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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 22, 2008

Front Page Photo By BILL HARNEY

Harry Newell
The Harry Newell parades the Tongass Narrows as the
lone ship in this year's annual Christmas Boat Parade
Front Page Photo By BILL HARNEY



Ketchikan: Smoke Detectors Save Ketchikan Residents - "Working smoke alarms" are credited for saving the lives of Rex and Sonja Westergard in an early Saturday morning house fire here in Ketchikan said Ketchikan Fire Chief Jim Hill.

Smoke Detectors Save Ketchikan Residents

Results of the fire on the exterior of the home at 3826 Hillside Road in the area of the fire's orgin.
Photo courtesy Ketchikan Fire Department

The call came in to 911 dispatchers at 2:25 AM Saturday for a house fire at 3826 Hillside Road. First arriving units were on the scene in less than five minutes. When firefighters arrived, two of the occupants were outside. A third occupant was briefly unaccounted for, but it was soon learned he had spent the evening with relatives.

The owners of the home credit "smoke alarms with saving their lives." When they heard the smoke alarms, the house was filling with smoke. 911 dispatchers advised the occupants to evacuate.

The Cold weather hampered firefighting efforts with early morning temperatures near 17 degrees. Frozen equipment and slippery conditions made fighting the fire difficult. Fire damage was confined to the lower level of the residence but smoke damage was significant on the upper levels of the home. Preliminary fire-loss estimates are $200,000 with $100,000 damage to the structure and about $100,000 in damages to the contents of the residence. - More...
Monday - December 22, 2008

Alaska: Permit and Vessel License Renewal Available Online - The Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) has created a new online permit and vessel license renewal service now available to Alaska's fishing community. Permit holders can renew permit and vessel licenses for the 2009 fishing season online.

The online renewal system is secure and easy to use. Within just a few weeks of the November 24, 2008 start, more than 1,000 renewal transactions have been completed. "We are very excited that the online service has proved to be so popular with residents and non-residents alike," said Yvonne Miller, CFEC Licensing Supervisor. "So far, Alaskans representing every region of the state have successfully used the online system." - More...
Monday - December 22, 2008

Alaska: From naughty to nice: Bothersome beavers behaving, at least for now - Maybe they heard about Santa, or maybe they just got tired of volunteers undoing their work, but it appears the beavers in the Dredge Lakes area have ceased plugging culverts, felling trees and repairing dams.

Dredge Lake beavers interacting
Photo courtesy Tongass Forest Service

That's the word from a local group of volunteers that has been working with the Juneau Ranger District to alleviate problems the beavers were causing for fish and recreationists. The beavers obstructed fish passage by blocking culverts, and caused flooding on the area trails with dams.

What to do about the Dredge Lake beavers has long been a contentious issue in the community. The matter came to a head about a year ago, when Juneau District Ranger Pete Griffin announced plans to cull the rodents. Those plans met with opposition from some community members who believed there was a better solution.

"The real objective was not necessarily to reduce the beaver population, but to keep the trails dry and the fish passages open at the least cost to government," said Griffin, a wildlife biologist by training. "Some folks wouldn't accept this low-cost, purely scientific approach."

A group of volunteers stepped forward last December and presented a plan to Griffin for daily monitoring of the area, and working with the Forest Service to clear culverts and alter dams. Griffin agreed to let the volunteers try their approach.

For the past year, up to 15 volunteers, including members of the Juneau Parks and Recreation Department hiking group, students from Juneau Youth Services and the high school football team, have worked with the Forest Service on the project.

Fisheries Biologist Pete Schneider and Forester March Scholten are just two Juneau Ranger District employees who assisted the group by providing GPS data on of beaver dam locations, along with information on environmental requirements for beavers.

"I appreciate the volunteers' efforts to strike a balance between maintaining a variety of recreation opportunities while at the same time supporting the habitat needs of beavers," said Schneider. - More...
Monday - December 22, 2008


Fish Factor: Economic chaos on Wall Street trickles down to docks By LAINE WELCH - Cod prices dropped 20-cents in Kodiak last week, from 65- to 45-cents a pound. It's a sure sign that the economic chaos on Wall Street has trickled down to the docks. The global credit crunch is stalling or stopping seafood commerce, and cod is piling up in local freezers.

"There's just so much uncertainty," said John Whiddon, manager at Island Seafoods.

"It's scary," echoed Tuck Bonney, operations manager at Alaska Pacific Seafood.

Like so many others, the seafood industry depends upon a long chain of buying and selling to carry out its business.

"Processors buy from fishermen, who then sell to wholesalers who sell to retailers and so on. When things are working normally, a line of credit is a standard part of the business. And many of these companies have been doing business together for decades," said Gunnar Knapp, fisheries economist at the University of Alaska/Anchorage.

If anyone along the chain runs into a credit glitch, it gums up the whole works.

"What it boils down to," Knapp said, "is that businesses are finding it a lot harder to borrow money on credit, partly because the businesses who lend out the money are experiencing difficulties. Money is short and they are extra cautious about who they want to lend to."

Currency exchange rates are also getting whacked around worldwide. That's important to watch because seafood accounts for fully half of Alaska's total exports.

"You need to consider where in the world it is going," Knapp said.

In just the past few months, for example, the value of the Euro has tanked while the Japanese yen has strengthened. That's lucky timing for Alaska crabbers, as Japan bought 65% of the red king crab pack this winter.

"This is a global economic crisis and many of Alaska's competitors may have the same or worse credit and market problems. To the extent they are unable to supply markets, this could benefit the Alaska industry," Knapp speculated.

The global recession could reduce demand for higher priced seafoods, and boost interest in less pricey products. Fishermen should also get a break from high fuel prices over the next few months. - More...
Monday - December 22, 2008

Columns - Commentary

GEORGE PASLEY: THE STORY OF CHRISTMAS, AND WHAT IT MEANS - One of my favorite experiences as a pastor is to tell children the Christmas story using a crèche, or nativity scene.

A nativity scene is a three dimensional depiction of the characters and setting of the birth of Christ. Most will have some depiction of either a stable, or at least a manger in which the baby Jesus is lying. They will also have Mary and Joseph, shepherds, at least one sheep and perhaps a cow and a donkey, and three figures representing the magi. Possibly they might have camels, and frequently some sort of angel which ideally would be somehow placed above all of the characters.

Persons of all ages love nativity scenes but they seem especially inviting to children, perhaps in part because they seem like toys. I've watched many children who were being restrained by their parents because they wanted to pick the characters up and play with them! That's why they make a great tool for telling and teaching the story about Christmas, the birth of Christ. - More...
Monday - December 22, 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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