Kenai Conversation

10 a.m. Wednesdays

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

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.

In the past, Project Homeless Connect has been a one-day event, gathering people who lack adequate, stable housing and the agencies, organizations and volunteers who can help. Since large gatherings aren't safe during COVID, project organizers are rethinking how to get the information they need and provide the services this population needs without gathering all at once. Thanks to Leslie Rohr, executive director with Love Inc.

Snow might still be on the ground but spring isn’t far away. When we get there, gardeners need to have their planting plans ready. Here’s some food for thought — growing native edible perennials. Local vegetables, if you will. Didn’t know there was such a thing? Shawn Jackinsky, of Green Cannon Gardens in Ninilchik, can tell you all about it. This is a “Know Your Lands” presentation from the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District. Find more of their presentations on their Facebook page.

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District is working on updating the borough's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for 2021 to 2026, to aid in planning for the next five years. This helps in directing policy, obtaining and distributing governmental funding, attracting new businesses to the borough, identifying roadblocks to development and, ideally, bettering the quality of life in our neck of the woods.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will return to in-personal classes Jan. 11. Educators are preparing for the change.

It was a turbulent year for business owners on the Kenai Peninsula, trying to survive the ecnomic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. What strategies and programs were helpful? What not so much? Brittany Brown, Shanon Davis and Tim Dillon, the executive directors of the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce and Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, take a look back and peer into their crystal ball for the year to come.

Kenai Peninsula College hosted a two-part series of presentations on the possible effects of climate change on the future of fishing and hunting on the Kenai Peninsula. Part two focused on wildlife, featuring John Morton, retired supervisory biologist at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and Erin Shew and Hope Roberts with the Chugach Regional Research Commission.

The full Zoom presentation is available on the Kenai Peninsula College Showcase page on Facebook.

Kenai Peninsula College hosted a two-part series of presentations on the possible effects of climate change on the future of fishing and hunting on the Kenai Peninsula. Part one, on fish populations and the Cook Inlet watershed, featured Dr. Erik Shane, fisheries biologist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Sue Mauger, Science and executive director with Cook Inletkeeper.

The Alaska Long Trail is a proposal to create a continuous, 500-mile hiking route from Seward to Fairbanks, linking together existing trails and creating  new ones. This project would also link together grassroots efforts and organizations, namely, Alaska Trails, and land managers, including the Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. On this week’s Kenai Conversation, we hear about what it would take to create the Alaska Long Trail and to create partnerships to maintain existing trails throughout the state.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Resilience and Security Advisory Commission is newly organized and ready to advise the administration and assembly on sustainability solutions to promote the economic security, safety, self-reliance and wellbeing of its inhabitants.

Voters on Oct. 6 have a rematch to settle for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor — incumbent Charlie Pierce or challenger Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings.

Municipal elections are coming up Oct. 6. Depending on where you live, you’ll find candidates for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, assembly, city council and service areas, as well as a ballot proposition or two.

And you might see a candidate for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education.

There are four seats up for election — District 7, central; District 6, East Peninsula; District 4, Soldotna; and District 3, Nikiski. Only the eastern peninsula race is contested.

Proposed regulation revisions would change access and hunting opportunities on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. John Morton, retired refuge supervisory biologist, Rick Johnston, retired refuge law enforcement officer, pilot and ranger, and David Raskin, president of Friends of Alaska Refuges, talk about what the changes would mean on the refuge. Click here to read the proposed changes and comment by Aug. 10.

Kenai Peninsula Relay for Life is going virtual this year.

An unstable slope caused by the retreat of Barry Glacier, northeast of Whittier in Prince William Sound, has geologists worried about a potential massive landslide and resulting tsunami.   
“It would be about the size of around 500 Empire State buildings falling into the fjord at once if it did release as a solid mass on the unstable slope.”
The resulting tsunami wave could be 30 feet or more in Whittier, arriving about 18 minutes after the landslide.

Parents, teachers and administrators in the Kenai Peninsula School District jumped into the new reality of eLearning March 30, with school facility closures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of the eve of the change, KDLL visited with Crista Cady, music teacher at Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Science, Skyview Middle School Principal Sarge Truesdell and Nikiski mom Ambger Douglas about their hopes and concerns for the new reality of education.
This week, we check back in to see how things went.

In this week's show, we hear from candidates for the Homer Electric Association Board of Directors:
District 1: Jim Duffield and Erik Hendrickson

District 2: C.O. Rudstrom

District 3: Troy Jones, Pete Kinneen and Jim Levine

Find candidate resumes here.

Kenai Fire Cheif Jeff Tucker joined the Kenai Conversation to look back on his 38-year career in fire and EMS, the last six with the city of Kenai. He retired March 20.

Three local alumni of the Peace Corps talk about their time and projects in far-flung parts of the globe. Thanks to Kaylin Simpson, Ben Boettger and David Wartinbee for sharing their experiences. 

How’s the health of the trees is your neck of the woods? Find out, with the help of retired silviculturist (fancy forester) Mitch Michaud.

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