Kenai Conversation

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Snow has been dumping around southcentral. If you’re into skiing, snowboarding or snowmachining, you’ve probably been dreaming about getting out into the mountains to enjoy it. 

But with good snow does come avalanche risk. And it is important for recreationists to know what they’re getting into before they head out and up.

At a school board meeting earlier this month, students and educators testified about their experiences with discrimination in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, catalyzing a larger conversation about supporting students on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

Today on the program: what supporting LGBTQ+ students looks like.

It’s been almost one year since the Resilience and Security Advisory Commission first started meeting. The commission works within the borough’s planning department and is brainstorming ways to make the Kenai Peninsula Borough more sustainable in the face of a changing climate — from how the borough manages solid waste to the efficiency of its buildings. 

Our guests today are the advocacy directors of past and present for Cook Inletkeeper, the Homer-based nonprofit working to protect Cook Inlet’s watershed.

Bob Shavelson is retiring from his role as advocacy director of the organization. Liz Mering is stepping in.

We talked to them about Inletkeeper's origins, Lease Sale 258 and how people can combat their feelings of helplessness when it comes to the ongoing climate crisis.

Tom Kizzia first arrived in McCarthy, Alaska in 1983, on assignment for the Anchorage Daily News.

The Homer author is still writing about McCarthy — most recently in his new book, Cold Mountain Path. The book was released earlier this month by McCarthy-based Porphyry Press. 

What does it mean to shop mindfully? Why buy from local producers? How does conscious consumerism foster community?

Our guests today are the team behind the Mindful Living Collective, a new effort focused on mindful consumption. They’re planning to open a new grocery store space in Soldotna.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

For most of us, COVID has meant life, work and social interruptions, logistical hurdles, stress, cumulative days lost to Zoom meetings and, hopefully, physically, nothing more than temporary flu symptoms. But for some of our family, friends and neighbors, a struggle with COVID has been life or death.
That was the case for Roger and Jodi Helvie, of Soldotna. Eleven months after coming down with COVID, they're finally on the other side, getting back to life in their new normal.
Thanks to the Helvies for sharing their story.

100 Women Who Care Soldotna-Kenai

There are many ways to support the organizations that matter to you, whether you’ve got funds, time or just word of mouth to share. Tami Murray, with 100 Women Who Care, and Rhonda McCormick, with the Soldotna Cash Mob, join the Kenai Conversation to talk about easy, direct ways to give.

To find out more about 100 Women Who Care Soldotna-Kenai, email Murray.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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