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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 19, 2007

KPU: Ketchikan's Home Grown Utility
Water, Power and Telephone for more than 7 Decades

Construction crew at the Carlanna Lake Dam, 1950
These workers pose for the camera after rebuilding the dam.
KPU photo - Photograph courtesy Ketchikan Museums



An account has been established at First Bank for persons wishing to make a monetary donation to Lodivinia Credito and her son. Donations can be dropped off at Ketchikan General Hospital - HR or you can stop by a First Bank branch to make donations.

Mrs. Lodivinia Credito has been provided housing but she and her son are in need of a refrigerator, household items - pots, pans, dishes, towels, bedding, etc. and clothing. Mrs. Credito wears a size "large" top and "medium" bottoms. Her son wears a size "large" top and size 30-32 waist pants with a length of 32.. Mrs. Credito's son is 15 so if you have anything that you think a 15 year old boy could use or even something for Christmas, it would be greatly appreciated also. These donations can also be dropped off at KGH -HR. Contact person at KGH is Sue Ludwig.

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Ketchikan: KPU: Ketchikan's Home Grown Utility; Water, Power and Telephone for more than 7 Decades By DAVE KIFFER - For more than 70 years, KPU - or Ketchikan Public Utilities as it is officially known - has been a constant, and sometimes controversial, presence in the lives of local residents.

When the city of Ketchikan decided to purchase Citizen's Light, Power and Water from a Minneapolis holding company in the mid 1930s, Ketchikan became the first community in the United States to own water, telephone and electrical utilities.

But the complete history of utilities in Ketchikan predates KPU by a good 30 years.

As with everything else in the tiny collection of shacks that became Ketchikan in 1900, community utilities centered around Ketchikan Creek.

In addition to providing fresh water for the community, the creek and its thundering falls was also tapped as a source of early electrical generation.

Several private individuals built flumes and water wheels along the creek to harness the water, but the first to see the big picture was apparently Juneau resident Watson J. Hill who made a proposal to the Ketchikan city council in 1901 for a franchise to create Ketchikan Light and Power Company.

Unfortunately, according to local historian June Allen, Hill went back to Juneau and no more was heard about the Ketchikan Light and Power Company, at least for the next couple years.

Ketchikan's power and water needs continued to grow as the town population doubled to more than 1,000 people in the next year and a group of local residents - with the backing of some outside investors - petitioned the city for another utility franchise in 1903 and the Citizens Light, Power and Water Company was granted a 15-year charter.

First Dams and Powerhouses in 1903

One of the company's first tasks was working with local contractors to build the first dam on Ketchikan Creek, just about a mile inland from the mouth of the creek. A 15-foot high dam was built, as was a flume to carry water to a power house which would be located on the creek beneath the main falls near where the Mary Frances garage is now located. When the water in the creek is low, you can see the remains of the Pelton Wheel from that power house in the creek mud.

But then a snag developed.

"Watson J. Hill again arrived from Juneau - this time with an injunction," Allen wrote on SITNEWS in 2004. "Work on the creek was halted until December 1903 when Mr. Hill agreed to sell out his interest to Citizens Light & Power. He left town immediately after."

1903 was the also the year in which one of the mainstays of the local economy, the Ketchikan Spruce Mill opened up on the waterfront at the mouth of Ketchikan Creek.

H.Z. Burkhart had operated a sawmill for a mining operation on Prince of Wales Island at Dolomi for several years and decided his fortunes lay in the growing community of Ketchikan. Together with J.J Daly and C.M. Summers they started a mill and power operation called the Ketchikan Power Co.

Ketchikan Power Co. would eventually join forces with CLPW to attempt to meet the needs of the growing community.

In 1906, a second dam was built, this one right at the outlet of Ketchikan Lake. Although the dam was only four feet high it was some 100 feet long. Also in that year a new CLPW powerhouse was built, primarily because there were flaws in the design of the first powerhouse that caused frequent outages. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

Alaska: Government pays millions for neglected native health care By LISA DEMER -  For 13 years, villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta didn't get the money they were due from the federal government to cover health care costs.

Now the U.S. Indian Health Service is paying the bill: $25 million, plus interest, which could amount to a total of more than $48 million.

It's believed to be the largest judgment ever against the Indian Health Service, according to Lloyd Miller, an Anchorage attorney who has filed claims on behalf of tribal organizations against IHS.

Efforts to speak to IHS officials about the settlement were unsuccessful Monday. The Alaska area office referred questions to headquarters in Rockville, Md., where officials weren't able to respond late in the day.

The huge funding shortfall for health care has hurt the Y-K Delta region, where people suffer high rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, suicide and unintentional injury, often related to drinking, said Dan Winkelman, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. vice president and general counsel.

YKHC runs a hospital in Bethel, 45 village-based clinics and four bigger clinics. It serves an area stretching across 75,000 square miles of tundra that is home to 30,000 people. Providing health care in the region is very expensive, Miller said.

Lawyers for YKHC said they couldn't discuss the specifics of the mediation. The corporation had filed claims for millions more, but the decision clearly went their way.

"That's why we are so happy," Winkelman said.

YKHC hasn't yet decided how to spend the money. Its board meets Wednesday and will consider the corporation's finances and pressing health needs as it develops a plan, he said.

The Indian Health Service for decades has paid Indian tribes and Alaska Native groups to provide health services on behalf of the federal government.

According to Miller, IHS has shortchanged the contracts since the 1990s. Congress didn't appropriate enough money, but the agency's responsibility to honor contracts didn't go away, Miller said.

The battle wasn't over money for doctors and nurses, but rather about how much the government owes tribal health agencies for heating bills, personnel costs and administrative overhead. Ultimately, the health care is affected, Miller said.

With relatively flat revenue streams and rising health care costs, YKHC has repeatedly had to lay off or cut back its staff, including two "reductions in force" just this year, Winkelman said. - More...
Wednesday - December 19, 2007


Alaska: Oceans becoming more acidic at an alarming rate By LES BLUMENTHAL - Seven hundred miles west of Seattle at Ocean Station Papa, a first-of-its-kind buoy is monitoring a looming environmental catastrophe in the Pacific.

Forget about sea levels rising as glaciers and polar ice melt and increasing water temperatures affecting global weather patterns. As the oceans absorb more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, they are gradually becoming more acidic.

Some scientists fear the change may be irreversible.

At risk are sea creatures up and down the food chain, from the tiniest phytoplankton and zooplankton to whales, from squids to salmon to crabs, coral, oysters and clams.

"Everything points to dramatic effects," said Richard Feely, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle. "There are suggestions the entire ecosystem could change over time."

The oceans are already 30 percent more acidic than they were at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, as they currently absorb 22 tons of carbon dioxide a day. By the end of the century, they could be 150 percent more acidic.

Originally, scientists thought the oceans could be one of the solutions to the buildup of greenhouse gases, as they absorb about one-third of the carbon dioxide emitted worldwide.

But scientists now know that the fundamental chemistry of the oceans has changed, and the possible impacts seem to grow more nightmarish as research accelerates.

"It seems like it is a one-way street, and that is alarming," said Steven Emerson, a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington. "The pH of the oceans could be lowered permanently."

Emerson was the lead scientist on the team that built the buoy at Ocean Station Papa, where weather measurements have been taken since the 1940s. The 10-foot-diameter buoy is equipped with an array of sensors that, among other things, measure the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the North Pacific and the pH, or acid levels, of the ocean. Anchored in water 5,000 feet deep, the buoy relays its information to onshore scientists via satellite.

Of all the oceans in the world, the North Pacific could be most vulnerable to acidification.

As the oceans' deepest waters circulate around the globe, they eventually arrive in the North Pacific, where they rise near the surface before again plunging deep to continue their global journey. The water when it arrives in the North Pacific is already acidic from the carbon produced by decaying organic material during its 1,000-year journey from the North Atlantic, through the Indian Ocean and across the Pacific, said Feely.

As it surfaces, or upwells, in the North Pacific, the water absorbs more carbon dioxide from the air. Cold water absorbs more carbon dioxide than warm water.

"The older water is in the Pacific, the newer water is in the Atlantic," Feely said. "There's 10 percent more carbon dioxide in the Pacific than in the Atlantic." - More...



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Basic Rules

letter Residentual Sprinkler Systems By David Hull - Homeowners, prospective or otherwise, and home builders of Ketchikan, object if you want, complain about the cost or debate the effectiveness of residential sprinkler systems until you are comfortable with your stance, but do not mistake the motives or knowledge of the Ketchikan Fire Department's Chief officers or Fire Marshall staff. The department is not "Empire Building" or attempting to put up a road block to development in Ketchikan. KFD is trying to prevent, to the very best of their abilities, tragedies such as the one that has driven an emotional stake in the very heart of the spirit of Ketchikan. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Funding Turf Soccer Fields for the record By Kay Jones - For the record and in response to Mr. Johnson, KYSL has tried for years to obtain the funding for a turf field. Because KYSL does not own the fields they are not eligible to apply for several grants that United States Soccer Federation (USSF) offers. They have tried several corporate sponsors and once again the roadblock has been that they do not own the fields, nor do they have a long-term user right lease in place with the borough. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Opinions and freedom of choice By Charles Edwardson - I would like to open by saying I have always respected and admired Kevin Murphy I know part of his history through commercial fishing and by just living here from day one 44 years ago. I simply have a different opinion. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letterBus stop benches By Riley Gass - I find it ludicrous that benches were removed from the bus stop at the library. Apparently someone thought it was so horrible that a couple of homeless men were staying out of the rain and sleeping there, that they thought it was appropriate to not only take their shelter away, but take away the benches from absolutely everyone who might want to sit down and rest from walking or before taking the bus. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Needed: street lamps By Judith Green - Has anyone else noticed, when traveling North Tongass into town, just past the Ward Creek bridge, at the bend in the road ... there is a very dark ominous spot? Lots of street lamps just before the bend, and then quite a ways past the bend there are more lamps. These overhead lamps really do help us to be safe and cautious when driving our highway. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Sports By Loren Stanton - Wow I am so happy that everyone is on board with supporting sports in our community! I especially enjoyed Karl Richey's commentary because I have seen him so many times. This fall my daughter broke her arm and my son broke his leg. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Kindness By Eileen Small - I had a wonderful opportunity to witness human kindness recently. As often as we see "the other side" of individuals, I thought this was worth a short letter to share it. This past weekend, my 94 year old mother flew from Ketchikan back home to Houston, Texas to visit with my sister and the rest of our family for a month. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Expensive running a local business By Susan Bachant - In response to the letter signed Vincent Borelli, I would like to suggest to him that it would be helpful to both himself and the community if he would start a local business. Then he would have the opportunity of seeing first hand how expensive it is to do business and that the local business owners are not running around ripping off our friends and neighbors. And I don't mean work for a local business as a manager. I mean be the one who's actually responsible for how the money is spent and be the one who has to sign the checks that go out to pay for the business' expenses. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Dynamite Joe By Chris Elliott - Darn! I was so disappointed to read Chaz Edwardson's letter railing against the theme park concept for Newtown. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Clean elections By Carol Cairnes - Right now, I'm listening to a Talk of Alaska on KRBD do a program about the clean elections petition drive. As it happens, last Sunday I was given this petition to circulate here in Ketchikan. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Residential sprinklers systems By Mike Isaac - Residential sprinklers systems are a good idea but an expensive one. However with a trip to the hardware store you can make one for well under $100. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Sports fields By Rebecca Clark - I would like to say that I am not opposed to having new fields in our town, Ms. Olmstead! I enjoy watching my children play sports very much! No, I don't enjoy watching them get "hurt". However, if a field of grass is necessary, maybe a professional can "git 'r done" this time (eg. Weiss field)! - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Harriet Hunt - Ward Lake Road By Tom Carlin - I've been going to school down in California for the past 3 months and am returning to Ketchikan later this week. I just heard from a buddy of mine that they will not let anyone up to Harriet Hunt What is with that? I have lived in Ketchikan for 19 years and have never heard of anything like this. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Help is needed By Carol Baines - Words can't express how sorry I am to hear that children died in a fire last weekend. As a mother and grandmother, I can't imagine the grief the family must be going through. I hope that the people of Ketchikan will step forward to help the family in their time of great sorrow. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 19, 2007

letter Form your own opinion of residential sprinklers By Kevin Murphy - Isn't America great? Everyone can freely voice their opinion on any subject they choose. By having the freedom of choice we can either agree or disagree with those opinions. - More...
Monday AM - December 17, 2007

letter Buy Local and Road Maintenance By Vincent Borelli - I moved to Ketchikan about a year ago and want to say that the people are warm and friendly. It is a pleasure to chat with most anyone in the commmunity and feel that Ketchikan has a unique beauty. The community is refreshing compared to many other places in the US. - More...
Monday AM - December 17, 2007

letter Bus Stop Benches Removed In Front of Library By Carol Baines - I've been told that the benches that were removed at the bus stop in front of the public library because of partying going on there, i.e. people smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol, sleeping on the benches overnight, etc. - More...
Monday AM - December 17, 2007

letter Coffman Cove Ball Field By Jennifer Bunch - I lived on the Prince of Wales Island for many years. I can say that Coffman Cove has had a grass field for many, many years. I believe it was originally completed when Howard Valentine Logging Camp was still in operation. To the best of my knowledge the field was built by locals and volunteers from the community helped maintain it for years. - More...
Monday AM - December 17, 2007

letter Playing on gravel By Cyd Olmsted - I would like to clarify Ms. Clark's comment about people being "very hurt from falling on slick grass." By 'very hurt' does she mean femur fractures, neck injuries and potentially serious MRSA infected wounds? Because as a cheechakoo who grew up playing on grass fields watching people get 'very hurt,' I was APPALLED by the severity of injuries our youth suffer due to playing on gravel....and I'm not talking a sore derriere from landing hard or an occassional fractured ankle. - More...
Monday AM - December 17, 2007

letter Indoor sports facility By Thom A. Fischer - This letter is for encouragement to parents who want more sports opportunities for their children. Building an indoor sports field would be one of the finest investments Ketchikan could make in its youth. - More...
Monday AM - December 17, 2007

letter If you build it . . . . they won't come! By Billy Johnson - In regards to the recently letter about building a new soccer field:

1. Instead of begging for money from the city or state, how about fund the upgrades yourself? You've been provided with a playing field. Instead of living on handouts, go out and fund raise. Take pride in ownership. Get some corporate sponsors, round up parents/coaches/kids for volunteer work and fund raising duties. Taking ownership will give the players, fans, coaches and parents pride and respect for what they achieved working together as a team! - More...
Monday AM - December 17, 2007

letter Fire -- City Council By George Mather - Mr. Edwardson is right we do not live in a perfect world, fires happen. The Ketchikan Fire Department is very good at what they do. - More...
Monday AM - December 17, 2007

letter History, Reason & Representation By Derek Flom - I first want to give a big hand to Mr. Edwardson, keep the voice of common sense loud and in the forefront.

Why do some of our elected officials seem to go with the group instead of speaking up and standing up for what's best for the people that elected them?. Is common sense leaving Alaska too? Or do they give you a set of chicken feathers and a secret rule book when you take the oath? This seems to be a statewide issue, it's time that the people of Alaska and their representation speak loudly that we are a State and we are due our share, we all pay taxes. We have not had 150 years to build our towns, bridges and roads. We matter just as much as any other state, our federal tax dollars are no different than everyone else's. So why is Alaska still treated like a territory? Like some Eco-park to make liberals and tree huggers feel good about saving the Earth, while they live in their polluting cities. - More...
Monday AM - December 17, 2007

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