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Be careful out there. It's getting darker. The dark is coming earlier in the afternoon and lasting until later in the morning.

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News that Ucore Rare Metals is proceeding to the next step in its process toward developing a mine at its Bokan Mountain/Dotson Ridge property on the southeast coast of Prince of Wales Island should be viewed positively — despite coming at a difficult time for the rare earth element mining sector.

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Letty Eileen Cole, 93, died on Oct. 15, 2014, in Ketchikan.
Susan Marie Mallott Patrick, 58, died Oct. 11, 2014, in Ketchikan.
Daniel Edward Hines, 47, died Oct. 11, 2014, in Juneau after a nine-month battle with brain cancer.
3/15/2014
Ketchikan projects

Ketchikan local governments will begin spending in excess of $115 million in capital improvements this year, with the Ketchikan Medical Center expansion at the top of the list.

The City of Ketchikan project has been designed; a certificate of need is anticipated this spring; necessary land will be cleared, and construction is expected to be well under way by the time October comes.

The first phase of the project totals $58 million, with $15 million the result of a state grant and $43 million approved in a bond issue at the most recent municipal election.

But the hospital isn't the only capital outlay for 2014.

The Water Street trestle replacement project is on the improvement list in the amount of $22 million, all of which is being realized in the form of a state grant.

From multiple revenue sources, a variety of other projects are in the community government capital project budgets.

About $5 million has been allocated for the Bar Harbor South drive-down float, which will be complete by summer. But that's not the extent of port and harbors development. Both Bar Harbor South and Bar Harbor North, as well as Thomas Basin and Hole in the Wall, will realize upgrades, too.

The port, including the fourth phase of the Berth 1 and 2 replacement project, will cost about $3.1 million. This also includes work on the waterfront promenade, signage, a timber and wood products interpretive and a stamp mill interpretive exhibit.

Whitman Lake Hydroelectric plant development is priced at $2.5 million in the '14 capital budget.

Other projects in the city's capital budget range from upgrading technology to replacing equipment and infrastructure that has seen better days.

Meanwhile, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough plans to spend $2.3 million this summer on the Mike Smithers pool demolition, another $2 million on re-paving and lighting at Ketchikan International Airport, and $1.9 million on installation of a biomass boiler at the airport.

Other borough projects range from resurfacing and other improvements at Dudley and Houghtaling fields to roof and other repairs at the Animal Protection shelter and design of a pedestrian bridge in Herring Cove, among a short list of other smaller projects.

All of this is necessary to maintain the community's infrastructure. It isn't cheap, but it's needed to maintain facilities and services upon which Ketchikan depends for its quality of life.