals suggests that interconnected habitats can help Arctic mammal species survive environmental changes.

Ice-age lesson: large mammals need room to roam

Daniel Mann, associate professor of geosciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, holds the upper part of a skull belonging to a young stallion that roamed the North Slope about 22,000 years ago during the last ice age.
Photo by Pamela Groves, University of Alaska Fairbanks

The study appeared online Nov. 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Short periods of warm climate in the midst of the last ice age triggered boom-and-bust cycles in the populations of large mammals in the Arctic, the researchers found. Many large mammals became extinct when these cycles and the ice age ended and spreading peatlands and rising sea levels restricted animals’ ability to move between continents.

Scientists from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of California examined the age and abundance of the bones of megafauna, a term for mammals weighing more than 100 pounds, on Alaska’s North Slope, a tundra region between the Brooks Range and the Arctic Ocean.

By radiocarbon dating the fossils and comparing their ages and abundances to climate records spanning the past 40,000 years, the researchers reconstructed a picture of what happened woolly mammoths, steppe bison and other mammals in Alaska’s Arctic.

“We wanted to know how these large animals responded to the rapid climatic changes that characterized that period of Earth’s history,” said lead author Daniel Mann, an associate professor in the UAF Department of Geosciences. “To do this, we tested a hypothesis suggested by (retired) UAF paleontologist Dale Guthrie that megafaunal populations experienced boom-and-bust cycles during the ice age as the vegetation tracked climate change.” - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

Shrubs on warming North Slope attract moose, hares

Species such as moose may benefit from warming temperatures that have led to denser vegetation on Alaska’s North Slope, according to a recently published study.
Photo by Ken Tape

Alaska: Shrubs on warming North Slope attract moose, hares - Snowshoe hares and moose, which are both relative newcomers to Alaska’s North Slope, may have become established in the area with the help of warming temperatures and thicker vegetation.

A recent study concludes that climate change gradually led to taller shrubs on the North Slope, which provides a habitat boost for animals that take advantage of denser cover.

Ken Tape, an assistant professor with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Water and Environmental Research Center, led the research effort. He said hares seem to be clear beneficiaries of the warming environment — they hadn’t been observed on the North Slope before 1977 but have found a home there in recent decades.

A similar pattern may have helped moose, which hadn’t been reported in the area before 1930.

“If you double or triple the amount of habitat along a river, you might go from having no snowshoe hares and no moose to having them inhabit that corridor,” Tape said.

Results from the study were published last week in the journal Global Change Biology.

Tape said there’s both scientific and anecdotal evidence that such a shift in the ecosystem has occurred in recent years.

North Slope temperatures have gradually increased since the late 19th century, including a particularly rapid climb since the 1970s. The added warmth has caused snowmelt to occur an average of 3.4 days per decade earlier during the past 30 years, based on river flow in the area. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015


Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell
TOM PURCELL: Veterans Day By the Numbers -"I had no idea that many men and women have served our country in our armed forces."

"Ah, yes, you refer to Veterans Day facts and figures shared by the U.S. Census Bureau. Did you know there are 19.3 million U.S. veterans living today? Roughly half are 65 and older. Nearly 2 million are under the age of 35."

"That's interesting stuff. Those older than 65 served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam and the 2 million under 35 served mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan after 911?"

"You are correct. According to statistics released by the Department of Veterans Affairs, World War II vets are dying at a rate of approximately 492 a day. This means there are approximately only 855,070 veterans remaining of the 16 million who served our nation in World War II."

"The greatest generation!"

"My father served in the Korean War. He is 82. Of the 5.7 million who served during that war, 2 million veterans are still with us."

"What about the Vietnam War?"

"Of the 8.7 million veterans who served in that horrific war, 7 million are still alive. To round out the numbers, 5.5 million veterans served during the Gulf War era, which spans 1990 to the present. Roughly 4.4 million veterans served during peacetime. Other veterans had it awfully tough." - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

jpg Dan Ortiz

DAN ORTIZ: A Day of Observance - Today is Veteran’s Day, when Americans remember the sacrifices made by those who have served our great country in the United States Armed Forces. This day of observance stems from the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour of 1918, when guns fell silent on the Western Front in Europe. The armistice with Germany had come into effect. Over nine million soldiers were killed in the Great War, now known as World War I, and another twenty-one million were wounded. After more than four year of warfare marked by death in casualty counts never before seen in modern warfare, the fighting stopped.

Armistice Day later became known as Veteran’s Day, when Americans take time to reflect on the myriad of sacrifices made by our soldiers. From the first days of the American Dream, when minutemen surprised British Redcoats at Lexington and Concord, to the countless battlefields of the Civil War, to the beaches of Normandy in World War II, up to today, where brave men and women (approximately 20% of active duty military personnel are women) serve our country around the world. The American soldier has been the biggest defender of our freedoms outlined in the U.S. Constitution. They have been instrumental in the success of our Great American Experiment. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

jpg Political Cartoon: College Safe Spaces

Political Cartoon: College Safe Spaces
By Rick McKee ©2015, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

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letter 2D Bar Code & Privacy By John Suter - In regards to the 2D bar code on the back of the Alaska State driver’s license, the State of Alaska adding this 2D bar code is opening the door for Alaska State residents to be victimized. Many people have iPhones and you can go to the Apple Store to down load an App to scan the 2D bar code. Once someone uses this App to scan the 2D bar code, everything from birthdate, weight, hair color, address etc. is now stored into this person's iPhone. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter RE: Pesticides in our state By Jan Trojan - Excellent letter by the Wyatts! I raised the same issue here in Craig. I still have not received a letter back from the Governor. I do feel comforted that SEALASKA said not on SEALASKA Lands. I have also written both of our senators about the HB 1599 and not received a response from either if they would vote against. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter MARY POPPINS By Laura Plenert - Thank you First City Players, the magnificent cast and the behind the scenes folks of this weekend's production of 'Mary Poppins'. It was delightful from beginning to end. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter Open Letter To: Chief Admin. Officer and Chief Financial Officer PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center By Clement Plamondon - Dear Mr. Tonjes, You recently mailed me yet another survey & form letter (two actually) requesting my time to help you improve your organization & facility. In the past I have completed & returned these forms. I now realize that, not only are such surveys Not in any way improving the services you offer, they are detrimental in that they waste time, money & resources generating reams of unread reports, tons of wasted paper & terabits of less than useless data to be correlated & analyzed. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter The bees all died in sprayed areas By Rudy McGillvray - So starts my latest rant, and it goes like this. If we as a community allow our town , Borough, and state to spray all the wild bushes in our beautiful state we will have NO BEES. Most likely because the sprays contains nicotinic acid or a similar type that kills bees. In fact, if one bee comes into contact with nicotine, goes back to the hive, one bee can poison the whole hive, and kill it out of existence; which is why this is not my first letter to Sitnews about Bees, and why they aren't around anymore. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter RE: Permanent Fund By Norma Lankerd - Like I stated, it was my opinion (and) I'm sure the Alaskan Government probably used part of the dividend to pay for the president's visit to Alaska, where else would they get the ¢600 million to pay for the president to be in Alaska for 4 days and 3 nights? I know Alaska doesn't have that kind of $$ to squander. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

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