Elizabeth Earl

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.

Occupational license fees on the rise

Juniper Lanmon-Freeman cried the first time she attended the birth of a child. A licensed midwife, Lanmon-Freeman now delivers two to three babies per month for mothers at their homes. But the job goes far beyond that — by the time she delivers the child, she’s spent weeks with the mother.

“(On) my last birth, I visited her 13 times before she had her baby,” she said. “When they’re in labor, you’ve built this relationship with them. It’s more like a sister relationship or a good female friend.”

ACLU to borough: Drop invocation policy

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska has asked the Kenai Peninsula Borough to back down from its newly passed invocation policy.

The organization, which advocates for individual Constitutional liberties, frequently through litigation, sent a letter Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Blaine Gilman saying the policy violates religious liberty because those seeking to give an invocation must pass a religious test.

Public weighs in before fish board

SOLDOTNA — Fishermen and the fisheries-inclined turned out by the dozens Tuesday for an open hearing before the Board of Fisheries to air their concerns on a host of issues.

The Board of Fisheries, preparing to enter its 2016-2017 cycle, is holding a work session in Soldotna this week to discuss Agenda Change Requests and non-regulatory proposals and to take public comments. When the session was scheduled in October 2014, the board set aside an entire day for fishermen to make public comments on any issue they wanted to address.

Title 16

Assembly reduces Planning Commission

The number of Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission members will decrease to 11, but not until 2020.

After initially voting it down, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly resurrected and passed an ordinance that revised the apportionment for Planning Commission membership at its Tuesday meeting. The commission, which approves or denies plats and advises the assembly on land use issues, currently has 13 members. After July 31, 2020, it will have a maximum of 11.


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