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May 04 2015
USCG Alex Haley Crew Visits Atka
Monday, 04 May 2015

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 Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley crew members place grave markers at a cemetery in Atka, Alaska, April 21, 2015. The hand-made crosses replaced those planted by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Storis during community outreach in 2006. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

 
May 04 2015
Shoes and Pig Pong Balls: Storing Marine Debris in Kodiak
Monday, 04 May 2015
debris_in_yard_sept_2014.jpgPicture of Island Trails Network marine debris storage yard in Buskin Valley. Photo by Tom Pogson

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Walking through the beaches, you might find a pile of shoes, some scattered ping pong balls, or old fishing nets. That’s just some of the marine debris that washes up on local shores.  

Some of that can come from shipping companies. Tom Pogson is Director of Education, Outreach, and Marine Programs at the nonprofit, Island Trails Network.

“I think the shipping companies are trying to maximize the profits,” says Pogson. “They’re trying to carry more and more freight, there’s more and more demand for freight, and when those containers are washed off of a container ship at sea, some of them get busted open and all the stuff that’s in there – it floats.”

The collected marine debris quickly piles up to huge quantities in Kodiak. He says, in the past, Island Trails Network and the Kodiak Island Borough have had issues dealing with it.

Pogson says Island Trails Network currently uses a yard on Coast Guard property in the Buskin Valley to hold its waste. He says, this July, a barge is scheduled to land in Kodiak to pick up the yard holdings. It will also go to other locations along the coast.

“The barge is gonna go down the coast, join up with another, bigger barge, and that bigger barge is gonna receive all the marine debris that’s been collected off the coast of Alaska in the last two or three years, and take it into a landfill in eastern Washington,” says Pogson.      

Pogson says money the Japanese government donated after the 2011 tusnami will be funneled into the project through NOAA.

Joe Lipka is the Solid Waste Manager and Environmental Specialist for the Kodiak Island Borough. He says the borough is working on extending the landfill and it will soon be able to accommodate marine debris.

“Now that the new regulatory compliant line cell should be completed summer / fall, we do have obviously additional capacity, so we would work together with Island Trails Network as they brought in waste from their cleanup operations around the island,” Lipka says.

Right now, Pogson says that Island Trails Network is low on funds to fuel those operations.

Lipka adds marine debris is too bulky for dumpsters and says individuals can bring their collected debris to the landfill before the extra space is completed.
 
May 04 2015
New Leadership as Alutiiq Museum Marks 20 Years
Monday, 04 May 2015
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April Laktonent Counceller, left, will take over as director of the Alutiiq Museum from Alisha Drabek on May 15. 
 
Jay Barrett/KMXT
There'll be a change in the head office at the Alutiiq Museum later this month. Alisha Drabek, who has been the executive director since 2013 is leaving to take a job with the Afognak Native Corporation.

Replacing her will be April Laktonen Counceller, who has worked over a decade in several capacities at the musuem and is currently an assistant professor of Alutiiq Studies at Kodiak College.

There will be an evening gathering to celebrate the museum's 20th anniversary on May 13th at the new Afognak building on Near Island, where the public is invited to see Drabek off and welcome Laktonen Counceller to her new role. 

Drabek's last day will be May 15th. In a release, Drabek said the museum is "an amazing organization" and that she will continue to stay closely connected to its work and mission. 
 
May 01 2015
Kodiak Borough Assembly Talks Repurposing Old Pool Building, Fireworks
Friday, 01 May 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Borough Assembly talked about the use of the old pool space and firework restrictions, among others things, at last night’s work session.

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The assembly has addressed the concerns about fireworks on Mission Beach and Mill Bay Beach at past meetings. It says residents have complained about the noise, but has also acknowledged that troopers do not always patrol those beaches for firework use or give priority to noise complaints.

Some members expressed concern about creating restrictions the assembly cannot enforce. Here’s Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner.

“We already have enforcement problems and I don’t know if becoming more restrictive - I mean, we can’t enforce it, or we’re probably not going to enforce it,” says Skinner. “So I’m leaning toward on that matter, why would we pass an ordinance we’re probably not going to enforce?”

The assembly decided to pull the proposed rule against fireworks from the packet.

Girls basketball coach and Parks and Recreations board member, Amy Fogle, stopped by to speak in support of turning the former pool building into a gym. She says adults and youth in town need the extra space. She says she would like to see the assembly reserve the area as a gym and adds that it could have other uses too.

“I just would just hate to lose that to storage or some office,” says Fogle. “All the teams that travel over here, we can put them in that space instead of them in our schools sleeping in classrooms, they can all be sleeping in that community gym.”

The assembly decided the first step would be to send out a memo on how to designate the building as borough space. The assembly also went through the budget, but ended the meeting at about 11pm to reconvene at a later date. The assembly’s next regular meeting will be on May 7. 
 
May 01 2015
Sen. Stevens Supports Recess
Friday, 01 May 2015
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Senators Dennis Egan D-Juneau and Gary Stevens R-Kodiak
 
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The Alaska Legislature has passed a resolution authorizing lawmakers to recess until May 12 while the finance committees continue to meet in special session under order of Gov. Bill Walker. Votes along caucus lines in the House and Senate came on day three of the special session and a day after Walker told legislators to stay in Juneau and keep working on the budget.

The resolution says that while House and Senate finance committees hold hearings, the Legislature's full membership isn't required. It says daily floor sessions would take away from "careful consideration" by committees on subjects listed in Walker's special session call.

The constitution says neither chamber can adjourn or recess for more than three days unless the other chamber concurs and while the governor can order them into a special session, he can't tell them where to hold committee meetings.

During floor debate in the Senate, Kodiak Republican Gary Stevens said that under normal conditions he would support staying in Juneau.

"But this is a special time for us,” Stevens said. “We are under construction, I'm sorry to say. There's going to be a lot of racket in this building because of major renovations are taking place."

Juneau Democrat Dennis Egan made a pitch for staying in Juneau, saying it would be better for keeping the legislature's business in the public eye.

"All Alaskans, Mr. President, can see what we're doing when we do it here. Because of the generosity of the city and borough of Juneau Alaska's capital city is wired for gavel to gavel. That's how Alaskans from Ketchikan to Barrow, Kotzebue to Kodiak see our committee hearings and our floor sessions,” Egan said. “And then they call on us, either by phone or e-mail and they say what us to do. That's how every Alaskan accesses the capital and that access goes down if we take the show on the road."

Stevens, however, wasn't convinced.

"I do want to express my appreciation to the Senator from Juneau as well as the mayor and all the others here who have gone to great extremes to make sure there are other places for us, like Centennial Hall. But it'd be very difficult,” Stevens said. “I'm afraid at this time, even though I've always have been supportive of Juneau, I'm to have to vote for this because I think it's the right thing to do at this time."

The hang up in the Legislature is an impasse over funding the state budget. The House and Senate majorities passed a budget for the next fiscal year that was only partially funded, and they need the House minority's votes to tap the state's Constitutional Budget Reserve to fully fund it. Minority leaders say those votes won't come unless education funding isn't cut as deeply and that unless the state accepts federal funds to expand Medicaid. It's something Gov. Walker is supportive of, but which the conservative majorities have been reluctant to accept. 
 
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