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Mar 13 2014
ABDC Offering Free Tax Prep for All PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 March 2014

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    Even though the income tax deadline is over a month from now, it’s never too early to get started on your return. But for those flummoxed by forms, riled by ‘rithmatic or possessed by procrastination, an Anchorage non-profit is here in Kodiak the rest of this week to help.
    “All this is put together by a non-profit corporation, the Alaska Business Development Center. They’ve been in business since 1978. And their primary function is providing business consulting and tax assistance services for businesses in rural Alaska.”
    That’s Tom Howell, who is coordinating the visit to Kodiak Island for two volunteer tax-preparers with him.
    “This is a VIDA program sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service. We have an agreement with some colleges in the Lower 48: University of Alaska, Montana State University, University of Montana and Ithaca College in Upstate New York.”
    The three were in Old Harbor on Sunday and Monday, and worked in Akhiok on Tuesday.
     “Golly I think we did 45 returns. And we probably produced more than $50,000 in refunds and probably saved the local people $10- or $12,000 in fees.”
    Howell and the tax volunteers are at the Kodiak Senior Center Wednesday, and will be at the Kodiak Baptist Mission through Saturday. As described by Howell, the process is pretty quick.
    “Typically when people come in to have their taxes done I’ll go over and make sure they have all their forms and necessary documents and do a preliminary interviews to make sure we’ve got all the income covered. And we prepare it in such a way that it can be electronically filed, so they can get their tax return – if they’re eligible – expedited. Or if they people prefer we can print it out and people can file it themselves.”
    And the best part is that everyone is welcome and the service is absolutely free.
    “Generally, it’s targeted to rural folks, particularly to accommodate the Natives that are stuck in rural Alaska and don’t have that kind of service. But it’s open to anybody who’d like to have that. We’ve available to do taxes for anybody. Absolutely free. We’re just here to provide services. We do get grants from the federal government and a lot of the Native corporations, as well as some local churches. So they provide the funding for this, and the students are just volunteering their time.”
    Howell can be reached at 907-891-5473, or look him and his team up at the Baptist Mission through Saturday. He said the whole process generally takes less than a half-hour.

Mar 12 2014
Search Underway for Man Missing from FV Seeker PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 March 2014

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    The search is on for a mariner who fell overboard from the fishing vessel Seaker, about 10 miles northwest of Unimak Island Wednesday morning.
    Nearby Good Samaritan vessels and a Coast Guard helicopter from Cold Bay have been searching the area where the man went in, and the cutter Alex Haley was reported en route to assist.
    The search is being conducted in 10-foot seas with 35 MPH winds.

Mar 12 2014
Archive Facility Closure Could Affect Alaskans PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 March 2014

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           On Monday, the National Archive and Records Administration, also known as NARA, announced that it would be closing its facility in Anchorage and shipping all of the records housed there to Seattle.
The decision caused quite a stir across the state and was devastating news to Anjuli Grantham, the curator of collections at the Baranov Museum.
           “And it’s just like the loss of our cultural heritage. It’s inexcusable.”
           The archive administration is charged with caring for federal records in the United States and Grantham said those records are especially important here in Alaska.
            “This is the Bureau of Indian Affairs records, this is Parks Service records, all of Fish and Wildlife Service really the U.S. Coast Guard – all of the federal entities that exist in Alaska and really impact our day-to-day life. The records are housed at this Anchorage facility and they’re open to the public. So any person can go in there and request these records.”
            But now all of Alaska’s federal historical records, more than 12,000 cubic feet of material, will be housed in Seattle, making them extremely difficult for Alaskans to access. Grantham said the news is obviously a huge blow to historians, but should really be concerning the general public, too.  

Mar 11 2014
School Board Discusses 'Worst-Case' Budget Scenario PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 March 2014

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           The Kodiak Island Borough School District’s Board of Education met for a work session last night and heard about a handful of budget scenarios the district might be looking at for FY 2015.
           Basically, the school district doesn’t know how much money will be coming its way from either the state or the borough, so Superintendent Stewart McDonald said any budget before the board is tentative, and subject to a lot more decisions that will be made in the months and weeks to come.
           McDonald presented a proposed budget during the work session – one that he said was a “worst-case scenario.” At most, McDonald said the district could have a $1.69 million deficit for next year, and he proposed cutting a total of 24 positions, ranging from custodians and safety officers to the Kodiak High School athletic director. He said those proposed cuts are far from inevitable, and many will actually be done through attrition, meaning the district won’t hire a new employee to fill the role of a retiring one.
            “Two to three weeks should make a huge difference in what we’re talking about. The books that you will have I believe should just go ahead and represent worst case scenario because you’ve got to prepare for it. And then we’ll make adjustments from there. What I’d like to do is just start with this as the initial proposed prioritized list and where the cuts would come from.”
             McDonald said the hope is that state funding won’t be a worst-case scenario this year. Ideally, as the budget picture becomes clearer, and hopefully more positive, the 24 cuts proposed last night will decrease accordingly. McDonald said the number is already down from 29 cuts that were associated with budget projections in January.
              During the public comment period, Alexus Kwachka said he was concerned about the district’s use of attrition to solve its budget problems.
              “I think that you guys need to be really sensitive to what’s going on, we’re losing a ton of really good people. And yes, there’s always going to be an attrition rate, but what’s going on is alarming to me because our students deserve the best that we can get. And I am really, really concerned about Bryan going away and I’ll speak to that directly. Bryan is a dynamite guy, he’s doing a dynamite job and I’m really concerned about where this goes.”
               Kwachka was referencing Bryan Ferris, the current athletic director at Kodiak High School. Changes to the athletic director role have captured many community members’ attention, especially with news that Ferris’ job might be in jeopardy.  

Mar 11 2014
Austerman and Stevens Address SWAMC Summit PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 March 2014

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Mike Mason/KDLG
    Both of Kodiak’s state legislative delegation spoke at last week’s Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference economic summit in Anchorage. KDLG’s Mike Mason was there and filed this report.

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