Local News


Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

Seattle catches some of the best bites from Alaska's fisheries each year at the Symphony of Seafood — an annual competition put on by the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation to promote the state’s value-added seafood products.

This year, there were 18 competition entries in the mix, including a Kenai Peninsula company. AlaSkins makes wild fish skin treats out of Kenai and has a storefront in Soldotna.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

In an emergency, paramedics in Nikiski might have 30 minutes with a patient before dropping them at the hospital. They likely won’t meet again until that patient has another emergency. 

The Nikiski Fire Department is working to change the nature of that relationship. It’s using a grant from the state to build up its capacity to address people’s medical needs at home and reach them before — and long after — they’re in crisis.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Cold temperatures this week broke records in parts of the Kenai Peninsula and western Alaska.

But they follow what was one of the warmest first weeks of November on record for the state.

Courtesy of National Renewable Energy Laboratory

After studying the tides near Nikiski this summer, researchers said they’ve confirmed it would be a world-class place to put a tidal power generator.

And they said the measurements they took will help them develop technology that can withstand the harsh conditions of Cook Inlet’s tides — some of the largest in the world. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

When warm and wet, birch bark can be folded into baskets — a container for berries or a cradle for babies. 

But when it’s not fresh off the birch tree, bark can be unyielding. And folding can be the hardest part, according to the dozen women making baskets Monday at the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai.

Courtesy of Dan Bigley

An Anchorage man who was blinded by a bear at the Russian River nearly two decades ago is bringing his story to the silver screen.

Dan Bigley, author of “Beyond the Bear,” said he’s talking to producers and a screenwriter about turning the book he wrote about his experience into a movie.

Kenai Peninsula Homelessness Coalition

A team of advocates has drafted a list of priorities and strategies for addressing homelessness on the Kenai Peninsula. Now, it’s looking for community feedback.

The nonprofit leaders and volunteers that make up the Kenai Peninsula Homelessness Coalition have been working on the plan since June, with the help of an Anchorage consulting firm.

Shaylon Cochran/KDLL

Federal officials warn U.S. households will pay more to heat their homes this year.

But Alaska is insulated from those changes. ENSTAR spokesperson Lindsay Hobson said that’s because the company has pre-existing long-term gas contracts.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

COVID-19 hospitalizations are down and the number of reported new cases has dropped, both in the school district and general population.

Central Peninsula Hospital Spokesperson Bruce Richards said Friday the hospital has fewer than 11 COVID-19 patients. He says the hospital doesn’t release more specific information on those hospitalizations, in accordance with federal recommendations about data privacy in small community hospitals.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

The pantry and freezer at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank are filled with granola bars and apple sauce and ground meat.

But there isn't as much Thanksgiving food as you’d expect just two weeks ahead of the holiday.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Ten years ago, you’d be hard pressed to think up more than a handful of career paths involving drones.

But now, the unmanned, remote-controlled aircrafts are near ubiquitous across industries. The Challenger Learning Center of Alaska is partnering with a local high school and Kenai Peninsula College to train students so they can operate drones recreationally and commercially.

Courtesy of Alaska Warrior Partnership

Alaska has the highest rate of veterans per capita of any state in the country.

For a while, the organization that coordinated support services for Alaska veterans was the Alaska Coalition for Veterans and Military Families.

But the coalition has disbanded. Now, there’s a new organization filling that gap — the Alaska Warrior Partnership. 

Redoubt Reporter

Commercial fishermen are going to court in an attempt to keep Cook Inlet open to salmon fishing. That’s following a controversial decision by the feds to close a large swath of Upper Cook Inlet that’s long been managed by the state and is an important area for drift gillnet permit holders.

Courtesy of KRSA

A Soldotna man who died in a plane crash Sunday was a dad, business owner and sport fisherman.

Derek Leichliter died while preparing for a hunting trip on Kodiak Island. He was 39. 

At the time of the crash, Leichliter was flying gear out to the remote Saltery Cove ahead of a five-day hunting trip. His plane crashed a few hundred yards from the Kodiak Airport runway around 2 p.m. Sunday.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Marathon Petroleum said it’s considering selling its refinery in Kenai. 

The company acquired the refinery from Tesoro in a 2018 merger and now said it’s in advanced talks with multiple parties. Bloomberg reports the company plans to focus more on renewables going forward.

Courtesy of Chris Sannito

Alaska has an ambitious goal — turn its growing mariculture business into a $100 million industry by 2040.

It has a long way to go. But federal and state agencies are taking steps toward making products like seaweed and shellfish easier to grow and market.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Serena Bowen waits in the lobby of the Kenai Public Health Center with her dad Steve after getting her very first COVID-19 shot.

She’s been doing homeschool with a small group of kids during the pandemic to mitigate the risk of getting the virus. Once things get back to normal, she’ll go back to school at Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Science.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The state's regulatory commission has given the thumbs up to a set of rate structure changes that electric vehicle advocates say will boost the plan to build a chain of EV chargers along the Railbelt by 2022.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

Fishermen in Cook Inlet reeled in more salmon and higher earnings in 2021 than they did last year. That’s according to the 2021 harvest summary released by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game earlier this week. 

But comparing 2020 and 2021 reveals just a small part of a much larger story about the state of the fishery. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Kids ages 5 to 11 are now authorized to get their COVID-19 shots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave parents the greenlight Tuesday to get their kids vaccinated. And vials of the low-dose vaccine have been making their way to Alaska.

Courtesy of Alaska Department of Transportation

Maintenance crews said last weekend’s landslide at Milepost 50, near Cooper Landing, was over twice as large as they originally estimated, measuring about 250 feet wide and six to eight feet deep.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Kenai artist Abbey Ulen isn’t on the same painting schedule as her wall neighbors in the Kenai Art Center. 

They paint at night. Ulen comes in during the day. 

“Every morning I come in and there’s different things on either side of me," she said. "So I try to maybe pull some colors into my piece. Just to give a little bit of continuity.”

Redoubt Reporter

A large swath of Upper Cook Inlet will officially be closed to commercial salmon fishing next summer.

The feds released a final rule this week adopting the proposed plan from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which sets policy in Alaska’s federal waters. Last December, that council voted to close part of Cook Inlet to commercial salmon fishing ― an area that starts three miles offshore and extends from the southern tip of Kalgin Island to Anchor Point.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Students and staff stressed a need for inclusion in Kenai Peninsula Borough schools at last night’s Board of Education meeting, following a string of recent incidents that some say amount to censorship of materials about LGBTQ+ characters and themes.

The board wasn’t considering any related agenda items Monday. 

But nearly 10 students and staff called in to testify about their experiences with discrimiation in the district.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Trick-or-treaters rounding the corner of Ash Avenue in Kenai oooh and ahhh as a 12-foot skeleton comes into view. On either side of the bony behemoth, inflatable Halloween characters sway in the stormy wind, set against a backdrop of orange and purple lights.

Courtesy of Alaska Department of Transportation

Update, Nov. 2, 11 a.m.:

Drivers can still expect one-hour delays as crews continue repairing the Sterling Highway today by Milepost 50. Department of Transportation spokesperson Shannon McCarthy said the road will be open and closed periodically Tuesday, with flaggers waving one lane of traffic through at a time.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

For the second year in a row, Soldotna businesses are getting a boost this holiday season. The City of Soldotna's reprising its popular Holding Our Own program — which incentivizes local spending by giving shoppers $100 vouchers to use at Soldotna businesses when they spend $200 in town. 

This year’s program starts this month and is run through the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce. That was no small task last year, as receipts flooded into executive director Shanon Davis’s office.

Courtesy of National Weather Service Anchorage

A warm and wet weather system could spur flooding in Anchor Point and Seward this weekend.

Celine Van Breukelen is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service, in Anchorage. She said the heavy rainfall will come from a low-pressure system that started down by California and is working its way up the north Pacific.

Photo courtesy of Chandera Tolley

Cook Inlet belugas don’t have a lot in common with cryptocurrency, the online dollar that’s becoming increasingly popular around the world.

But a 14-year-old in Puerto Rico is using her digital art, and the online currency, to raise tens of thousands of real-life dollars for beluga conservation in Alaska.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Ben Mohr is stepping down as executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association. 

Mohr’s been at the helm of the Soldotna-based sportfish advocacy group for nearly three years. Starting next year, he’ll take up a new job as a lobbyist with Mulder Company.