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Ketchikan Historical:The First City in 1898, before it was a city; Visitor from Tacoma wrote it was his idea to move the customs house to Ketchikan By DAVE KIFFER - In 1898, Ketchikan was collection of shacks on the edge of becoming a city. By 1900, it would incorporate and eventually go on to become - briefly - the largest city in the territory of Alaska. 

But when James Bashford arrived in January of 1898, that was all in the future. In 1948, Bashford shared his memories of Ketchikan in 1898 with the readers of the Alaska Sportsman Magazine in a story called "Frontier Town."

It is an interesting view of the First City just as it was transitioning into the first port of call in Alaska. And, if you take Bashford's word for it, he was at least partly responsible for Ketchikan becoming the main city in Southern Southeast Alaska.

While some of the information in "Frontier Town" is questionable (Bashford claims to have met notorious Skagway con man Soapy Smith on the voyage up) or just incorrect (that Mrs. N.G. House was the only "white woman in Ketchikan") there remains more than enough "local color" about the community to give a snapshot of Ketchikan right at the point where it was becoming "Ketchikan."

Bashford arrived from Seattle on the S.S. City of Seattle, a ship owned by the Washington and Alaska Steamship Company. In his story, Bashford said there were 800 people on board the ship which would have been significantly above its normal passenger load of 600, but during the Klondike Gold Rush, which began in 1897, it was not unusual for ships to cram large numbers of gold seekers into every nook and cranny for the voyage north from Seattle.

Since nearly all the passengers were headed for the Klondike, it is not surprising that Bashford was the "only passenger bound for Ketchikan." He noted that the January weather had been rough on the way up and that a "lad from Montreal was killed in Queen Charlotte Sound when he was swinging on some ropes and a masthead light fell on him."

"It was about eight o’clock in the evening when the ship stopped off Ketchikan and I heard the first howls of the dogs at Indiantown," Bashford wrote. "I was put ashore in a small boat with a couple of sailors who could not row. I gave a hand at the oars. We brought up on the rocks near the old saltery dock. My being in Ketchikan was the result of an uncle’s grubstaking Mr. and Mrs. N. G. House, an elderly couple and old friends from Tacoma, in some mining activities."

He wrote that Mr. and Mrs. Houses lived in a "two room shanty" a block north of the saltery dock facing "Gravina Island." (more likely Pennock).

"Between the house and the dock was the Indian 'guest house,' standing on a promontory which gave a fine view up and down Tongass Narrows," he wrote. "George Grant’s home was a short distance behind ours, and just beyond lived the partners, Gingrass and McTaggart. Next was the shanty of Harry and Otto Inman. A Japanese fisherman called Harry, I believe, had a cottage just beyond the Inman boys’ cabin on the beach."

Bashford wrote that Martin and Clark's general store was located several hundred feet behind the saltery.

"It was more than a store," he wrote. "It was a meeting place for Indians and whites, and a hangout for halibut fishermen when they were in port. Two of the halibut boats I remember were the Shamrock and the Jennie F. Decker."

Ketchikan was full of "entrepreneurial" spirits at the time and Bashford was immediate drawn into the empire building.

"George Baker claimed to have the water rights on Ketchikan Creek," Bashford wrote. "He offered me an interest in the power rights on the creek if I could get someone to put in an electrical plant. I got in touch with several persons in Tacoma in an effort to get a lighting plant, but they 'could not see the light' in a little village hanging on the rocks of the Alaska coast."

Bashford also became acquainted with Orlando W. Grant, one of more prominent local citizens, a miner and businessman who soon became the deputy marshal for the community.

"Grant was a booster for Ketchikan," Bashford wrote. "Several weeks after I had arrived, he was asking me what I thought might bring more people to Ketchikan. We were standing in the old Indian guest house at the time. I told him I thought that if the customs house could be transferred from Mary Island to Ketchikan, all the steamers would stop and it would help the town grow. If the Bureau of Customs were offered a location for its officers’ quarters, or some such inducement, Ketchikan might get the office. Grant said that he would give the necessary land, and I understand that later he did make such a proposition to Uncle Sam, and he built the custom house." - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021

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Alaska: FAA Suggests Steps to Improve Aviation Safety in Alaska. SomeExpert sSay They’re Not Enough. By Zoë Sobel and Agnel Philip - Recommendations released last week by the Federal Aviation Administration to improve aviation safety in Alaska represent a significant step forward but fall short of what’s needed to reduce the state’s fatal crash rate, aviation experts say.

The FAA Alaska Aviation Safety Initiative, or FAASI, released its final report Thursday, encouraging the agency to focus its efforts on bolstering the availability of weather information for pilots flying in the state, increasing use of safety technology and improving FAA policies for flying with cockpit instruments.

Those involved in Alaska’s aviation industry say the report is a positive step, but some, including the National Transportation Safety Board, say it isn’t enough on its own.

“There’s lots more that needs to be done, but it’s a big start,” said Lee Ryan, president of Ryan Air, a commercial operator that serves 72 communities across Western Alaska and also provides charter flights within the state and elsewhere. “It’s leaps and bounds beyond where we were two years ago.”

The Alaska Aviation Safety Initiative was launched in October 2020 following a recommendation from the NTSB, the federal agency that investigates transportation accidents, to review and prioritize Alaska’s aviation safety needs and ensure the FAA was making progress on implementing safety enhancements.

The report contains few new initiatives or specific calls for additional funding. FAA officials said the main contribution provided by the group was helping the agency prioritize some of its existing efforts to improve safety in the state and promote collaboration between its various departments. Outside observers have said FAA units often fail to work together as effectively as they could.

“I am hopeful that this effort will give the FAA Regional Administrator’s office an increased ability to steer current and future Alaska specific programs,” Tom George, the Alaska regional manager for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, a national nonprofit aviation group, said in an email. George and Ryan participated in a call last week unveiling the report.

The report mirrors some of the solutions suggested in a KUCB and ProPublica investigation. In June, the news organizations found that Alaska is the site of a growing share of the country’s crashes involving small commercial aircraft. Over the past two decades, the number of deaths in crashes involving these operators has plummeted nationwide, while in Alaska deaths have held relatively steady.

The FAASI report comes two years after a roundtable meeting held by the NTSB to address Alaska’s high number of small commercial plane accidents and fatalities. The group released an interim report in April that listed many of the current FAA efforts to improve aviation safety. Since then, the FAA has held a dozen meetings for pilots, operators, industry members, government officials and academic experts to offer feedback. - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021


Bugge Beach
Sunday morning, October 24, 2021
Front Page Photo BY CARL THOMPSON ©2021
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Fish Factor: 18 in the Running for the 2021 Seafood Contest; No end to trade troubles; & Catch share crunch By LAINE WELCH - Pollock Protein Noodles …Southern Style Alaska Wild Wings… candied salmon ice cream …fish oils for pets…fish and chips meal kits and Fin Fish earrings are just a small sample of past winners of Alaska’s biggest seafood competition – the Alaska Symphony of Seafood, which has showcased and promoted new, market-ready products since 1993.

The annual event levels the playing field among Alaska’s largest seafood companies and the smallest “mom and pops,” whose products are all judged blind by an expert panel. 

Eighteen entries are in the running for the 2021 contest, the first leg of which takes place next month at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle. They will compete in several categories: retail and food service, salmon and whitefish, Beyond the Plate, and new to the lineup is a Bristol Bay Choice awarded to the best new sockeye product.  

Products made from Alaska seaweeds also are making their way into the annual lineup, said Riley Smith, deputy director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation which hosts the Symphony. 

“We have Alaska Barbecue Sauce from Barnacle Foods of Juneau with kelp in it. They won the grand prize two years ago for their Bullwhip Kelp Hot Sauce. Premium Aquatics and Seagrove Kelp also entered their ribbon kelp,” Smith said.

The Beyond the Plate category features both edible and non-edible marine products,   and attracted five entries: AlaSkin Dog Treats, two gourmet salts from Prince William Sound Salt Company, salmon oils and Deep Blue Sea Bath Soak by Waterbody of Wrangell.  

The judging takes place on November 17 and seafood fans can experience them all at a bash at Seattle’s Bell Harbor Conference Center that evening. - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021

Fish Factor: Permit Prices; Harbor Surveys; & Help With Halibut By LAINE WELCH - Optimism is the word that best sums up the attitude among most Alaska salmon fishermen after a good season, according to people in the business of buying and selling permits and boats.

Most fishermen in major regions ended up with good catches and dock prices were up from recent years. That’s pushed up permit prices, notably, at the bellwether fishery at Bristol Bay where drift net permits have topped $200,000.

 “The highest has been $210,000. But it's a pretty tight market,” said Maddie Lightsey, a broker at Alaska Boats and Permits in Homer. “A lot of fishermen had a great year out there and made a lot of money. But buyers are hesitant to pay these really high prices. Many are hoping it's a pretty short spike.”

“Meanwhile, sellers are holding out for high prices, while at the same time expressing concerns over increased tax burdens if they sell this year following such a good season. Those two things combined have really restricted the market and there haven't been that many sales,” she added.

 “There is plenty of interest in Bristol Bay permits and boats, but the permit price is really high so right now there is a lot of talk,” echoed Lisa Gulliford at Permit Master in Tacoma, WA. 

Permit values are published monthly by the state Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission (CFEC) and reflect the average of sale prices over the last three months. They need at least four transactions to calculate an average and some permits don't sell frequently enough to do that, so they have to incorporate sales from prior to three months ago, explained Lightsey.  - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021

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Ketchikan - Statewide: PEAKS Performance 2021: The Pandemic Did Alaska’s Students No Favors Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN –Alaska Policy Forum (APF) has published new interactive maps of the 2021 Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools (PEAKS) results, and the related analysis shows that two-thirds of Alaska’s public school students are not proficient in math, with English scores holding steady at 60 percent non-proficient since 2019.

PEAKS assesses the proficiency of public school students from 3rd to 9th grade in English Language Arts and Mathematics. There was no PEAKS administration in 2020 due to schools’ response to the pandemic, and 2021 participation rates were lower than normal.

Although the PEAKS scores are available online from the state on a per-school basis, APF’s maps aggregate the results in a visual tool that allows users to view and compare scores from schools across the state. On the map, a red schoolhouse indicates a student average of 51 to 100% below proficiency for all grades and subjects tested.

Research Associate at Alaska Policy Forum Sarah Montalbano said, Our schools should work to help every child be proficient in reading and math. These maps demonstrate that most of Alaska’s schools are failing to ensure proficiency in basic skills. Our state needs to ensure this never happens to another generation of young Alaskans.”

The related APF analysis of all students statewide finds that Alaska third-graders are the least proficient for their grade level in English, and that public charter schools outperform traditional public schools. 

The Alaska Policy Forum's findings of Alaska public school student results reported that statewide across all grades, 60.50 percent of students were below or far below proficient in ELA. Across all grades, 67.62 percent of students were below or far below proficient in mathematics. Compared to 2019, there was a 0.3 percent increase in proficiency in ELA and a 3.34 percent decrease in proficiency in mathematics. Figure 2, below, plots the percentage of students proficient in ELA and mathematics across the state in both subjects for 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021, the years for which data is available. 

The Alaska Policy Forum publishes the PEAKS maps annually to present the performance of Alaska’s public schools in an accessible format. The maps are available online at

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development (DEED) released the statewide, district, school, and subgroup level results from the 2021 administration of the Performance Evaluation for Alaska’s Schools (PEAKS) assessment September 7, 2021. These results are available online. School districts had until September 30th to distribute student-level reports to parents and educators at their local levels.

According to the Alaska Dept. of Education, approximately 44,400 students participated in the Spring 2021 administration of PEAKS. That is about 64% of students enrolled in the test grades of 3-9. DEED extended flexibilities including extending the testing hours to evenings and weekends, reducing reporting requirement, and extending the testing window by a week to help schools safely assess as many students as possible given the mitigation practices in place to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Even with these flexibilities, participation rates varied significantly from district to district and among demographic categories according to the DOE. - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021

Trump wants the National Archives to keep his papers away from investigators – post-Watergate laws and executive orders may not let him

Trump wants the National Archives to keep his papers away from investigators – post-Watergate laws and executive orders may not let him
Before the establishment of the archives, many records were poorly stored. Here archives workers push a cart of Veterans Administration records into a vacuum chamber for fumigation in June 1936.

Historic Photograph File of National Archives Events and Personnel, 1935 - 1975


Analysis: Trump wants the National Archives to keep his papers away from investigators – post-Watergate laws and executive orders may not let him BY SHANNON BOW O'BRIEN - The National Archives is the United States’ memory, a repository of artifacts that includes everything from half-forgotten correspondence to the paper trails that document the days of the country’s life. The National Archives contains such items as bureaucratic correspondence, patents and captured German records. It holds Eva Braun’s diary and photographs of child labor conditions at the turn of the 19th century.

Most of the time, the National Archives goes on with its work with little attention. But right now it is at the center of a political fight about the public’s access to the papers of former President Donald Trump.

That battle is being fought by Trump against President Joe Biden and the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection. The legislators want to see Trump administration records that are housed in the National Archives, Biden has said the archives should provide them – and Trump has sued the committee and the archives to stop the papers from being divulged to Congress.

What materials should be kept, where they should be kept and, in the case of presidents, who owns and controls them have long been a thorny question for the nation. Historian John Franklin Jameson pointed out that from 1833 to 1915 the U.S. had 254 fires in federal buildings – with important public records consumed by the flames. Fire, bugs, mold, water and vermin were all persistent threats that ate away at the country’s earliest materials.

Jameson, along with others, pushed for funding a National Archives in the early 20th century. The formal organization known today was created by Congress in 1934. From that time, “all archives or records belonging to the Government of the United States” were to be under “the charge and superintendence” of the national archivist.

Currently, the National Archives is home to 12 billion sheets of paper, 40 million photographs, 5.3 billion electronic records, and untold miles of video and film. Among those materials are the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, military and immigration records and even the canceled check for the purchase of Alaska.

People’s papers?

At the center of the current conflict between Trump and the congressional committee is the status of presidential papers: Are they public or private?

The archives have long dealt with this question. President George Washington took his papers home with the intention of creating a library, but it never materialized. In fact, rats ate many of Washington’s records.

Washington had established the idea that the president’s papers were his property, since he had written or created them. Many other presidential families who didn’t like the contents of their relation’s presidential records disposed of or burned them, leaving only a slanted picture of the actual history. - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021


Analysis: An infectious disease expert explains new federal rules on ‘mix-and-match’ vaccine booster shots By GLENN J. RAPSINSKI - Many Americans now have the green light to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster – and the flexibility to receive a different brand than the original vaccine they received.

On the heels of the Food and Drug Administration’s Sept. 22, 2021, emergency use authorization of a third dose – or “booster shot” – of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for certain Americans, on Oct. 20, the agency also gave emergency authorization to a third Moderna shot and a second dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

On Oct. 21, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended these vaccinations in light of the FDA’s authorization. The CDC’s signoff will make the Moderna booster shot available to people 65 and older, younger adults at higher risk of severe COVID-19 due to medical conditions and those who are at increased risk due to their workplace environment. People are now eligible for the Moderna booster six months after completion of their original series – as is already the case for the third Pfizer shot. The authorization made all Johnson & Johnson vaccine recipients eligible for a second shot two months after the initial dose.

Notably, the FDA and CDC also authorized a “mix-and-match” strategy, enabling eligible Americans to get a booster shot from a brand different from their original vaccine.

As an infectious disease expert, I have closely followed the development of the COVID-19 vaccines and the research on how immunity and vaccine efficacy shift over time.

With the swirling mass of news around how effective the COVID-19 vaccines are and who needs booster shots and when, it can be challenging and confusing to make sense of it all. But understanding how the immune system works can help bring clarity to the reasons some people could benefit from the authorized shots.

How vaccine efficacy evolves

The discussion and perceived urgency around booster shots has partially been driven by the occurrence of “breakthrough” COVID-19 infections in fully vaccinated people. The term breakthrough misleadingly implies that the vaccines failed, but this is not the case. The intention of the vaccine is to reduce hospitalizations and deaths, a goal that the COVID-19 vaccines continue to meet.

While the Pfizer mRNA vaccine shows decreasing efficacy against asymptomatic and mild infections over the first six months after vaccination, studies show that it continues to be highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths, including against the delta variant, in the first six months.

A clinical study of the Moderna vaccine showed that antibody levels remain strong after six months as well. But studies after the six-month mark have been mixed, with reports of waning antibody levels leaving some researchers concerned that a booster shot strategy is essential. However, the limited data left too many questions for the FDA and CDC to approve a booster shot for all Americans, at least at this time.

Still, the overwhelming majority of intensive care admissions and deaths from COVID-19 continue to be in unvaccinated people. The rare deaths from COVID-19 in vaccinated people are mostly in people with immune systems weakened either by age or underlying conditions, which is why booster shots have been authorized for these groups. While boosters clearly help the individual, it is just as important for everyone to get fully vaccinated to protect vulnerable people by reducing the overall number of cases in the community. - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021




PETER ROFF: DON’T LET BIDEN TRY TO BALANCE THE BUDGET ON THE BACKS OF RETIREES - President Joe Biden’s plan to build America back better is much more costly than most everyone anticipated. The budget reconciliation bill currently stuck in the House is perhaps the most expensive single piece of legislation in history. Even a few members of his own party are uncomfortable voting for it.

According to some estimates, the new taxes, spending, and borrowing involved total out at about $10 trillion over 10 years. At one-half U.S. annual GDP pre-COVID, that’s not chump change. Biden says not to worry because it’s paid for, something only someone who’d spent 50 years in Washington could say with a straight face. He’s unfamiliar with how the private economy functions. The higher corporate taxes he touts, for example, are considered a cost of doing business that is mostly passed along to the consumer.

It’s not his fault he doesn’t get it. He’s spent almost his entire adult life in politics. Any wealth he’s amassed comes from belonging to “the aristocracy of pull,” not business acumen. The people around him, however, know better. - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021


MICHAEL REAGAN: THE GOOD LIFE OF COLIN POWELL - I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.

Those words written by my father, which are inscribed in stone at his gravesite, could very well have been referring to Colin Powell and his life.

Powell was a great American who literally lived the American dream.

Born in Harlem, the son of a Jamaican immigrant, he rose to the greatest possible heights – a four-star general who became a statesman, a presidential advisor and secretary of state from 2001 to 2005.

Powell was a good man who did a lot of good things while in the service of his country.

He also did a lot of good for thousands of children through his organization America’s Promise Alliance, which works to improve the lives of young people and is rooted in the belief that every one of them “deserves to succeed and every adult is responsible for making that happen.” - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021


RICH MANIERI: JOURNALISM IS DYING BY ITS OWN HAND - The news media is about as popular as a first-century tax collector. This probably isn’t breaking news if you are a consumer of journalism, or what passes for journalism.

According to a recent Gallup survey, a mere 36 percent of respondents said they had “some level of trust” in the media to report news accurately. That’s the second-lowest level in the history of polling. Just 7 percent of respondents said they had “a great deal of trust” in news reporting.

The real tragedy of this survey is that the news media won’t pay any attention to it, assuming, as it almost always does, that people are either too daft to understand subtlety and nuance or they’re simply wrong on the issues. If these morons don’t like our coverage, who needs them?

I think we understand just fine what this poll reveals and Americans are well aware of what’s going on.

At some point, the national media, and assorted local outlets, decided that their primary responsibility was no longer to merely cover the news, opting instead to serve as members of the resistance, advocates, or activists. - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021


FINANCIAL FOCUS: Short-term investments offer liquidity – and more Provided By BEN EDWARDS, AAMS® - Generally speaking, investing is a long-term process. You invest in your IRA and 401(k) to reach a long-term goal – retirement. You may invest in a 529 education savings plan for many years to reach another long-term goal – college for your children. But is there also a place in your portfolio for shorter-term investments?

In a word, yes. You have three good reasons for owning short-term investments: liquidity, diversification and protection of longer-term investments. Let’s look at all three:

• Liquidity – For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic brought home the need to have ready access to cash, and short-term investment vehicles are typically liquid. Still, some are more liquid than others, and you’ll want to know the differences right from the start.

Probably the most liquid vehicle you could have isn’t an investment at all, but rather a simple savings or checking account. But you likely could earn much more interest from a high-yield online savings account without sacrificing much, if any, liquidity. Money market accounts are also highly liquid, but they may carry minimum balance requirements. - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021

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THE GROWING PROBLEMS OF APD'S BODYCAM PROJECT By Michael Garvey Eight months into the project, we fear that body cameras won’t live up to their promise and will become another tool in the police department’s arsenal to collect information on residents, evade accountability, and obfuscate how APD polices the city.

Back in April, voters decided to tax themselves in order to equip the Anchorage Police Department (APD) with body cameras. Why? In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the community recognized the importance for APD to be as transparent and accountable as possible. And body cameras provided a way for the public to understand how the city’s police officers did their jobs.

But 8 months into the project, we fear that body cameras won’t live up to their promise and will become another tool in the police department’s arsenal to collect information on residents, evade accountability, and obfuscate how APD polices the city. 

First, we have to look at the department’s public input process. All along, Chief Ken McCoy has stressed the importance of building trust and being accountable and transparent with the public. We were glad that APD reached out to ACLU of Alaska to get feedback on its draft policy, and were happy to provide it. But we do not represent the entire community. On a whole, the way APD has collected input from the public makes it seem like the department did not want to put in the work to invite ordinary people into the process.  - More...
Sunday PM - October 24, 2021
jpg Opinion

Regarding the Redistricting Meeting at the TFCC, 10/6, 4:30 - 6:30; Please attend this meeting. By Kathleen Yarr - On the heels of the 2020 Census, the Redistricting Board is taking recommendations on six Proposed Plans to redraw the 40 legislative districts in Alaska. We live in District 36, which includes Ketchikan, Metlakatla and Hydaburg. It is compact, fairly contiguous (considering we live on islands) and we share some of the same concerns and demographics of these communities.

Personally, I am happy with this configuration. I do not want to be lumped in with Sitka. - More...
Wednesday - October 06, 2021
jpg Opinion

Southeast Conference 2021 By Amanda (AJ) Pierce and Austin Otos - We recently had the opportunity to attend the 2021 Southeast Conference in Haines, Alaska. Every year, the conference showcases economic development opportunities and projects throughout the Southeast region. This year’s conference focused on various pecuniary topics including updates on: visitor industry, natural resource development, healthcare infrastructure, broadband initiatives, mariculture, energy projects, and AMHS transportation plans. - More...
Sunday PM - October 03, 2021
jpg Opinion

An Open Letter to Mary Kauffman by Dan Bockhorst - Mary, thanks for your years of valued service to Ketchikan as editor, publisher, and webmaster of SitNews. - More...
Sunday PM - September 26, 2021
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Alaska Will Greatly Benefit from Historic Infrastructure Bill By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - everal years ago, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Alaska’s infrastructure a C-minus grade. Their report reiterated what too many Alaskans know and face every day: our still-young state is deficient in water and wastewater, ports and harbors, marine transportation, energy and power infrastructure, and more. Even in our highest-graded areas – like roads and airports – Alaska still has plenty of room for improvement.More...
Sunday PM - September 26, 2021
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Charting a course for the next century of maritime policy By U.S. Congressman Don Young - When the chapter about the COVID-19 pandemic is written in Alaska’s history, it will be remembered as a time of resilience, shared sacrifice, and the never-give-up spirit that lives within all Alaskans. With new tools for economic development and prosperity, I believe Alaska can come back stronger than ever before. - More...
Friday AM - September 24, 2021

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