Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
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  • 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.
  • Over the summer, Ravn Alaska started an incentive program where customers could earn credits to purchase things like airline tickets or pay baggage fees. They coined the credits “FlyCoin.”Now, the regional airline is working to make FlyCoin redeemable for hard currency.
  • 19-year-old Rodrey Sebastian and his little brother 13-year-old Eli Warden stepped into the gym at Unalaska’s Community Center on Saturday with one thing on their minds: winning.They’d already made one attempt and thrown a few paper airplanes each, then bought an extra 10 sheets of paper and sat carefully folding each into the same long, slender design.“We’re trying to send our parents to vacation,” Sebastian said. “They need it.”The brothers came to compete in the island’s very first Extreme Foldable Flight Event, a paper airplane contest that raised over $2,500 for the Alexandria House, a local nonprofit.
  • People living in Aleutian communities are no strangers to the occasional earthquake. But in recent years, the region has seen some ramped up seismic activity, including a magnitude-6.2 earthquake that hit just about 40 miles south of Unalaska earlier this month. KUCB’s Maggie Nelson sat down with Rob Witter, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, to hear more about the island’s recent earthquake and how that fits into the larger picture of seismic activity in the Aleutians.
  • Communities across the West Coast woke up Saturday morning to tsunami advisory alerts. An underwater volcano near the Kingdom of Tonga had erupted and sent waves thousands of miles across the ocean.Waves of up to about three feet reached parts of Alaska by Saturday morning. But hours before those waves arrived, sounds from the blast reached the homes of many Alaskans — all the way from Juneau to the Aleutians.