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May 05 2015
Class Trains Fishermen to be Drill Conductors PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 May 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Fishermen who want to be prepared for rough waters, maydays, and emergencies may want to take a two-day course in Kodiak.

Today and Wednesday, the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association will offer free classes to train commercial fishermen as Drill Conductors. This would allow skippers, owners, or crewmembers to conduct the Coast-Guard-required monthly emergency and safety drills aboard their vessels.    

AMSEA Office and Promotions Manager, Jeff Pearson, says it’s vital for drill conductors to have the hands-on experience the course would provide.

“You practice getting into your emergence suit within 60 seconds, you practice launching a life-raft, this class is going to have an in-the-water practice session, where the things that you’ll want to know in an actual emergency, you’re gonna have at least an opportunity to try it and to familiarize yourself with what it is you’re supposed to do,” says Pearson.

Pearson says the classes will meet at the UAF Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center and, on Wednesday, go from 8 A.M. to noon. Those who attend the course will get a Drill Conductor Card that shows the person has completed the USCG training requirements.

Go to www.amsea.org to learn more.
May 05 2015
New Name for Mack's Sport Shop PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 May 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
You know that nice new sign put up this winter outside Mack's Sport Shop on Mill Bay Road? They're going to have to change that. Mack's, along with Anchorage's Army-Navy Surplus stores, are taking the name of the third store in the group owned by the same family: Big Ray's.
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"We bought Mack's from Tom and Cheryl Merriman in 2008, we took over. And it's just been very complicated to manage three web pages and three marketing plans. And our customers get confused when they travel between the stores, so a few months ago we started thinking about just combing down into one brand,” said co-owner Monte Rostad. “And it just a made a lot of sense for a lot of good reasons."

Other than a new sign and how the phone is answered, Rostad says nothing's changed.

"We're still the same family-owned, same staff, same great team. The only thing that's changing is the name is the name of two buildings and one in Kodiak. And then, like I said, it allows us to focus on building one brand, and we're excited about that."

"It took a little bit of adjustment to get used to. Several of us here, the majority of our adult lives have answered the phone, 'Mack's Sports Shop,'” said Kodiak store manager Jesse Glamann said. But we all understand it's a decision and a direction that we have to go to grow the company."

Rostad joked that there was some talk of naming all the stores Big Mack's, but he said that was already taken. In any case, changing the long-standing names of stores that have been around for decades was not a decision he and the other owners took lightly.

"It's a very difficult decision to give up the Army Navy name and the Mack's name,” Rostad said. “Very emotional, because those names represent a lot of history, a lot of hard work and a lot of community support where they're located. So it was tough. We went through a lot of heartache and a lot of thought and that sort of thing, but realized it's the best thing to do."

And if you're wondering just who Big Ray is, he was a 6-foot 7-inch basketball player for the Alaska College of Agriculture and School of Mines in Fairbanks in the mid 1930s. That school is better known today as the University of Alaska Fairbanks. When he moved to Anchorage, Milan Raykovich - Big Ray to his friends - became a partner in the Army Navy Surplus Store. Upon returning to Fairbanks, the owners' group named their stores there after Raykovich. He sold his share in the company in 1961 and moved to Washington State, and passed away in 1989. 
May 05 2015
A Walk Through Kodiak's Notorious Bars PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 05 May 2015


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notorious-bars-of-alaska.jpgVandergraft's book, "A Guide to the Notorious Bars of Alaska."

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

You might imagine the author of a book called “A Guide to the Notorious Bars of Alaska” would have some stories about Kodiak's public houses - and you'd be right. Former Alaska resident Doug Vandegraft will be sharing some of those stories on a walking tour tonight.

Vandegraft says Kodiak bars have some interesting history. One stand-out is the Mecca. He says its founder ran a beer hall in a mining town, but when that community ran out of copper in the late 30s, he moved to Kodiak.

“Roy Snyder decided he wanted to have the finest cocktail bar in Kodiak and he spared no expense,” says Vandegraft. “He had all these fancy furnishings moved up here. Made a real palace. The hard part was, though, a man could not go in there unless he had a woman on his arm.

“In 1940, 41, 42, when all the men were moving in here in support for military build-up, it was hard for all those men to find a woman to go into the Mecca, but again, also, a really, really nice bar for the longest time.”

Vandegraft is in Kodiak publicizing “A Guide to the Notorious Bars of Alaska” and is giving the walking tour tonight in partnership with the Baranov Museum. Though he lives outside Washington DC now, as a cartographer, he lived in Alaska for many years starting in 1983.

“Because of my job, I got sent around the state to a lot of different towns,” says Vandegraft. “It just seemed to be that there were a lot of bars that were not only unique, but had just a real staying power, that they were [the] same location, and the same name, the same building since prohibition ended in 1933. And you find a lot of those up here and not a lot of those in the lower 48 anymore.”

And because of that longevity, the marks patrons make on their bars tend to stick.

“They’ve scrawled their name into the table or they’ve taken a knife and there in the men’s bathroom, they’ve written their name and stuff like that. A lot of dollar bills on the ceiling or on the wall,” says Vandegraft. “You could say ‘Oh Doug, that happens in the lower 48 too.’ True, but that same graffiti and that same dollar bills aren’t there ten years from now, fifteen years from now, twenty years from now. They are in Alaska.”
You can hear more stories from the hallowed halls of Kodiak’s bars at Vandegraft’s “Notorious Bars of Kodiak” Walking Tour tonight. It will begin at 7 p.m. at the Baranov Museum. Attendees should expect to drink, maybe eat, and definitely learn.

May 04 2015
USCG Alex Haley Crew Visits Atka PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 May 2015


 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 PDF Print E-mail
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.
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