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Jan 26 2016
City of Kodiak Gets Bus Service PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kodiak will soon have its own bus service. The Kodiak Area Transit System previously served nonprofits and patrons with special needs but, starting February 1, anyone can schedule a ride or join the service in its regular route.

Project Specialist Jonathan Strong says, when Senior Citizens of Kodiak first started researching the project, they decided to do a survey to determine areas of need.

“Transportation to shopping, to medical appointments and to work were some of the big three needs, because we don’t necessarily have a grocery store downtown anymore. And low income families, seniors on fixed incomes - it’s difficult to get to Wal-Mart and Safeway when you live downtown - people who need transportation to the Coast Guard base.”

Strong says they’ll also expand the service to Sunday to accommodate church-goers.

He explains transport costs $2 each way whether or not patrons join a scheduled route or call ahead of time.

“Our riders call the day before, before 5:30 to schedule a ride for the next day, and then what we do is we pick them up. It’s door to door service, and then we also have some scheduled time points throughout the day, Monday through Friday, where riders do not have to call ahead, and they can pick up the bus at any of those time points and go to another scheduled time point.”

Senior Citizens of Kodiak Executive Director, Pat Branson, explains they have a number of partners on the program. They’re working with First Student, a school bus transportation service which will serve as a dispatcher, and they’ve received funding from the Department of Transportation, the Kodiak Island Borough, and the City of Kodiak.    

Branson says the dial-a-ride service is an important expansion for Kodiak and invaluable to those who can’t get around by any other means.

“It’s an economic link to this community and to people who need to continue to live here. We want them to continue to live here. We don’t want people leaving, and this is a service that they need in order to continue. Whether they’re working, college, going to the base to work - it’s an economic link - a business in town that they’re working at.”

Branson says it’s a quality of life issue and KATS is an avenue for residents to remain in Kodiak.
“I am very proud that we’re able to continue this, and we’ve struggled with operations for a number of years, but we know the importance – again, reading the surveys from people, brings tears to my eyes to read these surveys and how important it is – and a community of this size, I believe, international port, needs to have some kind of transportation service.”

The service runs Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and then 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. You can learn more about the system and how it works by attending Business After Hours at the senior center on March 8.
Jan 25 2016
Cable TV Shuffle Makes Mad Men Break Bad Missing the Walking Dead PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 25 January 2016
Jay Barrett/KMXT
If you're a GCI cable TV subscriber, you may have noticed that the channel that brought you such popular shows as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and currently The Walking Dead, is missing from your menu lately. That's not an accident. Nationwide, about 4-million subscribers of mostly small cable providers are without AMC.

According to GCI's Kodiak manager John Burnett, it comes down to cost.

“American Movie Classics along with three other subsidiaries that they own and operate, started out about a 500 percent rate increase. We worked with them for nine months to try to get it to something we that we could live with,” he said. “I think it got down to a two- or three-hundred percent rate increase. But in today's environment, you really can't pass that along to the customer. I mean we're talking a substantial amount of money.”

According to a Wall Street Journal article, AMC is seeking a new contract with many of the cable companies that carry it, and seeking higher fees AND more security as Americans increasingly turn to the internet for entertainment programming. 

DISH Network has also dropped AMC, and as Burnett says, many other small cable companies have followed suit.

“Much as we do with all of our other rate increase which we get on every channel e very year, we have just continued to absorb those costs. And it just got to the point where a rate increase of that size was just prohibitive” he said. “So us, along with several hundred other cable operators across the United States made the very difficult decision to drop that channel and a few that those are associated with.”

But, as many cable-cutters have learned, there are ways to view many of your favorite shows without cable television, and GCI will even make it easier for you.

“To soften the blow somewhat, we are offering a $50 gift card which covers two years of obtaining that programming online. So it is a way to watch it. It does cover the cost of it,” Burnett said. “We'll just see what the future brings.”

You can call GCI customer service for the gift card. Do it soon, as new episodes of The Walking Dead return on Valentines day.
Jan 25 2016
The LegHead Report Enters Tenth Season PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 25 January 2016
maggie_wall.jpgMaggie Wall. Courtesy of Maggie Wall

The legislative session started last week and will continue for 90 days – optimistically. The process can be a long, confusing one, but it’s never dull according to one professional leghead, Maggie Wall.

She’s the creator and executive producer of the LegHead Report, an independent show that airs daily on KMXT and covers the legislative session and its issues. The LegHead Report recently entered its tenth season and, in observance of the event, KMXT invited Wall to talk about her show and this year’s legislative session.

1.63 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

Wall might be a professional at covering the legislature now, but she began in Alaska as a member of the Coast Guard. She says she grew up in Indiana and that, as a kid, she longed to be in the Coast Guard. But during the majority of her childhood in the 60s and early 70s, Wall says they still hadn’t opened their doors to women in the same way they had to men.

“And I remember a very shy, quiet person that I was, I said well I’m gonna make them let me in. I’m just gonna make it happen. And I don’t know where that came from, but it did, and so when I got to be 18, they were allowing women in the Coast Guard, and so I joined the Coast Guard. My mother cried and cried, and they would not take me to the airport. And I think looking back it was because my brother was in Vietnam, my other brother got drafted, and she always felt only one in the family was enough in the military.”

Wall became a radio officer, who responds to emergency calls from vessels, and ended up as one of the few women working in the Coast Guard. Between her time with the Coast Guard and now, she’s pursued several degrees, became a freelance writer, started her own fisheries newspaper, and worked as a press secretary for the senate majority.

The LegHead Report isn’t her job. It’s a passion project. And one of the first steps in forming that project was naming it, and she says she struggled to choose the right name.

“Something that people could relate to as a fun sort of a thing, because I think  - truly believe – that if people can get into it in an easy way, they’ll better understand it and can be more involved in the process, or at least be more aware of how things work and how it relates to them.”

Wall says she strives to help people learn without them realizing they’re learning, and she applies that to everything from concepts to terminology. For instance, she likes to focus on what she calls “legwords,” and what they mean.

“And this is why it means that, or here’s how they might use it, here’s how you might see it used. And those are the kinds of things that I totally love and those are the kinds of things people love as well. There’s just so much out there, I kind of pick and choose, and if I have to choose, I will choose not news, not statistics, not numbers, but how can I help somebody understand something?”

She’s not only enthusiastic about the show, but about the small world of politics in Alaska.

“This is my home and I’m able to make a change. I’m able to be a part of that. And that’s exciting as an Alaskan to think that any of us, all of us, can have an active part in making changes. And having worked for the legislature, I have literally seen it, time and time again, and covering it time and time again, where somebody will go to a meeting and say ‘I don’t like the words, because I have more background on this, because legislators can’t know everything.’”

And they make a recommendation based on what they know and see their mark enter the process. It’s a unique intimacy, and it’s a luxury that influences local government as well as the legislature.

As for this year’s legislative session, Wall says it’s hard to predict how it will go, and adds that many legislators are hesitant to make decisions because it’s an election year.

She says if the legislature had made a sustainable fiscal plan ten years ago, Alaska wouldn’t be in the position it is now.

“Think of your home budget, you know. You know you’ve got, say, a temporary job, well you don’t live high on the hog based on your temporary income ‘cause you know that’s gonna come to an end. Maybe you squirrel some away, you make decisions knowing that income is gonna go down, and while they have done that to some extent, it just hasn’t been done, and so we’re being hit with it.”

While the legislative session is slated to continue for 90 days, it is subject to extensions. This may just be one of those longer sessions. So, if you need your daily dose of the LegHead Report, you can tune into KMXT after the midday report, or visit Leg Head.com for current and past episodes.
Jan 22 2016
KIB Assembly Considers Extension to Contract with Fisheries Analyst and Consultant PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 22 January 2016
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The contract for the Kodiak Island Borough and City of Kodiak’s fisheries analyst and consultant was on the table at the Kodiak Island Borough assembly’s regular meeting last night, but not all assembly members could agree on whether to extend the contract or not. Part of the fisheries analyst’s job is to represent Kodiak’s interests at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings and to interpret what happens within the industry’s governing bodies, especially with regard to fisheries policy.

The current contract with Heather McCarty of McCarty and Associates expires on February 6 and Assemblyman Mel Stephens spoke against the one year extension.

“I’m not suggesting that Heather McCarty is not knowledgeable of fisheries regulations. I am suggesting that I have not seen any concrete benefits of this contract. I have not seen a quarterly report. I have not seen a genuine analysis, and therefore I will vote against extending it.”

Assemblyman Larry LeDoux made a motion for postponement so that the assembly could discuss the issue with the city and give the two absent assembly members – Kyle Crow and Frank Peterson – an opportunity to vote.

Stephens said he was not in favor of postponement due to absences, because it could lead to varying results depending on who is absent and who supports the motion. The motion to postpone failed.

The vote on the main motion was three yes and two no, but since it did not receive the four votes needed to pass, the contract extension failed. Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner joined Stephens in dissenting. After the votes were tallied, Assemblyman Dan Rohrer, who had voted yes, changed his vote to no, to be on the prevailing side, with intent to ask for a reconsideration vote.

Assembly members took the opportunity during their comments at the end of the regular meeting to explain their thoughts. LeDoux said he sees the importance of the fisheries analyst.

“I certainly appreciate all the calls I’ve been getting in support of that. As I said earlier, it’s a very critical time in our community, and the decisions made by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council could devastate our fisheries, and we need to be at the table and informed and ready to respond with regard to the effects of their decision on our community.”

Skinner pointed out that in order to have a voice at the council, the borough has to know what it’s going to say and direct its fisheries analyst to express that.
“I have never heard the borough undertake the discussion of its comfort level in being involved in fisheries policy, what that involvement should be. Should we be engaging in more of an informational level, should we be advocating? And I think those questions do need to be resolved before we engage or extend a contract.”

She said if they don’t know what their involvement is, they don’t know what kind of person they need to help them accomplish their goal. Rohrer made a similar statement. He said over the last 14 or so months, the assembly has had a number of discussions about the effectiveness of the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group and the Kodiak Fisheries Advisory Committee. He said that he’d like the assembly to go into more depth on that before they move ahead on the fisheries consultant contract.

“After the borough has made a decision about what we believe the borough’s role in fisheries policy should be, then we do need to have a discussion with the city, if in fact we desire to continue to work together with them. I believe that just going ahead and deciding to cancel the contract for example - or not cancel, just not continue it - that effectively, what that says to the city is we’re no longer interested in working together with you.”

He said he’s not sure how he’ll vote, but he’ll have the next two weeks to make an informed decision. The assembly’s next work session is scheduled for January 28.
Jan 22 2016
Governor Walker Addresses State Fiscal Crisis PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 22 January 2016

19.63 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup



Alaska Governor Bill Walker's 2016 State of the State Address and party response, delivered Jan. 21, 2016. 

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