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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
January 08, 2021

The time the Arctic Bar went 'in the drink'

The time the Arctic Bar went 'in the drink'; Fishermen went "dipnetting" for floating bottles in Thomas Basin
Stedman Street Bridge, Ketchikan, 1945.
Finished structure of the bridge viewed from the north end; buildings and vehicles along the street
Courtesy Alaska State Library - Historical Collections
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Ketchikan Historical: The time the Arctic Bar went 'in the drink'; Fishermen went "dipnetting" for floating bottles in Thomas Basin By DAVE KIFFER - Just about every time there is a high tide in Ketchikan Creek or a storm swells the runoff from Granite Basin, someone mentions the time the Arctic Bar literally "went into the drink."

Not everyone gets the date correct, some people think it happened back in the 1930s, others are convinced it was the 1940s or 1950s. Even old photographs show up on-line indicating the wrong date(s). Here is a primer. The actual date the bar collapsed, and spilled its contents under the Stedman Street bridge into Thomas Basin? December 10, 1962.

The following day's Ketchikan Daily News had the story.

"City officials kept a critical eye on this afternoon’s high tide for its possible effect on the Stedman Street Bridge, which was closed to traffic last night after the collapse of the Arctic Bar building," Jerome Sheldon reported in the newspaper. "Trees and debris sweeping down Ketchikan Creek crashed into the piling underneath the two-story frame building. The weakened structure fell and spilled its entire contents, including cases of liquor and beer and the safe and other furnishings, into the angry, rain-swollen water. Occupants of an upstairs quarters and patrons in the bar escaped unhurt. Mae Torgerson, operator of the bar, reportedly grabbed only the money in the cash drawer."

The value of the lost property was originally estimated by building owner Stan Oaksmith Jr. as $35,000, but that was later lowered to $20,000 by local officials. Much of the wreckage of the bar ended up pinned against the bridge.

"City Manager Fred A. Daigle said the extend of the damage to the bridge was not determined," Sheldon wrote. "An upper abutment was possibly weakened, with the possibility steel pilings might not hold under traffic vibration. The tide was to reach a height of 18.8 feet at 1:06 o'clock this afternoon bringing the water to within two feet of the roadway under supports of the concrete and steel span."

Eventually the repairs to the bridge would cost more than $25,000.

The collapse led to electrical circuits in the area being cut, Daigle told the Daily News. A feeder circuit to the Ketchikan General Hospital on Bawden Street needed to be rerouted. Temporary water lines were laid along Creek Street and for part of Stedman Street. There was concern about an electrical arc causing a fire, so the Ketchikan Fire Department was on scene, even though the heavy downpour limited the likelihood of a fire.

Nearly seven inches of rain was recorded in a 15-hour period prior to the building collapse.

"The swift current brought down snow from the higher elevations as well as trees, logs and rocks," Sheldon reported in the Daily News. "There was no damage reported to boats in Thomas Basin after the (bar) debris was swept under the bridge."

But there was concern that the high waters from the Creek could swamp some of the boats at the Ketchikan Yacht Club. There was also concern about flooding and other buildings collapsing along the Creek, so police and firemen warned families to evacuate. Some families were taken in by St. John's Episcopal Church and others by the Salvation Army.

Building owner Stan Oaksmith Jr. said the entire building had been leased out to Mrs. Torgerson.

"So far as we could tell, the damage was caused by debris going down the river," he told the Daily News. "She called me at quarter to seven, and at 7:15, the building was gone."

Oaksmith said he had visually checked on the building at 6pm and noted no apparent danger.

The destruction of the Arctic, even then one of Ketchikan's longest operating bars, drew a crowd of onlookers that was held back by barricades on Stedman Street. Traffic along Stedman was detoured up Deermont, Park and Woodland for several days

City officials initially thought a that controlled explosion might be needed to remove the debris from under the bridge, which Police Chief Henry Miller ordered closed to traffic. But eventually a construction crew was able to cut the debris into small enough pieces to be safely removed.

Much of the contents of the bar floated into Thomas Basin, where eager fishermen - including my father - happily "rescued" floating bottles of alcohol. Other parts of the building floated out into Tongass Narrows and parts were found on local beaches as far as 11 miles away. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021

Alaska: Dunleavy Administration Will Appeal U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Decision on Pebble Project Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced today that the Alaska Department of Law will file an administrative appeal with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Pacific Ocean Division, over the Alaska District’s decision to deny the 404 permit for the proposed Pebble Project in Southwest Alaska.

“The flawed decision by the Alaska District creates a dangerous precedent that will undoubtedly harm Alaska’s future and, any potential project can fall victim to the same questionable standards,” said Governor Dunleavy.

Dunleavy said, “We have to prevent a federal agency, in this instance, the Alaska District of the Army Corps of Engineers, from using the regulatory process to effectively prevent the State from fulfilling a constitutional mandate to develop its natural resources.”

“The Alaska District’s decision has far-reaching and ominous implications for our rights as a state to develop our resources for the benefit of all Alaskans, whether its mineral deposits like Pebble, or oil and gas on the North Slope, or other resources anywhere in the state,” said Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021

Alaska: Legislation to Put PFD in Alaska Constitution Filed - Today, Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) announced he has filed legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR 1), to constitutionalize the Permanent Fund Dividend and give Alaskans the “first call” on distributions from the earnings of the Permanent Fund.

“The PFD was meant to give Alaskans their constitutional maximum benefit for the state's resources we collectively own and to protect the Permanent Fund," said Sen. Wielechowski. 

Wielechowski said, "The PFD statutory formula has been repeatedly violated since 2016, and with severe state deficits and no serious revenue plan offered by the legislature or governor, the Permanent Fund and PFD are now at grave risk." 

Senator Wielechowski was a strong public supporter of Ballot Measure One which failed in the 2020 general election. The ballot measure would have provided protection to the Permanent Fund and the PFD through increased state revenues. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021

Alaska: Alaska lawmakers prepare to confront historic budget challenges - The Alaska Legislature is preparing to confront a deep conflict between the immediate needs of Alaskans during historically challenging times and potential negative long-term financial consequences associated with deficit spending.

To prepare for the new session, which begins January 1th9, the House Finance Committee today held a hearing to receive an update on the state’s financial situation amid the pandemic and to begin reviewing Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s budget proposal. A few important facts came to light during the hearing:

  • The governor’s budget would create a $2.1 billion deficit in the upcoming budget year, much larger than the administration suggests.

  • The governor’s budget would draw $3 billion from the Permanent Fund earnings reserve to pay the largest dividends in history, a move that would significantly reduce the fund’s investment potential and risk future dividends from being paid out. The amount available for dividends and essential services every year would decrease by $200 million by 2030.

  • Governor Dunleavy’s 10-year budget plan assumes that a new tax will be in effect 18 months from now – generating $1.2 billion in new revenue in the fiscal year that begins in July 2022 – but he has not yet offered a plan to implement a new tax.

  • While the governor correctly states that the Permanent Fund’s value has grown by approximately $10 billion this year, he fails to mention that the fund also previously lost more than $7 billion amid the pandemic – meaning the fund growth he cites as justification for deficit spending is far less than he suggests.

“Today was a sobering but instructive reminder that we all need to be on the same page to get our financial house in order,” said Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome), co-chair of the House Finance Committee.

Foster said, “I’m hopeful that the governor and the Legislature will have a productive dialogue this session and work together to chart a long-term course toward balanced budgets that will also move Alaska into a bright future.” - More...
Friday PM - January 21, 2021


Fish Factor: 2020 Alaska Seafood Industry's "Picks & Pans" By LAINE WELCH - This year marks the 30th year that the weekly Fish Factor column has appeared in newspapers across Alaska and nationally. Every year it features “picks and pans” for Alaska’s seafood industry - a no-holds-barred look back at some of the year’s best and worst fishing highlights, and my choice for the biggest fish story of the year. Here are the choices for 2020, in no particular order:

Best little known fish fact: Alaska’s commercial fisheries division also pays for the management of subsistence and personal use fisheries.

Biggest fishing tragedy: The loss of five fishermen aboard the Scandies Rose that sank southwest of Kodiak.

Biggest new business potential: Mariculture of seaweeds and shellfish 

Ballsiest fish move: Fishermen in Quinhagak formed a cooperative of 70 harvesters to revitalize commercial salmon fishing in Kuskokwim Bay, including members from Goodnews Bay, Platinum and Eek. It’s the first fishery since 2016 when the region’s “economic development” group abruptly pulled the plug on buying local fish.

Biggest fish challenge: Getting whaled. Many fishermen say they can lose up to 75% of their pricey sablefish catches when whales strip their lines.

Best fish invention: Slinky pots - lightweight, collapsible, inexpensive fishing pots that prevent getting whaled. The new gear is especially beneficial for smaller boats that can’t accommodate the hydraulics and 300 rigid metal pots on deck.

Biggest unexpected fish boost: As restaurants closed during the Covid pandemic, more people turned to buying seafood to cook at home than ever before because of its health benefits.

Best fish straight talker: Representative Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak)

Best fish knowledge builders: Alaska Sea Grant

Best fish feeder: Sea Share, with over 220 million fish servings to U.S. food banks since 1994 and counting.

Trickiest fishing conundrum: Balancing sea otters versus crab and other shellfish fisheries in Southeast Alaska.

Saddest fish story: The loss of young fishermen Sig and Helen Decker of Wrangell in a car crash.

Biggest fish missed opportunity: Wasting most of Alaska’s annual three billion pounds of fish skins, heads, etc. that could be used in nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and more. Such byproducts could be worth $700 million or more to Alaska each year. Cod skins produce about 11% collagen, nearly 20% from salmon skins. The marine collagen market is pegged at nearly $1 billion by 2023.

Most earth-friendly fishing town: Kodiak, for generating nearly 100 percent of its electricity from wind and hydropower, and for turning its fish wastes into oils and meals instead of grinding and dumping them, as in most Alaska fishing towns.

Best Alaska ocean watchers: Alaska Ocean Observing System – sea ice, water temperatures, ocean acidification levels, AOOS tracks it all.

Best daily fish news sites:, Undercurrent News, SeafoodSource

Best healthy fish watchers: Cook Inletkeeper, SalmonState, AK Marine Conservation Council

Best fish mainstream pushers: Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP) on its mission to make wild Alaska pollock the world’s favorite whitefish.

Biggest fish budget suck: Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Fairbanks. How much budget would be saved if scientists/students didn’t have to travel to reach the sea life they are studying? Why are those sites located so far away? “It’s the way it has always been.”

Best go to bat for their fishery: Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, The fishermen-funded/operated group pays a 1% tax on their catches. They can use the money in any way they choose to enhance/protect/promote their fishery. The Cordova/Prince William Sound RSDA is the only other region to take advantage of this opportunity sanctioned by the state in 2005. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021


Alaska: The gardening potential of the Far North By NED ROZELL - More than 100 years ago, a man traveled north on a mission most people thought was ridiculous - to see if crops would grow in the frozen wasteland known as the Territory of Alaska.

The gardening potential of the Far North

Charles Georgeson stands next to an apple tree growing in Sitka.
Photo by E.W. Merrill, public domain

That man, Charles C. Georgeson, was a special agent in charge of the U.S. government’s agricultural experiment stations. The secretary of agriculture charged Georgeson with the task of finding out if crops and farm animals could survive in the mysterious land acquired just 21 years earlier from the Russians.

When he landed at Sitka, Georgeson set in motion agricultural studies that are still carried on today at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station.

Georgeson, a Danish immigrant, was not a man easily discouraged.

In 1898, the experimental station site in Sitka was in the middle of a swamp. Until he could clear and drain the land, he borrowed patches of land from Sitka settlers, as he explained in an interview in Sunset magazine in 1928.

“My plots were scattered all over the village and having insecure fences, or no fences at all, the local boys, cows, pigs and tame rabbits rollicked joyously through them,” he said. “The seeds came up to become the playthings of diabolical ravens, who, with almost human malice, pulled up the little plants merely to inspect their other ends.”

From this shaky start came the federal government’s discovery that crops could indeed survive in the Far North, some better than others.

Georgeson quickly helped establish other experimental stations: a Kodiak station in 1898, one at Rampart on the Yukon River in 1900, and another at Copper Center in 1903. The final three stations were at Fairbanks, which opened in 1906; Matanuska, established nine years later; and Palmer, which opened in 1948.

Federal interest in Alaska agriculture waned during World War I and the Great Depression. By 1932, the agricultural stations at Sitka, Kenai, Rampart, Kodiak and Copper Center had all closed despite some success (For example: Grain and potatoes did well at Rampart; the Sitka hybrid strawberry is among the hardiest of all breeds; and cattle and sheep thrived at the Kodiak station until the eruption of Novarupta volcano in 1912 coated the pastures with up to 18 inches of ash).

The Fairbanks and Matanuska stations have endured. Horticulturists and animal breeders today carry on the same type of experiments Georgeson did more than 100 years ago, finding species of plants and animals capable of adapting to the Far North’s extremes in day length and temperature.

From crossbreeding studies came first the Sitka hybrid strawberry, developed by Georgeson in 1907. Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Station researchers have bred a few dozen other varieties that thrive in the north, including the Alaska frostless potato (1970, in the Matanuska Valley), Yukon chief corn (1974, in Fairbanks), and the Toklat strawberry (1976, in Fairbanks). - More....
Friday PM - January 08, 2021


jpg Mary Lynne Dahl

MONEY MATTERS: HOW TO DIVERSIFY YOUR INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO By MARY LYNNE DAHL, Certified Financial Planner® - I imagine that you have heard the phrase "don't put all your eggs in one basket". It doesn't need much explanation, as it is just common sense. It reduces our risks, a major goal in any investment portfolio. No one wants to risk losing all of any investment just because they invested every dime in only one thing. However, some people forget about this common-sense key to investing. After more than 35 years as a Certified Financial Planner and investment advisor professional, I am pretty sure why this is so.

It is because too many investors allow their emotions to guide their decisions when choosing investments. This is certainly understandable. We have a lot of feelings about money in general, so our emotions do get in the way of making good financial decisions too often. However, there is a way to solve this problem and avoid this classic error.

To avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket, the solution is to design a diversified portfolio. A diversified portfolio starts with what is called an"Asset Allocation Plan". It sounds technical, but it is not. It is, thankfully, just common sense. Not a difficult concept to understand and not difficult to put into action. The following is a simple method to do this. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021


FINANCIAL FOCUS: Time for New Year's Financial Resolutions BY BEN EDWARDS - Many of us probably felt that 2020 lasted a very long time. But now that 2021 is upon us, we can make a fresh start - and one way to do that is to make some New Year's resolutions. Of course, you can make these resolutions for all parts of your life - physical, emotional, intellectual - but have you ever considered some financial resolutions?

Here are a few such resolutions to consider:

Don't overreact to events. When the coronavirus pandemic hit in mid-February, the financial markets took a big hit. Many people, convinced that we were in for a prolonged slump, decided to take a “time out” and headed to the investment sidelines. But it didn't take long for the markets to rally, rewarding those patient investors who stayed the course. Nothing is a certainty in the investment world, but the events of 2020 followed a familiar historical pattern: major crisis followed by market drop followed by strong recovery. The lesson for investors? Don't overreact to today's news -because tomorrow may look quite different.

Be prepared. At the beginning of 2020, nobody was anticipating a worldwide pandemic and its terrible consequences, both to individuals’ health and to their economic well-being. None of us can foretell the future, either, but we can be prepared, and one way to do so is by building an emergency fund. Ideally, such a fund should be kept in liquid, low-risk vehicles and contain at least six month's worth of living expenses. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021

jpg Political Cartoon: The coup

Political Cartoon: The coup
By Adam Zyglis ©2021, The Buffalo News, NY
Distributed to subscribers by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.



MICHAEL REAGAN: THE SAD LEGACY OF DONALD TRUMP - Wednesday was a sad day for America.

We watched the mob violence and lawlessness in Washington with a tear in our eye.

We saw images of the Capitol stormed by hundreds of yahoos who fought with police, broke windows and forced the evacuation of a session of the U.S. Congress. At least four died in the chaos.

Wednesday was also a very sad day for conservatives, the Republican Party and tens of millions of American citizens who voted to reelect President Trump for all the right reasons.

But it was a really terrible day for Donald Trump.

The shocking events in Washington on Wednesday – which he provoked with his stubborn insistence he had been robbed by the systemic cheating of Democrats – have soiled his legacy forever.

And please, before I continue, I don’t want you Trump supporters out there to tweet at me with any of that “What about the violent BLM and Antifa riots in our cities all summer?” crap. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021


RICH MANIERI: LAYING BLAME FOR THE CAPITOL RIOTS WHERE IT BELONGS - You might have seen the photo by now. Of all the disturbing images of Wednesday’s insurrection, this one lingers.

The photo, shot by Michael Robinson Chavez of the Washington Post, shows seven or so Trump supporters scaling the wall on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol.

There’s a certain irony in this photo, due only perhaps to the way my mind works.

On June 6, 1944, D-Day, a group of 225 Army Rangers scaled a 100-foot cliff at Pointe Du Hoc on the coast of Normandy in France. The soldiers used ropes and ladders as German gunfire rained down on them. It was chaos and carnage but they kept climbing and a handful made it to the top.

Most of the soldiers who made the climb are gone now, killed either that day, in subsequent days of fighting, or claimed by time.

If they were here, and we could ask them, I wonder what they would think of the photo from Wednesday. Would they simply shake their heads? What would they say? - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021


JOHN L. MICEK: OUR DEMOCRACY WAS PUSHED TO THE BRINK - The madness and treason that’s consumed the Party of Trump has a face: And it belongs to a former Pennsylvania state lawmaker.

On Wednesday, on a day that thugs and domestic terrorists bent on overthrowing the results of a lawful election stormed the United States Capitol with laughable ease, Rick Saccone, who once swore an oath to uphold the law and the constitution, tried to justify the unjustifiable.

“We are storming the Capitol,” Saccone, a former state House member who hails from outside Pittsburgh, brayed in a now-deleted Facebook post. “Our vanguard has broken through the barricades. We will save this nation. Are you with me?”

Saccone boasted that he and his fellow extremists were “trying to run out all the evil people that are in there, and all the RINOs [Republicans in name only] who have betrayed our president. We’re going to run them out of their offices. We’re calling on Vice President [Mike] Pence to support our president. Look at all these people here … hundreds of thousands. The fake news media won’t tell you how many people are here. But I’m telling you that there are hundreds of thousands of people here to support our president and save our nation.”

Just a couple of years ago, Saccone staged an unsuccessful bid for Congress, losing to Democrat Conor Lamb. A man who once aspired to walk the halls of the Capitol now proposed to sack it. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021

jpg Political Cartoon: Capitol Police Officer Tribute

Political Cartoon: Capitol Police Officer Tribute
By Dave Granlund ©2021,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Opinion - Analysis

The uncomfortable questions facing Capitol Police over the security breach by MAGA mob By TOM NOLAN - When die-hard Trump supporters are able to storm the U.S. Capitol and forcefully occupy offices in the House and the Senate, questions over security are going to be asked.

I am an academic criminologist who in an earlier life served as a senior policy adviser at the Department of Homeland Security. Moreover, as a 27-year veteran of the Boston Police Department, I have firsthand experience of major policing operations.

Something clearly didn’t go to plan on Wednesday. The man in charge of policing that day, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, has since announced he is resigning. But even with him gone, what will remain are serious questions that will need to be answered about how an angry mob was able to circumvent security and enter the Capitol building.

Was there a failure of intelligence?

Washington, D.C., is one of the most heavily policed cities in the world. The U.S. Capitol Police is a force that numbers around 2,000 officers and operates with an annual budget of US$460 million. Their job is to protect the U.S. Congress. There is every reason to believe that they should have known that Trump supporters intended to descend upon the Capitol with the intention of thwarting the peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden.

After all, Trump has been signaling his followers on Twitter for weeks, promising on Dec. 19 that the day would “be wild.” Meanwhile some of his supporters in the MAGA world have made no secret of their intention to disrupt the ratification of the Electoral College votes by the Congress. And on the day itself, Trump urged a crowd to march on the Capitol.

And police in D.C. would not have been operating on their own. The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis coordinates intelligence-gathering activities between and among state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement agencies and likely would have – or certainly should have – been aware of the activities of some of the attackers and their plans to storm the Capitol on Wednesday. - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021

jpg Opinion - Analysis

Was it a coup? No, but siege on US Capitol was the election violence of a fragile democracyBy CLAYTON BESAW & MATTHEW FRANK - Did the United States just have a coup attempt?

Supporters of President Donald Trump, following his encouragement, stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. Waving Trump banners, hundreds of people broke through barricades and smashed windows to enter the building where Congress convenes. One rioter died and several police officers were hospitalized in the clash. Congress went on lockdown.

While violent and shocking, what happened on Jan. 6 wasn’t a coup.

This Trumpist insurrection was election violence, much like the election violence that plagues many fragile democracies.

What is a coup?

While coups do not have a single definition, researchers who study them – like ourselves – agree on the key attributes of what academics call a “coup event.”

Coup experts Jonathan Powell and Clayton Thyne define a coup d’etat as “an overt attempt by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting head of state using unconstitutional means.”

Essentially, three parameters are used to judge whether an insurrection is a coup event:

1) Are the perpetrators agents of the state, such as military officials or rogue governmental officials?

2) Is the target of the insurrection the chief executive of the government?

3) Do the plotters use illegal and unconstitutional methods to seize executive power? - More...
Friday PM - January 08, 2021

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