Month: October 2012

Local Theatre Troupe Puts Comic Spin On Political Season

In a presidential election year, it can be easy to get lost in the flood of political campaigns and advertisements, become annoyed at the constant finger-pointing and blame shifting.  But there is some relief.  the troupe at Triumvirate Theatre is shedding a new, comedic light on politics with their production of Lame Ducks and Dark Horses.




Lame Ducks and Dark Horses will run one more weekend, this Friday and Saturday, November 2nd and 3rd at the Triumvirate Theatre in Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna.  Tickets are $15, and the curtain goes up at 7pm.


Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-

Endeavor Departure Date In Question

A public meeting between representatives of Buccaneer Energy and concerned
Homer citizens turned contentious Wednesday night, with many people wondering why the company’s ‘Endeavor’ jack-up rig is still parked at the Homer harbor nearly two months after its arrival. Company officials say the rig will soon be moving to drill in the Cosmopolitan Unit near Anchor Point but the State of Alaska says that’s not likely to happen.

Read more

City Of Kenai Aiming To Secure State, Federal Funding For Local Projects

A new Alaska Legislature won’t gavel into session for another couple of months, but cities around the state are putting together their legislative priorities for the year.  The Kenai City Council this week approved a list of capital improvement projects for which it hopes to secure state and federal funding.



Sitting atop the list of projects the city hopes to secure state funding for is local paving improvements to city streets.  One-million dollars has been requested from the state to help with those costs.

To that end, the council adopted a resolution awarding a contract worth four-hundred-thousand dollars for Central Heights Street lighting and asphalt replacement construction to Nelson Engineering.  A public meeting is scheduled for that project on November 5th.   One of the higher-profile projects is construction of a new, million-gallon water storage reservoir that will allow for repairs on the existing reservoir.

“That reservoir has reached the stage in its life where it needs to be re-coated, and that’s…a 4-6 month project,” said Kenai City Manager Rick Koch.  “And we’re reaching a point in the growth of the city that another million gallons of water storage would be appropriate,” he said.  That four million gallon capacity would be enough to supply the city with fresh water for about four days, Koch said.

Another request to the state is five-hundred-thousand dollars to continue work on the Kenai Industrial Park.  That endeavor is back online after losing a construction season while the US Army Corps of Engineers made the determination that the site does not occupy a wetland.

“We have the money from a previous appropriation to develop the roadways in the southern half of the industrial park,” he said.  “Phase Two would be to extend the utilities to the northern half of the industrial park,” said Koch.

On the federal side, the city will try to secure funding to finish a long-term erosion and stabilization project on the Bluff.

“It’s been our number one priority for twenty years,” Koch said of the project that aims to protect about one mile of bluff along the Kenai River where substantial erosion has been exhibited.

Estimated total cost for the project is $20 million.

“We have been working with the federal government for many years, they’ve spent a few million dollars already in feasibility studies and project analysis,” Koch said.  “The environmental documentation is mostly complete and we’ just need the go-ahead from Congress and/or the Corps of Engineers to undertake the project and provide the 65 percent federal share,” he said.

After elections are settled on November sixth and house and senate delegates are known, the City will work with local legislators to secure funding for these and other projects, which include construction of a new shop for maintenance and equipment storage, Koch said.  That project could benefit from federal funding as the Federal Aviation Administration also uses the facility.  Total cost for the new maintenance shop is estimated at $8 million, of which the city has already secured about half.

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-

Students Take Cover In Great Alaskan Shakeout

More than 60,000 Alaskans, mostly students, took part in the first ever Great Alaska Shake Out Drill Wednesday morning.  Created by the US Geological Survey in California in 2008, the Shake Out happens in thirteen states around the country, Canada and as far away as Italy.



It’s a normal Thursday in Tracey Withrow’s fourth grade classroom at Redoubt Elementary in Soldotna.  Student teacher Victoria Edelman is proctoring a discussion about correctly using the word ‘criticize’.  And then, precisely at 10:18 AM, Principal John Podhast announced the drill.

All of the students, both teachers, and about half of this reporter, huddle underneath desks for the next 60 seconds.

The U.S. Geological Survey led several other state and federal organizations in the creation of The Great Shake Out in California in 2008.  It was based on a comprehensive analysis of a major earthquake in southern California known as “The ShakeOut Scenario”.  The drill was surprisingly similar to the tornado drills I participated in as a student in the Midwest.  After the all clear signal was given, I turned to the students for a little more insight about earthquakes.

“Earthquakes are when the earth has so much pressure on it that it just starts to shake and then it just cracks,” said Emma Craig.

Her classmate, Kaitlyn Massey let me know the quakes can be responsible for “a ton of damage.”

Cheyenne Friedersdorff and Mason Schwecke explain to me that even though the first sixty seconds have passed, we might not be out of danger quite yet.

“The short earthquakes last for up to one to two minutes and after that there could be a….”, “Aftershock,” Mason Schwecke quickly added.  “Well, the big earthquake can be very short, but the can also be very strong.  But even if they’re not very strong, the aftershocks can be really really strong and destroy even more buildings,” he said.

I leave Mrs. Withrow’s class unsure of my own capacity to find suitable shelter in the event of an earthquake, but certain that at least our students and teachers will survive.

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-


Teachers Hold Rally, Address Board


Contract negotiations between the Kenai Peninsula Education Association, Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association and the Borough School District continue, and at Monday night’s school board meeting, teachers rallied and spoke to the Board about their concerns in crafting a new labor agreement.


The negotiations went into non-binding at the beginning of October and since then, teachers have remained organized, focusing their efforts on public testimony at this week’s school board meeting.

“Our purpose at the rally and at the board meeting was quite simply to show the school board…that we were serious about supporting our last best offer,” said LaDawn Druce, President of the Kenai Peninsula Education Association.

District employees represented by KPEA have been operating under a temporary contract since June 30th when the previous agreement expired.  Their proposal includes a cost-of-living increase, called the consumer price index, or CPI, of 2.8 percent this year and 2.5 percent next year, based on what other comparable schools are doing around the state.

“We do fall below the average teacher’s salary in those districts, and we pay almost twice as much as the nearest comparable, which in this regard would be Fairbanks, on a monthly basis in health care,” Druce said.

The monthly cost for health care for teachers is $1,455, according to Druce.  Of that, employees contribute $340.  KPEA has proposed a cost sharing arrangement whereby the district would contribute 85 percent and employees would cover the remaining 15 percent whenever costs rise above that amount.

The amount paid currently by employees for health care is actually lower than in comparable districts which she says reflects an successful efforts to keep those costs under control.  She says other means of lowering costs, such as wellness plans, are an option, but not a priority.

“We are certainly not against those, however, wellness plans take a long time to recoup any sustainable benefits,” Druce said.  “Our main drive is the 85-15 and the elimination of the 50-50.”

At Monday’s meeting, extra time was allotted for public testimony and Druce estimated more than 150 teachers and supporters showed up for the meeting and the rally held prior.  She expects a non-binding decision to be made by the arbitrator by December, at which point the two sides will meet again.  If an agreement isn’t made at that time, the employees could potentially vote to go on strike.

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-

This story has been corrected from its original version for clarity.

SoHi Rocks Homer, Takes State Title 62-20

The SoHi Stars gather on the field at Tom Huffer Sr. Staduim at Chugiak High School Saturday after beating the Homer Mariners for the state medium schools division title. (Photo: Aaron Selbig)

The Soldotna Stars and the Homer Mariners met Saturday night at Chugiak High School to determine the state’s medium-sized school football champion.




The SoHi Stars’ dominance over the weekend in Chugiak was reminiscent of the teams’ meeting in September, when the Stars won 38-8. The Mariners, who end their season with a 6-3 overall record, took the ball to within inches of the goal line on their opening drive, but a strong fourth down stop by SoHi prevented the Mariners from reaching the end zone.  The first quarter was marked by strong defense on both sides and saw just one score, a five yard run for a touchdown by SoHi’s Drew Gibbs.

The Homer Mariners take the field Saturday night to face the SoHi Stars in the medium schools division championship game. (Photo: Aaron Selbig)

The tone for the game was set in the second quarter, when SoHi made four trips to the end zone, including a twenty-two yard pass from Noah Fowler to Zane Miller and three touchdowns on the ground; a three yard run by River Calloway, a two yarder from Reid Schmelzenbach and a one yard jog into the endzone by Fowler.

The Mariners struck first in the second half, as Joseph Cordoza carried the ball five yards for a touchdown to open the third quarter.  Homer couldn’t create any momentum, though, as SoHi continued to pile on the points.

The Stars went on to score three more times in the third quarter, all on the ground, with a 79-yard run by Drew Gibbs, followed by another three yard carry by Galloway and Fowler’s 16-yard run to end the period at 55-6.

The SoHi Stars lift their championship trophy. (Photo: Aaron Selbig)

SoHi’s Ty Fenton took care of the Stars’ final points, scampering in from 14 yards in the fourth quarter.  The Mariners showed pride and resilience in the final period, scoring twice on a pair of passes from Shelton Hutt to Tommy Bowe to end the game.

SoHi Quarterback Noah Fowler delivers a pass in Saturday's 62-20 win over the Homer Mariners. (Photo: Aaron Selbig)

This was Homer’s second runner-up finish in as many years, and SoHi’s first medium schools championship.  They end the year with an overall record of 9-1.  The Nikiski Bulldogs also made it to the final game in the small school’s division, falling to Eielson by a score of 27-7.



SoHi won its first medium schools division championship Saturday, defeating the Homer Mariners 62-20. (Photo: Aaron Selbig)

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL and Aaron Selbig/KBBI-

Dead Beluga Whale Found Near Nikiski

On Friday, October 5th a dead beluga whale was found in Cook Inlet and brought to shore near Nikiski where a necropsy was performed on the animal at a local beach.  Many of the results are still pending, but nonetheless it was a rare opportunity for the scientists and students involved to get a close look at this endangered marine mammal.


[audio:|titles=121012.Dead beluga]

The beluga whale population in Cook Inlet, which is estimated to be about 300, is the only beluga whale population in Alaska on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s endangered species list.

That’s why it is so important to learn as much as possible about the dead whale, despite the difficult logistics required to arrange the necropsy, said Dr. Carrie Goertz, staff veterinarian with the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward.

The dead beluga was found in Cook Inlet by the crew of a local fishing boat.  After contacting NMFS they brought it into Nikiski.  Dr. Kathy Burek, a pathologist and veterinarian from Eagle River, presided over the necropsy.  Debbie Tobin, Assistant Professor of Biology at Kenai Peninsula College Kachemak Bay Campus in Homer, worked with NMFS and the SeaLife Center to make arrangements.

“My students and I along with another member of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network met Dr. Burek at the Kenai Airport and drove up to Nikiski together,” said Tobin.

OSK Operations Manager Mike Peek was a big help by offering the use of heavy equipment, Tobin said.  A forklift was used to lift the whale from the boat onto a nearby beach.  Performing the necropsy was a unique learning experience for local students as well as those from out of state taking part in the college’s Semester At Sea program, she said.

“They had a once in a lifetime opportunity to do this necropsy on such a rare specimen,” said Tobin.

The necropsied whale was an adult male, about 14 feet long, in average body condition.
Tobin noted its teeth were all very worn, with irregular, slanted surfaces.   The scientists will eventually provide more specifics about the whale when, as a matter of course, the last four teeth are extracted from its lower jaw and sent to the NMFS lab in Anchorage to be analyzed.

Tobin is excited about the prospect of reconstructing the beluga skeleton once the flesh has deteriorated.  Because of the whale’s endangered status they’ll need a special permit to do that work.  She hopes the skeleton will eventually be put on display either at the college or at another educational venue in Homer.


-Marcia Lynn/KBBI-

Task Force To Examine King Salmon Issues

At its meeting this week in Anchorage the state Board of Fisheries acted on a request to look into issues affecting Upper Cook Inlet king salmon runs.  As a result, a task force has been created that will address the need for any changes in the management plan that effectively shut down commercial set net fishing for sockeye and sport fishing for kings this summer.

The stated mission of the task force is to “identify a set of recommended adjustments to the Kenai Late-Run King Salmon Management Plan that would result in the best mix of in-river and set net fishing opportunity while providing the best means of attaining the escapement goal for Kenai River late-run Chinook salmon during times of low abundance as was experienced in the 2012 season.”

Board members Vince Webster of King Salmon and Tom Kluberton of Talkeetna will chair the task force, and it will be their charge to select the eight-member team, to be comprised of three setnetters, one driftnetter, two sports fishers, one sport guide and one personal use fisher.

The first meeting will be on November 15th, during which a tentative schedule will be established with the goal of having the task force determine its recommendations in time for submission as public comment before the state-wide fish meeting in March.

All meetings are expected to be held in Kenai.

-Staff Report-

Hilcorp Bringing More Natural Gas Online Ahead Of Winter Season

A natural gas well near Anchor Point expected to produce up to ten-million-cubic-feet per day is scheduled to be online by the first of next year.  In a joint-project with Enstar and the Alaska Pipeline Company, Hilcorp will finance the $6.4 million pipeline.

“Once construction is complete, Enstar will be the owner/operator of the line,” said Hilcorp spokesperson Lori Nelson, adding that the project is on schedule to be completed before the end of the year.

“This project wasn’t in our original work plan early in the year, but noting the need to hopefully provide a reliable energy source we did put it on an accelerated schedule to bring additional gas supply online for this winter,” Nelson said.

The well in question was first developed in the 1990’s by Unocal, and has since been sold to Chevron and finally Hilcorp in 2011.  Nelson said there will be new facilities along with the new tie-in.

“There will be a gas treatment facility that will be unmanned, but it will be monitored from our Happy Valley facility,” she said.  ”

The ten mile extension will originate from Hilcorp’s Red Pad site, four miles north east of Nikolaevsk.

Students Take In Salmon Life Lessons By The Anchor River

K-Beach Elementary 3rd grader Gideon Jackson (9) assists ADF&G staffers Tim Blackmon (left) and Jenny Cope in gathering salmon eggs to be fertilized and taken back to the classroom. (Photo: Rashah McChesney)

Busloads of elementary students from across the Peninsula were in Anchor Point Wednesday, as the Department of Fish and Game’s Salmon in the Classroom program got started for another year.  The first outdoor session shows students how the salmon life cycle begins.



On a sunny morning, just off the banks of the Anchor River, students from K-Beach elementary got a firsthand look at the beginning of life for silver salmon.  Fish and Game Biologist Jenny Cope from the Soldotna office, with help from Homer colleagues Mike Booz and Tim Blackmon and some student volunteers, elicited reactions ranging from surprise to laughter to sounds of being perhaps a little grossed out.

This is the first in a series of presentations and outdoor excursions called Salmon in the Classroom and its purpose is to educate Alaska’s youth about pacific salmon species from the beginning of life to its spawning end.

“We’re actually going through the spawning process and fertilizing the eggs and sending the kids back to their classrooms to put the eggs in their tanks and giving a brief introduction to life cycle and external anatomy,” Booz said.

The students are sent back to class with about 250 eggs that will be incubated, and the kids will observe the gradual change from egg, to an eyed egg, to alevin to fry.  Those same reactions heard at the demonstration table will be repeated throughout the year as students continue to learn, Booz said.

“You do see the gamut of experiences and we continue to get that throughout the curriculum when we’re in the classroom performing dissections or again, with the release of the fish at the end of the year,” he said.

The students will care for the young salmon throughout the school year, and come next spring, the fry will be released into a designated lake.  After the eggs were mixed with the male’s milt, Cope encouraged the students to give the eggs a special message as their lives as salmon begin.

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-

Assembly Hears Concerns On Streams Ordinance

The agenda at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly was relatively brief, giving the Assembly time to hear public testimony from many in the packed chambers.  The issues of concern:  the Borough’s anadromous streams ordinance and the PETS working group.



The first order of business at Tuesday’s meeting was the swearing in of new Assembly member Kelly Wolf, while reelected members Hal Smith, Mako Haggerty and Sue McClure reaffirmed their oaths.  This is the last term for current Assembly president Gary Knopp, who received a round of praise from his colleagues.  Assembly member Charlie Pierce said it’s likely only because of term limits that Knopp will not return.

After a short break for some cake, members of the PETS working group delivered an update on the work they’ve been doing over the past fourteen months.  The group was established last summer in a resolution that acknowledged the need to develop a plan in accordance with the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act.

“This mandates that FEMA’s plans take into account the needs of people with pets and service animals prior to, during and after a major emergency,” said Jeanette Hanneman, who chaired the working group.

The working group has focused on developing the plan locally for creating a place where displaced pets can be taken in the event of an emergency, but stops short of creating an animal control entity on the Peninsula.

“FEMA requires certified animal control officers perform much of the setup of the shelter as well as handling the animals,” said Tim Colbath, another member of the working group.  “So that has brought the Emergency Animal Response Team idea to the forefront.  It avoids animal control all together, but gives us the personnel we need,” he said.

About half of those filling the seats in the Assembly Chambers were there to support the completion of this project, though at present no pending legislation exists that would create the emergency animal response team.

Most of the remaining half of the audience was there to voice support for a repeal of Borough ordinance 2011-12, the anadromous streams ordinance.  Fred Braun of Nikiski addressed the Assembly with concerns on behalf of two groups, the Kenai Peninsula Board of Realtors and the Citizens 4 Responsible Waterfront Land Use.

“Basically, when you’re taking 50 foot of private land from a land owner or home owner who’s maybe owned it for many, many years, it’s a big issue,” Braun said.  “It’s close to hearts, it’s close to families and kids and grandkids,” Braun told the Assembly.

The Assembly took no action on that ordinance Tuesday as there were no agenda items related to it.  The Assembly did however pass resolutions certifying borough and municipal election results, another stating support for the Kachemak Bay Water Trail System, and a third outlining the job description for the newly created position of River Center Manager and the Donald E. Gilman River Center.

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-


City of Kenai Accepts Land Donation

In a continued effort to expand access to beach areas around Old Town Kenai, the city recently accepted a gift of four parcels of land near Kenai Avenue.  The city has been gradually acquiring land in the area for several years, said City Manager Rick Koch. The Borough tax assessment for the properties is $300 per parcel. Last week, the City Council accepted the donation of about two-thirds of an acre between the four lots from Nancy Peck.

“She lives in Washington now and she donated four parcels to the city,” Koch said.  “They fill in some gaps in areas that the city is the major landholder,” he said.

The city has been working on a restoration project in that area that includes the dunes along the beach as well as providing access to wildlife viewing areas along the tidal estuaries.

“We think (these) are very important and interesting areas to have inside our city.  There are very few places that a person can go and look at these tidal sand dunes that have certain kinds of grasses, and nesting birds,” Koch said, adding the parcels on the north side of Kenai Avenue along those tidal estuaries offer a different kind of environmental presentation.

“Someday, we’d like to see where we have some informational signs that speak to the kind of wildlife in that area and the kind of vegetation and things that are there,” he said. “I think the city of Kenai has a rather unique area there and the Council shares that and we believe it’s something that is appropriate to protect not only for the citizens of Kenai, but for the visitors we have,” Koch said.

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-

“Imagine Kenai 2030” Comprehensive Plan Laid Out For Residents

The proposed comprehensive land use plan for "Imagine Kenai 2030" (Image courtesy City of Kenai)


The City of Kenai is still seeking input as it moves forward with an updated comprehensive plan.  Entitled “Imagine Kenai 2030”, the preliminary drawings of the plan were presented Friday night at the Kenai Senior Center.



Much has changed since the last time the City of Kenai updated its long-term comprehensive plan in 2003, and some of what was anticipated to happen then never came to pass.  Population numbers, anticipated to rise, remained largely the same and a boom in oil and natural gas production throughout the Inlet has provided an unexpected source of jobs and revenue.  Friday night at the Kenai Senior Center, representatives of the firms contracted to develop the new comp plan met with about 25 residents to address concerns and talk about the next steps in the process.

“The plan is written and the planning commission is going to go through any written comment that anyone supplies,” said Eileen Bechtol of the firm Bechtol Planning and Development.  “Then there will be a public hearing at the planning commission level before going on to the Council,” she said.

One noticeable change between the land use classification maps of nine years ago and today is the addition of a mixed use designation, mainly along the Spur Highway and Beaver Loop.  This was one point of concern for several residents.  Mixed Use, as defined in the new plan, fosters a compatible mix of retail, service, office, public, institutional, recreational and multi-family residential uses.  But, as another presenter, Glenn Gray of Glenn Gray and Associates pointed out, precise uses within those areas have not been finalized.


The existing comprehensive land use plan, adopted in 2003 (Image courtesy City of Kenai)

“A comprehensive plan guides you,” Gray said.  “But with what we know today and when the Planning Commission makes its final decision to approve it, that would be the road map for the future but it is just a plan and I think some people were thinking this was actually the designation that was in concrete,” he said.

Other categories include suburban and rural residential, commercial, institutional and parks and recreation and Bechtol said there is a high degree of flexibility within those broad categories, which she explained while addressing concerns about the industrial classification.

“If you see on the plan industrial land use classifications, it’s a broad area but it could be zoned.  When it gets down to the law and what’s allowed and what’s not allowed, it could be conservation (use), it could be heavy (industrial) or light industrial,” Bechtol said.

The period for written public comments about “Imagine Kenai 2030” closes October 19th.  Each comment submitted will be processed and how that comment was used or why it was not used in the final plan will be documented.  A public hearing before the planning commission is tentatively scheduled for November 28th.  A resolution will likely be brought before the City Council some time in December before the plan goes on to the Borough Assembly for final approval.

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-



Wolf, Downing Win Last Undecided Contests

Absentee and special ballots from last week’s Borough and Municipal elections have all been counting, settling the last two contests on the Kenai Peninsula.

In the unofficial results released today (Monday), Kelly Wolf defeated Michael Winegarden for Assembly Seat 1 by just seven votes, winning 232-225. The other cliffhanger was the race between Liz Downing and Mike Illg for the Disctrict Eight School Board seat, won by Downing by ten votes, 524-514.

The official results will be recognized by a resolution at Tuesday’s Borough Assembly meeting and new member Kelly Wolf will be sworn in at that time.


-Staff Report-

Disaster Assistance Centers To Open On The Kenai Next Week

Applications for State Individual Assistance, including the Individual Family Grant and Temporary Housing programs will be taken, and the deadline to apply for those grants is November 20th.

The current maximum grant to an individual or family is fifteen-thousand-seven-hundred dollars per disaster when things like private insurance don’t go far enough.  Assistance can include money to replace personal property, repair family vehicles and cover medical expenses.

Borough Mayor Mike Navarre made a disaster declaration which was approved by the Borough Assembly on September 28th, following a week of flooding and high water across the Peninsula.  The Disaster Assistance Centers will be open in Anchor Point October 15th and 16th and in Soldotna October 18th, between 9 am and 7 pm.

-Staff Report-

Hilcorp Gets Permits For Construction At Redoubt Bay

After concerns were raised about the safety of the Drift River oil storage facility located at the base of Mt. Redoubt, the energy company Hilcorp has started a project to ensure protection of the large oil tanks located there.  But before the project could be started, Hilcorp first needed waivers from provisions of the Redoubt Bay Critical Habitat Area Management Plan.



The management plan that protects the critical habitat area around Redoubt Bay was put on the books in 1994 and has specific allowances for work related to oil and gas development.  In this case, Hilcorp needs materials to build up and strengthen the earthen berm that protects the 270,000 gallon tanks.  Those materials, mostly gravel and boulders, come from sites within the protected area.

“In order to obtain our armor material, we needed to access material site A, which involved  crossing an intermittent stream,” said Bo York, Facilities Engineering manager for Hilcorp. “That allows us to have our haul truck drive across, load rock, drive back across and return to the Drift River terminal with the rock,” York said.

He said increasing the structural integrity of the storage facility is necessary as the Drift River Terminal is part of a longer term strategy to increase production.  Without that storage capacity, more tankers would have to come through Cook Inlet to pick up the oil. For public interest groups like the Cook Inlet Keeper, the simple fact that permits were properly obtained doesn’t mean that the best interests of the environment are kept at the forefront.

The Redoubt Bay Critical Habitat Area (Photo: Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game)

“There’s this pervasive myth of rigorous permitting; the public’s led to believe that there’s this alphabet soup of authorizations and permits and if industry complies with all the requirements that you’re going to somehow protect salmon habitat,” said Bob Shavelson, of Cook Inlet Keeper. “It’s only a matter of time where the death by a thousand cuts that’s led to the decimation of wild salmon runs across the world befalls us in Cook Inlet,” Shavelson said.

York said the stream in question was identified by Fish and Game as anadromous, with salmon fry having been observed there, and that Hilcorp has designed its project, which includes an access ramp across the stream, with the appropriate protections in place.

“At the project site, the stream flows over an unconsolidated lahar flow from the 2009 Mt. Redoubt eruption,” said Fish and Game Habitat Biologist Paul Blanche.  “There is no defined channel. Instead, the stream flows over a wide, shallow area with occasional deep areas, about 6-10 inches deep, that collect larger flows…Our impression, based on the geology and the multiple waterfall inputs is that the system is somewhat flashy during precipitation events and likely has very low flow during the winter,” Blanche said.

The Redoubt Bay Critical Habitat Management plan forbids materials extraction, unless there are extenuating circumstances for which there is no feasible alternative.  In a letter to Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell, Shavelson noted that a possible alternative for Hilcorp would be to barge in the large rocks they need for construction.  The material site is just six miles south of the Terminal.  Shavelson maintains that the best alternative would be to do away with the terminal altogether, and construct an oil pipeline beneath Cook Inlet.

“The state department of Fish and Game is allowing them to violate Fish and Game’s own rules to mine these boulders to resume storing oil at the base of an active volcano, which is the stupidest place to store oil that I can think of,” Shavelson said. “The best way to get that oil across the inlet is to pipeline it across,” he said.

Shavelson isn’t the only one who sees an oil pipeline as a safer way into the future.  This summer, the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council released a position paper stating its support for a pipeline, which has been backed by other energy companies operating in Cook Inlet.

-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-




KPB Election Results

Tuesday’s Kenai Peninsula Borough and municipal election is in the books and while some races have clear winners, others could be decided by absentee ballots that have yet to be counted.


In the race for Borough Assembly Seat 9 on the southern peninsula, incumbent Mako Haggerty appears to have a decisive lead over his challenger, Anchor Point businessman Jesse Clutts. Haggerty leads Clutts, 62% to 38%. Incumbent Assembly member Hal Smalley also appears to be holding on to Seat 2, leading challenger Chris Hutchison, 66% to 34%. Assembly Seat 1 is one race that might be too close to call until absentee ballots are counted. Kelly Wolf leads Michael Winegarden in that race, 51% to 48%.

On the southern peninsula, the School Board race between Liz Downing and Mike Illg is also too close to call. Downing leads, 51% to 49%.


In municipal elections, three uncontested candidates have all been elected to the Soldotna City Council. They are John Czarneski, Dale Bagley and Nancy Eoff . In a three-way race for two seats on the Kenai City Council, Bob Molloy and Ryan Marquis beat out James Rowell.


The Homer City Council also has two seats up for grabs between three candidates. In that race, incumbent Francie Roberts appears to have held on to her seat but the race between incumbent Beau Burgess and challenger James Dolma is too close to call, with Burgess leading by just two percentage points. There are 131 absentee, questioned or special needs ballots to count. That count will take place Friday.


In the race for Homer mayor, Beth Wythe defeated Bryan Zak, 60% to 39%.  Wythe will be sworn in as mayor at a special council meeting October 15th.

-Aaron Selbig/KBB-


Rock The Vote: Polls Open For Borough, Municipal Elections Tuesday Morning

Tuesday is Election Day for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Voters peninsula-wide head to the polls to choose candidates for various municipal and borough races, including seats on the Borough Assembly, the school district board and various service area boards.

Also up for grabs are various municipal seats in the cities of Homer, Seward, Kenai and Soldotna.

The polls open at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m.

All voters must be U.S citizens who are at least 18 years of age and have lived in the borough for at least 30 days prior to the election. Find more election information here.

Be sure to tune in to KBBI and KDLL Tuesday night – beginning at about 9 p.m. – for live election results.

-Staff Report-

High School Football Playoffs Feature Peninsula Teams

The high school football regular season wrapped up over the weekend and a trio of Kenai Peninsula teams will once again be headed to the playoffs, which begin Friday.

Soldotna has been the team to beat in the “medium schools” division all season. The Stars closed out their season with a 35-to-13 win over Kenai Saturday and finish with a 7-and-1 record. The Stars will face Kodiak in the first round of the playoffs Saturday.

Homer solidified its spot as the second-best team in the division with a 38-to-7 homecoming victory over Houston Saturday at Mariner Field. Homer finishes the regular season with a 5-and-2 record and will travel to Juneau Friday to face Thunder Mountain in the first

In the “small schools” division, the Nikiski Bulldogs will represent the Kenai Peninsula after closing out their season with a 57-to-0 win over Barrow that featured snowfall in the second half. The Bulldogs finish with a 6-and-2 record and will play Monroe in the playoffs.

Noticeably absent from the playoffs will be the defending state champion Kenai Kardinals, who played a tough game against powerhouse Soldotna Saturday but couldn’t shake off a rough season. The Kardinals finished with a 2-and-6 overall record.

-Aaron Selbig/KBBI-

Far North Derby Rolls To Victory In Exhibition Bout

Skaters for the 'Brooklyns' line up before an exhibition bout in Kenai Saturday. (Photo: Hannah Heimbuch)


After gaining popularity in the 1970’s, the rough and tumble sport of roller derby is making a comeback. Teams are popping up all over the country, including one here on the Peninsula. The Far North Derby team based in Kenai took to the track for their first organized bout.



After several months of organizing, practicing, practicing, organizing and a little more practicing, the women of the Far North Derby team made a strong showing in their first event Saturday in Kenai.

If you’re unfamiliar with Roller Derby, here’s the basic rundown: each team has five players, with one designated as the Jammer and the other four as blockers.  The Jammer is the only one who can score points, and this is done by passing the opposing team’s players.  Depending on the strategies put in play, it can be a fast-paced, high scoring affair.

On Saturday, skaters from Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley and beyond came for scrimmage and to give the Far North team a little experience.

The 'Brooklyns' defeated the 'Monkeys', 140-126, in an exhibition bout Saturday in Kenai. (Photo: Hannah Heimbuch)

There have been some significant changes in Derby since its original hey day a few decades ago.  Flat track derby has emerged as the prominent style over the banked track style played in the early days.  The names and characters taken by the players are still a big part of the sport, and most bouts have a specific theme.  Each team bases its name for that bout based on that theme and on Saturday, it was Fight For Your Right To Derby, a play on words based on the classic Beastie Boys tune, Fight for your Right to Party.  By halftime, the Monkees (as in Brass Monkey) led the Brooklyns (as in No Sleep Til) 62-61.

The teams continued to battle for lead in the second half with the Brooklyns, played by the Far North Derby home team, coming out on top, 140-126.

The Far North Derby team has practices open to anyone who wants to learn derby Tuesdays and Thursdays from seven to nine pm in their new permanent practice facility next door to Cook Inlet Trading Company on K-Beach Road.



-Shaylon Cochran/KDLL-

K-Beach Open At Mile 11, Repairs Continue

The Alaska Department of Transportation announced Monday that Kalifornsky Beach Road has been re-opened to traffic at Milepost 11 following last week’s flood-related washout.

Crews from DOT began constructing a by-pass around the washout area on Friday, working through the weekend to complete it. The by-pass was built as a gravel-surfaced road with dual lanes for unrestricted use by all traffic. Pilot cars will be in use in the area during an initial re-opening period while crews continue work to perfect the temporary by-pass.

The by-pass route will remain in use until such time as permanent repairs are made to the original alignment of K-Beach Road.


-Staff Report-