Sabine Poux

Reporter/evening news host

Elections in the Kenai Peninsula Borough are around the corner. This week, we're talking to candidates for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. 

Brent Hibbert is running unopposed for the District 1 seat, representing Kalifornsky. Kenn Carpenter is running to keep his District 6 seat for the eastern peninsula. Cindy Ecklund is challenging him for that seat.

Courtesy of Bend the Light Photography

Alaska’s State Balladeer announced last week he’s been diagnosed with end-stage cancer.

James Varsos, best known to Alaska and the world as “Hobo Jim,” said his cancer is untreatable and that doctors told him he has three to six months to live.


Photo: Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media

Real estate agents can often take a breather after the summer, when the busy season slows.

And this year's busy season was busier than ever, as buyers outnumbered listings and house prices shot through the roof.

While the market isn't quite as chaotic as it was earlier in the summer, Soldotna real estate agent Marti Pepper said those trends are still lingering as fall begins. And she doesn't see a huge correction coming any time soon.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

School boards around the country have been in the spotlight throughout the pandemic, amid heated conversations about COVID-19 and mitigation protocols in schools.

That’s been true in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. And it’s partly what’s inspired some candidates to run for school board this election cycle.

City of Kenai

Five candidates are vying for the two open seats on the Kenai City Council this October.

KDLL has been interviewing the candidates for that race and other municipal races on Kenai Conversation. You can play those interviews online any time and learn where the candidates stand on city issues — including COVID-19 relief funds, bluff erosion and economic development.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Three seats on the Soldotna City Council are up for grabs this October.

KDLL has been interviewing the candidates for that race and other municipal races on Kenai Conversation. You can play the interviews in full and learn where the candidates stand on city issues — including riverfront development, COVID-19 mitigation policies and 911 dispatch services — online any time.

Municipal elections in the Kenai Peninsula Borough are around the corner.

This week and last week, we spoke with the candidates for the three open seats on the Soldotna City Council.

Dan Nelson is running for Seat C and joins us in the studio. Erick Hugarte is also running for the seat. He did not respond to requests for an interview.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The Kenai Art Center is calling all pandemic painters and potters and photographers for its October show.

“We’re not turning anybody away," said Alex Rydlinski, executive director of the Kenai Art Center. “Because the idea is —  we’re pretty sure that people have been working on art all this time during the pandemic. And we want to see what they’ve been doing.”

KPEDD

Every few years, the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District steps back and builds a comprehensive economic development strategy, or CEDS — a document of plans and priorities the federal government encourages organizations to have before it distributes funds like coronavirus relief.

Tim Dillon is executive director of the district. He said KPEDD submitted and received approval on its new 2021-2026 CEDS this summer.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Over half of all beds at Central Peninsula Hospital are now occupied by COVID-19 patients and the hospital is almost a third overcapacity, said hospital spokesperson Bruce Richards.

Richards said Tuesday the strain pushed the hospital to cancel all in-patient elective surgeries for at least two days. CPH is holding some patients in the emergency room overnight for lack of space.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Temperatures dipped below freezing in Kenai this weekend. Each year, that first frost is a reminder that the Central Kenai Peninsula still doesn’t have an emergency cold-weather shelter for its homeless residents.

“In the short term, it is worrisome," said Leslie Rohr, executive director of Love INC. "And we go through this every winter, ‘What are we going to do?’”

Sabine Poux/KDLL

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

The Kenaitze Indian Tribe is holding workshops for people who want to be able to recognize signs and intervene when someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts.

Courtesy of Todd Salat

Fall hunting season has started in Alaska. But it’s not the only kind of hunting underway.

“Historically, September has been one of my favorite times of the year to go aurora hunting," said Todd Salat. He's an aurora photographer based out of Anchorage.

Photo: KTOO file photo

Alaskans can expect their Permanent Fund Dividend checks in mid-October. The Legislature signed off on $1,100 PFDs this week.

It was a scramble to get the PFD plan across the finish line in the final hours of the Legislature’s third special session.


Courtesy of Nathan Erfurth

Teachers and staff in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District have finalized their new contracts, which lay out a new tiered healthcare system and wage raises for some support staff, among other changes.

The district’s Board of Education ratified the new agreements this week. They’ll be in place until 2024.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Health providers are now administering COVID-19 shots to immunocompromised individuals who’ve already received their first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Soldotna Professional Pharmacy co-owner Justin Ruffridge said his pharmacy administers multiple third shots, both Pfizer and Moderna, to immunocompromised individuals every day. Those third shots are meant to help them build more immunity to the virus.

KTOO file photo

New maps from the Alaska Redistricting Board will change the shape and boundaries of the state’s legislative districts, based on population changes recorded in the 2020 Census.

But on the Kenai Peninsula, not much is likely to shift.

Municipal elections in the Kenai Peninsula Borough are fast approaching.

This week and next week, we’re talking to the candidates for the three open seats on the Soldotna City Council.

Jordan Chilson is currently on the council and is running for Seat C. Micah Shields is also running for the seat. He was unable to join us in the studio today.

Courtesy of Indy Walton

Locals might know Indy Walton from the ice rink, where he coached the Soldotna High School hockey team. Or they might recognize him as a financial adviser with the local branch of Edward Jones.

Now, he’s on deck to join the powerful state Board of Fisheries, the body that makes decisions about fish allocation and management in Alaska’s waters. Gov. Mike Dunleavy appointed Walton to the seventh open seat on the board Sept. 3, months after his previous nominee was rejected by the Alaska Legislature.

A Kasilof man is charged with sending death threats to people in Vermont.

Federal authorities said they arrested 34-year-old Benjamin Tarbell before he was set to fly to Vermont from the Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday afternoon. He faces six felony counts of sending threatening interstate communications.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Local and national medical experts have recommended universal masking in schools to prevent the spread of the contagious Delta variant.

But the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District announced at a work session today it’s sticking to its policy of recommended masking districtwide and instead considering temporary mask mandates at individual schools depending on how those schools are impacted by COVID-19.

University of Alaska Fairbanks

The tiny but mighty phytoplankton live at the base of the food chain in the Gulf of Alaska. They're a food source for small crustaceans, which in turn feed small fish, then bigger fish, then seabirds and marine mammals. 

Each spring and summer, a large concentration of phytoplankton blooms in the gulf. This year, researchers recorded the biggest bloom they’ve ever seen.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

To win the Kenai Silver Salmon Derby, you don’t have to catch the largest coho, or even the second largest.

The Kenai derby is all about hitting the magic weight. City Manager Paul Ostrander said that’s to limit the number of salmon injured by catch and release fishing.

Photo: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The proposed Pebble Mine project has long been a source of controversy in Alaska. It's faced scrutiny nationally, too, as as each presidential administration has taken its own look at the plan to build an open-pit copper and gold mine at the headwaters of Bristol Bay. 

Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency dealt the latest blow to the project.

So, what makes this new twist different from the others?

Sabine Poux/KDLL

When it comes to its new voting machines, the borough is making a list and checking it twice.

Teri Birchfield and Linda Cusack with the canvass board were running through a checklist of tests Thursday morning on one of the borough's new Dominion Voting Systems machines.

They said most voters won’t register the new technology when they come in to cast their ballots. But for voters with disabilities, it could be game changing.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Most mornings, a line of cars snakes from the front of Capstone Clinic in Kenai, past McDonalds, spilling out onto the residential Walker Lane.

Clinics like Capstone have been seeing a growing number of people coming in for COVID-19 tests as the Delta variant has tightened its grip on the state.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

A Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting turned into a debate about the coronavirus last night, when a resolution condemning vaccine mandates generated hours of conversation about unproven COVID-19 treatments and took the meeting right up to its 11:30 p.m. automatic end time.

Wonderlane/Wikimedia Commons

Another round of relief money is coming down the pike for Alaska renters.

The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation is again accepting applications for COVID-19-related relief starting Sept. 13. It's the latest in a string of relief programs from AHFC and the first to take place since the federal moratorium on evictions ended at the end of July.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Alex Rydlinski isn’t just interested in the pretty parts of reindeer farming.

When the Kenai painter decided to shadow and paint Fairbanks reindeer farmer George Aguiar, he wanted to capture all sides of his process.

And that’s what he did, in a series of eight oil paintings and eight etchings of Aguiar and his herd. The exhibit, called “The Reindeer Man,” is on display at Kenai Art Center through the month of September.

For our second set of election 2021 interviews, we spoke with James Baisden, Deborah Sounart and Alex Douthit, three of the five candidates for Kenai City Council. There are two seats open on the council this election.

We spoke with the other two candidates, Jim Duffield and Victoria Askin, last week. You can listen to those interviews here and read more about all five candidates here.

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