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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Front Page Photo By KEN ARRIOLA

Springtime Traverse 2014
Cody Updike and Jeffery Updike begin the accent onthe southeast face of Northbird Mountain just after descending Roy Jones Mountain (background), mile 5. The traverse from Deer Mountain to Silvas Lake is a much desired route for alpine trekkers, but few make the attempt in snow as the conditions can be treacherous and with no visible trail. Cousins Cody (foreground) and Jeffery Updike, equipped with ice ax, crampon and snowshoes decide to go for it safely completing the 13.5 mile route in 12 hours, stopping frequently to enjoy the incredible vistas, accompanied by goats, ptarmigan, hawks, eagles and grouse along the way.
Front Page Photo By KEN ARRIOLA ©2014
(Please respect the rights of photographers, never republish or copy
without permission and/or payment of required fees.)



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Alaska: State Senate Releases Education Plan; Plan adds $300 million in funding over three years roughly equating to a $400 Base Student Allocation (BSA) equivalent per student - Today, the Alaska Senate Finance Committee unveiled what they say are improvements to Alaska’s Education Opportunity Act, otherwise known as Governor Sean Parnell’s education package. The Alaska Senate’s plan focuses on providing more choices for parents, giving more resources to teachers and creating more opportunities for students.

“This plan puts education in the hands of the people who can best identify and serve the students: teachers and parents,” said Senate Finance Co-Chair Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage). “Parents know their kids the best. This plan gives parents more options to best meet the educational needs of their children. Once inside the classroom, teachers know what works best for each student. This plan puts more resources directly into their hands.”

According to a news release from the Senate Finance Committee, the most notable change to House Bill 278 is the funding mechanism. After considerable discussion and input from individuals and organizations, the Senate Finance Committee decided to add an additional $100 million in funding each year for the next three years, which roughly equates to a Base Student Allocation equivalent to $400 per student for the next three years. - More...
Friday PM - April 18, 2014

Southeast Alaska: Man Found Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder in 1996 Shooting Death - A jury in Juneau Superior Court returned a verdict late last Friday in the trial of Robert Kowalski, age 53, of Columbia Falls, Montana, after a four week trial. The jury found Kowalski guilty of Murder in the 2nd degree for the shooting death of Sandra Perry, of Seattle, Washington.

The shooting occurred in Yakutat, AK, on July 21, 1996. Perry was 38-years old at the time of her death. The jury found that Kowalski had acted with extreme indifference to the value of human life in killing Perry. Kowalski had also been charged with Murder 1st Degree for the incident, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on that charge.

A status hearing will be held later this month to determine if the state intends to retry Kowalski on the Murder 1st degree charge, after which a sentencing date will be set. Kowalski could receive a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison.

In July 1996, Kowalski and Perry, who were in a romantic relationship with one another, were visiting Yakutat from their home in Washington. During the early morning hours of July 21, 1996, while in their hotel room, Kowalski was alleged to have shot Perry in the face with a shotgun, killing her instantly. At the time, Kowalski claimed the shooting was an accidental discharge. - More...
Friday PM - April 18, 2014

Ketchikan: Southeast Alaska Big Game Guide Convicted of Unlawful Act - A Petersburg man was recently convicted of hindering the lawful hunting by others, and for harassment.

The conviction stems from a summons by the Alaska Wildlife Troopers Ketchikan Post on June 21,2013, of Scott Newman, 48 years-of-age, from Petersburg. The Wildlife Troopers's summons was in response to a report that on May 25, 2013 at Smeaton Bay, which is 30 miles south of Ketchikan, Newman had committed an Unlawful Act of a Big Game Guide by obstructing and hindering lawful hunting by two persons.

According to information provided in a news release this week, Newman had harassed two hunters by scaring off a black bear that they were about to harvest. Newman reportedly then told the two hunters he did not want to see them in the area. - More...
Friday PM - April 18, 2014


Alaska: Mercury in Fishes Study Released, Measurable Levels Detected in Alaska National Parks - Fish sampled in four Alaskan national parks have tested positive for mercury and in some cases exceeded State of Alaska unlimited human consumption thresholds for women and children.

The testing was part of a multi-year U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service study of fish in remote, high elevation lakes and streams in 21 national parks across 10 western states and Alaska. Mercury was found in all fish sampled though levels of the chemical harmful to fish, other wildlife and humans, varied.

"Although fish mercury concentrations were elevated in some sites, the majority of fish across the region had concentrations that were below most benchmarks associated with impaired health of fish, wildlife, and humans. However, the range of concentrations measured suggest that complex processes are involved in driving mercury accumulation in these environments and further research is needed to better understand these processes, and assess risk," said USGS ecologist Collin Eagles-Smith, the lead author of the publication. - More...
Friday PM - April 18, 2014

Alaska: Physician Arrested for Fraudulently Billing Medicaid and Tampering with Physical Evidence - The Alaska Department of Law, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) announced this week the arrest of an Anchorage area physician for fraudulently billing Medicaid for hundreds of thousands of dollars and for tampering with physical evidence in an ongoing investigation.

Dr. Shubhranjan Ghosh, 39, of Anchorage, Alaska and the founder of Ghosh Psychiatric Services, was arrested Tuesday evening on a criminal complaint alleging that he committed medical assistance fraud, scheme to defraud and evidence tampering.

The charging document states Dr. Ghosh fraudulently billed Medicaid $170,000 for services allegedly provided to patients that were not present during the date and time of the billing. Dr. Ghosh additionally billed Medicaid over $110,000 for psychiatric services allegedly provided to his office manager’s children and over $20,000 for services he allegedly provided to the children of an ex-girlfriend. Travel records further indicate that Dr. Ghosh billed Medicaid $42,500 for providing psychiatric services to patients in his office while traveling internationally and domestically. After a 2013 search warrant on his medical practice, Dr. Ghosh attempted to falsify medical records to support three years of fraudulent billing for the children of his office manager. - More...
Friday PM - April 18, 2014


Alaska Science: Riding the bumps of the far northern trail By NED ROZELL - A sick snowmachine awaits rescue here on the snow-covered ice of this boot-shaped lake. After an 85-mile journey from our last stop at Umiat, one of the Ski Doo Skandics sputtered to a crawl a few miles from our intended campsite here.

Riding the bumps of the far northern trail

Ben Jones of the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage works on a broken snowmachine on a frozen lake not far from the Arctic Ocean.
Photo by Ned Rozell

The loss of one of their essential research tools has not stalled the trio of scientists traversing Alaska's North Slope to poke shallow holes into its frozen lakes and soil. Thanks to his satellite phone, trip leader Ben Jones of the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage has another machine on its way from Barrow. Two men on snowmachines are sledding it about 150 miles across the great coastal plain to us.

Chris Arp's broken machine is one of a few not-in-the-game-plan events during the first seven days of this three-week journey across the Big White Empty between the Brooks Range and the Arctic Ocean. The ecologist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Water and Environmental Research Center noticed his snowmachine was pulling to the right just a few hours after leaving our starting point at Toolik Lake one week ago. After an impressive group repair on a factory weld gone bad, executed in a breezy grove of dwarf willows, Chris coaxed the snowmachine to our planned stop at the oil exploration/research camp at Umiat. There, a mechanic spent nine hours making it like new.

Then, after a blue sky day of snowmachining from Umiat, the machine faltered near where we are camped in Arctic Oven tents on the surface of this lake that's frozen to the bottom. Ben and Chris tried to repair the machine but found the problem (unrelated to the Umiat fix) was beyond their considerable stash of parts. Then came Ben's call to Barrow, where teammates making a similar science traverse had a snowmachine available. That Ski Doo is now on its way here over hours of rider-punishing wind-bumpy snow. If the replacement doesn't arrive today, there will be another plan. - More...
Friday PM - April 18, 2014


Columns - Commentary

DAVE KIFFER: Welcome to Ketchikan! - So I was having a chat with Vlad Putin the other day and he said something very interesting.

“You know this ‘give back’ is not really our idea,” he said. “We have enough trouble with our own environmentalists.”

“How so?”

“Sure, we don’t have anything like NEPA that can they whack us upside the head with every time we try to cut down a tree in Siberia,” he went on. “But the last thing we need these days is to be tarred with ‘destroying the last temperate rainforest.’ ”

He had a point. Crimea is one thing, but there are some battles you just don’t want to get involved in.

Of course, that reminded me that the “deadline” for signatures on the petition for returning Alaska to Russia is rapidly approaching.

The folks who posted the petition on the web site (Putin assures me they are not Russian, although the language of the petition points to someone for whom English is not a first, second or fifteenth language) have to raise 100,000 signatures in a few more weeks in order to ensure a “response” from the White House. - More...
Friday PM - April 18, 2014

JEFF LUND: Living the single life - When you get older, being single becomes funny. At least for some of us.

To a degree you become desensitized to the marriage and breeding happening all around you and since going out and finding someone to marry just so you too can have cute engagement photos on Facebook isn’t reasonable and being bitter sucks, you discover non-destructive coping mechanisms. Like fishing, and humor.
My college buddy Single Steve lives in San Diego and he’s embraced singledom in a way few have.

He’s promoting his soon-to-never-happen manuscript on his website via twitter:
“...the book is called “Nice Guy Finishes First”. It’s the story of me. Or at least I hope it will be. It’s a classic tale of your average nice guy and his quest to find epic, amazing, life changing love, in his 20’s, 30’s and hopefully not 40’s.”
Funny because we, along with other friends, have reached the age where we can laugh off the dating jargon dispensed freely by all.

“There are plenty of fish in the sea.”

Which reminds me that there are literally fish out there so tomorrow I’ll make a spur-of-the-moment trip to catch them. - More...
Friday PM - April 18, 2014


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letter Minimum Wage: Let the People Have a Voice By Daniel Repasky - We, the Citizens of Alaska, by initiative have made the effort to see a modest minimum wage increase placed on the ballot for Voters to decide in election. We believe it that important. It’s not often that the people express their desire for a change in law by petition although this year seems to be a banner year, what with SB21, the Marijuana Initiative, and minimum wage all headed for a vote of the people. AO-37 was another such issue. Over 20,000 voters made the effort to change a bad law. The Assembly majority in Anchorage and Mayor Sullivan did everything it could to frustrate Anchorage’s votes (at taxpayer expense) and successfully delayed this vote until November. Our hope is that those 20,000 voters who signed the initiative/referendum will remember this and vote accordingly whenever Mayor Sullivan’s name appears on a ballot. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 16, 2014

letter Shopping dogs... By Dixie Rhodes - After reading the letter sent in by Laura Attwood, I decided to put in my own two cents. I've noticed a trend recently for people to bring their small dogs into grocery stores while they shop. I know that there are certified therapy dogs and service dogs in Ketchikan. I understand that there are people that need the help that therapy / service dogs provide. I have no problem with that. My problem is when I see people inside a grocery store with their puppy or small breed dog. Clearly, these are not service or therapy dogs. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 16, 2014

letter North End Dog Owners By Joseph Lanham - I love dogs by choice. I think you would be hard pressed to find more than a hand full of people that spend more time training and working with their dog than I do. I am commanded by God to love their owners ☺. This is more difficult. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 16, 2014

letter Alaska Fair Project By Michael Goodner - My name is Michael Goodner, and I am a third grader from Anselmo-Merna School in Merna, NE. I am nine years old. My class is having a States Fair and I have drawn your state to research. - More...
Wednesdsay AM - April 16, 2014

letter For the birds By Victoria McDonald - After years of picking up dead birds that have broken their necks after hitting my windows, I might have found something that will prevent their deaths. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 16, 2014

letter Prohibitions on same-sex marriage are inconsistent with freedom, justice, liberty and equality By Hollis French - Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These simple words, found in the Declaration of Independence, helped forge the ideals embedded in the United States Constitution -- a constitution that is the envy of the free world. Why? Because it stands as the finest example of humanity's commitment to freedom and equality. - More...
Wednesday AM - April 16, 2014

letter Doctors Over Prescribing 4-paws and a Wet Nose By Laura Attwood - What's the deal, Ketchikan? Anyone who has the slightest heartache or set back in life should have a dog to feel better and that life tragedy should warrant being prescribed an "emotional support pet", right? Forget putting on your adult panties, just get a dog and it will make it all okay, right? - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

letter An independent candidacy By Dan Ortiz - Since announcing my campaign for Alaska State House of Representatives, many have come forward to express their support. A few of those supporters are concerned about the fact that I'm not running as a Republican or a Democrat but rather as an independent, non-partisan. Their concerns center around the idea that if I were elected I would be a man without a caucus/party and thus they don't see where my ability to influence would come from. As to the question of caucusing, I've been assured that both sides would court me to be a part of their caucusing group when and if I win the election. The real value however in me not being a part of a party is based on the following: - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

letter RE: The idiocracy of Anti-realists By Don Borders - I read with interest two letters from “Viewpoints ” on SitNews and found one really turned me, while the other one just made me mad. - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

letter Proud to be called idiots By Rob Holston - Ms. Marie Zellmer, we are proud to be called idiots if it saves one life. We are proud to be called stupid if it saves any life. We see a human life as a very important thing, not disposable. Human life is precious to us and both eternal truth and modern forensic evidence states emphatically that it does begins at conception. Yes modern science does agree with Biblical wisdom on this fact. Google abortion. - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

letter Annoying sign holders By Cherry Rice - Thank you to Marie Zelmer for your letter about the annoying sign holders on the corner. I cannot agree with you more. I found them to be ignorant and ill informed. Yes, they have a right to voice their opinions, even if they are wrong. However, saying that Roe v. Wade allows women to "murder" unborn children is totally ridiculous. It is the law that women have a choice to carry this unwanted child, or to abort this fetus that has not developed into a child yet. It is the choice of the pregnant woman. Period. - More...
Thrusday AM - April 10, 2014

letter Thanks for realism By Marie Zellmer - I would like to thank those who have given real life statements on thr choices. I was pointing out that random fantasy horror events described by anti-abortionists, with no real debate was idiotic. - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

letter Military Power Deters Adversaries By Donald A. Moskowitz - We are cutting back our military because the current administration believes the world is a safer place. - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

letter Archipeligo Wolf (baloney) By Forrest Mackie - Do you actually know what an Archipelogo wolf really is!! The pulp mill did extensive research on this because some Greenpeace characters came to town way back when!! An Archipeligo Wolf is a wolf that has mated with a dog and can be spotted by between its toes it has no hair, unlike a dog! A real wolf has hair between its toes!! - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

letter THE TRUE MEANING OF THE LOVING CASE By David G. Hanger - Consider this a lesson in how what you don’t know sometimes might hurt you. The Loving case, Loving vs the Commissioner (of the IRS), is not a case any layperson would be expected to follow, but it is a case all accountants have been watching closely. Concerned about the proliferation of unlicensed tax preparers and systemic fraud amounting to $500 billion a year, the IRS established the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) program, the intent of which was to regulate unlicensed tax preparers and to provide them with at least minimal educational requirements. From the standpoint of the licensed practitioner status was being given to these people that arguably they did not deserve. - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

letter King Cove - $50 Million Dollar Hospital - Available By Joseph G. James - The citizens of King Cove through the Small Business Development Program, has the ability to raise the necessary financial requirement, to build and maintain a five (5) bed hospital in King Cove. - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

letter End corruptive influence By Wiley Brooks - Lobbyist for large corporations & others seeking special tax favors provide a rich reservoir of re-election cash. Significant numbers elected to Congress to serve the people have been enticed to move on to where the real money is. When a Congress Person or Senator announces retirement to spend more time with their family, or is defeated for re-election as in the case of Jim Ramstad, don’t be surprised to soon learn they have a K Street address. If we want to end the corruptive influence on our top legislative body, my answer is to repeal the 16th Amendment and replace the income tax with a simple, transparent sales tax that treats all citizens fair and equal. - More...
Thursday AM - April 10, 2014

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