An eventful July ended with a number of significant items that make the cut for this month's news. Starting with the legal stuff, a major criminal trial in Nome resulted in a guilty verdict for ALO's client in a case that is sure to be appealed. The case involved sexual contact, specifically the brief placement of a man's hand on the outside of a winter parka over a woman's breast, which is a felony crime carrying a five year minimum mandatory jail sentence. With that kind of penalty at stake, it is difficult to find a compromise that works. Of additional significance was the fact that it had been determined before the trial that ALO was not going to be involved in any more felony trials after the Nome case. So after 43 years of handling such cases, with very few losses, ALO closes its felony record with a defeat. (at least for now) Trials are stressful. That is especially true when long jail sentences are at stake. A guy approaching 70 years old in November is entitled to look for less stressful cases.
One case still on the horizon involves a plane crash about 100 miles southeast of Bethel from last fall. That case has been investigated by the NTSB and they have taken the unusual step of scheduling a hearing in Alaska to gather more information. Here is a news article about the hearing. ALO represents the estate of the only paying customer aboard the plane.
Another local issue with legal implications was the harvest of a grey whale in the Kuskokwim River near Bethel. The hunt was captured on video and many still shots, and featured dozens of boats with many shooters and harpoon throwers. The press coverage was substantial. The hunt was divisive in the Bethel area. Grey whales are a protected species, of course, and no one in this area has a legal right to hunt them under any circumstance. Further the hunt involved tactics that were questionable, with many people firing randomly and dangerously. The animal sank when it died, and it was only when it floated up on its own that it was brought to shore and cut into pieces for eating. Many of the shooters had no clue how they were going to salvage the animal.
Many people complained about the lack of respect for the law and for Mother Nature displayed by the shooters. There is no question that some of the shooters were attracted to the scene by the shooting arcade atmosphere. Many of the folks had no interest in eating the whale, and disappeared quickly after it died, taking no part in the recovery. Others claimed the ends justified the means, with so much food to be shared. This event follows several other incidents where wildlife was shot illegally in the Bethel area. They include a cow and calf moose near town that were left to rot after the season, a newly introduced wood bison, and a group of musk ox. Respectful harvest of game animals is part of life in rural Alaska and practiced by everyone associated with ALO. Disrespect of any animal is another story. This whale should not have been killed. Some say it would have died anyway in fresh water, but even in the short time it was observed it made its way a few miles back down river before it was killed. Nothing prevented it from returning to salt water.
There were better stories in July. Local guy Nate DeHaan made network prime time with his appearance on American Ninja Warrior.
Nate is a Bethel dog musher and float pilot and those two pursuits put him in frequent contact with ALO. Nobody at ALO shares the athletic skill that got him on TV . Nate has a variety of athletic skills and all are tested on the show. He made it to the finals so stay tuned.
Trumpcare got voted down, and Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowksi had a major role in the process. Trump didn't like that, and threatened to take action against the state. This comedy clip explains it all. What an honor to be on Trump's list. He runs his White House like the Godfather, and that guy Scaramucci was going to be the enforcer. Former Bethel person Gerene Sumpter works for Murkowski. Maybe she should make sure the Senator auto-starts her car from now on.
This month's mandatory moose is actually 12 of them, taken by Kaylyn Tulik near Chefornak.
It wasn't too long ago there were no moose on the tundra near Chefornak, which is in a treeless area on the coast south of Bethel. The Bethel moose moratorium, opposed by many, was one of the best ideas ever for Mother Nature.
This picture comes from Minnesota and was taken by nephew Dave Wesloh.
This album comes from the Sherburne Refuge, located about 5 miles from the Angstman farm, and captures many of the same things that are common on the farm, only with a better photographer. Speaking of the farm, here this year's calves, our first time with every cow (17) having a calf.
Long time Bethel restaurant operator Maro Kargas passed away in July. She was the main cook at Dimitri's restaurant for a long time, and became a friend to most everyone who ate there. It was a family operation, and the Kargas family made it work. The main waitress was her daughter Litsa, and between the two of them they ran one of the best Greek restaurants around. Bethel travelers from all over raved about their food. In recent years the family went back to Cyprus for the winters, and those were dark times for regular customers. Small town America doesn't usually have the variety of restaurants found in Bethel, and certainly one of Dimitri's quality. An old friend of Maro penned this article for publication, and its worth reading.
Finally this picture captures Sarah's two dogs with Jack, in a rare moment when all three were sitting still for the camera.