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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 15, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By RYAN KELLY

Southeast Alaska
Troller off Kingsmill Point, Chatam Straight
Front Page Feature Photo By RYAN KELLY

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Enchanted Forest Holiday Gala Raises Over $30,000 for Diabetes Education - It was a winter wonderland in the Enchanted Forest at Ted Ferry Civic Center this past Saturday evening Party goers enjoyed gourmet dinner, dessert, and dancing the night away to the fabulous Rain City Band.

Enchanted Forest Holiday Gala Raises Over $30,000 for Diabetes Education

A table of attendees who work for the hospital at the gala.
Photo courtesy PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center stated in a news release they were pleased to have the opportunity to host the annual Enchanted Forest Holiday Gala after the Chamber of Commerce took a year’s hiatus. The evening’s proceeds will be used to support early diabetes education and management services for members of the local community.

The event brought in just over $30,000 thanks to the donations from Taquan Air, who sponsored the venue; MyPlace, who covered the band; and First bank who purchased the trees & wreaths.

The gala featured a small forest of designer-decorated treed sponsored by a number of local businesses including First Bank, Ketchikan Visitors Bureau, Dawson Construction, The Landing Best Western, RhineCo Interiors & The Day Spa, Guardian Flight, Christmas in Alaska, Alaska Marine Lines, and the Downtown Galleries: Soho Coho, Scanlon Gallery, Starboard Framing and Gifts, and Chinook and Company. Each tree was covered in gifts and decorations ranging in values up to $5,500 with themes such as Art Lovers, By the Sea, Ketchikan Adventures, Christmas Extravagance, Holiday Baking, Family Safety, and Emojis.

The trees and a number of wreaths were up for silent and live auction along with a few dream vacations.

First Bank found a way to create a tree that would not only support the evening’s intended program, diabetes education, but to keep on giving. They donated and decorated a tree containing gifts intended for those in need such as socks and stuffed animals. Vice President and Community Development Officer Sheila Kleinschmidt then proceeded to secure the winning $1,350 bid and announce the First Bank Board’s intention to donate the tree and all its gifts to Community Connections. - More...
Thursday AM - December 15, 2016

Southeast Alaska: Consolidated UA's College of Education to be located at the University of Alaska Southeast - Yesterday, the University of Alaska Board of Regents approved unanimously in an 11-0 vote to establish a single University of Alaska (UA) College of Education and to locate the administrative center for the College at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) in Juneau.

The board first voted on consolidating the three education schools into one, and then voted on the location recommendation, which was amended by UA President Jim Johnsen to put forward UAS rather than the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) as the administrative home for the college. In doing so, the board directed Johnsen to take the necessary steps to establish a single College of Education for the University of Alaska, including seeking approval from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and assembling a planning team.

“The selection of one institution is not the denigration of another,” said Regent John Davies. “We need strong programs at all our universities and UAS is the right choice to lead our College of Education.”

Johnsen said he decided to amend his recommendation after listening to the input from many individuals citing the importance of teacher education as a signature program for UAS and expressions of concern over the economic impact of a move. Johnsen also cited UAS’ innovation and creativity in course delivery, as well as its nimbleness. The University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and UAF are larger institutions, Johnsen said, with much broader missions. UAS will make the College of Education its number one priority. Although UAS will serve as the lead campus, faculty and courses will still be delivered from UAF and UAA.

“UAS is ready, willing and able to work with UAF, UAA, and school districts to ensure that our teacher-graduates are ready to provide a 21st century education for Alaska’s students,” said UAS Chancellor Rick Caulfield .- More...
Thursday AM - December 15, 2016

Southeast Alaska:
Delegation Says Final Tongass Plan Has Dire Implications for Southeast Economy - The U.S. Forest Service issued a Final Record of Decision for an amendment to the Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) last Friday, marking the final step of a two-year process. In response to the plan, the Alaska Delegation expressed their displeasure with the final plan saying it has dire implications for the economy of Southeast Alaska.

Delegation Says Final Tongass Plan Has Dire Implications for Southeast Economy

A glimpse of the Tongass National Forest, covering 17 million acres, is the nation’s largest National Forest.
Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service

The Delegation says the Record of Decision (ROD) rushes to lock in the proposed transition to young growth timber rather than following the recommendations of the Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC). Rather than completing an inventory to determine the appropriate timeframe for an economic program that will ensure the industry has adequate supply during the transition from old growth to young growth, the Alaska Delegation says the ROD adopts a ‘ready, fire, aim’ approach by beginning that transition without scientific support or knowledge of how it will turn out.

They say the plan continues to pick and choose among the TAC’s recommendations and does not guarantee that old growth timber sales will provide the volume of timber that the industry needs to survive. The Forest Service also fails to provide a clear understanding about where the wood for bridge timber will come from during the transition.

In addition, the Delegation says the plan does nothing to assure developers of mineral and energy projects that they will have access to their sites through Inventoried Roadless Areas – including so-called “roaded roadless” areas – to construct needed roads and power lines. Instead, it states that all decisions on such projects will be made on a case-by-case basis, which provides no reasonable assurance to investors who are deciding whether to risk their capital in this region.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said in a prepared statement, “By finalizing a new plan on its way out of office, the Obama administration has blatantly disregarded some of the Tongass Advisory Committee’s most important recommendations and imperiled the economic future of Southeast Alaska.” - More...
Thursday AM - December 15, 2016


Alaska: Two Kenai Residents Sue Borough over Its Unconstitutional Invocation Policy That Limits Who May Give Invocations - Yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska filed a lawsuit against the Kenai Peninsula Borough on behalf of Lance Hunt and Iris Fontana, two Borough residents who are standing up to challenge the Kenai Borough Assembly’s unconstitutional restrictions on who may offer invocations at the beginning of the Assembly’s public meetings.

Two Kenai Residents Sue Borough over Its Unconstitutional Invocation Policy That Limits Who May Give Invocations

From left to right: ACLU staff attorney Eric Glatt, plaintiff Lance Hunt and ACLU of Alaska Executive Director Joshua Decker.
Photo courtesy ACLU of Alaska

Lance Hunt and Iris Fontana each gave separate invocations this summer, during a period when the Assembly allowed invocations on a first-come, first-served basis. Lance, an atheist, invoked the Assembly members’ common humanity to solemnize its July 26 meeting: he encouraged the Assembly members to overlook differences and to have empathy for one’s neighbors. Iris, who read an invocation from The Satanic Temple to solemnize the Assembly’s August 9 meeting, encouraged the Assembly members to use innate, human reason to guide their deliberations. In a direct response to Lance and Iris’s invocations—and to prevent them and other community members from giving similar invocations in the future—the Assembly adopted unconstitutional and discriminatory restrictions that limit who may publicly solemnize Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meetings. The restrictions limit that honor to members of religious associations that are established in and regularly meet in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

“I’ve lived on the Kenai since 1994,” said Plaintiff Lance Hunt. “I’m involved in my community and I try to make the Kenai a better place for my neighbors. My July invocation called on the members of the Borough Assembly to be good to everyone, to recognize our common humanity, and to have empathy for our neighbors. Just because I don’t belong to a religious association, I don’t understand why the Assembly felt the need to prevent me from offering a similar invocation in the future.”

“I grew up in Ketchikan and moved to the Kenai six years ago and plan to stay for the rest of my life,” said Plaintiff Iris Fontana. “As a psychology and anthropology major at the Kenai Peninsula College, I’m learning how to help people. As I study the world’s cultures and societies, I’m struck by how alike we all are. In August, I tried to inspire the Assembly members to use our common, innate human gifts of logic and reason as they deliberate on what’s best for me and my neighbors; last month, they told me that I could not give another invocation.” - More...
Thursday AM - December 15, 2016

Alaska: Alaska Restaurants to Pay $835,000 in Overtime and Damages Owed to 159 Employees - The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development has secured an agreement from Gallo’s Mexican Restaurants and Taco King, Inc. to pay more than $835,000 in overtime and liquidated damages owed to 159 employees in Alaska. This represents one of the largest recoveries of overtime wages secured by the department’s Wage and Hour Administration.

A recent investigation by the department found that Gallo’s Mexican Restaurants and Taco King, with multiple locations in Anchorage and Fairbanks, violated the overtime provision of the Alaska Wage and Hour Act and failed to maintain accurate payroll records. Previous investigations into the businesses found they were in violation of Alaska’s wage and hour laws and resulted in the collection of over $50,000 in unpaid wages and damages.

“Wage violations are not uncommon in the restaurant industry where workers may not know their rights or are afraid to speak up,” said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “This enforcement puts money back where it belongs – in the pockets of hardworking people and their families.” - More...
Thursday AM - December 15, 2016


jpg Danny Tyree
DANNY TYREE: Embrace Those Tidings Of Comfort and Joy - Believe me, I understand if you're ambivalent or even disdainful of the religious aspects of Christmas.

I understand why you couldn't care less which festive cups Starbucks uses, why you'd just as soon your grandchild be a dancing snowflake as an adoring shepherd, why "Season's greetings" resonates just as well as "Merry Christmas" with you, why you'd rather hear "Baby, It's Cold Outside" than Handel's "Messiah."

Maybe pompous ivory tower professors have lectured you that "everyone knows" the New Testament was written hundreds of years after the alleged events (and Second Corinthians was written with a Sharpie marker on the back of a Denny's napkin just last Thursday).

Perhaps endless sensationalized History Channel documentaries have filled your mind with paranoia about altered manuscripts and plots to suppress competing gospels.

Or maybe you remember your niece's podiatrist once said something or another about the Bible being full of contradictions and garbled translations and latter-day myths "and stuff."

Even after 30-plus years of teaching adult Bible classes, I have my own flashes of "But what if...?" uncertainty. But I have the assurance of "Seek and ye shall find" -- and resources for bolstering my faith.

Perhaps you know of those resources but are happy with your rock-ribbed atheism or your nebulous "spirituality."Perhaps there is an emptiness in your life, but you ignore it, like that "check engine soon" light on your car or the blood in your handkerchief when you cough.

Christianity has been derided as "wishful thinking," but skeptical forces have their own ulterior motives.

Embracing the "only drooling idiots believe in miracles," "Jesus was just a good man (if he even existed)", "Jesus's followers greatly padded his re©sume©" crowd can bring enviable SHORT-TERM peace of mind.

You can base your life on "fun, fun, fun." You don't have to question if your favorite uncle, the militant nonbeliever, was misguided. You don't have to think about sin or Judgment Day. - More...
Thursday AM - December 15, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Holidays and Homeless

Editorial Cartoon: Holidays and Homeless
By Dave Granlund ©2016,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Shrinking Budgets and the Drug Epidemic Create the Perfect Storm… Not SB 91 By Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth - Change is hard but it can also provide opportunities. Last spring, an opportunity presented itself when our legislature and Governor Walker enacted Senate Bill 91, broadly reforming our criminal justice system. Before this happened, the legislature asked the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission to study our system and recommend changes. The Commission did this and came up with recommendations based on evidence of what worked in other states. This became the foundation for SB 91. The Commission – including Department of Public Safety Commissioner Monegan, Department of Corrections Commissioner Williams, and me as head of the Department of Law, all agree that SB 91 is the right path for our State. But it will improve public safety in the long run only if the State sees the reform efforts through. Tweaks will be needed to the new law, and the Commission will monitor implementation and recommend changes where needed. - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

letter Autopsy of Clinton's Loss By Donald Moskowitz - I am perturbed that Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff are blaming FBI Director James Comey for Clinton’s election defeat. Director Comey sent out a letter to Congress 11 days prior to the election reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails. Two days prior to the election he stated there was nothing incriminating in the emails, and he was closing out the investigation. They claim he adversely impacted her momentum a week before the election, which is probably true. However, Director Comey should not be scapegoated for Clinton’s loss, because there are many reasons she lost the election. - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

letter RE: Making an Enrollment List and Checking It Twice By Laura Plenert - Just checking - this kind of 'information' should also be provided to be able to vote in an elections, right???? - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

letter Making an Enrollment List and Checking It Twice By Susan Johnson - Applications usually require supporting information and documents. Job applications, school applications, car insurance applications, scholarship applications, loan applications, and of course health insurance applications, require you to have certain information available to complete the process. While no one likes completing applications, it tends to go much more smoothly if you’re prepared. - More...
Thursday AM - December 08, 2016

letter How to Put Building Permits on a Fast Track By U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan - President-elect Donald Trump has made investing in U.S. infrastructure a priority. This country urgently needs to build and repair roads, bridges, airports, pipelines and rail lines. But a huge roadblock is the federal permitting system. Even with a more business-friendly administration, a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan won’t accomplish much unless Congress reforms the way public-works projects are approved. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter Giving Thanks By Nina Kemppel - As we approach the season for giving thanks and the time when we reflect on how grateful we are for the blessings in our daily lives, I want to acknowledge all of the individuals, community members, organizations, and visionaries whose generosity and service has made Alaska a place we are proud to call home. Despite the challenges our state has undergone this year, I find that we at The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) are in a fortunate vantage point to see how Alaskans have come together to weather the storm and have supported their communities now more than ever. At ACF, we witness your generosity every single day. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter KCCB in the Plaza Mall By Judith Green - QUESTION: What is a great way to utilize the open space in the Plaza Mall during the month of December? YES, filled with Chrismas music from the Ketchikan Community Concert Band. Many of us were thrilled to hear the sounds of music coming from that space Saturday. The KCCB gave us heart warming sounds as we went about visiting the local artisans and their creative, hand made items. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter Public Lands By Joe Ashcraft - It is interesting that the letter from Fielder is in a Ketchikan on line forum, soliciting for state control of federally administered lands in a different state. Maybe it had to do with corporations in Alaska wanting to trade for lands with uncut timber; lands now belonging to others. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter KCC's Historic Christmas program By Judith Green - Ketchikan Community Chorus has put together a program that is fun, interesting, informative, and professional. There is the musical director and conductor and the chorus, of course: all local people who gather together to practice together because (?) they enjoy music. Once again we are not disappointed in the wonderful program they present for the community to enjoy. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter RE: President Elect must Divest By Laura Plenert - Just wondering - does this include Presidents that come into office with literally nothing and walk away millionaires??? - More
Tuesday AM - December 06, 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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