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Ketchikan: For 30 years, Ellis and Alaska Coastal were the only way to fly In Southeast; Half a century ago, regional airlines merged in AK Air By DAVE KIFFER - Fifty years ago this spring, Southeast Alaska's most prominent home-grown airline ceased to exist.

For 30 years, Ellis and Alaska Coastal were the only way to fly In Southeast;

Ellis Airlines Goose taking off, circa 1959
Donor: Bob Ellis, THS 74.11.13.6
Photograph courtesy Ketchikan Museums - Tongass Historical Society

Alaska Coastal (also called Alaska Coastal Ellis) began as two separate Juneau airlines - Alaska Air and Marine Airways -  and Ketchikan's main airline, Ellis Air Transport – back in  the 1930s.  The Ketchikan and Juneau airlines merged in the early 1960s to become one of Alaska's dominant regional carriers. Then, in April of 1968, Alaska Coastal became part of the growing Alaska Airlines empire.
 
Most Ketchikan residents are very familiar with the life story of Robert “Bob” Ellis who founded Ellis Airlines, the dominant air carrier in Southern Southeast from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s. But the residents of the northern Panhandle had their own "Bob Ellis." His name was Sheldon "Shell" Simmons, the founder of Alaska Coastal Airlines.

 
Simmons was born in Weippe, Idaho in 1908, and grew up in the Yakima area of Washington state. He quit school at age 16 and hopped a freighter for Asia. He came to Alaska when he was 19 and worked briefly as a commercial truck driver in Ketchikan. He studied electrical engineering in Los Angeles and then returned to Alaska, working as an electrician at the Alaska-Juneau Mine.
 
At one point, he quit the mine so he and a friend could sail more than 2,000 miles down the Yukon River in a 14-foot rowboat. He ended up in Nome, were he took a job on a runway construction project outside of Nome in Candle. It was there his interest in aviation took off as he watched pioneer aviator Noel Wien and others flying in and out of the unfinished airstrip.

 
The 21-year-old Simmons decided to return to Washington and take flight lessons in 1929. In a couple of years, he went back to Juneau to work at the AJ Mine, but he continued his interest in aviation by working on local airplanes and continuing to fly.
 
In 1934, he quit the mine for good and went to work for a local air company. But when a storm damaged the plane he was using, he bought the plane for $1 when the company decided it wasn't worth repairing. Simmons got it operating again and immediately started Alaska Air Transport.
 
"Simmons worked tirelessly," according to his biography on the Alaska Airlines website. “He flew at night, dropped off mail and Christmas turkeys for miners and even hauled the Juneau marshal to a gun fight. In the summer, he'd fly 16 hours a day. He was the first commercial pilot to fly year-round in Southeast Alaska."
 
Like all Alaskan Bush pilots, Simmons was famous for his exploits, particularly when he was called on to rescue people in trouble in the wilderness. Simmons famously "poo-poohed" any talk about these rescues by calling them "just work."
 
One of his most famous examples of "just work" was the 1938 rescue of the crew of the cargo ship Patterson. The Patterson ran aground near Cape Fairweather in a storm and the 18 survivors of the grounding were shipwrecked by huge swells and a gale force snow storm. Coast Guard cutters and Navy planes were unable to reach the stranded mariners.

"After two weeks, the situation getting desperate, Simmons acted on his own," the Alaska Airlines biography reads.  " 'To our awe and amazement,' said one of the stranded, Simmons landed his floatplane in the bubbling surf. He flew out two of the weakest sailors, and a trapper who Simmons brought along guided the others 15 miles down the coast where a boat could reach them. Simmons was lauded nationally. To fully grasp just how unassuming Shell was, you need to know that when he made the Patterson rescue he was still recuperating from injuries sustained in a crash three months earlier. In that crash, Shell dove beneath the water repeatedly before eventually saving a trapped passenger. The memory of that incident, caused by a faulty fuel line, stayed with Simmons for the rest of his life in the form of scars on his hands and face."

In 1939, Simmons and Alex Holden of Marine Airways merged their operations into Alaska Coastal Airlines. In 1962, Simmons and Ellis merged their airlines into Alaska Coastal Ellis, the largest seaplane based airline in the world. In 1968, Alaska Coastal Ellis became part of Alaska Airlines. Simmons died at age 86, in 1994, six months after Bob Ellis passed away at 91.

"Bob Ellis and Shell Simons were brothers-in-arms, Siamese twins joined at the hip by the love of flying and Alaska in equal proportions," Noted aviation writer Robert Serling wrote in his 2008 history of Alaska Airlines "Character and Characters." "Yet in background they were far from mirror images."
 
When it comes to the Southeast Alaska aviation industry, few names stand out as prominently as Bob Ellis.
 
The founder of Ellis Airlines and later a Ketchikan mayor and territorial legislator, Ellis began his career in aviation when Alaskan cities were tied to the Outside world by flimsy little floatplanes and ended his career when jets made it possible to wake up in Ketchikan in the morning and to be half way across the globe by bedtime. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018


 


The Salmon State:
The impossible journey of the juvenile coho; Study shows river systems behave like financial By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN - Turns out finance and salmon survival have something in common: the importance of diversification.

The impossible journey of the juvenile coho; Study shows river systems behave like financial

A char moves into Sam Creek along with hundreds of sockeye salmon. The char is skinny now, but will get fat gorging on salmon eggs.
Photo by Jonny Armstrong.

As a PhD student with the University of Washington’s Alaska Salmon Program, Jonny Armstrong — now assistant professor at Oregon State University’s Fish and Wildlife Department — snorkeled the Wood River in the Bristol Bay watershed. He soon encountered a mystery: juvenile coho as much as a mile from the nearest sockeye spawning ground had sockeye eggs in their stomachs.

Sockeye lay their eggs in cold water, where there’s lots of oxygen. A juvenile coho, however, doesn’t best digest sockeye eggs in that water — cold slows its digestion, meaning if it stayed there, it might need a week to process just one meal.
Armstrong placed tracking devices on the fish and learned that juvenile coho will travel enormous distances to eat sockeye eggs, feeding in cold water and digesting in warm.

“About every three days they’ll leave the warm water, swim downstream for an hour, get to where the sockeye are spawning, spend a couple hours there and go back the same night,” said Professor of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences at UW Daniel Schindler, Armstrong’s then-advisor, who has researched salmon in the Bristol Bay area for more than 20 years. “This is a fish the size of your finger and it’s going two kilometers, or two miles even, in one day.”

The importance of floodplain

For two of Armstrong’s five years of research, the Wood River flooded, and its main channel was cold from top to bottom. So you’d think the coho wouldn’t grow as well in those years, right?
Wrong.

“In the high water years we found coho basking in those (stagnant backwaters) that were dried up in the low water years,” Armstrong said. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018


 

Analysis:
Trump and Sessions can end immigrant family separations without Congress' help By KEVIN JOHNSON - A recent poll shows that two-thirds of Americans oppose the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant families apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Amid a firestorm of criticism, President Donald Trump has blamed Democrats and inaction in Congress for the family separation policy.

Only Congress can provide the comprehensive immigration reform that would address the fundamental problems plaguing the American immigration system, including the statuses of undocumented immigrants already living in the U.S.

However, current immigration laws give the executive branch considerable discretion in deciding which immigrants to detain and release from custody.

Trump has at his disposal a variety of alternatives – other than separating families – that would promote his stated goal of deterring migration from Central America. Those alternatives could avoid violating international human rights norms.

Immigrant detention by past administrations

Many presidents have used the detention of migrants as a tool to enforce immigration law. At the same time, the courts have rejected heavy-handed attempts to deter migration that infringe on the rights of noncitizens.

For example, in Orantes-Hernandez v. Thornburgh, a court of appeals in 1990 found mass immigrant detention and various related policies by the Reagan and first Bush administrations to be unlawful. The policies included detaining immigrants in remote locations where it was difficult for them to retain legal counsel. Together, they formed a concerted effort to deter Central Americans from pursuing asylum claims.

Similarly, in 2014, the Obama administration’s mass detention of Central Americans brought many – and many successful – lawsuits. In Flores v. Lynch in 2016, the court of appeals found that a settlement agreement in a lawsuit required the release of detained children.

Under Trump’s administration, the policy of separating families in order to detain adults has struck a nerve and generated an unprecedented political outcry. Several lawsuits have been filed seeking to end the policy of family separation, including one filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court in San Diego. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

 

COMMENTARY

CHRISTINE FLOWERS: Jeff Sessions' Asylum Decision Hurts Women Most in Need - I have seen a woman beaten before my eyes, and I did nothing to stop it. It is hard, as a teenager, to know your power and to find your voice. Instead of confronting the violence, I hid behind a locked door.

I'm no longer in contact with that woman and don't even know if she is still alive. What I do know is that she left the man who hurt her and her two boys after that violent showdown, and moved away to a stable, safer place. That was over 40 years ago, but I still think of her when I hear about women who are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. There but for the grace of God.

Domestic violence should just be called "violence." The use of the adjective seems to soften the evil nature of the act. But at least in this country we've had an epiphany. It's no longer possible to argue that a husband can't rape his wife. It's no longer common to look away when screams emanate from a neighbor's house because "it's none of our business." It still happens, but now we shame and condemn the bystanders, because silence is not OK.

We are still very far from a perfect society if you judge by the statistics on domestic violence in the United States. According to a 2015 report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 36 percent of women and 33 percent of men will suffer some form of domestic violence in their lifetime, including rape, sexual abuse, stalking, or some other physical aggression. That means millions of victims every year.

Even Jeff Sessions recognized the problem when he observed that, "For many reasons, domestic violence is a particularly difficult crime to prevent and prosecute, even in the United States, which dedicates significant resources to combating" it.

But there's a troubling irony to the statement. Last week, the attorney general issued a decision that now makes it virtually impossible for foreign women who are fleeing intimate-partner violence in their native countries to make a case for asylum.

Up until this week, a woman who claimed that she had been abused and was unable to obtain any protection from her native government could seek asylum as the member of "a particular social group." That is a term of art used to describe a basis for asylum where the victim can't fit into the other recognized categories of persecution, i.e., on account of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018


jpg Political Cartoon: Trump ends separation policy

Political Cartoon: Trump ends separation policy
By Kevin Siers ©2018, The Charlotte Observer, NC
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

Remarks by President Trump and Vice President Pence at Signing of Executive Order Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation - June 20, 2018

Executive Order: Affording Congress an Opportunity to Address Family Separation - June 20, 2018

      

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jpg Letter / Opinion

Bad Arguments for Taxing the PFD By Ghert Abbott - A number of very bad arguments have been made by those who want to resolve our state’s fiscal crisis via a massive head tax on the Permanent Fund Dividend without any regard for the extremely regressive effects that this will have.

The most popular argument is that the PFD is merely being reduced to its historical average of $1,050. The purpose of this argument is to convince Alaskans that they won’t suffer too great a loss because they’ll still be getting an “average” PFD. But this average is simply the median between the highest and lowest returns. Making the median return the new high will naturally create a newer, lower average for PFD recipients. So for Alaskans to continue receiving an average PFD of $1,050, by definition the Permanent Fund needs to be left alone. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

BORDER FAMILY SEPARATIONS OPEN OLD WOUNDS; US practice recalls horrific policies used to eradicate Native cultures By Rosita Kaaháni Worl - I want to express my appreciation to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for opposing the separation of families at the U.S. border and demanding an immediate halt to this "cruel, tragic" practice. I also want to recognize U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska for requesting a more deliberate bipartisan approach to this issue.

For me and for many, many other Alaska Natives, this issue is personal and resurrects old wounds. As Alaska Natives, we suffered the kidnapping of our children who were interned in boarding schools under the assimilationist policy of the United States. We as individuals and societies continue to suffer the intergenerational trauma from being separated from our families and raised in boarding schools. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Separating immigrant children from their parents By Larry Emery - The Metlakatla Minister's Association sent a letter to Alaska's congressional delegation protesting the treatment of the children of asylum seekers at the United States border.  The letter calls states that the administrations policy "... not only rejects America's values, it also ignores biblical teachings about the value and dignity of all human beings as being in God's image, regardless of their immigration status..." The minister's go on to state, "...undocumented aliens and asylum seekers should be treated with respect as human beings while their cases are undergoing due process. This is not a partisan political issue but a moral one. The policy of family separation must be reversed."  The Metlakatla Minister's Association consists of the pastors of the Lakeside Church of God, Metlakatla Congregational Church, Metlakatla Presbyterian Church and the William Duncan Memorial Church.  The full text of the letter is as follows: - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Trump Voters Responsible By Hallie Engel - I just wanted to remind everyone that if you voted for Trump, you are in part responsible for the separation of children from their parents. Some of these children are babies. I would like you to think about how you would feel if you came to the US seeking asylum, and someone took your child from you. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Separating children By Rob Holston, Jr - Trump is crazy for separating children from their illegal parents.  He should put them up in TRUMP hotels with catered meals and have the federal government pick up the tab.  He would become richer.  Of course more and more illegal immigrants would hear about this golden opportunity and soon TRUMP would be building more hotels just to house all the illegal immigrants and their kids.  More money for TRUMP….. and it would just cost hard working Americans a few dollars each A DAY to pay for it.

Soon South America, Mexico and all the countries in between would be nearly void of all population and TRUMP would be declared the wealthiest man on earth EVER. Sounds like a pretty honest business plan to me. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Shrimp Permit By Lance Clark - Another permit, really? So now, besides a fishing license, King stamp, hunting license, hunting permits, locking tags, sealing requirements and harvest surveys for game and fish, we have to have a permit to throw in a shrimp pot. What's next, an environmental impact study before bug repellent can be put on?

We have so many rules and regulations that require government paperwork and oversight already it's ridiculous! Whose idea was this? And why are we paying them to make our life harder? - More...
Sunday AM - June 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

We must act to protect the health and future of our oceans By Reps. Suzanne Bonamici & Don Young - Oceans cover more than 70 percent of our planet and are home to more than a thousand species of marine life. Oceans generate the oxygen that we breathe. They regulate our climate and provide healthy meals for people daily. Coastal communities rely on healthy oceans—as do shellfish, fish, marine mammals, birds, and ecosystems around the world. June 8 was World Oceans Day which serves as a reminder that regardless of where we live or our political party, we must remain committed to protect, conserve, maintain, and rebuild our ocean resources.

Oceans are an economic force as well. Across the United States the ocean economy supports more than 3 million jobs and contributes at least $352 billion in economic activity annually. Changes in ocean chemistry pose a very real threat to those marine resources, industries, and jobs. Oceans are changing rapidly; if we do not act soon the consequences could be devastating.

The health of our oceans is a reflection of the health of our planet. We need to improve our understanding of the implications of environmental stressors, such as harmful algal blooms and hypoxia, marine debris, warming and more acidic ocean waters, overfishing, and rising sea levels. These problems are indicators of a changing climate, and they threaten our economy and the livelihood of millions of people. - More...
Sunday AM - June 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Correction to UPRIVERS Documentary Misrepresentations By Brent Murphy - I am writing to correct the public record about misleading and inaccurate information regarding Seabridge Gold’s KSM Project presented in the UPRIVERS documentary currently being screened in Alaska and British Columbia. Seabridge Gold has also requested the producers and funders of the documentary to retract their misrepresentations.

The documentary’s suggestion that a failure at KSM would destroy the Unuk River and the way of life in Ketchikan is an extreme exaggeration and scare mongering.

The potential impacts to Alaskan waters were carefully evaluated during both the provincial and federal government environmental assessment reviews. In her final decision, the Canadian Minister of the Environment relied on an independent Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency scientific report which stated, “that no significant adverse impacts on water quality, water quantity, fish, or human health are expected on the Alaskan side of the Unuk River.”

The documentary also falsely states Alaskans were not consulted during the mine review process. Seabridge Gold, the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency both worked extensively with US Federal and Alaskan State Agencies during the environmental review process. Both the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency concluded Seabridge Gold conducted significant, meaningful engagement with all concerned parties, including Alaskans. The Alaskan regulators concurred by stating: “The participating US federal and state agencies did not identify any outstanding transboundary concerns with the environmental assessment.” - More...
Saturday AM - June 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Keep Out Potential Terrorists By Donald Moskowitz - Islamic terrorist bombings in Belgium; Islamic terrorist truck attacks in NYC, France, Germany, and Spain; and attacks in England and the U.S.are indicative of the violent Islamic extremism pervading the world. Muslim attacks on non-Muslims have proliferated in Europe over the years because Europe murdered 6 million Jews and replaced them with 50 million Muslims. European countries should stop absorbing immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa and deport potential terrorists.  

The U.S. should pay attention to the problems in Europe and keep out immigrants from countries that spawn terrorists. Some liberal religious organizations and individuals believe we should show compassion and open our borders to people from the Middle East and North Africa. Hopefully, the courts will uphold Trump's ban on immigrants from the countries which spawn Islamic terrorists. - More...
Saturday AM - June 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

BARR vs BEE: ABJECT RACISM vs ABJECT RUDENESS By David G Hanger - I have never watched either of these two programs, but there are very good reasons why the one should be instantly canceled and the other should not. Despite the brunette who went out of her way to glorify herself in explaining her reasons why she will no longer be watching Samantha Bee, there are two fundamental reasons why this is not in any sense justified or, for that matter, even rational.

Equating a successful black woman with a monkey is as repulsively racist as you can get, and there is no excuse for that deplorable behavior. Nor is there forgiveness. Roseanne Barr has been spewing racist crap for a long time on her time, and there is no question she is what she says. She is a white supremacist, and, yes, by definition she is an extreme racist. And she is not, and never has been, really funny at all. - More...
Saturday AM - June 09, 2018

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