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Jan 08 2016
Russian Orthodox Church Celebrates Christmas with Starring PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 January 2016
amarafognakstarring.jpgA family at a starring gathering in Afognak village in 1960. Photo courtesy of the Knagin family
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Today is Christmas for the Russian Orthodox Church, and part of that celebration includes carolers who journey from door to door carrying a brightly colored, spinning star. The star, which represents the Star of Bethlehem, is one of the Christian symbols that mix in with Alutiiq traditions, including feasting and singing songs.

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Alutiiq Museum Executive Director April Laktonen Counceller says that song is called “Many Years,” a phrase which often serves the same purpose as merry christmas.

“And it’s sort of a greeting and a blessing and a well-wish that is common in the Alutiiq community. You’ll say amlertut kiaget, which means many years, and it is a phrase that is in a lot of the Russian Orthodox liturgical Christmas music, because you’re wishing the other person to have many years of life.”

She says the starring ceremony has become a tradition at the Alutiiq Museum.

“Just because so many of us, even if we’re not a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, we just feel the power of that tradition and how special it is for the families, and my family traditionally was Russian Orthodox. My great-grandfather was a church reader in Karluk and I can imagine my family members generations going back practicing this tradition.”

Counceller and curator of collections, Marnie Leist, explain that one person spins the star during the ceremony.

“And it’s usually done by men only,” says Leist.  “A lot of children end up spinning the star.”

“Yeah, nowadays, the tradition is changing a little bit,” says  Counceller. “Traditionally it was that women were never supposed to touch the star, but nowadays I’ve seen even teenage girls that have spun it. In some of the villages. And it’s not practiced everywhere on Kodiak now. I know it sometimes happens out in Old Harbor.”

“And Ahkiok actually,” Leist added.

Members of Kodiak’s Holy Resurrection Russian Orthodox Church will bring their voices and the holiday star to the Alutiiq Museum tonight. If you’d like to hear songs in Slavonic, Alutiiq, and Yu’pik, be there at 7 p.m.

Note 01/08/16: Nadia Mullan and Julie Knagin sung "Amlertut Kiaget" in the audio. Both have since passed away.
Jan 08 2016
UA, KIB Assembly, Kodiak City Council, and Public Meet About Fisheries Research Facility PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 January 2016
johnsen_and_white.jpgJohnsen far right and White second from right. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT    

Uncertainty about the future of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center and concern from the public prompted UA President Jim Johnsen to put together a task-force with members drawn from the academic community. The committee will advise administration on what direction to go with the facility. Johnsen and task-force leader, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Research Dan White, stopped by Kodiak this week to hear what local representatives have to say.

Last night, they spoke at a joint work session between the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and Kodiak City Council on the issue. Johnsen said the University of Alaska depends on the state for 45% of its revenue and, taking into consideration the state’s budget issues, all university programs are on the table alongside the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center.

“The charge that I’ve given the universities and I’ve asked Dan in this particular case is, what are the opportunities there? What uniquely powerful, what uniquely distinct, what niche can that facility fill for the community, for the region, and, indeed, for the state?”

Kodiak Island Borough Assemblyman Dennis Symmons asked if it was possible to reach out to global contributors for funding. In his response, White spoke about mining companies and how they have supported facilities in the past.

“International companies have gotten together and said, you know what, we’re in the mining business, but we need value-added products, and so we’re gonna get together. I’m not gonna pay for it, you’re not – but together we can make a difference. And so they’ve gotten together to support these kinds of enterprises. So, anyway, there are some models like that available which would include international interest companies based in Seattle or based in Alaska.”
Paul Lumsden from Trident Seafoods spoke about the real-world ways that the center affects life in Kodiak. He said on his way to the joint work session, he dropped by Subway and bought a Seafood Sensation.

“Not only has Trident Seafoods produced all of Subway’s surimi, a good percentage of that is produced here in Kodiak, and sort of a light bulb went off, and the development of shore-based surimi – a lot of that is done in Kodiak and a lot of that support and infrastructure that helped develop that product that I just ate was from this facility that we’re talking about.”

Lumsden is also one of the members of a local ad-hoc group focused on the future of the Center. The joint work session served as a community platform for everyone to share their thoughts and concerns about the facility. Mayor Pat Branson closed the meeting with a statement.

“I think this community can do wonderful things. We’ve done that in the past, we can certainly do it again given the opportunity. I think the important point is to communicate with us and let us know where you are in your decision-making process so that we’re in the loop and can ask more questions and maybe give more feedback.”

By the end of their visit today, White and Johnsen will have spoken with the KSMSC Policy Council, the local task-force, and members of Kodiak College. And while the Kodiak ad-hoc group has requested an extension to the deadline for the decision, White and his committee are so far slated to make their recommendation to the chancellors of the University of Alaska Anchorage and the University of Alaska Fairbanks by March 1.                      
Jan 07 2016
Fisheries Research Facility's Future on Agenda at Joint KIB Assembly and Kodiak City Council Meeting PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 January 2016
Kayla Desroches/KMXT    

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and Kodiak City Council will hold a joint work session tonight to discuss the future of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center. While the documents in the agenda packet all express the community's desire to keep the Center open, including a resolution “urging the University of Alaska to reconsider the decision,” President Johnsen told KMXT the university is not considering closing the facility.

Instead, he said one of the options is to transfer ownership of the building to  Kodiak College, which is part of the University of Alaska Anchorage. He put together a task-force of academic community members to address the Center’s future, and committee leader, Dan White, echoed Johnsen’s sentiments. He said it’s premature to discuss closure.  

Following the joint session at 6:30 pm in the Kodiak Public library multipurpose room, the borough assembly will cross the street for its regular meeting in the Borough Assembly Chambers. Along with the transfer of liquor licenses, a change in meeting times is on the agenda. The ordinance would shift the start time of meetings from 7:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the end time from 11:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. It would also change the agenda order by moving citizens’ comments to before awards and presentations, which would allow community members to first speak to the assembly and then to decide whether to sit through the presentations.

Another ordinance on the agenda, this time under unfinished business, is an update to borough code regarding recreational vehicles. The proposed changes would include relaxing the definition of what applies as an RV and an RV park, extending how long an RV can be used as a residence, and allowing RV parks to establish camping areas.

If you’d like to attend the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly’s regular meeting, it will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Jan 07 2016
Galley Tables Co-Founder Looks Back at Project's Beginnings PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 January 2016
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Once every month, intrepid members of the Kodiak community step onto a stage and tell a story. The project, called Galley Tables, challenges storytellers to shape their tales around a theme, and that often leads to unexpected results. One of the founders, Brianna Gibbs, says not only are the stories surprising, but the storytellers often surprise themselves too.

“We’ve had people walk up on stage absolutely terrified, shaking, and they rock it. They just leave people standing, applauding, and it’s awesome to see them get that confidence and then also to have them be able to share such a personal story with their community.”

Gibbs says the inspiration for Galley Tables came to her and a couple of friends when they were in Juneau during the legislative session a few years ago.

“Juneau already has a very well-established storytelling program called Mud Rooms, so they took me to one of those events, and I think it was pretty unanimous, the three of us said this needs to come to Kodiak. It was wonderful. It was everything we wanted out of a community event, and so we came back to Kodiak when they were done with the legislative session and sort of conspired amongst ourselves and drew in a couple of other people from the community.”

She says she and the other organizers held Kodiak’s first Galley Tables in 2012.

“We were pretty certain that our family and friends would show up, if nothing else to support us and maybe the family and friends of the storytellers, but we filled the drama pod and have ever since, so it’s pretty exceptional to see people turn out and like this and to have continuous people sign up to be storytellers.”

Gibbs says while they sometimes have open storytelling spots until right before the event, it’s rare that they have an open spot in the audience. In fact, Gibbs says they’ve had to turn people away at the door at almost all the shows last year because of fire code and occupancy limits.

“Which is bittersweet in the sense that we don’t want people to turn away. We want you to see the show, we want you to be able to, but at the same time, it’s sweet that we have so many people that want to be there, and want to see it. Kind of the joke is that we’re the only event in Kodiak that starts on time, because we’re full on time.”

She says that’s why they’re looking around town for a new space that will fit more people. The theme for this coming Galley Tables will be Man’s Best Friend. If you’d like to attend the event on Friday, it’ll be in the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium Drama Pod. Gibbs says the show begins at 7:30 p.m. and the doors open a 7, but it’d be a good idea to show early in order to make sure you get a seat.                              
Jan 07 2016
Winter Classic Starts Tonight PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 January 2016
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The 49th Annual Joe Floyd Winter Classic Basketball Tournament kicks off this evening at the Kodiak High School gym. Visiting teams this year come from Anchorage Christian School, North Pole, Service, and Eagle River.

While play begins today, the Kodiak Bears won't see action until tomorrow (Friday). Games tonight have the Anchorage Christian Lions facing the North Pole Patriots – girls kick off the tourney at 6:30, boys play at 8:30.

On Friday, the Kodiak girls bookend the day, opening play against North Pole at 9 a.m. and wrapping up the night at 7:30 against the Service Cougars. The Kodiak boys play the Lions at 5:30. Earlier in the day, the ACS and Service girls play at 11 and the Eagle River Wolves play the North Pole boys at 3:30 p.m.

There are five more games and a three-point contest in the jam-packed Saturday schedule. It opens with the Kodiak boys taking on Eagle River at 9 a.m. North Pole and Service Girls are at 11; ACS and Eagle River boys are at 2 p.m.; the Kodiak girls face the ACS girls at 4 p.m. and the Kodiak boys wrap up the round-robin tournament at 6 p.m. facing the Patriots.
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