Elizabeth Earl

Two file to run for borough mayor's job

Though there are still nearly 10 months before Kenai Peninsula Borough residents will pick a new borough mayor, two people have already announced they are running.

Sterling resident Charlie Pierce filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission in mid-October, approximately a year ahead of the election. A little less than a month later, Soldotna resident Linda Hutchings submitted her own letter of intent for the office. The position will be up for grabs when current Mayor Mike Navarre is termed out in October.

Gov. Walker's budget proposal would reduce funding for Alaska Construction Academies

The Alaska Construction Academies might see a steep decline in funding next year if the Legislature accepts Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed budget cuts.

The governor’s fiscal year 2018 budget, released Dec. 15, proposes a $600,000 reduction in general fund dollars for the Alaska Construction Academies, an Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development program that offers free basic construction training to high school students and adults in Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan, Fairbanks, the Mat-Su Valley and on the Kenai Peninsula.

Cleanup now under way at Tesoro spill in Nikiski

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating the cause of a recent oil spill near the Tesoro Refinery in Nikiski.

On Dec. 18, the facility operator noticed blackened snow near the wastewater tank at the Tesoro facility during a nightly inspection, according to a Dec. 27 situation report from the Department of Environmental Conservation. The company estimated that approximately 165 gallons of a crude oil and water mixture had spilled, according to the report.

Plans for history conference advance

The plans for a history conference next April in Soldotna marking the anniversary of America’s purchase of Alaska from Russia are under way. With just over four months until the event, the organizers are gathering presenters, public engagement and, as always, stories.

“It’s progressing,” said Shana Loshbaugh, the main organizer. “Right now we have more things going on on the central peninsula, and we also have … things rolling now in Homer.”

Serenity House applies for detox center grant

Plans for the central Kenai Peninsula’s first medical detox facility are underway.

Over the last several years, opioid addiction on the Kenai Peninsula and in Alaska in general has become a significant public health issue. Last May, the community coalition Change 4 the Kenai brought it to broader public attention with a series of highly attended town halls on the issue.

ACLU sues borough over invocation policy

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska is suing the Kenai Peninsula Borough over the borough assembly’s invocation policy, which it claims is discriminatory.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, comes on the heels of the assembly recently reviving its controversial invocation guideline policy, initially passed in October, that outlines who can offer the invocation before the assembly’s regular meetings.

Assembly resurrects invocation guidelines

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly revived its invocation policy during a reconsideration vote at its Tuesday meeting.

The assembly passed an amendment Nov. 22 deleting the entire policy it had passed in October. That policy set guidelines for who would be allowed to provide the prayer before the regular assembly meetings. However, at the end of the meeting, assembly member Blaine Gilman of Kenai filed for reconsideration, which brought the topic up again for discussion at the Tuesday meeting.

Board denies most winter king proposals

Despite a number of proposals and public comments in favor, the Board of Fisheries made few changes to the Lower Cook Inlet’s winter saltwater king salmon fishery.

During its final Lower Cook Inlet cycle meeting Saturday in Homer, the board took up a variety of proposals related to the fishery, which typically takes place between Oct. 1 and March 31 in the saltwater south of Bluff Point.

Fisheries board meeting in Homer

In the winter, those looking for a shot at some fresh king salmon can head to Kachemak Bay and drop a line.

King salmon arrive in the bay and in the salt waters of Cook Inlet during the winter, where they are known as “feeder” king salmon because they are eating and growing. Sport fishermen catch them for personal consumption and recreation alike, harvesting thousands during the winter months from shore, powerboats, drift boats and kayaks.

Borough plans sales tax workshops

The Kenai Peninsula Borough administration will explain upcoming changes to the sales tax code through several community meetings.

The borough assembly approved an ordinance with multiple changes to the sales tax code in September, including provisions requiring nonprofits with regular storefronts and vendors who do not accept food stamps but sell food to charge sales tax. The changes are set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

Assembly approves Soldotna hospital expansion

Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna is moving forward with plans to update its obstetrics wing and to install the Kenai Peninsula’s first catheterization lab.

The hospital has been looking to update the obstetrics department for years and has observed a growing need for a catheterization lab — cath lab for short — in which patients can receive cardiac services like angiograms and pacemaker implantation. Central Peninsula Hospital patients who need such procedures have to go to Anchorage to get them at present.

Borough's health-care task force finalizes recommendations.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough’s task force on health care reached a set of final recommendations last week.

The Healthcare Task Force, which has been meeting for more than a year, unanimously approved an 11-page report to the borough administration and assembly with recommendations for how to move forward into health care reform and make care more affordable for peninsula residents.

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