Courtesy of Dan Olsen / North Gulf Oceanic Society

Scientists in Homer and Seward have spent the last several decades tracking a population of mammal-eating killer whales called the Chugach Transients in the Gulf of Alaska.

Photo: Courtesy of Andrew Davis

When the world turned to home improvement projects at the start of the pandemic, Andrew Davis saw an opportunity. 

Davis co-owns Seward Milling and Lumber, just outside Seward city limits. But the company didn’t start out as a commercial mill. He and a partner first bought into the business to deal with the trees in their own yards.

When the pandemic hit, they started milling other people’s wood, too. And a year and a half later, they’re still really busy. 


Fall marks the end of Seward’s busy tourism season. But as summer ends, a new class of students is just starting at the Alaska Vocational Technical Center. Classes resumed at AVTEC’s Seward campus this Monday.

Cathy LeCompte is AVTEC’s director. She says the dorms and on-campus apartments are back open, with a slew of COVID-19 safety precautions in place.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Lydia Jacoby left Tokyo, Japan this weekend with another Olympic medal. The 17-year-old Seward swimmer won silver for her role in the women’s 400-meter medley relay Saturday, where she swam the second leg of the race and logged a time of 1:05.03.

It’s Jacoby’s second medal of the Olympics. She won gold for her surprise victory in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke last week.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Seward and the rest of Alaska watched proudly Monday when 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby won Olympic gold in the women's 100-meter breaststroke.

Lydia’s parents, Rich and Leslie Jacoby, were watching, too, with other Olympian families in Orlando, Fla.

Rich, a maritime instructor for AVTEC, said they’ve been catching up with their gold medalist over the phone. And he said the last few days have been really exciting.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Seward’s Lydia Jacoby became an Olympic champion last night in Japan. The 17-year-old swimmer placed first in the 100-meter breaststroke, beating record holders and earning the state its very first Olympic swimming medal.

Back home, it felt like the whole town of Seward was watching.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

The racers scrambling up Mt. Marathon don’t talk much. But every once in a while, they offer some comment of encouragement to another racer who looks like they’re struggling. The junior racers, some as young as 7, forge their way up through the thick mud on the trail toward a turnaround point, and it can be kind of defeating on the way up.

Elizabeth Earl/KDLL

This article has been updated to include all race results.

After a year of no crowds and few in-person athletics, the excitement was evident in Seward today at the annual Mount Marathon race. Even persistent showers couldn’t dampen the spirits around town.

The race, organized by the Mount Marathon Race Committee and the Seward Chamber of Commerce, attracts competitive mountain runners from all over the state and country. Nicknamed “the world’s hardest 5K,” it sends runners from downtown Seward straight up Mount Marathon, where they tag the 3,022-foot peak and then run back downhill to the finish.

Courtesy of Lydia Jacoby

Lydia Jacoby is about to become the second Alaskan to compete in the summer Olympics.

The 17-year-old Seward swimmer placed second in the 100 meter breaststroke yesterday at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, N.E. She broke the national age-group record and her personal record, two days in a row.

City of Seward

A Seward City Council member sent out an apology after making an antisemitic comment at a meeting this week.

During a Monday work session, Sharyl Seese used the phrase “Jew them down” to refer to negotiating the price of a building. Council members nervously laughed at the comment and Seward Mayor Christy Terry adjourned the meeting early.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

What would you do if you suddenly came into $1 million?

It’s a question Seward’s asked itself after getting a hefty donation from Norweigan Cruise Lines Holdings to make up for some of its economic losses related to the pandemic. The city’s among six cruise-dependent communities in Alaska that got a donation, though it’s the only one outside of Southeast on the list.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

June is Pride Month — a time for members of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate love and identity and commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Uprising, which in part catalyzed the gay liberation movement.

One of the key cornerstones of pride today is visibility. In a small town like Soldotna, that can mean a lot. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Three agencies on the Kenai Peninsula are splitting over $840,000 to market their areas to visitors.

The Homer and Seward chambers of commerce and the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council all received money from the state to advertise to tourists this summer.

Courtesy of Lydia Jacoby

In exactly one month, star swimmer Lydia Jacoby will be in the pool in Omaha, N.E. for the U.S. Olympic Trials.

More immediately, she’s finishing her junior year at Seward High School. At just 17, Jacoby has the sixth-fastest time for the 100-meter breaststroke in the world. She’s been qualified for the Olympic trials since she was 14.

Regina Green

Park officials killed and salvaged an aggressive black bear at Tonsina Creek last night after it bothered several groups of hikers late last week.

Alaska State Parks Ranger Jack Ransom said his department and the Department of Fish and Game were worried about the safety of hikers. Tonsina Creek is a busy trail.

"And in this case, the bear wasn’t going anywhere and it continued to threaten public safety," he said.

Regina Green

The odds of getting attacked by a bear are one in over two million. That’s why Sarah Wallner, who was mauled by a grizzly in 2007, could not believe her misfortune when she and two friends ended up in a standoff with a black bear at Tonsina Creek, near Seward, on Thursday. 

“Oh, not again. This is not happening," Wallner remembers thinking. "Like, this is not supposed to happen again.”

All three were OK, as was the bear, who just suffered from some mace in the face. But the hikers said for the two-ish minutes the standoff lasted, they weren’t so sure what was going to happen.

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.

Alaska fisheries more than three miles offshore fall under the purview of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a group of 11 voting members that makes policy decisions about the federal fisheries off the Alaska coast.

One of those council members is Seward’s Andy Mezirow. He was just appointed to his third three-year term by Gov. Mike Dunelavy. It’ll be his last, due to term limits. 

Ashley Olanna

The Alaska SeaLife Center was in dire straits last summer. Without a steady stream of summer visitors, the Seward nonprofit was bringing in a fraction of its normal revenue. 

To keep afloat, the center needed to raise $2 million in donations and memberships. In under three months, it brought in twice that and tripled its members.

SeaLife Center President and CEO Tara Riemer said they were floored by the support.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Another Kenai Peninsula city is putting thousands toward a shop local incentive program.

Seward is following Kenai and Soldotna with “Shop Seward,” which will run this upcoming holiday weekend.

J. Leslie

For years, harsh weather wore down a painted pod of humpback whales in Seward, on a wall across from the Alaska SeaLife Center. 

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Four schools on the eastern peninsula will open to all students five days a week starting Monday.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District classrooms reopened Jan. 11 after three months of distance learning. While coronavirus case counts were still relatively high, seventh- through 12th-graders returned on alternating schedules twice a week.

But the eastern peninsula reported seven cases in the last 14 days, bringing it down to the district’s “medium risk” tier. Now, all students in Seward and Moose Pass will be back in school five days a week.

Casey Grove/Alaska Public Media

The historic Jesse Lee Home is mostly demolished. Now, the Seward property will be rezoned as a park, following a unanimous vote by the Seward City Council last week. 

It’s the beginning of the end of a heated, years-long battle over the future of the abandoned historical building and the 2.66 acres on which it sits. Multiple attempts to keep it intact failed and the city began demolition in November.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Seward is once again requiring masks in public spaces where social distancing is not possible. The emergency ordinance, passed unanimously at Monday night's meeting, will take effect at midnight tonight.

This ordinance goes for 30 days, though the city may renew it when that period is up.

Seward put a similar emergency ordinance in place this July, but that expired this fall. To date, it’s the only city on the peninsula that has made masks mandatory.

Courtesy of Sean Ulman

Sewardites won’t find the world in Sean Ulman’s debut novel too much of a stretch. Among a fictitious array of characters and plotlines, a very real Seward serves as the backdrop for Seward Soundboard, out now and on local shelves soon.

At a Kenai Peninsula College Showcase virtual reading last week, Ulman, who’s lived in Seward since 2007, spoke about his creative process and read excerpts from the novel. The book covers an entire calendar year in the harbor city, starting and ending in September.

City of Seward

The city manager of Seward, Scott Meszaros, was fired by the city council at its meeting Monday night. 

Mayor Christy Terry motioned to terminate Meszaros following an executive session on the city manager’s performance. The motion passed 5–2.

Meszaros, who was city manager for 18 months, was not up for a performance evaluation this month.

Terry would not say exactly what spurred the council to terminate Meszaros from his position, citing employee confidentiality.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

A 7.5 earthquake near Sand Point this afternoon triggered a tsunami warning in Kachemak Bay communities, as well as across the Aleutians and Alaska Peninsula. The warning has since been cleared.

Following the earthquake, which hit Sand Point around 12:54 p.m., residents of Homer and the greater Kachemak Bay area were told to get to higher ground and were beginning to evacuate. But residents across the peninsula were also warned, which was an error.

KPB Alerts

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted to cover the $250,000 used by the borough to mitigate floods in Seward earlier this month.

Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce issued an emergency disaster declaration Oct. 2 when heavy rainfall from the day before caused flooding on the eastern peninsula, creating a large load of sediment that damaged borough-maintained roads. Among the damaged areas were Dieckgraeff Road, a gravel road that is the only pathway to the borough’s solid waste transport facility in the Seward-Bear Creek area, as well as two subdivisions.

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Seward is keeping its emergency coronavirus restrictions in place for now after another jump in cases.

At its meeting Monday night, the Seward City Council debated increasing capacity for restaurants, city-owned campgrounds, and the size of gatherings from 10 to 20 people. Mayor Christy Terry and council member Sue McClure told the council they originally drafted it up to continue the emergency declaration, as the original was set to expire, and had put together the percentage guidelines based on the low case numbers over the last few weeks.

Seward Chamber of Commerce

Seward is going ahead with a version of its annual silver salmon derby this August.

Starting August 8 and running through the 16th, fishermen with an itch for silvers will get a chance to win some prizes from the Seward Chamber of Commerce. But in light of the pandemic and outbreaks in Seward and surrounding communities, the chamber is announcing some changes as well.