New meets old in this month's Drinking on the Last Frontier. Crack open the history book on Alaskan Brewing Co., meet the newcomer to the Kenai Peninsula brewing scene, Stoney Creek BrewHouse in Seward, and the Boots to Brews program in Anchorage, to train vets into the brewing industry.


Casey Lasota/Alaska Division of Forestry

At its start, the Alaska Division of Forestry focused in large part on managing forests for the state’s timber industry. Firefighting was a secondary focus.

But now, over 90 percent of the division’s budget goes toward fighting fires. And with the frequency and severity of wildland fires only expected to increase, officials say the division needs to further build up its capacity to ready for conditions ahead.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

Alaska’s schools have a hard time attracting and retaining teachers. That was the case even before the pandemic hit and upended education worldwide.

But the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped. And strains on staff from burnout and absenteeism are piling on the stress for a system already under pressure.

Aaron Bolton/KBBI

Updated 5:30 p.m. Friday

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce is joining a crowded field of candidates for Alaska governor.

Pierce, a Republican, filed a letter of intent Thursday, according to an email from his chief of staff Aaron Rhoades to some borough employees. The Alaska Public Offices Commission said it received Pierce’s electronic letter of intent just after noon Friday.

Courtesy of Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska

State regulators doubled down Thursday on their refusal to investigate a 2016 fuel gas leak in Cook Inlet, capping a years-long disagreement with a former commissioner over the scope of the agency’s authority.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

As the City of Kenai waited for the pieces of its stabilization project to fall into place, property owners watched more and more of the bluff fall into the river. 

Now, the city said a large boost from the federal government brings it closer than ever to addressing the problem. Alaska’s congressional delegation announced Wednesday that the city is on the receiving end of $28 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Redoubt Reporter

Things were looking up for Alaska’s seafood industry in many ways in 2021. More people around the world took to buying and cooking seafood at home and seafood prices went up statewide.

But the industry is still struggling with problems brought on and exacerbated by COVID-19, like supply chain issues and mitigation costs. That’s according to a new report from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the state’s seafood marketing arm.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The U.S. Senate begins debate on voting rights legislation this week. 

Supporters say for the legislation to pass, the Senate will need to make changes to its rules. But both of Alaska’s senators say changing those rules is not a good idea.

NOAA via GOES West satellite

Some thought they heard snow sliding off a roof. Others imagined a moose at the window.

But the thunderous bellows Alaskans heard early Saturday morning came from something else entirely: the eruption of an underwater volcano nearly 6,000 miles away, by the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga. 

Daysha Eaton/KBBI

Three seats are up for grabs this year on the nine-member Homer Electric board of directors. The cooperative is taking candidate nominations now, ahead of the election this May.

Photo: Rashah McChesney/Alaska Energy Desk

At the start of 2021, Homer Electric Association made a sort of New Year’s resolution: source half of all its power from renewables by the end of 2025. 

It’s the most ambitious renewables goal of any utility on the railbelt. Some of the board’s directors say it’s too ambitious. The co-op relies on natural gas for more than 85 percent of its energy today.

Davis Hovey/KNOM

The so-called blob that brought warm surface water temperatures to the Gulf of Alaska between 2014 and 2016 has passed.

But the effects of that blob, and a subsequent heatwave in 2019, are not all in the rearview mirror. And researchers are bracing for more as climate change brings with it more ocean warming.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

A COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees of Central Peninsula Hospital is moving forward again, following a Thursday decision from the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a federal mandate for healthcare workers.

That mandate was first announced last fall and applies to facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments. Central Peninsula Hospital spokesperson Bruce Richards said that's about half of all revenue for the hospital.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenaitze Indian Tribe is building up its in-school and after-school programs for Alaska Native students with help from a federal grant.

The tribe’s education director, Rachel Gilbert, said the money will fund five positions to expand its existing education programs. A large focus of those programs, she said, is culture.

Do you know the difference between a reel and a jig? A song and a tune?

Our guests today might be able to help you out. We have on the show Irish musicians John Walsh, Pat Broaders and Brenda Castles. They’re playing a traditional Irish music concert together on Jan. 21 at the Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna.

KTOO file photo

Soldotna Rep. Sen. Peter Micciche is continuing his push to update the state’s alcohol laws while Soldotna Republican Rep. Ron Gillham has introduced several bills relating to COVID-19 vaccine objections and medications. That’s according to the first list of bills legislators filed ahead of the start of the spring session in Juneau.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

School administrators hope new isolation requirements for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will alleviate strain from the rising omicron variant on staffing, since students and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 but have not experienced any symptoms can now return masked to the classroom after five days instead of 10.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

A Nikiski homeless shelter that has been years in the making opened late last month and is now taking in new clients.

"We had our first person right after Christmas," said Leslie Rohr, executive director of Love INC, the nonprofit taking point on the shelter.

Alaska VA Healthcare

For central Kenai Peninsula veterans, a new clinic in Soldotna is a nicer, bigger, more convenient location to get VA services. For the Veterans Administration, the facility represents more than just what it offers to local vets. It, and a new clinic that opened in Homer in 2020, represents a federal initiative to improve VA healthcare delivery throughout Alaska.

“We’re committed to serving our veterans across the state. Each one of our community-based outpatient clinics are being increased in size to provide better services and better access for our veterans. And, so, the Kenai Borough has benefitted from being on the tip of the spear, if you will," said Tom Steinbrunner, director of the Alaska VA healthcare system. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The mayor of Kenai, a Ninilchik charter boat captain and a Homer-based fisherman are among 11 governor-appointed members to a new task force on bycatch — a hot-button issue that’s snagged stakeholders in Alaska’s fisheries for years.

Bycatch is the catch of nontargeted species in fishing nets. The issue reached a fever pitch recently, as fishermen in Western Alaska and around the state asked fisheries managers to curb how much bycatch trawlers were allowed to take.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

About half of Grey Wilson’s clients are first-timers — those who have never had their knives professionally sharpened before

But then there are the clients who bring in blades they treasure and have kept in use for decades. Some have stories. Wilson loves a story.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

UPDATED Jan. 17:

Police say they identified 37-year-old Daniel Dobson, of Sterling, as the deceased man found in the Jan. 7 car fire.

They said in a release Monday they're still investigating the incident.


Tyonek became the first ever beluga calf to be successfully nursed back to health when the Alaska SeaLife Center rescued him in 2017. The baby beluga was just two weeks old when he was found stranded on a mud flat in Trading Bay, on the other side of Cook Inlet.

The scientific success story came just a few years after the SeaLife Center took in another stranded beluga calf, from the beluga population in Bristol Bay. But that calf, named Naknek, died from infections.

Courtesy of Jeffrey Meyers

One year ago today, a mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists violently stormed the U.S. Capitol while lawmakers gathered to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

On the other side of the country, Jeffrey Meyers was gearing up for the first day of the semester at Kenai Peninsula College. Meyers is an assistant professor of history and political science at KPC’s Homer campus.

Courtesy of Renewable IPP

Can the Kenai Peninsula Borough grant property tax exemptions to private businesses?

It can, according to borough code, if those companies can show they are contributing to the economic development of the borough. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Finance Committee discussed its tax exemption options this week following a request from a company that wants to build Alaska’s largest solar farm to-date on the Kenai Peninsula.

This year marks 65 years since Alaska’s oil and gas industry got its start. The Swanson River Field, on the northern part of the Kenai Peninsula, was discovered in July 1957 — establishing Kenai as the oil capital of Alaska and setting the then-territory on its road to statehood.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Airline disruptions are practically a hallmark of the holiday season in Alaska, as constant as Christmas cookies and 4 p.m. sunsets.

But travelers this year are enduring more severe delays than usual. A perfect storm of holiday traffic, COVID-19-related challenges and bad weather is stranding some Alaskans as they make their way back from holiday trips Outside.

Courtesy of Tami Marsters

At-home COVID-19 tests are in short supply around the U.S., amid rising coronavirus case counts and concern about the more contagious omicron variant.

Some pharmacies and stores on the Kenai Peninsula have run out of those tests, which can be taken anywhere and produce results in 15 minutes. But Kenai Public Health still has free kits in stock and is expecting more shipments from the state soon — part of a state effort to encourage Alaskans to test at home.

Courtesy of Homer Electric Association

Over 6,500 Homer Electric Association members lost power this weekend, amid high winds that ripped through Southcentral Alaska.

But while weather was the main culprit, co-op staff said there was another factor that contributed, too.

Courtesy of Indy Walton

Soldotna’s Indy Walton has resigned from his seat on the state Board of Fisheries, the seven-member board that makes decisions about fish allocation and management in Alaska’s waters.

Walton said he’s dealing with a confluence of health issues that have been exacerbated by stress and a bout of COVID-19. While he thought he could balance those issues when he accepted Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s nomination in September, he said he has since had to reconsider.