Monthly Archives: March 2009

Wild life — Kasilof duo laughs through volcanoes, Exxon during 30 years in the Bush

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Mary and Bob Haeg’s version of paradise would be some people’s version of hell, or at least purgatory.

Thirty years with no running water, no electricity, no regular mail, no phone, no TV, no computer or Internet, no neighbors, no way in or out except by boat or plane.

“No stores, no roads, no people,” Bob said.

“It sure was nice,” Mary said.

“Yeah, there was no baloney. I’d still be there if I wasn’t so damn old,” Bob said. Continue reading

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Filed under homesteaders, outdoors, profile

Borough is ready for rumbles — Emergency management team keeps tabs on Redoubt eruption

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Scott Walden usually gets up at 4:30 a.m. He was about ready to head to bed around 10 p.m. Sunday night. But when you’re the coordinator of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management and a volcano starts erupting across Cook Inlet, sleep can be hard to come by.

After three months of on-and-off rumbling, Mount Redoubt finally made good on its threats. The volcano began a series of eruptions at 10:38 p.m. Sunday night, followed by others at 11:02 p.m., 12:14 a.m. and 1:39 a.m., according to the Alaska Volcano Observatory. The largest blast of the morning occurred at 4:03 a.m. Monday, sending an ash cloud more than 60,000 feet — 12 miles — into the air. Another large eruption occurred at 7:41 p.m. Monday, sending another ash plume 60,000 feet into the air.

Walden’s work cell phone, a 24-hour necessity for occasions such as these, started ringing between 10 and 10:20 p.m. Sunday, he said, when it became clear Redoubt was ready to do more than just rumble. Continue reading

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Filed under Mount Redoubt, volcanoes

Luck of the drill — Kenai, Soldotna differ in water supplies

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Along with the weather, fishing and speculating how much the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend will be each year, swapping tales of distasteful water is an easy way to strike up a conversation on the central Kenai Peninsula.

Live here long enough or move around the area enough times and residents develop a lexis for describing what comes out of their taps much like wine connoisseurs contrast different vintages and varietals — except the wannabe sommeliers are more likely to use favorable terms.

Cloudy with a bouquet of rotten eggs, leaving an indelible green circle around the bathtub and rendering every load of white laundry somewhat gray.

Drinking water is something Alaskans can love to hate, or at least debate. Which is better, Kenai’s or Soldotna’s? Chances are, the arguments miss the point, involving factors that are distasteful — like color, smell and taste — but not mentioning the invisible contaminants that may be harmful, like arsenic.

In that regard, the argument’s clear, even if the water isn’t — Soldotna is in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum limit of arsenic allowed in public water sources, and Kenai is not. Continue reading

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Filed under utilities

Historic comedy — Sidecar tackles Alaska history with humorous bent

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter


“State nickname: The Last Frontier. Not to be confused with the final frontier, which is definitely space.

“State bird: The Willow Ptarmigan. The ‘P’ is silent. The ‘X’ and the ‘Q’ are both silent and invisible.

“State fish: King salmon. When king crab found out, he waged an epic war on king salmon’s kingdom, which ended abruptly when someone reminded king crab that crab is not a fish.

“State gem: Jade. Runner-up: Jewel.

“State fossil: Mammoth. Runner-up: Ted Stevens.

“State mammal: Moose. Bears campaigned heavily for the position but lost after eating their speechwriters.”

Comedy commemorating Alaska’s 50th anniversary of statehood, including these Alaska factoids listed above: “Eight Stars of Comedy Gold.” Continue reading

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Filed under comedy, entertainment, theater

Art Seen: Keeping it simple on a whole new level

Chris Jenness came into my gallery many years ago, wanting to frame a number of small pastel drawings he had created. At the time, my inside exhibition room had rotating exhibits of many artists, just a few pieces from each. I expressed an interest in his work, and recommended that he show some of it in my gallery. He acted surprised that I would like it, but I have since learned that humbleness is just a part of his character. He has a creative well that seems always available, and the necessary energy to finish the projects he starts.

The exhibit that currently is running at the Kenai Peninsula College Gary L. Freeburg Gallery is from a series of acrylic works exploring the “Details” of comic strip panels. Whereas Roy Lichtenstein was known for painting large canvases of individual comic strip panels, Jenness takes it further, by looking even closer and dramatically cropping. Continue reading

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Capturing dogged determination — Documentary follows Junior Iditarod musher from training to finish

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

What’s it like to be 14 years old on the runners of a dog sled mushing in the most prestigious junior mushing race in Alaska?

For 26 minutes, audiences can find out.

“Trails North — One Girl’s Quest to Run the Junior Iditarod,” is a 26-minute documentary film following Meredith Mapes, a young musher from Wasilla, as she trains for and races in the 2008 Junior Iditarod. The film will be shown at 4 p.m. Saturday at Triumvirate Theatre in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. Admission is free.

Joe Rizzo, president of Triumvirate, got a grant to film the documentary with his daughter, Miranda, who is a junior mushing fanatic herself. Bob Mabrey, who has a production studio in Nikiski, helped with the filming.

The documentary follows Mapes as she trains for the race in the summer of 2007 up through running the Junior Iditarod on Feb. 28, 2008. Continue reading


Filed under entertainment, mushing

Arts and Entertainment week of March 25


  • Artists Without Borders in the 4D Building in Soldotna has artwork by Susan Anderson on display through March.
  • Art Works in Soldotna has egg tempera paintings by Andy Hehnlin on display through March.
  • Coffee Roasters on Kalifornsky Beach Road has an exhibition of Kenai Peninsula College student photography from the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race on display through March 26.
  • The Funky Monkey in Kenai has nature and wildlife photography by Samantha Becker on display through March.
  • The Gary L. Freeburg Gallery at Kenai Peninsula College has “Details,” an exhibition of paintings by Nikiski graphic artist Chris Jenness, on display through March.
  • Kaladi Brothers on Kobuk Street in Soldotna has “This Season That We Call Winter,” a photography exhibition by Genevieve Klebba, on display through March.
  • Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna has photography by Jeremy Reeve on display through March.
  • The Kenai Fine Arts Center in Old Town Kenai has the Peninsula Art Guild Biennial Judged Exhibition on display through March.
  • The Soldotna Senior Center is looking for artists to display their work in the center’s lobby. Shows are one month long. Artwork must hang on the walls. Call Mary Lane at 262-8839. The artist of the month in March is Corrine Fairchild. Continue reading

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Filed under calendar, entertainment

Getting to the meat of the issue — Shots fired over dinner disagreement

By Clark Fair
Redoubt Reporter

In the early morning hours of Monday, Dec. 11, 1967, Alaska State Troopers were alerted to a possible shooting at the Hilltop Bar and Café (current site of Good Time Charlie’s) on the Seward Highway. When they arrived, according to a brief account of the incident in The Cheechako News, they found two wounded men and an odd explanation.

Lying on the floor of the bar was Wilford L. “Bill” Hansen, the Hilltop’s owner and bartender, who had been shot at least twice in the stomach and was in critical condition. Lying on the floor of the dining room was Elbert M. “Marshall” Dorsey, the café cook, who had been shot in the left shoulder. Early reports indicated that Hansen and Dorsey were victims of a gunfight with two other men, who had fled the scene. Continue reading

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Filed under Almanac, history

Editorial: Peninsula scores passing marks for Redoubt round 1

OK, be honest now:

Who went to bed Sunday or woke up Monday thinking: “Gee, I really should have stocked up on water/air filters/flashlights/etc.” by now?

Consider this your warning.

Attention to Mount Redoubt wound down after months of activity without an eruption. Then, within a day, Redoubt decided to no longer be ignored.

The great news for the Kenai Peninsula is the ash plumes spurted out in the series of eruptions have missed us so far, and weather forecasts predict continued favorable wind patterns through Friday.

The good news is it appears as though, even if we had gotten some ash, the peninsula would have been more or less ready for it. Continue reading

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Filed under editorial, Mount Redoubt, volcanoes

Guest editorial: Pitching in to keep salmon moving

A single road crossing with a bad culvert can prevent fish from reaching miles of habitat.

Small tributaries provide a path to salmon nurseries, and juvenile salmon, particularly coho, migrate up streams.

Studies have shown that juvenile salmon that successfully migrate up and down small streams survive better in the ocean. It is important to keep these migration routes free of barriers.

Damaged, poorly designed or poorly maintained culverts all create a significant impasse to fish migration. Addressing the needs of fish passage is one of the primary focuses of the Kenai Watershed Forum’s efforts on the Kenai Peninsula. Continue reading

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Filed under editorial, Kenai Watershed Forum

Season kickoff — Youth comp league soccer springing into action

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Come this weekend, about 150 Kenai Peninsula kids will kick off a rite of passage for spring, even if there is still snow on the ground.

It’s soccer season, ushered in by Kenai Peninsula Soccer Club tryouts Friday and Saturday at the Kenai Central High School gym. The club soccer program is a more competitive level of play than recreation leagues, and it isn’t affiliated with school sports programs so the season lasts longer into the summer, from April into August. It’s for ages 9 through 18 on 11 local teams. Teams practice or play games at least four days a week during the summer, and travel to tournaments in Anchorage and Fairbanks two or three times a summer.

It is a time commitment, but one that is well-rewarded, said Paul Ostrander, coach of the under-13 girls team Riptide and KPSC board member. Continue reading

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Science of the Seasons: Little insects have huge role in Kenai River ecosystem

Over the past couple weeks, the Kenai River channel has been slowly opening.

Initially there was only a patch of thin ice at the outlet of Skilak Lake and then a few small areas of open water about a half-mile downstream. A number of overwintering swans and a few mergansers used these open-water areas to forage for food and find a little protection from predators.

Then the river channel opened up about a mile farther downstream. This slow downstream opening of the river will continue as the days lengthen and temperatures rise. Usually in April, the entire river will have an open channel with slabs of ice along each bank.

As the river opens and spring seems to be arriving, a number of aquatic insects will start to appear along the shore. Some of the very first insects will be a number of species of the dipteran family called chironomidae or “midges.” Continue reading

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Filed under ecology, Kenai River