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NOAA Fisheries taking comments on Gulf Rationalization. What do you think?

The LegHead Report

legheadreport.jpg LegHead (ledj-hed) Report weekdays at 12:20 p.m.

Fish Radio with Laine Welch

 Weekdays at 12:20 p.m.

Galley Tables

Chiniak Fire 2015, Release No. 12
Kodiak, Alaska — Friday, August 28 — The shelter at the Kodiak Middle School was inactivated.
People in need of Red Cross services may contact Red Cross volunteers at (907) 942-5059.
The Kodiak emergency operations center is now supporting the State Division of Forestry crews who are on location in the Chiniak area.
We encourage you to continue to listen to KMXT for updated information and also watch for updates on the Kodiak Police Department Facebook page.  
Jun 02 2015
The Alutiiq Museum Welcomes New Executive Director
Tuesday, 02 June 2015
aprilcartoon.jpgDigital drawing of April Laktonen Counceller via Kodiak College.

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alutiiq Museum recently hired a new executive director.

2.68 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

April Laktonen Counceller was an instructor of Alutiiq Language and Alaska Native Studies at Kodiak College before accepting the position. She says she’s been involved at the museum in different capacities for around twelve years, including as an employee and as a member of the board, and wanted to join the staff again.

“When I recently found out that the museum director position was coming open, I felt this strong pull," says Laktonen Counceller. "Even though I love working at the college and I’m maintaining a role there, I felt like I really needed to apply for this job and see if I could take the museum to the next twenty years.”
Laktonen Counceller is originally from Larsen Bay and has been influential in the learning of Alutiiq language in Kodiak. Margaret Roberts, the Alutiiq Heritage Foundation Chair, says she’s known Laktonen Councellor since she was a young girl.
“She’s been with us for a very long time, reawaking our language, documenting our culture," says Roberts. "The museum has helped to grow the knowledge of Alutiiq traditions and it has helped to grow a new generation of cultural leaders, and among them is Dr. April Laktonen Counsellor."

She takes over from Alisha Drabek and says her schedule has been packed during the transition.

“With the museum’s anniversary happening and graduation at the college and my predecessor having her start date at the Afognak Native Corporation, where she was recruited to, this has just been such an intense month so far."

She says nonprofit organizations, Native corporations and educational institutions in Kodiak are interconnected. While working for one, she says she often interacts with another.

“My very first day at work, I didn’t even make it to the museum because we were running a summit, which was over at Kodiak College, so there’s a lot of overlap with the work because of the collaborations that we do in our community."
Laktonen Counceller says for museum projects in the near future, they’ll look at updating the permanent gallery.

“There are a couple of exhibit cases that have remained the same since back in the mid-2000s, and so we really want to get them updated," says Laktonen Counceller. "There’s new information about our history that comes out every time there’s an archaeological dig, so there’s new things we want to share with the community."

And she says the museum is already doing a great job with that.

“There’s not a whole lot that we need to add to what the museum already does," says Laktonen Counceller. "I just want to continue that excellent work and help facilitate my staff, because they’re so hard working and anything that I can do to make things easier for people is how I see my leadership role here at the museum.”

If you’d like me to meet Laktonen Counceller, you can drop by the Alutiiq Museum’s First Friday event at 7 p.m.
Jun 02 2015
Kodiak Coast Guardsmen Find Adventure on Mt. McKinley
Tuesday, 02 June 2015
Kodiak Coast Guardsmen Jason McGrath and Jon Houlberg as they depart Talkeetna for an attempt at scaling Mt. McKinley. Facebook photo 
Jay Barrett/KMXT
Two Coast Guard rescue swimmers attempting to summit North America's tallest mountain were forced back just short of the top by weather in mid May. They did however, raise thousands of dollars for the Fallen Heroes Fund and honor the memory of a lost crew-mate.

Jason McGrath and Jon Houlberg got within 500 feet of Mount McKinley's 20,237-foot peak on May 16th, when they turned around.

Wind had kept climbers from all over the world pinned down at the various base camps on McKinley for weeks, with the blowing snow obscuring the most traveled routes and driving windchills well below zero.

The duo updated family, friends and supporters on Facebook with a satellite communicator called the “inReach.” Their last message before heading home was, “Did not summit. 500 feet from the top. Heading down. More to follow!”

Dubbed their "Climb to Remember," McGrath and Houlberg raised $7,401 for the "Fallen Heroes Fund" through the Coast Guard Foundation. We have a link to that charity below.

McGrath and Houlberg also released into the wind the ashes of Dave Skimmin, a fellow rescue swimmer once based in Kodiak, but who was killed in a training accident in Hawaii.

Also on the mountain the same time as McGrath and Houlberg was an Argentinian climber attempting a solo ascent of McKinley. Javier Callupan, age 39, was last seen leaving the 14,200-foot camp on May 6. Unfortunately, McGrath and Houlberg found his body along the trail as they were ascending to the 17,000-foot camp. McGrath and Houlberg notified park rangers of their discovery, but the body could not be immediately retrieved due to the conditions. 

Jun 02 2015
State Ferries Would Be Idled By Budget Impass
Tuesday, 02 June 2015
Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska
All state ferries will stop sailing by early July if the Legislature fails to reach a budget deal. 

The Alaska Marine Highway System’s plans are among dozens of state service cuts announced Monday by the Walker administration.

Ferry spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says the 11 ships in the fleet will head to their home ports as close to July 1st as possible.

“We can’t play guessing games that there will be a fully funded budget at some point,” he said. “And so, we have to play it safe and have the ships enter layoff status in July.”

Some ferries will stop sailing in the final days of June, while others will tie up a few days later. 

Woodrow says a skeleton crew will remain with each ship to keep it ready to return to service.

Notice of the layup plans will be posted on the marine highway website Tuesday, but people scheduled to sail will not hear directly from Marine Highway staff. 

“There’s thousands of reservation holders,” Woodrow said. “If we were to start contacting each one, by the time we reached them all, there might be a budget passed and we’d have to turn around and call them all back.”

Woodrow says those changing or cancelling reservations will not face a penalty.

One ferry - the Taku – was already scheduled to be tied up for July and August as part of budget cuts. 

The ferry system serves 35 port communities. Only five are on the mainland road system.
Jun 01 2015
Kodiak Protestors Against Navy Training Take Stand On Land and Sea
Monday, 01 June 2015
flotilla_protest_smoke_bomb.jpgA picture of a smoke bomb from the flotilla protest. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

On Saturday afternoon, fishermen and concerned Kodiak residents gathered at Pier II to protest the location and timing of the Navy Training in the Gulf of Alaska. The Sun’aq Tribe helped to organize the event with the help of skippers and crewmembers alike.

3.1 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

On board the Mythos, a voice comes on over the radio telling vessels to tie together in front of pier 2.

We make our way into a line, where we face the crowd of about 33 people lined up on the dock in front of their cars. Crewmembers hurry to raft up the boats. Once they are secured and the rush to avoid collision is over, I climb down to the deck and speak to Mythos crewmember Rolf Hanning.

Hanning is a newcomer to both Alaska and fishing and came out to take a stand alongside his skipper and crew.

“I don’t think it’s a very good idea to kill all the fish that this whole economy runs on, and beyond that, we know it’s bad for the environment, we know that they could do it somewhere else, it’s the United States government, they can bomb wherever they want. Why are they doing it right here? It doesn’t make any sense,” says Hanning.

Fisherman Chuck McWethy also thinks the Navy training could take place elsewhere.

“If they want to go blow up their bombs, they can figure out where there’s less sea life, where there’s less commercial product available for harvest that has a real, real good possibility of being affected by it,” says McWethy.

I hop from boat to boat to talk to protestors. Around me, crewmembers shoot flares into the sky, release orange smoke bombs, and honk their horns. Cars on the pier respond.

I end up on a vessel captained by McWethy’s son, Quinnan.

He says he just heard about the Navy training and doesn’t know much about it, but he’s there to support the fishing community.

“The only way we can actually achieve anything is if everyone gets together,” says McWethy. Whether it’s striking for prices of salmon or standing up to this, I know that everyone’s kinda coming together for something and I stand behind the fishing fleet and what they want to do.”

Wrapped up in the interview, we hear the shout that they’re cutting the boats loose a little too late. One of the fishermen offers me a skiff ride and delivers me to a ladder at pier 2. I climb my way up to the protest on land, where things are winding down.

Vice-Chair of the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak Council, John Reft, is among the crowd and says he has a personal history fishing in Portlock Bank, one of the areas where the Navy plans to train. He says King Crab comes in through there and the Navy could disturb the crab as well as other sea life.

 “They’re gonna diminish the possible stocks when we’re trying to build this island back up for the King crab like it used to be,” says Reft. “You cannot take a chance with all those bombs and stuff that they’re going to use.”

Council Chair, Sophie Frets, is also at the protest, and says she saw a united front from the fishermen.

“They’re from totally different boat aspects, the trawlers, and the jiggers, and the salmon fishermen all together united to speak up and say this is not a game, that we need this to exist, so they got together in a way that I’m very proud that we were able to see it,” says Frets.

Frets says the Sun’aq Tribe put in a request to the United States Department of Defense for a formal consultation and hopes to get the Navy to listen to their concerns. She says the tribe is still waiting to hear back from officials.
May 29 2015
6.7 Quake Shakes Kodiak and Beyond
Friday, 29 May 2015
The AP/Dave Bendinger-KDLG/ Jay Barrett-KMXT
A strong earthquake struck offshore of Kodiak Island late last night, but officials say there was no tsunami threat or immediate reports of damage.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-6.7 quake struck at 11 p.m. Thursday and was centered in the ocean about 35 miles beneath the seabed and about 160 miles southwest of Kodiak City. 

Officials say the temblor was felt on the Alaska Peninsula, Kodiak Island, Kenai Peninsula and even Anchorage.

The Kodiak Police dispatch office says the quake was felt at the station, but it received no reports of damage.

The National Tsunami Warning Center says there is no tsunami danger.

Alvin Peterson in Chignik Lagoon told KDLG radio in Dillingham it’s the strongest earthquake he’s felt in decades.

“Well, it was almost comparable to the '64 earthquake. The house was rocking pretty good,” Peterson said. “Understand there was some rock slides and stuff falling off the shelves and breaking. Definitely rattled everybody’s nerves.”

The quake was initially reported as a 6.8 magnitude but was later downgraded slightly. Residents all around the region took to Facebook last night to discuss the earthquake and its effects. Many of those commenting said the earthquake’s unusually long duration was a bit shocking. Peterson says the same.

“Heard a couple reports, lasted almost a minute,” he said, “but it was pretty long, and pretty violent.”

Closer to the coast, residents in Chignik Bay headed for the tsunami shelter last night to be on the safe side. Fire chief Guy Ashby, speaking this morning, says the quake got a slow rolling start:

“It started off like maybe a three. Shook a little bit, and then you could start hear it building. And it start shaking a little harder, kept building,” Ashby said. “It probably shook, rough estimate, 35-, 40-forty seconds.”

The USGS says there have been numerous aftershocks of magnitude-3.0 or greater.
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