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From the ‘Better Late than Never’ files we have this item: sockeye salmon fishing on the Kenai River will open once again this year.

The announcement came Tuesday afternoon from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game after the escapement exceeded 900,000 late run red salmon passing the river mile 19 sonar.

Sports Fish Cook Inlet Management Coordinator Matt Miller said the department was glad to be able to offer another opportunity for folks to fish for sockeye as the season winds down.

In what appears to be a major upset in yesterday's primary elections in Senate District O, political newcomer Ron Gillham has defeated incumbent Sen. Peter Micciche.

With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, figures from the Alaska Division of Elections show Gillham pulled in 2,575 votes in the closed Republican primary for 50.12 percent of the 5,138 votes cast.

Micciche was close behind with 2,563 votes for 49.88 percent.

Seventy-two years ago electricity in Homer started flowing from a 75,000 watt diesel generator, supplying power to 56 members who had come together to form the Homer Electric Association.

Today, there are a few more customers throughout the Kenai Peninsula and 80-million watts of electricity coming from a variety of sources, which still includes diesel. But the member-owned co-op has added hydroelectric, natural gas turbines and recovered heat generation.

Now, the board is looking at adding solar-electric.

Courtest USDA

There’s an experiment growing in the borough’s gravel pit in Cooper Landing and it’s ready for harvest.

“There was a project about two years ago that result in an area being reclaimed. And so we had this nice, flat surface that was freshly top-soiled, and we’re looking at what to do with it in the long term. And for a temporary measure, we did some barley trials,” said Marcus Meuller, land management officer for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Meuller said the department has been working toward an agriculture initiative to find ways to use borough land to make agriculture more available for residents, and the barley experiment fits right in.


Let’s get a little awkward, shall we, and discuss the birds and the bees. At least, the teaching of the birds and the bees, which has become a little more cumbersome since the passage of the Alaska Safe School Act. HB 156 went into effect in 2017 and requires school boards to review and approve outside presenters and materials used to teach sex ed, and grants parents the ability to opt their student out of any curriculum area or assessment.

Not all outside presenters and materials have to be approved by the school board. Historians, scientists, poets and so on, are still fine, only those teaching human reproduction. HB 156 had a controversial path into law. Some saw it as an attempt to limit sex ed, in a state where rates of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancies rank among the highest in the nation. Others argued the additional scrutiny was a way to raise awareness and get parents and communities more involved in curriculum.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s school board had its yearly review of supplemental sex ed materials at its Aug. 6 meeting.


In an effort to keep anglers occupied on the tail end of the summer fishing season, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is rolling out recommendations for an increasing number of sports fish within reach of the Central Peninsula.

For example, in the Resurrection Bay fishing report from the department, the listing of fish species from stream mouths to the pelagic deep include: shrimp, lingcod, halibut, rockfish, Dolly Varden, and of course salmon, both coho and chinook.

Emily Kwong/KCAW

Opioids like heroin affect the part of the brain that regulates breathing. An overdose depresses respiration to dangerous levels. Minutes, and even seconds, count in treating an overdose.

That’s why the U.S. Surgeon General is advocating greater awareness of the opioid antidote Naloxone, sold under its brand name, Narcan, which can counteract the effects of an overdose almost immediately.

Dr. Jerome Adams visited Kenai last week and sang the praises of Project Hope, a state program that provides Narcan kits to the public.

“First responders can’t typically get there in the four minutes it takes to get a hypoxic brain injury,” Adams said. “So if we want to turn around this opioid epidemic, if we want to avoid losing a generation, we need more people willing to carry naloxone with them, keep it in their homes. Because anyone can find themselves in the position to be first a responder.”


Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Candidates for the Northern Kenai Peninsula House District 29 agreed on more issues than not in a forum held by the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce on Wednesday in Kenai. There were differences in priorities and approaches, however.

Ben Carpenter is a 1993 Nikiski High School graduate who is retiring from 21 years of military service this year. He has a peony farm with his family and works as project manager for Epperheimer, Inc., and says his lack of political experience is a mark in his favor.

“We cannot continue to do the same thing that we’ve always done. We cannot continue to think the same way that we’ve always thought and expect different results. We need people out of the communities who have never participated in politics to step forward and get involved. And that is the only way that we are going to right this state,” Carpenter said.

His first priority is cutting government.


While the Alaska general election candidate slate will be set on Tuesday, the ballot denizens for the Oct. 2 Kenai Peninsula municipal elections were finalized at 5 p.m. last (Wednesday) night.

And despite always vital and sometimes contentious and divisive debates on the assembly, the people in the districts served by two incumbents have not put forth challengers.

Brent Hibbert of Soldotna and Kenn Carpenter of Seward will run alone for re-election.

  The roars and cheers and other sounds of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat signaled the beginning of the 2018 fall high school sports season over the weekend. On this week's Kenai Conversation, host Jay Barrett welcomes Jeff Helminiak and Joey Klecka, The Sports Guys, from the Peninsula Clarion back to the studio to find out, among other things, if there’s another 59 game winning streak … in the Stars.

 

 

As we reported earlier, Alaska’s campaign sign laws are a complex combination of state rights-of-way, private-property rights, federal highway law and a 1998 Alaska citizen voter initiative that passed with nearly 75 percent approval that should have left our roadsides pristine.

It is, in essence, very simple, according to Heather Fair, the chief of the DOT’s Right of Way division.

“Any sign visible from the traveled way is not allowed,” she told KDLL last month when campaign signs first started sprouting. 

Students head back to class next Tuesday in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. Let’s get ready with a little math.

At its Aug. 6 meeting, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education approved its fiscal year 2019 budget, which necessitated shaving about $523,000 from expenditures.

Many of the line items represent vacant positions that will not be filled, with duties shifting onto other departments or personnel. This includes $115,500 for a purchasing supervisor, $29,000 in school administration and $120,000 for a district art specialist.

Several school board members voiced heartburn over the loss of the art position.


The new alert system designed to better inform Kenai Peninsula Borough residents of vital emergency information will have its capacity tested this week, and you’re all invited to participate.

KPB Alerts, the phone, mobile, and text mass notification system, was put in place earlier this year after a large earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska exposed shortcomings in the previous system. One of the last steps is to test the voice-calling capability, which will start on Wednesday.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The turnout for the big race Sunday in Soldotna was competitive with other major running events in the area — 110 preregistered racers and another 100 signed up at the start line. The course was laid out with plenty of signage and aid stations at the top of the incline and at the turnaround. And race swag was available so people could boast of their big athletic accomplishment.

If you looked closely, though, the distance printed on the braggy stickers and T-shirts was point 5 K. As in, a half a kilometer. A third of a mile. Sixteen hundred forty-ish feet, and every one of them for a good cause.

“We want to eradicate cancer, we want to raise money for programs and research and in about a hundred years or so, we don’ t want to hear anyone say, ‘You have cancer,’” said Johna Beech, event chair for the local Relay for Life organization.


The mystery remains for a third day of a Palmer man who went missing late Friday night along the Seward Highway.

The Alaska State Troopers report online that 56-year-old Earl “Rocky” Ashworth III of Palmer had walked away in an unknown direction from his camp near the Hope Cutoff.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

In a small room of a little building on the Kenaitze Indian Tribe campus in Old Town Kenai, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams heard a big message — comprehensive, integrated care is the way to treat those trapped in the opioid epidemic.

Dr. Adams was touring Alaska this week with a particular focus on learning how the opioid epidemic is affecting the state. He visited Kenai on Thursday specifically to tour the tribe’s Dena’ina Wellness Center and Henu’ Community Wellness Court.

“It would be incredibly presumptuous and, in my opinion, incredibly wrong of me to think that we can sit in Washington, D.C. and figure out what folks need in any part of the United States, and especially out in Alaska,” Adams said. “So it’s important to get out and find out what’s working well and what’s not working. And I’ve heard from many folks that the Wellness Center is an example of how to provide many services in an integrated way to individuals, and that’s why we came here.”


The interior of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is opening up to vehicles tonight via the Mystery Creek Access Road. The refuge and a portion of the Alaska Pipeline Company's right-of way corridor will open at midnight.

The access road is at about mile 63 of the Sterling Highway, and is within the current highway construction area so the refuge cautions that the appearance of the turn-off has changed from previous years.

Here’s something we haven’t shared in the Central Kenai Peninsula sportsfishing report before. Angling for salmon on the Kenai River is exclusively fly fishing at the moment. The vast majority of the river is still closed from end-to-end, but, in that portion around the confluence of the Russian River, you can try your hand at fly casting.

Both Areas A and B are fly-fishing only. They are bounded by the power line crossing the river on the west end and ADF&G markers on the east. Sportsman’s Landing at Mile 55 is about in the middle.

 

Last week, small business owners got together in Soldotna at the still-under-construction Addie Camp restaurant to brainstorm how to support more new, local businesses and what needs to exist in the broader community to help make that happen. Leading the exercise was Nigel Sharp, a global entrepreneur in residence at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

 


Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Three of the candidates hoping to become the Republican nominee for the governor’s race shared their views at a joint Kenai-Soldotna Chamber of Commerce forum Wednesday at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex.

Former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, former Mat-Su state Sen. Mike Dunleavy and Michael Sheldon shared their views on the state budget, economy, crime, fisheries and many other issues.


Megan learns just how smart pigs can be in "Pigs," by Robert Munsch, read by Sally Cassano.

Nikiski is identified as the best terminus for the Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline Project submitted by the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough wants to keep it that way.

At its meeting Tuesday, the borough assembly gave the administration the green light to apply for intervener status with the Federal Regulatory Commission as it considers AGDC’s AK LNG project. Having the status to intervene means the borough can weigh in on the project proposal with FERC. The deadline to apply to intervene is long past — May 1, 2017 — but the borough didn’t think that step was necessary at the time.

Now, though, other municipalities in the state are telling FERC the terminus should be somewhere other than Nikiski. John Quick, borough Mayor Charlie Pierce’s chief of staff, says the borough wants to be able to counter those claims.

Tobacco users could be a source of additional revenue to the Kenai Peninsula Borough if the assembly approves an ordinance coming up for consideration.

Borough Assembly Member Willy Dunne, of Homer, would like to impose an excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. The measure came before the assembly’s Policies and Procedures Committee on Tuesday. Committee Chair Hal Smalley summarized the proposal.

Edited salmon initiative OK'd for ballot

Aug 9, 2018

Backers of the ballot initiative touted to protect salmon habitat won a somewhat split decision in the Alaska Supreme Court Wednesday and it will appear on the November General Election ballot, though in edited form

The Stand for Salmon Initiative had been challenged by the Lt. Governor for making resource decisions via the ballot, which the Alaska Constitution prohibits. The Alaska Supreme Court, in a decision with one partial dissent, sent the case back to Superior Court with orders that the Lt. Governor be directed to place it on the ballot with two retractions.

 

This week, we’re talking about the AK LNG Project with the president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, Keith Meyer and AGDC’s senior vice president of program management, Frank Richards.


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