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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.
8/29/2014
Welcome citizens
Welcome aboard.

In a maritime town like Ketchikan, that's the way to greet America's newest citizens living here. Or it should be.

Ketchikan watched as 17 people from the far reaches of the world — China, Nigeria, the Philippines, Russia and Saudi Arabia — took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America this week.

The U.S. District Court served as the venue for such an event for the first time in a decade.

And, serve well, it did.

Becoming a citizen is as big a deal as it's ever been. It's as big as Americans' traditional way of achieving citizenship — being born into it, which often generates great excitement. The difference is in that the newest citizens didn't just happen here by accident of birth, but instead came by choice, much like many Americans' ancestors.

In the coming, the new citizens often faced challenges ranging from the time commitment to the expense required to become a citizen. Citizenship also comes with no small investment of energy, including study that prepares one to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and answer what should be for all Americans remedial questions about the country.

These new citizens have done their homework. As a result, they have a new country, and, we, we have new Americans — friends, neighbors and family members setting sail together on the good ship Citizenship.

Again, welcome aboard!