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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.
3/22/2013
Wow

Our news is island-centric, but often the island of our focus is Revillagigedo, on which Ketchikan sits.

Thursday, though, Prince of Wales and Annette islands held us in their thrall, as we saw hard work, perseverance, joy of a game and sheer grit pay off.

Four state championship games: Four Southeast teams in them. Come time to cut down the nets, half of the state champions were from southern Southeast Alaska as the Craig Lady Panthers — all six of them — took the girls 2A crown and the Klawock Chieftains earned the boys 1A title.

Not far below on the lustrous list were the Metlakatla Chiefs, who at the end of the day landed a second-place finish at state; and the Klawock Lady Chieftains, who took fourth. We know not winning the championship can be bitterly disappointing at the instant of loss, but getting to state at all is a grand accomplishment. Looking back, being among the top high school basketball teams in all of Alaska will be remembered as a fine outcome.

But, boy, there is nothing quite like winning, and nothing wrong with savoring being the very best.

For Craig, Wednesday night’s win marks the first state championship in the school’s history. What a thrill for the community and indeed, the whole island. Over in Klawock, the boys’ title is the first in many people’s lifetimes — it’s been almost three decades.

When Ketchikan kids visit Prince of Wales Island for sporting events, they are treated like royalty. The whole island turns out to watch, welcomes our kids into their homes, feeds them, and encourages them. We are confident that the return of their own as champions is exponentially better (if that’s even possible). As one of Klawock’s boys said the night of their victory, the town has “had our backs forever.”

How true, and how lovely. And now, how satisfying for those kids to be able to bring the gold back to Klawock, and to Craig for the first time ever.

Silver in Met is pretty sweet, too.

Wow.