Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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  • Travelers can now book mid-November flights on Aleutian Airways between Anchorage and Unalaska, according to a statement released by the airline Monday morning. Prospective passengers can make reservations online through the company’s website or via local travel agents.
  • A taxi driver involved in a head-on collision in Unalaska last week is in “fair” condition, according to representatives from Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Ron Knop was medevaced to Anchorage after his taxi-cab collided with a commercial tractor-trailer truck at the “S” curves on Airport Beach Road last Monday.
  • The new strain of bird flu that arrived in Alaska with the spring migration has now been detected in a fox that died in the Aleutian Islands. Wildlife officials say the red fox, as well as eagles, found dead in the Unalaska area, were most likely feeding on birds that had died from the H5N1 avian influenza.
  • For the friends and families of 16-year-old Karly McDonald and 18-year-old Kiara Renteria Haist, the spring of 2019 brought unfathomable change and an immeasurable rift of time. May 9 marked the three-year anniversary of a tragic car accident on Unalaska's Mount Ballyhoo that cost McDonald and Renteria Haist their lives. Both died when their classmate drove his truck off the mountain, while they were inside. To honor the memory of the young girls, several dozen Unalaskans gathered outside the Burma Road Chapel on a foggy afternoon, waving signs, chatting softly and offering each other hugs and support. Passersby waved from their cars, honking their horns in solidarity.
  • It was still dark at Unalaska’s Robert Storrs Small Boat Harbor, just before 5 a.m. on a fair spring morning. Normally, Dustan Dickerson and his three-man crew would be warming up the engine of the 54-foot Raven Bay by now so they could head out a few miles to haul and set cod pots, eat, sleep and repeat for a couple days before returning home. But on this mid-March morning, the crew was joined by three sleepy-eyed greenhorns: Corynn Lekanoff, Kaidon Parker and Anatoly Fomin. The three local teens were headed out for a day trip to get a glimpse into the life of Unalaska’s small boat fishermen. The trip is part of an outreach program led and started earlier this year by Dickerson, captain and owner of the Raven Bay. It’s meant to provide local youth with the chance to get on a boat and see what fishing is all about.
  • ABOARD THE PINNACLE, Bering Sea — Through the wheelhouse window, captain Mark Casto spotted a white line on the horizon. The edge of an ice floe was illuminated by bow lights piercing the morning darkness of the Bering Sea. He throttled back the engines. Soon, the Seattle-based crab boat began to nose through closely packed pancake-like pieces and bigger craggy chunks, some the size of boulders, which bobbed about in the currents and clanged against the hull. Casto had hoped this patch of sea would yield a bountiful catch of snow crab to help fill up the boat. Nearby, a few hours earlier, he had set more than two dozen baited pots along the sea bottom. Now, he risked losing them in the fast-moving ice.
  • Alaska businesses hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic have until April 30 to apply for tens of millions of dollars from a second round of federal pandemic relief funding. But that’s only if they didn’t get money during the first series of grants issued through the state’s American Rescue Plan Act. Even if business owners applied and were turned down during that first round of the Alaska ARPA Business Relief Program, they can still give this second round a shot, said Shirley Marquardt, executive director for the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference. “If you applied, but you did not get any funding, for whatever reason … you can go back and you can apply again here on round two,” Marquardt said. “And I would really strongly urge people to do that.”
  • A wide variety of artwork including metal sculptures, ivory carvings and wood burnings drew a crowd of more than one hundred people to Unalaska’s Museum of the Aleutians for the opening of the 30th Annual Aleutian Arts Council Community Art Show. Community members, local artists, tourists and weathered-in fishermen filed into MOTA’s gallery room to admire the art pieces at the exhibit opening last month.
  • Unalaska’s Iliuliuk Family and Health Services clinic has a new interim chief operator. Jennifer Heller is a certified nurse midwife. She’s been working in healthcare for more than two decades and has been employed at IFHS as a nurse midwife and quality improvement coordinator since 2019. Now, she’s the second interim CEO the island’s clinic has hired since December.
  • Will Rodgers has stepped down from his position as interim CEO at Unalaska’s main clinic. That leaves Iliuliuk Family and Health Services once again without a chief executive. Rodgers returned to the island’s clinic in December after Melanee Tiura, the previous CEO, resigned. She took a position with Providence Medical Center in Valdez.