Shaylon Cochran

News Reporter

Shaylon Cochran has been reporting on local government, energy, fishing and everything in between for KDLL since 2011. He earned a degree in journalism from Iowa State University and worked in radio news at KNIA/KRLS in Pella, Iowa, before visiting Alaska in 2010 and deciding this was the place to be. His work has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered and Morning Edition and been recognized with awards from the Alaska Press Club. When he's not hosting the KDLL Evening News or the Kenai Conversation, you can usually find him biking or skiing around local trails, looking for his dog or sampling the latest from one of the peninsula's many fine breweries.

Firefighters in Kenai responded to a fire on the Kenai River south beach Thursday night.

 

“It was a fully involved fire," said Kenai Fire Chief Jeff Tucker.

 

"It turned out to be a Westfalia Volkswagen camper van. We responded down on the beach, we used one of our brush trucks, which are pickup trucks with 200-gallon water tanks with a pump. Our fire engines aren’t able to drive on the beach. We put the fire out. There were no injuries and at this time there’s no determination for what caused the fire.”

Voters in Soldotna will not have to consider a ballot question changing the city’s charter, which was just updated last year.

The city of Soldotna is working on updating its sign code. It has been since the beginning of the year, and there’s still a lot to flesh out before anything resembling an ordinance goes to the city council. I caught up with city planner John Czarnezki to see where things stand now, and what’s coming up.

The Soldotna city council will vote on putting a question to voters on the fall ballot about the role of the mayor at its meeting Wednesday night.

 

Last year, Soldotna became a home rule city. But some language in the new charter didn’t line up with city code regarding what role the mayor plays in administering local government. Mayor Pete Sprague says he wants that role to remain unchanged, and to have it not only codified in the city’s books, but also in the city’s charter, which has to be done at the ballot.

Shaylon Cochran/KDLL

 

  

 

 

Saturday maybe wasn’t the perfect day for a paddle around Arc Lake, but it was pretty close. The city of Soldotna hosted a community paddling event, designed to share some safety tips and give folks a chance to try out some new boats and activities, like paddle board yoga, which I did not get to try. That class filled up quickly, but there was a fashion show of sorts.

Makai-Lynn Smith is an intern at the parks department in Soldotna. She helped organize the event.

After 10 years as executive director of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe, Jaylene Peterson-Nyren has resigned, effective June 16. A statement issued by the tribe says current Operations Director Dee Dee Fowler will lead the Tribal Council in its search for a new ED. During her time with the tribe, Peterson-Nyren oversaw the opening of the Dena’ina Wellness Center, the Tyotkas Elder Center and the new Henu’ Community Wellness Court, which began taking cases earlier this year.

 

Domestic assault charges filed against Kenai City Councilman Tim Navarre have been dropped. Navarre was charged with fourth-degree domestic violence assault last month after a witness alleged he threw a young child from the back of his car, landing several feet away. Navarre denied the charges and his attorney cited a state statute that justifies the use of force in special relationships, such as that between a parent or guardian and an under-aged child. Navarre told police at the time the 6-year-old who was in his care was set outside the vehicle after misbehaving.

Technology has a knack for accelerating the pace of economic change. But in rural areas, that change isn’t always welcomed with open arms.

 

Dr. Don Albrecht runs the Western Rural Development Center at Utah State University and he’s also the author of “Rethinking Rural: Global Community and Economic Development in the Small Town West.” He’s spent a lot of time studying how rural communities change and why.

 

Shaylon Cochran/KDLL

 

 


There were far more tears from laughter than sorrow at a memorial for former Kenai City Manager Rick Koch on Thursday night.

 

 


Sometimes, the goings on in D.C. can feel even farther away than the 4,500 or so miles that actually lie between here and there. But sometimes, an Alaskan’s story gets through.

 


As more and more communities deal with substance abuse issues, new tactics and new partnerships are being found to help those communities. Friday saw the grand opening of the Henu’ Community Wellness Court, which is a partnership between the state of Alaska and the Kenaitze Inidian Tribe.

The early king salmon run on the Kenai River has come in well within recently approved management goals.

Photo: Lakota Burwell/Alaska Fire Service

 

Thanks to some rain and cooler temperatures, the East Fork fire is becoming a slow burn.

Former Kenai City Manager Rick Koch is dead following a motorcycle accident near mile 39 of the Dalton Highway on Sunday.

Alaska State Troopers say Koch was riding in a group shortly before noon when his bike went off the road. He was first taken to Livengood where CPR was administered and a Guardian Flight from Fairbanks was dispatched. Flight medics pronounced him dead upon arrival.

Koch served as city manager in Kenai from 2006 to 2016, when he made a run for the state Legislature. He was 60 years old.

Alaska State Division of Forestry

 

 

The East Fork Fire burning near Sterling is now estimated at about 1,100 acres. It remains 4.5 miles from the Sterling Highway and 3.5 miles from the nearest residential neighborhoods.

 

Celeste Prescott is a public information officer for the state Division of Forestry. She says that crews battled the wind over the weekend to keep the fire burning within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

 

Alaska Department of Natural Resources

New plans for expanding access to different fisheries around the Kasilof River is raising concerns among residents.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Fire crews are still at work on the East Fork Fire, burning in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near Sterling. It started as a result of lightning in the area Thursday evening. The fire isn't posing immediate threats to life or property and will be monitored closely as it moves deeper into the refuge.

Alaska State Division of Forestry

 

 

A wildland fire broke out on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge just north of Sterling on Thursday evening. As of 10 p.m., the East Fork Fire was estimated to be roughly 150 acres in size. 

It's prime time for hitting the water in kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, row boats or pretty much anything that floats around the Kenai Peninsula. 

 


 

Later this fall, voters on the Kenai will elect a new Borough mayor. Current mayor Mike Navarre has a few more things he’d like to see happen before that time.

Summer fishing is just getting underway around the Kenai Peninsula, but so far, signs are pointing to a pretty decent season.

A pair of public meetings is scheduled for this week to get input on the Kasilof River Special Use Area South Side Improvement Project.

A hiring freeze within the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has thawed out just a little.

 

The district announced today that it will be able to hire for 12 positions out of 30 that are open. Funding from the borough was finalized this week, with the district getting a small bump from last year, for a total of just under $50 million.

 

 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Tuesday night’s vote came in front of a backdrop of drooping state finances and some uncertainty about the future of the peninsula’s economy.

 

That uncertainty was cause for reluctance to find new revenues by way of taxes. Assembly Member Dale Bagely’s proposal to roll back a sales tax exemption on nonprepared food items from nine months to six found much the same opposition it did when he introduced a similar measure a few years ago.

City of Kenai

Kenai City Council member Tim Navarre has been charged with fourth-degree domestic violence assault following an incident in Kenai on Tuesday evening.

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