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Jul 20 2015
Local Artist Designs Marine Debris Ornaments for Capitol Christmas Tree PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 20 July 2015
captiol_tree_bonnie.jpgDillard with two examples of ornaments by children in the class she taught. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Every year, a different state decorates the capitol Christmas tree in Washington DC, and this summer, ten Alaskan artists will design the ornaments. Bonnie Dillard is a retired teacher and one of those involved. She explains the project is meant to be a community effort.

“Each artist created a lesson plan so that teachers around the state or community members, whoever wanted to lead a workshop to create these ornaments could do so, and they’d have the lessons plans and examples in front of them,” Dillard says.

Dillard says marine debris has been a concern of hers for many years and she’s chosen it as her medium. She says she recently led her first class with children at a local summer program.

“I created a plan for a marine debris animal,” Dillard says. “A fish, since we’re a fishing community, and basically you cut up the debris and you wire it together into shapes and patterns, and they end up being very sturdy. You have to make an ornament that can hold up in the weather, because it will be outside.”

And Dillard says the fish need to be colorful to stand out against the green of the tree, which will come from the Chugach National Forest. She says she hopes to raise awareness about the marine debris washing up on the coast.
“It’s important that kids realize that this is a problem,” says Dillard. “And as they grow up, I’m hoping that they will become passionate about taking care of the place where they live instead of blindly buying things and not thinking about what happens to their garbage.”

Dillard encourages kids and adults in Kodiak to get together to make the ornaments and submit them for consideration to hang on the capitol tree. She says she hopes to see workshops pop up around town. Check out the project's website for more information.
Jul 17 2015
Marine Debris Removal Project Just the Beginning PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 July 2015
barge_picture.jpgA picture of the barge during loading the Kodiak marine debris. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A barge landed in Kodiak this week in its first stop to pick up marine debris at sites along Alaska and British Columbia shorelines. It sailed early Thursday morning with almost 100 tons of debris picked up from beaches in the Kodiak Island Borough. The Japanese government is largely funding the project through donations in an effort to help remove debris washed up from the 2011 Japanese tsunami.
And while it’s a huge endeavor, according to one organizer, it’s just the beginning.

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We catch up with Island Trails Network’s Director of Education, Outreach, and Marine Programs at the organization’s marine debris storage yard.

The majority of bags are on the boat, but excavators are still lifting the remainders onto trucks.

Tom Pogson says the barge workers had some issues that day, but nothing they couldn’t deal with.

“We got up early this morning and came out and everybody was in place and the barge tied up on time,” says Pogson. “And the tide was possibly a bigger factor at a very low level than we thought it was going to be, but they already had a plan and they just threw a bunch of gravel up on the barge and that created sorta of a positive track for trucks to roll off and on the barge and it’s been going steady ever since.”

We spoke with another organizer, Chris Pallister, the next day at the barge kick-off event to find out how the launch went.

Pallister is the president of Gulf of Alaska Keeper, a nonprofit that’s been involved in tsunami debris cleanup for a few years and has been integral in the marine debris removal project.

He says the operation has already reached an obstacle.

“The barge left a little after 4 a.m. this morning on its way to Afognak. Unfortunately, there’s a big storm out there right now and the barge has to go to Blue Fox Bay to pick up debris that’s stashed there, and the barge will get there okay, but we can’t get our helicopters and our crew down there, because there’s 65 knot winds up north of there, so our crew’s kinda holed up in Port Chatham right now.”

And while that may be run-of-the-mill with a project like this one, or any sea-based venture, they have other concerns too.

“This thing is funded just right down to the dime,” says Pallister. “There’s no extra money here, and we’re already having weather delays and other things that are happening that are raising the cost of this thing. So, it’s fairly stressful. So, I’m staying awake at night, I’ll put it that way.”  
Pallister says the marine debris will just keep on coming.
 “This is the beginning because this needs to be done on a probably every three year basis. Everybody needs to clean up stuff, keep doing this, and then every few years we take a massive load out of here. I really think is the beginning. This is a prototype process and if it all works well, I hope to see it repeated.”

He says he thinks the project will fall short of funds and says he’ll fundraise to try to make up the difference.
Jul 17 2015
Afognak Camp Dedicates Final Building to Two Late Community Members PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 17 July 2015
dennis_and_julie_dance.jpgDennis and Julie Knagin dancing. Photo via Native Village of Afognak

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A tribal culture camp has completed its transition from all-tent based to a permanent fixture on Afognak Island.

Dig Afognak recently closed in its final building, a mess hall. Tribal administrator Melissa Borton says they’ve been making the change to a building-based camp for the last six or seven years.

“We’d been operating our mess hall kitchen and pantry out of three separate tents over the last many years and the mess hall was the most expensive, the largest construct, but it was important, because we wanted everybody to be able to have family style eating, to eat in the same building,” says Borton. “We really feel it’s important for the kids to be able to interact with all of the adults and the elders at camp.”

She says the Native Village of Afognak and Afognak Native Corporation partner on the camp and Saturday will be a shareholder family picnic. The camp will host a naming ceremony that day and dedicate the mess hall to the late Dennis and Julie Knagin, who were both active in the Alutiiq language learning scene.

Borton says they were involved with the camp from the beginning and would come to teach the campers.

“And just to be there to be good role models for the kids. Julie was on our tribal council since inception up to the day she passed, making sure that the camp stayed around, that we continue to teach our culture and our traditional values, and all of the things that were important to them stayed a part of camp.”

She says they’ll officially name the building the Dennis and Julie Knagin Mess Hall. The ceremony is closed to the general public.
Jul 16 2015
The Alaska Fisheries Report PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 July 2015

6.41 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup



Coming up this week, Bristol Bay sockeye strategically held back from hitting the nets until everyone doubted they'd show at all; Manakotak says “we can annex, too,” and getting to know our friends, the cannery workers. We had help KDLG's Molly Dischner and Dave Bendinger in Dillingham, and KFSK's Joe Sykes in Petersburg.  

Jul 16 2015
Walker Moves Forward on Medicaid Expansion PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 16 July 2015

Governor Bill Walker has notified state lawmakers this morning of his intent to accept federal money to expand Medicaid coverage in Alaska.

Walker, who was elected last fall, campaigned on expanding Medicaid, but ran into resistance from leaders in the Republican-led Legislature, who said they had concerns with adding thousands more people to a system they saw as broken.

Walker's office said he sent the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee notice of his intention to expand the program and this morning Walker held a news conference to further discuss his plans. He announced that he intends to unilaterally move forward on Medicaid expansion.

"This is the final this option for me,” says Walker. “I've tried everything else. And one thing people have to learn about me, I never give up and I won't give up, and it's good for Alaskans.”

Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens says he’s happy about the move forward.

“It covers a lot of people, maybe some 40,000 people who have not been covered before. It helps hospitals out and unpaid bills and all of that. It brings in some federal money that has not been in the state before. And it just helps a lot of folks,” says Stevens. “So, I think it’s good to look at it. The governor has I think made the right decision to move ahead and get started on it.”

He says now it’s time to think ahead.

“It goes to the legislature eventually to figure out, is it really a cost-savings matter for us? Is it going to be a continual cost that we’re going to have to find out a way to pay for in the future? So, there are a lot of details there and the saying is always that the devil’s in the details,” says Stevens. “We’ve gotta find out what exactly what it’s going to cost the state.”

Stevens says on the surface it sounds like it could have a positive impact on Alaska.
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