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Jun 03 2015
Salmon Fishing Period Opens PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2015
Sockeye Salmon swimming in river. Viasockeye_salmon_flickr.jpg Watershed_Watch/Flickr

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Commercial Fisheries issued a news release Monday announcing that it will open the salmon fishing period today at noon. Assistant Area Management Biologist, Todd Anderson, says the start of the season is largely dictated by the sockeye salmon escapements throughout the island.

“This year’s forecast for many of the systems are at or a little bit about average, so it looks like it’ll [be], at least forecast-wise, a decent outlook to the season for Sockeye,” says Anderson. “We’ve had our first set of escapement data from Karluk and Ayakulik weirs and both of those weirs are a little bit ahead. They’re doing well right now, which has largely dictated this initial opener for the area.”

Anderson says, as determined by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, King Salmon over 28 inches must be returned to the water by purse seine gear until further notice.

“Generally state-wide, the King Salmon returns have been depressed and it was within the board’s mandate and their own action to implement a non-retention fishery on King Salmon stocks that are likely not bound for Kodiak Island themselves, especially this early in the season,” says Anderson.

For more salmon fishery information, you can call the Department’s 24-hour record-a-phone at 486-4559 or go to the Fish and Game website.
Jun 03 2015
Matson Completes Horizon Lines Purchase PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2015
Emily Schwing/KUCB
The finalization of a deal to acquire Horizon Lines’ Alaska operations means the nation’s largest Jones Act shipping company no longer exists. The Matson Navigation Company says isn’t planning any major changes to shipping service in the state.

For decades, Horizon Lines provided regular shipping service between Tacoma, Washington and Anchorage, Kodiak and Unalaska. 

“The three ships that service the domestic service do provide groceries, mail and primarily supplies from primarily Tacoma and anchorage into the port of Dutch Harbor.” 00:12

That’s Peggy McLaughlin. She’s the Port Director for the city of Unalaska.

“They also relay cargo in from Kodiak to make connection to the international line haul ships,” McLaughlin said.

But Horizon Lines no longer exists. In December, the company ended its operations in Puerto Rico. Its Hawaii services were sold to the Pasha Group and last Friday, Matson Navigation Company finalized the acquisition of Horizon’s Alaskan operations for $469 million dollars. 

Matson Spokesman Jeff Hull declined to have his comments recorded, but in a phone interview he said any major changes following the acquisition are likely to be in name only.

“The acquisition was a matter of growth,” says Hull. 

He says Matson will retain the same union contracts, operate the same shipping schedule and continue to run the same three vessels in Alaska. Hull says there will be some minor restructuring to duplicate corporate positions in Washington State, but no personnel changes will be made on the ground in Alaska.

Peggy McLaughlin doesn’t anticipate any major changes in Dutch Harbor either.

“Unless there’s some reason for Matson to come out and sit down with us and discuss operational changes, we’re just going to assume that its’ business as usual,” she said.

Horizon Lines used Unalaska’s municipal dock for more than two decades. A special contract with the city lapsed at the end of 2013. Horizon then paid tariffs to move cargo through the port. Both McLaughlin and Hull anticipate that agreement to continue.
Jun 02 2015
Thomet and Pillans Lead Bears to State Title PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 June 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The Kodiak High School boys track and field team brought home the state team title after crushing the rest of the state at Dimond High in Anchorage. Scoring 83 points the Bears were 20 solid points ahead of Lathrop in second, followed by Kenai, Bartlett and the host Lynx rounding out the top five.

Kodiak was led by three individual titles - and two new state records - by senior runner Levi Thomet, a pair of firsts by Kordell Pillans in the shot put and discuss, along with a relay win in the 3,200.

On Friday Thomet ran the 3,200 meters in 9-minutes 9.41-seconds, about a second and a half faster than any Alaskan ever has in a state championship meet. On Saturday, he did it again the 1,600-meters, with a record time of 4-minutes 12.17 seconds. A little bit later in the day, in his third distance race, Thomet won the 800-meters in a tight race in 1-minute 57.3-seconds.

Kodiak's hurler, Kordell Pillans, absolutely dominated his two events as well. He flung the discus 156-feet 5-inches, winning gold by nearly 10 feet. In the shot put, he hurled the heavy steel ball 51-feet 1.25-inches.

A pair of Kodiak girls made state this year. Richelle Walker was second in the shot put with a toss of 33-feet 8.75-inches and fifth in the discus with a throw of 107-feet 4-inches.  Zoe Bigley was seventh in the 3,200-meeters.

We have full results after the jump.
Jun 02 2015
The Alutiiq Museum Welcomes New Executive Director PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 June 2015
aprilcartoon.jpgDigital drawing of April Laktonen Counceller via Kodiak College.

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alutiiq Museum recently hired a new executive director.

2.68 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

April Laktonen Counceller was an instructor of Alutiiq Language and Alaska Native Studies at Kodiak College before accepting the position. She says she’s been involved at the museum in different capacities for around twelve years, including as an employee and as a member of the board, and wanted to join the staff again.

“When I recently found out that the museum director position was coming open, I felt this strong pull," says Laktonen Counceller. "Even though I love working at the college and I’m maintaining a role there, I felt like I really needed to apply for this job and see if I could take the museum to the next twenty years.”
Laktonen Counceller is originally from Larsen Bay and has been influential in the learning of Alutiiq language in Kodiak. Margaret Roberts, the Alutiiq Heritage Foundation Chair, says she’s known Laktonen Councellor since she was a young girl.
“She’s been with us for a very long time, reawaking our language, documenting our culture," says Roberts. "The museum has helped to grow the knowledge of Alutiiq traditions and it has helped to grow a new generation of cultural leaders, and among them is Dr. April Laktonen Counsellor."

She takes over from Alisha Drabek and says her schedule has been packed during the transition.

“With the museum’s anniversary happening and graduation at the college and my predecessor having her start date at the Afognak Native Corporation, where she was recruited to, this has just been such an intense month so far."

She says nonprofit organizations, Native corporations and educational institutions in Kodiak are interconnected. While working for one, she says she often interacts with another.

“My very first day at work, I didn’t even make it to the museum because we were running a summit, which was over at Kodiak College, so there’s a lot of overlap with the work because of the collaborations that we do in our community."
Laktonen Counceller says for museum projects in the near future, they’ll look at updating the permanent gallery.

“There are a couple of exhibit cases that have remained the same since back in the mid-2000s, and so we really want to get them updated," says Laktonen Counceller. "There’s new information about our history that comes out every time there’s an archaeological dig, so there’s new things we want to share with the community."

And she says the museum is already doing a great job with that.

“There’s not a whole lot that we need to add to what the museum already does," says Laktonen Counceller. "I just want to continue that excellent work and help facilitate my staff, because they’re so hard working and anything that I can do to make things easier for people is how I see my leadership role here at the museum.”

If you’d like me to meet Laktonen Counceller, you can drop by the Alutiiq Museum’s First Friday event at 7 p.m.
Jun 02 2015
Kodiak Coast Guardsmen Find Adventure on Mt. McKinley PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 June 2015
Kodiak Coast Guardsmen Jason McGrath and Jon Houlberg as they depart Talkeetna for an attempt at scaling Mt. McKinley. Facebook photo 
Jay Barrett/KMXT
Two Coast Guard rescue swimmers attempting to summit North America's tallest mountain were forced back just short of the top by weather in mid May. They did however, raise thousands of dollars for the Fallen Heroes Fund and honor the memory of a lost crew-mate.

Jason McGrath and Jon Houlberg got within 500 feet of Mount McKinley's 20,237-foot peak on May 16th, when they turned around.

Wind had kept climbers from all over the world pinned down at the various base camps on McKinley for weeks, with the blowing snow obscuring the most traveled routes and driving windchills well below zero.

The duo updated family, friends and supporters on Facebook with a satellite communicator called the “inReach.” Their last message before heading home was, “Did not summit. 500 feet from the top. Heading down. More to follow!”

Dubbed their "Climb to Remember," McGrath and Houlberg raised $7,401 for the "Fallen Heroes Fund" through the Coast Guard Foundation. We have a link to that charity below.

McGrath and Houlberg also released into the wind the ashes of Dave Skimmin, a fellow rescue swimmer once based in Kodiak, but who was killed in a training accident in Hawaii.

Also on the mountain the same time as McGrath and Houlberg was an Argentinian climber attempting a solo ascent of McKinley. Javier Callupan, age 39, was last seen leaving the 14,200-foot camp on May 6. Unfortunately, McGrath and Houlberg found his body along the trail as they were ascending to the 17,000-foot camp. McGrath and Houlberg notified park rangers of their discovery, but the body could not be immediately retrieved due to the conditions. 

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