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Courtesy of Todd Salat

Fall hunting season has started in Alaska. But it’s not the only kind of hunting underway.

“Historically, September has been one of my favorite times of the year to go aurora hunting," said Todd Salat. He's an aurora photographer based out of Anchorage.

Photo: KTOO file photo

Alaskans can expect their Permanent Fund Dividend checks in mid-October. The Legislature signed off on $1,100 PFDs this week.

It was a scramble to get the PFD plan across the finish line in the final hours of the Legislature’s third special session.


Courtesy of Nathan Erfurth

Teachers and staff in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District have finalized their new contracts, which lay out a new tiered healthcare system and wage raises for some support staff, among other changes.

The district’s Board of Education ratified the new agreements this week. They’ll be in place until 2024.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Health providers are now administering COVID-19 shots to immunocompromised individuals who’ve already received their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Soldotna Professional Pharmacy co-owner Justin Ruffridge said his pharmacy administers multiple third shots, both Pfizer and Moderna, to immunocompromised individuals every day. Those third shots are meant to help them build more immunity to the virus.

KTOO file photo

New maps from the Alaska Redistricting Board will change the shape and boundaries of the state’s legislative districts, based on population changes recorded in the 2020 Census.

But on the Kenai Peninsula, not much is likely to shift.

Courtesy of Indy Walton

Locals might know Indy Walton from the ice rink, where he coached the Soldotna High School hockey team. Or they might recognize him as a financial adviser with the local branch of Edward Jones.

Now, he’s on deck to join the powerful state Board of Fisheries, the body that makes decisions about fish allocation and management in Alaska’s waters. Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed Walton to the seventh open seat on the board Sept. 3, months after his previous nominee was rejected by the Alaska Legislature.

A Kasilof man is charged with sending death threats to people in Vermont.

Federal authorities said they arrested 34-year-old Benjamin Tarbell before he was set to fly to Vermont from the Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday afternoon. He faces six felony counts of sending threatening interstate communications.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Local and national medical experts have recommended universal masking in schools to prevent the spread of the contagious Delta variant.

But the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District announced at a work session today it’s sticking to its policy of recommended masking districtwide and instead considering temporary mask mandates at individual schools depending on how those schools are impacted by COVID-19.

University of Alaska Fairbanks

The tiny but mighty phytoplankton live at the base of the food chain in the Gulf of Alaska. They're a food source for small crustaceans, which in turn feed small fish, then bigger fish, then seabirds and marine mammals. 

Each spring and summer, a large concentration of phytoplankton blooms in the gulf. This year, researchers recorded the biggest bloom they’ve ever seen.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

To win the Kenai Silver Salmon Derby, you don’t have to catch the largest coho, or even the second largest.

The Kenai derby is all about hitting the magic weight. City Manager Paul Ostrander said that’s to limit the number of salmon injured by catch and release fishing.

Photo: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The proposed Pebble Mine project has long been a source of controversy in Alaska. It's faced scrutiny nationally, too, as as each presidential administration has taken its own look at the plan to build an open-pit copper and gold mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. 

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency dealt the latest blow to the project.

So, what makes this new twist different from the others?

Sabine Poux/KDLL

When it comes to its new voting machines, the borough is making a list and checking it twice.

Teri Birchfield and Linda Cusack with the canvass board were running through a checklist of tests Thursday morning on one of the borough's new Dominion Voting Systems machines.

They said most voters won’t register the new technology when they come in to cast their ballots. But for voters with disabilities, it could be game changing.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Most mornings, a line of cars snakes from the front of Capstone Clinic in Kenai, past McDonalds, spilling out onto the residential Walker Lane.

Clinics like Capstone have been seeing a growing number of people coming in for COVID-19 tests as the Delta variant has tightened its grip on the state.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

A Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting turned into a debate about the coronavirus last night, when a resolution condemning vaccine mandates generated hours of conversation about unproven COVID-19 treatments and took the meeting right up to its 11:30 p.m. automatic end time.

Wonderlane/Wikimedia Commons

Another round of relief money is coming down the pike for Alaska renters.

The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation is again accepting applications for COVID-19-related relief starting Sept. 13. It's the latest in a string of relief programs from AHFC and the first to take place since the federal moratorium on evictions ended at the end of July.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Alex Rydlinski isn’t just interested in the pretty parts of reindeer farming.

When the Kenai painter decided to shadow and paint Fairbanks reindeer farmer George Aguiar, he wanted to capture all sides of his process.

And that’s what he did, in a series of eight oil paintings and eight etchings of Aguiar and his herd. The exhibit, called “The Reindeer Man,” is on display at Kenai Art Center through the month of September.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Rewind several decades. Kenai’s waterfront was buzzing with business. 

“There’s always been a lot of activity down there," said John Williams, Kenai mayor from 1986 to 2004.

He said the cannery scene by the Kenai Dock has changed since then as the commercial fishing presence has declined. Now, there’s just one processor there. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

One minute, there are zero rainbow trout in John Hedberg Lake. 

Fewer than 30 seconds later, there are 700.


Econ 919 — Zoom town

Sep 3, 2021
Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

Working from home became the order of the day for many workers last March.

Since then, cities and states around the U.S. have tried to market themselves to remote workers — and their wallets.


Courtesy of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District

Farmers market season is winding down. But there’s still one more chance to celebrate local growers.

“This is kind of the last big hurrah for local farmers to sell their produce and for locals to stock up if they’ve missed their opportunity," said Heidi Chay, with the Kenai Local Food Connection. The organization is holding its Harvest Moon Local Food Festival on Sept. 18.

Chay said the festival is in part a celebration of how far the local food scene has come, even just since 2013, when the festival first started. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Dave Salter’s yard is, quite literally, falling into the ocean. He didn’t know it was going to happen so fast when he bought the place on Toyon Way, in Kenai.

“The agent that showed us the property said, ‘Oh, a few inches a year,'" he said. "And being from Texas, I didn’t know any better.”


Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor and several members of the assembly want to publicly denounce what they call “vaccine segregation” from the government.

Resolution 2021-067, set to be introduced at next week’s assembly meeting, says the borough encourages people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But, the resolution says, the assembly and borough administration “Do not support government-mandated restrictions imposing mandated COVID-19 vaccine segregation in our community.”

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game didn’t always pay much mind to how people used the kelp that washed up on Cook Inlet beaches. 

“We assumed that it was like somebody going to the beach and picking up driftwood, or picking up pretty rocks or things like that," said Glenn Hollowell, the area management biologist for lower Cook Inlet.

He said in the last four years, the department has learned more about those detached kelp populations.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

UPDATE, 6 p.m. Tuesday:

Starting Wednesday, Seward Middle School, Seward High School and Moose Pass School will join Seward Elementary in requiring masking for all students and staff, at least until Sept. 10.

The Susan B. English, Port Graham and Tebughna schools are all also requiring face coverings at this time. There is no district-wide mask mandate in place.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Hydraulic mining during Hope’s gold rush brought the town riches and residents.

But local marine life was not so fortunate. Mining activity fundamentally changed the shape and flow of Resurrection Creek, destroying habitat for its many types of salmon.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Central Peninsula Hospital sends some of its worst trauma cases up to Anchorage.

The hospital is still sending some patients on a case-by-case basis, hospital spokesperson Bruce Richards said. But as Anchorage facilities are filling up, it’s getting harder to find beds.

Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Davis

When the world turned to home improvement projects at the start of the pandemic, Andrew Davis saw an opportunity. 

Davis co-owns Seward Milling and Lumber, just outside Seward city limits. But the company didn’t start out as a commercial mill. He and a partner first bought into the business to deal with the trees in their own yards.

When the pandemic hit, they started milling other people’s wood, too. And a year and a half later, they’re still really busy. 

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

The federal government said it will continue taking steps toward a potential oil and gas lease sale in Cook Inlet, after a Louisiana district court judge ordered the Biden Administration to resume its lease programs there and in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has been at odds with several Republican states over the federal leasing program since Biden halted the two auctions and promised to review the program earlier this year. It was part of a larger executive order aimed at fighting climate change.

Aaron Bolton/KBBI

The Kenai Peninsula Borough spent the winter sharing updated information about the coronavirus and resources for getting vaccinated.

Now, Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce is using his platform to challenge local doctors and promote unproven COVID-19 treatments, on local talk radio and in public meetings.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

This particular pocket of Beaver Creek is not far from the road, just a short and muddy tromp away from a gravel parking lot between Kenai and Soldotna. But it’s home to several cold water inputs that could be crucially important for young salmon as they swim from the Kenai River to Cook Inlet.


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