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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 31, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By TERRI JIRSCHELE

Good-Bye 2017
New Year's Eve, Ketchikan. Following a week of clear skies and freezing temperatures, relief is in sight as above freezing temperatures and rain are in next week's forecast. Snow is in the forecast overnight, turning to rain on Monday in Ketchikan. December 2017 Precip Stats as of 12/30/17: Actual Month Total: 10.41 inches. The Average Month Total: 14.35 inches.
Happy New Year 2018!
Front Page Feature Photo By TERRI JIRSCHELE ©2017

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Fish Factor: 2017 Fish Picks & Pans By LAINE WELCH - For 27 years this weekly column has featured news for and about Alaska’s commercial fishing industry. It began in 1991 in the Anchorage Daily News and now appears in more than 20 news outlets across Alaska, nationally and in the UK. 

Today, Alaska fishermen and processors provide 65 percent of our nation’s wild-caught seafood, and 95 percent of the wild salmon. The industry puts more people to work than oil/gas, mining, timber and tourism combined.

Alaska’s diverse fishing fleet of nearly 10,000 vessels is made up mostly of boats under 50 feet. Each is a small business that supports several families. For towns like Kodiak, Cordova, Homer, Petersburg and Sitka, where 500 to 700 vessels are homeported, boats are the majority of our downtown store fronts. 

Here are my annual Fishing Picks and Pans – a no holds barred look back at the best and worst fish stories of 2017 in no particular order, and my choice for the biggest fish story of the year. 

Best fishing career builders University of Alaska/Southeast for “on the go” iPad training for fishery technicians, boat hydraulics, electronics, vessel repairs and more. Kodiak College merits honorable mention for same.

Biggest new industry potential:  Seaweeds.  Kelp alone is a $5 billion global industry. Gov. Walker will unveil a statewide mariculture plan in March for producing more seaweeds and shellfish. The US Dept. of Energy already is eyeing Alaska for bio-fuels from macroalgae.

Biggest fish break: Electronic Monitoring Systems replacing fishery observers on small boats to track what’s coming and going over the rails. 

Best Fish Entrepreneurs – Salmon Sisters of Homer – even Xtra-Tuffs came calling for the sisters’ flair on its boots!

Best fish visionaries: Tidal Vision LLC of Juneau – their list of Alaska crab shell-based filters, fabrics and an eye-popping list of other products continues to grow.

Best Fish Legislators:  Rep. Louise Stutes, (R) Kodiak; Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tompkins (D-Sitka)

Best fish knowledge sharers: Alaska Sea Grant and its Marine Advisory Agents

Best Fish Giver – Sea Share, for donating more than 225 million fish servings to needy Americans since 1994. The program began as a bycatch to foodbanks effort by Bering Sea fishermen and processors.

Trickiest fish conundrum:  Protecting transboundary waters shared by Southeast Alaska and British Columbia. More than a half dozen huge mines are operating or being built directly upstream in B.C.; some straddle headwaters of the Panhandle’s most important salmon rivers. 

Most earth friendly fishing town – Kodiak, for generating nearly 100 percent of its electricity from wind and hydropower, and for turning its fish gurry into oils and meals at a plant owned by local processors.  

Biggest fish WTF? Over 70 percent of active fishing permit holders call Alaska home, but most of the gross earnings go out of state. In 2015 Alaska fishing residents and crew grossed more than $602 million at the docks, while 6,580 Washington-based fishermen took home over $904 million.  

Scariest immediate fish threat:  warming water temperatures are throwing fish behaviors and diets out of whack.

Scariest imminent fish threat: ocean acidification. The corrosion of shells and skeletons in sea creatures is already documented in the Pacific Northwest. 

Best fish ambassadors – Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI). The Alaska seafood “brand” is #1 on US restaurant menus. Seafood sales are Alaska’s top export by far, topping $3 billion. ASMI, funded primarily by the industry, promotes Alaska seafood in the U.S. and in more than 120 countries.  

Most counterproductive fish cut – Alaska legislators zeroing out the $1 million state ASMI budget in FY 18. (see above) In contrast, Norway’s Seafood Council, funded by a tax on seafood exports, has a $55 million marketing budget. - More....
Sunday PM - December 31, 2017

Ketchikan: KPD Sergeant helps ‘rock-a-bye’ the first baby of 2018 - There’s a newly made cradle in the New Beginnings Birthing Center. Made of ash and maple wood, it’s there as a gift for the first baby born at PeaceHealth Ketchikan in 2018.

KPD Sergeant helps ‘rock-a-bye’ the first baby of 2018

L to R: Sgt. Cheatam, New Beginnings manager Sarah Cook RN, and Labor and Delivery nurse Teresa Ward RN
Photo courtesy Ketchikan Medical Center

Ketchikan Police Sergeant Bob Cheatam made the cradle, “Chief Joe White asked that we think of ways to be involved with the community and, since I’m an avid woodworker, making the cradle was a natural choice.”

Sergeant Cheatam has made over a dozen cradles through the years for friends and family. He adds accents depending on the person who received the cradle to reflect the family’s interest like deer or sports or boats. He’s even added armadillos. - More...
Sunday PM - December 31, 2017

Alaska: Summit aims to train fishing’s next generation By PAULA DOBBYN - Third-generation Bristol Bay fisherman Kristina Andrew didn’t sit still for most of the Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit. The 30-year-old Dillingham resident paced the Dena’ina Center conference room, soothing her 1-year-old son, Kevin, strapped to her back.

Andrew took last summer off from drift gillnetting in Bristol Bay’s sockeye salmon fishery to care for Kevin. She’s itching to get back on the water next summer.

“My dad compares seeing fish coming over the roller to Christmas morning,” Andrew said. “I agree.”

Andrew was one of dozens of new and aspiring commercial fishermen gathered in Anchorage in early December for the summit. Organized by Alaska Sea Grant, a partnership between the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it aims to train the next generation of commercial fishermen to help turn the tide on Alaska’s graying  fleet, where the average age of a boat captain is now 50.


Eighty-five participants formed the largest turnout among the seven summits held since 2007. About half the attendees this year were women.

Fishermen work aboard a salmon tender in Chatham Strait in Southeast Alaska. Eighty-five people attended a conference in Anchorage this month to assist young people in the fishing industry.
Photo by Deborah Mercy

Andrew is considering buying a boat of her own, but the finances involved are a bit intimidating. And skippering a vessel while nursing her son — and future babies — seems tricky.

“If anyone has the answers, I would love to hear from them,” Andrew said.

Balancing the pressures of commercial fishing with family life was the focus of one panel discussion at this year’s summit. Some key take-home messages emerged — for example, family comes first, no matter how exciting or profitable the fishing might be.

“When you’re home, be home,” said Steven Rhodes, a two-time summit attendee and fisherman from Sitka.

Don’t always talk about fishing. Turn off the phone and play with your kids, said several panelists, all experienced fishermen.

Other sessions included both nitty-gritty and big-picture details on how to navigate the Alaska fisheries regulatory process; how to successfully direct-market fish; how to maintain a vessel; and how to make a business plan, apply for loans, pay taxes and make a profit, or at least not go too far into the red or miss loan payments.

“I suspect it’ll happen to each of you at least once. Commercial fishing is all about risk management. Fish returns, for example, aren’t something you can control,” said Lea Klingert, president and chief executive of Alaska Commercial Fishing and Agriculture Bank.

Klingert, displaying spreadsheets with a variety of financial scenarios for fishermen, reassured the youthful audience that lenders like her are there to help if fishermen are serious about running a successful operation.

“We’re going to ask you for more financial information, and we’ll come up with a plan,” Klingert said.

However, if the borrower is off spending thousands of dollars on a Hawaiian vacation while behind on a loan, “we might have a different conversation,” Klingert said. - More...
Sunday PM - December 31, 2017


Columns - Commentary


MONEY MATTERS: CHOOSING THE RIGHT SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS By MARY LYNNE DAHL, CFP® - In case you were thinking it would be simple to sign up for Social Security benefits at retirement, think again. It is anything but simple, unfortunately. Getting the wrong benefits can cost you a lot of money, now or later. Here are some issues to understand before you sign up for Social Security.

First of all, decide when you want to start getting retirement income benefits. It does not have to be the same date that you retire. You can start early at age 62 but your benefit amount will be reduced by 25%.You can wait until full retirement age, either 66 or 67, and receive your full benefit. Or you can wait until age 70 and get a benefit that is increased by 8% per year between your full benefit age and age 70. A majority of US citizens take their benefits early, at age 62.

If you are married and both of you are entitled to benefits from your own earned income, it may work out that one of you can start retirement income at age 62 and the other one wait until age 70, but you will need to crunch the numbers to see if this will work for you or not. If you are single, it does not work out to your advantage to start retirement income early, at age 62 unless you are suffering from a terminal medical condition that is likely to shorten your life. Otherwise, there is no good reason to start taking Social Security benefits at age 62 if you are single. - More...
Sunday PM - December 31, 2017


JEFF LUND: The 2018 outdoor agenda - It’s weird to ask yourself what you want and why because sometimes you think you should have answered it better, as if it’s a contest and there are judges expecting you to say “world peace” or to “make a difference” every time. 

It’s even weirder when you’re reading another book on essentialism and it’s telling you about the power of saying No, because how are you supposed to make a difference, or have any fun, if you say No, right? 

No is often a bad word, especially to someone who likes to hunt and fish. Who says No to new gear that is better (in ways that are unclear, but you convince yourself anyway). 

Because it’s the beginning of 2018 and plans require thought, I prioritized my outdoor life for 2018, particularly the adventures I will put the most energy and money toward. I wrote down the first images that came to my head when I asked myself, “picture yourself doing ______ this year.” - More...
Sunday PM - December 31, 2017


JASON GRAVES: New Year's Absolution - I've never been one to make New Year's resolutions. In fact, I usually scoff at the very concept of suddenly making a decision to change some aspect of one's life, especially after a night that, for many folks, involves staying up too late and losing important articles of clothing in public. The most crucial decision these people should be making is how to navigate their way to bed without ruining the carpet. But this year, I've decided to make some significant changes, considering that it's noon on a Tuesday as I write this, and I'm still wearing pajamas.

Speaking of pajamas, my first resolution is to clean out my underwear drawer. We've all been there. It's 6:00 a.m.our bodies and minds are barely functioning, and we just grab whatever's on top in the drawer where we think we crammed our clean underwear the last time we finally put them away and stopped getting dressed out of the laundry basket. It might be a pair with enough holes to strain pasta. (Try getting that image out of your mind.) It might be a pair you've had since your senior year in high school and now fits like a giant pressure bandage. Or it might be a pair that has lost its elasticity and by the end of the day becomes an extra pair of socks. Life is just too short to wear uncomfortable underwear, and by golly, if I had to choose, I'd rather wear none at all - yikes! - More....
Sunday PM - December 31, 2017

jpg Political Cartoon: Goodbye to 2017

Political Cartoon: Goodbye to 2017
By TERRY MOSHER ©2017, Aislin, The Montreal Gazette
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Acknowlegement By A. M. Johnson - Often, this writer takes Senator Murkowski to task for the many ill sponsored and contrary positions on subjects felt should reflect conservative Republican ideals. Yet, on the rare occasion she, like finding the preverbal pony in the manure pile, she participates in a good result. The ANWR opening is such rare action. - More...
Sunday PM - December 31, 2017

jpg Letter / Opinion

It's a sin to tell a lieBy Dan Weber - Never in the history of the world has it been easier and faster to find out what is happening in virtually every city on the face of the earth.  Nor, has there been a time when news reporting has been so erratic and unreliable. - More...
Sunday PM - December 31, 2017

jpg Letter / Opinion

New Tax Bill By Norbert Chaudhary - I would like to thank Senator Lisa Murkowski for the wisdom, foresight and the unwavering loyalty she has shown standing with President Trump in his quest to Make America Great Again! Our Dear Leader is the most honest, humble and God fearing President this nation has ever been blessed with.  - More...
Wednesday PM - December 27, 2017

jpg Letter / Opinion

THE DUCHESS LIES AGAIN By David G Hanger - The Duchess of the Duchy of Murkowski, once referred to as Alaska, one Lisa Oil-louski Murkowski, wants you to chortle your shorts over this massive tax ripoff Donnie Two Scoops just signed off on. It’s the Christmas present that is going to save you and all of Alaska from fiscal and economic disaster. - More...
Wednesday PM - December 27, 2017

jpg Letter / Opinion

Historic Opportunities for Alaska in Tax Cuts and Jobs Act By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - This holiday season, Alaskans can have a renewed sense of hope for good jobs, larger paychecks, stronger growth, and enduring prosperity. The reason why is today’s passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which includes two historic opportunities for our state.

The first - and perhaps most unexpected, at the start of this year - is the opening of the 1002 Area within the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Set aside by Congress in 1980, Alaskans never gave up on its incredible potential for energy development, and our longstanding efforts finally succeeded this week. - More...
Friday PM - December 22, 2017

jpg Letter / Opinion

Alaska Marine Highway thoughts By A. M. Johnson - Some interesting community member thoughts have been brought to my attention and worthy I believe, of public discussion. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 19, 2017

jpg Letter / Opinion

Violence Prevention By Agnes Moran - Alaska leads the nation in per capita incidence of sexual assault and domestic violence. Unfortunately, as the recent headlines in the Ketchikan Daily News indicate, Ketchikan is not exempt from these statistics. Women in Safe Homes (WISH) is working to eliminate violence in our community through community partnerships and primary prevention and education programs. - More...
Saturday AM - December 16, 2017

jpg Letter / Opinion

President Trump should sign ANWR legislation to boost Alaska’s economy, nation’s energy dominance By Gail Phillips - Alaskans are on the verge of seeing the oil-rich coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) opened to leasing for the first time – a three-decades-long quest that was, until now, stifled by environmental it and the blocking-and-tackling tactics of Democrats in Washington, DC. - More...
Saturday AM - December 16, 2017

jpg Letter / Opinion

AMHS PROBLEMS PLAGUE SOUTHEAST ALASKA COMMUNITIES By Mary Lynne Dahl - My husband and I are frequent customers of the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system. We have been sailing on the Ketchikan – Prince Rupert run about 6 round trips per year for 16 years, mostly in winter. We have become very familiar with many of the boats and crew over these years. - More...
Thursday PM - December 07, 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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