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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 29, 2015

Front Page Photograph By TERRI JIRSCHELE

Sunrise Over the Tongass
Tuesday morning's sunrise as viewed from Pennock Island.
Front Page Photograph By TERRI JIRSCHELE

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Ketchikan: Ketchikan Community Foundation Announces First Non-Profit Grant Cycle - The Ketchikan Community Foundation advisory board has announced that its first grant application process will open Feb. 1, 2016 for local charitable non-profit organizations. A total of approximately $10,000 will be available to distribute.

“We know it’s not a huge pool of money, but this is really just the beginning,” said Christa Bruce, chair of the Foundation advisory board. “As our endowment fund grows year after year, that pool of money available for annual community grants will also continue to grow,” she said.

The grant funding is drawn from a portion of the interest and investment income from the Community Foundation’s endowment fund, currently standing at almost $250,000.

Rotating Funding Categories

The Community Foundation advisory board board has chosen three categories they plan to fund in rotating one-year cycles, with the first category in 2016 identified as those programs benefitting “physical and emotional support.” “Youth” and “community enrichment” are the other two categories that will be rotated.

“The board made it very clear that we didn’t want to fall into a pattern of funding the same types of organizations over and over again, so that was the reason for developing the rotating categories” said Tom Schulz chair of the advisory board development committee.

The 2016 application process opens Feb. 1, 2016 and closes March 15, 2016. The announcement of grant award winners is expected to be in April or early May 2016. Applications will be available online at www.ketchikancf.org. Organizations must be a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization to qualify.

In addition to the grant applications that are approved, the Community Foundation also plans to hold back a portion of the interest earnings each year potentially to be used for any unexpected emergencies that an organization may run into that aren’t covered in their budgets, and to fund additional training events for non-profit boards and staff.

Local Control Over Grant Awards

The Ketchikan Community Foundation is an affiliate of the Alaska Community Foundation in Anchorage, which will assist the Ketchikan group in the initial review of grant applications to ensure they meet qualifying standards. Once the applications have been reviewed and approved, the list will be passed back to the Ketchikan advisory board to make the final choice locally. The board may choose to fund either a single organization, or split the grant funds between groups.

“We don’t have an agenda as to where the funding goes,” Bruce said. “We’re really just looking to see what people are looking to us for. The important thing is that the decision on where to invest the grant funds is made locally, it’s our choice to invest in our town in the way we think is best.”

Administrative Assistance

Staff at the Alaska Community Foundation also provides the local organization with administrative support, investment management, website support, legal and tax compliance, donor management and board development.

“This relieves the burden and risk from local board members, provides professional expertise, and provides investment options we wouldn’t have otherwise,” according to Bruce.

The Ketchikan Community Foundation became an affiliate of the Alaska Community Foundation in 2013. Bruce said several people a few years ago were instrumental in laying the groundwork for the successful launch of the local Foundation. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 29, 2015

Alaska: New Alaska Minimum Wage Effective January 1st - Alaska’s minimum wage will increase to $9.75 per hour on January 1, 2016, an increase of $1 per hour over the current Alaska minimum wage of $8.75. For an Alaskan who works full-time at minimum wage, the increase will result in additional earnings of approximately $2,000 per year. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development estimates approximately 12,000 jobs in Alaska currently pay less than $9.75 per hour.

“This is great news for low wage workers who struggle to make ends meet in Alaska,” said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “This increase will help thousands of Alaskan families pay for housing, food, and other necessities.”

In November 2014, Alaskans voted overwhelmingly in favor of a ballot measure to increase the minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 on January 1, 2015, and to $9.75 on January 1, 2016. The ballot measure will also adjust the minimum wage each year for inflation beginning in 2017. An additional condition requires that, going forward, Alaska’s minimum wage remain at least $1 per hour over the federal minimum wage.

“This long-overdue increase in the minimum wage did not happen on its own,” said Commissioner Drygas. “Hundreds of Alaskans put an incredible amount of time and effort into getting this issue on the ballot. Thank you to all the Alaskans who worked hard to see this initiative pass.” - More...
Tuesday PM - December 29, 2015

Alaska Science: Kenai bark beetles primed for another run By NED ROZELL - Ed Berg has spent much of his life observing the natural happenings on a large peninsula (the Kenai) that juts from a larger peninsula (Alaska). The retired ecologist who worked many years for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been around long enough he might see a second version of the most damaging insect attack in Alaska history.

The insect is the spruce bark beetle. About the size of a grain of rice, billions of the black specks attacked spruce trees of the Kenai Peninsula during the 1990s. Their larvae girdled trees, cut off their sugar supply and slowly killed them. Three million acres of spruce trees died, including the ones on Berg's property in Homer. After he and his wife Sara cleared the trees, their place didn't feel the same. They moved.

Kenai bark beetles primed 
for another run

Spruce trees mixed with hemlocks on the Kenai Peninsula. Spruce bark beetles killed 95 percent of mature spruce there in the 1990s.
Photo by Ned Rozell

Berg needed to know why the beetles attacked with such vigor. He thought about it, studied tree rings and other records of the past and combined that with a few decades of boots-on-the-ground observations. He came up with a formula, a set of circumstances that enabled what some scientists called the worst insect outbreak in North America's history.

Berg, 75, wrote a recent piece on the possible return of the beetles for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Here is his lead sentence:

"If you lived in the woods on the Kenai Peninsula in the 1990s, you may not want to read this article."

Spruce bark beetles did not kill all the spruce trees on the Kenai Peninsula in the 1990s. Due to what Berg termed its "peculiar ecology," the bark beetle kills only the largest, oldest spruce. Trees smaller than six inches in diameter are spared because they produce enough pitch to suffocate mother beetles and their phloem layer is too tight for them.

Using a "mass-attack" strategy, beetles use sheer numbers to overwhelm old-growth trees like the ones in Berg's yard. Tree by tree, the Kenai Peninsula became a graveyard of whitish spruce snags, about 30 million of them. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 29, 2015


No easy answers in study of legal marijuana's impact on alcohol use - Does legal marijuana tempt pot users to consume more alcohol -- or are they likely to opt for cannabis instead of chardonnay?

jpg No easy answers in study of legal marijuana's impact on alcohol use

A University of Washington team of researchers sought to address those questions in the context of evolving marijuana policies in the United States. Their findings, published online Dec. 21 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, highlight the difficulties of gauging the impact of a formerly illicit drug as it moves into the mainstream.

Recreational marijuana use is now legal in four states and medical marijuana in 23 states. Research on legalization policies has focused largely on how they impact marijuana access and use. But the UW team wanted to know how legalization affects the use of alcohol, by far the nation's most popular drug.

The majority of adults in the U.S. imbibe to varying degrees, and alcohol abuse is the third leading preventable cause of death nationwide. Drinking accounts for almost one-third of driving fatalities annually, and excessive alcohol use cost $223.5 billion in 2006 alone.

"We chose to focus on alcohol because even relatively small changes in alcohol consumption could have profound implications for public health, safety and related costs," said lead author Katarína Guttmannová, a researcher in the UW's Social Development Research Group.

The researchers sought to determine whether legalizing marijuana led to it becoming a substitute for alcohol or tended to increase consumption of both substances. If it was the former, they reasoned, that could greatly reduce the costs of healthcare, traffic accidents and lower workplace productivity related to excessive drinking.

But if legalized marijuana resulted in increased use of both drugs, costs to society could increase dramatically, particularly since those who use both substances tend to use them at the same time. Those who use both substances simultaneously are twice as likely to drive drunk and face social troubles such as drunken brawls and relationship problems, a recent study found. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 27, 2015


Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: 2016 Resolutions: Hey, Federal Government, You First - If you think our benevolent federal government is too big, this will agitate you: The government is advising us on New Year's resolutions.

About USA.gov, the government's official web portal, offers a dozen recommendations. First up, the government wants us to resolve to lose weight next year.

Hey, federal government, maybe if you'd stop subsidizing the sugar and high-sucrose corn syrup industries — empty calories that the human body turns into instant fat — we surely wouldn't be so tubby.

Here's another recommended resolution: eat healthy food — though this recommendation is more of a demand for some. Just ask school kids across America, whose school lunches must follow government-mandated requirements — frequently resulting in awful-tasting grub — or their school districts will not receive government dough. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 29, 2015

jpg Danny Tyree

DANNY TYREE: Does Anyone Else Hate Doing Inventory? - "A place for everything and everything in its place."

That principle sounds so simple, but the reality of verifying inventory is that receipts get recorded wrong, conversion from cases to eaches gets scrambled, paperwork gets lost, merchandise is "temporarily" stashed in the wrong place, etc.

In fact, there are a thousand and one ways for inventory to go awry. Although, on the spur of the moment, I can account for only 998 of them.

I come by my disdain for taking inventory honestly. When my late father was manager of the local (Lewisburg, Tennessee) farmers cooperative, he would stagger home late, cross-eyed and muttering about hoping he never had to count another Ortho product. (That's what he got for being a math whiz. If he had been the class clown, he could've sat on the sidelines and regaled everyone with "a priest, a rabbi and an insecticide walked into a bar" jokes.) - More...
Tuesday PM - December 29, 2015

jpg Editorial Cartoon: The Sharing Economy

Editorial Cartoon: The Sharing Economy
By Monte Wolverton ©2015, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Questions, please contact the editor at editor@sitnews.us or call 617-9696
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letter Ketchikan Board of Education By A. M. Johnson - School Board President Ms. Michele O Brien's letter in retort to Ms. Moran makes one's eyes cross. This writer read Ms. Moran's offerings complete with backup documentation, in addressing Ms. Moran's view of the current school board's activities. Is there some item or part addressed that is incorrect or false? I find in reading the newspaper articles following school board meetings the meeting's news reporting content is woefully lacking in academic content. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 29, 2015

letter U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - Alaskans came together in a year-long effort to provide the first tree from Alaska to stand tall as the “People’s Tree”. The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree currently gracing the West Lawn of our nation’s Capitol traveled over 4,400 miles from the Chugach National Forest by land and sea by the generosity of Alaskans who provided everything from ornaments to cranes to trucks, and many months of their time and care. You can see the labor of love Alaskans shared in the thousands of ornaments on the tree that were made out of recyclable materials and creative flair from people across the state. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter RE: Smoke and Mirrors By Michelle O'Brien - In response to the recent letter by Agnes Moran, my question would be: If you are so keenly interested in education, as you seem to have been in the last five years, why have you not run for the Board of Education? - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter Fear and loathing in the USA By Norbert Chaudhary - When I last dared to turn on my TV, talking heads were shouting in apocalyptic language that our leaders were destroying our country by wasting time and money on climate change rather than doing everything possible to make us "safe from the terrorists." - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter Scorched earth logging By Joseph Sebastian - Last November in Petersburg, Alaska's newest environmental group, "The Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community " [gsacc.net] gave a slide show on the latest industrial clearcut logging now taking place on Sealaska land, state forest land and other land grant interests. The show consisted of images from a recent overflight and Google-Earth satellite overviews of Sealaska lands on the Cleveland Peninsula and P.O.W.'s Election Creek, and other examples .Needless to say, the push by Senator Lisa Murkowski to privatize land from the Tongass National Forest in order to rapidly clearcut and export round logs as fast as possible, was shocking, upsetting and holds dire consequences into the future. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter DOI IG to audit possible use of federal funds by State for predator control By Rick Steiner = The U.S, Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Inspector General (IG) announced Monday (attached) that in its upcoming 5-year audit of annual funding provided by DOI to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADFG), it will address issues raised in a complaint filed last year that Alaska is using federal funds to support its controversial predator control program, in direct violation of federal policy. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter Get a Healthy Start to the New Year By Susan Johnson - Every year, millions of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Do a Google search, and you’ll find health related resolutions are among the most common: lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, stop smoking, drink less, watch less TV, reduce stress. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter Smoke and Mirrors By Agnes Moran - The administration and school board of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) have been creating discord with the Borough Assembly over “in-kind contributions” to draw the community’s attention away from what it should be focused on, student achievement. Under this administration and school board our children are failing to thrive. - More...
Friday PM - December 18, 2015

letter Boundary Waters Treaty By Frederick Olsen, Jr. - The United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group (UTTMWG) issued a letter to Alaska Governor Walker requesting that the Governor stop the process of developing a Statement of Cooperation with British Columbia on the SE Alaska Transboundary Rivers until his office formally requests the involvement of the US Department of State under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help protect the rivers vital to our economy and traditional cultures and way of life. - More...
Friday PM - December 28, 2015

letter State Budget By Lance Clark - Maybe I'm doing the math wrong, I hope, but there's approximately 750 thousand people in Alaska and our state budget is around $11 billion a year. That turns out to be $14,667 per person. I have no idea how we can even pretend we can afford that. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Alaska is Cold By John Suter - President Obama is going to send Alaska its share of refugees. Now is not the time to increase cost in the state budget that will incur by bringing in these refugees to the state when the state must do all that it can do to cut cost to balance the budget. A way the state can cut cost is to offer these refugees a free one way airplane ticket with a hand full of cash to fly to another state like California where they have hot dry deserts that is a similar type of country to where they came from and they will feel more at home. They need to know that Alaska is cold by their standards year around and they would not be happy here when they could live in sunny California that welcomes them with open arms of welfare, health care and everything else that they may need. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Dave Kiffer Truckin' By Melissa Muller - Dave Kiffer hit all the high points with his recent column "Ktown Economy just keeps on Truckin'. With the state's economy going up in smoke, it's time to do more than straight thinking. There is a new high tide mark being set and Ketchikan needs to roll with it. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Hillary Clinton Plans a Corporate "Exit Tax" By Wiley Brooks - This is Mrs. Clintons answer to stop American Companies from re-incorporating overseas. For too many politicians the answer is always the same - “we’ll punish those “expletives” for making a profit. An “exit tax” will just be added to the cost of the products we buy and make it more difficult for American companies to compete in the global market. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Revenue options: Thanks for participating By Dan Ortiz - To me, government by the people and for the people is more than just a theoretical concept. I believe this famous phrase from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address must be put into practice for government to work. That’s why I’ve been going door to door, mailing out surveys and holding meetings in the communities I represent. At our town meeting on December 1st, I shared my revenue survey results and asked attendees to fill out a questionnaire on Governor Walker’s proposed endowment fund model. - More...
Friday AM - December 11, 2015

letter Open Letter: ADF&G Commissioner Cotten By Rick Steiner - You may have seen the Fall update released last week by NPS on the Denali wolf population, which showed a slight increase in numbers, but a continued decrease in viewing success. This year, only 5% of the park visitors were able to see wolves, thus some 500,000 paying visitors were deprived this opportunity. - More...
Friday AM - December 11, 2015

letter REDDI report followup By Shawn Kimberley - Almost immediately after posting my letter, I was contacted by the Captain of the Alaska State Troopers. The gentleman I spoke with was the commander of the entire southeast region. After a fairly long conversation, I would honestly say that I believe that he is a good man and a good leader. After our conversation I feel like he is here to help improve all aspects of our community. We discussed the situation thoroughly. What came out of that conversation was a complete surprise to me. Not only was the outcome something positive, But it restored my faith in the Alaska State troopers organization. He did not try to make excuses, He did not try to dance around the subject. Instead he owned up the actions, or in my opinion the lack of action. And was very polite and thankful to me for my part in trying to help correct a dangerous situation. - More...
Friday AM - December 11, 2015

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