Kenai Conversation

Live, call-in public affairs interviews. Call 907-690-1687 to join the Conversation.

Annexation may have been one of the hot topics over the past couple years in Soldotna, but there's a lot more going on. This week, we talk with city manager Stephanie Queen about everything from partnering with the city of Kenai on infrastructure projects to how the city gears up for fishing season. And, of course, the next steps in the process toward potential annexation.


On this week's convesation, Medicare, PFDs, income tax and the continuing battle for better brewery laws. District O Senator Peter Micchiche talks with KDLL's Shaylon Cochran.

Interview highlights:

On changing the structure of how the Permanent Fund Dividend is distributed:

This week on The Kenai Conversation we welcome Merrill Sikorski to the studio. No stranger to microphones, Sikorski is the host of "People Going Places and Doing Things," which has aired daily for nearly 30 years. He is also the creator of "Caring for the Kenai," an annual ecological competition for Kenai Peninsula High School students.

It took a lot of work to get this year's budget through the borough assembly, but there's more work left to do. Despite some budget cuts and a slight bump in property taxes, the borough is still looking at a deficit of close to $2 million. 


 Every once in a while host Jay Barrett has to pause and invite the Clarion sports department to the studio for some chat about athletics near and far. Jeff Helminiak, Joey Klecka and Jay cover MLB, rugby, FIFA World Cup and high school soccer as well as motor racing and the Peninsula Oilers.

Kenai Watershed Forum

Summer camp, river clean ups, Stream Watch and River Fest. Summer is a busy time at the Kenai Watershed Forum.

On this week's Kenai Conversation we find out how interconnected the natural world is on the Kenai Peninsula when we welcome retired Kenai National Wildlife Refuge ecologist Ed Berg and the refuge’s John Morton, the supervisory wildlife biolgogist to talk about how a warming climate has shrunk lakes and ponds, caused an increase in wildfires and an explostion in the moose population.

Redoubt Reporter

This weekend marks the 14th annual Kenai Peninsula Birding Festival. We sat down with one of the event's many organizers, Toby Burke, to talk about what's planned for this year and what's happening in the world of birding.


In one lifetime, the number of beluga whales in Cook Inlet has dwindled by about a thousand, with a little more than 300 still hanging on.  As a result, keeping an eye on the one-ton white whales has become a priority. On this week's Kenai Conversation, Sea Grant fellow Kim Ovitz talks about her project learning about belugas that visit the Kenai River, and what they mean to the people of Kenai.

This week on the Kenai Conversation, guests John Morton, the supervisory fish and wildlife biologist at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and Hans Rinke, the Kenai-Kodiak Area forester with the Alaska Division of Forestry discuss our forests, the trees in them, their future and the potential threats they face. 

Between trying to incorporate and trying to prepare for a possible natural gas project, there is a lot happening in Nikiski these days. On this week's Kenai Conversation, we'll get a North Road update and speak with Stacy Oliva and Dan Gregory with Incorporate Nikiski, and Nikiski's representative on the borough assembly Wayne Ogle.

KPBSD

Personalized Learning is more than a buzzword for the latest fad in public education. This week on the Kenai Conversation, KPBSD Director of Elementary and Secondary Education John Pothast and district Communications Liaison Pegge Erkeneff, tell us about how Personalized Learning is being rolled out in classrooms across the district and what the expectations are.

  On this week’s Kenai Conversation, it’s a reporter’s roundtable. KDLL’s Jay Barrett and Shaylon Cochran sit down with Elizabeth Earl and Kat Sorensen from the Peninsula Clarion to talk about the latest events around the central peninsula, local budgets, the upcoming fishing season and more.

Though the state's finances are in a bit of a mess now with low oil prices and relatively low production, there are opportunities ahead. Creating a foundation to take advantage of those opportunities, however, is no easy task. This week, we talk to former borough mayor and current Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development Mike Navarre about how the state can transition away from an oil-based economy and the policy and political hurdles that will need to be cleared along the way.

Exchange students have been part of Kenai Peninsula life for nearly 40 years now, with high-schoolers from all over the world sharing their culture with host families in Alaska. On this week's Kenai Conversation, we visit with a couple of this year's students, a couple host parents and organizers from the local AFS chapter. Tune in to find out about their adventures and how you could get a taste of it all.

Tickets for the AFS fundraising dinner, featuring dishes from all eight countries the year's students hail from, are available at River City Books in Soldotna.

www.skihatcherpass.org

Few things tie a place and a culture together like language. On this week's Kenai Conversation, native place names, how they’ve changed and why it matters.


On this week's conversation, we talk with Robert Ruffner and Brent Johnson, members of the borough's latest working group on gravel pits. What's the balance between residential expectations and commercial opportunity and how can it best be achieved?

Kenai Performers

Terri Zopf, the director of the Kenai Performers' production of Shrek: The Musical that opens Friday, along with tap dance choreographer Sally Cassano and three actors, Dagmar Meyer, Bill Taylor and Mike Gallagher, join host Jay Barrett to discuss what it takes to put on such a large and daunting production.

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce has been in office about three months now. So, as we get into the annual process of putting together a budget, how are things going? Are the conservative philosophies candidate Pierce ran on playing well with the realities of local government?

 

 

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.

The Internet age was supposed to be the death knell for America’s public libraries. Google was supposed to replace the Dewey Decimal System and the Kindle was going to end paper books altogether. But, no. Not only are libraries like the ones in Kenai and Soldotna surviving, they’re thriving. We’ll find out why on the Kenai Conversation as host Jay Barrett welcomes head librarians Mary Jo Joiner and Rachel Nash from Kenai and Soldotna, respectively.

City of Kenai

The Kenai city council recently approved changes to leasing policies for airport lands. And that's just a beginning step in a long-range plan to put the city's considerable land assets to better use for development. 

On this week's Kenai Conversation, former Kenai city and borough Mayor John Williams returns to discuss the issues of the day with host Jay Barrett.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Winter seems to be holding out enough for the 31st running of the Tustumena 200 sled dog race. Race Director Tami Murray joins us this week to talk about how the course is shaping up, which local teams will be lined up and how you can volunteer (just go here). An official starting location will be announced before the race on Jan. 27.

This week on the Kenai Conversation, host Jay Barrett welcomes Peninsula Clarion sports scribes Jeff Helminiak and Joey Klecka to the studio to tackle local sports, college football, auto racing and more.

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