Monthly Archives: March 2012

Slip slidin’ success — Ski day targets youth with special needs

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Clark Fair, Redoubt Reporter. Owen Swaby gets two hands from mom, Kate Swaby, left, and volunteer Denise Harrow during a learn-to-ski event for kids with special needs Saturday at Tsalteshi Trails.

Redoubt Reporter

Being a physical therapist, Angela Beplat could rattle off the skills the kids were working on as they participated in a learn-to-ski event for kids with special needs Saturday afternoon at Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School in Soldotna.

“You’re always trying to

Xander Kinslow takes a load off in between skis during the event.

work on core strength and bilateral coordination and all these different types of skills, but skiing is so cool because it’s an activity that naturally has all those kinds of things. It’s all there,” she said.

The parents — watching their kids laugh and play, concentrate on staying upright and tackle the difficulty of shuffling up a slope only to launch fearlessly back down it — could attest to the social and educational aspects of the event.

“They get to see kids from therapy or school, and it’s also good for them to be around older kids who are skiing,” said

Sophie Lathrop sports a stylish unicorn helmet as part of her warm-weather garb during a learn-to-ski event Saturday.

Angela Lathrop, who brought her four adopted kids, ages 6 to 9, to the event. “It’s good to see them get out and do stuff, and it also raises their confidence. So many times with our kiddos with special needs you have to be so careful with safety and they don’t always understand the inherent danger in things. Continue reading

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Moose shot after dog attack — Incident under investigation

By Naomi Klouda

Photo courtesy of Homer Tribune. Reports of moose in distress are becoming increasingly common as winter drags on.

Homer Tribune

A moose was shot Thursday after being severely injured after being run down by a pack of dogs on Ternview Place, in Homer, resulting in citations for the dogs’ owner and an investigation.

At about 7:30 p.m. March 23, Homer Police received a call reporting the moose had been shot to put it out of its misery after the dogs attacked it. The dogs, owned by Joseph Patten, were reported to Homer Animal Control for their aggressive behavior, said Police Chief Mark Robl. Patten was issued three citations, one for each dog.

It is not automatically OK for a resident to shoot a moose, either in defense of life and property or as a mercy killing, Robl said. The matter has been referred to the Alaska State Troopers for investigation.

It was one of four moose shot in Homer in recent months.

“One of the three dogs had severely injured the moose,” Robl said. “The neighbor and gentleman with the dogs decided they needed to put it out of its misery, so the neighbor shot the moose. The dogs had been reported as aggressive in the past. A report was made to the animal control officer, who issued three citations for having dogs at large.” Continue reading

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Strange sightings — Birds make unusual appearances over the winter, spring

By Joseph Robertia

Photo courtesy of Ken Tarbox. This red-wing songbird was spotted in Seward in November. It is one of several unusual avian sightings on the Kenai Peninsula this winter and spring.

Redoubt Reporter

Those with an eye to the sky, and in some cases the ground, have seen some unusual bird species showing up across the Kenai Peninsula this winter.

“It started during the (Audubon) Christmas Bird Count,” said Toby Burke, a wildlife technician at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Each year, Audubon supporters and devoted birdwatchers flock together in December to divide up geographic regions and then count birds in their assigned sections. Burke said there were more birds and in higher numbers than usual around many parts of the peninsula, and this trend continued as the winter got into the colder, darker months that followed.

“As we got into January and February we had three reports of common loons — one in Nikiski, one in Soldotna and one in Kasilof. We also picked up a red-necked grebe in Kenai and saw a handful of murres in the mouth of the Kenai and Kasilof rivers, and all of these would normally be much farther south,” Burke said.

For the loons, Burke said that seeing one on the central peninsula would be anomalous, but seeing three in one winter is quite unusual.

“It’s way out of the norm. These birds typically winter in ice-free waters down the Pacific Coast, from Kachemak Bay and Prince William Sound down to California,” he said. “We wouldn’t normally see them showing up here until May, when they arrive in thawed areas and then move out to the lakes as they opened up, too. This is the first time I’ve ever seen them here in the middle of winter.” Continue reading

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Winging It: Bird feeding good views

By Sean Ulman, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Sean Ulman. A flock of gray-crowned rosy finches indulges in birdseed strewn in a yard in Seward earlier this winter.

Upon moving back to Seward, I put three bird feeders up before the heat was turned on. The yard list — birds seen in the yard or from the yard or within a certain distance of the yard, depending on how you’re keeping score — seemed to start out with a bang. Hauling travel bags inside, I looked up and saw a northern flicker, perched in a sip of sun on our deck railing before it flew across the street into a scruffy spruce tree. Or did I see it?

We had observed many red-shafted flickers on our drive west through Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Washington. The field marks I noted in the sunshine-flickering three-second encounter on the deck — blue-gray face, speckled breast, streaked jacket, rosy under-wing wash — had become relatively routine.

It dawned on me that flickers might be fairly uncommon in Alaska. So I noted the potentially notable bird, looked forward to seeing this woodpecker regularly and carried on with my arrival errands.

I never saw that fickle flicker again. It’s noted on our yard list with a bold “?”. The entries for great blue heron and mallard are noted f/o, for flyover. A sharp-shinned hawk that wisely learned to stalk our stocked feeding station is listed with a fly-thru postscript. Continue reading

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Not so happily ever after — Rocky union results in vow to avoid ceremonial duties

By Clark Fair

Photo courtesy of the Thompson family. Donnis Thompson, seen at age 28, shows off a king salmon she caught near Ninilchik in the summer of 1956.

Redoubt Reporter

Donnis Thompson had a bad feeling about the marriage — not her own, of course, which was just fine, but the one she was about to officiate. Still, she had a job to do.

In her early 20s in 1953, Donnis had come to Kenai to marry Stan Thompson, with whom she had worked in Fairbanks for the Army Corps of Engineers. Shortly after the couple settled in Kenai, Stan, who was in the process of creating a building-supply business named Kenai Korners, was appointed as U.S. commissioner (a magistrate, essentially, in pre-statehood days), and Donnis became his assistant commissioner. Therefore, when Stan was away, Donnis had to play the part of commissioner herself.

And thus it was that she was called upon to marry a middle-aged Kenai couple — a pair she did not wish to name, she said, but who were known in the area as “heavy drinkers.”

In those days, Kenai had a population of about 300 people, was still seven years away from becoming a city instead of a village, and offered very few commercially profitable opportunities. The groom, as an example, was a professional net-mender, and he mended commercial fishing nets year-round.

“All the time, really good, very fast,” Donnis said.

The bride had never cut her hair and typically braided it into two thick pigtails that hung down her back to well below her waist. She was proud of her long hair, and those braids would play a part in the lives of the Thompsons again at a later time.

With Stan gone, Donnis was approached about doing the ceremony, and she didn’t like the stress.

“I was scared silly,” she said. “I’d never performed a marriage ceremony before, and I thought, ‘What if I don’t do it right? What are the repercussions? Would the kids be illegitimate? What’s going to happen?’”

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Night Lights: Lights still bright as darkness wanes

By Andy Veh, for the Redoubt Reporter

Graphic courtesy of Andy Veh

Days are getting longer and nights are getting shorter. Thus, this will be my last column before fall.

The winter constellations Orion, Gemini, Taurus, Canis Major and Auriga with all their bright stars are now visible in the west, setting during the late evening. Leo with its bright star Regulus is speeding across the sky, which is why I perceive Leo as the harbinger of spring. When it appears in the east, winter’s end will soon be here. When it reaches the western horizon, flowers are in full bloom and deciduous plants will have regained their leaves. In addition, the summer triangle comprised of the bright stars Vega, Deneb and Altair reappears in the northeast.

As it has been for most of this winter, it’s going to be another great month for planets. During March we saw superbright Venus in the west right above Jupiter. Although Jupiter is the second-brightest object in the sky ahead of even the brightest stars, the giant planet just about fades in comparison. Venus keeps moving farther left of Jupiter night after night — a really good example showing that planets move (the word “planet” means “wanderer”).

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Art Seen: Working it

By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter

"Dilemma" by Marlene Theil Pearson

There are so many excellent pieces at the “Harvesting the History of Work” show currently on view at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center, I hardly know where to start in describing them. This is the third in a series of interdisciplinary expositions taken on by students at Kenai Peninsula College, and the second to be on exhibit at the center.

More than 40 pieces of artwork, lots of writing and historical objects on loan from the Kenai Historical Society and pulled from the center’s collection, tell an interesting saga regarding work in this area. Continue reading

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