Shaylon Cochran

News Reporter

Shaylon Cochran has been reporting on local government, energy, fishing and everything in between for KDLL since 2011. He earned a degree in journalism from Iowa State University and worked in radio news at KNIA/KRLS in Pella, Iowa, before visiting Alaska in 2010 and deciding this was the place to be. His work has been featured on NPR's All Things Considered and Morning Edition and been recognized with awards from the Alaska Press Club. When he's not hosting the KDLL Evening News or the Kenai Conversation, you can usually find him biking or skiing around local trails, looking for his dog or sampling the latest from one of the peninsula's many fine breweries.

The early king salmon run on the Kenai River has come in well within recently approved management goals.

Photo: Lakota Burwell/Alaska Fire Service

 

Thanks to some rain and cooler temperatures, the East Fork fire is becoming a slow burn.

Former Kenai City Manager Rick Koch is dead following a motorcycle accident near mile 39 of the Dalton Highway on Sunday.

Alaska State Troopers say Koch was riding in a group shortly before noon when his bike went off the road. He was first taken to Livengood where CPR was administered and a Guardian Flight from Fairbanks was dispatched. Flight medics pronounced him dead upon arrival.

Koch served as city manager in Kenai from 2006 to 2016, when he made a run for the state Legislature. He was 60 years old.

Alaska State Division of Forestry

 

 

The East Fork Fire burning near Sterling is now estimated at about 1,100 acres. It remains 4.5 miles from the Sterling Highway and 3.5 miles from the nearest residential neighborhoods.

 

Celeste Prescott is a public information officer for the state Division of Forestry. She says that crews battled the wind over the weekend to keep the fire burning within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

 

Alaska Department of Natural Resources

New plans for expanding access to different fisheries around the Kasilof River is raising concerns among residents.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Fire crews are still at work on the East Fork Fire, burning in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge near Sterling. It started as a result of lightning in the area Thursday evening. The fire isn't posing immediate threats to life or property and will be monitored closely as it moves deeper into the refuge.

Alaska State Division of Forestry

 

 

A wildland fire broke out on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge just north of Sterling on Thursday evening. As of 10 p.m., the East Fork Fire was estimated to be roughly 150 acres in size. 

It's prime time for hitting the water in kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, row boats or pretty much anything that floats around the Kenai Peninsula. 

 


 

Later this fall, voters on the Kenai will elect a new Borough mayor. Current mayor Mike Navarre has a few more things he’d like to see happen before that time.

Summer fishing is just getting underway around the Kenai Peninsula, but so far, signs are pointing to a pretty decent season.

A pair of public meetings is scheduled for this week to get input on the Kasilof River Special Use Area South Side Improvement Project.

A hiring freeze within the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has thawed out just a little.

 

The district announced today that it will be able to hire for 12 positions out of 30 that are open. Funding from the borough was finalized this week, with the district getting a small bump from last year, for a total of just under $50 million.

 

 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Tuesday night’s vote came in front of a backdrop of drooping state finances and some uncertainty about the future of the peninsula’s economy.

 

That uncertainty was cause for reluctance to find new revenues by way of taxes. Assembly Member Dale Bagely’s proposal to roll back a sales tax exemption on nonprepared food items from nine months to six found much the same opposition it did when he introduced a similar measure a few years ago.

City of Kenai

Kenai City Council member Tim Navarre has been charged with fourth-degree domestic violence assault following an incident in Kenai on Tuesday evening.

Managing the state's fisheries is a big responsibility. On this week's Conversation, we sit down with Robert Ruffner, one of the newest members of the state Board of Fisheries to talk about what challenges lay ahead in managing salmon fisheries on the Kenai Peninsula.

Kenai Peninsula Food Hub

There is a way to get seemingly anything online these days. That includes locally sourced, fresh produce and other foodstuffs. And it’s not just a big city thing, either.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will take yet another look at adjusting the boroughwide sales tax exemption on nonprepared food items. Assembly Member Dale Bagley, who sponsored the ordinance, says that with budgets tightening, this is a more palatable alternative to raising property taxes.

More and more people on the Kenai Peninsula are realizing its potential as a productive agricultural center. Now, backyard gardens are giving way to farmer's markets, food hubs and specialty growers. For this week's Conversation, we spoke with Lou Heite and Steve Dahl of Eagle Glade Farms in Nikiski and Ken Kynes, Executive Chef at The Flats Bistro in Kenai about how the local food movement is changing, growing and what needs to happen to make it sustainable.

This week, the Soldotna City Council approved setting aside $3 million for renovations and an expansion of the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. That move, which doesn’t actually appropriate any money yet, is the starting point for what will be a big fundraising campaign. Tim Dillon, director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, is a co-chair of the group spearheading the effort.

The Soldotna Regional Sports Complex was the hot topic at last night’s city council meeting. Mayor Pete Sprague and Council Member Regina Daniels sponsored an ordinance putting $3 million into the city’s general fund for work toward renovating the sports center.

 

The AK LNG Project continues forward, but not with the pace and fervor we saw when the project was first getting off the ground. The state of Alaska controls a bigger share of the project now, but doesn’t have a ton of extra money to put into it. And the economics are more difficult to make work with steady supplies of natural gas in the Lower 48 that are also a lot easier to get to. Larry Persily is chief of staff for borough Mayor Mike Navarre and this stuff is his specialty.

Joe Gallagher, Project SEARCH

 

 

Justin Mason loves working in a professional kitchen. He’s got his future job title all picked out.

“Japanese cuisine chef. I just like their cooking styles. Whenever you watch them cook it’s like art.”

Mason is from Nikiski and is one of five graduates from this year’s Project SEARCH program, joining Ian Smith, Gracie Satterwhite, Philip Kitchen and Michael Petrovich.

 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is looking at a future with less investment in energy and an aging population. How do we weather the current storm of low oil and gas prices (and the corresponding dips in state funding) while not losing the services already provided? Borough Mayor Mike Navarre and his Chief of Staff, Larry Persily, discuss those challenges, the prognosis of the AK LNG project and more on this week's Kenai Conversation.

Pacific Rim Logistics, the company behind the Cannery Lodge in Kenai, is moving ahead with big plans to expand its facility near the banks of the Kenai River. The Kenai City Council recently approved the sale of a few tracts of land which include an airstrip and the Dragseth Mansion. That would allow for fixed-wing aircraft to land near the lodge and mansion. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission will be voting on conditional-use permits for PRL at its meeting this week.

City of Kenai

 

 

The Kenai Birding Festival is in full flight this weekend, but if a soggy day in the woods isn’t exactly your thing, the city of Kenai and the Kenai Chamber of Commerce have you covered with a new eagle cam. It just went live Friday. City manager Paul Ostrander showed the first public video of the nest at this week’s city council meeting.

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