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The LegHead Report

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

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Valentine's for KWRCC


 When you go shopping this week you can help the women and children at the Kodiak Women's Resource & Crisis Center. KWRCC has a long wish list of items that would help their families in crisis. You can help by purchasing one or more of the items and dropping them off at KMXT, 620 Egan Way by 5pm on Friday - we'll make sure everything gets to the KWRCC for Valentine's Day. Find a copy of the list here:  kwrcc_wish_list_jan_2016 

Aug 24 2015
Bears Go 2-0 on Gridiron to Open Season
Monday, 24 August 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The Kodiak High School Bears football team is a perfect 2-and-oh after shutting out Eagle River 20 to nothing on Saturday. It was Kodiak's home opener for first year coach Bill McGuire and the first game in the Northern Lights Conference for the Eagle River Wolves.

Kodiak completed all of its scoring in the first half on the strength of two touchdown passes and one on the ground by quarterback Andreas Carros. One pass was to Isiah Galindez in the first and one to Jay Miranda in the second. Carros' rushing TD was also in the second.

Saturday's win follows a come-from-behind victory in Nikiski to open the 2015 season. The Bears are now 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the NLC.

Meanwhile on the cross country trails up in Soldotna, the Kodiak boys placed fifth and the girls 11th at the Tsalteshi Invitational. Keith Osowski was the Kodiak boy's top finisher in fifth, with a time of 16-minutes 24-seconds, while Zoe Bigley was the girls' top in 28th with a time of 20-minutes 37-seconds.

West Valley won the boys title with 62 points, followed by West Anchorage, Service, and South Anchorage. Kodiak had 143 points.

Chugiak took first on the girls side with 71 points. They were followed by Colony, West Valley, Service and Kenai Central. Kodiak had 288 points.

We've got full results after the jump. 
Aug 24 2015
KANA Recieves Affordable Care Act Grant
Monday, 24 August 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Area Native Association just received a portion of a $5,500,000 million dollar grant that will be distributed to communities in Alaska. KANA makes health care available throughout the island, from medical care to early childhood programs, and its new grant of $325,000 falls under the Affordable Care Act.

Andy Teuber is KANA’s CEO and President and says the organization will receive the funds from the United States Department of Health and Human Services through its agency, the Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA.

“It’s intended to allow us to deliver services for some medical, dental and behavioral health services out of our new clinic and our existing clinic,” says Teuber. “And HERSA is the agency that’s intended to provide services and access to health care to those underinsured or uninsured, those who don’t have adequate resources of access to healthcare.”

Teuber says KANA conducted a community needs assessment in 2013.

“There were a number of needs that were revealed. The two top ones were access to affordable health care and access to behavioral health services. Through that community needs assessment, there was a determination made that there were a number of folks who were un-served or underserved in Kodiak,” says Teuber.

Part of the outreach KANA is trying to achieve through the HRSA grant is expanding its presence in the city of Kodiak.

“We’re in the finishing stage of completion of our Mill Bay Clinic. It’s Mill Bay and Benny Benson. And we’re very proud of how that project has come together,” says Teuber.

Teuber says that KANA will be opening the clinic’s doors in late August or early September.

According to a KANA press release, the Affordable Care Act has provided around $169 million dollars to various heath care sites throughout underserved communities in Alaska and the lower 48.
Aug 21 2015
Borough Assembly Establishes Lands Committee, Approves Hiring of New Borough Employee
Friday, 21 August 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

At its regular meeting last night, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly discussed approving nonprofit grants, hiring a resource management officer, and establishing a lands committee. Borough manager Bud Cassidy says the committee would be a borough standing committee and it would…

“…assist and identify creative and workable solutions to ongoing and emerging issues in the selection, acquisition management and disposal of borough rural property and resources, provide input on any land sale plans, provide input on the utilization of borough land that achieves multiple land and housing options, and provide a forum for discussion and development of specific sites and projects.”

… among other duties.

Assemblywoman Chris Lynch had expressed concern at a previous work session about establishing more governing bodies, and remained against adding the committee.

“I would feel more comfortable if we are to evaluate and look and collaborate on land, that we do a twice a year land summit – call together all the big land owners,” said Lynch. “A better use of staff time, and yes this will take a lot of staff time, would be to actually do the work that it takes to make property available for a land sale.”

Assemblyman Aaron Griffin voiced a need for the committee and said he would be voting in favor of it.

“There’s not enough time in the assembly’s hands,” he said. “Our agendas are full as it is. We do not have time for the minutia of that and I think that this committee is an excellent place to start. Now, maybe in the long run, it won’t work out, but we sure wouldn’t know if we don’t try.”

The motion to move forward on establishing the committee carried.

The assembly also amended its nonprofit funding before approving the fiscal year 2016 grant amounts. Its budget is $390,000, 5 percent less than last year, and the assembly decided to grant the Brother Francis Shelter and the Kodiak Island Food Bank the money from the contingency of $9,850.

Griffin cautioned nonprofits to be prepared for more cuts.

“I would hedge your bets that as money gets tighter, which it will be, that we will be refocusing money into those areas that we have identified as critical needs, and prepare now,” said Griffin.

The assembly also discussed the salary for an applicant to the resource management officer position, Duane Dvorak.

In a previous meeting, the assembly had rejected a starting salary for being too high. Borough Manager Bud Cassidy is in charge of the hiring process and returned with the same applicant after having negotiated a lower starting amount. Cassidy says pushing offers any lower on the scale the borough uses to determine salary would be difficult.

“We’ve had up to maybe two fire chiefs turn down that wage, we’ve recently had a planning position that turned down that wage, and it just doesn’t work to try to hire an experienced person at a step A, B, or C,” said Cassidy. “I think you got a good candidate here, and I think he’s a person who could perform the job.”

Assemblyman Dennis Symmons said he would not be supporting the hire and that the salary is still too high.

“I can remember very vividly sitting in that audience and recognizing that something has become orthodox, and that is these appointments above scale. And I applaud what I did not see happening the last time. This was shot down. And there were some good points mentioned, that this is downscale,” said Symmons.

Assemblyman Larry LeDoux says the investment in salary is worth it compared to spending the money on someone who only appears qualified.

“To have someone’s whose resume indicates that they can do the job based on their past performance in Kodiak with knowledge of our laws and certainly with the knowledge of what this community wants, which is to make land available, to streamline the bureaucracy. We need someone that knows the system,” he said.

The motion to hire the applicant carried 4 to 2.  

The assembly also voted to waive the zoning compliance, building, electrical, and plumbing permit fees related to relocation from Jackson Mobile Home Park. The assembly did not hold discussion on the resolution, but Cassidy did note that the Kodiak City Council would pass a similar resolution at its next regular meeting, which is scheduled for September 10.
Aug 21 2015
NOAA Declares "Unusual Mortality Event" for Whale Deaths
Friday, 21 August 2015
whale_from_above.jpgBears feeding on a fin whale carcass in Larson Bay. Via NOAA

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The carcasses of thirty whales that have stranded along the Gulf of Alaska and the Alaska Peninsula have puzzled scientists since the first discoveries this May, and now NOAA is giving the cases “unusual mortality event” status. That means that the stranding event is unexpected, involves a large number of marine animal deaths, and requires immediate attention.

While scientists have considered biotoxins as well as environmental causes like patches of unusually warm water, the reason for the deaths remains unknown. At a media teleconference today to discuss the new UME status, NOAA Fisheries lead marine mammal scientist, Teri Rowles, says they’ve tested one whale out of the thirty reported.

“Most of the carcasses have been not retrievable. They’ve been floating and/or they’ve been stranded for a temporary period of time in inaccessible areas and a lot of those have been moderately to severely decomposed,” she said.

They have run some tests for biotoxins, but so far they’ve been inconclusive. Rowles says the sample they collected and tested was negative for domoic acid.
“We still have the saxitoxin results pending,” said Rowles. “But it hasn’t been a sample that’s been successful for us in the past, so even though the one sample we tested was negative, it was not the most appropriate sample to collect and test for biotoxins.”

Rowles says they can’t say for certain that the whale was not exposed to a biotoxin. In order to rule-in or rule-out possible causes of the whale deaths, she says they need more samples, but big whales are difficult to access in order to conduct necropsies.

“Trying to investigate large whale mortality events provides a lot of logistical complications and getting access to good samples, getting access safely to carcasses, and even finding a place for carcasses to be towed and examined,” said Rowles.

Many of the whales have washed up in the Kodiak Archipelago, and marine mammal specialist and on-site UME Coordinator, Bree Witteveen, says there are a few reasons why that could be. One is the high number of fin, humpback, and grey whales that already pass through those waters during summer.

“As far as the number of eyes that we have around Kodiak is quite a big greater than you would have around the Alaska Peninsula and further west and so we may simply just be able to see more of the carcasses and not document additional carcasses,” said Witteveen. “And further, if it was a very localized event, then you would expect the carcasses to be more localized when they are finally sighted.”

At the teleconference, NOAA representatives and partners said UME status should help answer some of these questions. NOAA Fisheries Stranding Network Coordinator for the Alaska Region, Aleria Jensen, said it will give them access to additional resources.

“We’ll be bringing together scientists, members of the stranding network, other national and international colleagues, so it becomes a much greater effort,” said Jensen. “We’ll also be able to be collaborating with the expertise that exist in the UME working group, so that will be an important resource for us as well as we move forward.”

But that doesn’t mean results will be quick.

Rowles says the next step is to put together the investigative team and pull the data together. She says it’ll be a slow process and it could be a while before they find an answer if they reach one.
Aug 20 2015
Thoughts from the Public Hearing on the Expansion of the Near Island Quarry
Thursday, 20 August 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Last night at its monthly regular meeting, the Kodiak Island Borough Zoning and Planning Commission discussed a conditional use permit application from the city to expand the quarry on Near Island. The city realized after the fact that the quarry is being built into the conservation zoning district, and the application is part of the process to fix that mistake by gaining the proper permissions.

Members of the public stepped up at the P&Z meeting to voice their thoughts. Many expressed concern that the quarry clashes with the forest area and trails bordering it. Here are excerpts of some of those statements.

2.73 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

After the public hearing and creating conditions, such as the installation of signs around the quarry, the Zoning and Planning Commission passed the main motion to move the expansion forward.
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