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

Two Alaskans Postpone Thanksgiving to Rescue Entangled Whale Near Prince of Wales Island

Two Alaskans Postpone Thanksgiving to Rescue Entangled Whale Near Prince of Wales Island
Front Page Feature Photo By Scott Van Valin/ NOAA
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Southeast Alaska: Two Alaskans Postpone Thanksgiving to Rescue Entangled Whale Near Prince of Wales Island  - Members of NOAA’s North Pacific Large Whale Entanglement Response Team say they are thankful for Wednesday’s freeing of an entangled humpback whale in Sarkar Cove, north of Naukati on Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. NOAA received word of the possibly life-threatening entanglement on Tuesday, November 20.

Two Alaskans Postpone Thanksgiving to Rescue Entangled Whale Near Prince of Wales Island

Fred Sharpe and Scott Van Valin.
Photo courtesy NOAA

Dr. Fred Sharpe, an experienced member of the team and research biologist for the Alaska Whale Foundation was flown to the scene Wednesday morning to assess options for response. He consulted with NOAA’s lead large whale entanglement response expert Ed Lyman on safe strategies before attempting to disentangle the whale.  

The subadult humpback was entangled around the upper jaw in heavy gauge lines used for mooring docks. The entanglement included two buoys and a dense snarl of lines, about the size of an ice chest.

Several lines were covering the leading edge of the blowhole, adding to the whale’s distress.

Chafing marks around the whale’s midsection suggested the animal initially had been ensnared in a full body wrap, perhaps immobilizing the pectoral flippers.

Although water visibility was poor Wednesday due to recent heavy rains, weather conditions were ideal for a disentanglement attempt, with calm winds and rainless skies. The whale was situated in a calm, protected bay. 

The team’s initial approach to the whale indicated the animal was still energetic, and could easily become agitated—so the disentanglement team stood down and gave the whale plenty of room.  

While the whale was thrashing its tail from side to side, its flukes apparently caught on the snarl, which pulled lines from the mouth. However, it then became entangled around its tailstock.

The whale eventually calmed down, giving the team an opportunity to carefully and safely approach. Sharpe used a long pole to slip a hooked knife with line attached on the entangling lines. The team then backed off and by pulling on the line, the knife efficiently cut through the ensnaring gear. The team made several cutting approaches before successfully removing all the gear. - More...
Friday PM - November 23, 2018

An ‘Unremarkable Storm’; But Ketchikan residents remember Thanksgiving Day Storm of 1968 By DAVE KIFFER

Unremarkable Storm’; But Ketchikan residents remember Thanksgiving Day Storm of 1968 By DAVE KIFFER
Thanksgiving Day Storm Damage - 1968 - Ketchikan, Alaska
One of several communication towers that blew down.
Photo Courtesy Patrick Bryant ©


Ketchikan (Historical Feature):
An ‘Unremarkable Storm’; But Ketchikan residents remember Thanksgiving Day Storm of 1968 By DAVE KIFFER - According to the National Weather Service it wasn't even that unusual of a storm.

On November 28, 1968, the weather service on Annette Island - where Ketchikan's main airport was in those days - was recording sustained winds of 60 mph and gusts in the upper 70s. Just about once a year, the Ketchikan area gets a storm with hurricane force winds, 74 mph and up.

Locals like to joke that Alaskans don't even bother to name their hurricanes. They just call them "Last Thursday."

But even a half century later, Ketchikan residents vividly remember the Thanksgiving Day Storm of 1968 and not just because the heavy winds delayed Thanksgiving dinner for hours and in some cases days.

Even the Weather Service concedes that its storm measurements for Ketchikan were different than Annette, even if it offers no specific level. The report on that day noted that Ketchikan "likely had sustained winds above 80, at least one gust into the low 90s."

In a regional update later in the week, NOAA termed the storm, which had lashed communities up and down the Inside Passage, as “strong but unremarkable.”

Most of the Ketchikan residents who lived through it would beg to differ. 

Sometime between 8 am and 10 am Thanksgiving morning, the main gusts roared into the First City, causing significant damage. In Ward Cove, an amateur's anemometer at the Pulp Mill recorded a gust of 115 miles per hour before it stopped working. At the Coast Guard base, another anemometer disintegrated after spinning at 125 mph.

This was no run of the mill November windstorm.

More than a half a dozen boats capsized in the harbors, hundreds of homes were damaged, many by debris the size of plywood sheets flying through the air. Several businesses were damaged. The drive-up awning at the Toot and Tell Restaurant was blown completely across Tongass Avenue. At least one vehicle at a West End car dealer was blown into the road and several blocks down the street. One of Ketchikan's largest boat yards, Northern Marine Works, partially caved in near Bar Harbor.

Most notably, three of Ketchikan's 300-foot communication towers - one downtown and two in the West End completely collapsed.

"A Ketchikan landmark since the 1930s disappeared at the height of Thursday's storm when the 300-foot KTKN tower toppled damaging neighboring houses on Inman Street," the Ketchikan Daily News reported the day after the storm. "Louis Tavares house was cut in two by the falling tower... the residence of H.H. Runnings was considered a total loss." 

Although people were in the houses when the KTKN tower fell on them, no one was seriously injured. The two Alaska Communications System towers on the West End that fell landed in vacant land nearby. The only tower to survive the wind was the larger White Alice tower that still exists today. KTKN eventually rebuilt the Inman Hill tower, but the two ACS towers - which had been standing for decades and were originally part of the local Marconi wireless station - were not replaced. - More...
Friday PM - November 23, 2018


Fish Factor: Trident Seafoods Takes Top Honors By LAINE WELCH -  Protein Noodles by Trident Seafoods took top honors at the 26th annual Alaska Symphony of Seafood, winning first place in the retail category and the Seattle People’s Choice award.

The winners were announced last week at Pacific Marine Expo. 

The refrigerated noodles are made from pollock surimi and touted as a high protein, gluten free alternative to traditional pastas. 

“All pastas are wheat based and they don’t contain any protein and there’s not a lot of nutritional value,” said John Salle, Trident’s senior vice president of marketing, innovation and corporate accounts when accepting the awards.  “Lots of carbs, lots of sugars. We think these pollock noodles will fill a void in the market.  Just heat them up and add sauce!”  

Salle said the Protein Noodles will debut at Costco stores early in 2019.

Trident also won first place in the Beyond the Plate category for its Alaska Natural Pet pollock oil, an omega-3 enriched additive for dog foods. 

In the food service category, Alaska Cod Dumplings from Tai Foong USA was the winner.

The Symphony moves to Juneau on February 19 where second and third place winners will be announced along with a Grand Prize winner. The winning products are entered into Seafood Expo North America’s new product competition in Boston in March.

“That’s a really big deal,” said Keith Singleton, president of the value added division of Alaskan Leader Seafoods, which won the grand prize last year for its Alaska Cod with Lemon Herb Butter. The company also took a first place for its Cod Crunchies pet treats.  

“The exposure we got from the Symphony of Seafood, we used that in all of our marketing. We’re fishermen and for us as a company that’s pretty new at this, it was pretty impressive that we won. And we definitely have picked up a lot of new accounts,” Singleton added. “Anybody that’s out there who wants to compete in the Symphony, I strongly encourage them. It’s a lot of fun and it really gets your name out there. It’s really helped us as an industry for sure.”

The annual contest is aimed at encouraging new products to increase the value of Alaska’s fishery resources to fishermen and communities.

“It starts at the boat,” said Julie Decker, executive director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, host of the event. “The quality level that fishermen are producing has gone up tremendously over the past 25 years and it is directly related to the quality you can manufacture into new. products.  You can do more things and they turn out much better. We are doing better as an industry across the board and that’s why we want to keep fishermen involved. They are important to the process because when they do better, everybody does better." - More...
Friday PM - November 23, 2018



DAVE KIFFER: REMEMBERING THE BIG BLOW OF '68 - When I was younger I had too many teeth for my mouth.

Yes, I know that probably shocks y'all who think that my mouth is all tongue, but I do have teeth (although my dentists will no doubt concur that I haven't always done a very good job of taking care of them).

Why is the number of teeth that I have (had?) matter? Well, it is an anniversary of a very interesting day of my youth and the number of teeth I had is a big part of the story.

Like many Wetnecks (Ketchikan lifers) I have memories of the great Thanksgiving Day Storm of 1968, which happened 50 years ago this month.

The fact that I can even remember something that happened half a century ago naturally pains me. Back when I was in high school, I looked ahead to the year 2000 and thought "wow, I will be 41 that year." It seemed soooo long into the future as to be incomprehensible. Now, of course, is it so so so far in the rear view mirror. You can do the math.

But I digress.

Fifty years ago, when the Great Thanksgiving Day Storm of 1968 roared into town, I was more concerned about my teeth. The visiting orthodontist, Dr. White, was worried that I would end up like my parents (both of whom had lovely sets of teeth that they kept in jars on the nightstands).

Clearly good strong teeth did not run in the family and Dr. White wanted to fix my teeth, but first there was the problem of too many teeth for my smaller than normal jaws. Yep, even though I am always "jawing" I have smaller than normal jaws. Maybe because I have small jaws I am like one of those little two stroke engines that has to go twice as fast as everyone else. Someday, an archeologist will dig up my skull and surmise that I am some odd subspecies of hominid because by jaw size is smaller than normal humans. Neanderthalis Ketchikanus Motormouthus or some such thing.

Anyway, in order for my teeth to develop normally, some had to go. So Dr. White scheduled the first of several extractions to take place on Nov. 28, 1968.

Now, this was a little odd because most folks don't have dentist appointments on Thanksgiving, but as I noted Dr. White was a "visiting"" orthodontist so holidays were less important than availability. Dr. White was available on Thanksgiving so I had to be as well. - More...
Friday PM - November 23, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Nancy Pelosi

Political Cartoon: Nancy Pelosi
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

Open Letter to PeaceHealth CEO, Liz Dunne - Recently I was walking by a PeaceHealth satellite office here in Ketchikan that is located in the Plaza shopping center. I noticed flyers taped to the window of this office and I had to do a double take. Even though the event advertised has come and gone, the contradiction of a hospital advertising “Beer and Brats” needs to be addressed. 

How on earth can an organization whose mission is "promoting personal and community health (and) relieving pain and suffering" promote an event that encourages people to "come and bend an elbow?" 

It is hard to believe that there was a recent community event in this same Plaza that profiled brave young people testifying how they have fought to overcome their alcohol and drug addictions.  

This community, like many others in Alaska, continues to have extensive issues with alcoholism, drug abuse, and subsequent homelessness. I see the effects of alcoholism just about every day in this small town. I have even had friends locally die of the disease despite my efforts to help them. For a hospital to promote such an event as this gives the perception that those in the medical community not only encourage the illness, but they also stand ready to provide and charge for the care.  - More...
Tuesday PM - November 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Lifting the ‘Roadless Rule’: Unique opportunity for Southeast Alaskans By Heidi Hansen, Deputy Commissioner DNR - From the North Slope to the Panhandle, and the Interior to the Peninsula, rural Alaskans are prioritizing their access – to each other, the rest of Alaska and the world.

Cost is often the limiting factor. But not always.

Many community leaders want to improve access without jeopardizing the unique character and resources of their communities. It’s literally a fight for survival for some small communities. For others, it’s part of a long-term plan to become more sustainable. - More...
Saturday PM - November 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Proposed Distillery at The Old Firehouse By Shauna Lee - Finally, after a long period of stagnation, I’ve seen the spark of change here in Ketchikan and it’s made me feel quite optimistic about our future. Businesses like Nibliks, SoHo Coho, Chinook and Company and Ketchikan Dry Goods have brought new life into the downtown core with their updated design aesthetic and merchandise that encourages our local dollars to stay local. Venues like the New York Café, the Bawden Street Brewery and the Fish House have brought us new menu offerings and the opportunity to eat, drink and be merry right here in our hometown. It’s an exciting time for the First City and I feel like we are on the precipice of a new era where we leave old outdated ideas behind and embrace what our future could be. So how do we keep this momentum going?

As a business person I have learned over the years that I am more successful when I reach out to other local businesses and organizations. Working with my fellow colleagues rather than against them, has been a recipe for success. I want to help other companies become successful because when their boat rises, I get to ride the same high tide. That is why I want to encourage the City of Ketchikan to support the proposed distillery at the old Ketchikan Fire Department location. - More...
Friday PM - November 09, 2018

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