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In Brief

June 16th | Staff Report Print this article   Email this article  

Search suspended for missing Wales boaters

By Shady Grove Oliver

The Arctic Sounder

The search for two missing boaters near Wales has been suspended as of early Tuesday morning.

The U.S. Coast Guard had been leading the search around the Bering Straits area since Sunday, with other agencies and locals assisting.

"Coast Guard search and rescue crews covered more than 2,300 square miles in their attempt to find the missing boaters," said Coast Guard Command Duty Officer Adam De Rocher, in a release that day. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the missing boaters during this difficult time."

The boaters were identified by Alaska State Troopers as Timothy Milligrock, who is in his early 20s, and Damian Soolook, 14, both of Wales.

Troopers received a report of an overdue boat operated by Milligrock and Soolook just after 5 a.m. on June 11, according to an online dispatch. The young men had reportedly left the village sometime after 2 a.m. the same morning and hadn't been seen since, though it was reported to the Coast Guard that they were "heard yelling for help at approximately 2:30 a.m." After the report came in, the Guard issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast.

The two young men were not wearing life jackets and had no survival equipment with them, the Coast Guard noted.

Weather posed a challenge for searchers who were faced with fog, wind, ice, and waves, troopers said. Search efforts were officially transferred to the Coast Guard the same day.

Crews from Air Station Kodiak began to arrive in the afternoon, with an HC-130 Hercules airplane and MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter searching through the evening, though locals went out much earlier in the day.

"Coast Guard aircrews must often fly vast distances to respond to calls for aid in Alaska's remote regions," said Chief Warrant Officer Joseph Ayd, in a release. "We greatly value the assistance and knowledge of local search and rescue responders."

Villagers searching the shoreline were not able to locate the boaters, the release noted.

The following day, the University of Alaska Fairbanks research vessel Sikuliaq joined the effort, to no avail.

The search was called off by the Coast Guard on June 13.

Qagruq and Nalukataq kick off on North Slope

By Shady Grove Oliver

The Arctic Sounder

The North Slope's spring and summer whaling celebrations are kicking off this week with several days of festivities in Tikiġaq.

Point Hope's Qagruq started June 11 and continued through Tuesday, hosted by several crews from the village. Clark Lane Sr. and Tiara Kingik, Willie Nashookpuk Sr., Michael and Lenora Tuzroyluk Sr., Herbert and Eva Kinneeveauk Sr., Russell and Andrea Lane, Jacob and Della Lane Jr., and Joe Max and Hilda Frankson were the families at the forefront this year.

Nuiqsut's Nalukataq celebrations will happen throughout the month of June, starting with Thomas and Maryanne Napageak on June 10, and continuing with Carl and Wendy Brower on June 19, Edward Nukapigak on June 26, and Herbert and Vera Ipalook Sr. on June 28.

In Wainwright, the Iceberg 14 crew led by Jason Ahmaogak will kick off a week of Nalukataq on June 20. On June 21, Jack and Ida Panik and the Iceberg 6 crew will host, followed by Tugi and Maxine Nayakik and Iceberg 17 on June 22, McRidge Nayakik and Iceberg 13 on June 23, and Benjamin Tagarook with Iceberg 10 and Roy and Edna Ahmaogak and Iceberg 2 on June 24.

Kaktovik's festivities will happen June 23, hosted by George and Noreen Kaleak Sr.

Kali's Julius and Marie Rexford Sr. will host Nalukataq in Point Lay on June 24.

Finally, in Utqiaġvik, Nalukataq will begin June 24 with Ned and Dora Arey Sr.'s crew on June 24, followed by Frederick and Dora Brower, Jacob and Lucille Adams Sr., Lucy Leavitt, and Isaac and Thea Jennie Leavitt on June 26, and ending with Sheldon and Nora Adams Sr. and Ruben and Miriam Aiken's crews on June 29.

Qatŋut planned for next month

By Shady Grove Oliver

The Arctic Sounder

The biennial Northwest Arctic trade fair is returning to Kotzebue this July.

Qatŋut, which was last held in 2015, celebrates the area's history as a traditional trading post.

Following the Fourth of July festivities, dance groups and artisans will convene in the Kotzebue High School Gym for three days of performances and commerce.

Typically, dancers from across the Northwest Arctic and occasionally the North Slope and Bering Straits region perform during the evenings while artists and craftspeople sell their wares at booths set up in the gym.

This year's trade fair is scheduled for July 5-7. More information can be found on the Qatŋut Facebook page.


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