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.

  • Eight Aleutian businesses were awarded $3,000 each in late April as part of a new microgrant program from the Aleutian Marketplace. Grant recipients range from an ice cream shop in King Cove to a notary in Unalaska to commercial fishermen in Sand Point. A total of $24,000 worth of grant money was distributed throughout the region. It’s the first of two rounds of grants through the partnership between the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association, TelAlaska, Wells Fargo and the Aleut Corporation. The organizations work with community members, small business owners and creative entrepreneurs throughout the region in an attempt to help fuel local economies.
  • New data from drone surveys flown over Unalaska’s three road-system lakes last summer show low sockeye salmon counts. The counts total less than half of what they were in summer of 2020, according to data released in April by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. But Fish and Game biologist Tyler Lawson said the one-year drop isn’t too concerning. Escapement numbers often fluctuate and there’s more room for error in aerial surveys, he said. “We call them a ‘high error survey,’ which kind of sounds bad, but it's just because in comparison to the weir — which is a very precise tool — there's variability whenever you're up in the air, looking down and trying to count salmon,” he said. While the technology is still relatively new when it comes to counting salmon in Unalaska, Lawson said he’s hopeful that drones will play a key role in helping assess broader trends among salmon stocks in the region.
  • A group of Unalaskans marched in support of abortion rights on Sunday; Alaska’s state Senate has voted to pay Alaskans $1,300 on top of their permanent fund dividends; and advocates for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People gathered in Juneau on Thursday.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski says if a majority of justices vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, it shakes her confidence in the Supreme Court; the state’s health department says the highly toxic synthetic opioid fentanyl has caused a huge increase in overdoses in Alaska over the last year; and two Canadian snowboarders summited and rode down Makushin Volcano.
  • The Alaska House of Representatives agreed last week to changes made to a mariculture enhancement bill that would allow shellfish to be farmed in hatcheries, moving it one step closer to becoming law. House Bill 41 would allow certain nonprofits to pursue mariculture enhancement or restoration projects for species of shellfish — like abalone, razor clams, sea cucumbers and king crab. It would be the first time in Alaska’s history that people could raise animals like crab in hatcheries and release them into the wild to support commercial fisheries. Independent Rep. Dan Ortiz sponsored the bill, which was presented in February last year.
  • In a unanimous vote, City Council members granted the Unalaska School District its full funding request of roughly $5 million — a 6.5% increase from last year. The school district is expecting a drastic drop in student enrollment next fiscal year. And officials said that means they’ll be getting less money from the state. Overall, the projected budget is about $8 million — less than a 2% increase from last year. Still, the budget has a deficit of more than $200,000. District officials said a large part of that is due to trying to combat learning losses from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Sand Point upgraded its travel lift in the harbor; the deadline to register to vote in the special election to fill the seat of late Congressman Don Young is May 12; and some cruise ships in Alaska have been given special permission to exceed normal pollution standards.
  • Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited King Cove last week as she considers approving construction of a road that would travel through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and Gov. Mike Dunleavy says he's not optimistic that Haaland will approve the road.
  • Six Western Alaska nonprofits can now apply for a slice of nearly $200 million in federal loans to pay for fishing vessels, quota and other industry expenses to support economic development in their region. The long-term loans are from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are exclusively available to the Western Alaska Community Development Quota Program. The CDQ program is made up of six nonprofit groups that are tasked with supporting economic development and wellbeing in communities on the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands through fisheries revenues.
  • Travelers can now purchase Ravn Alaska flights using Alaska Airlines miles. That’s according to a Thursday statement from the regional airline. Ravn said passengers with the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan can redeem miles on flights to and from any of Ravn’s 12 destinations. Ravn and Alaska Air reached a mileage sharing agreement in 2021, but at the time customers could only earn Alaska miles on Ravn flights. They couldn’t use them to purchase Ravn flights.