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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

Burn ban in effect Borough wide
Due to current dry and windy conditions, there is a borough-wide burn ban in effect. No incinerator or open burning is allowed at this time.
May 18 2015
At Change of Command Ceremony, Coast Guard Cutter Munro Gets New Commanding Officer
Monday, 18 May 2015
munro_cutter_photo.jpg Munro docked at base. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A Change of Command Ceremony took place at the Coast Guard base Friday as one captain handed responsibility of the Coast Guard Cutter Munro to his successor. According to Vice Admiral Charles Ray, who spoke at the proceedings, the ceremony is a long-standing tradition in the transfer of leadership.
“And the reason leadership is so important especially, probably no more so than in our coast guard than right here in this area, when you are leading a crew of folks alone and unafraid in the Bering Sea or in the far reaches of the Pacific Ocean where there is no help but what you have on your ship, it is leadership that will make the difference and carry the day,” says Ray.

During the event, Captain Jeff Thomas passed his command of the Munro to Captain Sam Jordan. Both men’s families were present as were the members of the crew, who stood at either side of the room in the base’s Golden Anchor building.

Captain Thomas addressed members of the crew in his speech and later said leaving Munro was bittersweet. He says he spent two years on board the Munro and that it takes around 6 to 8 months to win over a crew.

“You have to be able to articulate your vision and make that part of what they believe and they see the importance of why we’re trying to go a certain way,” says Thomas. “And then you sometimes have some people who don’t want to go along - I guess is the best words - and until you can win their hearts and minds and show them the value of what’s in it for them, what’s in it for the ship, what’s in it for the nation, then it makes it a whole lot easier.”

New Munro commanding officer, Captain Jordan, says the ship is his fourth command and says he’s excited about his new position.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I left Kodiak in 2010 after working at the base for three years, so I knew what I was getting into,”  says Jordan. “It was where I wanted to go. I was actually on the pier in 2007 when Munro moved up here from Alameda and I can remember standing there going “You know, I would like to be the captain of that ship someday.”

As for Captain Thomas, he says he’s heading to a district staff level position where he’ll be championing six operational commanders and making sure they have the resources they need. He says he’s previously only worked in headquarters level staff, and so it’ll be a new experience. He also says the position will bring him closer to his family in Virginia.
May 15 2015
Police Identify Driver in February Hit-and-Run
Friday, 15 May 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
Charges are imminent in a hit and run that severely injured a Kodiak man over three months ago

In a statement the police chief said Kodiak Police seized a truck last weekend matching the description of the vehicle involved. It belongs to 42-year-old Alex Rice. The release went on to say criminal charges will be forthcoming.

On the evening of February 4th, Brent Watkins was crossing Rezanof Avenue East to attend a community meeting in the auditorium when he was struck by a pick up truck, which then sped off. 

It's been a long three months of recovery for Watkins, but he said the news he received from the Kodiak Police this (Friday) morning lifted his mood.

“I got a call this morning from Sgt. Putney in regards to progress on the case, and that they had somebody they were talking to, and it sounded like there might have been a confession involved,” Watkins said.

Watkins said the lead came through a Crime Stoppers tip to the police. Watkins had put up fliers throughout town with details of the accident and the Crime Stoppers phone number.

“A big thank you to all the people who run that program, and the community for stepping up on that one," Watkins said "I really appreciate that.”

Watkins sustained broken ribs and pelvis and leg injuries in the collision. He also suffered what he described as a small stroke on the plane ride back to Kodiak, after about a week in the hospital in Anchorage.

“It's been a humbling amount of support from the community. I've got to thank April and Jeremy (Counceller) for really coordinating that for me, and for having it all dialed in for when I got home," Watkins said. "It's been really a big help in my recovery.”

Watkins said he was told he should stand by to be contacted by the District Attorney's office and be prepared to speak before a grand jury. 
May 15 2015
Tusty Due In Port Twice Before Crabfest
Friday, 15 May 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
It appears the Alaska State Ferry Tustumena will definitely be back in service in time for Kodiak Crab Festival. 

In an e-mail Wednesday to Kodiak's mayor and the chamber of commerce director, Marine Highway System boss Mike Neussl said he was happy to report that the Tustumena was underway from Ketchikan to resume commercial passenger-carrying.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Trevor Brown wrote in a release that the Tusty should make its scheduled calls on Sunday and Tuesday. Crab Fest starts on Thursday.

One potentially complicating factor is that another arm of the Alaska Department of Transportation has reduced the maximum weight limit on the downtown ferry dock – Pier 1 – which could limit the size of vehicles crossing it. The weight limit went from 60,000 pounds to 24,000 pounds, a two-thirds reduction, by order of the DOT's Bridge department. Pier 2, the City Dock, can be utilized, though it is often in use by fishing vessels and cruise ships. 
May 15 2015
Citizens Speak on Jackson Mobile Home Park and Fisheries Closing at Borough Assembly Work Session
Friday, 15 May 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

People filled the chairs, stood in the doorways, and sat on the floor at the Borough Assembly work session last night. Many of them were residents of Jackson Mobile Home Park and say they were recently given notice that the park would be closed. Some citizens spoke up to ask for the Borough Assembly to intercede. Barbara Cobban was one of those present.

“I can’t move my trailer,” says Coban. “My trailer’s over ten years old. I have a home. I have no where to take it. At all. So, I really hope that my thoughts have made some sort of impact.”

The Borough Assembly spent the majority of its meeting on budget review and other items on its agenda, but revisited the park closing near the end of the work session. It talked about further pursuing the issue with the Kodiak Island Planning and Zoning Commission, possible alternative locations for park residents, and seeking legal counsel. Here’s Assemblyman Frank Peterson explaining the need for legal assistance.

“The question was the landlord-tenant laws, you know what can we do as far as that’s in concerned,” says Peterson. “How much do we want to get involved in that? Is it a slippery slope? Do we just want to stay away from it all together? And that’s the legal advice.”

Citizens also spoke up on the May 3 closing of the Gulf of Alaska non-pollock non-rockfish catcher vessel sector fisheries.

In the meeting agenda packet, a draft letter to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council states the closing is a result of an amendment that enforces a 2,700 Chinook salmon hard-cap.

The letter also says Kodiak is the sole community to be affected since Kodiak’s non-Pollock trawl catcher vessel fleet is the only one that runs after May in the Gulf of Alaska.

The letter requests that NOAA and the Secretary of Commerce make emergency Chinook salmon available to the fisheries to prevent negative affects on the community.

The Borough Assembly expressed concerns about the letter’s organization and suggested re-writing it before considering it further. Here’s a comment from Assemblyman Dan Rohrer.

“The strongest point I read in this letter was the issue of the 97% of the fish caught as bycatch from the trawl fisheries are hatchery-caught fish,” says Rohrer. “And that’s the information that didn’t exist prior when they came up with the 2,700 number and so that’s the new information that allows the council to look at doing an emergency order, and it just seems like that’s what you need to lead with.”

The Assembly decided it will revisit the issue after receiving a new draft. The next Borough Assembly regular meeting is planned for Thursday, May 21.
May 14 2015
Borough Assembly to Address Property Taxes at Work Session
Thursday, 14 May 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Both the Kodiak City Council and the Kodiak Borough Assembly will hold meetings tonight. The Borough Assembly will begin its work session at 7:30 p.m. and continue discussion of several unresolved issues from last week’s regular meeting, including a property tax ordinance for mobile homes.

Borough Manager Bud Cassidy said at last Thursday’s meeting that the ordinance would define what a mobile home is, require identification of the responsible party to pay mobile home property taxes, and require that any tax appeal be filed in the Kodiak courthouse.

“But the biggest change is in the accounting for mobile homes,” says Cassidy. “They’re considered real property just like a residence and are required to pay property tax. We’ve talked to you about how we’re having difficulty in collecting those taxes. Some of it is maybe folks don’t realize they have to pay the property tax, but in many cases, we’re having real difficulty in finding out the owners of the mobile home.”

The Borough Assembly will also talk about an ordinance to exempt commercial vessels from paying the one-dollar-a-foot tax which applies to boats over 20 feet.

The Borough assessor’s argument is it costs more to collect the information and manage paperwork than the amount the Borough collects from the tax. Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner responded to one audience member’s reasons for opposing the ordinance and says it influenced her own doubts about the suggested changes.
“Previously part of the justification – and it’s right in the ordinance – for excluding the vessels was because of the severance tax collected on fish,” says Skinner. “But if the equity issue has more to do with equipment or boats that look more like equipment, construction equipment, that kind of thing, maybe we do need to look at that.”

The Borough Assembly meeting tonight will take place in the Borough Conference Room and be open for public comment.

Also at 7:30 p.m., the Kodiak City Council will hold its regular meeting in the Assembly Chambers. On the agenda are several requests for public property use, including for the Kodiak Garden Club’s annual plant sale and the Filipino-American Association of Kodiak’s fundraising dance for its basketball team travel costs.

The City Council will also announce its reception of a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.

The memorandum in the agenda says the award “represents the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting.”

The City Council regular meeting is also open for public comment.

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