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Jun 15 2015
Council Vows Action on Agressive Downtown Vagrants PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 June 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
Vagrancy in downtown Kodiak continues to be a concern to many, with two more residents speaking up at Thursday night's city council meeting. Both singled out the same spot in town as ground zero for the problem – the area around the Gazebo at the Spit. 
“A trip down to the gazebo or to St. Paul Harbor will show you how pervasive problem this is. Not only are there more and more inebriates, but they are becoming more and more aggressive,” said Jack Mann. “My wife and I go by the gazebo almost every day in our skiff, and the other day there was a couple having sex right at the edge of the gazebo. And it was my friends the inebriates.”
Alexus Kwachka suggested that the community might examine how it could be enabling the inebriates and the vagrants.
“You know I think we need to dive into the Brother Francis Shelter. We need to look at what the role is and how many people we're supporting and how many people are coming back,” Kwachka said. “I think helping people is fine, but what we're doing is sustaining people, and that is outrageous. I mean to the point of wanting bulldoze our downtown park? You know? It's crazy.”
Mann agreed, and read from a newspaper article supporting the enabling argument:
“This is from the Alaska Daily News: 'Alaska is one of the few states where being drunk in public is not a crime. Police contend with donated tents and food, soup kitchens and sleep off centers for cold nights, and weak laws governing public drinking. Being a homeless alcoholic can be a viable lifestyle,' and that's what we're getting to here,” Mann said. “We're creating a viable lifestyle, I feel.”
Mayor Pat Branson responded that the city is seeking solutions.
“Just to point out that the city is not a social service agency. But we have been collaborating and meeting with the homeless coalition the human service coalition and the council was discussing this issue as well Tuesday night. So it's a multi-layered problem, and there's no silver bullet for solving inebriation, especially publicly. But we're also looking at loitering laws. There are other communities that have the same problem. And if we look at what they're doing: more presence downtown; the gazebo is just an invitation for people to hang out there during the day.”
Though the mayor and other councilmen asked the public for suggestions on battling the vagrancy issue, Councilman Rich Walker was a little more direct.
“We're going to take our town back. We're going to do whatever we can, and what we have to do, to take our town back. And I would guarantee that.”
Councilman Charlie Davidson agreed that the city should, and will take action, but he cautioned that citizens should be prepared, because he said a final solution will not be cheap. 
Jun 15 2015
#BabySalmonLiveHere: Snap a Salmon Pic PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 June 2015
baby_salmon_instragram_pic.jpgInstragram photo by Erin Harrington / erinfish with caption: "I know i should expect it by now but still excited every time I discover that #babysalmonlivehere. This time in the creek running alongside the highway in #Seward."

Kayla Desroches/KMXT
You might have noticed the minnows swimming in the rivers around Kodiak, especially as the weather warms up. One project hopes that you’ll not only notice them, but snap a picture and put it online. 

Kodiak local, Erin Harrington, is the executive director of the Salmon Project and an organizer behind the state-wide Baby Salmon Live Here campaign. She says the campaign’s goal is to help Alaskans find moments of discovery around small salmon.

“Every Alaskan kid for example can tell you where they see minnows in their neighborhoods, where they’re playing, where they’re exploring with their families, where they’re camping on the weekends,” says Harrington. “But we aren’t always making the connections between what we often call minnows and juvenile salmon, but those places where we see these little itty-bitty fish are in fact part of the larger salmon-scape in Alaska.”

She says the nonprofit launched the campaign last week under the hashtag #BabySalmonLiveHere, and she encourages Alaskans to include that tag in Instagram photos of their minnow finds.

“And in doing that they will be populating a map that we have built and that lives on our website that is, as people add to it, going to become a heat map of the presence of salmon in the Alaska landscape,” says Harrington. “But also the presence of Alaskans in the Alaska landscape and where we’re living our lives and recreating and exploring in the summertime here in this state.”

Harrington says the Baby Salmon Live Here campaign connects to a larger picture.

“The sustainable future of salmon in Alaska is really about a sustainable future of Alaskans,” says Harrington. “It’s about us being able to live the lives that we do knowing that we can support our families, knowing that we can have landscapes that can care for us and resources that can care for us as well as us caring for them.”

Harrington says the Salmon Project will release a series of challenges in the next few weeks to engage people in the campaign. 

Josh Bell is a teacher at the Kodiak Baptist Mission Sonshine Preschool and says he’ll integrate the challenges into class time activities.

“What I’m really hoping will happen is I can send this home and that the kids will get excited about these challenges and take them home to their parents so that we continue to spread the awareness and that they can interact with their family and we’ll get more and more people involved throughout the community,” says Bell.

Harrington says the Salmon Project will start releasing the challenges next week. Check out the website to find out more.

Jun 15 2015
Busy Weekend for Kodiak-Based USCG PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 15 June 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT

Saturday morning crewmen from the Cutter Munro assisted the 33-foot fishing vessel Sea Venture, which was disabled with two men on board in Chrome Bay, near the mouth of Cook Inlet. The Sea Venture couldn't be fixed and the water was too shallow for the Munro to establish a tow, so Coast Guard auxiliary crews from Homer and Anchorage respnded to tow the boat to Homer.

On Sunday, an Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew forward-deployed to Cordova medevaced a 63-year-old woman from the cruise ship Norwegian Sun near Yakutat.

The aircrew hoisted the woman, who was suffering from severe absominal pain, and safely transported her to Cordova Community Medical Center.

Weather on scene both days was reported as light and variable winds and calm seas. 
Jun 12 2015
Borough Assembly Discusses Jackson Park PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 12 June 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Jackson Mobile Home Park was the main topic of conversation at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly work session last night. While the Assembly also reviewed its packet for its regular meeting, it dedicated a chunk of time to possible solutions and next steps regarding Jackson Park. Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission was present to share their thoughts.   

Community Development director, Bob Pederson, introduced the borough staff’s research, which includes exploring relocation options and spreading the word to other park owners. For example, Pederson says they’ve talked with the owner of Rasmussen's Mobile Home Park about making room on his property.

“There is roughly about seven spaces in that smaller piece that may be possible and roughly about 22 in the track U is the sketch and so he’s been evaluating that, he may file an application for the conditional use permit to do that. So that may be another piece – all these are pieces of the puzzle,” says Pederson.

Pederson also discussed an alternative to finding a renting arrangement before the Jackson Park closure.

“Another possibility that was identified about a week or two ago was what about somewhere to maybe store these mobile homes if they have to vacate from Jackson’s by the deadline and potentially a place to put them if they haven’t made another arrangement yet,” says Pederson.

Pederson brought up a few outdoor storage spaces that mobile home owners could arrange for their trailers. The assembly also discussed ways to make the transition out of Jackson Park easier, and several assembly members agreed they should waive the fee for residents to move their homes. Assemblyman Frank Peterson said they should find out that cost.

“I’d like to see staff working with those residents in order to come up with a hard number and almost a guarantee from the assembly that we’re gonna do our best to reduce those fees on our end or eliminate them altogether so that it’s not gonna cost as much money,” says Peterson.

P&Z Commission member, Kathy Drabek, voiced her support on that point.

“We’re Planning and Zoning and we need to do an enormous amount of focus on the planning,” says Drabek. “But we do have an emergency situation right now, so I’m very glad to hear that waivers of fees are being looked at.”

If you’d like to share your thoughts or ideas, you can find assemblymembers’ contact information on the borough website. The Borough Assembly’s next regular session will be on Thursday, June 18.
Jun 12 2015
Workshop Teaches Kids about Film and Climate Change PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 12 June 2015
elbren_see_stories.jpgStudents interview subject for climate change documentaries. Suyet in chair, Montuya in blue. Photo by Marie Acemah

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A film workshop is teaching middle school and high school students about the environment and film-making at the same time, and they’re about to present their work. The kids write, narrate, and film their own documentaries on their topics of choice.

The film intensive began on June 1 in partnership with the Baranov Museum and the Kodiak Historical Society, and is free for the students thanks to its sponsors and supporters, which include the Kodiak Island Borough School District and AKTEACH.

Kodiak High School freshman, Jessica Suyet, is one of the students and describes the project as both engaging and educational.

“We’re working on iMovies that are based on climate change and we’re working on films that educate others and can entertain others about our topics. Which we all have individual topics,” says Suyet. “Mine would be ocean acidification, which includes animals, economy, and our ecosystems.”

Suyet and freshman Elbren Montuya say the editing process is a lot of work.

“It usually takes hours, like maybe six hours or more, just to get at least one minute or at least two minutes and if you wanted like a ten minute film, you’d have to work for about three weeks on it. So, it takes a lot of time to edit,” says Suyet.

“This is a really intense intensive,” Montuya adds.

Montuya says his topic connects to Suyet’s and ties into renewable energy.                

“When you talk about renewable energy, you talk about the atmosphere and the ocean and a little bit about how it relates to ocean acidification and how it impacts it greatly ‘cause ocean acidification is a big thing, especially for Alaska, and it affects marine animals and I feel like renewable energy could change that,” says Montuya.

Their instructor, Marie Acemah, says this is the fourth year of the project.

“We looked last year at the Exon Valdez oil spill and before that [the] 1964 earthquake and tsunami, and the first year we studied Filipino community stories. So, every year is different,” says Acemah. “And it’s also almost like an internship because all of that footage goes to the Baranov Museum in their archives for researchers to use.”

The class ends today and the students will screen their films at 7 p.m. Saturday at the public library. The event is open to the public.
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