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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 01, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By TERRI JIRSCHELE

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Alaska's Hospitals; Employment has grown steadily to serve a bigger, older population By MALI ABRAHAMSON - As with health care overall, employment in Alaska’s hospitals has grown steadily over the past 15 years. Two new hospitals opened - one in Nome and one in Wrangell - and a number of others expanded or moved into new facilities to serve a growing population.

Alaska's Hospitals; Employment has grown steadily to serve a bigger, older population

St. John’s Hospital in Ketchikan was part of St. John’s Episcopal Church, on its right. This photo was taken in 1904 by John Nathan Cobb.

The state has fewer hospital jobs per capita than the national average, and Alaska’s size and the remoteness of many populated areas complicates access. However, stronger- than-average growth over the past decade has brought the state’s hospital jobs up to about 4 percent of total wage and salary employment, close to the nation’s 4.4 percent.

How Alaska’s early hospitals were established

Alaska’s hospitals were established in the same pattern as early Euro-American exploration and settlement. The first American hospital in Alaska opened in Sitka in 1867 at the site of a former Russian hospital that had been operating since around 1820.

Although that first hospital was an army post, many of the hospitals that followed were founded by missionaries as they arrived and settled throughout the early 1900s. Religious organizations have long been providers of traditional health care, and they were instru mental in establishing facilities in the frontier towns as they grew. Catholic nuns founded the first hospital in Juneau, and Episcopalians opened a log cabin hospital in Skagway. The health care legacy of churches remains strong, with two of the larger hospitals in Alaska, Providence in Anchorage and Peace-Health in Ketchikan, owned by religious organizations.

The U.S. Bureau of Education was the other major force behind establishing Alaska’s hospitals alongside the assorted social services it delivered in the territorial days. The agency built hospitals in Juneau, Unalaska, Akiak, Noorvik, and Tanana. That role shifted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1931, which continues to provide care at federally owned hospitals and through transfers and joint ventures with Alaska Native organizations. - More...
Thursday PM - December 01, 2016

Southeast Alaska: Prince of Wales: Public Meetings Scheduled for Landscape Level Analysis Project – The Thorne Bay and Craig Ranger Districts are looking for broad input from the public on how National Forest lands on Prince of Wales and outer islands will be managed over the next 10 to15 years. Three open house style public meetings will be held in Prince of Wales Island communities in mid-December.

The Forest Service will incorporate public input into the design of the Prince of Wales Landscape Level Analysis (POW LLA) Project proposal. The purpose of the POW LLA Project is to improve forest ecosystem health on Craig and Thorne Bay Ranger Districts, help support community resiliency, and provide economic development through an integrated approach to meet multiple resource objectives.

The Thorne Bay public meeting is Monday, Dec. 12 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Thorne Bay Ranger District Conference Room located at 1312 Federal Way.

The Naukati public meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 13 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 the Naukati School library located at 100 Heather St.

The Craig public meeting is Thursday, Dec. 15 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 the Craig Tribal Association Building located at 1330 Craig Klawock Hwy. - More...
Thursday PM - December 1, 2016

Alaska: Alaska Division of Elections Certifies 2016 General Election - The bi-partisan Alaska State Review Board has completed a thorough review of the 2016 General Election. With the review complete, Division of Elections Director, Josie Bahnke, announced today that the 2016 General Election has now been certified.

There were 321,271 ballots cast in the 2016 General Election for a final turnout of 60.77%. “This election generated a record number of voters who voted early, absentee or questioned ballots; over 123,000, compared to about 90,000 in 2014,” said Bahnke. Approximately 32% of Alaskans voted via an alternative method this year, and the division expects that voting trend to continue to increase in future elections.”

Although the Division received a record number of these ballots for the 2016 election, the statutorily mandated time to process the ballots was still the same. Under state law, the Division’s Regional Offices must have ballots processed and counted within 15 days following the election. It takes an immense effort for the Regional Office staff and bi-partisan review boards to complete the review and counting of early, absentee and questioned ballots. “I want to thank Division of Election employees who processed approximately 100,000 early and absentee ballots counted on election night and during the seven, ten and fifteen day counts,” said Lt. Governor Byron Mallott. - More...
Thursday PM - December 1, 2016

Update - Pacific Northwest: Navy says, mystery object discovered off B.C. coast is not lost nuke - A mysterious object spotted underwater off the B.C. coast is not a lost bomb believed to have crashed in the area in 1950, Canadian naval officials confirm.

According to CTV News Vancouver Island, Lt. Greg Menzies of Maritime Forces Pacific said divers have completed a probe of the object and while it may be industrial, it is not military in nature.

Menzies confirmed there is no threat to the public. - More...
Thursday PM - December 01, 2016

Permafrost loss changes Yukon River chemistry with global implications - Permafrost loss due to a rapidly warming Alaska is leading to significant changes in the freshwater chemistry and hydrology of Alaska's Yukon River Basin with potential global climate implications.

Permafrost loss changes Yukon River chemistry with global implications

Carol Hasburgh (Former Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council employee) takings water sample for a permafrost study in the Yukon River Basin
Photo credit Ryan Toohey, USGS

This is the first time a Yukon River study has been able to use long-term continuous water chemistry data to document hydrological changes over such an enormous geographic area and long time span.

The results of the study have global climate change implications because of the cascading effects of such dramatic chemical changes on freshwater, oceanic and high-latitude ecosystems, the carbon cycle and the rural communities that depend on fish and wildlife in Alaska's iconic Yukon River Basin. The study was led by researcher Ryan Toohey of the Department of the Interior's Alaska Climate Science Center and published in Geophysical Research Letters. - More...
Thursday PM - December 01, 2016

Alaska: Central Arctic Caribou Decline May Result in Stricter Hunting Regulations - A drop in the Central Arctic caribou herd from 50,000 animals three years ago to around 22,000 in 2016 may lead to shorter hunting seasons and smaller bag limits in 2017. Reasons for the decline aren't completely understood, but hunting is not thought to be a factor. Biologists believe a combination of elements is at play.

The Central Arctic herd peaked between 2008 and 2010 at approximately 70,000 caribou. By 2013, surveys indicated the herd had declined to 50,000, due in large part to a late spring that year which resulted in above average mortality.

Since 2013, high mortality has been documented in radiocollared adult females. "This was the major factor accounting for the herd's recent decline to 22,000 caribou," said Beth Lenart, Northeast Alaska area wildlife biologist.

Some of the Central Arctic caribou may have also left with the Porcupine and Teshekpuk herds in the past few years when the herds were mixed during post-calving and winter. Analyses to better understand the contribution of herd mixing is ongoing. - More...
Thursday PM - December 01, 2016


Alaska Science:
Bowhead whales might be the longest-lived mammals on the planet By NED ROZELL- As biologist Craig George was helping Native whale hunter Billy Adams cut sections of blubber from a bowhead whale, he pressed his knife into an old scar in the whale's skin. The knife made a crunching noise; George cut deeper, then pulled out a sharp piece of slate. He held in his hands a harpoon point the whale had been carrying for perhaps a century.

Bowhead whales might be the longest-lived mammals on the planet

Alaska Native hunters have found six ancient harpoon points in bowhead whales since 1981, two made of slate, two of other stone, a metal blade and an ivory harpoon head tipped with metal.
Photo courtesy Craig George, Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission

Ten years earlier, whaling captain Fred Ahmaogak from Wainwright had found an ivory harpoon tipped with a metal blade. Hunters have recovered six of these old harpoon points from bowhead whales. Along with chemical evidence from the whales' eyes, the harpoon tips suggest that the bowhead may be the longest-living mammal on earth.

George, who works for the North Slope Borough in Barrow, has studied bowheads for more than 30 years. The whales grow to 60 feet, weigh one ton at birth and can weigh more than 120,000 pounds as adults. Insulated by blubber more than a foot thick and sporting heavy bones in their skulls with which to break holes in sea ice, they spend their entire lives in northern waters.

Northern Inupiaq and Yupik hunters have killed bowheads for more than a thousand years. The Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission manages hunts in which village crews from 10 villages take about 40 bowheads each year. George found the old harpoon point after a May hunt, and whaler Ben Ahmaogak Sr. from Wainwright found two stone points inside a large whale a year later.

"Archaeologists and anthropologists say that stone weapons were pretty much out of use by the turn of the century," George said from his office in Barrow.

Scientists had thought that bowheads had a lifespan similar to other whales, but the old harpoon points hinted that some of the whales alive today were swimming in the cold waters of the circumpolar seas more than 100 years ago. - More...
Thursday PM - December 01, 2016

Genetic research may help trace chum salmon to home rivers

Michael Garvin sails through Auke Bay, just north of Juneau in Southeast Alaska.
Photo by Chris Lunsford

Southeast Alaska: Genetic research may help trace chum salmon to home rivers By LAUREN FRISCH - Fisheries and Ocean Sciences researchers have uncovered genetic markers that can help trace chum salmon to the rivers in which they hatched, according to a new paper published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Mapping out chum salmon pathways could help improve management of the pecies in Western Alaska, according to University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences postdoctoral fellow Michael Garvin.

“In some years, chum salmon are frequently the bycatch of pollock fishermen” in the Bering Sea, Garvin explained. “Genetically, chum salmon that originate in Western Alaska tend to look very similar. This makes it difficult for stakeholders because management and conservation efforts to address this bycatch can differ among these regions, but the ability to identify them with genetics is not possible.”

Garvin, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences professors Megan McPhee and Tony Gharrett, and colleagues used small variations in the DNA of a cell’s mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell that is involved in energy production, to learn about a salmon’s history. Mitochondria are incredibly important to our bodies. Without our bones, Garvin said, mitochondria make up about one third of our weight. And mitochondria have their own DNA. - More...
Thursday PM - December 01, 2016

The Eastern Wild Turkey. This was the turkey species Europeans first encountered in the wild by the Puritans, the founders of Jamestown.
Photo courtesy Commons, Public Domain by Riki7

Archaeology: Researchers talk turkey: Native Americans raised classic holiday bird - Hundreds of years before the first Thanksgiving, Native Americans were raising and feasting on America's classic holiday meal.

Florida State University Associate Professor of Anthropology Tanya Peres and graduate student Kelly Ledford write in a paper published today in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports that Native Americans as early as 1200 - 1400 A.D. were managing and raising turkeys.

This is the first time scientists have suggested that turkeys were potentially domesticated by early Native Americans in the southeastern United States.

"In the Americas, we have just a few domesticated animals," Peres said. "Researchers haven't really talked about the possibility of Native Americans domesticating or raising turkeys."

Researchers knew that turkeys had been a part of Native American life long before the first Thanksgiving in 1621.

Their feathers were used on arrows, in headdresses and clothing. The meat was used for food. Their bones were used for tools including scratchers used in ritual ceremonies. There are even representations of turkeys in artifacts from the time. An intricately engraved marine shell pendant found at a site in central Tennessee shows two turkeys facing each other. - More...
Thursday PM - December 01, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg John L. Micek
JOHN L. MICEK: The Populist and His Crew of Billionaires - A cabinet populated by bankers and wealthy insiders. A $1 million premier package of tickets to the presidential inauguration in January. And a posh dinner with Mr. 47 Percent, himself, Mitt Romney.

If his earliest actions are any guide, America's incoming chief executive isn't so much draining Washington's swamp as he is refilling it with higher quality sludge.

As The Washington Post reports, three of President-elect Donald J. Trump's cabinet picks have personal net worths running to the billions of dollars. One possible pick for energy secretary, Harold Hamm, is worth $15 billion alone.

That's $15 billion - with a "B." Crack open your wallet - do you even have $15 in cash in it right now?

And if you're thinking about heading to Washington for the inaugural festivities, you'd better take out that second mortgage now. Trump and his team are looking to raise an eye-watering and record-breaking $65 million to $75 million to finance inaugural events across the Capital. - More...
Thursday PM - December 01, 2016

jpg Michael Reagan

MICHAEL REAGAN: A Week of Trumpisms -The death of the dictator of Cuba took over our headlines for a few days and made some world leaders look pretty stupid.

Canada's leader Justin Trudeau reacted as if Fidel Castro was a saint to be mourned, not a thug whose death should be celebrated.

Our own cool president was careful to not say a negative word about the Left's evil superhero.

Our next president may or may not make America great again with his liberal-conservative mix of ideas and goals, but he sure got St. Fidel right.

Donald Trump's statement called Castro a "brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades" and left a legacy of "firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights."

Fidel's death briefly overshadowed the dumb tweets Trump sent out in reaction to Jill Stein and the Green Party asking for a recount of votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. - More...
Thursday PM - December 01, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Vet wait

Editorial Cartoon: Vet wait
By David Fitzsimmons ©2016, The Arizona Star
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter The President-Elect Must Divest By Ghert Abbott - For the last 40 years it has been the norm for the president to divest himself of his business holdings and transfer the capital to a neutral third party who would then invest said capital in a blind trust. In this way administrations have avoided massive conflicts of interest, in which political or regulatory decisions could be made for the benefit of the president’s business holdings or purchased through doing business with the president. Such corrupt bargains are the norm in many third world countries, where presidents preside over shadowy business empires that are protected and enriched by the government. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 29, 2016

letter Women's March January 21st By Mary L. Stephenson - With the popular vote, the Democratic party was left stunned to learn Hillary Clinton would not be President and the moral fiber of the nation is left in limo. A movement underway is the Million Women (Men and Children) March on January 21st in Washington DC. The many days after the elections, we took to the streets in a peaceful way, to unite as a populous and introduce ourselves to newly elected President Trump. We can lose our foothold on (individual and family) health, education, out-of-poverty, community safety, local economy needs and environment issues. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 29, 2016

letter RE: Protests By Hallie Engel - In response to Rob Holston's letter, dated November 15, the reason there were no large-scale protests after the election of President Obama might have something to do with the fact that he wasn't endorsed by the KKK, he never bragged about sexually assaulting women, and he never called Mexican people rapists, amongst other things. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 29, 2016

letter 7 Ways to Give Back to Your Community This Thanksgiving By Mary Wong - Giving back to the community is always important, but this is especially true around Thanksgiving. While most people look forward to spending time with family and friends feasting on turkey and stuffing and watching the parades and football games, for others it’s a very different story. Many people are alone this time of year. Others are homeless. Some are sick. Sadly, not everyone has a place to go and people with whom they can spend the holiday. - More...
Wednesday AM - November 23, 2016

letter Seaweed aquaculture By Frances C. Natkong - Why are they now doing a study on our seaweed/kelp. Soon that will be all gone as well. Is nothing safe? Interrupting the sea life when sea life depends on kelp to live and us too. I'm not very happy with this! Not at all. - More...
Wednesday AM - November 23, 2016

letter Keep Public Lands in Public Hands! By Glenn Ferren - The Mormon Senator from Thompson Falls (Jennifer Fielder) works for the American Lands Council, Ken Ivory, and the LDS church. The ultimate goal of this group is to turn our public lands into prime real estate for wealthy individuals (Wilks brothers, ex), corporations in the real estate business (Weyerhaeuser, ex), and organizations looking to acquire hundreds of thousands of acres (LDS, ex). - More...
Wednesday AM - November 23, 2016

letter My impressions... By Rodney Dial - It's been a month since I was elected to the Borough Assembly. I thought I would give an update on what I have learned and my impression of your local government. - More...
Thursday PM - November 17, 2016

letter AMHT Open to Federal Buyout - But Questions Linger By Rebecca Knight - The Alaska Mental Health Trust develops resources it owns to fund its operations. Controversy is churning this year in Southeast Alaska over AMHT’s threat to immediately log forestland it owns within communities unless, by mid-January, Congress passes a bill exchanging those lands for 21,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest. The threatened logging in the communities would ruin cherished viewsheds and, because the slopes are steep, jeopardize residences and domestic and municipal waters supplies. - More...
Tuesday AM - November 15, 2016

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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