A look back at some of Kodiak’s top news stories in 2021

Here’s a recording and transcript of the piece that ran December 31st during the evening news. Please enjoy, and Happy New Year!

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than a year since most people got their first doses of the vaccine.  The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were delivered to arms in Kodiak on January 13th

.An hours-long line of cars waited  in the cold for their chance to get the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine at the Triple A Moving and Storage facility. The doses were exclusively for those most at-risk and first responders- it would be some months yet before other Kodiak residents could get access to the vaccine.

At that point in  the fight against COVID, just under 1000 residents had gotten the disease and five had died, and less than a year after COVID-19 was first detected in the United States.

February marked a local milestone: Kodiak’s state representative Louise Stutes was elected Speaker of the House. She is the first ever Kodiak representative to land in that role, and the third woman in state history.

She at the time mentioned increasing the legislature’s participation in vetting fish board nominees, and bringing school bond debt back to the budget. Stutes’s tenure was marked by frequent clashes with Governor Dunleavy in an impasse over the Permanent Fund Dividend earnings.  

In April, KMXT published a story looking into the connection between local shellfish and a Cold War-era event straight out of a James Bond film. That involved captured U-2 spyplane pilot Francis Gary Powers and  shellfish-derived poison.

Kodiak received national attention in June for a story involving a rather infamous Flamingo …

On a picturesque and warm Saturday, three adults and two dogs climbed aboard a giant inflatable pink flamingo, and cast off into Monashka Bay. They soon found themselves adrift, without life jackets or means of propulsion. They phoned the Coast Guard, who came to their rescue in a UH-60. They rescued the party onboard – and even recovered the giant pink flamingo. The story of the rescue is instantly national news.

Have you heard me mention a story you remember yet? We’re now halfway through the year.

Later that month, Alaska was rocked by a magnitude 8.2 earthquake- the largest in half a century. Coincidentally, a historian researching previous Alaska superquakes was in town for the incident.

Even though the year began with vaccinations, the COVID-19 pandemic continued throughout 2021. By fall, Kodiak Island Borough was at the top of the New York Times ranking of Boroughs and counties for COVID-19 cases per capita. The high cases prompted a return of the mask mandate. But business stayed open this time and school largely continued *in-person*.

In the more recent past –the Coast Guard Cutter Cypress arrive in Kodiak this month. The recently refitted buoytender has a busy season ahead; the Cutter SPAR left last year, and a lot of Alaska marine buoys had maintenance delayed into the upcoming year because of her absence.

And lastly, last weekend, Kodiak Island shattered the record for the warmest December temperature in the state. 67-degree weather is normally unthinkable at this time of year. While it can’t be directly linked to climate change, meteorologists say extreme weather and temperature swings are becoming much more likely and common because of human-driven global warming.

Today is the 31st of December- the last day of the year. What will the next year hold? Will it be as busy as this year? I certainly don’t know the answer but my colleagues and I here at KMXT will be sure to keep you in the know.

 

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