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LegHead (ledj-hed) Report
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 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 

 
Dec 24 2015
Library Director Looks Back at 2015 and Forward to 2016
Thursday, 24 December 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Public Library observed its second anniversary at its new location earlier this month. Library director Katie Baxter says the current building on Egan Way was completed in October of 2013.

“There was a wonderful history of people committed to the library in Kodiak since the inception. There was an original location downtown on Mill Bay Road and, over time, the building just outlived its purpose, and various community members became aware of opportunities through state funding and grant programs to be able to design a new building.”

Baxter says the library offers a host of different opportunities, including a series of author meet and greets and storytelling workshops.

“I am proud of each and every program that the library has offered. We have offered a total of over 250 programs just in the last year alone. This year, we will exceed that amount. And, in addition, the library serves as a community forum for people who want to share their passions, knowledge, habits, activities.”
 
She says the library is also in the middle of creating its technology plan.

“We have been fortunate enough to receive through state grants various iPads, MacBooks, etcetera, and so we slowly roll out the use of that equipment, and so this year is a very important time for us to make that equipment available to patrons, give one-on-one instruction.”

Baxter says the library is planning to complete some work on the property next year.

“We’re delighted as a staff that the library is thriving and is used so much, and yet behind the scenes we know that we are still tweaking some of the building project needs and we’re waiting for the good weather of the spring to wrap up the landscape of the exterior grounds.”

The Kodiak Public Library is located at 612 Egan Way and its regular hours on weekdays are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
 
 
Dec 24 2015
Task Force Fights Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center Closure
Thursday, 24 December 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A Kodiak fisheries research building may be on the cusp of closure according to a task force now trying to keep it open. The Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center on Near Island – formerly known as Fisheries Industrial Technology Center - belongs to the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, and its future is uncertain.

The task force hopes to convince the president of the University of Alaska to extend the deadline on its decision to give the group enough time to come up with a thorough presentation in defense of the facility.

KMXT sat down with members of the task force to talk about what they hope to

3 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup



Kodiak Island Borough Assemblyman Larry LeDoux says the Alaska State Legislature established the center in 1981 as an applied research facility to investigate efficient catching, processing of fish, seafood safety, and preservation.

“In fact, they’ve contributed significantly to the fisheries industry in Alaska, so it’s vital that this institution be functioning so that they can tackle some of the challenges our fishermen face, that we can develop more efficient ways to process our food and to utilize waste and value added processing.”

LeDoux says applied research is different from academic research in that it investigates the questions that the public needs answered. He says, traditionally, there has been opposition between the two research types because they don’t mix well.

And he says applied science now has a smaller presence at the center because of budget cuts.  

“Over time, the applied research component has slowly disappeared, until they have, I think, one and a half employees resident in the facility, and so we believe that if we lose the facility, then the program is lost completely. What we’re really interested in is the program that the facility hosts.”

He says the task force is concerned that the university made the decision to close the center quickly and without public input.

“So, what we’re looking for and what the borough assembly did and the city council - we wrote a letter to the president asking that they maintain it as least for another year, and they give our community, the industry education a chance to work together to develop a sustainability plan and to refine the mission so it continues to serve the citizens of Alaska with regard to applied fisheries research.”

Alan Austerman is a former Alaska State Representative and is also a member of the task force. He spoke about some of the challenges the center has faced with getting funding and recognition for its contributions.

“Whereas the big money comes into the university when you start talking about the fisheries and oceans – it’s ocean grants. That’s where the bulk of the money comes into the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. So, fisheries has kind been on the downplay a little bit, and also of course the School of Fishery being stationed in Fairbanks is kind of a difficult connection to be made between our ocean fisheries and the education system that we want.”

He says the University of Alaska has generally overlooked the center, and has offered the building to the University of Alaska Anchorage. He says the university president has given the chancellors of the University of Alaska Anchorage and University of Alaska Fairbanks until March 1 to come up with a recommendation.

Austerman also says it’s a difficult process because the center has gone through several different directors and has not had a permanent position holder for almost two years.  

“Without a director, there’s been no fund raising going on, and no grant raising going on and those kind of things that would keep the facility active and going, so that’s something we’re going to have to reinstitute as part of our strategy plan, but you can’t pull that together in a month or three months. It takes time to do that, so our effort right now is to try to get the president to hold off a year before they make a final decision.”
 
You can hear more about the center’s future and what the task force is trying to achieve on the most recent Talk of the Rock.
 
Dec 24 2015
The Alaska Fisheries Report - December 24
Thursday, 24 December 2015

6.41 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

 

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Coming on this Solstice-Festivus-Saturnalia-Christmas-Boxing Day-Kwanzaa edition of the Alaska Fisheries Report, a harbor so clean you could probably fish out of it, the art of packing salmon, and if you want to know what people in Sand Point think about genetically-modified salmon, our high school correspondents from KSDP have you covered. All that and more, coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from KSDP's Jillian Bjornstad, Chloe Gardner and Evan Wilson in Sand Point, KYUK's Charles Enoch in Bethel, KRBD's Maria Dudzak in Ketchikan, and KCAW's Emily Kwong in Sitka.  

 
Dec 24 2015
Wild Alaskan Owner Guilty of Sewage Dumping
Thursday, 24 December 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The owner of the Wild Alaskan, a night club aboard a converted Bering Sea crabber that had been anchored in Kodiak, was found guilty in federal court Wednesday of illegal dumping of sewage and lying to federal authorities about it. 

Darren Byler faces maximum fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and years in prison for the violations. The jury found his wife, Kimberly Riedel-Byler, not guilty of the same charges.

The Wild Alaskan, built on the hull of the former fishing vessel Shaman, had two restrooms, one for customers and one for the burlesque dancers, but had no provisions for storing and properly disposing of sewage. Byler contended that the ship's sewage was either pumped off at Pier 2, or taken beyond the three-mile limit and dumped at sea. Prosecutors estimate that in the six months the Wild Alaska was in operation, more than 1,000 customers frequented the night club.

Investigators found that his claims were false. Byler is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason in March.
 
Dec 24 2015
Court Orders City of Kodiak to Release Pletnikoff Documents
Thursday, 24 December 2015
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Jay Barrett/KMXT
A Superior Court judge Tuesday sided with Kodiak Public Broadcasting Corporation and ordered the City of Kodiak to immediately comply with the state's public records act in a case of alleged excessive use of force by three Kodiak police officers. The order was handed down by Kodiak Judge Steve W. Cole.

KMXT public radio's parent corporation sued when the city denied the station's Freedom of Information Act request for details after an incident where three policemen handcuffed and pepper-sprayed 28-year-old Nick Pletnikoff, who is severely autistic, as he was checking his family's mailbox on September 16th.

Pletnikoff was not charged with any crime, but was left bloodied, bruised, and according to his mother Judy, traumatized by his encounter with the KPD officers. 

KMXT sought more information about the incident, including the identities of the three officers, as public outrage grew and the police blotter referred to the call only as “suspicious circumstances; all okay.”

In his order, Judge Cole flatly rejected the argument that a third-party investigation underway is an “enforcement action,” and therefore exempts the city from complying with the Alaska Public Records Act. 

Judge Cole likewise rejected the city’s assertion that it did not want to invade the privacy of those involved in the incident. Cole points out that Pletnikoff’s name is well known to the public and is a part of the public record, and any witnesses interviewed did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy since they likely consented to the interviews. Cole didn't address whether the police officer's identities should be private, but wrote if the city had alleged that, it would not be a well-founded claim.

In summary, the Cole wrote, in part, “(T)he city has not met its burden to show the disclosure request should be denied….”

Judge Cole has ordered the City of Kodiak to immediately comply with KMXT’s Public Records Act request and to release to KMXT, immediately – but no later than December 31st, the chest-cam videos recorded by the three KPD officers during their response to the Pletnikoff incident.

Assistant Kodiak City Manager Mike Tvenge said that the city fully intends to comply with the court order and hopes the information proves valuable to the community.
 
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