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Copyright vEsti24
Jul 07 2015
Local Author Writes About PSP, Floatplane Incident, and Murder PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 07 July 2015
robin_barefield.jpgRobin Barefield. Via robinbarefield.com

Kayla Desroches/KMXT
A local author has used real dangers on Kodiak Island to turn her work of fiction into a plausible who-done-it. When Robin Barefield isn’t guiding tourists to bear-viewing locales or leading hunting expeditions, she finds time to write.

Barefield just released her second novel, “Murder over Kodiak,” which follows a biologist researching paralytic shellfish poisoning after she learns that her research assistant died in a floatplane explosion. Barefield found some time before the beginning of one tour to call into KMXT and talk with us over satellite phone.

She says the scariest aspect of the research assistant’s death is that it’s not caused by weather or an equipment malfunction.

“To think of something happening to an airplane, a small floatplane, on a beautiful, sunny day, there’s no reason to have an accident, and then to find out it was a man-made cause. I mean, we live in a place that has a lot of threatening conditions, but to me the scariest thing that could happen is for something man-made to come in from the outside world and affect our little island,” says Barefield.

Barefield says she’s been a Kodiak resident for over thirty years and has a master’s degree in fish and wildlife biology. Both traits helped her in her research. For instance, PSP seemed like good subject for her main character’s scientific studies.

“That part of it to me was very easy because it’s so interesting and I think it’s something that anyone on Kodiak can relate to because it’s a problem that we think about often,” says Barefield. “We’d love to eat all the clams and muscles that we have here, but paralytic shellfish poisoning is a serious problem. And so that part of it seemed like a real job that someone would have, learning more about it and finding an easier way to test for it.”

Barefield self-published her book through a service called Book Baby, and while many self-published writers go from first drafts directly to final drafts without a middle man to edit out errors and inconsistencies, Barefield says she turned to a professional.

“I had a very tight outline for this novel, so when I sat down to write it, the writing went fairly quickly, but then editing, I edited, and re-edited, and re-edited it,” says Barefield. “I had to hire an editor to look at it and work with an editor for a while, so that was a very good process. That was very helpful.”

She says the entire project took a couple of years and mostly progressed during the slower winter months.

“Murder over Kodiak” is her second novel with the same protagonist and Barefield explains that one of her first techniques was about persistence. She remembers hearing a piece of advice from a well-known author.

“Even if you just write for ten or fifteen minutes a day, make yourself sit down and write every single day. And that’s what I did when I first started writing,” says Barefield. “And at first it was like exercising. It was torture. To sit down and make myself do that every day, but pretty soon the fifteen minutes turned into a half an hour and then an hour, and then I looked forward to it.”

Barefield says you can purchase “Murder Over Kodiak” on Amazon or Barnes & Noble .
Jul 06 2015
New Program Teaches Leaders to Guide Young Men PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 06 July 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The model of masculinity is one that changes decade by decade and an upcoming program wants to teach youth leaders how to talk about what it means to be a man.

The Kodiak Area Native Association will host a three-day workshop called Compass between August 17 and 19. Prevention Grants Coordinator, Joe McGee, has been busy planning the event over the last few months and says the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault designed the program.

“It takes these guys who are in these leadership and mentorship roles and it equips them with tools so they can do activities with the kids,” says Mcgee. “They can take them out hiking, they have different activities, and within these activities, they weave in messages that teach the boys about good decision making.”

A packet outlining the program lists categories such as knowing your emotions, respect for others, and conflict resolution. McGee says the program redefines masculinity.

“In the world that we live in today, there’s a lot of definitions of masculinity, and it’s easy for a boy to get confused. And so this just takes good, core principles and it makes them very relatable so they can grab onto them and keep them,” says McGee.

McGee says the program is open to men in leadership roles over boys ages twelve through eighteen and is free of cost. He says the application deadline is July 17 and that KANA will cover the transportation fee from Kodiak villages as well as breakfast and lunch during the workshop, which will take place on Near Island. You can call 486-9847 to request an application. For more information, email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Jul 06 2015
Alutiiq Museum Alaska's First Officially Recognized Natural and Cultural History Repository PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 06 July 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alutiiq Museum preserves and exhibits many Alaska Native artifacts from the Kodiak Archipelago region and other areas, and now the State of Alaska’s Division of Libraries, Archives & Museums has designated it as the state’s first natural and cultural history repository.

4.64 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

Marnie Leist is the Curator of Collections at the Alutiiq Museum and says the recognition is especially significant because they’re the second nationally accredited tribal museum in the United States.

They play a part in keeping and protecting Native history.

“Almost 80 percent of our collections are on loan to the museum,” says Leist. “It is our responsibility to help care for other tribal organizations, federal state agencies, to care for the collections in perpetuity. And, because we have a dedicated, professional staff, maybe a 1000 years from now those 7000 year old artifacts are still around for future generations.”

She says that takes physical upkeep of the objects.

“I try to put things in micro climates if they’re sensitive to help preserve them. Large objects, we do dust them and we actually just had a great workshop with the conservators from the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology from Boston come and teach us more about how to vacuum objects, like kayak frames and other types of skin objects,” says Leist.

Part of maintaining artifacts is making sure they can survive in their environment. Here’s a very Alaskan example.

“Right now, we’re doing a paper test, so in our long, sunny, bright summer days we have lots of light. Well, UV damages objects, so I created this little test really quickly and here in another couple of weeks, we’ll see how much the paper bleached out in just those few weeks,” says Leist.

Scott Carrlee is the Curator of Museum Services at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau and says granting the Alutiiq museum repository status was easy. He says that’s because it’s one of the seven institutions in the state accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

“That means that they’ve been through a review process. A very rigorous review process,” says Carrlee. “What we are concerned about is this designation is really strictly the collection’s care, collection’s management portion of what the museum does, so the fact that the Alutiiq Museum is already accredited, that gave the committee a comfort level with designating them as a repository.”

Amy Steffian is the director of research and publication for the Alutiiq Museum and refers back to the year she first joined the staff.

“I’ve been with the museum since it opened in 1995 and I’ve seen the repository grow from a young organization learning professional practices, and to see us achieve both national and now state recognition for our practices is really lovely,” says Steffian.

The Alutiiq Museum’s collection holdings range from bone and ivory objects to photographs and historical documents.

The Museum also holds a Community Archaeology Dig from July 13 to 31 where volunteers from across Kodiak can work on an archaeology site to build that collection. If you’d like to participate, orientation will be on Thursday, July 9 at 7 p.m. at the Museum art gallery.
Jul 03 2015
Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Level Elevated PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 03 July 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
Minus tides, sunny weather and the weekend could very well induce tide-poolers and beachcombers to consider picking up some bivalves for roasting over the campfire, but as many longtime residents know, the Kodiak Island Archipelago is not the place to go clam digging.

The reason, according to the Marine Advisory Program's Julie Matweyou, is a deadly poison that accumulates in the area's bivalve shellfish.

“Paralytic shellfish poisoning is caused by a saxitoxin that is produced by a phytoplankton, a marine phytoplankton,” she said. “The shellfish consume the phytoplankton and accumulate the toxin in their bodies. And when people or animals come along and consume the shellfish they can become sick from the PSP toxins.”)

And when Matweyou says sick, she means it can also be fatal. In fact, a poisonous algae bloom is the leading suspect in the deaths of nearly a dozen large fin whales in Kodiak Island waters at the end of May.

Here's what she says to look out for if you do ingest clams or cockles gathered locally:

“So tingling, numbness, nausea, headache, floating sensation,” she said. “And in severe cases of toxin ingestion you can become paralyzed and ultimately have respiratory paralysis which would lead to death.”

Matweyou says bivalve shellfish in Kodiak area waters are pretty much always loaded with dangerous levels of PSP, but even more so in the summer when the water warms and the plankton bloom. 
Jul 03 2015
Borough Assembly Renews Recycling Contract, Moves Forward on Village Metal Removal Project PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 02 July 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kodiak Island is a hub for sustainability and the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly discussed one project at last night’s regular meeting that aims to continue that way of life.

The Coastal Impact Assistance Program Grant Village Metals Project is an initiative to remove metal debris and hazardous waste from villages around Kodiak. Bill Roberts, acting in place of the borough manager, explained the Borough’s search for firms to carry out the project.

“The Borough went, put this out to bid, to try to get a contract bidder to remove the metals. We got only one bid and it was non-responsive. I believe it was just way out of our budget,” says Roberts. “Kodiak Island Housing Authority approached the Borough and said ‘We have a lot of expertise in the rural cities and the village of Karluk, and we think we could help you to remove this metal at a reasonable expense.’”

The Memorandum of Agreement at the regular meeting was for a transfer of authority over the project from the Borough to the Kodiak Island Housing Authority. The cost listed in the agenda is in the $2,300,000 dollar range. It is a grant-funded project.     

Roberts says they’re using money from a previous grant while waiting for progress on the memorandum. He says they recently removed 80 tons of metal debris from Larsen Bay.

“It was set up through KANA and Kodiak Island Housing and what we got was a backhaul on a barge that was taking equipment there and it cost us a grand total of $15,000 to get rid of 80 tons,” says Roberts. “This afternoon I was told by Bob Tucker that we got another 50 to 60 ton load out of Larsen Bay for the same price of $15,000.”)

Roberts says it’s a win-win situation and the debris removal so far indicates the affordability of future cleanups.

Assemblyman Dan Rohrer says he’s glad to see the project advancing, especially after hearing worries about being unable to make progress by grant deadlines.

“Having attended the rural forum, not this most recent one, but the time before, people in our rural communities were very concerned about the lack of movement on this project. We’d had a bidder that it just wasn’t practical to go with them,” says Rohrer. “So, anyways, I really appreciate staff looking outside the box and negotiating with Kodiak Island Housing Authority to come up with a solution.”

The motion to transfer the project to KIHA carried.

The discussion about responsible waste management continued with a proposal to renew the Borough’s contract with Threshold Services, a recycling organization that also provides jobs for individuals with disabilities.

Threshold’s director, Ken Reinke, stepped up to speak during the meeting.

“We finished this last contract year with 781 tons. The previous contract year was 711 tons. A lot of it was because of the Westward Cannery shutting down, but still we had a substantial increase in community recycling, which is really good,” says Reinke. “We also did over 6,000 hours of helping people with disabilities with jobs and training.”

The Borough received over thirty emails in support of the contract. Assemblywoman Chris Lynch is the president of Threshold’s board of directors and thanked the public for its feedback.

“While that’s important for knowing where we stand for the award of a possible contract, it also gives us a feel of how many people really appreciate recycling, and we’d really like to concentrate on that and expand that and hopefully build a bigger and better recycling program every year,” says Lynch.

The assembly noted it was able to reach a bid negotiation with Threshold that satisfied both parties. It agreed to renew the contract.  The borough assembly’s next regular meeting is scheduled for August 6 and a special meeting is planned for July 30 with a work session to follow.
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