Sabine Poux

Reporter/evening news host
Sabine Poux/KDLL

Brittany Brown identifies getting Kenai and its businesses safely back to normal as both a hurdle and first priority in her first months on the job. But she’s well equipped for remote work, if need be.

“Being in public relations, community relations in rural Alaska, that’s been a lot of my career,” she said. “And it hasn’t always been possible for us to get out there. And, so, a lot of what we did was virtual. … I have a feel for how technology works and how we can really use it to accomplish our goals.”

CDC

There are more ways than one that the flu shot might protect people against COVID-19.

There’s the fact that getting vaccinated will reduce an individual’s likelihood to experience the flu and coronavirus concurrently. Furthermore, protection against the flu will lessen the risk that influenza cases stress Alaska’s hospital capabilities.

But widespread efforts to administer the flu shot might also prove handy in prepping the peninsula for the eventual arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine. Think of it as a “dry run,” said Bud Sexton of the Borough Office of Emergency Management.

“Since we know there’s going to be a large percentage of the population who will want to get vaccinated with COVID, there’s a lot of timing that goes underway to make sure everything goes well whenever the vaccine is ready for distribution,” Sexton said.

The application window for the second round of borough-distributed CARES funding opens Monday morning. Small businesses and nonprofits located in the borough’s unincorporated communities that did not receive grants from the Kenai Peninsula Borough during its first round of funding are eligible to apply.

Commercial fishermen who fish within borough boundaries are also eligible, says Brenda Ahlberg, the borough’s community and fiscal projects manager.

She said there’s about $2.5 million allocated to round two.

“However, we are aware that if there are more applications than there is funding available, that the administration is prepared to go back to the assembly to provide money for the remaining balance,” Ahlberg said. 

The borough assembly approved two rounds of CARES grants earlier this summer, and this round will operate much like the first. In August, the borough distributed $6.1 million during round one. 

Farmers Almanac

New gardeners who sprouted green thumbs during the pandemic will soon face their first Kenai frost.

Night-time temperatures could dip into the high 20s this week in the Kenai-Soldotna area. For the scores of newbies who just started gardening during the pandemic, this might mean learning to clean up outdoor beds, bring plants inside and prep early for next spring.

Aspiring gardeners everywhere used this stay-at-home summer to get planting for the first time, with Alaskans especially reaping the benefits of the long summer days. Renae Wall, secretary of the Central Peninsula Garden Club, said there’s been increased activity in the club’s Facebook group, where local gardeners commiserate about the approaching cold and share advice about transitioning to fall.

“Really, the preparation is just dealing with all your harvest,” Wall said. “That’s the fun thing about talking to other gardeners, is finding out how they put away their harvests. You can do it in a root cellar, you can blanch and freeze, you can dry, you can pickle, there’s lots of different creative ways people do it and add their own variety.”

Sabine Poux/KDLL

The last time Charlie Pierce and Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings campaigned for the position of Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, in 2017, voters were buzzing about the borough’s stance on cannabis legislation and the Pebble Partnership.

The center of attention this round, unsurprisingly, has been COVID-19. At today’s 2020 mayoral candidate forum, moderator Merrill Sikorski asked the candidates about their strategies for handling coronavirus and what they thought about funding for schools and deferred maintenance projects.

The forum was part of a luncheon held by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce at the visitors’ center. Around 50 people attended.

Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce was an early proponent of opening Kenai back up following state-mandated coronavirus closures, and he spoke proudly of his position at the forum.

“I was the individual that took the lead in Marchm” Pierce said. “Following the very next day, after the governor reduced some of his mandates, I was out on the streets the very next day saying that I believe we’re all essential. I believe we’re open for business and I believe that’s the best way to save our businesses is to continue to keep government out and off of the backs of individuals in the way of taxation and the growth of government.”

Generally, Pierce said he thinks he’s done a pretty good job over the last three years. But when asked about what she would have done differently, Farnsworth-Hutchings said she would have handled borough issues “in a completely different way” than her opponent.

“I work very well one on one with everybody,” she said. “I believe in having management meetings once a week so that you can deal with all of your department heads, [seeing] what’s going on in their departments, and making sure that your employees feel like they are appreciated and are doing the most that they can do.”

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