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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 01, 2017

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Alaska: Pioneer scientist determined aurora height over Alaska By NED ROZELL - “Professor Fuller Drops Dead in Garden.”

Pioneer scientist determined aurora height over Alaska

This portrait of Veryl Fuller, the University of Alaska’s first scientist to study the aurora, was published in the 1936 yearbook.

So reads the headline in the Farthest-North Collegian newspaper of June 1, 1935. In the story, an unnamed writer described how the wife of the only physics professor at the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines screamed when she found Veryl Fuller face down in his garden. He was 39.

Fuller left behind his Fairbanks-born wife Lillian and young twins Mary and Richard, as well as his unfinished study on the aurora borealis.

His was the first aurora experiment attempted in Alaska. Ninety years ago, scientists had hints the northern lights flared up when particles from the sun tickled gases in the thin air above their heads, but they didn’t know how high the aurora occurred above Alaska.

Fuller got the job of finding out. He was a dark-eyed, sensitive man who accepted a position at the Agricultural College and School of Mines in 1926. To get to Fairbanks from Ames, Iowa, where that same year he earned his master’s degree in physics, Fuller boarded a steamship from Seattle and then a train from Seward to Fairbanks. Fairbanks had a gold camp feel, with no paved roads and as much activity in the surrounding hills as downtown.

Government officials and influential scientists were keen to know more about the aurora because America had just emerged from a period when the best way for people to communicate was through telegraph wires draped over the landscape. Communication by radio was one of those giant leaps that changes everything.

But there was an occasional problem with radio transmission and reception in the far North. At lower latitudes, radio waves bounce neatly from transmitter to receiver off the portion of the atmosphere from 60 to a few hundred miles above the ground. But at high latitudes, especially when the aurora is visible, that portion of the atmosphere steals energy from the signals. Sometimes radios of certain frequency ranges don’t work.

Up in the territory of Alaska, the young physicist Fuller did not know much about particles in the sky but was game to learn. Northward came $10,000 from the Rockefeller Foundation for a study conducted where the aurora is easy to see.

Fuller lived on the Fairbanks campus on a hill overlooking the flats of the Tanana Valley. He set up an experiment, copying as much as he could from an aurora-photography study done in Norway by scientist Carl Stormer. There, Stormer had found the aurora existed from about 60 miles above the ground and upward.

Fuller wanted to see if the elevation of the aurora was the same above Alaska. If it was, scientists would be able to infer that height was similar throughout the circumpolar North, and that the aurora indeed existed in the ionosphere, a mysterious region good for reflecting radio signals but hard to study.

Fuller was inventive and handy with tools, which was good because he had to make almost everything to get his project underway.

He created the first aurora-photographing station at his home on campus. He needed one more outpost to photograph the same auroras a good distance away at the same time. Using geometry, he could then determine the height of aurora displays. - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017

Women In Safe Homes Receives $5,000 Basic Needs Grant - The Ketchikan Community Foundation and The Alaska Community Foundation announced that Women In Safe Homes in Ketchikan has received a $5,000 Basic Needs grant to support its New Beginnings Program.

Agnes Moran, Executive Director, Women In Safe Homes said, “We are thrilled to have received funding from The Alaska Community Foundation for our New Beginnings Program. One of the largest hurdles facing victims of domestic violence and their children is securing safe and stable housing once they are ready to move forward with their lives. This grant will enable us to assist our victims and their families to transition into permanent housing so they can sustain employment, enroll children in neighborhood schools and generally establish a healthy living situation.”

Quoting a news release, "The Ketchikan Community Foundation and The Alaska Community Foundation are excited to provide support to Women In Safe Homes as it provides incredibly valuable resources to the Ketchikan region."

The Basic Needs competitive grant cycle offered grants for programmatic and general operational support to nonprofit organizations that are serving the fundamental needs of Alaskans statewide. Women In Safe Home’s award was one of six grants totaling $35,226, which were dispersed in four communities around the state. This year’s Basic Needs grants will help support safe homes for women at risk, ensure food banks remain well-stocked, provide meals for rural seniors, and shelter for homeless individuals. - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017

Ketchikan: DOT To Include Mandatory Expanded Opioids Testing for Safety Sensitive Employees - According to the The Safety Specialists (TSS Inc) based in Ketchikan, effective January 1, 2018 the U.S. Department of Transportation is amending the Federal drug testing program to include mandatory testing for: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone to the drug testing panel. Some common names for these semi-synthetic opioids include OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Dilaudid®, Exalgo®

The test requirement will be known as a five panel with expanded opioids. Additionally, this change will add MDA as an initial test analyte and remove MDEA as a confirmatory test analyte.

At this time, urinalysis will remain as the only approved method for Department of Transportation drug test panels. The revision brings DOT regulations into harmony with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulations which went into effect on October 01, 2017.

CEO of consortium management TPA provider TSS INC, Renee Schofield, says, “At a time when our nation is facing a serious public health crises in the form of opioid misuse, abuse and addiction, this is the right move by DOT to work toward solutions that not only help promote transportation safety but can save a life before it’s too late.” - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017

Southeast Alaska: Program to advance Northwest Coast Art, Math Training to be offered in Juneau, Klawock & Hoonah - Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) has signed memorandums of agreement with the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) and school districts in Juneau, Klawock and Hoonah to teach Northwest Coast (NWC) art, the world-renowned legacy of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian.

The program, Sharing Our Box of Treasures, is part of SHI’s effort to make Juneau the NWC arts capital of the world, to galvanize the region’s economy and to designate NWC art as a national treasure.  

Through the program, partners will develop a two-year associate’s degree program in Northwest Coast (NWC) art at UAS and award scholarships to applicants; expand the Juneau Fine Arts Career Pathway program to include a focus on NWC art and field-test courses in four high schools in partner communities; increase current retention rates and academic performance in math of Alaska Native high school students by integrating NWC art into math courses; document development and implementation of NWC art and culture programs at UAS and SHI; and produce a sustainability plan for the next phase of expansion.

The program, in part, builds on SHI’s program to teach math concepts to Alaska Native students through ancient NWC art practices. The institute has partnered with national leaders in the field in recent years and successfully taught difficult math concepts through art practices such as weaving and carving. - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017



Alaska: Alaska Military Youth Academy Expands Vocational Training; Federal Grant Enables More Cadets to Prepare for Future Careers - The Alaska Military Youth Academy (AMYA) has secured supplemental grant funding to double the number of its cadets receiving career preparedness and vocational education training.

The Alaska Military Youth Academy, is an accredited and award-winning secondary education institution within DMVA. It is an intervention program for youth between the ages of 16 and 18 who are at risk of not completing their education. 

“AMYA’s career training curriculum already includes intensive pre-apprenticeship instruction in basic construction skills and culinary arts, and we’re thrilled this one-time increase in grant funding means twice as many cadets will receive that training,” AMYA Executive Director Bob Roses said.  “Real-life introductions to these major career fields lead many of our cadets into rewarding jobs that contribute to the social health and economic well-being of communities across the state.”

The one-time grant increase, administered through the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the federal Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Reserve Integration, will fund 10 weeks of instruction in basic construction skills as part of cadets’ daily class curriculum offerings.  AMYA delivers this training through a local agreement with the Alaska Works Partnership, Inc., which provides experienced instructors.  Funding for the expansion of the vocational training and pre-apprenticeship program will be available for the present AMYA class, scheduled to graduate in February of 2018, and two additional classes that begin in March 2018 and September 2018.

During the last four weeks of AMYA’s 22-week residential program, 40 cadets will have the opportunity to receive 40 hours of intensive training with the union apprenticeship instructors in each of the construction trades - carpentry, electrical, labor, iron work, and welding.   Twelve additional cadets will receive 160 hours of culinary arts training. - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017

Alaska: Lawmakers Selected to Update Harassment Policies for the Alaska Legislature - Six members of the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska State Senate have been appointed to a subcommittee tasked with reviewing and recommending updates to the harassment policies for the Alaska State Legislature. The Sexual and Other Workplace Harassment Policy Subcommittee will work under the umbrella of the Alaska Legislative Council, Chaired by Rep. Sam Kito (D-Juneau).

“Lawmakers and staff should be free to do the people’s work free of unwanted sexual advances and other forms of harassment. The members chosen to lead this process understand that the Alaska Legislature must be a safe and respectful workplace,” said Rep. Kito.

The new Sexual and Other Workplace Harassment Policy Subcommittee is Chaired by the Legislature’s Human Resources Manager and includes three members apiece from the Alaska House and the Alaska Senate. The House members will be Rep. Matt Claman (D-Anchorage), Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak), and Rep. Charisse Millet (R-Anchorage). The Senators on the subcommittee will be Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage), Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River), and Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna). - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017

Alaska: Putman Appointed to Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission - Thursday, Alaska Governor Bill Walker announced the appointment of V. Fate Putman to the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC). Putman will fill the seat on December 1st being vacated by Benjamin Brown. Putman will serve the remainder of Brown’s term, which expires March 3, 2019.

The Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) has drawn criticism in recent years for a backlog of permit adjudications and perceived lack of direction. The recent resignation of three employees has sparked concerns about possible delays in processing commercial fishing licenses.

"Fate’s stable leadership, conscientious nature, and reasonable voice will be an asset to the commission,” Governor Walker said. “I am confident he will be a great addition to the CFEC team, which has worked hard to support the economic health of Alaska’s commercial fisheries.”

Putman has worked as a commercial fishing deckhand, commercial fish buyer, and currently as a setnet fisherman in the Kasilof Personal Use Fishery. He has extensive experience in Alaska’s commercial fisheries, holds a law degree from California Western School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Western Washington University. He currently lives in Juneau, Alaska and works in private practice. - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017


Columns - Commentary



DANNY TYREE: Still Paying For Christmas 2016? Atta Boy, Clarence! - It's beginning to look a lot like debt collectors, everywhere you go...

According to the NerdWallet personal finance website, a distressing number of shoppers are still paying off credit card bills from last Christmas.

NerdWallet's survey shows that 24 percent of Millennials, 16 percent of Generation X and eight percent of Baby Boomers are still trying to recover from the doorbusters, layaway treasures and stocking stuffers of 2016 -- and avoid LIVING IN A SNOWPLOW DOWN BY THE RIVER.

You probably expect me to join NerdWallet in bemoaning the incompetent budgeting ("We're on the Island of Misfit Calculators..."), competitiveness and crass commercialism that led to this situation. Wrong. We always had love, but I remember too many tight Christmases at the Tyree home, when recession-battered consumers skimped on appliances from the store where my late father worked. I want to spare others that anxiety.

Furthermore, I will not betray the fine merchants who support this newspaper or website by guilting people into saying, "Bah, humbug!" to consumer electronics, leisurewear and scented candles. (Hey, I know which side my fruitcake is buttered on.)

It's your patriotic duty to keep the economy humming. Remember the American dream of "A chicken in every pot and a second flatscreen TV in every medicine cabinet." - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017


BLAIR BESS: Consumer Protection is No Laughing Matter - As Congress struggles to enact legislation that will bring tax relief to the rich and obliterate healthcare for the not-so-rich, another battle is brewing beneath the Swamp; the never-ending struggle to decimate the lusterless policies that affect the lives of ordinary Americans. Policies put in place to protect us no matter what our political persuasion may be.

Wresting control of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, is the latest move by the administration to gut any regulatory body designed to ensure that 'the 99%' of us are not taken advantage of, or endangered by financial institutions.

The CFPB is part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and was designed to avoid repeating the financial calamities that occurred in the wake of the stock market collapse of 2008. The same Wall Street that then-candidate Trump railed against during the 2016 presidential campaign; swamp-dwellers the president promised to rid the American public of and has, yet, failed to do.

The collapse that precipitated Dodd-Frank has been variously attributed to complex investment schemes by banks 'too big to fail,' as well as a lack of regulatory oversight. The law was enacted to avert practices on Wall Street that nearly caused international financial markets to collapse. 

Since its inception six years ago, the CFPB has safeguarded Americans from financial harm. It's followed up on nearly two million consumer complaints and has returned almost $12 billion in refunds and cancelled debts. It's helped nearly 30 million Americans through its enforcement actions. Earlier this year, the agency assessed penalties totaling $100 million against Wells Fargo Bank for its toxic lending practices and fraudulent activities, which included the systemic opening of unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts.  - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017

jpg Political Cartoon: Congress Slush Fund

Political Cartoon: Congress Slush Fund
By Rick McKee ©2017, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

Alaska's Fiscal Situation By Rep. Dan Ortiz - A misleading internet video posted around Thanksgiving alleged that I “want” to implement a state-wide income tax and that the State of Alaska continues to have a bloated budget. Neither of those statements are accurate. - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Trump Condones China's Press Restrictions By Donald Moskowitz - President Trump refused to take reporters questions during his visit to China.  He succumbed to Chinese insistence that no questions be allowed from the press. - More...
Friday AM - December 01, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Easy to take money from those who have sacrificed, planned and worked By Jerry Cegelske - Ghert Abbott's letter to Sitnews on November 21st stated that the solution to the Alaska fiscal problem is to heavily tax the investment income from the “rich” people. A problem I have with his solution is the government is the entity which defines the term “rich” or economically advantaged. It is easy for government to lower the definition of rich so that the numerous middle class and lower taxpayers end up paying the bill. Government has an unlimited power to take from people and an unlimited ability to spend more than they should. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The GOP’s Malevolent Tax Proposals By Ghert Abbott - It is impossible to fully convey the sheer, unbridled malevolence of the GOP tax plans currently being rushed through Congress. In order to pay for permanent corporate tax cuts which will predominately benefit the super-rich, working and middle class Americans will receive a permanent tax increase. At first this tax increase will be masked by temporary tax cuts, but once all the temporary cuts expire 50% of Americans will find themselves with a higher tax bill. These permanent tax increases will be particularly concentrated on households earning below $75,000 a year. The GOP’s tax plan will thus redistribute wealth upwards, increasing the tax burden of ordinary Americans while decreasing the taxes paid by the extremely wealthy. But the costs of paying for these corporate tax cuts won’t stop there. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Open Letter: Thank You By Alannah Hurley Dear Southeast Alaska Indigenous Transboundary Commission, On behalf of the United Tribes of Bristol Bay (UTBB), I would like to thank you for standing in unity with the people of Bristol Bay. The letter from your tribe urging the EPA to finalize protections for our watershed and Yup’ik, Dena’ina, and Alutiiq way of life is a great help to our efforts. Like many in your region, our tribal members still live a traditional way of life in balance with our pristine lands and waters. The health of our watershed is directly connected to the health and well-being of our people and the continuation of our cultures, we thank you again for helping us work to protect this connection for future generations. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

“YOU WHO HATE” By David G Hanger - When next you choose to rant on a subject, Mr. Tim Livingston, I would suggest you at least understand what the subject is lest you again appear as stupid as you do in this instance. The term “plausible deniability” is technically a legal term for a method or action frequently used by extreme right-wing politicians in an effort to advance their agenda of lies, deceit, and ironclad control. In its more pedestrian utilization we have the denials and semi-denials of such as Menendez and Franken, but as refined political utility it is a right-wing phenomenon first developed by Goebbels, and more recently re- invigorated by the likes of Karl Rove. - More...
Monday PM - November 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The Republican Tax Plan: Tax Cuts for the Rich, Higher Medical Expenses for Everyone Else By Ghert Abbott - Just when we think we’re out, they pull us back in. The Republican Congress is launching yet another assault on the healthcare gains created by the Affordable Care Act, albeit one that is somewhat sneakier and less direct than the last five attempts. Instead of wholesale repeal of the ACA, Congressional Republicans are merely seeking to eliminate the individual mandate while also financially undermining Medicaid/Medicare and removing the medical expenses deduction from the tax code. By these methods Congressional Republicans hope to partly achieve the up till now frustrated goal of ACA repeal: gut healthcare and use the savings to give ever greater tax cuts to the super rich and large corporations. - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The Reality of the Existence of God By Tim Livingston - For some, the presence of egregious acts of evil in the world convinces them it is impossible for there to be God. It is these same people who tend to classify moral lapses into two distinct categories, one reserved for those who commit the most abhorrent crimes, and the other for the rest of society who fail to honor the speed limit or merely cheat a little on their taxes. Their focus on the presence of the worst travesties allows them to assuage their own guilt when it comes to their ‘small’ wrongdoings which they believe pale in comparison to murder, rape, and other acts of violence. “It is the other guy who must be brought to justice and punished for his crime.” - More...
Tuesday PM - November 21, 2017

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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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