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Alaska State News

  • A delegation of Alaska energy officials on Tuesday visited Unalaska, where representatives from the Makushin Geothermal Project made their case for what could prove one of the biggest geothermal projects in Alaska history.
  • The Alaska Marine Highway System released its summer sailing schedule Tuesday, and Unalaska will receive similar service as last year. The M/V Tustumena is the only state ferry serving the Aleutian chain, and it will make six calls in Unalaska this summer — roughly once per month from May through September.
  • One proposal aimed to limit the amount of chum caught in Area M’s South Peninsula fishery to allow more chum to return to Western Alaska rivers. The board ended up passing some restrictions, but it’s far short of what Western Alaska residents were hoping for. And communities near the Area M fishery say they aren’t satisfied either.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday it had received funding approval for the Unalaska Bay dredging project, which aims to clear a channel through an underwater shoal at the entrance to Iliuliuk Bay, just outside Dutch Harbor and the Unalaska Spit.
  • The National Weather Service is reshaping its coastal waters across Alaska, adding new zones and more accurate forecasting.“We decided to go ahead and pare down our marine zones,” said Aviva Braun, warning coordination meteorologist for the Anchorage weather service office. “So what is currently the coastal water forecast, which goes from shoreline up to 100 nautical miles, is now going from shoreline to 15 nautical miles, and then 15 nautical miles and out. So they’ll be split into two zones, essentially.”
  • A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage said a fairly strong low pressure system is traversing the Aleutians from West to East. Cold air, mixed with subtropical moisture, is leading to heavy snow and high winds.
  • The city of Unalaska agreed to pay $765,000 to settle four separate lawsuits against its police department, all brought by former Unalaska Department of Public Safety employees who say they were either wrongfully fired or forced to quit due to harassment and bullying within the department, which the city and the accused officers deny.
  • The company aiming to bring geothermal energy to Unalaska plans to pay more than $90 million to an engineering and construction firm to build the volcano-powered project, under a contract announced Jan. 18.Ounalashka Corporation/Chena Power, LLC, the company behind the project, is a joint venture between Unalaska’s Native corporation and Fairbanks-based Chena Power. And while OCCP Project Manager Dave Matthews said they plan to start construction of the plant this coming summer, the company still hasn’t announced that it’s secured any funding.
  • 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.
  • King crab and snow crab fishery closures, the Makushin Geothermal Project, and developing Dutch Harbor as an Arctic port: Unalaska has big things in the works, both in terms of opportunities and challenges. And the steps local leaders take in the next few years could change the community’s path for decades. Each year, representatives from Unalaska travel to Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of the city’s interests. Unalaska City Councilmember Shari Coleman was on the latest lobbying trip in December. She sat down with KUCB to talk about Unalaska’s priorities.