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Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Driving through Cooper Landing lately, it’s hard not to notice the swath of trees cut down north of the highway. Or what will become the old highway as the new alignment of the Sterling Highway is built between miles 45 and 60.

This is the first year of noticeable construction on the project.

Project Manager Sean Holland, with the Alaska Department of Transportation, says it’s going well, all things considered.

“We were struck with a fire last year so our survey got shut down for six or eight weeks, and then we come up with a pandemic this year so I don’t know if it could get any worse next year but we’re still making good progress anyway,” Holland said.

Businesses and nonprofits hoping to mitigate the financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic got disappointing news last week — the $290 million Alaska CARES grant program has been “oversubscribed.” Meaning, the amount of grant requests still waiting review is greater than the amount of money left in the program.

CDC

There are more ways than one that the flu shot might protect people against COVID-19.

There’s the fact that getting vaccinated will reduce an individual’s likelihood to experience the flu and coronavirus concurrently. Furthermore, protection against the flu will lessen the risk that influenza cases stress Alaska’s hospital capabilities.

But widespread efforts to administer the flu shot might also prove handy in prepping the peninsula for the eventual arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine. Think of it as a “dry run,” said Bud Sexton of the Borough Office of Emergency Management.

“Since we know there’s going to be a large percentage of the population who will want to get vaccinated with COVID, there’s a lot of timing that goes underway to make sure everything goes well whenever the vaccine is ready for distribution,” Sexton said.

The application window for the second round of borough-distributed CARES funding opens Monday morning. Small businesses and nonprofits located in the borough’s unincorporated communities that did not receive grants from the Kenai Peninsula Borough during its first round of funding are eligible to apply.

Commercial fishermen who fish within borough boundaries are also eligible, says Brenda Ahlberg, the borough’s community and fiscal projects manager.

She said there’s about $2.5 million allocated to round two.

“However, we are aware that if there are more applications than there is funding available, that the administration is prepared to go back to the assembly to provide money for the remaining balance,” Ahlberg said. 

The borough assembly approved two rounds of CARES grants earlier this summer, and this round will operate much like the first. In August, the borough distributed $6.1 million during round one. 

City of Kenai

The city of Kenai’s decades-long effort to stop the Kenai River bluff erosion that’s eating away an average three feet a year of valuable Old Town property reached a milestone this week. By Monday, the city and Army Corps of Engineers will have signed a preconstruction engineering and design agreement. 

City manager Paul Ostrander said that’s cause for celebration.

“Big news on the bluff erosion project, absolutely,” he said.

The agreement begins the design phase of the project, which should take about a year.

“That planning phase, which, like I said, is 30 days following the singing of the PED agreement by the district commander, is key in outlining what, exactly, it’s going to look like,” Ostrander said.

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