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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 22, 2012

Front Page Photo by KAREN HORN

Have A Song Sparrow Christmas
Although this little song sparrow is eating a shell at a beach north of Ketchikan, perhaps it might be making a statement, "I want to be a Christmas Tree".
Front Page Photo by KAREN HORN
(Please respect the rights of photographers, never republish or copy
without permission and/or payment of required fees.)

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Southeast Alaska:
Wrangell's Recovering Economy; Fishing, tourism, forestry all part of revitalization By PAULA DOBBYN - When Carol Rushmore moved to Wrangell in 1993, the Southeast Alaska community was buzzing with business activity. Although historically dependent on natural resources - fur, gold, timber and fish - and prone to boom and bust cycles, Wrangell was vibrant at the time Rushmore was unpacking boxes.

Wrangell, Alaska
Photo courtesy Wrangell Chamber of Commerce

Rushmore remembers settling into a picturesque Panhandle town of about 2, 400 residents when the community's primary economic engine was churning - a sawmill that employed nearly 250 workers at its peak. Surrounded by the lush Tongass National Forest, the mill was a good place to work. It paid average wages more than 50 percent higher than most other jobs in town, according to the Alaska Department of Labor.

"When I got here, things were hopping. You couldn't get a post office box. You had to do general delivery. The housing market was unbelievably tight. Houses would sell overnight. It was a very busy place," says Rushmore, Wrangell's economic development director.

With an annual payroll in excess of $10 million, the Alaska Pulp Co. sawmill in downtown Wrangell provided about 30 percent of Wrangell's wages. Besides loggers and sawmill workers, the company indirectly employed many other people, including dozens of longshoremen.

But a year after Rushmore took up residence the mill closed, sending shockwaves into Wrangell's economy. "We lost about hundreds of people practically overnight. Our unemployment rate shot up to over 20 percent. It was a dramatic loss and downturn for our community," she says.

Wrangell's unemployment rate in 2011 was down to 8.6 percent, and the preliminary September 2012 figures are even lower - 6.0 percent. But the recovery has been slow and painful as the remote island town, about 155 miles south of Juneau, attempts to redefine itself and diversity. Still, there are many signs of life in Wrangell and indications that the economy is on the rise.

"We're heading in the right direction. Our fishing industry is strong. We've made a lot of improvements to our community infrastructure that is going to attract more visitors. We've seen nothing but opportunity for growth in our marine services sector," says Jeremy Maxand, a member of Wrangell's economic development committee and a former mayor.

There's also some hope for what's left of Wrangell's timber industry. Last fall, the U.S. Forest Service awarded three small-scale, or "micro", timber sales in the area to a small group of specialty wood-products producers in the area. In addition, there's talk of turning the former Silver Bay sawmill site, about five miles south of town, into a niche wood-products plant. - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

Southeast Alaska: Hydaburg Students Attend American Indian Science and Engineering Society's National Conference - The annual American Indian Science and Engineering Society's National Conference was recently held in Anchorage. The theme of the conference was “Adaptability” focusing on adapting to life in rural Alaska.  Presentations focused on how to develop and manage sustainable living practices including the development of wind energy and the importance of food security in rural Alaska were at the center of this year’s meeting.

Hydaburg Students Attend American Indian Science and Engineering Society's National Conference

For the fourth consecutive year, students from the Hydaburg School District attended the American Indian Science and Engineering Society's National Conference.

The mission of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) is to substantially increase the representation of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in engineering, science, and other related technology disciplines.

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society is the only professional society established by and for American Indian and Alaska Natives that specifically emphasizes lifelong learning and educational achievement by utilizing cultural aspects with science, engineering and technology. - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

Alaska: Troopers Continue Anti-DUI Patrols Through the Holidays - It is the time of year when holiday parties are in full swing. While drinking is often a part of many holiday celebrations, driving impaired should not be. The Alaska State Troopers encourage motorists to make smart choices this season and always have a plan to get home safely. If you consume drugs or alcohol, plan to either stay the night or to have a sober driver in charge of operating your vehicle.

Regardless of what your ultimate plans are for Christmas and New Year's Eve, troopers encourage you to always practice safe driving behaviors on the roads while traveling to and from your destination. Always have a plan to celebrate safely and responsibly. - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

Alaska: NOAA lists ringed and bearded ice seal populations under the Endangered Species Act; Loss of ice and snow cover are most significant conservation concerns  - NOAA Fisheries announced this week , in compliance with a court ordered deadline, its final listing decision for four subspecies of ringed seals and two distinct population segments (DPSs) of bearded seals under the Endangered Species Act. Specifically, in line with the proposal, NOAA will list as threatened the Beringia and Okhotsk DPSs of bearded seals and the Arctic, Okhotsk, and Baltic subspecies of ringed seals. The Ladoga subspecies of ringed seals will be listed as endangered. The species that exist in U.S. waters (Arctic ringed seals and the Beringia DPS of bearded seals) are already protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

This science-based listing decision will not result in any immediate restrictions on human activities; however, Federal agencies that permit or fund projects that may affect a listed species must consult with NOAA Fisheries to ensure the existence of the species is not jeopardized. In addition, this listing will have no impact on the subsistence harvest of ice seals by Alaska Natives, a practice that is central to the traditional culture and nutrition in many Alaskan Native coastal communities. - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

Columns - Commentary

TOM PURCELL: Beware the Office Christmas Party - "You got fired because your company had a Christmas party? You're going to have to explain."

"Look, I've been going to company Christmas parties a long time. The mix of office politics and adult beverages has caused some nutty things to happen over the years. But now everybody is so serious and so easily offended, things are worse than ever."

"What did you do?"

"Well, the owners of my company threw a traditional office Christmas party after work one evening — the last such party they'll ever have. Thanks to me and the boys in the sales department, adult beverages were flowing. I thought everybody was having a good time. But something was missing."


"There was no Christmas tree! I went out to the woods and cut a couple of pine branches and put them in a vase. I went to my desk and made a paper star. I placed the star on top of the tree. I figured everybody would love it, but somebody filed a complaint with Human Resources." - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

DOUG PATTON: If Ever We Needed Christ in Christmas, It Is Now - This year, the politically correct gestures of seasonal salutation (Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, etc.), which for too long have served as substitutes for the real thing, have become vacuous, stale and boring. This year, somehow, they seem especially inadequate to express the sentiment we so desperately need to hear at this moment in time.

In the last few years, I have sensed a desire on the part of many to return to the traditional greeting, "Merry Christmas." This year, anything else seems especially hollow.

We watch with horror, depression, anger or detachment as events unfold in Newtown, Connecticut, Washington, DC, the Middle East, or elsewhere in our fallen world. We listen to politicians offering to place Band-Aids on the open arteries of our national psyche, and we think, this can't be the answer!

For two thousand years, we have looked everywhere but a manger in Bethlehem.

Jesus Christ was born in the humblest of settings to become the Savior of all. This was by design, for at the time of His birth, even King Herod's men did not think to look in a stable for a king. Kings are born in palaces, among opulence and luxury. Jesus did not fit the template. - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012


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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696
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letter Children of the Taku By Andrew Williams & Yvonne Jack - As citizens of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation (TRTFN), we are proud that a November 18 Joint Clan Meeting unanimously passed a Mandate directing TRTFN leadership to "take all steps necessary to ensure that the Tulsequah Chief project, as currently proposed, is not developed on Taku River Tlingit Territory." - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

letter RE: Teacher Evaluations By Chris Barry - I have to disagree with Mike Hanley's comments about what makes a teacher great. It seems that his comments are more politically driven finger pointing than anything else. - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

letter Remembering Hon. Henry C. Keene By Brad Forbes - I simply send this e-mail in respect to all in your fair city of Ketchikan, Alaska.  For what it is worth, I was delighted to see “Capt.” Keene’s You Tube tour and a little history of Creek St.  I’ve looked your city over on You Tube.  Beautiful! - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

letter Gas Price response By Norma Lankerd - FYI, tell the guy griping about the $3.71 a gallon he may GRIPE harder if he lived in Metlakatla, we PAY $4.71 a gallon and it has never gone down since it went up. ALSO people have to realize the fuel is barged up to Alaska and that adds the fuel surcharge to the cost which is probably added into the cost of the fuel. - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

letter Thoughts on a variety of subjects By Joey Garcia - This is the first time when I read the latest Sitnews containing innuendos, which as for me, is a basic ingredient part of a constructive kind of criticism, citing a few like the sentencing of 2 brother Filipinos in the finality, the broken neck of birds along the path of Ward Lake, the attitude of the KPU inhuman trait in cutting electricity and the reinstallation charges so fantastically done so in time for Christmas, the continuous refurbishing of dockside 1 and 2 for the 2013 tourists trade, etc....etc.... Pathetic? Not really I guess... - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

letter Ferry Service for Inter Island Ferry By Norma Lankerd - Okay the Lituya will be down for maintenance - I believe is from January 4th to January 25th, 2013 - and the INTER-Island Ferry is picking up the ferry service one-way only and the resident people of Metlakatla will have to stay in Ketchikan for the night and come back to Metlakatla the next day. - More...
Saturday PM - December 22, 2012

letter Teacher Evaluations By Mike Hanley - No one describes a teacher as great without talking about how well their students are learning. It just doesn’t happen, because you can’t have one without the other. Teachers teach kids -- both in areas of academic knowledge as well as other important skills like critical thinking, problem solving, working independently, working in groups, and citizenship. I would argue that these latter skills are foundational to academic success. - More...
Monday PM - December 17, 2012

letter Thank you By Heather Muench - The Board of Directors of the Ketchikan Humane Society would like to thank all the caring community members and businesses who donated time, money, and auction items to our 2012 Silent Auction and Fundraiser on November 16th. We were so pleased that so many of you turned out in support of our efforts to help Ketchikan's abused and abandoned animals. - More...
Monday PM - December 17, 2012

letter Gun Laws By Rodney Dial - Something worth considering regarding the national debate about firearm / ammo restrictions: The one commonality present in most mass killings is the mental illness of the shooter. The number one way to prevent the mentally ill from obtaining firearms/ammo would be the creation of a national database that would be accessed by the dealer at the point of sale. Meaning, that if a person was treated in the past for mental illness, or flagged as unstable by the health community, the sale would be denied. - More...
Monday PM - December 17, 2012

letter Leash Law By Dawna L. Hull - I have been living in Saxman for 3 years. I've talked to Animal Control on a number of occasions about the many dogs I see that wander around without leashes. I've come into contact with a number of these animals and for the most part they are friendly. But I've also come across some who will "challenge" me. - More...
Monday PM - December 17, 2012

letter Repost of the "Potential hydro power from B. C. Canada" By A. M. Johnson - Greetings Sitnews readers, I would apologize for the transmittal error that had the body of the letter submitted excluded for unknown computer glitch. - More...
Monday PM - December 17, 2012

letter Gas Prices By Justin Capps - Why are we paying a lot for gas when the lower 48’s paying under $3.75 gallon? - More...
Monday PM - December 17, 2012

letter Price of Gas: What's going on? By Karen Ramsey - Good people of Ketchikan, we are still getting squeezed for $4.31 a gallon for Safeway’s gasoline and $4.33 out at Ward Cove Market. What gives? It’s ridiculous!!! I just spent a week in Hawaii, and nowhere did I see the price for regular higher than $4.00 a gallon. We need to make some noise. - More...
Monday PM - December 10, 2012

letter Ketchikan's gas prices & taxes By John Goucher - I recently visited Ketchikan for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Ketchikan was where I hung my hat for over 30 years and both of my daughters and my fiancee still call Ketchikan home. Living in Oregon this past year and visiting Ketchikan as often as possible has made me cogitate on many things in Ketchikan that folks have come to expect. Large utility bills, high food prices, multitudes of "Fees" and taxes by both the City and Borough and of course outrageous gasoline prices. - More...
Monday PM - December 10, 2012

letter Potential hydro power from B.C.Canada By A.M.Johnson - With the announcement, regarding the City of Ketchikan bringing the diesel power on to the system to counteract the lack of near future water supply for hydro generation, the following may be timely to ask you to print in your valuable community news paper. - More...
Monday PM - December 10, 2012

letter JUDGMENT, A COMMODITY OUR 4-STAR TYPES CLEARLY LACK By David G. Hanger - The most disturbing aspect of this Petraeus mess is the incredible lack of judgment demonstrated by these four-star generals in their association with Jill Kelley, her husband and Jill’s twin sister. Party animals and grifters in all but name, these are not the kind of people with whom we should ever expect close association from generals controlling the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans in uniform. Purportedly educated in the most rigid of honor systems to inculcate in these future commanders the discipline, the dignity and the integrity requisite to expending American lives in pursuit of a purpose, their most personal associations are corrupted by the freaks they are hanging out with, all for the glitz of sex or party favors. - More...
Monday PM - December 10, 2012

letter Freezing water By Alan R.McGillvray - Well the cold has begun to snap again, and I thought it would be an opportune moment to remind people that it's time to turn on the cold water on your faucets to keep the water line from freezing up. If you use a cistern to supply the house with water, it can be problematic. - More...
Monday PM - December 10, 2012

letter Budget Cuts By A.M. Johnson - President Obama  ordered the cabinet to cut $100,000,000.00 ($100 million) from the  $3,500,000,000,000.00 ($3.5 trillion) federal budget.   I'm so  impressed by this sacrifice that I have decided to do the same thing with my  personal budget. I spend about $2,000 a month on groceries, household  expenses, medicine, utilities, etc., but it's time to get out the budget  cutting axe, go through my expenses, and cut back. - More...
Monday PM - December 10, 2012 

letter Deposit for services By Gladys Natkong - I have been in Alaska since 1989, I came back to Alaska to be with my mother who was sick, I decided to stay after she passed. So I am from Alaska and don't have any plans to move. I am wondering if what happened to me has ever happened to anyone else. I can't remember even getting my lights hooked up, it was so long ago, but I remember that I did put up a deposit. I think I eventually got it back. I usually pay my bills before I do anything, but I was caught up in a family matter and when I checked my bank account I saw that I hadn't paid my light bill. Then a man from the Ketchikan light company came to the door and said that he was there to shut off the lights and that I better call the office. I called the office and the lady in charge of credit said that I had to pay my bill in full and pay a $395.00 deposit by Friday (It was Tuesday) to keep my lights on. I tried to explain that I forgot because of family emergencies and she asked if I got energy assistance and I said yes. She said get them to pay it. The total amount that the light company wanted was $695.00. I told her that my disability check couldn't even pay that. - More...
Thursday PM - December 06, 2012

letter Lisa Murkowski and the United Nations By Marvin Seibert - Recently the Senate voted to reject the UN treaty for disabled rights in a 61-38 vote, 5 shy of passing. On the surface this sounds like a very Callous vote by the Senate Republicans. The truth however lies in the details! If this vote would have passed then the U.N. would create new abortion rights and impede the ability of people to home-school disabled children just to start with. The treaty would infringe on U.S. sovereignty, an argument echoed by other opponents. - More...
Thursday PM - December 06, 2012

letter Filipino Community of Ketchikan's New President By Joey Garcia - The Filipino Community of Ketchikan recently has turned the gavel to a newly elected President Alex Millendez. His prowess in getting the group together will enhance a plan for the 2013 agenda that will entail lots of camaraderie within the membership group. - More...
Thursday PM - December 06, 2012

letter Re: Property Taxes By John Harrington - Mike Fay was stunned last year when he got his tax bill for a waterfront home valued at over $170,000. Why? He had to pay almost $1000. He complains that there are no schools, way up there. That is true, also there are no students; but nonetheless the State of Alaska requires the Borough to pay almost $500 toward funding schools for his property. And the Borough pays every cent of his taxes to support schools, and then some. - More...
Monday PM - December 03, 2012

letter Re: The girl who gave up By Kathy Stack - I want to thank you for your story Jordan. I have a hole in my heart due to a brother commiting suicide in 1990. I think your story will help others and I want you to know I appreciate you for writing and publishing it. - More...
Monday PM - December 03, 2012

letter King Island Christmas By Jacquie O'Sullivan - I just returned from the Ketchikan Community Choir's performance of King Island Christmas. It was outstanding. They all did a terrific job putting it on. Singing was terrific, settings and artwork were great and the story is uplifting and fun for all ages. - More...
Monday PM - December 03, 2012

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