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.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has an open comment period through the end of the month for its plan to enhance the king salmon run on the Kasilof River and Crooked Creek, as well as in Kachemak Bay.

Friday night proved to be just a little too much for one Kenai man. After being asked to leave the Duck Inn at Red Diamond, the 61-year-old reportedly hit several other parked cars before making it out on to Kalifornsky Beach Road.

Alaska State Troopers caught up with William Cloer at about 9 p.m. on Bridge Access Road as he drove towards Kenai in his Chevy Suburban.

 Anglers on the North Road will have to continue the practice of returning any Arctic Char or Dolly Varden to the waters of Stormy Lake for at least another year. Effective at 12:01 a.m. on New Year's Day, the restriction on fish retention was extended by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The ban on taking Char or a Dolly in the lake stems from efforts started in 2012 to eradicate invasive, nonnative northern pike from Stormy Lake. That required poisoning the fish with a chemical called Rotenone.

This week on the Kenai Conversation, host Jay Barrett welcomes Peninsula Clarion sports scribes Jeff Helminiak and Joey Klecka to the studio to tackle local sports, college football, auto racing and more.

When someone shares the name of a celebrity, it’s easy to stand out in the crowd. Or on a list. Such as the FCC database of comments about the once-proposed, and now approved, repeal of Net Neutrality.

That's how KDLL found the name of former Kenai City Councilman Ozzie Osborne on the FCC’s database so easily. However, like potentially millions of comments on the list, the comment attributed to Osborne did not come from him.

"Well that's just another identity theft thing," said Osborne.

In 2018, all Eastside Cook Inlet beaches will remain closed to recreational clamming due to the continued low abundance of mature sized razor clams. Fish and Game made the announcement because any razor clam harvest in 2018 will likely delay recovery of Kenai Peninsula razor clam populations.

On Saturday afternoon, Alaska State Troopers in Soldotna received a report about a suspicious man on private property walking into the woods.

A Trooper responded and was able to locate the subject. Due to below freezing temperatures, the Trooper offered the man a ride home and the man accepted.

But while in the back of the trooper vehicle, the man produced a handgun, forcing the trooper to stop and flee the vehicle.

Snowmachiners rejoice! The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is opening the Caribou Hills area within Kenai National Wildlife Refuge to snowmachine use, effective immediately.

Higher elevations in the Caribou Hills have recently received snowfall allowing for the limited opening. No other areas of the Refuge are currently open to snowmachines due to inadequate snow cover.

Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center

  KDLL's Adventure Talk hijacked the Kenai Conversation Wednesday morning. Host Jenny Neyman talked with two long time backcountry skiers and avalanche experts about being safe while traversing the snow up in the hills and mountains.

Backcountry enthusiast Tony Doyle, and Wendy Wagoner, director and forecaster at the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center both talked about preparing for adventure in the snowy backcountry.

An area better known for rock falls and avalanches was shut down for over five hours Monday morning due to a large landslide. The rock, soil and vegetation closed lanes in both directions of the Seward Highway at Milepost 105, just west of Indian. 

Shannon McCarthy, Department of Transportation Central Region spokeswoman, says the highway was reopened at about noon.

“I see a lot of rockslides along that section of highway, but we don’t typically see a lot of areas which are treed that slide,” she said.

Creative Commons

  On Wednesday night the Soldotna City Council voted to tack on another 45 days to the city’s prohibition against all things cannabis related.

“Basically what’s happening is we’re trying to figure out what do with marijuana in the city. And this allows us to buy a little bit more time before we have to make a decision,” said Mayor Nels Anderson. “Okay, are there any council comments? Seeing none, can we have the vote, please?”

Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks

On Thursday night, the University of Alaska College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences is hosting a forum in Kenai about salmon habitat protection policy. The panelists are representatives of state government and advocates from the industries most affected, such as sportfish guiding, oil and gas development and mining.

Milo Adkison is a professor of fisheries at the University of Alaska.

Alaska's largest charitable organization announced awards of $6.6 million Monday for a variety of projects around the state. Among the myriad projects funded, the Rasmuson Foundation directed $330,000 to Hope Community Resources for a project in Sterling. 

Those funds will be used to help complete what Hope is calling "an intentional neighborhood" on 20 acres just outside Sterling.

Facebook

Long-time Kenai Peninsula College psychology professor and local Democratic Party activist Marge Hays died Sunday. She was 84.

Word spread quickly online and among friends Sunday night that Hays had passed away.

Tributes and memories came in from around the country. One friend posted early Monday morning from Indiana, praising Hays for her positive, cheerful outlook, and credited her for helping him get hired as counselor, and later launching him on a “second career” in teaching.

John Williams

    Former City of Kenai and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor John Williams found himself in Washington DC this week on business for the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Committee. He told KDLL's Jay Barrett that he got to meet with all three members of Alaska's congressional delegation, and was there when Congressman Don Young became the longest currently serving member of the House.

Earlier this week we introduced you to the local metalsmith and jeweler who is creating chain mail wardrobe for the Kenai Performers’ upcoming production of “Shrek The Musical.” Robin Lyons takes small c-shaped pieces of wire and intertwines them to create a surface that is designed to be resistant to arrows, sword blows and knife cuts - though for Shrek, very little of that is actually expected.

In the real world though, knife cuts aren’t that uncommon, especially during such common local activities as filleting salmon and halibut. Which gave Lyons an idea.

Wage growth in the Kenai Peninsula Borough outperformed the state average over the past 10 years. In figures released by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the state average went up 5 percent between 2006 and 2016, but grew 6 percent in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The average wage in Alaska was $50,790 in 2006, and rose, in inflation-adjusted dollars, to $53,160 last year, a gain of $2,370.

The average on the Kenai in 2006 was $44,200 and rose $2,708 in the succeeding decade to $46,908 today.

Jay Barrett/KDLL

Art can be found pretty much anywhere. Even behind the counter at the convenience store during a break. That’s where KDLL’s Jay Barrett found Robin Lyons working on a prop for the upcoming Kenai Performers presentation of “Shrek: The Musical.” Lyons will also be helping out as a stagehand behind the scenes, and will be on stage portraying a bishop in the cast. “Shrek: The Musical,” a production by the Kenai Performers, is in rehearsals now.

Gilmartin Family

Around Thanksgiving for the past 21 years, a Nikiski couple has ventured about as far away as you can go, at least culturally, to sell Christmas trees.

When Tom and Michele Gilmartin first drove from Nikiski to New York, it was just the two of them.

"Drove here with my wife in a Toyota pickup truck with a half-cap on it. And we slept in the back of that truck for 32 days and sold trees," Tom Gilmartin said. "Our first year I think we made, I don't know, $7,000 to $8,000 that year and we were tickled to do it, OK."

Alaska Earthquake Center

  A spate of earthquakes widely felt in Southcentral Alaska lately has some wondering if that's a good sign or a bad sign, insofar as larger quakes are concerned.

Checking with Natalia Ruppert, a seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Center in Fairbanks, reveals you can't make assumptions on future quakes based on what we're feeling now.

A small earthquake on the Kenai Peninsula was felt as far away as Anchorage early this afternoon.

The Alaska Earthquake Center reported a 4.6 magnitude quake centered six miles northeast of Sterling at 12:17 p.m., at a depth of 23 miles. An even smaller, and unfelt 2.2 magnitude aftershock was recorded at 12:21 p.m. in roughly the same spot.

No damage or injuries were reported.

While Dutch Harbor, Kodiak and Bristol Bay net all the headlines for the volume and value of their yearly commercial seafood harvests, two fishing ports on the Kenai Peninsula do rank in the top 50 nationwide in both categories.

You may have seen the sign is gone from the former Kenai Moose Lodge on the Spur Highway just west of Forrest Drive. The organization disbanded locally and closed the doors to its family center social club earlier this year. But the charter remains active, according to Norm Dean, West Coast Region manager for Moose International.

“Well, we’re working to secure leaders in the local lodge that will move forward and find a new location and get back to what the Moose does, and that’s support our two big national charitable endeavors,” Dean said.

At Tuesday night's (Oct. 31) Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting, a 7th-grader from Kachemak Selo urged the borough to do something about her deteriorating school.

Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council

  On the same night an ordinance to institute a 6 percent bed tax peninsula-wide was introduced, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly heard a report from the executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council on how they and that industry is doing.

"All signs are pointing to the positive," said an enthusiastic Summer Lazenby. "I can't give an exact tourism update at this point because historically it's been sales tax data that is used to define whether or not it's been a good tourism season or not."

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