Kenai Conversation

10 a.m. Wednesdays

Public affairs interviews live at 10 a.m. Wednesdays, rebroadcast at 5 p.m. Saturdays.

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.

For our first set of election 2021 interviews, we spoke with Victoria Askin and Jim Duffield, two of the five candidates for Kenai City Council. There are two seats open on the council this election.

Later in the program, we talked to Sammy Crawford from the Central Peninsula League of Women Voters about why it’s so important to vote in local elections. She also remembered her own first time voting.

Most people know about the Kenai and Soldotna historical societies and museums.

Kasilof also has an active historical association. And few people know Kasilof's history better than the association's president, Brent Johnson. He’s our guest on this week's Kenai Conversation.

 

It’s been a hard year and a half for most professionals. Teachers and education support staff in particular faced a myriad questions about safety, sick leave and remote teaching last school year.

Central Peninsula Hospital is celebrating a half century in business this year.

But for a long time, the hospital was just an idea — one spurred by the central peninsula’s growing population but stalled over intense community rivalries and funding drama.

Kenai is more than just home to Christine Cunningham and Steve Meyer. It's also where the duo — and their eight dogs — have been recreating and hunting for years. They write about their adventures in a weekly column for the Anchorage Daily News.

We had them on the show to talk about their philosophies on hunting, how they document their trips while still staying in the moment and their thoughts on "type 2 fun."

You don't have to know a lot about fishing to know that dipnet season is back in Kenai.

But if you do want to learn more about the fishing that makes the city a summer destination for AK anglers, we've got you covered. This week's Kenai Converstaion is a 2020 online presentation from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game on the basics of dipnetting, from what to bring to how to avoid a ticket.

In the second part of the presentation, how to navigate the personal use fisheries in the Kenai, Kasilof and China Poot fisheries.

A lot of schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District are in the borough's cities, connected to most of the peninsula through the road system.

But others are more remote, accessible only by plane or boat. And it can be hard for students in those communities to access the same opportunities as others.

The Kenai Art Center was closed for about a year when the pandemic broke out, leaving local artists with yet another loss in gallery space. This July, the center in Old Town Kenai reopened to the public, kicking off with a massive pottery show and renovations complete.

Kenai Art Center Executive Director Alex Rydlinski, board president Marion Nelson and Kenai Potters Guild President Debbie Adamson joined the Kenai Conversation to talk about the new show, the reopening of the building and the new name of the Kenai Art Center (formerly the Kenai Fine Art Center).

There’s a mosaic of land managers on the Kenai Peninsula. But all share at least one common goal: mitigate damage from wildfires.

That was front of mind for Jeff Bouschor this last week. He’s the fire management officer for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, which recently reached 100 percent containment on the lightning-caused Loon Lake Fire.

Companies have been dreaming about turning Cook Inlet’s tides into energy for years. The inlet has the largest tides in the country and some of the largest in the world.

This summer, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is doing a study on Cook Inlet’s tides to learn more about what the resource looks like and how it can best be harnessed.

Homer’s Levi Kilcher is working on that study. He joined us on this week's Kenai Conversation to talk about the study and about Cook Inlet's tidal potential.

If you've even thought about buying or selling property this spring, you know that it's a seller's market. Properties are selling well above asking price and, in some cases, buyers are even paying in cash.

Real estate agent Marti Pepper is on the Kenai Conversation today to talk about how things are going here and to share her advice on navigating today's market.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Soldotna resident Al Hershberger was just 18 when he enlisted in World War II. He was part of a field artillery battalion of almost 80 Americans that helped on the frontlines of the war in Europe in the early 1940s.

Now, at 95, Hershberger he thinks he’s the last surviving member of his battalion. We spoke with him about what Memorial Day means to him, how he reconnected with members of his battalion later in life and what it was like revisiting Germany as an adult.

The local food scene has really sprouted on the Kenai Peninsula.

The Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District has been instrumental in encouraging that growth and insuring long-term sustainability of the industry. In the last year, that's included providing information about coronavirus relief funding to producers who lost revenue during the pandemic.

Kenai Peninsula College just graduated its senior class. It also just hired a new director.

Cheryl Siemers has been with KPC for a long time, most recently as the assistant director for Academic Affairs. She'll be stepping into the role of college director this summer. 

It's Wildland Fire Prevention and Preparedness Week in Alaska. 

This week, staff from the Division of Forestry talk through past and present efforts to mitigate risk and respond to wildfires locally. In the second half of the show, how individuals can avoid fires in their own lives.

Change 4 the Kenai met last week to talk strategy for addressing injection drug use on the Kenai Peninsula.

The coalition folds in partners from across the peninsula and has a wealth of resources available online, from a community resource directory to a podcast.

Shari Conner is coalition coordinator for Change 4 the Kenai. Renee Lipps is a member of the Change 4 the Kenai coalition and is coalition coordinator for Peninsula Points on Prevention.

All communities on the Kenai Peninsula rely on tourism to some extent. But Seward relies more on the cruise industry, which has largely been on pause during the pandemic. The hit was reflected in Seward's sales tax revenue, which dipped almost 35 percent from 2019 to 2020.

April is National Poetry Month. Today on the show, peninsula fisher poets.

Our guests are Brent Johnson of Clam Gulch, Georgie Heaverley from Nikiski, Clark Whitney of Soldotna and Steve Schoonmaker of Kasilof.

There’s a large slate of candidates running for the three open seats on the Homer Electric Association Board of Directors this year.

On the Central Kenai Peninsula, there are four candidates are running for the District 1 seat, to represent Kenai, Nikiski and part of Soldotna. They are Mike Chenault, Erik Hendrickson, Wayne Ogle and Joseph Ross.

Two candidates are on the ballot for District 2, which represents Soldotna, Sterling and Kasilof. Those candidates Ed Schmitt and Robert Wall.

Travel was one of the first things to go last March, sending students who were on the Kenai Peninsula for foreign exchange — and their counterparts from Kenai who were abroad — packing.

But some programs are coming back in 2021. Our guests are Mitch Michaud with the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange program, in conjunction with Kenai Peninsula College; Eileen Bryson with the local chapter of the American Field Service; and Will Morrow with the Soldotna Rotary Club's exchange program.

The worlds of music and performance have been disrupted in the last year. But it looks like we’re on the upswing. People are getting vaccinated, the Wednesday market will have live shows and people are getting jazzed to see their favorite bands again.

Our guests today are all Kenai Peninsula-based musicians: Sue Biggs, Jack Will, Nelson Kempf and Robert Carlson.

Scientists have been scrambling for the last year and a half to wrap their heads around the risk posed by a potentially massive landslide on the steep slopes of Barry Arm in Prince William Sound. In a worst-case scenario a full slope failure could pummel Whittier with a tsunami wave as big as 30 feet.

State and federal researchers are working to get a better understanding of the size and factors that might cause the slope to fail, to help tsunami forecasters give boaters and coastal communities in the sound as much advance warning as possible.

Solid waste, recycling and composting  are up for discussion with the Kenai Peninsula Borough Resilience and Security Advisory Commission Solid Waste Committee members, Randy Arndt and Alexandra Ravelo, as well as Dan Kort, Solid Waste Director at Central Peninsula Landfill.

To find out more about the Resilience and Security Commission, access links to their meetings and contact the commission members go the the KPB website.

The Kachemak Bay Science Conference and Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Symposium will be held March 15 to 18. They’re virtual this year and free to attend. To register and to find out more, visit kachemakbayscience.org, or listen to this week’s interview with conference organizers and presenters.

East Cook Inlet beaches have been closed to harvesting razor clams due to low abundance since 2015. The only clam digging since has been by scientists gathering data to quantify the razors' slow recovery and to try and figure out what is inhibiting the population's rebound.

Mike Booz and Holly Dickson, lower Cook Inlet area management biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Sportfish Division, share the research and theories on what’s happening beneath the sand.

Kenai Peninsula public radio celebrates Black History Month with a visit from Homer storyteller and activist Skywalker Payne.

Joe Rizzo, executive director of Triumvirate Theatre, and Paul Morin and Rebecca Gilman, director and producer of "Murder in the Cathedral" with the Kenai Performers talk about maintaining community theater amid COVID.

Jeff Fair is an Alaska field biologist and author of, “In Wild Trust,” about the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. It’s the story of the development of the sanctuary and of Larry Aumiller, who spent 30 years at McNeil as its first manager, sharing his insights into bear and human behavior that created the guidelines for bear viewing at McNeil. Fair talked about his time at McNeil and his recollections of Aumiller during a Wildlife Wednesday presentation, put on by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance.

Dr. Kristin Mitchell, with Central Peninsula Internal Medicine, Justin Rufridge, co-owner of Soldotna Professional Pharmacy, and Dan Nelson, manager of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management, are here to discuss the COVID vaccine this week.

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