public safety

Alaska State Troopers

A 22-year-old Nikiski woman died this weekend following a reported car chase.

According to an Alaska State Troopers report, officers attempted to stop Olivia Mapes around 2 p.m. Saturday for swerving across the center and fog lines on the Kenai Spur Highway. Mapes didn’t stop, and when she turned off the highway, a pursuit ensued, according to the state’s online trooper dispatch.

City of Kenai

A Kenai City Councilman was charged with driving under the influence Saturday. Robert Peterkin was arrested by Kenai Police at about 1:45 a.m. Saturday near Mile 11 of the Kenai Spur Highway. Peterkin, 52, was charged with DUI and violating conditions of release, relating to a previous charge of driving under the influence in June in Homer.

Rogers family

A GoFundMe account has been set up to benefit the family of David Rogers, one of the seven people who died Friday morning in a midair collision near Soldotna.

He was a guide at High Adventure Air, which flies out of Longmere Lake, east of Soldotna. Rogers, pilot Greg Bell and four clients from South Carolina were in a de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver. Kenai Rep. Gary Knopp, who was running for reelection to his Kenai District 30 seat, was the sole occupant of a Piper PA-12.

Investigators from the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

Maddy McElrea works at High Adventure Air and set up the GoFundMe account to cover the expenses of getting Rogers and his dog home Kansas, as well as funeral and other expenses. Rogers had a wife, Rhonda, and three kids. 

“And just really anything that’s going to help them get through these next few months. Because I know that David was kind of the worker in the family for them,” McElrea said.

Alaska State Troopers

In response to objections from several municipalities in Southcentral and Southeast Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy has formed a working group to come up with recommendations on how to consolidate dispatching services for the Alaska State Troopers.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety announced in mid-May that it would consolidate all the emergency dispatching services from the Kenai Peninsula, Mat-Su valley, and Southeast to a facility in Palmer. The issue has been going on for several years, when the DPS first announced the plan under the Walker administration, though the new center was originally planned for Anchorage.

CES and KPB

If you call 911 on the Kenai Peninsula right now, chances are that your call goes to a big building in Soldotna just down the street from Safeway. From there, the emergency call center dispatchers determine who to send to help.  

Kenai, Seward and Homer handle their own dispatching, but the staff at the emergency dispatch center serve the Alaska State Troopers, CES and the Soldotna Police Department, among other services, which covers a big chunk of the central peninsula. Last year, the center processed more than 24,000 calls.

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.”

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.

Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys

The threat of a large tsunami is looming in Prince William Sound, where a landslide could generate a wave with devastating effects on fishermen and others frequenting the area.

Geologists say that the rapid retreat of Barry Glacier from Barry Amy, 28 miles northeast of Whittier, could release millions of tons of rock into Harriman Fjord, triggering a tsunami that could rival or exceed the largest slide-caused tsunamis in the state’s recorded history.

The loose slope is on the western side of the arm, now bare and hanging at a precarious angle since the retreat of the glacier. Steve Masterman, director of the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, says the slope could release 10 times the amount of rock as the two most noteworthy, slide-triggered tsunamis in Alaska history.

A 34-year-old Nikiski man died in a car crash Sunday on the Seward Highway near Moose Pass. According to Alaska State Troopers, Arleigh Bacarella, of Nikiski, was driving north on the Seward Highway in a 2002 BMW sedan when the car crossed the centerline at Mile 45 a little after 7 p.m. The car hit a tandem-axle trailer carrying a six-wheeler, being towed by a 1994 Suburban. The BMW then skidded into the path of a 2014 Ford motorhome, which was towing a 21-foot boat. The boat broke loose from the trailer and became lodged in the back of the motorhome.

Drug Enforcement Administration

The Alaska Department of Public Safety is warning of counterfeit Oxycodone pills in circulation in Alaska. The department received reports of several overdoses last week, linked to light blue, round tablets with an M30 marking, that appear to be 30-milligram Oxycodone pills. The State Crime Detection Laboratory analyzed the pills and found the primary component is fentanyl, which is far more potent.

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.

A Sterling couple died in a vehicle collision just after noon Friday at Mile 90.5 of the Sterling Highway just east of Soldotna, near the Jim Dahler Road-Forest Lane intersection

A Kenai man was arrested Tuesday for the murder of his mother. 

Kenai Police report being called to the scene of a shooting at a residence on 4th Avenues at about 3 p.m. Tuesday. Rita M. Green, age 51, of Kenai, was found dead of a gunshot. Nearby Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Science was briefly put in lockdown mode while police searched for the suspect. Philip S. Green, age 22, of Kenai, was apprehended and arrested on a charge of murder in the first degree. He has been remanded to Wildwood Pretrial Facility.

Homer woman still missing after 4 months

Feb 17, 2020
Murnane family

Community members gathered at the Islands and Ocean Visitors Center last week for a community conversation with the Homer Police Department around the case of missing Homer woman Anesha “Duffy” Murnane. Missing since Oct. 17, Duffy’s friends and family facilitated the conversation.

With a photo of Duffy projected on the auditorium screen, longtime friend Tela O’Donnell Bacher and stepfather Ed Berg shared a bit about who Duffy is and addressed questions, like, “Is it possible that she just left Homer without telling anyone?” To which Berg replied, “absolutely not.”

“People ask could she have just taken off. I say to them, ‘Could I just leave Homer? Or, could you just leave Homer?’ It’s hard to conceive of just doing it. The logistics of pulling something like that off and not leaving a track. It would take a phenomenal amount of preparation. She didn’t just go off on a lark,” Berg said.

Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center

A Kasilof man died in an avalanche while snowmachining near Cooper Landing on Monday afternoon. Thirty-two-year-old Kekai Dang was caught in a slab avalanche on a 45-degree slope while riding from Snug Harbor Road south of Cooper Landing. The accident happened about halfway between Cooper Lake to the northwest and Lost Lake to the southeast.

According to an Alaska State Troopers report, witnesses immediately began recovery efforts, but it took two hours to locate and remove Dang from the snow. Troopers were called to the scene around 3:20 p.m. 

Alaska State Troopers

Feb. 3 update: The offier involved in the shooting was Sgt. Robert Hunter, a 20-year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers.

 

An Alaska State Trooper was involved in a shooting in Kasilof on Wednesday. According to a Department of Public Safety report, troopers in Soldotna received a report of a domestic disturbance possibly involving a gunshot in the area of Coho Loop at around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. 

The Soldotna City Council passed a resolution supporting House Bill 198 that would expand the state’s existing hate crimes statute to include sexual orientation and gender identity. That would allow stricter sentencing for crimes targeting people because of those characteristics.

The council passed the measure its meeting Wednesday.

Councilman Jordan Chilson submitted the resolution, following up a pledge he made at a town hall meeting held Jan. 4 to discuss safety among the LGBTQ community. That meeting happened in response to reported instances of harassment and physical assault against Tammie Willis, of Sterling. Willis testified to the council.

“This resolution means a lot to me because I have been personally affected,” Willis said. “But it also means a lot to me because there are a lot of other people in the community and across Alaska who live in fear every day because of who they are. Or lack the ability to live authentically as who they are because they have that same fear of violence. 

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The Soldotna City Council at its meeting Wednesday will consider a resolution of support for Alaska House Bill 198, which would expand Alaska’s hate crimes statute to include sexual orientation or gender identity.

Currently, Alaska statutes allow the court system to increase the sentencing of defendants convicted of crimes that are found to be motivated by a victim’s race, sex, color, creed, physical or mental disability, ancestry or national origin. HB 198 would include sexual orientation and gender identity to that list.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

When local LGBTQ activist Tammie Willis was attacked by a man with a knife outside her Sterling home early the morning of Dec. 9, the experience was all the more terrifying because she was alone.

At a town hall forum held Saturday at the Soldotna Library, she met more of a community than she realized existed on the central peninsula.

“And seeing the outpouring of support and the people who want to make a difference and who really, genuinely want to make the community more open, more accepting and more welcoming and safe for everyone is really, really helping me move forward,” Willis said.

More than 150 people squeezed into the community room at the library, some to share their experiences as LGBTQ people in the central Kenai Peninsula, most to listen to those experiences and show their support.

Willis reported finding a threatening note on her truck, full of homophobic slurs, on Nov. 11. On Nov. 22, she reported someone throwing a rock at her windshield as she drove near Kenai Peninsula College, where she works. Then came the assault Dec. 9. Soldotna Police and Alaska State Troopers are investigating the incidents but have made no arrests.

“I don’t want to stand up here and say, you know, this act of violence is the reason why we should do better, we’ve always needed to do better. And I’m sorry that I had to bring it to attention this way because this is not the way I wanted to do it,” she said. “But now that we have everybody’s attention, I’m really hoping that this community, the people who have gathered in this room here, will help me work to do better.”

Tammie Willis

The power went out the morning of Dec. 9 in Sterling. Tammie Willis headed outside to see if it was just her place, or if her neighbors were dark, too. Outside her garage door, she met a man with a knife. The altercation left her with cuts on her arms and chest and bruises on her face and body. In the dark, she didn’t get a good look at the man.

Willis doesn’t know if it’s the same person who left a threatening note on her truck Nov. 11. She doesn’t know if it’s the same person who threw something at her windshield as she was driving Nov. 22. She doesn’t know if these incidents are because she is gay and an advocate for the local LGBTQ community. She does know it’s awfully difficult to feel otherwise.

Her fellow organizers are likewise concerned for the safety of the LGBTQ community. They’ve scheduled a town hall meeting for 2:30 p.m. Jan. 4 at the Soldotna library to bring awareness to this situation.

Audre Hickey, along with Willis and Leslie Byrd, organize the annual Two Spirits March and Pride in the Park gathering in Soldotna, held in June to coincide with LGBTQ Pride Month. The Pride in the Park planning committee is putting together the town hall. Hickey says it’s a way to raise awareness and support.

“We think that’s it’s important to start healing from it that we start discussing it and talk about how to make community accepting and welcoming and feel safe for all members of our community,” Hickey said. “… The forum is going to be a place for us to have real, authentic conversations. We’re asking members of the LGBT community to come and share their experiences in our community, both positive and negative. And to identify places where they feel safe and places where they feel unsafe.”

Department of Natural Resources

Ice skaters and ice fishermen had a brief chance to get out on area lakes this week. But if you missed that window, you might be hanging your skates back up again for a while.

Temperatures dipped into the teens and single digits this past week or the first time this winter, and ARC Lake in Soldotna had a crowd of skaters Tuesday. But with the forecast calling for snow Wednesday, followed by warming and rain on Thanksgiving, don’t expect the ice to stay nice for long.

Leah Eskelin is a ranger with the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. She recommends being cautious if you’re hoping to get out on a lake over the holiday weekend.

Hurricane Florence has an unintended impact this week — a planned, nationwide emergency alert system test is being postponed to not confuse people during ongoing response efforts in the Carolinas.  

Thursday was supposed to be the day for a test of the nationwide Integrated Public Alert and Warning System. This includes the Emergency Alert System, which makes those test tones you hear periodically on TV and radio stations — including KDLL, and Wireless Emergency Alerts, which sends alert messages to cell phones.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The July rush is in full swing, with residents and visitors trying to cram in as much summer activity as possible. But one aspect of Kenai Peninsula life has been quieter than usual this year — wildfire season.


AKRCC rescue training over Inlet

Apr 19, 2018
Lockheed Martin

If you saw some unusual activity over Upper Cook Inlet last night, maybe some random flares and aircraft performing search patters, it turns out it was exercises conducted by the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center out of J-BER (J-bear) in Anchorage.

CES and KPB

Central Emergency Services in Soldotna is hoping to be a little less centrally located by building a new Station 1 on a larger lot with more room to grow.


Here's a question for you: do you feel as if you're living in any of the top 10 most dangerous cities in Alaska? Some days it feels like the answer is yes, other days it's hard to imagine. But using raw data from the FBI, a travel website has determined just that. Soldotna is the sixth most dangerous city in the state, up one spot from seventh last year, while Kenai, meanwhile is ranked 10th, but it has fallen six spots from number four last year, that's according to "Road Snacks."

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

The #MeToo movement started raising awareness of sexual assault and harassment through social media and leaped off the Internet with events, marches and gatherings in real life. On the central Kenai Peninsula, the Many Voices organization has taken up that banner with a gathering and panel discussion held last month. Susan Smalley, a community volunteer with Many Voices, and two panelists from the event, Dr. Kristin Mitchel and Dr.

Jenny Neyman/Redoubt Reporter

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is offering another round of Community Emergency Response Training courses this month. We spoke with Borough Emergency Management Program Manager Dan Nelson to learn more about why the borough has been offering them for more than a decade.

Courtesy of Tony Doyle

Local backcountry skier Tony Doyle and Wendy Wagner, director and forecaster at the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center (www.cnfaic.org), talk about avalanche awareness in the Kenai Mountains. Learn what slopes you should know, what safety gear is worth the dough and what conditions are a no-go to stay safe in the mountains.

Crime Stoppers looking for tips in dog shooting

Dec 11, 2017
Ashley Landess

 

Peninsula Crime Stoppers is asking for help after a pair of pet deaths recently.

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