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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 31, 2006

Front Page Photo by Carl Thompson

Happy New Year!
Whale Park
Front Page Photo & Photo Galleries by Carl Thompson

 Lights Photo Gallery 1

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Ketchikan: Fee Increase Proposed for North Tongass Fire & EMS Service Area - Some Ketchikan residents in the North Tongass Fire & EMS Service Area could see an increase in their fiscal year 2007-2008 service area fees if a proposal to hire a third full-time firefighter for the North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department (NTVFD) is approved. The service area Board of Directors and NTVFD will host an open house at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 4th, at the North Tongass Fire Station 8, 13110 North Tongass Highway, to hear public comment regarding the proposed tax and fee changes. Everyone owning property in the North End is highly encouraged to attend.

Fee increase proposed....

Fee Increase Proposed for
North Tongass Fire & EMS Service Area

Emergency response rigs at Station 8,
13110 NTH, in early May.

North Tongass residents now pay a property tax rate of 1.7 mills for the North Tongass Fire & EMS services, or $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Most North Tongass residents also pay a $100 structure fee. The North Tongass Service Area Board is proposing to double the structure fee to $200 and reduce the mill rate to 1.6 or 1.5 mills. At the present 1.7 mill rate, property assessed at $250,000 that contains a structure pays $525 in North Tongass Service Area taxes and fees.

If the board's proposal is approved, North Tongass residents with properties assessed at $250,000 or less, which, according to borough information accounts for up to 70 percent of the area's residents, would see higher service area taxes, while those with properties assessed at $250,000 or more would see a decrease.

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"We're trying to level the playing field a little, but it's never really going to be level," said Steve Phillips, chairman of the North Tongass Fire & EMS Service Area, "We're trying to be fair to everybody out there." He said it is understood that this is a controversial path to take, but the Board believes there is a gap in the services and there is a need to find a solution. This is why the Board of Directors is proactively seeking public comment said Phillips.

In addition to Phillips, the other Board members are Guy Mickel, Judy Berg, Paul Hook and Gary Webb. All members are residents of the service area. The Board has been discussing the proposed tax and fee changes since early summer. The proposed changes are designed to generate about $75,000 in additional revenue, enough to fund a third firefighter/medic if approved.

While the department's current personnel are well trained and equipped, Fire Chief David Hull said that many of the department's volunteers work downtown and can't respond to a call as fast as the department would like, especially during the weekdays. - More...
Sunday - December 31, 2006

Alaska: 2006 Alaska Fish Picks & Highlights By LAINE WELCH - Commercial fishing in Alaska remains a vibrant industry that is the envy of other countries around the world. Managers and industry stakeholders are protective stewards of Alaska's robust marine resources - especially while the fisheries are being retooled to conform to the tough realities of changing times.

Here is a sampler of Alaska seafood industry highlights from 2006, in no particular order or priority, followed by my annual picks of top fish stories -

Alaska halibut prices topped $4/lb in major ports during the entire eight month season, making the fishery worth nearly $195 million at the docks. The halibut market is expected to remain hot in 2007.

The Alaska salmon harvest of 141.5 million was valued at $309 million. It marked the first time in a decade that back to back salmon harvests topped $300 million.

Pink salmon continued its shift from low value cans into the more lucrative frozen market. Alaska processors put in more fillet lines for all salmon species, especially sockeye.

Managers lopped nearly five percent off the top of the Bering Sea king crab quota due to high discard rates. Crabbers signed pledges to do better for the 2006 season, and by all accounts, they did.

Nearly 80 percent of Americans said they are aware that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega 3's from fish were credited with calming hyperactive kids, reducing Alzheimer's Disease, slowing cancer growth, improving babies' brain and eyesight development and reducing wrinkles. Fish oil capsules became the fastest growing nutritional supplement in the market. - More...
Sunday - December 31, 2006


Week In Review: The week in review By BARTHOLOMEW SULLIVAN - Former President Gerald R. Ford Dies

Former President Gerald R. Ford, the nation's 38th and only president to assume the office without being elected to it or to the vice presidency, died late Tuesday at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. He was 93 and the country's oldest-ever former president.

The former Michigan congressman chosen by Richard Nixon to become vice president after Spiro Agnew resigned amid scandal, became president on Aug. 9, 1974, when the Watergate scandal and impending impeachment brought Nixon down. Ford served 896 days as president but was defeated in 1976 by Jimmy Carter.

President Bush on Thursday declared Tuesday, Jan. 2, a national day of mourning and ordered all federal offices not critical to national security closed for the day. Ford will lie in state in the Capitol in Washington before a funeral at the National Cathedral and interment near his presidential museum in Grand Rapids.

U.S. Fatalities in Iraq Nearing 3,000

Days before the end of a bloody year in Iraq, the Department of Defense said Friday that 2,983 U.S. military personnel, including seven civilians, have died since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. In addition to the Iraqi war dead, the Pentagon reported 353 U.S. military personnel killed in or near Afghanistan through Dec. 23. The war has cost $350 billion and the Bush administration is asking the incoming Congress to authorize another $170 billion for the fiscal year that began in October. - More...
Sunday - December 31, 2006

Washington Calling: Scary Somalia...thanks, Americans...job hunters By LISA HOFFMAN - Iraq may have been top on the table at the high-level strategy meeting this week at President Bush's Texas ranch, but nervous eyes at the Pentagon were focused like a laser on Somalia.

The brass is holding its breath as the scenario they most dread - and have warned about repeatedly - may be playing out as Islamic radicals make their first major moves to take control of the Horn of Africa country. This is the same "feral nation" where President Clinton yanked out U.S. forces after the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" debacle left 18 American commandos dead and any notion of U.S. invincibility shattered.

Since 9/11, some of the most forward-looking generals have pegged Somalia as perhaps the Horn territory most vulnerable to jihadis looking for a new Afghanistan-like training base. Over the past year or so, they've quietly positioned about 1,000 U.S. troops in nearby Djibouti, and are close to establishing the first-ever U.S. Africa Command.

Forces mainly from neighboring Ethiopia have pushed back the jihadi fighters from Mogadishu - for now. But fears remain the situation playing out in Somalia may be the most dangerous of any since the war on terror began.


Well done, Americans. In 2006, you dug deep, contributing cash and goods to send more than 6 million packages, 3 million cards and letters, and 500,000 books to U.S. troops at war in Iraq and Afghanistan through the Pentagon-organized "America Supports You" program, located on the Web at Plus, the 250 community groups affiliated with the program raised nearly $3.5 million in financial support for the troops and their families in 2006 alone. - More...
Sunday - December 31, 2006

Our Troops

Specialist Juan Coronel
AK Army National Guard

 Corporal Kevin James Clevenger
AK Army National Guard

Our Troops Home Page
New Year Traditions: Good luck traditions are matter of geography By SUSAN HOUSTON - While native Southerners rely on collards and black-eyed peas to bring them good luck for the new year, these regional dishes are for many an acquired taste.

There are other options. We checked on New Year's traditions in other countries and found several edible sources of good luck.

In some nations, sweets rule on New Year's Day. The Dutch believe that a ring symbolizes eternity, so they eat doughnuts for luck in the new year. Germans give marzipan pigs for good luck at Christmas and New Year's.

Other cultures enjoy playing a little hide and seek with their food for luck. The Norwegians make a rice pudding and hide one whole almond inside. The person who gets the scoop with the almond also gets the luck for the new year. (Technically, this is a Christmas Eve tradition, our local Scandinavian sources tell us, but we won't tell if you don't.)

The Greeks have a similar tradition with their Vassilopita, also known as St. Basil's Cake. According to legend, an overzealous tax collector rounded up valuables from Greek citizens, then decided not to take them. St. Basil slipped the items into breads and cakes that the citizens made. Miraculously, when he distributed the baked goods, the valuables ended up in the hands of the rightful owners.

New Year's Day is the feast day of St. Basil, and while each region of Greece has its own customs, serving the semi-sweet St. Basil's Cake is nearly universal for Greeks, says Bill Bakis, owner of Nikos Taverna in Cary.

The traditional Vassilopita is more like bread than cake, but Greeks in other countries cook a cakelike variation. A coin, wrapped in foil, is baked inside, and the person who gets the slice with the coin is guaranteed good luck and prosperity for the new year.

Some follow a special ritual for serving Vassilopita at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, according to Caterina Pizanias, writing for

The cake is carefully cut in a specific order, with the first slice for Christ, the second for the Virgin Mary, the third for the host's house, the next for the poor and the rest for the people at the table.

Other countries have stroke-of-midnight food traditions, too. (You may have to forgo the American midnight kiss tradition to follow these.) - More...
Sunday - December 31, 2006

Match of the Month

Match of the Month
December 2006

Seth and R.K

Recognition: Match of the Month December 2006 By AMY LLOYD- "Big Brother" R.K. appreciates his "Little Brother" Seth's enthusiasm, and his willingness to try new things. "Seth is fun to take out; he really appreciates things. It feels good to be able to share experiences and show Seth all that is out there."

Seth said his favorite activity was the trip to Misty Fjords in September. "I've never seen mountains so big!"

R.K. agrees with Seth, saying, "The Misty Fjords trip was a highlight. The whole day was incredible."

Seth and R.K. spend time doing outdoors activities, like biking around Ward Lake. In his garage, R.K. had an older mountain bike that wasn't being used. Seth says, "We fixed it up together, so now I have a mountain bike for the next time we go."

Recently, R.K. and Seth went on a duck-hunting trip, where Seth shot his first duck, a Goldeneye. "I've never shot a shotgun before," he exclaimed. "I got a picture of me holding the duck. It was yummy!"

Seth's mom is happy he is experiencing Ketchikan through R.K.'s "local" eyes. She says, "R.K. is one of the best things to happen to him."
- More....
Sunday - December 31, 2006


Basic Rules

letter Truth and Consequences By Glen Thompson - Sunday PM
letterAirporter and Related Needs By Shirley McDonald - Sunday PM
letter Loss of Airporter Bus By Ken Levy - Sunday PM
letterTaxes By Robert McRoberts - Sunday PM
letter Airporter Replacement Suggestion By Shelley Stallings - Saturday AM
letter Airporter service By Bill Thomas Sr. - Saturday AM
letter Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Elections- January 15, 2007 By Robert A. Sanderson, Jr. - Friday
letter Don't push the taxpayers By Rodney Dial - Friday
letter Thank You Airporter For Your Years of Service By Shannon Nelson - Friday
letter Revised Fuel Price Study By Ken Lewis - Friday
letter Fuel prices By Mary Henrikson - Friday
letter Wood Removal By John Beck - Friday
letter 600 Children By Peter Bolling - Friday
letter Political Sportsmanship By Robert Freedland - Friday
letterFirst we must have honesty By Carol Christoffel - Friday
letter Community Christmas Sing-Out By Judith Green - Friday
letter More Viewpoints/ Letters
letter Publish A Letter


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Columns - Commentary

Steve Brewer: 'Tis the season for men on the couch - During this season of giving and reflection and renewal, a man's thoughts naturally turn to football.

'Tis the season for men wearing plastic reindeer antlers and a fine dusting of Doritos crumbs to sprawl on sofas, basking in the TV glow while our plucky families celebrate all around us.

It's a season of hope and joy, anticipation and disappointment, the thrill of victory and the agony of sweat-sock feet. It's the time of year when grown men ask Santa to please, please grant one wish - a first-and-goal on the two with a minute to go.

While others sing carols and make resolutions and gobble leftovers, we men display as much holiday energy as your average potted poinsettia. Lumps of coal we are, as we watch round-the-clock games, sometimes two or three at once, moving nothing but our eyes and our overdeveloped remote control thumbs. - More...
Sunday - December 31, 2006

Marsha Mercer: The Word of the Year - One of my favorite year-end rituals has nothing to do with champagne or fireworks, festive though they are.

For me, a year isn't over until the nation's linguists cap it with the Word of the Year.

The American Dialect Society chooses the words that make each year unique. Members will vote on the words of 2006 Friday, Jan. 5 in Anaheim, Calif. Ah, the suspense.

The people who study words don't, or can't, pick just one to capture a year. They have almost as many categories as the Academy Awards or a high school yearbook. Most Useful. Most Creative. Most Unnecessary. Most Outrageous. Most Euphemistic. Most Likely to Succeed and Least Likely to Succeed.

The 2005 word was "truthiness," defined as "what one wishes to be the truth regardless of the facts." Stephen Colbert of the "Colbert Report" on Comedy Central coined it.

Most Useful was "podcast." Most Creative was "whale-tail, the appearance of thong or g-string underwear above the waistband." Most Likely to Succeed: "sudoku," the Japanese puzzle. - More...
Sunday - December 31, 2006

Bill Steigerwald: The Quotes of 2006 - The war in Iraq was by far the top interview topic of the year. But there were also Q&A's with the likes of John Stossel, Sean Hannity, Lee Hamilton and Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl on such subjects as media subjectivity, the unraveling of the Republican Party, the 9/11 Commission and the politics of food. Here are some of the year's best quotes:


I don't think we're going to make it for another three years there. I think there's going to be a civil war in Iraq if the president doesn't change course. The public won't stand for U.S. forces being caught in a civil war. If all hell breaks loose in Iraq, those forces will be coming home much, much sooner -- to the electoral peril of Republicans. I don't think they have another three years to wait.
-- Ivan Eland, director, Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty (March 25)

We should keep the troops there, in the desert, looking after the international boundaries, making sure there are no atrocities, making sure oil and gas goes out, otherwise leaving Iraq to the Iraqis.
--Daniel Pipes, conservative columnist, counterterrorism analyst and author (April 1)

I don't see anytime soon that we can depart, because we would take an insecure situation and make it even more insecure.
-- Dan Senor, former adviser to Paul Bremer, the administrator of the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority (June 17) - More...
Sunday - December 31, 2006

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