Ninilchik

Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

There's a lot that needs to come off a boat when it docks. And it’s not uncommon that some of that waste ends up in the ocean instead of the trash.

Bristol Bay fisherman Tav Ammu wants to gather more data on how clean Alaska’s harbors are and how the people who use them think about harbor cleanliness. He’s interviewing and surveying harbor users for an Alaska SeaGrant project and is basing his study in Ninilchik.


Photo: Sabine Poux/KDLL

Ninilchik has fewer than 1,000 year-round residents.

But in the summer, the town balloons with thousands of tourists. Over two weekends in particular, during Salmonfest and the Kenai Peninsula Fair, the area’s packed with festival-goers. 

While the additional bodies — and wallets — are good for local businesses, they can also be a bit overwhelming.


Salmonfest

Salmonfest is back this summer. The Ninilchik festival is scheduled for Aug. 6 through 8, following a year haitus due to COVID-19.

David Stearns is the assistant director for Salmonfest. He says people who want to camp onsite at the festival should book their tickets now.

Kenai Peninsula Borough

This fall, voters in the Anchor Point and Ninilchik areas will consider whether to join forces on their emergency services.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly approved an ordinance last Tuesday that will ask voters on the Oct. 6 ballot whether they want to become a single service area for fire and emergency medical services. The move has had several public meetings and has been in the works since earlier this spring.

Elizabeth Earl

This year has been a rough one for tourism businesses everywhere, but especially in Alaska.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, very few out of state visitors are coming. Alaska relies heavily on them for its summer tourism season. There are only about 731,000 of us, while more than two million out of state tourists arrive every year, the majority of them by cruise ships. But without them, regions of the state are lobbying for those in-state tourists to come and salvage some of the season.   

Kenai Peninsula Fair

The latest victim of pandemic-related closures is the annual Kenai Peninsula Fair in Ninilchik.

The board for the fair announced the closure Tuesday, saying in a statement that the decision was difficult. The fair’s been going on for nearly seven decades and is usually one of two big gatherings in Ninilchik each year, the other being music festival Salmonfest. Salmonfest announced its cancellation in May, and the fair had delayed the decision, hoping things would get better.

Residents of the Ninilchik and Anchor Point areas may soon get to decide whether they want to band together for fire and emergency medical services. The borough assembly is due to decide on whether to place a question for it on the ballot this fall.

Anchor Point has a formal service area, funded by property taxes and with about five professional staff. Ninilchik, on the other hand, has a nonprofit that runs its fire and EMS service, paid for by community donations and grants. In February, an upheaval in the nonprofit gave the community a scare about not having services at all, spurring a conversation with the borough about formalizing the fire and EMS department there.

Borough looks to combine Anchor Point, Ninilchik EMS

May 21, 2020

Earlier this year, the board of directors for the nonprofit organization that runs Ninilchik Emergency Services decided to restructure, resulting in confusion as the chief and assistant chief were fired and local service lapsed. After a community meeting, the borough established a task force to decide what to do for the future so Ninilchik’s residents don’t go without fire and emergency medical services. 

The task force determined Ninilchik should join Anchor Point’s fire and emergency service area, which will spread out costs across residents of the two communities.

“These service areas would be larger than the existing Ninilchik area. It would go all the way out on the east side until it abutted central peninsula emergency medical service area,” said Kenai Peninsula Borough Assemblyman Brent Johnson, reporting on the task force in Tuesday’s assembly meeting. “So there would be no no-man's land. Whether you have an accident here or there — you’re out in the Caribou Hills in that area, and, of course, Tustumena Lake — you’re going to be in somebody’s service area.”

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is considering establishing a fire and medical service area in Ninilchik.

The area has been covered by Ninilchik Emergency Services, which is a nonprofit organization run by a board of directors. But NES has been in turmoil since early this month when the board suddenly dismissed its chief, Dave Bear. Bear notified department volunteers of his departure in an email and stated that the board intended to shut down the department for a few days.

In the following days, due to community pressure and a public meeting, the entire board of directors resigned and Bear was reinstated. The old board has been replaced by a seven-member interim board.

For 60 years, the oil and gas industry has been front and center in the Kenai Peninsula’s economy and politics.

New authors talk about writing, publishing and connecting with readers. Ninilchik's Mike Chihuly wrote about his life as a fire chief and fishing charter captain in "Alaska Fish and Fire." Kasilof's Joseph Robertia recently published "Life with Forty Dogs: Misadventures with Runts, Rejects, Retirees and Rescues," about the dog kennel he runs with his wife, and their successful mushing career with dogs other mushers didn't want.