Jay Barrett

Morning Edition host/news reporter

Born in Dillingham, Jay Barrett started in public radio at the age of 12, when the school district there started KDLG-AM. He has gone on to work in radio, television and print as a reporter, photographer and editor/news-director across rural Alaska. For the past dozen years, he’s been news director at KMXT Kodiak, where he’s produced The Alaska Fisheries Report for the last 10 years. He returns to KDLL 20 years from when he first came to the station.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Absentee voting places are open across the state of Alaska now, and will be through Primary Election Day on Aug. 21.

Alaska election law allows for a quartet of ways to vote absentee, including in-person, by mail, by fax or electronically, or through a personal representative. 

This year Alaskans will vote on half the state’s senators, all the state house members, our governor and his lieutenant, and for U.S. House.

Several Central Peninsula campgrounds partially closed because of a bear encounter are open again.

Two weeks ago the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge temporarily closed three campgrounds to tent camping for public safety because of a bear encounter in one of them. An unidentified camper was scratched and their tent was damaged after a black bear came calling at the Lower Ohmer Campground on July 21.

In what is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal sportsfishing season, the bag and possession limits on the Kasilof River has been liberalized in an effort to minimize what is now expected to be an over-escapement of sockeye salmon.

In an emergency order, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game increased the bag and possession limits to six fish per day and 12 fish in possession; however, no more than two salmon per day and two in possession may be coho salmon, in all portions of the Kasilof River open to salmon fishing.

With all the closures and restrictions lately, one wouldn’t be blamed if they thought there were no more angling opportunities in the central Kenai Peninsula. But they'd be wrong.

First of all, dip-netting is still open at the mouth of the Kasilof River, with just a couple caveats: One, any king salmon caught must be immediately returned to the water, and two, the fishery is for Alaska residents only. Other than that, Fish and Game says dip-netting success on the Kasilof remains good.

On the Kenai Conversation this week, host Jay Barrett welcomes Cook Inlet commercial salmon fishermen Paul Shadura, Jesse Bjorkman and Andy Hall to discuss the downward trajectory of salmon returns, management goals and the need for all gear groups to finally come together and work for the benefit of the fish.

The disastrous 2018 sockeye salmon run continues to claim its victims. First, Cook Inlet commercial fishermen were ordered to take their nets from the water, and then on Sunday it was the Kenai River dipnetters. 

Now, in an emergency order from Fish and Game, sports fishing for sockeye salmon is closed on the Kenai River from its mouth to Kenai Lake, starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

There is still an exception around the confluence of the Russian River to fish that river’s late run sockeye, which looks good with an escapement of 70,000.

The filing window for residents interested in serving on local city councils, assemblys, and boards has opened. Candidate filing and nomination packets are available now until August 15 for those interested in running for office.

There are two seats available on the Kenai City Council and three on the Soldotna Council.

A Kenai man was killed while crossing the Kenai Spur Highway Tuesday night. The Kenai Police Department reports that 36-year-old Monte Necessary was struck and killed by a westbound sedan.

The driver of the sedan was 75-year-old Roger Seibert, also of Kenai. He was not reported to be injured.

The incident took place on the Kenai Spur Highway near its intersection with North Spruce Street. Next of Kin has been notified and the investigation is ongoing.

Jay Barrett/KDLL

While Gov. Bill Walker was in Kenai on Friday, he took some time to listen to the concerns of over a hundred Cook Inlet commercial fishermen about management of salmon in the district during this year of low returns. It was a generally cordial meeting but there were many direct questions. Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotton joined Gov. Walker and was called upon several times to defend Fish and Game policy. Lack of faith in escapement policy also arose.

This week’s Central Kenai sportsfishing report is more of a list of things one cannot do on the water in pursuit of a salmon.

Of course the Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery closed at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning, which is two days earlier than scheduled.

Meanwhile, from the mouth of the river to Skilak Lake, the bag and possession limit for sockeye 16 inches or longer is reduced to one per day and two in possession effective Monday as well.

Shawn Butler for State Representative

  In our continuing series of interviews with candidates for Alaska State House and Senate, we bring you Shawn Butler of Hope. She is running as a non-partisan in the primary for District 29, which stretches from Nikiski, to Hope, Funny River and Seward.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) has approved applications allowing Cook Inlet Pipeline Company (CIPL) to proceed full speed ahead with construction and rerouting of oil and gas lines in Cook Inlet and on both sides.

The goal is to ship crude oil from the inlet directly to the Andeavor refinery in Nikiski. That will allow Hilcorp Alaska to close the Drift River tank farm and dismantle it. The farm at the mouth of the Drift River, is regularly threatened by volcanic eruptions from Mount Redoubt.

City of Kenai Dipnet app

 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has issued two emergency orders restricting the harvest of sockeye salmon on the Kenai River.

Jay Barrett/KDLL

Political signs have returned to Kenai Peninsula roadsides, blooming right on schedule between dandelions and orange hawkweed. By the time the fireweed has gone to seed, we'll be tired of them -- if they're still around.

Placing temporary signage is likely the most misunderstood and disobeyed law in Alaska. But there is one simple rule of campaign signs in the State of Alaska and it is this: If a campaign sign can be read from a state roadway, then it is illegal and should be taken down.

Shaylon Cochran/KDLL

Rural development in the modern age presents no shortage of challenges for small communities, especially in far-flung Alaska. On this week's Kenai Conversation, we'll learn about one strategy being used in the rural West to identify the best ways for small towns to grow and thrive when the traditional economic engines aren't up to the task. 


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