Jay Barrett

Morning Edition Host/Senior 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 produced The Alaska Fisheries Report for 10 of them. He returns to KDLL 20 years from when he first came to the station.

Libraries used to be quiet as mausoleums, with people shuffling quietly from the card catalog, to the stacks, to a straight-backed wooden chair at a table to read under harsh fluorescent lights. Stern librarians would peer over their glasses and give a “shush” at any sound.

Not so much any more.

“Libraries are not quiet any more. And there are some people who are kinda upset about that sometimes,” says Kenai Library Director Mary Jo Joiner. 

The Internet age was supposed to be the death knell for America’s public libraries. Google was supposed to replace the Dewey Decimal System and the Kindle was going to end paper books altogether. But, no. Not only are libraries like the ones in Kenai and Soldotna surviving, they’re thriving. We’ll find out why on the Kenai Conversation as host Jay Barrett welcomes head librarians Mary Jo Joiner and Rachel Nash from Kenai and Soldotna, respectively.

At last week’s regular meeting, the Soldotna City Council made a fundamental change to how city hall and the Soldotna city government is structured. The council moved oversight of the city clerk from the city manager to the city council.

As Councilwoman Linda Murphy, a one-time Alaska Clerk of the Year herself, explains, a city Soldotna’s size should be structured in this manner.

Bill Laughing Bear

This past weekend may have been the busiest of the winter. What with Native Youth Olympics, the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race, the Arctic Winter Games, and who can forget the KDLL Annual Membership Party?

Well, on Saturday out at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge visitors center, a mushing guide turned author demonstrated his Siberian mushing set up, and talked about his new book, "An Alaskan Adventure: Tales of a Musher."

National Weather Service

  The Kenai River at the Soldotna Bridge entered minor flood stage several times on Thursday and Friday, according to National Weather Service measurements.

The Service issued a special weather statement Sunday warning of the rising water levels on the Kenai River as freeze-up continues. As ice forms the river, the statement says, it can build up and restrict the flow of the water, backing it up behind the ice and raising levels.

The city of Kenai is looking to grow its economic base. That begins with one of the city’s more abundant resources — land. Shaylon Cochran has more on the plans to catalog and encourage development around the city:


Jay Barrett/KDLL photo

  Project Homeless Connect, a one-day outreach to the peninsula’s disadvantaged, attracted scores people to the Soldotna Sports Complex Wednesday. Frank Alioto, whose daytime job is at Central Peninsula Hospital, is a co-leader of the project.

There was another strong earthquake felt in Kenai almost exactly two years ago, though much closer than Tuesday morning's 7.9 event, meaning it caused a whole lot more damage in the Central Peninsula.

Some of that damage occurred to the Kenai City Dock during the January 24th, 2016, 7.1 earthquake.

City Manager Paul Ostrander explained to the Kenai City Council the administration’s plan to repair the damage, using funds left over from two other, completed projects.

Alaska's economic future pretty much balances right now on a  natural gas pipeline running from the North Slope to Nikiski. It's the main focus of Governor Bill Walker's administration, and he's lobbied two presidents and several foreign leaders to get on board.

While the project is making progress through a recent agreement with China, it's far from a certainty, at least in the mind of local elder statesman John Williams.

The latest Alaska State Trooper Citizen Academy on the Kenai Peninsula is under way. Lieutenant Dane Gilmore of the Soldotna trooper post says the 12-week program is designed to help citizens learn about the role of troopers in the community.

"The idea is to create community awareness of the equipment and resources and limitations of the AST and the criminal justice system overall," he said.

He says the academy is important partially to dispel some misconceptions people have about the troopers.

 

The state Legislature gavels in amid hopes that increasing oil prices and TAPS line throughput can help quell the state's budget mess, while Hilcorp has big plans for its stake in Cook Inlet.


On this week's Kenai Conversation, former Kenai city and borough Mayor John Williams returns to discuss the issues of the day with host Jay Barrett.

  Twice a month a group of folks get together in Soldotna over lunch and talk. It happens all the time, but this group is noteworthy because they're trying to get better at it. At talking, not lunch. The group is Soldotna Speakers, which helps people improve their public speaking and leadership skills. KDLL's Jay Barrett spoke with Soldotna Speakers' organizer Rosie Reeder about the program. The next gathering of Soldotna Speakers, which meets on the first and third Tuesday of the month is February 6th.

A charter bus carrying the Homer girls basketball team got stuck partially in the ditch in Cooper Landing, blocking traffic in both lanes for some time on Saturday night. No injuries were reported.

According to a Facebook post by Chad Felice, coach of the Lady Mariners, the road was so icy that the bus, moving at under 20 mph, just slid down with the grade of the road.

In this first episode of Econ 919, we take you to the recent Economic Outlook Forum and introduce you to one of the newest players in the central Kenai Peninsula's economy. And we wrap up with some potentially encouraging news about your PFD.


It's been over two months since the Kenai Peninsula Borough has opened the landfill in Soldotna to hazardous waste disposal, but Saturday citizens will be free to bring in up to 55 gallons of household waste.

Commercial disposers are charged a fee, and have to register in advance, but if you're just an innocent bystander with a garage full of half-empty paint cans, used motor oil and fluorescent light bulbs, your trip to the dump is free.

A few years ago residents of the Kenai Peninsula Borough went to the polls and said they would like to have animal control, which currently is only provided by certain organized cities. The voters also said they wanted it basically for free.

Since that time, animals, mostly dogs, have continued to roam freely in the unincorporated areas of the borough, which occasionally leads to citizens asking the borough assembly to finally do something about it. Last week it was Amanda Berg of Kenai who spoke up during citizen comments.

Two items on Wednesday night's Soldotna City Council agenda will mark the beginning of the end in legalizing cannabis within city limits. One ordinance limits operations to commercially-zoned areas of the city only, while the other ordinance sets up the framework for taxing the product.

What the ordinances do not do, though, is allow any commercial growing of marijuana in the city, regardless of zoning.

Thursday, the League of Women Voters of the Central Kenai Peninsula will host an informational session on voting issues. Kenai Peninsula Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship will be the keynote speaker. She calls it "sort of voting 101."

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.

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