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February 05, 2021

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Ketchikan: EOC Apologizes to Local Bars; Community Risk Level Increased to High; 2nd Community Death; Free Drive-Up Testing By MARY KAUFFMAN - Last week the Ketchikan EOC announced a cluster of positive COVID-19 cases that were related to five local bar establishments. According to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center, the announcement was provided to the public in an effort to make people aware of potential exposure risks to COVID-19 in these establishments, and to encourage any close contacts with these establishments to quarantine and seek testing. 

In an apologetic press release issued Wednesday, the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center wrote that was it was not the intent of the EOC to draw negative attention to the five local bar establishments or to imply that they had done anything wrong. Quoting the news release, "The EOC is very aware of the hardships that these businesses have faced the past year, and we sincerely apologize for any perception that the EOC was calling out businesses in a negative light.  In fact, the EOC is very pleased with the manner in which these establishments have worked with the EOC and Public Health, and have implemented employee testing protocols and mitigation plans for their businesses."

When a positive case of COVID-19 is identified, Public Health works with the positive individual to identify anyone with whom that person has been in close contact to instruct them to quarantine and seek testing. The goal is to identify close contacts within 48 hours of the positive test result. If the period of time spans longer than 48 hours, there is a greater risk that people carrying the virus can unknowingly spread it within the community. Therefore, every attempt is made by Public Health to notify close contacts within that 48 hour time-frame. 

In many of the cases identified last week, unfortunately, the nature of the operation and the length of potential interaction in those local business locations led to the difficulty in the contact tracing. The close contacts could not be identified by Public Health through the normal investigation, and an announcement of the commonly attended local bar businesses became necessary.  According to the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center, it was necessary to announce the risk to the public so that people could self-identify and proceed with quarantine and testing. Four of the five named businesses were contacted by Public Health prior to last week's announcement, and messages were left for the fifth business. 

The positive case contacts associated with community spread were identified by the EOC last week at being at one or more of the following businesses on one or more days between January 20 through January 28:

  • Arctic Bar
  • Asylum Bar
  • 49er Bar and Liquor Store
  • Moose Lodge #224
  • Totem Bar 

Steven Kantor, president of Ketchikan Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant, & Retailers Association (CHARR), shared information regarding CHARR’s safe workplace practices with the Ketchikan Emergency Operation Center.  According to an EOC news release, the standards are in line with the State of Alaska Reopening Plan and the Alaska CHARR guidelines. Those practices include:

  • Cleaning and sanitizing protocols;
  • Encouraging mask wearing; 
  • Monitoring employee health and personal hygiene;
  • Some establishments have limited business hours;
  • Some businesses have increased spacing between tables;
  • During moderate and high risk levels, businesses have reduced the capacity standards;
  • Lowered the music level so that voices can be lowered to limit risk of sharing germs; 
  • Live entertainment has been canceled, limited, or postponed;
  • Encouraging employee testing protocols. 

In a prepared statement, Steven Kantor, President, Ketchikan CHARR wrote, “Ketchikan CHARR continues to urge our businesses to follow the hospitality guidelines for best safety practices. By staying vigilant and monitoring how we conduct business, we can move forward with serving the community and keeping our employees and customers safe. We extend a heartfelt gratitude to all of our patrons and citizens for helping to keep our workplace safe.”

Kantor is working with the Ketchikan businesses to promote employee testing and VIDEO-conscious mitigation efforts. Similarly, other business managers have informed the EOC of their employee testing, precautionary measures, and customer outreach.  The EOC wrote in a news release they commend these businesses for their mindful implementation of safe practices and thanked them for their dedication to the community. 

It will not come as news to social media subscribers, there are photos and video postings available on various social media platforms - such as FaceBook - that demonstrate that the safe practices as outline above by CHARR such as social distancing and the wearing of masks are not consistently in practice in various local bars.

Both the Ketchikan EOC and Ketchikan CHARR acknowledge that with better planning and communication, the events of last week could have been processed more effectively rather than the public release identifying bars of concern in the community spread.  Quoting the EOC news release, the EOC and CHARR will continue to work together for improvements for the health and safety of our community. 

Even with proper protocols in place, there is still a risk that COVID-19 can be contracted. The EOC and Ketchikan CHARR urge all businesses and citizens to continue to follow the guidance for COVID precautions. If everyone does their part to follow these safety measures, local businesses can remain open and the economy can continue to improve. 

2nd Death In Ketchikan Attributed to COVID-19

On February 2nd, the Ketchikan EOC received official notification from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) the recent death of a Ketchikan resident to COVID-19. Sadly, this is the second death attributed to COVID-19 in Ketchikan.

This individual had been previously admitted in the Ketchikan COVID-19 unit at PeaceHealth Ketchikan. While announcements were made by other community sources regarding the passing of this individual, the EOC waited to announce the death until official notification was received by DHSS.

Members of the Ketchikan EOC extend their sincere condolences to the family and friends.

Ketchikan Borough Mayor Rodney Dial expressed his sympathy, "I was saddened to hear of the passing of another member of Ketchikan due to the pandemic.  As a close community, I know we all share in the loss and will have the family in our thoughts.  Please pray for the family for comfort and strength and protection for our island."

In a statement of condolence, City of Ketchikan Mayor Bob Sivertsen said, “My heart goes out to the family and friends of this individual as they grieve the passing of this loved one. This truly is a loss for our entire community.”   

Free drive-up COVID-19 testing

Along with the announcement of the community spread, the EOC extended the days and hours of the free drive-up COVID-19 testing. Quoting a news release, the EOC is pleased to see that the community took advantage of the available testing the days following the announcement, and that people were self-identifying as having potentially been exposed and were self-quarantining. 

Community Risk Level Increased to LEVEL 3 - HIGH

Yesterday, the Ketchikan Emergency Operation Center in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the past couple of weeks, and because of a concerning increase in community spread cases, the community risk level was increased to Level 3 - HIGH.

The following mitigation measures are STRONGLY recommended by the Ketchikan EOC during Risk Level 3 – High:  - More...
Friday PM - February 05, 2021


Alaska: Dunleavy Introduces Job Creating Infrastructure Bond; Includes $5.6 Million to South Tongass Highway & $8.3 Million to Craig Harbor - Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy today introduced a job creating $356 million infrastructure proposal – the first statewide bond proposal in nearly 10 years. Senate Bill 74 is a key piece of the Dunleavy administration’s Path Forward and will benefit Alaskans statewide, improving transportation, education, recreation, and communications systems throughout the state. Upon passage by the Legislature, the general obligation bond will go to a vote of the people.

“This statewide bond package is essential to stabilizing our economy and putting Alaskans back to work following the economic upheaval caused by the pandemic,” said Governor Mike Dunleavy

Dunleavy said, “Not only will this proposal create jobs, it will improve critical infrastructure for all Alaskans. I look forward to working with the Legislature to take this to a vote of the people following the 2021 legislative session.”

The proposal totals $356,405,952 and leverages a federal match of $1,003,471,000. Projects of interest included in the general obligation bond include: - More...
Friday PM - February 05, 2021

Alaska: Alaska Legislature Only Partially Organized Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Alaska Legislature is only partially organized as the House remains deadlocked in its choice of a Speaker and Majority and Minority organizations. The Alaska Legislature convened on January 19th.

Thursday, on a unanimous 39-0 vote, Rep. Josiah Patkotak (I-Utqiagvik) was appointed speaker pro tempore of the Alaska House of Representatives. Patkotak, a freshman lawmaker who represents House District 40, will oversee the nomination and voting process to select a permanent house speaker.

“I am humbled and honored to serve in this capacity during my first year in office, and I remain committed to the Bush Caucus as we work to achieve a permanent organization in the House. I thank God for this opportunity,” Representative Patkotak said.

Rep. Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham), who served as speaker for the past four years, added, “As the first Alaska Native speaker in our state’s history, I am encouraged to see a young leader with the skills, temperament, and commitment to rural Alaska playing a leadership role as we continue to work toward a permanent organization in the House.” - More...
Friday PM - February 05, 2021

Alaska:Remote Work Resolution First Legislation to Pass in 32nd Legislature - The Alaska Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution allowing legislators to vote remotely if voting can no longer safely take place in the Capitol. 

“While the Legislature continues to convene here in the Capitol, this resolution ensures that the people’s business will not be delayed, regardless of how this pandemic develops or in the event of other natural disasters,” said Senate President Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna).

Micciche said, “We’re here to get the people’s work done and resolve the big issues facing Alaskans – come hell or high water.” - More...
Friday PM - February 05, 2021

Alaska: Governor’s effort to extend disaster declaration supported - Governor Michael Dunleavy last week introduced Senate Bill 56, a measure extending the State’s existing COVID-19 disaster declaration rather than letting it expire on February 15, 2021.

Members of the Alaska House Coalition – composed of 20 Democratic, Republican, and Independent lawmakers – yesterday issued statements thanking the governor for recognizing the importance of going through the legislative process to keep the declaration in place at this time.

SB56 would maintain Alaska’s ability to accept federal economic stabilization and vaccination distribution funds through this fall, while also enabling important health, safety, and economic provisions to legally remain in effect when the current declaration expires. The new proposal does not include any mandates, lockdowns, or restrictions – those decisions have been left up to local control. - More...
Friday PM - February 05, 2021

Alaska: States Reach $573 Million Settlement with McKinsey for its Role in "Turbocharging" the Opioid Epidemic with Purdue Pharma - The Alaska Department of Law joined a coalition of attorneys general from 47 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories in a $573 million settlement with one of the world’s largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Company, resolving investigations into the company’s role in helping opioid companies promote their drugs, and profiting from the opioid epidemic.

Alaska will receive $1,329,482 from the multistate settlement. In addition, the agreement calls for McKinsey to prepare tens of thousands of its internal documents detailing its work for Purdue Pharma and other opioid companies for public disclosure online. Furthermore, McKinsey agreed to adopt a strict document retention plan, continue its investigation into allegations that two of its partners tried to destroy documents in response to investigations of Purdue Pharma, implement a strict ethics code that all partners must agree to each year, and stop advising companies on potentially dangerous Schedule II and III narcotics.  

“The opioid epidemic has led to extensive harm to Alaskans and our communities over the last 20 years,” said Alaska Attorney General Taylor.  “Alaska has faced significant challenges and costs associated with this epidemic in the form of health care, child welfare, criminal justice, and many other programs needed to lessen the epidemic.  On the social level, opioid addiction, abuse, and overdose deaths have torn families apart, damaged relationships, and eroded the social fabric of communities.” - More..
Friday PM - February 05, 2021

Nathan Jackson Named 2021 USA Fellow

Nathan Jackson Named 2021 USA Fellow
Nathan Jackson, Traditional Woodcarver and Sculptor is pictured wearing a red anorak, green pants, and a Holly churchill cedar bark hat, sits next to hsi sculpture Thundering Wings in downtown Ketchikan, in the very spot he watches its annual 4th of July parade.
Photo courtesy United States Artists (USA)


Ketchikan: Nathan Jackson Named 2021 USA Fellow By MARY KAUFFMAN - United States Artists (USA) announced Wednesday its 2021 USA Fellows. Among the sixty artists across ten creative disciplines to be named a USA Fellow is Nathan Paul Jackson of Ketchikan. Along with the honor, all USA Fellows will receive unrestricted $50,000 cash awards.

Artists are selected for their impact in their genre, their body of work, and in Jackson's case as a culture bearer. In the culture bearers category, United States Artists honors artists like Jackson who celebrate their communities’ values and teach us how to cultivate our histories with care.

The 2021 USA Fellows class is the largest in the organization’s 15-year history. USA Fellowships are awarded to artists at all stages of their careers and from all areas of the country through a rigorous nomination and panel selection process. Fellowships are given in the following disciplines: Architecture & Design, Craft, Dance, Film, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, and Writing.

In a comment on the United States Artists' website, Jackson wrote, "Saxman Native Village is special for me as it has been a main place for me to carve for the past thirty-five years, doing projects for the Totem Park there and the Tribal House. It's been special since they have tours every summer, and I have been able to share my culture with visitors from all over the US and even worldwide. This year was very different as there were no tours whatsoever, too quiet."

Jackson's unrestricted $50,000 cash award was generously supported by the Rasmuson Foundation.

"We are grateful for every artist whose artmaking, music, writing, and more is helping us to navigate and cope through this harrowing time in our country," said USA President & CEO Deana Haggag.

Haggag said, “The 2021 USA Fellows are a testament to the power of art in shaping the world around us and navigating its complexities. Artists do so much for our communities, and we are grateful to be able to support these sixty incredible practitioners and welcome them into the United States Artists Fellowship.”

“Artists are at the core of their communities, and as the difficulties of the past year have demonstrated, it is more important than ever that we continue to support individual artists,” said Ed Henry, USA Board Chair.

Henry said, “And as we continue to meet the challenges 2021 will bring, it is also clear that USA must remain nimble and responsive to the needs of the field, which is why we are honored to be able to support the largest cohort in our history with sixty artists this year.”

Jackson was born into the Sockeye Clan on the Raven side of the Chilkoot-Tlingit tribe. Jackson was raised in Southeastern Alaska, spending most of his time in the Haines area. Much of his early education in his Tlingit heritage was conducted by his clan uncle and grandfather.

Upon completion of his military service in Germany in 1959, he returned to Alaska. After two years of carving and commercial fishing, he enrolled at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. There he specialized in fabric design, silk screen, and graphics. - More....
Friday PM - February 05, 2021

Blue beads in the tundra

Blue beads in the tundra
Archaeologists found these glass beads in northern Alaska. They were made in Venice, Italy, in the 1400s.
Images courtesy of American Antiquity, January 2021



Alaska: Blue beads in the tundra By NED ROZELL - Glass beads the size of blueberries found by archaeologists in a Brooks Range house pit might be the first European item ever to arrive in North America, predating the arrival of Columbus by a few decades.

Made in Venice, Italy, the tiny blue beads might have travelled more than 10,000 miles in the skin pockets of aboriginal adventurers to reach Bering Strait. There, someone ferried them across the ocean to Alaska.

At least 10 of the beads survived a few centuries in the cold dirt of three locations in northern Alaska. Archaeologists recently unraveled the mystery of the beads in a paper published in the journal American Antiquity.

Mike Kunz, one of the authors, is an archaeologist with the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks. He retired in 2012 from the Bureau of Land Management after three decades as an expert on ancient people of Alaska north of the Arctic Circle. Working for BLM, he visited Punyik Point several times.

Punyik Point, a mile from the Continental Divide in the Brooks Range, is unoccupied today. It was a seasonal camp for generations of inland Eskimos.

Punyik Point was on ancient trade routes from the Bering Sea to the Arctic Ocean, and was probably a dependable place to hunt caribou as the animals moved in fall and spring, Kunz said.

“And, if for some reason the caribou didn’t migrate through where you were, Punyik Point had excellent lake trout and large shrub-willow patches,” he said.

Archaeologists have dug at Punyik Point for a long time. It’s where William Irving of the University of Wisconsin in the 1950s and 1960s found two turquoise beads, each with a hole through its center.

In 2004 and 2005, Kunz, BLM archaeologist Robin Mills and other experienced scientists returned to Punyik Point using funding for sites that might be in danger of eroding away. There, they found three more of the beads near some copper bangles — metal adornments that resemble flat hoop earrings — and other metal bits that might have been part of a necklace or bracelet.

Archaeologists often find “trade beads” at Native American archaeological sites. Europeans and others created glass beads using technology that didn’t exist in Native cultures. Explorers carried them to trade with aboriginal people they encountered. Dutchman Peter Minuit included trade beads in his deal for Manhattan Island in 1626.

Kunz and Mills do not often find beads at prehistoric Alaska sites. They were aware of the similar beads Irving found decades before, but they had a tool that Irving did not: accelerator mass spectrometry carbon-dating.

Kunz and Mills had also found a carbon-based life form to which they could apply a test. Wound around one of the metal bangles were plant fibers, preserved from years of burial a few inches beneath the ground surface. - More...
Friday PM - February 05, 2021



FINANCIAL FOCUS: Remote Work May Offer Financial Benefits Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been forced to work from home. But once we’ve moved past the virus, many workers may continue working from home. More than one-third of companies with employees who started working from home now think that remote work will stay more common post-pandemic, according to a Harvard Business School study. This shift to at-home work can affect people’s lives in many ways – and it may end up providing workers with some long-term financial advantages.

If you’re one of those who will continue working remotely, either full time or at least a few days a week, how might you benefit? Here are a few possibilities:

• Reduced transportation costs – Over time, you can spend a lot of money commuting to and from work. The average commuter spends $2,000 to $5,000 per year on transportation costs, including gas, car maintenance, public transportation and other expenses, depending on where they live, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the U.S. Census Bureau. If you are going to work primarily from home, you should be able to greatly reduce these costs. - More...
Friday PM - February 05, 2021

JOE GUZZARDI: $15 WAGE HURTS VULNERABLE WORKERS - President Biden is going full speed ahead with his plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Democrats’ latest approach to convert Biden’s campaign promise to more than double the existing minimum wage from $7.25 [Alaska $10.34], where it’s been since 2009, is to include the increase in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Republicans are balking. They insist that extraneous issues thrown into the COVID legislation decrease the credibility Democrats have in demonstrating their sincerity about helping Americans weather the pandemic. Democrats nevertheless pledge to press on with or without GOP support, another challenge to Biden’s plea for unity.

On January 26, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and leading Democrats introduced the Raise the Wage Act of 2021 that would, in four installments and over a five-year period, boost the federal minimum wage to $15. Sanders, the incoming chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said that with or without Republicans, the government needs to pump money into the economy to ensure that “people are not working on starvation wages.”

The Raise the Wage Act would increase the pay floor to $9.50 an hour in 2021, then to $11 in 2022. The minimum wage would rise to $12.50 per hour in 2023, $14 in 2024 and then $15 in 2025.

On its face, Sanders’ argument makes sense. In today’s economy, $7.25 an hour barely buys a pizza slice. But the current economy is pandemic-shattered. Small businesses are closing, and those that have managed to stay open are eking by with minuscule margins.

Nearly 100,000 businesses, those most likely to hire minimum wage workers – restaurants, gift shops, gyms, beauty shops and mini-marts – have filed for bankruptcy and are permanently closed. Businesses that remain open such as home improvement companies, contractors, plumbers, mechanics and towing outfits are unlikely to hire new employees at the $15 wage. - More...
Friday PM - February 05, 2021

jpg Political Cartoon: Biden Spending

Political Cartoon: Biden Spending
By Rick McKee ©, Counterpoint
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jpg Political Cartoon: Stimulus Pork

Political Cartoon: Stimulus Pork
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Political Cartoon: Super Bowl 55 KC vs Bucs
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GCI TV SERVICE IS AN EMBARRASSMENT TO TELEVISION By David G Hanger - What is your problem, GCI? Has your money-grubbing gotten in the way of any possible consideration of your product quality? There are a lot of us here who don’t like doing business with a media outfit owned by the local government that keeps dossiers over decades of its customers that are then used routinely for nefarious political purposes, but you are giving us little choice about looking in that direction because your television service is crap.

I am now the longest practicing tax accountant in this neighborhood, and if in any moment of that 45-year career I delivered the crud you are routinely delivering, I would not only be out of business, I would be dealing with lawsuits a mile long. There is no excuse for your junk.

It starts, of course, with the football playoffs. I know there are lots of Seattle fans around here, but none subscribing to GCI got to watch them in the playoffs because GCI flat turned the network off. No NFC games at all throughout the playoffs. No ABC, no FOX network, all turned off due to contract disputes. “We are fighting for you,” GCI reassures us. My ass!

You raised telephone rates and internet rates 30% in 2019. In a time when inflation has averaged 2.2% for years, and a whopping 1.9% for years before that GCI jacks their customers for an extra 30% without any improvement in service. Indeed, the internet is way overloaded much of the time, and is nowhere near as good as it used to be. - More...
Friday PM - February 05, 2021

jpg Opinion

Alaska's Fair Share By Ray Metcalfe - We residents of the owner-state own the copper and gold in Pebble. Under existing law, we will not be properly paid for the copper and gold we own and, to make matters worse, our bought-and-paid-for governor is conspiring to make sure we never will get paid.

I’ve heard estimates as high as $400 billion in corporate profits if Pebble ever is approved. The problem is we will only get 7% royalty under existing law.

Seven percent might be considered a fair state tax on profits, if the extracting contractor were mining land owned by an individual who had agreed to sell the copper and gold to the extractor as it comes from the ground. But that’s not the case. We own it, and we should receive a fair share of net profits.

I’m not suggesting that Pebble should get its permit; I’m saying our Legislature should fix this, so we get paid if it does. If the Legislature waits until Pebble’s development is underway, legislators demanding our fair share will be accused of changing the terms after investments have been made.

In 1981, Gov. Jay Hammond pushed through an oil tax law designed to force the oil companies to bid what our oil was really worth. It was called “Net Profit Share Leasing.” The oil companies hated it.

Before net profit share, the oil companies viewed us as easily misled country bumpkins who did not know what our oil was worth. Only seven net profit share leases were let, and every one of them brought eye-popping bids. My recollection is that Gov. Hammond was the only governor who made use of net profit bids.

To simplify net profit share leasing, the extracting contractor would likely be promised a share of anticipated future profits, sufficient to warrant the risk of loss that comes with exploration and startup. (Maybe a 100% return on their exploration and startup investment.) - More...
Sunday - January 31, 2021

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