Angela Denning, KFSK - Petersburg
Angela Denning is a reporter at KFSK in Petersburg.
Kuskokwim Chinook salmon—or Kings as they are known locally–did not make it to the spawning grounds this year as managers had expected. Counting projects are showing the lowest escapements in history for nearly all of the river’s tributaries. Managers and residents are trying to make a plan for next year.
The original Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bethel was totaled by a fire early Sunday morning. The structure still remains but the inside is blackened. The emergency call came into the police and fire departments at about 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 25. The caller said the outside of the building was burning.
Tribal leaders from around the state will be gathering in Anchorage this week to address the suicide epidemic. It’s sponsored by the Alaska Tribal Leaders and is their 13th annual summit meeting. All 229 tribes in Alaska are invited.
Heading west from Bethel towards the Bering Sea the lakes get bigger and there are more of them. From the air, it’s a patchwork of water and land. In the winter time they become frozen into one making cross country travel by snow machine relatively easy. But the rest of the year, traveling by tundra is not. And that’s where the tundra tram comes into play.
Gene Peltola Jr., also known as Buzzy, has resigned from running the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge based in Bethel. He has taken a promotion and is moving to Anchorage to become the Assistant Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He will head the subsistence program at the Office of Subsistence Management.
Coastal Villages Region Fund, the state’s largest Community Development Quota group, has been asking for more fish for their fishermen. It would require Congress amending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. In response, Alaska’s congressional delegation says before pursuing changes to fishing allocations they would need a consensus.
A fire injured three people in Bethel Sunday afternoon when the gas tank they were filling in their boat exploded. The boat was on a trailer at the North Star Gas station near Brown Slough Bridge. Bethel police, fire fighters, and medics responded to the emergency call which came in around 3 p.m.
Relief funds for last summer’s King salmon fisheries disasters on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers has taken one step closer to reaching fishermen in the region.
The State of Alaska has submitted a cross appeal in the Kuskokwim fishermen trials. About two dozen fishermen were convicted in Bethel court in May for taking King salmon last summer when restrictions were in place. Fifteen fishermen are appealing that decision.
Peter Tony, age 69, is in jail in Bethel awaiting court proceedings for multiple charges of child sexual abuse. Meanwhile, his case keeps growing. It’s evolving from two sides: the past and the present; a 48-year-old alleged victim and a four-year-old alleged victim. Kimberley Bruesch is Peter Tony’s step daughter who says he abused her when she was 8. She says her abuse lasted for about a year but the aftermath went on for decades.
The main stem of the Kuskokwim River has gone without restrictions for salmon fishing this season. At least, up until now. Restrictions will go into affect this Friday in the form of 6-inch gear limitations.
A former foster parent and daycare provider in Bethel has been arrested for charges that he sexually abused a 4-year-old. Bethel police arrested 69-year-old Peter Tony June 13 after investigating him for six months. They say he could have many more victims going back to the 1970s.
The first King salmon are being caught on the Kuskokwim River and state managers don’t foresee any restrictions for at least a few weeks. Fishermen on the Kuskokwim River can use 8 inch King nets right now, something that was highly restricted last year due to a very poor run. The State’s preseason data calls for another low return this year but so far, managers say there’s no reason to restrict fishing.
A young brown bear cub was recently found near Platinum and turned into the Fish and Game office in Bethel. The bear was a tiny male, 9 pounds in all. It was reportedly being chased by some dogs so Jay Bitney picked him up to try to keep him safe. Bitney had been in the area for work, crushing gravel.
The Kuskokwim fishermen trials continued today at the Bethel Court House. More fishermen were found guilty for illegal fishing last summer during King salmon closures. The fishermen’s defense attorney continued to ask the court to dismiss the cases and the judge continued to find the fishermen guilty. The fishermen took turns on the stand, some breaking down when they talked about what subsistence meant to them.
Nearly 50 fishermen were cited for illegal salmon fishing last June. Half of them pled not guilty and have been fighting it in court ever since.
A former Bethel police officer is being charged with being intoxicated while on the scene of a police shooting last fall. Last October, a Bethel police officer shot and killed a man in a neighborhood near Brown’s Slough. The man, 24-year-old Sam Alexie Jr., was intoxicated and pointed a rifle at the officer who then shot him.
Last year, an unprecedented 12-day King salmon fishing closure on the Kuskokwim River devastated the subsistence harvest of the fish. Instead of taking about 75,000 Kings as usual, residents only caught 20,000. However, this year should be different.