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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 18, 2008

Front Page Photo By JIM LEWIS

Colors of December
This Bohemian Waxwing was photographed along Tongass Avenue.
Front Page Photo By JIM LEWIS



Ketchikan: Irvin Thompson Reburied In California; Ketchikan War Hero's Remains Were Identified After 60 Years By DAVE KIFFER - A Ketchikan man, who was Alaska's first casualty in World War II, is a little closer to home after being reburied last month in a veteran's cemetery in California.

Irvin Andrew Rubin Thompson was an Ensign on the USS Oklahoma when it was sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Irvin Thompson Reburied In California; Ketchikan War Hero's Remains Were Identified After 60 Years

Capsized Hull of USS Oklahoma
Pearl Harbor Attack, 7 December 1941
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

The Oklahoma was one of five battleships seriously damaged or destroyed in the attack. Most of the damage to the Oklahoma was from five torpedo hits that caused the ship to capsize with the bottom of the hull protruding from the water. Several dozen crew members were rescued by crews cutting through the hull more than 30 hours after the attack ­ a story told in the book "Escape From Pearl Harbor" by Oklahoma crewman Steven Bower Young ­ but Thompson was not among the fortunate ones.

The Navy managed to "right" the ship a little over three months after the attack and many remains were found within the hull but nearly all were unidentifiable with the methods of the time.

The 429 casualties on the Oklahoma were second only to the 1,177 who died on the USS Arizona in the attack. The Oklahoma was put in dry dock until 1944 when it was decided it was not "repairable" and sold for scrap.

It was being towed to San Francisco on May 17, 1947 when it sank in a storm 540 miles east of Pearl Harbor.

For more than 60 years, Thompson's remains remained unidentified, until a modern researcher helped identify them. Eighty-seven year old Ray Emory was a survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack and has been working to decades to identify Pearl Harbor's "unknowns."

After the attack, only 36 of the 429 sailors and marines were positively identified. The rest were put into mass graves at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl near Honolulu.

"An independent researcher (Emory) had concluded, using archives and documents available to the public that he had identified a serviceman in one of the graves marked unknown," Defense Department official Larry Greer told the New Jersey Star-Ledger on September 5, 2008. "We exhumed the coffin and actually found the remains of 31 individuals, identifying three of them."

One of the individuals identified was Irvin AR Thompson. Greer said the Defense Department identified Thompson as being from Hudson County, New Jersey because that was the address listed for him after he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1940.

But while Thompson was born in Weehawken, New Jersey in 1917, he had spent most of his life in Ketchikan. - More...
Thursday - December 18, 2008

Alaska: Storm exposes unknown glacier on Alaska coast By NED ROZELL - Last August, a group of scientists flew to Kaktovik, Alaska, hoping to catch a flight from the small village to study permafrost features off the Jago River. But foggy weather pinned them in the village, and their change in plans led them to a glacier that no one knew about.

Storm exposes unknown glacier on Alaska coast

An ancient glacier that scientists recently found exposed off Alaska's northern coast near Kaktovik.
Photograph by Torre Jorgenson

Torre Jorgenson of ABR Inc. was one of the scientists who wandered the beach near Kaktovik to check out a massive chunk of shoreline that fell into the sea during a storm on July 1, 2008. The storm exposed about 1 kilometer of ice and soil.

"The Kaktovik residents had never seen such undercutting of the bluff," Jorgenson said in San Francisco, as he discussed the buried glacier at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union, which draws dozens of scientists from Alaska and thousands more from the rest of the world.

While Jorgenson and his colleagues from the University of Alaska Fairbanks-Yuri Shur, Misha Kanevskiy, and Matt Dillon-walked along the fresh ice bluffs 15 minutes from the village, they saw masses of dirty brown ice with little rocks embedded in it. It looked like glacier ice, but they knew that geologists claimed that glaciers were never in that part of Alaska.

"At the end of the first day, we thought (the ice) was weird stuff," Jorgenson said. "We thought it might be glacial ice, but then said, 'No, it can't be.'"

But the more the researchers looked at the ice, the more they thought of glaciers. Kanevskiy had studied ice formed at the base of Matanuska and Muldrow glaciers, and the ice in the bank at Kaktovik was the same type, with plenty of the sand and silt and pebbles that glaciers usually carry along.

"By the second day, we were convinced (it was glacier ice)," Jorgenson said.

The crew cancelled their plans to fly to the Jago River and concentrated on the discovery of Alaska's northernmost glacial ice.

Jorgenson said that scientists have since the early 1900s wondered about polished pebbles they'd found on Alaska's northern coast, and many other clues that suggested a great icefield once existed where Alaska touches the Arctic Ocean. While working on Alaska's North Slope since the late 1970s, Jorgenson has seen and heard about many clues that suggested the area might have been under ice-including gouge-marks on the ocean floor off the coast and sand deposits in unusual areas. But it wasn't until last August that he had proof. - More...
Thursday - December 18, 2008


Alaska: State assumes temporary management of long-term care facility - Today, a team from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services served a notice of immediate license revocation to RainDance Healthcare Group, Inc., licensees of the Mary Conrad Center in Anchorage. The department immediately assumed temporary management of the facility.

"Our first and top priority is for the care and safety of the 88 residents," Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan said. "Our goal is to maintain a continuity of service, avoiding any further disruption in the residents' lives. We will assess each person's situation and ensure that they receive the best possible care."

An inspection of the facility by state officials with the office of Certification and Licensing last week revealed conditions which the state believed to present an "immediate danger to the health, safety or welfare" of individuals receiving services at the center. The revocation was issued under the authority of Alaska Statute 47.32.130. - More...
Thursday - December 18, 2008

Alaska: Governor Creates Rural Subcabinet - Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has signed an Administrative Order (AO) formally establishing a Rural Subcabinet. The Rural Subcabinet will focus its initial efforts on rural migration patterns and the cost of energy in rural Alaska.

The Rural Subcabinet will study the state of the economy, education, law enforcement and infrastructure in outlying regions, and then will make proposals aimed at creating well-paying jobs, stronger schools, safer communities and better public works facilities.

On the issue of migration, Governor Palin noted: "Some level of migration occurs naturally as certain individuals decide to leave rural Alaska for job and educational opportunities that may not exist in their small communities. I want the Rural Subcabinet to look for ways to make certain migration is a result of personal decisions, not despair or a lack of choice resulting from economic pressures or other factors."

Commerce Commissioner Emil Notti noted that while recent school enrollment statistics did not show dramatic shifts overall, the Rural Subcabinet should continue to review the issue of relocation patterns. "Several rural school districts did see a significant decline in enrollment, and 16 Alaska boroughs or census areas lost population between 2000 and 2007, while only five showed moderate increases." - More..
Thursday - December 19, 2008

Ketchikan: NBC HD now available in Ketchikan - Juneau NBC affiliate KATH-TV's HDTV channel is now available on GCI cable in Ketchikan. The expansion of KATH's HD service is part of GCI's roll-out of additional HD channels across Alaska. In addition to NBC's primetime programming, KATH-TV will broadcast the 2009 Super Bowl in HD in February, an event which will be available for the first time in HD in Southeast Alaska.

KATH-HD was launched in Juneau in August in time for the Beijing Olympics on GCI's basic digital cable TV service on channel 652. The expansion of NBC HD service into Ketchikan is a result of a new fiber-optic cable that GCI installed throughout Southeast Alaska this fall. - More...
Thursday - December 18, 2008


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December 2008
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Basic Rules

letter Auto Bailout By U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski - In early December, the U.S. Senate met in a post-election session to consider whether the Federal Government should provide financial assistance to the "Big Three" U.S. automakers: Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. The Big Three argue that without federal assistance in these turbulent financial times, their cash flow will end and they will not be able to continue operations. With a federal bridge loan, the automobile companies say they will be able to continue operations until revised labor and business plans are in place. - More...
Friday - December 19, 2008

letter Join us in picketing the gas stations on Dec. 20th By Ken Horn - I am sending a letter out to the public to let them know that we are picketing the Ketchikan gas stations on Saturday, Dec. 20th from 10:00 am to 12 noon. We would encourage anyone who is as concerned about the ongoing prices of gas here in Ketchikan as we are, to come on down and express your unhappiness with us. - More...
Friday - December 19, 2008

letter Gas & Fuel Prices By Jeremy Wills - I want to know how exactly the people reponsible for our gas prices sleep at night. I am so disgusted at their greed and total disregard for the well being of the citizens of their own city. I understand making a profit, but this is completely ridiculous. - More...
Friday - December 19, 2008

letterFuel Barges By Ed Vitorino - If you drove into town from south of the Island on Tuesday of this week you would have seen a fuel barge at Petro Marine. Soon you will see another picking up fuel to go north. This is a weekly event that keeps fuel moving throughout southeast and prices change every day basically. - More...
Friday - December 19, 2008

letter Christmas Tree By Diane Naab - I was reluctant to respond to Mr. McGillvray's first letter because of the rude content. But now I find it necessary to respond to the additional letters concerning this year's placement of the community Christmas tree. I agree that the placement wasn't ideal but it was done for a good reason. Work being done on the dock next to the Visitor's Bureau prohibited that site from being used this year. Next year we'll be back to the traditional and most visible place on the dock with a fully lit tree. - More...
Friday - December 19, 2008

letter Placement of the Christmas Tree By Denise Buker - Wasn't there an announcement in the paper about the placement of this year's Christmas tree? - More...
Friday - December 19, 2008

letter Christmas tree By Diane Johnson - I suppose if you have to have a tree at the new visitors' dock, the least you could do is put another one where the tree has always been. Two trees.... double beauty. - More...
Friday - December 19, 2008

letterAIRPORT PEDESTRIAN TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES By Pete Ellis - It isn't necessary that every flight arrival and departure at Ketchikan International be met and the only requirement should be that transportation be available on a scheduled basis so that passengers having nothing else available can rely upon transport coming across for delivery and pickup at particular times that may require a passenger to wait for the schedule. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letter On corruption... By Geoff Brandt - Back, a lot of years ago, I sent a "care-package" or two up to Palmer and my friend George Holman, the former state senator and Power Broker from Bethel. Maybe it was '82, or '83? Have to look it up when I have time... - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letterGas Prices - Is Ketchikan #1? By Sandy Powers - I just read an interesting article on, called "Uh-oh: Gas prices on the rise". It states that the national average price for a gallon of gas rose to $1.663 from $1.66 the previous day. Uh-oh, indeed. The article went on to say, "Two states still have average regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. The highest gas prices are in Alaska, at $2.689 a gallon. The remaining 48 states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The cheapest gas prices are in Missouri, at $1.477 a gallon." - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letterGas Prices By Lisa Hydock - I agree with Mr. Vitorino. Although I have been going to the Department of Energy website to file a complaint of price gouging since September, it seems to have done very little to help Ketchikan residents. - More...
Tuewsday - December 16, 2008

letterGas Prices, you know it!!! By Ed Vitorino - Found out more on what we need to do on the matter of fuel prices. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letter Stolen Christmas Siberian Husky By Deborah Harney - I would like to cry "Bah-Humbug and stop thief" to whomever stole our Siberian Husky Christmas decoration Saturday night (13th December). - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letterPublic Apology By Alan R.(Rudy)McGillvray - I hereby publicly apologize for any seemingly anti- anything remarks I made in my last letter to the editor of SitNews. Umbrage should have been taken. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letterKetchikan's Christmas Tree By Lorrie E. Gunyah - Whose idea was the location for the Christmas Tree? A bad one I must say because it was always a BEAUTIFUL sight to see it on the dock by the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, not TOO Late to put it BACK THERE, after all it is a joyful event for everyone, not just cause somebody wanted it in that location, who knows. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letter Christmas Tree - I too am disappointed By Marie Jeanne Cadle - Each year I look forward to the sight of the Christmas tree downtown. In years past it was next to the original visitor center where you could see it driving both north and south and while you were walking or shopping down town. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letterChristmas Tree By Suzan Thompson - Just finished reading the letter regarding the placement of the city's Christmas tree. If anybody really believes that Mayor Weinstein sits at home in his Grinch suit trying to figure out how to hide the community Christmas tree, they're just knocking back a little too much eggnog. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letter Christmas Tree By Don Loughman - I probably won't be the first person to note that Alan R. McGillvray's letter appears to break Sitnews' basic rules. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letter Drive to the Capitol - Palin By Christopher Wright - I'm not particularly a Palin supporter but this letter is really digging deep for something to whine about. In fact, my first time to Juneau was through Canada and I LIVE in Alaska. Juneau isn't even available from most of Alaska unless you have the money for a plane ride - which we sure don't. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letter Gas Prices & Bridge to Nowhere By Chris Barry - Well, if you all want them to drop the gas prices, then stop being a bunch of whiny babies and boycott them as best you can. Stop driving your vehicles as much as possible and start riding the Bus or carpooling or walking to work and the store. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

letter Gas Prices By Kerry Foster - You can do something about high automotive gasoline prices. - More...
Tuesday - December 16, 2008

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