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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 02, 2010

Front Page Photo by SUSAN HOYT

Close Encounters
A stellar sea lion and a humpback whale cross paths in the Tongass dock area the day after Thanksgiving .
Front Page Photo By SUSAN HOYT

Alaska: Alaska's Senate race: Judge agrees to a speedy election hearing By JILL BURKE, Alaska Dispatch - Alaska Superior Court Judge William Carey, based in Ketchikan, wants lingering issues surrounding Alaska's contested U.S. Senate race settled as soon as possible. - Read this Alaska Dispatch article...

Ketchikan: Ketchikan legislator petitions to rejoin House majority caucus By LISA DEMER, Anchorage Daily News - A Ketchikan representative who walked out on the Republican-led caucus that runs the state House is pleading with his colleagues to let him back in. - Read this Anchorage Daily News article...


Public Meeting Set for Totem Bight Historical Park Master Development Plan - The Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation will host a public scoping meeting in Ketchikan at the Ted Ferry Civic Center on December 9, 2010 at 7:00 PM to introduce the Totem Bight State Historical Park (SHP) Master Development Plan.

A general overview of the plan, goals and objectives, and general timeline will be presented. Participants will be given the opportunity to ask questions, discuss concerns, and submit comments.

The Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation is preparing a master development plan for Totem Bight State Historical Park. This plan will set forth management guidelines and recommendations for facility development in the park. The previous general development plan for the park, adopted in 1977, needs updating. This new master development plan will recognize the facilities that have been built or improved in the last 30 years, propose future development, and address some of the issues the park is facing with increased visitor use. - More...
Thursday AM - December 02, 2010

Alaska: 2011 Unemployment Insurance Tax Rates to Increase - Most Alaskan employers will see an increase in their state unemployment insurance (UI) tax rate. The average UI tax rate for calendar year 2011 is 1.87 percent, compared to 2010’s 1.31 percent. This rate includes a three-tenths (0.3 percent) Trust Fund Solvency Adjustment.

“The 2011 tax rate is the fifth lowest in 31 years, despite the heavy demand for unemployment benefits over the past couple of years,” Labor Commissioner Click Bishop said. “Alaska’s UI tax serves a dual purpose for Alaska’s economy: providing UI benefits that partially replace wages to workers during temporary periods of unemployment and stabilizing the economies of communities during economic downturns.”

Alaska is one of three states (along with New Jersey and Pennsylvania) in which employees also fund the UI Trust Fund, with workers paying 27 percent of the benefit costs and employers paying 73 percent. For 2011, workers will pay 0.58 percent, up from 0.50 percent in 2010, up to the taxable wage base. Alaska’s average annual wage increased from $45,443 in 2009 to $46,173 in 2010 setting the taxable wage base at $34,600 for 2011, a $500 increase from 2010. Total wages of covered employers in Alaska grew .15 percent during state fiscal year 2010, from $10.609 billion in SFY 2009 to $10.625 billion in SFY 2010. - More...
Thursday AM - December 02, 2010

Personal Finance - Wage freeze proposal puts federal pay in spotlight By KATHLEEN PENDER - President Obama's proposal to freeze most federal workers' salaries has intensified the debate over whether U.S. government employees are overpaid.

A report by the libertarian Cato Institute says that in 2009, the average federal civilian wage was $81,258 per year, compared with $50,462 in the private sector, based on U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data. If you add benefits, total compensation swelled to $123,049, roughly twice the private-sector average of $61,051.

"In 2009, federal compensation was 66 percent above private-sector compensation. Today it's 102 percent above, so the gap is increasing," says Chris Edwards, author of the Cato report (available at

Critics say such studies are flawed because the federal workforce has a lot more college-educated, white-collar workers than the labor force at large, which increases its average pay.

However, a study by USA Today, published in March, compared pay (excluding benefits) for more than 216 occupations that exist in both the public and private sectors. It found that average federal salaries exceeded average private-sector pay in 83 percent of these occupations in 2008, the most recent year Bureau of Labor Statistics data were available. On average, federal workers earned $67,691, almost 13 percent more than their private-sector counterparts, it said.

Larry Mishel, president of the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute, says federal workers are underpaid compared with their private-sector counterparts, based on the annual report by the President's Pay Agent. The report, authorized by Congress in 1990, is prepared by the Labor Department, Office of Management and Budget and Office of Personnel Management. It is designed to compare pay rates for federal versus non-federal workers for the same job in different parts of the country, and eliminate any disparities.

It estimated that, on average, federal workers were making 22 percent less than their private-sector peers in 2009. - More...
Thursday AM - December 02, 2010



Alaska Science: Rabbits and marmots as island invaders By NED ROZELL - In 1930, the Alaska Game Commission for some reason released marmots, furry creatures the size of under-exercised house cats, on a 275-acre island between Kodiak and the Kenai Peninsula. As the years went by and few servicemen stationed on Sud Island moved on, the marmots stayed.

Rabbits and marmots as island invaders

European rabbit on Poa Island.
Photo by Steve Ebbert, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In the 1940s, a man who lived in Akutan tasted rabbit for the first time while working with United States Navy Seabees on Hog Island near Unalaska. He liked the meat so much that he brought a few bunnies home with him. He released them on a 134-acre island 12 miles from his home village, a place he liked to gather bird eggs. Long after the man stopped hunting them, the rabbits endured.

In 2010, managers of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge tried to turn back the clock by removing European rabbits from Poa Island and hoary marmots from Sud Island. The managers’ goal is to restore native ecosystems to islands. The mission favors seabirds over European rabbits that aren’t native to Alaska and hoary marmots, which live in other areas of the state, but aren’t native to Sud Island.

After early spring trapping and hunting of rabbits and marmots on the islands, Sud Island probably has no more marmots. Some rabbits probably remain on Poa Island, according to Steve Ebbert, a biologist with the refuge, who gave a talk recently in Fairbanks.

“We put four guys on the island from February to May,” Ebbert said of the rabbit-removal effort on Poa Island. “They took 342 rabbits. I don’t think we got them all, and the trappers pulled our traps and nets after the puffins came back.”

European rabbits don’t mix well with ground-nesting puffins because rabbits, rather than digging their own burrows, use the ones puffins have dug. Rabbits enjoy sole occupancy of the holes all winter, but when puffins return to the island to nest, rabbits don’t move out. Not comfortable with rabbits at their door, puffins often abandon their eggs inside, Ebbert said. Both rabbits and marmots make seabirds more vulnerable by trimming the grasses at burrow entrances. - More...
Thursday AM - December 02, 2010



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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696.

letter2010 Alaska U.S. Senate election By Trapper Bishop - I am writing this piece to offer some advice for Joe Miller: accept and concede. Although I personally supported Joe Miller, the time has come, I believe, in which Joe needs to realize the people of Alaska have spoken and Senator Murkowski deserves to be sworn in next month. - More...
Thursday AM - December 02, 2010

letter Unique learning opportunity By Robert Warner - Perhaps the last election provided most Alaskans with a unique learning opportunity.  It was a good spelling lesson that we can all benefit.  Let's see! - More...
Thursday Am - December 02, 2010

letterRoe Herring fishery By R.K. Rice - This is largely in response to Kevin Kristovich's letter. You are a lifelong local so you probably remember when as late as the mid 90's Tongass Narrows was teeming with herring every December through January. People jigged bait and pickling herring off the docks. Some used small seine's to harvest bait for longlining shrimping etc. Prior to that East Behm Canal also had a large herring population. Kah Shakes roe herring fishery just suddenly collapsed, along with most of the local herring stocks. - More...
Monday - November 29, 2010

letterWard Cove Deja 'Vu By Mary Lynne Dahl - Once again, Ward Cove is the subject of a questionable purchase by a buyer who has already demonstrated that he either does not have or is not able to raise the money that he offers. He also refuses to disclose, does not keep his word and may, in fact, be just another flim-flam man looking at Ketchikan as an easy mark for his own enrichment plans. A Seattle area man, Kenneth Hopen of Hopen & Associates, a Nevada limited liability corporation, has come up with an offer that has, so far, not put a dime on the table. - More...
Friday PM - November 26, 2010

letterResponse to Raw Fish Tax By Scott Willis This URL is an online form that Bristol Bay Fisherman must submit to the Borough for a Raw Fish Tax. 180,000,000 fish at a nickel per fish. See why the City of Ketchikan wants this Tax? - More...
Friday PM - November 26, 2010

letterRE: Herring By Kevin Kristovich - This letter is in response to the comments and concerns made by Lawrence,"Snapper" Carson. For years now, I have been reading about Mr. Carson commenting about the local herring population and how he accuses the Department of Fish and Game for mismanaging the local herring stocks we once had in the Kah Shakes area south of Ketchikan. He also goes on to object to the West Behm Canal area that is designated as a commercial sac roe herring fishery area. - More...
Friday PM - November 26, 2010

letter Concede By Michael McColley - Mr. Miller is the one who didn't want the federal government to help Alaskans. Now it is Mr. Miller who tried to file a motion to sue over misspellings and the election process and who asked for help from the federal government.- More...
Friday PM - November 26, 2010

letterRaw Fish Tax By Kevin Kristovich - To all Ketchikan commercial fishermen and local harbor users. Show your support to see that the Ketchikan City Council returns the recent funds stripped from the harbor department that were actually voted in by the council in December of 2008 to be held in trust by the harbor department for future harbor improvement and developments. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 23, 2010

letterKyle Johanson Should Resign By Robert Thompson - At the meeting with District One Republicans our representative, Kyle Johanson, encouraged folks to call him - of course, he doesn’t bother to answer his phone. Kyle J. said he is willing to meet with anyone. Yet no one seems to know where he is or how to get a hold of him. - More..
Tuesday PM - November 23, 2010

letter Herring By Lawrence "Snapper" Carson - The Alaska Dept. of Commercial  Fisheries has decided it is time to fish herring for sacroe in the spring of 2011 in Behm  Canal. This is a dormant mandated fishery. It is scheduled to happen when the herring population has reached a threshold population established by the  Alaska  Department of Commercial Fisheries. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 23, 2010

letterProfiling has its place. By A. M. Johnson - As it relates to our current National airport TSA situation... "Once upon a time in the early days of our Western Territory development, a young Eastern newspaper reporter ventured west to witness and report on daily events. Stepping down from the stagecoach in a Western town, he witnessed the crowd gathering around a newly constructed gallows. Inquiring, he found that there was to be a hanging of a young horse thief. Horrified, he witnessed this act and was distraught. Several days following the hanging, it was discovered that the wrong man had been hung. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 23, 2010

letterOpen Letter: New fence at the South Tongass Fire Station By Scott Cragun - I received (the STVFD) letter regarding the proposed new fence at the South Tongass Fire Station and I have a few questions or comments that I would like to have answered or addressed. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 23, 2010

letter RE: Cutting Public Safety By Roger Hackstock - Darlene Guzman is absolutely correct, 100%. I've known her for years and if anybody has a grasp on things in Ketchikan she does. The police department and the fire department in the city need your full support. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 23, 2010

letter Miller needs to let go By LeAnn Pickard - Am I the only person who is rather shocked by the way Miller is handling the outcome of the votes? He seeks to challenge misspellings of Murkowski's name, regardless of voter intent, and is now planning on calling for a recount because there were volunteer observers who did not have the training needed and therefore some ballots that should have been challenged were not. The math says that even if he gets all the 8,000+ ballots taken out of the equation, Murkowski is still in the lead by a couple thousand votes. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 24, 2010

letterMan-up Joe By Michael McColley - I've lived in Alaska most all my life. I know Joe Miller and have met Lisa Murkowski. I believe the people, the voters of Alaska have had their say. Joe you can not push the Alaskans around. Man-up you lost, Lisa won. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 23, 2010

letter What's sauce for the goose? By Sandy Powers - I was intrigued by the Kevin Sweeney (Murkowski's campaign manager) quote as reported in Sitnews [Nov. 17th]. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 23, 2010

letter RE: Iranian Nuclear Weapons Threat By Adam Price - Mr. Donald Moskowitz’s letter (Iranian Nuclear Weapons Threat, 11/9/10) basically said it’s time to use force against Iran in an effort to stop their nuclear program.  The letter states that a number of countries have nuclear weapons, but are considered “stable” and they behave with “rational conduct.”  Umm…let’s see, which country is the only one in history to drop not one, but two atomic bombs? - More...
Tuesday PM - November 23, 201o

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