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Mar 19 2015
Knots: From Irish History to the Nautical Past
Thursday, 19 March 2015


Drew Herman demonstrating one of the first stages of tying a Celtic knot. Kayla Desroches/KMXT photos







Kayla Desroches KMXT


For Saint Patrick's Day, many people paid homage to Ireland with meat, drink, and making merry. Some others tapped into their artistic spirit at the Kodiak Public Library where Drew Herman led a class on how to make Celtic knots.


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When we say “Celtic knots”, you might imagine intricate designs etched in stone. And you’d be right. But they’re also literally knots. And where you find those, you’ll usually find sailors.

Drew Herman, who volunteers with the Coast Guard auxiliary, says that his interest in Celtic knots comes from nautical knots. They were useful in the sea-faring past, but also served as a form of entertainment on ships with otherwise limited resources.

"The only materials you had to work with were whatever was left from operating the ship," Herman says. "So the little pieces of wood, leftover pieces of rope and yarn. They would like to make gifts for their sweethearts back home or things they could trade when they got into port."

Herman led a Celtic knotting class at the Kodiak Public Library on St. Patrick’s day. There were about ten students, most of them adults, and all of them struggled at first with the looping-in and looping-out of the rope.


One of the two children at the event, who says her name is Sienna, had this to say at the beginning stages.

“It’s kind of confusing."


But, after an hour of practice…

“It’s easy."



A young participant, Sienna, during the second half of the Celtic knotting class.









 Adult attendee, Cindy Kloster, agrees with her classmate’s conclusion.

“It was kinda complicated at first," she said. "But once you basically created your first pathway, then it started making sense.”

Mar 19 2015
Kodiak Welcomes Second Senior Housing Building
Thursday, 19 March 2015


Emerald Heights from the front. Kayla Desroches/KMXT photos








Kayla Desroches/KMXT


There's now a second housing option for Kodiak residents over 55. The Kodiak Island Housing Authority is ready to start accepting rental applications and has started giving tours of Emerald Heights, its new apartment complex on Near Island. Though built and operated by the Housing Authority, it does not have a low-income or Native Alaskan preference like the organization's first senior housing building.


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Kodiak Island Housing Authority's Mindy Pruitt leads the tour, starting in the lobby, dominated by a giant sculpture of dock pilings by local artist Mark Whitteveen. Metal sea creatures cling to the wooden poles and sit on stones placed around the pilings. The top of the sculpture pokes through a square hole in the ceiling and into the floor above.

Beyond are seats, table, and even a virtual fire. I have to admit, I had to look twice.


Sculpture by Mark Whitteveen in Emerald Heights Lobby.


Pruitt then shows me the activity room upstairs. There’s a kitchen area with more tables and chairs. The same artist from the lobby also installed metal salmon swimming around the upper corners of the room. Near a window with an expansive view.










Activity room sculptures by Mark Whiteeveen.






Pruitt leads me through wide halls into several different rooms, all with gigantic bathrooms.


"Every bathroom in the apartment complex is large," Pruitt says. "Just in anticipation if somebody ever needed a wheelchair or a walker, that they had plenty of room to navigate in their bathrooms, so they’re all very comfortable in size.”

They're also built to be quiet.


"All the cupboards are slam resistant," Pruitt says. "So if you’re a drawer slammer, it's gonna be hard to slam here.”

The last apartment Pruitt shows me is the two-bedroom Wheelhouse suite.


"This is the largest one. This is the one that is the most unique probably in the property. It’s one thousand eight-three square feet, so it’s large.”

Pruitt says a friend inspired the suite’s name.

“He goes like ‘I feel like I’m in the helm of a big crabber.‘ And so he was like ‘We just need the wheel right here.’ And we came up with the wheelhouse suite.”
Priutt says the unit’s price is 2,300 dollars per month. She also says the range for the other apartments she showed me go from 1,550 dollars to 1,850 dollars not including electricity, cable, and landlines. Several apartments fall outside that range.

And Priutt does say that 55 is the lowest minimum age to apply for housing at Emerald Heights.

“There was a feasibility study done in Kodiak and that was one of the needs that was identified was housing for people 55 years of age."


You can learn more about Emerald Heights here .


Mar 18 2015
City Council Talks Brechan Pit Safety and Future Discussion of Marijuana Use
Wednesday, 18 March 2015



City Council members view powerpoint of Brechan pit with City Engineer, Glenn Melvin (Center). Kayla Desroches/KMXT
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak City Council discussed gravel pits and marijuana at its work session last night, among other matters to be addressed at Thursday's regular meeting.

The quarry that Brechan Enterprises created on Near Island at St. Herman Harbor could be a safety hazard for anyone walking on the hiking trails above the pit. But, according to City Engineer Glenn Melvin, there’s a solution to protect hikers: a fence.

“Brechan is proposing to go ahead and place the fence all along the back of their area," said Melvin. "And we need to provide a buffer behind the fence to where when the trees do blow, and some of them may blow, they don’t blow down on the fence.”

The council also brought up future discussions they might have about marijuana use in Kodiak now that it is legal in Alaska. City Manager Aimee Kniaziowski addressed a question as to when that might be from Councilman Charlie Davidson.

“My approach at this point, Charlie," said Kniaziowski. "Is just to see what other communities have done, see are we in alignment with that or do we need more information or do you want more time for community input and so forth.”

The council will dedicate a work session to discussion of marijuana in the city at some point, but have not yet decided on a date.

The council will gather in a special meeting Thursday night at 7:30.  
Mar 17 2015
Colorful and Camouflaged: Kodiak Island Kids Draw Local Birds
Tuesday, 17 March 2015


Tonya Lee (left) and Mary Ruskovich hold two top entries by Hunter Simeonoff, grade 4 from Old Harbor (left) and Denise Kalmakoff, grade 8 from Akhiok. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Children from around Kodiak Island took part in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife calendar competition this year. The department holds The Alaska Migratory Bird Calendar Contest annually. This is the first time Kodiak villages have participated. This year’s theme was “Alaska’s birds, colorful and camouflaged.

Tonya Lee, who works with the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, talked to students about how females protect their eggs and males attract mates.

“I went to the village communities," Lee says. "And did some activities with the kids on the theme and had a lot of fun learning about bird courtship and why female birds are camouflaged and why male birds have exotic colors and different plumages that come out during the mating times of year.”

Students learned about Alaskan birds like puffins and auklets and then created art pieces in any medium they chose. And this Wednesday, judges picked three entries from each age group to send onto the state competition. Local artist Mary Ruskovich was one of those judges.

“The colors were fantastic," says Ruskovich. "And that’s what the judges looked for, was the use of color, how many colors they did use, and the different perspectives on each of the pictures. The kids would use this theme, but also put their own twist to it.”

They also selected written submissions. This poem is by Olivia Salanof from Old Harbor. She’s in third grade.


One day there was a Mallard
Her name was Ms. Mallory Mallard
She loves colors
Good thing she was a Mallard
Because they have quite a few colors!
She admires Mr. Mallard’s colors:
Green, black, white, gray, and purple.
The state competition will be judged in April.


Mar 17 2015
North Star Parents Concerned About Teach Reassignments
Tuesday, 17 March 2015
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Jay Barrett/KMXT
At last night's Kodiak Island Borough School Board meeting several parents of North Star Elementary students spoke out about potential changes in teacher assignments at the school. All were concerned the changes were not being adequately shared with them and they worried about the effects they would have on the school's stellar education reputation.

"My name is John Arndt and I am a parent of a student at North Star Elementary. Tonight, my concern is North Star's plan to make a mostly school-wide teacher grade level change and the negative effect I believe this will have on the children. I found out about this and I sat down with the principal and she told me this change was to meet social, emotional learning,” said Arndt.

“Hi, my name's Louie Rachlow. I've had four kids go through North Star Elementary, and two of them are still currently attending there. They have all had great experiences and excellent teachers. However I have been informed there will be some drastic modifications to the teaching staff next year, resulting in many assignments that differ greatly from their recent positions,” he said.

“My name is Laura Walters. I'm a physician here in the community and have a fourth grader at North Star. I'm reiterating actually things you've already heard, so I won't take much of your time. I too heard about this just through the grapevine of parents and not through any administration. Again, I was shocked. North Star gets great rankings throughout the state. I was dismayed to hear that my child's teacher could be moved, when he would be looping up with the same teacher again who he has done very well with. I think that's why a lot of us like North Star. I can't see any reason why this would benefit the children of North Star and I would love for someone to enlighten me on how it will," Walters said.

Later in the meeting, North Star Principal Patricia Wilson attempted just that.

"First of all I want to let you know that I hear the parents and what the parents are saying. I think that I'd like to state what I'm hearing,” Wilson said. “One, that they're afraid for their children next year; two, that they're concerned that they don't have a voice in the process; and third, some are concerned that teachers have spent a lot of money at their current grade level. And I definitely hear that because I was a teacher and some years I would spend thousands. So I have heard those three things that are coming from parents."

Wilson also announced that there will be a meeting for parents about the changes coming up next week on March 26th, in the school, at 5 p.m.
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