News

The Kenai Peninsula weathered the COVID-19 pandemic a little better than other areas of Alaska, according to the latest data from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Face masks will not be required in Kenai Peninsula Borough schools when classes start up again this month — contrary to new recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that schools universally require masks amid the more contagious Delta variant.

The mask policy is part of the district’s new COVID-19 mitigation plan for the upcoming school year.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is bringing in $5 million more in sales tax revenue than it forecasted in the early days of the pandemic, with an estimated $30.3 million coming in for fiscal year 2021.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Lydia Jacoby left Tokyo, Japan this weekend with another Olympic medal. The 17-year-old Seward swimmer won silver for her role in the women’s 400-meter medley relay Saturday, where she swam the second leg of the race and logged a time of 1:05.03.

It’s Jacoby’s second medal of the Olympics. She won gold for her surprise victory in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke last week.

Redoubt Reporter

The Board of Fisheries has denied two emergency petitions from Kenai Peninsula setnetters asking to reopen a limited fishery for what is left of the sockeye run.

 

The east side setnet commercial fishery has been closed since July 20 after the Alaska Department of Fish and game closed the Kenai River king salmon sportfishery. The setnets are tied to the restrictions in the sportfishery, and came out of the water entirely when the sportfishery closed. The late run of king salmon has been depressed this year—only 6,420 large kings have passed the sonar on the Kenai, and Fish and Game is projecting that the run won’t make the lower end of the escapement goal, even without harvest.

Courtesy Soldotna Rotary

Outdoor, in-person beer festivals return after the dark year of COVID, including the 10th annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival. Bill gets an update from KP beerfest organizer Matt Pyhala and muses on what makes a good beer festival (hint: quality, not quantity). Plus, interviews with Girdwood Brewing and Darcy Kniefel, with the 2021 Alaska Craft Brew Festival, on July's Drinking on the Last Frontier.
Cheers!

Mitch Michaud

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and the Kenai Peninsula Borough have submitted a funding request to address spruce bark beetle kill on the peninsula — the latest effort to curb the ongoing beetle kill crisis that’s destroyed spruce forests across Southcentral. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Seward and the rest of Alaska watched proudly Monday when 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby won Olympic gold in the women's 100-meter breaststroke.

Lydia’s parents, Rich and Leslie Jacoby, were watching, too, with other Olympian families in Orlando, Fla.

Rich, a maritime instructor for AVTEC, said they’ve been catching up with their gold medalist over the phone. And he said the last few days have been really exciting.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Officials are telling campers not to tent camp at the Crescent Creek Campground in Cooper Landing after a series of encounters involving a food-conditioned black bear. They’re asking campground visitors to stick to hard-sided vehicles, like cars and RVs, until the bear is no longer a problem.

The service has received repeated reports of a black bear rifling through campers’ tents for food and walking through the campground, said Forest Service Spokesperson Alan Brown.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

When an 8.2-magnitude earthquake hit near the Alaska Peninsula Wednesday, local alert systems sprang into action, beeping, buzzing and blaring to notify Alaskans in coastal communities they should get to higher ground.

Those notification systems require lots of preparation and funding well before a tsunami threat hits, explained Dan Nelson, emergency manager with the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Office of Emergency Management.

Kenai is more than just home to Christine Cunningham and Steve Meyer. It's also where the duo — and their eight dogs — have been recreating and hunting for years. They write about their adventures in a weekly column for the Anchorage Daily News.

We had them on the show to talk about their philosophies on hunting, how they document their trips while still staying in the moment and their thoughts on "type 2 fun."

Kenai Peninsula Fair

 Every year, the students in the Kenai Peninsula 4-H program show off and auction the livestock they’ve been raising all year to the highest bidder. For years, it’s been at the Kenai Peninsula Fair, which takes places in mid-August in Ninilchik.

 

But this year, it’s moving to its own Agriculture Expo at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Scheduled for August 6–8, the fair will feature the regular livestock auction as well as a horse show and variety of agriculture-focused workshops.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Jury trials have again been suspended in the Kenai and Homer courts, due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The order comes just three months after the courts restarted jury trials. Before that, they were put on hold for a year amid concerns about bringing jurors into the courtroom during the pandemic.

Courtesy of ADEC

A truck carrying crude oil from BlueCrest Energy, near Anchor Point, spilled an estimated 900 gallons of oil in Happy Valley on Tuesday morning, in a head-on collision that injured three people.

Officials from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said the leak did not reach any nearby wetlands or immediately impact nearby wildlife. They said the site has since been blocked and a crew is removing the affected soil to be remediated.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Eva Knutson calls some of her boxes “boredom busters.” They look like they’d do the job, with topics like entomology, forensic science, and oceanography. They’re designed with instructions from start to finish, so parents can just unbox them and enjoy them with their kids, even if they don’t know much about entomology themselves.

 

"Everything is kind of spelled out in the materials, so if a parent gets 'entomology' and they don’t know anything about insects, all the printables have facts, all the information, so if a parent wants to teach their kid about spiders and insects, they can," she said. "Even if they don’t know anything about it, they get to be the teacher, which I really like, because I really like tht parents appreciate that."

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Seward’s Lydia Jacoby became an Olympic champion last night in Japan. The 17-year-old swimmer placed first in the 100-meter breaststroke, beating record holders and earning the state its very first Olympic swimming medal.

Back home, it felt like the whole town of Seward was watching.


Sabine Poux/KDLL

Outside the walls of Central Peninsula Hospital, in local parks, restaurants and bars, life is going on without masks or social distancing.

But the coronavirus spike inside the hospital shows the virus is hardly a thing of the past.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Soldotna welcomed back its Progress Days event on Saturday with a bang—or lots of them, depending where along the parade route you were standing.

There were tractors. There were horses. There were dancers. There was a giant copy of the U.S. Constitution. Most importantly to many of the kids along the way, there was plenty of candy. The parade was cancelled last year due to concerns about the coronavirus, but came back this year with gusto, along with vendors and music in Soldotna Creek Park this weekend.

Alaska State Troopers

A California woman died in a three-car crash on the Sterling Highway near Kasilof this weekend, according to the Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers say 60-year-old Nancy Virlee Christiansen of Emerald Hills, California was driving north in a blue 2019 Hyundai around 6:30 p.m. Sunday when she crossed the center line and crashed with a black 2016 Nissan Murano, around milepost 111. Christiansen’s car then collided head-on with a red 2016 Chevrolet pickup.

Redoubt Reporter

Commercial setnet fishermen in Cook Inlet had their season cut short last week. When the Alaska Department of Fish and Game closed the Kenai River to sportfishing for king salmon, it closed the east setnet fishery completely. Some of them had only had a handful of openers.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

At best, the lack of nearby parking in downtown Soldotna every Wednesday in the summer is a nuisance for marketgoers.

But Soldotna Wednesday Market organizer Annette Villa said it can also drive away customers.

“When they drive through and there’s no parking spots, then they tend to leave," she said.

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

Seafood in Southcentral Alaska for the most part means fish.

But there’s another growing seafood sector in the region, taking shape in shellfish and kelp farms. The Alaska Mariculture Task Force, convened by former Gov. Bill Walker in 2016, just released its recommendations on how to turn the new industry into booming business.


Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Jason Oles knows a lot about bears. He’s worked among Kodiak brown bears, Rocky Mountain grizzlies, North Slope polar bears, and Kenai Peninsula black bears, on various national parks and wildlife refuges. Now a ranger at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, he says there are definitely a few tricks to living, working, and recreating among bears.

Rashah McChesney/Alaska Energy Desk

The Alaska Industrial Development and Energy Authority, or AIDEA, is a state-owned corporation that focuses on economic projects meant to create jobs and diversify the state’s economy. It uses its own revolving fund to generate loans and fund projects, meaning it doesn’t draw funding out of the state unrestricted general fund, which the Legislature allocates for the budget every year.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

A heat wave in the Lower 48 cooked shellfish alive on Pacific Northwest beaches and triggered excessive-heat warnings in several states. Climatologists say it’s because of a dome of heat that drove temperatures high above 100 degrees Fahrenheit and even skirted part of Southeast Alaska.

Southcentral Alaska hasn’t seen that kind of heat. But could scorching heat waves be in the region’s future?

Alaska State Troopers

A Soldotna man is facing murder and other felony charges after allegedly fleeing from the scene of a rollover crash that authorities said killed his passenger and injured two others in the car.

Alaska State Troopers said 50-year-old David Casey was driving in the early morning hours of Saturday after leaving a Kenai bar. Court filings said he lost control of a 2017 Audi on a curve and rolled over, fatally injuring a passenger who was ejected from the vehicle on Forest Lane outside Soldotna.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

The Kenai River will close entirely to king salmon fishing starting Wednesday.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the closure Monday afternoon after nearly three weeks of watching the late-run king salmon fail to return to the Kenai River in large enough numbers. The lower river started July with a king fishery open to retention, but no bait allowed; the department moved to catch-and-release only, with a note that further action might be necessary. Even with the closure, biologists don’t think the run will make the minimum escapement goal.

A head-on car collision on the Kenai Spur Highway this Saturday killed three people, injured four and closed the highway for some time.

Kenai Police report that a small vehicle was headed south around mile 15 of the Spur and passed another car on the right side at a high speed. The Spur there is only two lane, and people will sometimes pass on the right on the shoulder of the road. Police say the driver of the small car lost control and crossed into the oncoming lane and collided with a pickup truck.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The current surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide is powered in part by a more contagious strain of the virus. But health officials are recommending more of the same.

"Get vaccinated, wear a mask, stay away from large gatherings," said Kenai Public Health Nurse Tami Marsters. "Just the same that nobody wants to hear.”

Nikiski Community Council

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is asking for public comment on a plan to add a community lake in Nikiski to its fish stocking program.

The department announced that it’s considering adding John Hedberg Lake to the stocking program, which would put about 700 catchable rainbow trout in the lake this year and 1,000 fingerlings annually after that. John Hedberg Lake is located in Nikiski Community Park near the Nikiski Community Recreation Center, about mile 23 of the Kenai Spur Highway.

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