Salmon, storms and a tale of tangle with a brown bear dominated the headlines in Cordova during 2017. We took a trip through the archives with a little help from our Google Analytics to find our 24 most-read stories of the year. Time travel through 2017 with us as we take a look back at the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the year.
1. Cordova Chronicles: Cordova fisherman scores TKO over brown bear
August 19, 2017
Ladies and Gentlemen: Today’s Main Event features Robert Cunningham Jr., 7 foot 1 inch 300 pounder, of Cordova, versus Ursus Arctos, a 350 pound 4 foot tall (at the shoulder) brown bear, of Softuk.
It was a brief bout in the middle of nowhere. In an unusual heavyweight match no one other than a trio of cubs witnessed, Cunningham waylaid a charging sow with one strong right to the chops.
2. Extreme weather: City Christmas tree snaps in 108 mph winds
By Emily Mesner
December 11, 2017
The city of Cordova’s Christmas tree succumbed to high winds, snapping in half and falling into First Street, shortly before 12:15 a.m. Monday, Dec. 11.
The downed tree was first reported to The Cordova Times by Amanda O’Brien.
Rob Campbell reported 68 knots at his weather buoy in the harbor. “Glad I tightened my lines!” he wrote on The Cordova Times Facebook page.
Conex shipping containers near the shipyard collapsed and fell onto a nearby boat just five days after high winds shattered a window on one Cordova home.
The Cordova weather station sensor recorded gusts of 94.2 knots — or 108 mph — at 11:44 p.m. Sunday night.
3. Clarke home damaged by flood waters
Family reaches out to their hometown for assistance in aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
September 22, 2017
Former Cordovan Sean Clarke, his daughters Kinzie and Kaylin, and son Kynan, were rescued during Hurricane Harvey when a boat pulled up to the door of their flooded house Aug. 29, in Little Cypress, Texas.
“I picked up Kaylin, and Kynan picked up Kenzie,” Clarke said. “We were waist deep in water. The water came into the house so fast. When we were inside, we could see out the glass door that the water was six inches higher outside, then it was inside.”
Clarke, 48, 10-year-old twins Kenzie and Kaylin, and Kynan, 14, had lived in Cordova all of their lives, up until last year when he and the children moved to Texas.
Clarke said he’s been through some of Cordova’s toughest storms, but nothing like Hurricane Harvey, which whipped through East Texas as a Category 4 hurricane with 130 mph winds.
4. Bering River Coal Field rights retired
Pact will protect Bering River and Carbon Mountain watersheds from coal mining
January 25, 2017
In a groundbreaking decision announced on Jan. 25, a large portion of coal rights for the Bering River Coal Field, 55 miles southeast of Cordova, are being sold and retired.
The agreement sealing the fate of the bituminous coal field, some 25 miles north of Katalla, in the Carbon Mountains region, was reached by Chugach Alaska Corp., New Forests, The Nature Conservancy, and the Native Conservancy Land Trust.
New Forests, founded in 2005, is a sustainable real assets investment manager offering leading-edge strategies in forestry, timber processing, land management and conservation.
5. One rescued from bow picker in Copper River Delta
May 26, 2017
A Good Samaritan aboard the F/V Crown Royal came to the rescue on May 25 of the lone occupant of the 24-foot bow picker F/V Bad Boy that capsized on the Copper River Delta, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Coast Guard Sector Anchorage received a report of a capsize about noon of that day. No injuries were reported.
The Bad Boy is home ported in Cordova.
Cause of the incident is under investigation.
Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Valdez was coordinating with federal and state agencies to oversee salvage of the vessel and ensure protection of the marine environment. As fishing activity surge with the opening of the commercial salmon fishing season, this capsizing is a reminder to all that the Alaskan maritime environment can be dangerous. The Coast Guard is urging mariners to check their vessels’ safety equipment and remain vigilant.
6. Copper River salmon sales are hot
Retail prices have started their anticipated drop, with steady demand for the fresh fish
June 2, 2017
From gourmet restaurant entrees to Costco roadshows, Alaska is rolling out the red carpet again for Copper River salmon.
Copper River sockeye entrees, with rice pilaf and grilled asparagus, were on the menu in late May at the Glacier Brewhouse, in downtown Anchorage, for $34.95, and the 49th Street Brewing Co., in the midst of its Crab Fest, featured a sockeye stuffed with crab entree, plus mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables, for $32.99.
7. Alaska seafood is radiation free
Testing shows the health of Alaska seafood is not impacted by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster
January 12, 2017
State testing of seafood samples, in conjunction with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, reaffirms that the quality and health of Alaska seafood has not been impacted by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In a statement issued on Jan. 9, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed that testing for 2016 and dating back to 2014 revealed no detectable levels of Fukushima-related radionuclides.
8. Sea lion bites fisherman at Sand Point dock
F/V Cape St. Elias had no fish on board at the time
March 3, 2017
A crewman aboard a fishing vessel tied up at the Peter Pan Seafoods dock at Sand Point was bitten by a sea lion who jumped aboard the commercial fishing vessel, causing severe injury, the Aleutians East Borough said in a report published Feb. 28.
The attack on Michael “Mack” McNeil, of Deer Park, WA, occurred on Jan. 23, on board the F/V Cape St. Elias, the borough reported in an article written by Laura Tanis, borough communications director and editor of “In The Loop,” the borough’s online newsletter.
Owner/skipper Ben Ley said the attack was unprovoked.
“We were taking off a pollock net and putting on our cod net at the time,” Ley said. “There were zero fish on board. That’s what’s kind of eerie about this.”
9. F/V Kaybee broke loose from Cordova harbor in Tuesday’s windstorm
Readers took to social media to share
September 6, 2017
High winds and rain swept into Cordova on Tuesday night with gusts surpassing the 40 mph according to the National Weather Service.
Commercial fisherman Robert Linville’s boat, the F/V Kaybee broke loose from the dock in Cordova Harbor and washed ashore on Spike Island. Several other vessels arrived at the scene Wednesday morning to help recover the vessel.
Cordova Times readers reported downed trees, building damage, a destroyed greenhouse and an upturned trampoline on social media.
10. Coast Guard, good Samaritans aid vessel in distress
June 23, 2017
Crew aboard the fishing vessel Kodiak Sockeye got an assist from the U.S. Coast Guard in Cordova and good Samaritans on June 23 after their vessel began taking on water near Knowles Bay in Prince William Sound.
A Coast Guard Air station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew, forward deployed to Cordova, a Coast Guard Station Valdez 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore and crew from the good Samaritan vessel Rocky B provided the crew of the Kodiak Sockeye with dewatering pups.
The vessel was then towed by the RB-M crew 37 miles to Cordova.
The response came after Coast Guard sector Anchorage watchstanders got a report from the Kodiak Sockeye crew that the engine compartment was flooding. An urgent marine information broadcast prompted the launching of the Jayhawk, RB-M crews
and the Sycamore. Two good Samaritan vessels, the Rocky B and the Remedy, also responded.
11. Clifford “Mick” Johns, 69, died on the Copper River Flats May 25, doing what he loved to do
June 2, 2017
Clifford “Mick” Johns, a well-known, well-respected Cordova fishing veteran, died March 25, while commercial gillnet fishing at Pete Dahl Slough on the Copper River Flats, just outside of Cordova. Johns was 69.
Johns had been fishing these same waters since 1971. He didn’t make it home that night. His body was found on Pete Dahl beach later that evening, according to reports.
The U.S. Coast Guard Command Center, Anchorage, first received a call regarding the missing mariner shortly before 9 p.m., said Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios, at the Coast Guard’s public affairs office in Juneau.
“We received a call from a fisherman who had spotted the fishing vessel, F/V Dances With Clams, going in circles. The caller didn’t think there was anyone on board. We then received another call confirming that the vessel had been boarded, and (the owner) was not on board,” Rios said.
12. Power Creek Road washes out anew
Hydroelectric transmission cable in danger of further exposure; DOT set to inspect site in September
August 29, 2017
A 50-foot length of Power Creek Road washed out for the second time in a month on Aug. 29, in the aftermath of seven inches of rainfall in just 48 hours.
“Power Creek Road is currently closed,” said Meadow Bailey, communications director for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. “We are monitoring the situation and will make repairs when the weather improves and the water subsides.”
About half a mile of Power Creek Road is under a foot of water, and there’s a 50-foot long section where water is about four feet deep and crossing the road, she said.
It is the same section of road that washed out earlier this month and was repaired by DOT just over a week ago, she confirmed.
13. Fisheries board says no to emergency petition on Copper River fishery
May 17, 2017
An emergency petition that would have increased closures and restrictions on the Copper River commercial salmon fishery that gets underway this week was defeated May 17 during a special meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries in Anchorage.
The vote was 3-4.
The Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee had submitted the petition asking the board to require the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to publish an additional emergency order on commercial fishery management actions to be taken to assure the sustainable escapement goal for king salmon for the Copper River in 2017. ADF&G Commissioner Sam Cotten responded to the petition earlier, saying that he concluded that the situation did not warrant such action.
14. Oil spill response facility to be built at Shepard Point
Approval from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers comes after more than 16 years of study
October 16, 2017
An oil spill response facility at Shepard Point, a deep-water access site near Cordova, with access to the all-weather airport, has received construction approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Native Village of Eyak announced on Oct. 16.
Approval came after more than 16 years of study by federal and state agencies. The project has the support of NVE, Chugach Alaska Corp., the city of Cordova, the Eyak Corp. and Alaska’s congressional delegation, NVE officials said.
The facility was one of three such facilities outlined in a federal court approved consent decree to resolve litigation in the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Tribal leaders said that NVE took the lead in soliciting funds from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, and over the last two decades worked to design and redesign the facility to minimize and mitigate adverse environmental impacts of the project. They also said they were pleased with the Corps’ decision on location of the site as the preferred alternative, and that it is the only available site to locate a deep draft dock near Cordova that will allow for quick response to Prince William Sound in the event of an oil spill or other incident.
15. Four rescued from sinking seiner
August 4, 2017
Four crewmembers aboard a seiner were rescued on Aug. 4 when their fishing vessel capsized near South Knight Island in Prince William Sound, Coast Guard officials said.
All four people on board the 52-foot All In were hauling in the vessel’s nets at the time of the capsize, the Coast Guard said. They were rescued by crew of the fishing vessel Trail Blazer. No injuries were reported.
The All In, homeported at Kenai, remained capsized and partially submerged off shore of South Knight Island between Point Helen and Hogan Bay.
16. Ravn temporarily suspends Cordova flights
September 9, 2017
Ravn Alaska will temporarily suspend scheduled Dash 8 service between Cordova and Anchorage on Oct. 1, with plans to resume seasonal service no later than May 1, the company announced on Sept. 8.
David Pflinger, chief executive officer for the air carrier, said Ravn is working with its passengers and the community to reduce the impact caused by this decision.
The company offered no specific reason for the decision.
Ravn Alaska is aware of the impact these changes have on its passengers and is committed to ensuring all affected passengers will be provided alternative travel options, Pflinger said. Passengers who have purchased a ticket to or from Cordova have been contacted by Ravn Alaska and offered an alternative option on Alaska Airlines or a full refund, he said.
17. Windstorm shatters window, rattles nerves
By Emily Mesner
December 6, 2017
Howling winds rattled Cordova, causing buildings to shake and glass to shatter.
Around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, strong winds and rain ripped through town. The Eyak Inn’s walls trembled as rain blew sideways.
David Janka, owner of Auklet Charter Services, said that readings from the National Weather Station in the Cordova Boat Harbor calculated the peak wind gust at 71 mph.
However, Janka guessed that it easily reached 80 mph.
18. Darling’s Ferments goes commercial
Business expands from craft fairs to Harborside Pizza, Nichols’ Front Door Store
April 14, 2017
After much success at local craft fairs, where her krauts and kombucha quickly sold out Darling’s Ferments owner Rachel Hoover is branching out to market her creations at Harborside Pizza and Nichols Front Door Store.
The first batch of Hoover’s kombucha on tap at Harborside Pizza is passion fruit. As of press time, neither the folks at Harborside, nor Hoover, knew how much a glass of the elixir will sell for, but it will be affordable.
The kombucha flavor will change with every keg, she said, “We plan to keep it exciting.”
Beginning April 16, Nichols Front Door will carry four varieties of Darling’s Ferments – Kimchi, Curry Kraut, Ginger-Beet Kraut and Classic Kraut, at $13.99 for a 16-ounce bag.
19. Outgoing cutter commander thanks Cordova
Jarnac: Sycamore’s crew is the best crew in the U.S. Coast Guard fleet
June 9, 2017
U.S. Coast Guard’s Cmdr. James “Jim” Jarnac officially relinquished command of the Cutter Sycamore, homeported in Cordova, to Lt Cmdr. Collin Bronson June 1, during the change of command ceremony at the Coast Guard pier.
“Command at sea is an amazing opportunity and I am eternally grateful that the Coast Guard has trusted me with the Sycamore and her crew,” said Jarnac, who served three years as commander of the Sycamore, beginning in June 2014. “I am a Coast Guard seagoing officer through and through, and there is no greater honor than to serve in command of one of our ships,” he said.
At one point during the ceremony, Jarnac’s voice wavered and his eyes visibly teared up as he credited his wife, Jo Ann Jarnac, for her unwavering support.
20. Copper River fishery opens
Harvesters garner $8 for sockeyes, $11 for kings
May 23, 2017
Upwards of 400 fishing vessels were on the grounds for the opening of the Copper River salmon fishery on May 18, to harvest some 36,000 sockeyes and 1,900 Chinooks, and fishermen were rewarded with record grounds prices.
“It’s another record,” said Scott Blake, a veteran harvester who is president and chief executive officer of Copper River Seafoods, as he held a 40-plus pound king salmon fresh off of an Alaska Airlines jet in Anchorage the following afternoon.
Fishermen braved temperatures in the low 40s and off and on rain throughout the first opener, made 481 deliveries, garnering $8 a pound for the reds and $11 for the kings, up from $7 and $9 respectively a year ago.
21. Stimson gets three years in fatal Cordova crash
Enrique Zamudio remembered as family speaks at hearing
By Emily Mesner
December 15, 2017
J.D. Stimson will serve three years in prison for criminally negligent homicide and driving under the influence in the vehicle crash death of his friend Enrique Zamudio in August of 2016.
“This has been the hardest, most painful, brutally honest year of my life and I can only imagine what it’s been like for the Zamudio family,” Stimson said during the sentencing at the Cordova courthouse on Dec. 5. “I lost someone I loved deeply.”
Through tears, Stimson addressed the court and Zamudio family, “I’m sorry for not learning my lesson the first time. I’m sorry for putting Enrique and the community in danger and I’m sorry for ripping the darkest, most painful hole into the Zamudio family.”
Stimson, then 19, lost control of his vehicle and struck a utility pole on August 9, 2016 on First Street near the ferry terminal, according to Cordova police records. Zamudio, 18, a passenger in the vehicle, was fatally injured.
22. Alaska Airlines construction begins Feb. 24
February 17, 2017
Alaska Airlines will begin extensive remodeling of its Cordova airport terminal on Feb. 24, a project expected to take about two weeks, and cause longer wait times for check in and in luggage drop areas, as well as the security screening checkpoint.
Cargo customers should also anticipate longer wait times, said Sean Langhelm, an airline spokesman and customer service manager at Yakutat.
The Cordova project will involve replacing the terminal floor, remodeling of bathrooms, painting the interior and exterior, and upgrading fixtures to LED lighting, he said.
23. T-Craft Tales: A book worth reading
Ranney: One of the passengers had said there was no way he was going to fly with a woman pilot … but then he guessed it would be okay.
April 21, 2017
Cordova’s Gayle Ranney has written a book titled “T-Craft Tales”. It’s about flying small planes in Alaska, and much more. After a 40-year career that spans 26,000 flight hours, she certainly has plenty to write about.
This 220-page book is so entertaining it only took me four hours to read it and I am a notoriously slow reader. The book centers around page-turning anecdotes, beginning with a chance encounter with an Alaska Bush pilot back in 1965 when Ranney took a teaching job in Juneau. Gayle learned to fly there, and the title comes from the first plane she owned, a Yakutat based T-Craft she purchased sight-unseen before she even had her private license.
24. Mills family hopes for adoption by Christmas
Nearly $20,000 saved with community help, but costs could reach $60,000
September 20, 2017
Thoughts of adoption has always been close to the hearts of Bree and Bryan Mills, and now the Cordova couple, parents of a six-year old daughter, are hoping to have their new baby at home for Christmas.
The couple, who have one daughter, Everleigh, 6, decided in January that adding to their family through the adoption of an infant was what they wanted to do.
“Growing up in the church, we both had many friends whose families grew through adoption. We always considered it a completely valid way of choosing to grow your family. We had spoken about the idea of adoption before we were even married, as something we’d both thought about exploring more someday, but that plan was expedited when I experienced unexplained secondary infertility after we had Everleigh,” Bree said.
And they did welcome their new daughter before Christmas: