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News
Apr 14 2015
City Composting Plans Funded, Firmed Up PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 April 2015
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Jay Barrett/KMXT
The Kodiak City Council approved a budget increase to the new composting facility Thursday night by adding a $3-million loan it received from the Alaska Clean Water Fund. It was necessary because, as City Engineer Mark Kozak explains, the bids for the facility came in higher than expected.

"The project currently has $3.3-million available for construction. When the bids were opened, they were higher than estimated,” Kozak said. “In order or award the project, we need to amend the project budget by including the $3-million Alaska Clean Water Fund loan into the budget at this time."

Long time City Councilman Charlie Davidson said the project's cost is largely due to how long it's been in limbo.

"I just want to add information for the public that this has been an ongoing project since 1999 practically. And that's when, in the middle of those years since then, the borough has been unable to accept any more of the bio-solids coming from the waste water treatment plant. It gives the public an idea how long it takes to get this program situated,” Davidson said. “This is a mandate from the EPA and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. It shows you the price increases with each year of delay, how much more it costs us as a result."

Thursday night the council also voted to award the construction contract to Brechan Enterprises for $3,390,350 and for construction project management to CH2M Hill for $394,000.

"It's just great to see this facility finally get up and running. We see Juneau right now shut down their incinerator, which was how they were dealing with their bio solids and are now faced with the cost of barging all of their bio solids out of town. And I'm just so glad we don't have to face those two options,” Haines said. “You know, what we're doing here with this facility, and we worked very closely with CH2M Hill, and I can't say enough great things about the people we work with them. They're on the cutting edge of this technology. What we're doing here is ecologically responsible and it's also responsible to the tax payers, and gives us a long-term solution to this."

The compost site will be on about three-and-a-half acres within the borough's landfill fences. 
 
Apr 13 2015
Kangaroo - It's What's for Lunch PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 April 2015
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Ray Legrue, Henry's Great Alaskan Restaurant owner. Kayla Desroches/KMXT 
 
Kayla Desroches/KMXT
 
A kangaroo burger made its debut at Henry's Great Alaskan Restaurant today. 

0.98 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

 
 
 
It was one in a series of meats that staff members tried Sunday at the in-house taste-test. Also on the list were boar sausage, elk bratwurst, and water buffallo sausage. Henry's served its employees a variety of beer samples alongside the meat, as well as plates of cheeses and crackers. The taste-testing was the final step of approval for a series of Monday specials, the first of which is kangaroo.
 
Ronni Filburn is a Henry's employee. She says she liked the kangaroo burger, and that it would be even better medium to medium-rare. 

“The flavor was really good, it was zesty," she said. "It was just a little on the dry side the way it was, but cooked to order, I think it would be a good addition.”
 
Ray Legrue owns Henry's Great Alaskan Restaurant. He says kangaroo meat is one of the items he purchased from his daughter, a chef and a salesperson for a Portland-based butchery. He says he and his team bought the samples and tried them in December, and that they invested a lot of time on planning between then and now.
  
“The problem was getting the logistics to get the product from Portland to Kodiak without the expense of the transportation making it something that was unmanageable.”

And Legrue says now that they've arranged importation, the next challenge is the meats' reception. He thinks locals will enjoy the kangaroo burger, especially based on his employees' feedback. He says most of the meats rated well at the in-house taste test.

“I'd say like 80 to 90 percent of the people really liked everything that we offered today. Not everybody, but that's a really good percentage for any specialty product.”

Legrue says that all the upcoming meats are farm-raised and that the kangaroo burgers will cost about three dollars more than the beef ones. 
 
Apr 13 2015
State Recorder Closing Six Offices - Kodiak Included PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 April 2015
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Kayla Desroches/KMXT
 
The recorder's office in Kodiak, which certifies property purchases, will likely be one of those closed across the state due to budget cuts. There are 34 recording districts across Alaska and they are served by 11 offices, which will be cut down to five.

Elizabeth Bluemink is the Communications Coordinator for the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and says that, department-wide, DNR faces the net loss of 81 positions and 6 of them are in their recorders' offices. She adds that most of these offices are single staffed. The other six to be cut besides Kodiak are Ketchikan, Valdez, Sitka, Homer, and Bethel.

She says the current employee at Kodiak has the option to move to Anchorage, and that there are other choices for people who need the services of a recorder's office. There will still be the five locations left open.

“We will be down to Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, Palmer, and Kenai. And these offices already serve recording districts throughout the state, so basically they will be covering areas that will no longer have their own office.”

Patrons can record by mail or internet. Bluemink says DNR gradually made “Simplifile” e-recording available over the last few years. 

She says the new budget for the coming fiscal year begins on July 1st and DNR is preparing to make the transition now. 
 
Apr 13 2015
Stevens: Ferry, Education, Broadcasting Cuts Inevitable PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 April 2015
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Jay Barrett/KMXT
With just one week left in the regular legislative session, it's crunch time in the state capital. The state operating budget is in conference committee for changes between the House and Senate versions to be hammered out, and the capital project budget is just getting finalized. Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens still thinks the Legislature will get its work done in the voter-mandated 90-day session.

"If we get stuck and need a little more time we can easily do it. The constitution says we can go 121 days, but now that we're trying within the 90-day framework, if we get stuck and have to go a couple days over, that's okay, we can do that constitutionally."

Significant cuts to the Alaska Marine Highway System are being contemplated, and Stevens says no matter the final budget figure that comes out of the Legislature, the picture is not good for ferry-reliant communities.

"We know there's going to be some reductions there. It's just to try and work it out mainly to make sure that people have the opportunity to get off the island, to make sure that the fisheries, the processors use that to ship fish out have that available as well. But the reality is, it's going to be less service than we've had before. So we're trying to work out the details and make sure it doesn't harm anybody any more than necessary. But it's going to be a tight, tight time for all of us."

And though several public radio stations in Alaska would lose even more money in federal funds if the state match is taken away, Stevens says the cuts are inevitable.

"We all depend on public broadcasting. Having had Bristol Bay in my district before, and now back having Homer and Kodiak in the district, I know it's very important to all those communities, but even particularly when you get out to the smaller communities farther to the west, it's just crucial to them to know what's going on. So I know how important it is, but I can't promise you there's not going to be reductions - there are."

As far as capital project money for Stevens' District P, there is $15.5-million in it, but all of it is federal pass-through money. The one item that used state funds - a million dollars for EVOS Trust habitat acquisition on Afognak Island - was zeroed out. That leaves $10-million for runway, taxiway and apron rehabilitation at the Yakutat airport, and $5.5-million for fixing erosion problems on the Chiniak Highway.

The Legislature is scheduled to wrap up its 90-day session on Sunday. 
 
Apr 10 2015
Some Reservations May Be Cancelled as Ferries Face Cuts PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 10 April 2015
Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska
Thousands of people have booked ferry sailings that will likely be cut due to budget reductions. But for now, the ferry system isn’t letting them know. 

Alaska Marine Highway Chief Mike Neussl says more than 9,300 people are booked for sailings that probably won’t happen.

About 2,500 vehicles are also scheduled for those sailings. 

He says about 30 percent of those affected are Alaskans and the rest are from out of state.

But ticket-holders have not yet been notified.

“I am reluctant to pull the trigger (and) cancel those runs that we’ve already sold tickets on and re-book all those passengers because of the possibility that some of that service may be restored if funding is restored,” he says.

Neussl explained the situation to the state’s Marine Transportation Advisory Board during a meeting Wednesday in Juneau.

He said travelers will be contacted and, if possible, rescheduled as soon as it’s clear how deep the cuts will be. He acknowledged some will be angry.

Board member Maxine Thompson of Angoon says that could impact future business.

“The wide-range fallout is not good for Alaska. They may start saying, ‘Don’t come to Alaska. You won’t be able to go from here to there because their transportation system is so iffy,’ ” she says.

Neussl says he’s been ready to notify travelers several times, but didn’t because lawmakers suggested they might add more money.

Now, he’s less than optimistic.

“If the funding doesn’t happen, we have a plan in place to essentially lock the reservation system to prevent a massive amount of chaos and probably crashing the system with everybody trying to re-book on their own,” he says.

“And we’ll do an organized process of the reservation staff contacting every one of these itinerary holders, in the order that they made their reservations, to rebook them – or attempt to re-book them on a different vessel (with a) different time,” he says.

He says the latest proposed budget cut, from the Senate, would remove about $11 million in marine highway funding.

Add lost revenue from canceled sailings and other factors and the deficit could double. The total reduction is close to 10 percent of what the governor proposed for ferry spending next year.

State Transportation Commissioner Marc Luiken says he’s given ferry officials instructions on how to rework the schedule.  

“As we look at the impacts of the budget, as they make decisions on what runs to cut, those type of things … the place where I want to see the least amount of impact is on Alaskans,” he says.

The House and Senate operating budgets list different reductions for the marine highway system. The difference will be worked out in a conference committee of leaders from both chambers. 
 
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