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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 05, 2015

Front Page Photograph By SUSAN HOYT

Ketchikan's Beaver Moon
November's recent full moon slowly rises over
Deer Mountain and downtown Ketchikan.
Front Page Photograph By SUSAN HOYT

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Ketchikan: Tongass Advisory Committee Supports Proposed Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan - During its final meeting, held December 1-3 in Ketchikan, the Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC) finalized its recommendations to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on developing an ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable forest management strategy for the Tongass National Forest. The Committee reached consensus on draft recommendations in May 2015; during this week’s meeting, the group finalized its recommendations with very minor substantive changes. They unanimously support the preferred alternative in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and recommend it be the foundation of the final amended Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan.

The Committee recognized the amount of work that the Tongass Interdisciplinary Team put into incorporating its recommendations into the Proposed Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement, related they believe that, for the most part, its recommendations were accurately reflected in the preferred alternative. Designated Federal Official, Jason Anderson, expressed mutual gratitude to the Tongass Advisory Committee’s efforts, “I truly thank you. Very few of you received a paycheck to be here, and you gave your time and energy, over and over again, selflessly.”

Committee co-chair, Les Cronk, agreed, “The energy and focus of this group and the shared intent of achieving success has been inspirational. We all had a commitment to success and we achieved it!”

During the meeting, members of the Tongass Interdisciplinary Team provided an overview of how the Tongass Advisory Committee's recommendations were incorporated into the Proposed Land and Resource Management Plan, and offered the opportunity for an in-depth question and answer session to further the Committee's understanding of how its recommendations are reflected in the Proposed Plan.

Following discussion of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the Tongass Advisory Committee provided comments for the Forest Service to consider in finalizing the Proposed Plan.

In addition to recommendations regarding the Proposed Plan, the Tongass Advisory Committee also provided advice regarding implementation and monitoring of the Tongass transition. Committee members stressed the value of place-based monitoring and social learning at the project-level throughout implementation of the new Plan, once finalized, to affect change through adaptation and clearly demonstrate local benefits of projects. The Tongass Advisory Committee discussed how the Forest should use these additional recommendations, which are not reflected in the Plan Amendment. The Tongass Advisory Committee drafted a letter to Secretary Vilsack emphasizing the importance of accepting their recommendations as a package, rather than a menu of options. They also intend to follow-up with the Regional Forest Service leadership in the near-term. - More...
Saturday AM - December 05, 2015

Alaska (Ketchikan): No state has been hurt more by the Affordable Care Act than Alaska - The Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday night passed a bill that will essentially repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) except for one small detail, when it reaches President Barack Obama's desk, he plans to veto it.

Among other things, the bill would prevent the federal government from running healthcare exchanges, eliminate insurance subsidies, repeal Medicaid expansion now underway in 30 states and junk the law's especially controversial requirements that most individuals obtain health insurance coverage and that large employers offer their employees the same. It also would block federal funding for Planned Parenthood for 1 year, a lightning rod issue in the wake of last month's shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three people dead.

The bill, called the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015, won House approval in October. It only needed 51 votes for passage in the Republican-controlled Senate - not the usual 60 to overcome an opposing party's filibuster - because it went through a special budget reconciliation process.

The final vote in the Senate was 52 to 47 along party lines. It now goes back to the House for a second vote because the Senate amended the original bill.

Thursday, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) spoke on the Senate floor, calling on his colleagues to pass the Restoring Americans' Health Care Freedom Reconciliation Act.

During his remarks, Senator Sullivan talked about how the act was hurting the country, but no place more than in Alaska. - More...
Saturday AM - December 05, 2015

"Operation Warm" Provides 60 New Coats to Local Youth - A local program “Operation Warm" has provided children living in our community with brand-new, American-made winter coats. These coats help them brave the cold and attend school protected through the long Alaskan winter.

"Operation Warm" Provides 60 New Coats to Local Youth

RurAL CAP Ketchikan Head Start Students, pictured with Ketchikan Firefighters Union Local 2761, recieve new coats from "Operation Warm"
Photo courtesy Ketchikan Firefighters Union Local 2761

“With the winter months upon us, we recognize that children need a warm coat to wear outside. It’s our way of giving back to the community that has been supportive of its first responders,” explains Ketchikan Fire Medic and KPFA Vice President Jeff Jones.

Ketchikan Firefighters Union Local 2761 (KPFA) teamed up with the Alaska Professional Fire Fighters Association to get behind the local effort of "Operation Warm". Through this partnership, Professional Firefighters across the state of Alaska are expanding "Operation Warm’s" mission.

This is the first year for "Operation Warm" in Ketchikan. According to a news release, Ketchikan Professional Firefighters Association hopes to continue this program by selecting a new set of students each year. - More...
Saturday AM - December 05, 2015

Fish Factor: Halibut Catch Decrease for 2016 Recommended By LAINE WELCH - Despite some encouraging signs that Pacific halibut stocks are stabilizing after being on a downward spiral for nearly two decades, catches could decrease slightly in most regions again next year. That’s IF fishery managers accept the catch recommendations by halibut scientists, which they don’t always do.

At the International Pacific Halibut Commission meeting last week in Seattle, the total 2016 catch, meaning for the West Coast, British Columbia and Alaska, was recommended at 26.56 million pounds, down from 29.22 million pounds this year.

For Alaska, which always gets the lion’s share of the annual halibut harvest, the total take would be 20.32 million pounds, a decrease of less than one million pounds. Halibut catches for all but two Alaska regions would drop slightly, with Area 3B, the Western Gulf, and area 4CDE in the Bering Sea seeing slight increases.

Here are the 2016 recommended catch limits for the six Alaska regions where halibut is harvested, with comparisons to the 2015 catches in parentheses:

• Area 2C (Southeast Alaska): 4.63 million pounds (4.65m)
• Area 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska): 9.37 million pounds (10.10m)
• Area 3B (Western Gulf of Alaska): 2.67 million pounds, (2.65m)
• Area 4A (Alaska Peninsula): 1.39 million pounds (1.30m)
• Area 4B (Aleutian Islands): 910,000 pounds (1.14m)
• Area 4CDE (Bering Sea): 1.44 million pounds (1.29)

There are several encouraging signs for the Pacific halibut stocks, according to IPHC staff biologist Ian Stewart.

“Both the data and the models indicate the stock is relatively stable, and we are seeing some positive trends in some of the catch rate information,” Stewart said in his presentation. “Generally, what we have seen is the yields we have been taking out of the stock over the past five years appear to be pretty consistent with the amount of production available from the stock. We are getting a flat trend, so what we are taking out must not be too far in excess of what is available to be taken out and still maintain roughly the same biomass level.” - More...
Saturday AM - December 05, 2015


Democrats’ Wilderness Proposal Dead On Arrival - U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski dismissed a new bill Wednesday from a group of Senate Democrats to formally designate the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as permanent wilderness.

Democrats’ Wilderness Proposal Dead On Arrival

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan(R-AK), U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Alaska Gov. Walker (I-AK) trash the new bill from a group of Senate Democrats to formally designate the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as permanent wilderness.
Photo courtesy Office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

“I will do everything in my power to make sure this misguided effort does not advance another inch after today,” said Murkowsk (R-AK)i said. “Once again Alaska is again being attacked by a group of senators who wish to impose President Obama’s destructive agenda. Instead of recognizing that the surface development of just 0.01 percent of the non-wilderness portion of ANWR is a great opportunity for our country, these members have chosen to distort the facts of the debate and renege on important promises made to Alaska.”

“I stand ready to have meaningful conversations with any my colleagues about how we leverage our natural resources to transition to a cleaner energy future,” Murkowski said. “But so long as I am here, the only bill related to ANWR that has a chance of passing the Senate will be my bill – not this one. This effort has failed before, and it will fail again.” - More...
Saturday AM - December 05, 2015

Alaska: Federal Government Has Failed to Keep ANILCA Promises - The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing Thurday on the implementation of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, including perspectives on the Act’s impacts in Alaska and suggestions for improvements to the Act.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) called for the federal government to live up to the promises made to Alaskans in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

In exchange for turning 104 million acres of Alaska into national parks and preserves, national forests, and national fish and wildlife preserves, including 50 million acres of wilderness designations, the 1980 act stipulated that Alaska would give “no more” and promised to maintain Alaskans access to the lands, and the state’s sovereign right to manage fish and game on those lands. A number of prominent Alaskans, including Governor Bill Walker, testified before the committee on Thursday that those promises have not been kept.

Governor Walker traveled to Washing to testify before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the implementation of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980. During his testimony, Governor Walker provided the committee with the state’s perspective on the Act’s impacts, and talked about Alaska’s need to be self-sufficient by developing its natural resources. - More...
Saturday AM - December 05, 2015


Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: State keeps up its APB on the ABP - Well, well, well.

Aren't we all just on pins and bullpine-needles waiting to hear how things turn out for our favorite Alaska part-time residents, the Alaskan Bush People?

While the rest of America continues to tune in their program in droves - five million viewers per episode according to the Discovery Channel - we are more interested to find out what happens in their Permanent Fund Dividend fraud cause.

Yes, despite the fact that the Browns profess disdain for any sort of "civilization," and continue to claim they are living "wild" they apparently still feel a need for those yearly infusions of petro-bucks that the rest of us more civilized Alaskans claim.

And that's okay.

Lots of folks in Alaska live "off the grid" but still manage to slog their way through the wilderness to that mailbox in early October to pick up the PFD check. The government says you are entitled to it, so you are. No matter how much you hate the "guvrmunt."

Of course, since nothing is quite as it is seems - or at least how it the portrayed - with the Bush People, there is some question about whether they are in Alaska enough to qualify for the PFD.

Just so you we're clear, nine family members times $2,000 would be around $18,000 in PFD money to the family this year and they are accused of at least three years of fraudulent filings, so we're looking a nice bit of change, especially for a family that is portrayed in the show as barely having two sticks to rub together and must "barter" dead humpies for dental work.

Of course, that is in addition to whatever "fees" the family gets to appear on "Alaskan Bush People." No one it saying what that is but since it came out recently that contestants on another "reality" show, "Dancing With the Stars," get at least $200,000 in appearance money, you have to figure that the ABP pays the nine Browns enough to afford a nice split level ranch house in Texas.

Which is allegedly where most of them were while they were filing for Alaska PFDs during those years.

Now, being out of state doesn't disqualify you from PFDs. You can be gone up to 180 days under certain circumstances. Apparently "I prefer to be in Texas" is not one of those circumstances, so the state of Alaska has charged several members of the self described "wolf pack" with dividend fraud. - More...
Saturday AM - December 05, 2015

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Trump Tower

Editorial Cartoon: Trump Tower
By Nate Beeler ©2015, The Columbus Dispatch
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696
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letter Ketchikan City Council Vote on Pot By Charlie Freeman - I'm having a problem understanding why, in the name of God, this was even brought up. #1. The State hasn't dealt with it and the State trumps local law. #2. Federal law trumps State, and even though the Feds at this present moment say they are not going to make an issue of it, Federal law still stands. #3. And more to the point, it's a loser as an issue. You cannot win. You either ignore the public vote in favor of you're own opinion, or you must be some kind of pot head. Can't win, either way. - More...
Saturday AM - December 05, 2015

letter What is a Budget Lapsing Organization? By Ken Bylund - Budget Lapsing Accounting is code for “Use it or Lose it” of huge amounts of money being wasted in State and Federal government agencies. Government agencies ‘waste it rather than lose it’ because federal rules require them to return unspent funds at the end of each budget year. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 02, 2015

letter Refugees By John Suter - On the issue of refugees, the problem is not here, it is over there. If the government wants to help out on this issue, then the government can help out over there where the problem is. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 02, 2015

letter Horrific shooting By Jim Minnery - The horrific shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs recently has brought out a litany of unnecessary and predictable media accusations regarding senseless murder and peaceful pro-life activism. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 02, 2015

letter GOVERNOR URGED TO NOT MIX POLITICS WITH SAFETY By Rep. Shelley Hughes - As Alaskans, we are accustomed to harsh weather and less-than-ideal road conditions that often grace our commutes throughout the state this time of year, but we are also accustomed to an adequate response by our state road maintenance crews. Lately the weather has been winning the battle of man versus the elements. Every year we hear complaints about slow response time or lack of attention to specific roadways, but I find myself asking, why this year more than others? - More...
Wednesday AM - December 02, 2015

letter Fiscal situation solutions proposed By Dan Ortiz - The second session of the Alaska State Legislature is fast approaching, and the Legislature should be poised to tackle our deteriorating fiscal situation. After voting in favor of cutting the operating and capital budgets by more than $900 million in my first legislative session, we were left with a $3.5 billion deficit. We are currently able to cover deficits with our savings. However, at this rate, those savings will rapidly disappear. It’s in Alaska’s best interest to responsibly manage this decline. While some may argue it’s politically expedient to ignore the issue and kick the can down the road to the next post-election legislative session, I’m convinced that would be a grave disservice to Alaskans. I’m serious about finding the right solution for Alaska; therefore, I propose the following: - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter Big Thorne Timber Sale By Joseph Sebastian - The other day a old logger stopped me and said, "Can't you guys do any thing to stop what's going on with the Big Thorne Timber Sale? You should see what they are doing to the Island, 30 log trucks a day dumping logs, all for export, every day! Some of us still have to live here and there is nothing left. The USFS, supervisor, Forrest Cole, ought to go to jail for this, it's criminal what they have done to this place." - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter 2015 Paris Climate Talks By Norbert Chaudhary - I'm proud as I'm sure all Americans are, to see our majority elected President join with the leaders of 150 other nations in Paris gathering in defiance of the fear terrorists (and others) have attempted to spread globally. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter Fiscal responsibility By Douglas Thompson - It was with great surprise that I read Agnes Moran's letter saying that local government needs to operate with fiscal responsibility as called for in an editorial in the Ketchikan Daily News. Is this the same Lew Williams who as part-owner of the KDN, and as mayor and as councilman, has never met a tax dollar that he did not want to spend ten times over, a bond he couldn't increase? Is this the same man who has supported the incompetent city manager in his never ending spending to the point of sycophancy? - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter Glimmerings of riches in the Gravels of AMP By David Nees - Alaska Measurement of Progress (AMP) has become an Alaska sensation; it reminds me of the everlasting boom and bust economic cycles of Alaska and Canada’s Yukon. For the 19 Alaska School District Superintendents with struggling schools, the test told them nothing. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter President Obama's trip to Alaska By Michael Nelson - Unless the Alaskan hotels, restaurants, gas stations and other establishments donated their services for free, President Obama's trip did cost more than what a previous writer suggested. - More...
Sunday AM - November 29, 2015

letter Patient Experience Improvement Efforts By Ken Tonjes - Thank you Mr. Plamondon for taking time to let me know your thoughts on how we can improve our organization and facility, both through your SitNews letter and through the surveys you completed. Patient feedback is essential to ensure the continuation of high-quality health care in our community. I'm sorry the patient experience survey process has been frustrating for you. Your comments provide me an opportunity to clarify the survey's purpose and let our community know what we're doing to help address your frustrations. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Directions for Syrian Refugees By Ed Talik - Just wanted to share my thoughts on the current state of global affairs. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Freedom of Religion, Our First Amendment Right By Norbert Chaudhary - There are many talking of banning Syrian refugees because they are Moslem... Am a bit shocked at another Fox fueled state of hysteria that so many are buying into. What part of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" are our elected leaders forgetting? I truly believed after the Ebola thing and countless other episodes of phony fear based lies - the American people would have learned the difference between Facts and Fox. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Investing in Your Community By Nina Kemppel - In Dillingham, a single nonprofit provides help for domestic violence and sexual assault victims from 33 villages and tribes across the Bristol Bay region. By September, Safe and Fear-Free Environment (SAFE), had already served 607 women, men and children and was in need of financial support. The Alaska Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to SAFE so they could provide meals for shelter clients and assist clients outside of the shelter cover food and other essentials. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Community Connections By Judith Green - I would like to say a THANK YOU to Community Connections - an organization that is local through and through. Tonight was their staff appreciation dinner held at the Ted Ferry Center for staff and their families. It was a wonderful outpouring of what makes Community Connections the very special program it is. - More...
Friday PM - November 20,2015

letter KGBSD Budget Restraint By Agnes Moran - The Ketchikan Daily News editorial of November 13, 2015, took note of the fiscal difficulties facing the State of Alaska and the federal government. It cautioned the City and Borough governments to reach balanced and sustainable budgets. The editorial pleads, "We should take this opportunity to ensure that we can live within our municipal means next year and in the foreseeable future." The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) must heed that excellent advice also. - More...
Monday AM - November 16, 2015

letter Great ER in Ketchikan By Walt Hoefer - I lived in Ketchikan for 33 years. I have 3 kids and several grand kids living there. I had the chance to experience an eight hour stay in your ER back in June. - More...
Monday AM - November 16, 2015

letter Cost of Obama's visit By Margaret Cloud - It was recently stated in a letter published on November 11 that the cost of Obama's visit to Alaska was $600 million dollars. That number is very wrong. The cost was just under $600,000 and was for Anchorage police overtime and other expenses. - More...
Monday AM - November 16, 2015

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