Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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Maggie Nelson


Hailing from Southwest Washington, Maggie moved to Unalaska in 2019. She's dabbled in independent print journalism in Oregon and completed her Master of Arts in English Studies at Western Washington University — where she also taught Rhetoric and Composition courses. In 2017 Maggie spent time working on a commercial tender boat out of Wrangell and is excited to finally return to Alaska to produce content for the Unalaska community.

  • A mid-September storm caused major damage in parts of Western Alaska. In Unalaska though, it brought strangely warm temperatures and a warning sign about future storm activity in the region. Wreckage from the historic storm spans about 1,000 miles of coastline from the Lower Kuskokwim area, up north to the Norton Sound region. Flooding and strong winds caused power outages, road and home damage and destroyed subsistence harvests and the means to replace those. While Unalaska was preparing for similar conditions and possible devastation, locals got lucky as the storm passed further west, near Shemya Island. Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said the high seas and strong winds were the remnants of Typhoon Merbok. And while they missed the Eastern Aleutians, they did push subtropical air into the region.
  • A Coast Guard patrol spotted Chinese and Russian military ships in the Bering Sea last week; after three years of negotiating, leaders of a pilots union have approved a tentative agreement with Alaska Airlines; and a recent underwater discovery on the west side of Prince of Wales Island shows that people have lived in what we now know as Southeast Alaska for at least 10,000 years.
  • A Coast Guard crew encountered a Chinese guided missile cruiser in the Bering Sea last week. The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball was on a routine patrol on Sept. 19, when the vessel encountered the Renhai CG 101 about 75 miles north of Kiska Island, in the Western Aleutians, according to a Coast Guard statement Monday morning. The statement said the Coast Guard crew identified two more Chinese naval vessels and four Russian naval vessels, including a Russian Federation Navy destroyer.
  • If you take a close look, kelp can be found all over the place, from your pantry to your shower shelves: It’s in beer, vitamins, salad dressings, toothpaste, even shampoos. Seaweed is gaining popularity across the globe, and with it, so is kelp farming. Alaska’s nascent kelp industry is following suit. The first commercial farm in the state was established in 2016, and more are popping up every year. But industry experts say Alaska farmers are currently facing a challenging growth spurt.
  • The superintendent of Unalaska’s schools, Robbie Swint Jr., has resigned. The school board accepted his resignation in a unanimous vote at a meeting Wednesday night. According to a statement from the board, Swint is moving off the island to be closer to his family. Swint said he is sorry that he won’t be fulfilling his commitment to the district. He was just over a year into his three-year contract. But he feels that he wasn’t supported by the school board and wants to put his family’s needs first. “I don't want to say any derogatory thing against anyone,” Swint said. “I will just say I don't believe it was a good fit for me for a number of reasons. And so that's why I submitted my resignation.”
  • The superintendent of Unalaska’s schools, Robbie Swint Jr., has resigned; Aleutian Airways will soon start scheduled flights to Unalaska; and a University of Alaska Southeast professor launched a podcast last month in an attempt to bring the Lingít language—and real talk about decolonization—to mainstream media.
  • Aleutian Airways has been granted approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to start charter and scheduled air service to Unalaska. That’s according to a statement released by the new regional airline Wednesday morning. While charters will start immediately, the company says it will announce scheduled routes within the next two weeks. The news comes just one week after the company ran a successful test flight of its Saab 2000 aircraft to Unalaska’s Tom Madsen airport.
  • Alaska’s young seaweed farming industry has recently reached a tricky crossroads; and a new five-year plan from the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office lays out institutional values and goals for Alaska fisheries and for working with their many stakeholders.
  • On this year’s ballot for Unalaska’s Municipal Election, there are two school board seats up for grabs. Bob Cummings is running unopposed for reelection for Seat C and David Gibson is running against incumbent Nicole Bice for Seat D.KUCB held a live forum for the candidates on Sept. 14. with Cummings and Gibson. Bice was unable to attend due to a work conflict.
  • After a slow salmon run this season, the Qawalangin Tribe is donating boxes of fish to Tribal members; officials with the National Weather Service say they expect the worst of the wind from this weekend’s storm in Western Alaska has passed; and state officials are now mobilizing to respond to the damage from the storm.