Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
Your voice in the Aleutians.
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  • Unalaska is officially connected to high speed fiber internet, but not everyone on the island has access to the new service.GCI connected its first customers in December, and now, Rural Affairs Director Jenifer Nelson said around 200 homes in the community of about 4,500 year-round residents are turned on and either actively using the fiber broadband or ready to start service.
  • A collection of 50-year-old audio recordings from the Aleutians have been digitized and are now accessible online.The recordings were part of an Unalaska school project from the ‘70s. A group of students and their teacher recorded various Elders in hopes of documenting the language, culture and history of the Unangax̂ community and the Aleutian region.There’s about 60 reel-to-reel audio tapes that make up the collection. They include topics from day-to-day activities to historic events, fishing stories and recipes, to accounts from Makushin and the other lost villages that were forcibly evacuated during World War II.
  • The local Russian Orthodox community celebrated Slavi, or Russian Christmas, over the weekend, which follows the Julian calendar and takes place Jan. 7. It was the first time the church held in-person Christmas services since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unalaska’s Church of the Holy Ascension is one of the oldest churches in Alaska, and arguably the oldest Russian Orthodox church in the state. On Russian Orthodox Christmas, congregants stood at the front of the church, spinning large, colorfully decorated stars in clockwise circles, while the choir sang traditional songs in Russian, Unangam Tunuu, English and the Eastern Orthodox Church’s liturgical language, Slavonic.
  • Atka, just east of Adak in the Aleutians, is in danger of losing electrical power because of problems with its hydro plant and backup generators; a collection of 50-year-old audio recordings from the Aleutians have been digitized and are now available online; and Alaska Army suicides decreased last year, reaching their lowest point since 2018.
  • The Bristol Bay red king crab fishery has been closed for two years, and along with it, Bering Sea snow crab have abruptly disappeared, causing another complete closure. Together, the fisheries generally bring in millions of dollars to the fleet and the coastal Alaska communities that rely on them. Since 2021, when king crab closed and snow crab saw a huge decline in harvest numbers, fishermen have taken an estimated $287.7 million hit. Without those fisheries and without that revenue, more and more boats are relying on other work like fishing for cod and small amounts of bairdi crab or summer tendering gigs just to make ends meet. So when a group of Bering Sea fishermen recently heard they’d be getting paid less than they hoped for cod this winter season, they figured they couldn’t afford to just sit by. But that’s exactly what they did. When the season opened, they didn’t go out to fish…and it worked.
  • In our 2022 year in review program, KUCB's Lauren Adams and Maggie Nelson take a look at some of the most significant moments of this past year in Unalaska.
  • A typical December on the island brings about six inches of rain, but Unalaska has already received more than 10 inches this month; President Joe Biden is expected to sign into law a bill that renames a volcano on a small Aleutian Island after the late Congressman Don Young; and a movement to change place names with derogatory or otherwise offensive histories is gaining momentum across the nation.
  • A typical December on the island brings about six inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service, but Unalaska has already received more than 10 inches this month. If the Aleutian community didn’t receive another drop of rain for the rest of the month, this would still be the ninth rainiest December on record.
  • GCI connected its first Unalaska customers to its fastest 2 gig internet speeds this week, but most island residents will have to wait until the new year before logging on; the late Alaska Rep. Don Young is about to have an Aleutian volcano named after him, after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to rename Mount Cerberus in his honor; and the National Weather Service still has a flood warning in effect, and there is still a potential for standing water and flash flooding in low lying areas.
  • GCI connected its first Unalaska residential customers to its fastest 2 gig internet speeds this week. And while some Unalaskans now have access to that fiber connection, most community members will have to wait until the new year before logging on.That timeframe is a little later than the telecommunications company had hoped — GCI had been planning for a launch by the end of the year. But for the majority of the island, that service is still weeks away. The company announced Thursday that its island-wide launch of high-speed internet will be rolled out in a “phased approach” and won’t likely happen until mid-January.
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