Monthly Archives: February 2009

Playing their respects — Musicians honor local songwriter, shop owner

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Whitey wasn’t able to make an appearance at the party held in his honor at the Kenai Elks Club on Sunday night, but he was there in spirit, in carrying on the tradition he lived his life by — people young and old, aspiring and accomplished, getting together to hang out, swap stories and make music.

By one count more than 300 people cycled through the memorial gathering for Timothy “Whitey” Dyment, of Sterling, who died Feb. 16. More than 30 bands took to the stage to “say hello to Whitey,” as one performer put it.

“There’s really nothing else to do that would do him justice,” said his daughter, Elizabeth Dyment, of Sterling. “It’s good to see so many different people and different age ranges. There are three generations of people here who love Whitey and want to remember him.”

The crowd resembled a roll call of the central Kenai Peninsula’s music scene. From the gathering evolved a set that felt more organic than organized — just like Whitey would have liked. The scenario was a larger version of the one that played out most days in his store, Whitey’s Music Shoppe on Kalifornsky Beach Road. People stopped by, hung out, shared food and laughs, and struck up whatever songs they were moved to play, whether it was country or classic rock, folk, swing or blues, covers or originals — including some of Whitey’s songs.

“This is what Whitey was about, bringing people together and celebrating life and celebrating music,” said Angela Jamieson, his fiancee.

The nickname came from childhood, when it referred to his white-blond hair. The name stuck and he carried it across the country on a BMW motorcycle from Maine to Alaska in 1980. At age 56 when he died, the blond was fading out of his beard and hair, which was often topped with a leather cap and matched with a quick smile that ruined his attempts at a gruff exterior.

“He managed to be kind of a curmudgeon, yet he never pissed anybody off,” said Scot Q. Merry, a musician and music producer. “That’s a good balancing act. It makes you a character but made people still like him.”

Whitey, primarily a guitarist and harmonica player, started working with Bill Zumwalt at Zumwalt’s Music. He bought the place in the early 2000s, renaming it Whitey’s Music Shoppe, Dyment said.

The store was a haven for musicians, especially young ones.

“That was the only guitar shop in town where you could hang out and grab anything you wanted and play it,” said Lowell Granath, who started going to the shop with his dad when he was 10. “That was the only dude I knew guaranteed he’d show up to every show I did.”

Granath bought his first guitar there when he was 13, and was in the store at least five times a week from then on, he said. He worked for Whitey occasionally repairing guitars, but mostly time was spent just hanging out, talking to Whitey or the revolving cast of other visitors.

“All kinds of kids hung out there,” including some who might have been out getting into trouble if they hadn’t had the shop and Whitey to rely on, said Daryl Bowers, a piano player and friend of Whitey’s.

Bowers lost track of how many times he heard off-tune, muffed-note renditions of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and the opening riff to The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” in the shop from aspiring young guitarists. But Whitey never minded.

“I’d take it for about a half hour,” Bowers said. “But Whitey just loved those kids to sit in there and play. They’d come hang out and he was a positive influence on their lives.”

Katie Evans credits that inclusive atmosphere with her finding a place in the community. She came to the central peninsula from Ohio one summer, and didn’t know anybody. She wandered into Whitey’s and ended up hanging out there five days a week, making music and meeting other people who stopped by.

“Whitey would order us pizza, and we’d hang out all day. That’s how we met everyone,” Evans said. “Somehow between then and now we all became family.”
That was just Whitey, said Bob Costley, a drummer who “pretends to be a musician,” he said. Whitey would encourage anyone, especially youth, in following whatever dream they had.

“I would go in his store not wanting anything most of the time except his company, because no matter what kind of day you had, you came out smiling,” Costley said.

His support wasn’t just for youth searching for their path in life, music or the community. He also gave direction — and the occasional swift kick in the rear — to adults who had lost their way.

Bob Sather said he came in to Whitey’s about five years ago after playing music on the road to announce he was done.

“I told him, ‘The bus is parked and it’s over for me. I’ve got a monkey on my back and a hollow leg full of alcohol,’” Sather said. “He told me, ‘You owe it to the music,’ and he called me a bunch of names and said, ‘You owe it to me.’ So I sobered up and did it. I paid my debt.”

Most of the people at the memorial service probably had a similar story of a time when Whitey was there for them, Jamieson said.

“Look at all these people. He helped everyone here be more what their potential was,” she said.

Jamieson met Whitey about three years ago at a music performance at Kaladi Brothers in Soldotna. He was funny, interesting and listened to what she had to say, Jamieson said.

Jamieson wanted to get to know him better, so she visited him at his store, after first checking to see if he had a criminal record — she’s an assistant district attorney, after all. She’s a romantic, but still a realist.

Suitably vetted, Whitey soon proved to be venerable in other areas, as well. He had a bachelor’s degree in social work “and he continued practicing social work through his shop,” Jamieson said.

“I never met a man who had more respect for a woman, someone who saw women as real equals and would allow me to blossom and be who I was,” she said.

Whitey didn’t let things stand in the way of his development, either. In the last 10 years or so he started working earnestly on being a songwriter. Merry worked with him on producing Whitey’s CD. Merry spent 15 years as a musician and producer in Nashville, and has also produced albums for Hobo Jim. He said Whitey was open-minded about his music. He’d write a song and they’d decide what style it best fit in, whether it was country, reggae or whatever.

“The more I listened to his music the more I got into his skill as a songwriter and got to be very enthusiastic about his music,” Merry said.

They performed together occasionally, and always intended to play more frequently. On Sunday, Merry played a set of Whitey’s songs with Bowers, Sather and others, and called up Evans to help with vocals, and Dyment joined them to sing one of her dad’s songs.

Merry said he had expected Whitey at his studio on the day he died. He still had songs to record, and it was a shock for the music community to lose such a prominent part of its melody when there still seemed to be so much left to play.

But in retrospect, Merry thinks that’s not such a bad way to go. Whitey left on a crescendo, not the slow fade.

“Somebody said to me, ‘It’s so sad, he wanted to do this and that and this other thing,’” Merry said. “I turned around and said, ‘Hey, he had big plans and he was moving forward and getting better every day until the last day.’ I think he did it the right way.”


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All you need is Love — Outreach program expanding to provide housing help

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

It’s expensive to be poor.

When an individual or family is living life on the brink, it doesn’t take much to push them over. A broken-down car, a medical bill, a reduction in hours at work, heating and electric bills taking a jump as they did in January — any number of things can mean the difference between making ends meet and falling through the cracks.

“The job market has always been at best thin on the Kenai Peninsula. With the current economic concern people are being cut back on hours. Making minimum wage … it’s impossible. Absolutely impossible,” said Catherine DeLacee, project manager for Love In the Name of Christ. “They get into trouble so fast. With those wages, there’s no savings account. There just isn’t. It’s all consumed by feeding your family and rent.”

A bad situation can quickly spiral out of control. Getting behind on bills leads to a poor credit rating, which means higher interest rates, fees and not being approved for certain loans or programs. There’s no money to go to school or get training to increase job opportunities. And if someone can’t keep up on rent or utilities and gets evicted, they may not even have a phone number or address to list on job applications or public assistance forms.

“It just mushrooms out of sight,” said Ingrid Edgerly, Love INC’s executive director. “These are the people that fell through the cracks. These are people that can’t get help anywhere else and usually end up calling us after accessing all of the resources they know, or they don’t know what other resources are out there.”

That’s where Love INC comes in. The organization, established on the central peninsula in 1987, serves as a clearinghouse to help steer people in need toward available resources. They don’t duplicate services that already exist, Edgerly said, but they are connected with about 60 assistance agencies — such as the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, Frontier Community Services and the various state public assistance offices — as well as 52 churches that offer help and community outreach programs, like the Saint Vincent DePaul Society.

Through those partnerships, Love INC volunteers are able to connect people with all kinds of assistance, from furniture to help with applying for food stamps, and cords of wood to punch cards for Central Area Rural Transit System rides.
More than that, volunteers offer a lifeline in what can be a frightening and frustrating process of getting people back on their feet.

“Advocacy is our number one asset,” DeLacee said. “Many of these people by the time they arrive here have exhausted all other resources, or they’re truly not empowered to start the search. Life has kind of beaten them up. They don’t have computers, don’t have fax machines, they are not going to be able to see a newspaper — they are just so down and out they don’t know what to do.”

Bridging the gap

Love INC intends to be a resource people can call upon when they don’t know what else to do. But for some needs, even Love INC has nowhere to turn. The most glaring gap in service has been housing, especially for families, Edgerly said. The LeeShore Center in Kenai serves women in crisis, and the Friendship Mission north of Kenai houses men, but that leaves a substantial demographic of people out in the cold — perhaps even literally, this time of year.

Edgerly points to a July 2007 study from the University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research that found between 400 and 500 people were homeless annually on the peninsula, and the average age was 9 years old.

Some of these people couch surf or find friends or family willing to take them in for a while, but that’s not a solution. And not everyone has even those short-term options. Some folks, and families, end up living in cars or travel trailers, even in the winter, Edgerly said.

“People come to Alaska without family and friends to back them up, and because they’re from Outside they don’t have a clue that this borough has no social services and they have to go to the state, but there’s a waiting list because the state is inundated. So we just stepped into the gap. But we had to do it on faith because the need is much greater than it was,” DeLacee said.

For years now Love INC has been trying to set up some form of transitional housing, especially for families in need of a place to stay while they get back on their feet. At first the idea was to house people in a church at night, but volunteers were also needed to stay overnight and folks needed somewhere else to go during the day. That program didn’t take off.

Next the organization considered building a transitional living facility. A parcel of land from the city of Soldotna was considered along Kalifornsky Beach Road, but the funding sources Love INC was counting on required a 50-year lease on the land, which Love INC didn’t get.

This winter, Love INC is testing a program that may prove to be the solution. The organization worked out a lease for five rooms at a local hotel, for one-fifth the usual cost, and has been housing people there since December. As of this month, the Love INC Bridge Housing Program has sponsored 1,161 bed nights for 33 people since Dec. 3. The shortest stay was three nights, and one family of four has been housed through the program since it started.

Edgerly said she did not want to identify the hotel, because they are not equipped to deal with walk-ins seeking services. Anyone interested in Love INC’s housing or other programs should call its office at 283-5252.

Guests must go through Love INC’s intake process — including a criminal history check — and meet the program’s criteria. Love INC doesn’t discriminate, Edgerly said, but there aren’t enough resources to help everyone, so priority is given to families first.

The guests have all been approved for Alaska Housing Finance Corp. housing, but have a hard time getting approved for a lease because of credit problems or past financial history. Guests are approved to stay at the hotel for a week at a time, and as long as they abide by the program’s rules — no drugs or alcohol, and continue making progress toward finding work and a permanent place to live — their stay can be extended a week at a time.

While at the transitional housing, Love INC continues to help with other needs, like clothing, transportation, budget counseling or help with a job search. On Monday, the organization partnered with the Rural CAP program to offer a basic math class to any residents who were interested.

Edgerly said Love INC hopes to secure grant money to buy the hotel and expand the transitional housing program. Operating the program on a pilot, five-room basis, as it’s doing this winter, is a huge step in the right direction because it demonstrates that the program is being utilized, and it’s sustainable.

“The bridge housing, not only is it meeting a critical need right now, but it’s also building something for us to show the community and grantors that it’s needed and that we have the support in the community,” Edgerly said.

Trying to keep up

Love INC is experiencing growing pains these days, especially the pain in knowing there are more needs in the community than the organization is able to meet. Some people who contact the organization don’t qualify for assistance, or don’t cooperate with the requirements of the processing procedure. Others have immediate needs, but find that Love INC isn’t an emergency organization. It tries, but it takes time to get through paperwork and to steer people through the necessary channels, Edgerly said.

Complicating matters is the fact that the need for help is growing. The organization recently added two phone lines and a new voice mail system, and is bringing on two new positions, but it’s still not enough. Volunteers come in to find 16 to 25 messages waiting in the morning, which never used to happen, DeLacee said.

Housing needs are greater than Love INC can provide for, as well. The organization has gone up to as many as eight rooms in the Bridge Housing Program since December, but even with the room rate discount, the program is funded through donations. Businesses, churches and organizations have been “astounding” in their support, Edgerly said, but everyone’s feeling the pinch of economic woes this winter.

Love INC also is trying to combat the problem before it starts, by distributing homeless prevention grant money from AHFC. The money goes to keep people in financial crises on the peninsula from being evicted, but at the rate the program’s going, the nearly $50,000 grant will be used up before its June 30 expiration date. In October 2008 Love INC used $2,000 of the grant, and that’s escalated each month to nearly $9,000 in February.

Spread the love

Edgerly said Love INC is focusing more on getting the word out about its services and, especially, its need for donations, volunteers and community support.
“We’re really diligently trying to get word out to the community, not only the problem, but also the need for support to back us and stand behind this. Just because people don’t stand on the street corner getting publicity doesn’t mean there’s not a need,” she said.

“I just really believe that Alaskans are generous, good people. The problem is if they know,” DeLacee added.

To that end, Love INC is holding its annual fundraiser dinner and silent auction at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Soldotna Bible Chapel. Admission is free, and donations toward Love INC’s programs, especially its transitional housing, are gladly accepted. Call the office for reservations at 283-5252.

“We’re not a Band-Aid approach,” DeLacee said. “We’re really here to help people change their lives.”

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Pebble meeting brings much of same

Nunamta Aulukestai sponsors meetings
to educate communities about proposed mine

By Sean Pearson
Homer Tribune

Though some of the players involved were different, much of the information regarding the feasibility and impacts of the Pebble Mine project on Bristol Bay fisheries and the Native Alaska subsistence lifestyle presented at last week’s community meeting at Islands and Ocean Visitor Center echoed similar concerns raised more than a year ago.

Nunamta Aulukestai, (Caretakers of Our Lands), is a consortium of eight village corporations that have combined to sponsor statewide community meetings to raise awareness of mining impacts on state resources.

According to Nunamta Aulukestai Executive Director Terry Hoeferle, the group invited community members to participate in presentations and a roundtable discussion in an effort to educate communities around the state on the impacts of Pebble’s plan to mine some 15 square miles for gold, copper and molybdenum. A similar meeting was held Thursday in Kenai.

More than 50 Homer residents turned out for the Wednesday meeting, which included presentations on mine permitting, the impacts of hard-rock mining, risks to fisheries and technical issues and concerns.

Bonnie Gestring, of Earthworks, spoke specifically on the impacts of hard rock mining, noting conclusions from a 2008 report to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage Office on acid mine drainage that found that, “… Acid mine drainage remains one of the greatest environmental liabilities associated with mining, especially in pristine environments with economically and ecologically valuable natural resources.”

Gestring also offered statistics from the Kuipers Maest Report that studied 25 mines around the world. Of those representative mines, Gestring reported that 76 percent polluted groundwater or surface water severely enough to exceed water quality standards.

“Worldwide, the mining industry has experienced two major tailings dam failures per year over the past 30 years,” Gestring noted from a 2002 study. “That’s just unacceptable.”

Dr. Carol Ann Woody also spoke on the risks to fisheries caused by hard rock mining, noting the effects of copper on salmon’s ability to sense direction by smell, thereby impacting their ability to return to spawn.

Pebble has indicated that many of its impact studies are not yet complete, and therefore, they cannot comment or speculate on what all those impacts might be.

“We’re committed to doing this the right way,” said Mining Coordinator Jack DiMarchi.

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‘Oliver!’ comes home — Kenai Performers building community in classic musical

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Petty thievery, philandering workhouse wardens and meager dinner portions aside, the musical “Oliver!” is about yearning for a home and sense of belonging.

That’s a sentiment that resonates in community theater, especially with the Kenai Performers’ annual musical. The production often involves upward of 100 people, from kids to adults, experienced actors to first-timers, orchestra musicians and the army of volunteers that sews costumes, does makeup, builds sets, creates props, sells tickets and keeps everything running smoothly. All come together, from different backgrounds and stages in life, to donate their time for a few months in the winter for the shared purpose of putting on a show.

“It’s been wonderful to be part of something where there’s anything from little teeny children to teenagers to older adults,” said Chris Pepper, who plays the villain, Bill Sykes. “You know everyone, you’re all smiling and having a good time and working toward something big and having to collaborate and work together and everyone having to get along through stress and everything. It’s an amazing experience. At the end it’s one whole big family, and everyone knows your name and is smiling. You have no choice, really.”

Pepper is one of the newbies, in some respects. He’s been a performing musician in the community for the past six or seven years, but he hasn’t done much theater since elementary school.

“Through my youth and growing up I always put it off, there were always other things to do and reasons why I couldn’t do it. Then I just said, ‘Hey, the theater is right there, right down the street. I’m going to audition for it.’ And I’m very glad I did,” he said.

He may be relatively new to the stage, but he’s used to performing.

“I’ve always been just an outgoing person wanting to entertain, and this kind of filtered it into an environment where it was acceptable, a controlled environment to kind of do what I always do without being told to be quiet,” Pepper said. “Now it’s, ‘You need to be louder.’”

The show originally comes from the book “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens. It follows the winding path of young Oliver, from a workhouse for orphans where he is punished for asking for another portion of gruel by being sold off as an apprentice to the local undertaker. He escapes after being bullied by another apprentice, and unwittingly falls in with a band of thieves led by Mr. Fagin, who recruits boys to pick pockets for him.

Oliver is caught in his first criminal outing, although the victim, Mr. Brownlow, takes pity and is willing to let Oliver stay with him. But Fagin, the Sykes and Nancy, who is in love with Sykes, plot to steal Oliver back from his new, happy home.

Oliver is played by newcomer Logan Boyle. Garrett Hermansen plays the Artful Dodger, Fagin’s young associate. Kenai Performers veterans Marc Berezin and Christin Leckwee play Fagin and Nancy. Mr. Bumble and the Widow Corney, in charge of the workhouse, are played by Bob Bird and Cheri Johnson. The musical is written by Lionel Bart and directed by Laura Forbes.

There’s nothing redeemable in Sykes’ character — he’s as nasty and cruel as they come. Nevertheless, Pepper said it’s been good seeing how bad he can be.

“It’s very exhilarating. I go on stage and a button’s pushed and then I’m like pure evil, and every ounce of my body is loud and evil and spitting. It’s an adrenaline rush but it’s hard to turn the button off,” he said. “It’s hard to play him without totally 100 percent giving in to the role, ’cause if I go less than 100 percent I crack up laughing, so I’ve got to go, ‘OK, I’m in for it. Go.’”

Fagin has a few glimmers of having a conscience, and at least pretends to be a decent person, but that’s all just an act — one that Berezin has enjoyed.

“I enjoy on rare occasion playing somebody who is rather unpleasant, and you could certainly say that about Fagin. It’s fun playing someone so creepy,” he said.

As Fagin, Berezin gets to perform some of the more humorous songs of the show.

“It’s where Fagin really exposes who he is, especially ‘Pick a Pocket.’ Thievery is his way of life. In ‘Reviewing the Situation,’ it may be the only moment in the whole show where Fagin shows a few moments of conscience. Mostly he’s a man who gets small boys to steal money for him,” Berezin said.

Berezin was Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” and the title character in “The Wiz” in past Kenai Performers musicals.

“I love it. It’s as much the process as it is the product,” he said. “I enjoy getting together with a group of people all sharing some common goal and I like having the opportunity to hang around with some really wonderful kids, and rehearsal is every bit as fun as the actual performance for an audience. Not that it’s always fun — we know it ain’t.”

Berezin said he’s wanted the Kenai Performers to put on “Oliver!” for years.

“The whole thing is I love this show. I’ve been trying to get Laura to direct this for a long time. It’s a darker show than what we usually do. There is some humor in it and Oliver finds the love he’s searching for. The people who deserve to have things end well for them do, and people who deserve to end badly do,” he said.

“I have to say it was more the music for me than the show itself. And I have to say that I think Fagin is a wonderful part. I’ve wanted to do this play for selfish reasons. I gave pretty good warning to anybody else auditioning for the show that I wanted to be Fagin, and I would find out where they live.”

Forbes said the show has been challenging and joyful to put together.

“I think it’s a well-written musical. It trucks right through,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed watching the actors, many of whom are new to this for the first time, including our Oliver, really develop and support each other in that development.”

Forbes is certainly not new to Kenai Performers. When her parents moved to Kenai, “Oliver!” was the first show they were involved in, in the group that eventually became the Kenai Performers. Her dad, Dave Forbes, played the doctor, and mom, Lorrene Forbes, sewed costumes. Once Laura came along, she was involved, too.

“I was handing out programs at the door as soon as you could see me and I was hanging out in the green room where everybody else’s parents became your parents,” she said.

She went on to get a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Alaska Anchorage and worked in several theaters in Chicago before moving back to the central peninsula about two years ago.

In that sense, “Oliver!” has been a fitting show on many levels — for the volunteers looking to participate in a community event, for Forbes getting back to her roots, and for the Kenai Performers organization itself, which is working toward establishing a permanent home.

“Oliver’s song, ‘Where is Love?’ Everybody in the play is looking for some sort of home and family and love, and I think that’s particularly pertinent to what we’re trying to do with Kenai Performers and finding a permanent home, and for me personally, as well, coming home,” she said.

“Oliver!” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors, available at Charlotte’s and Already Read Books in Kenai, Sweeney’s and River City Books in Soldotna, and at the door.

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Art Seen: Flowery felt

Clayton and Juanita Hillhouse have a joint exhibit going at the Kenai Fine Arts Center this month, showing concurrently as they have for many years now.

My first impression upon entering the gallery is that it is so crowded I am daunted by the task of taking it all in. I manage to look at each of the 46 pieces, as well as the 26 small “Pictures in Felt for Refrigerators” by Juanita. Clayton’s work is all digital photography; Juanita has chosen to mix in a few watercolors with her large offering of images in felt.

In her watercolors she seems to be going for a similar effect as she manages to get with most of her felt works — filling the space edge to edge. The approach is much more successful in the felt pieces, which on the whole seem to be better composed and have more natural rhythm. The wonderful texture of the felt material adds a sensual element that is quite unique.

“Basil,” labeled as sold, shows an uprooted plant floating in an organic box. The design is graphic and archetypal in its simplicity, and is rendered in muted, subtly varying hues.

Overall, her landscapes are more successful than her flowers, which tend to crowd into the frame. In “Autumn Color,” colorful, braided-looking trees reach to the sky through stratified layers of poofy felt, feeling somewhat akin to watching a sunny Tim Burton daydream evolve.

“Denise Lake in Winter,” a horizontal image similar to “Autumn Color” in its stratification and up-reaching trees, is much more somber and serene. It really evokes the feel of a quiet winter landscape, without being obvious or trite. I would love to see more of the landscape variety, but much larger, so I could really get lost in the cozy wonder of the luscious felt.

Clayton’s works are all photographs, and are united in an effort to describe Alaska flora with a whimsical, digital approach. Whether he simply allows the digital quality to be an element in the piece, or purposefully alters the image in Photoshop, his playfulness comes through.

Particularly pleasing are “Dandelion in Winter” and “Autumn,” which both feel like intimate portraits of the plants, and have similar extreme blurring in the dark background.

Once again, I feel the pieces crowd each other, and it takes effort to view every one. If I could jury this show, I would remove a third of it, and would find a complete exhibit remained, promoting the adage “quality over quantity.” I happen to know they were given less time than is customary for putting together an exhibit, and the KFAC space is a large one to fill. I applaud Clayton and Juanita for rising to the task.

Next month’s offering at the guild will be the Biennial Judged Exhibit. Any adult Kenai Peninsula residents are welcome to enter up to three original pieces between Feb. 26 and 28. All pieces ready to display will be exhibited, and there will be cash prizes for winning entries. The artist reception is planned for 6:30 p.m. March 6.

Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.

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Arts and Entertainment week of Feb. 25


  • Kenai Peninsula artists may enter up to three works in any medium for the Peninsula Art Guild Biennial Judged Exhibition. All works must be original and suitably framed for hanging and/or prepared for display in 3-D. Cash awards are available for winning entries. Works may be delivered to the Kenai Fine Arts Center, 816 Cook Ave. in Kenai, from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. An artist reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 6.
  • Art Works in Soldotna has photography by Joe Kashi and Rachel Lee on display through February.
  • The Funky Monkey in Kenai has artwork by Laura Faeo on display through February.
  • The Gary L. Freeburg Gallery at Kenai Peninsula College will have “Leader of the Pack,” an exhibition of paintings by New York artist al baio, on display through March 4, with an opening reception from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday. Baio won the Boit Award for painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
  • Kaladi Brothers on Kobuk Street in Soldotna has artwork by Timothy S. Dahl on display.
  • Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna has artwork by Scott and Renee Davis.
  • The Kenai Fine Arts Center in Old Town Kenai has “Portraits of Flowers in Felt, Watercolor and Digital Photography,” artwork by Clayton and Juanita Hillhouse, on display through February.
  • 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 February is Melinda Hershberger.

  • Kenai Performers will present the musical classic “Oliver!” at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium at Kenai Central High School at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors, available at Charlotte’s and Already Read Books in Kenai, Sweeney’s and River City Books in Soldotna, and at the door.

  • Kenai Community Library will hold a tea tasting workshop from 1 to 3 p.m. for ages 18 and older. Participants will sample different blends from the four categories of tea. The workshop will culminate with a tea party.
  • The Soldotna Boys and Girls Club will hold a “Are You Smarter Than Our Kids?” game show fundraiser at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Soldotna Senior Center. Local VIP contestants will attempt to answer questions gathered from the Soldotna club’s students’ homework. Supporters can be a Lifeline sponsor for $300, which includes four tickets to the event and refreshments. A limited number of single tickets are also available to purchase for $20, which includes refreshments. Call Shelley Stockdale at 283-2682 for tickets and more information.
  • The Sterling Senior Center will perform “South Pacific” at 6 p.m. Dessert will be served. Tickets are on sale now.
  • Kenai Performers present “Oliver!” at 7 p.m. at KCHS. See Friday listing.

  • Kenai Performers present “Oliver!” at 3p.m. at KCHS. See Friday listing.
  • The Sterling Senior Center will perform “South Pacific” at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Coming up
  • Mari Hahn and Roland Stearns will perform a concert of music for voice, guitar and lute at 7:30 p.m. March 7 at Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna. Tickets are $15 general admission, $5 for students, available at Northcountry Fair, River City Books and Sweeney’s in Soldotna, and Already Read Books and the Funky Monkey in Kenai, and at the door.
  • Kenai Performers is looking for directors for Sudden Theatre, a series of 10-minute plays. Actor auditions will be March 7 and 8, and shows will be April 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 and 26 at the Old Town Playhouse in Kenai. For more information, contact Marc Berezin at or 262-8874.
  • Central Peninsula Hospital is seeking artwork in a variety of mediums to display in its new addition. Artists in Southcentral Alaska are invited to apply. The deadline for submissions is March 9. For information about the program, contact Leah Goodwin with Aesthetics, Inc. at 619-683-7500, or, or visit
  • Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus is requesting proposals from artists for work to be placed in its new Riverview Commons by 5 p.m. March 13. The installation will be complete by Aug. 17. Proposals must include a conceptual sketch including notes, up to 10 slides of past work, a resume and a self-addressed stamped envelope. Submit proposals to Phillip Miller, Kenai Peninsula College, Facilities and Maintenance, 156 College Road, Soldotna, Alaska 99669. Miller can be reached at 262-0325 for more information.


  • Friday and Saturday nights at The Riverside.

Live music
  • Hooligan’s Saloon in Soldotna has 9-Spine on Friday and Saturday nights, with a Mardi Gras party Friday.
  • The Maverick in Soldotna has the Free Beer Band on Sundays.
  • Moosequito’s in Sterling has LuLu Small on Saturday night.
  • The Place in Nikiski has bluegrass by Them Other Shuckers on Friday nights through February.
  • The Rainbow Bar in Kenai has live music by Tuff-e-Nuff at 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • Veronica’s in Kenai has open mic night from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday and music by Melissa Glaves and Stephanie Bouchard from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

  • 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the Duck Inn on Kalifornsky Beach Road.
  • 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at the .406 in Kenai.
  • 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays at Hooligan’s in Soldotna.
  • 9 p.m. Fridays at J-Bar-B outside Soldotna.
  • 9:30 p.m. Mondays at the Maverick in Soldotna.

  • The J-Bar-B has a cash drawing at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays. Patrons get one ticket each day they’re at the bar. Must be present to win.
  • Hooligan’s in Soldotna has Texas Hold ’Em poker at 5 and 8 p.m. Tuesdays and free pool Thursdays.
  • The Maverick in Soldotna has a pool tournament at 8 p.m. Fridays.
  • Moosequito’s in Sterling has darts Tuesdays.

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Famously cool — Figure skaters put ‘Hollywood on Ice’ in annual show

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

The music, from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” set the tone for swashbuckling. So did the sword thrusts, lunges and other fencing motions.

The group of buccaneers was a little disparate, however — with Rocky Balboa, the Men in Black, a devil and a ninja. And instead of slicing through the high seas under the flag of the Jolly Roger, the pirates were gliding over frozen water, surrounded by the banners of local businesses lining the rink at the Soldotna Sports Center.

It was a group number for the older participants of the Soldotna Learn-to-Skate program, in preparation for their “Hollywood on Ice” performance this weekend at the Sports Center.

Forty skaters, from ages 2 to 18, beginner to advanced, will perform in solos, duets and group numbers in the program’s big showcase of the year. Skaters got to pick a favorite movie character to emulate, with some guidance from coaches.
“Some of them suggested and we kind of steered them in the right direction,” said Madalyn McEwen, skating director at the sports center.

This is the program’s third big show, complete with elaborate costumes, music and backdrops, after doing a Disney theme two years ago and Broadway musicals last year. The program has a performance over Christmas and used to do another lower-level show, but recently has ramped that up into this larger-scale performance.

“We got a good response from people,” McEwen said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s fun.”

It’s a busy time of year for the skaters. Not only do they practice two to three times a week for the show coming up, they’ve also got a competition in Wasilla next weekend and another in Soldotna in April.

“They have a blast. They’re very tired this time of the year with extra practices and stuff,” McEwen said.

Much of the work falls to McEwen, as far as working on choreography, coaching and coordinating the show. But after 31 years coaching, she’s used to it.

McEwen has been skating herself since she was 9, with all her brothers and sisters also on the ice, doing hockey or figure skating.

“I took private lessons for years and I just love working with kids,” she said.

She started her kids skating when they were just mastering walking, and now her daughter, Sylvia Shaeffer, is continuing the tradition. Shaeffer’s daughters, Kaidence, 4, and Abygale, 2, are in the Learn-to-Skate program, and Shaeffer helps her mom teach it.

McEwen took over teaching the Soldotna Learn-to-Skate program when she moved down from Anchorage 15 years ago, and she brought the tradition of community performances with her.

Now the kids get a chance to strut their stuff — and stuffing, depending on their costume — for the community. That’s all part of the fun of skating, McEwen said.
“What’s not to love? Every aspect of it — hockey, figure skating, dance, all of it. It keeps those kids busy,” she said.

“Hollywood on Ice” will be performed at 6 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at the Soldotna Sports Center. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children and seniors.

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Creek name decision may be complicated

By Clark Fair
Redoubt Reporter

Earlier this month, a small stream near Kenai made front-page news when Kenai resident Debbie Sonberg applied to the Alaska Historical Commission to have the 1.5-mile “unnamed” creek designated as Reds Creek, partly in honor of longtime area resident Glen Rex “Red” McCollum Sr., who died in 2002.

Now it appears that the creek, which runs alongside the Wal-Mart store construction site before trickling into the Kenai River about a mile above its mouth, may have been named previously — twice.

Al Hershberger, who worked for the Alaska Road Commission from 1948 to 1951, remembers seeing what he believes was a surveying map that named all of the streams flowing through culverts beneath the then-new Kenai Spur Highway.

According to Hershberger, the stream names alternated between animals — Weasel, Beaver, Mink and Otter — and tabletop items — Salt, Coffee, Pickle and, perhaps, Sugar. One hand-drawn ARC map at the National Archives and Records Administration office in Anchorage displayed these streams, but the only one named was Beaver Creek.

Diana Kodiak, an archivist with NARA, said that the bulk of old ARC maps, containing more details and names, would likely be available at the Alaska State Archives and Records Service in Juneau.

Hershberger said he is uncertain of the exact order of the names on the map he saw, although he believes that Otter Creek was the one closest to the tower called Site 17. Longtime Soldotna resident Marge Mullen remembers a Pickle Creek on the approach to Pickle Hill just outside of Soldotna, and she also remembers Weasel Creek to the east of Kenai Central High School. She said that Weasel Creek used to occasionally flood the road and become a hazard for drivers.

Beaver Creek was in the same location it is now, and Mullen said it was known by that name when she arrived on the peninsula in 1947.

Beaver Creek itself, however, has an older name — a Dena’ina name, Hkayitnu, meaning “Tail River.” Whether that “tail” refers to a beaver’s tail is unknown.

Like Beaver Creek, the creek currently under consideration for official naming has a Dena’ina name, according to information in the 1930s research data of anthropologist Frederica de Laguna, the written remembrances of Dena’ina who lived in this area, and “A Dena’ina Legacy: K’tl’egh’I Sukdu,” the collected writings of Peter Kalifornsky.

Alan Boraas, a Kenai Peninsula College anthropology professor who helped edit Kalifornsky’s book, says “with virtual certainty” that the creek was named Shk’ituk’tnu after the village of Shk’ituk’t, which was located on the flat top of the steep bluff near the current Kenai Senior Citizens Center.

The name Shk-ituk’t means “we slide down place” in Dena’ina. The “-nu” suffix on the creek name denotes flowing waters and is usually translated as “river.” According to Boraas, Dena’ina names usually indicate either the physical features of landmarks or the uses of those features. Thus, “Shk’ituk’t” referred literally to a place where the Dena’ina slid down the bluff, and the creek below the village took on the village name as an extension of that place.

When the Dena’ina living there moved away from the north side canneries and into Kenai, the village was abandoned and the name Shk’ituk’tnu passed from common use. When the Civil Aeronautics Administration took over the village site in the 1940s, the bluff top was bulldozed and leveled to make room for the new CAA facilities. Now a small bluff-side parking lot sits at the end of a soccer field on the site.

Ultimately, the future name of the creek lies in the hands of the Alaska Historical Commission, which is taking public comments until March 15, according to Joan Antonson, deputy state historic preservation officer with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources.

Part of the commission’s decision will rest on prior identities for the creek, as well as the merits of the proposed name, Reds Creek. The commission does recognize commemorative name choices, and McCollum — who moved to Kenai in 1959, was a well driller and commercial fisherman, and served on the Kenai Harbor Commission — may fit the bill.

The commemorative choice, however, does not supersede the use of an Alaska Native place name when determining the designation of “unnamed” landmarks, according to state law.

Looking back on a busy time: 1966-67

Here are some central peninsula highlights from two big years, about a decade after the discovery of oil on the Swanson River field:

  • When the clock struck midnight to signal the beginning of New Year’s Day, 1966, Wildwood Air Force Base celebrated the end of its first day of existence. On Dec. 30, 1965, command of the former U.S. Army post had been transferred to the Air Force. The Army had controlled the Wildwood Station for more than a decade.
  • On that same day, the Kenai Peninsula Borough officially became a toddler, celebrating its second birthday. The borough had been created by popular vote in 1963 and began its official operation at the beginning of 1964.
  • Later that month came something that is familiar now to peninsula residents — Mount Redoubt erupted. Threats from the volcano may seem commonplace these days, but the January 1966 eruption, which hurled ash 45,000 feet skyward, was the first from Redoubt since 1902.
  • In March 1966, Roland “Doc” Lombard won his third Alaska State Sled Dog Championship in the Kenai-Soldotna race. A local favorite, the New England musher competed against other top sprint mushers of the time, perhaps most notably George Attla of Huslia.
  • In April 1966, work began on the new terminal at the Kenai Airport. In May, 77 seniors received their diplomas from Kenai Central High School, which was the only central peninsula high school until Soldotna High opened its doors for the 1980-81 school year.
  • The official population of Alaska, according to statistics released in July 1966 by the U.S. Census Bureau, was approximately 272,000 residents.
  • In September 1966, a hovercraft company put on demonstrations to display its cargo- and passenger-carrying capabilities over Cook Inlet. Later that month, Soldotna voters said no for the third time to a proposal to change from a fourth-class to a first-class city.
  • In November 1966, numerous peninsula residents flocked north for a chance to see President Lyndon Johnson, who was making a stopover at the Anchorage airport. In that same month, Alaskans elected Walter J. Hickel over incumbent William Egan as their new governor. Hickel resigned in January 1969 to become U.S. Secretary of the Interior for newly elected President Richard Nixon.
  • In December 1966, work was completed on the Rig Tenders Dock on Salamatof Beach in North Kenai. Inside a reinforced-steel retaining wall, the builders dumped eight acres of sand and gravel. About this same time, peninsula residents willing to drive to Anchorage had a big new place to spend their money, as the Sears shopping center opened for business.
  • In February 1967, the U.S. Post Office Department officially changed the city’s postal name from Soldatna to Soldotna. Accordingly, Postmaster Bobbye Tachick ordered new cancellation stamps.
  • In July 1967, the Collier Carbon and Chemical Corporation, a subsidiary of Union Oil, awarded a contract to the Chemical Construction Company of New York to build a $50 million complex to process ammonia. In 2008 money, that construction would cost just over $322 million.
  • In that same month, the Kenai National Moose Range completed the second stage of its canoe-trails system. This system, with its interconnecting portages, would eventually number nearly 70 lakes.

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Editorial: Homeless doesn’t have to be hopeless

Growth for some organizations is bittersweet. For Love INC, organizers are happy to finally be able to expand services to include transitional housing for people without homes, even if it’s only on a limited basis so far. It’s a goal the group has been working toward for years, and Love INC is poised establish to a consistent, sustainable program.

It’s coming just in time, as economic woes are putting more people in need of Love INC’s services.

“In December it was so cold, and we said, ‘We’ve got to do something,’” said Ingrid Edgerly, executive director.

The organization worked out an arrangement with a local hotel to rent out rooms to those needing housing for a steeply discounted rate. The money comes from donations from businesses and organizations in the area. It’s a shining example of how a community support net should work — people see a need, they decide to step up and figure out a way to meet it and others jump on board to support those efforts.

But it’s not nearly enough. In 2007 there were already 400 to 500 people who considered themselves homeless on the Kenai Peninsula, according to the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. More recent figures aren’t available yet, but Edgerly can attest to the fact that those numbers are growing, just as their requests for services are.

People don’t have to be standing on street corners or sleeping in boxes to be homeless, and it’s not a situation most people find themselves in by choice. Especially these days, any unexpected cost or unforeseen circumstance can lead someone to eviction.

And neighbors don’t have to make six figures to help. Donating what they can, when they can goes a long way toward helping Love INC extend its reach to housing.

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Guest column: Following a murky trail

Storm water may lead to pollutants muddying up Kenai creeks

The Kenai Watershed Forum has discovered that in the past several years, No Name Creek and another unnamed creek in Kenai have shown a trend of elevated turbidity levels. Turbidity is a way of measuring the cloudiness of water and can be caused by natural sources, like glaciers, or human sources, such as storm drains. Extremely high turbidity levels can kill salmon, and elevated levels can make it difficult for salmon to find food or migrate.

So where exactly is all the turbidity coming from? To answer that question, KWF employees spent last summer walking the streets of Kenai to establish where water travels during a rainy day before it enters creeks. As one astute observer pointed out, water flows downhill. Indeed, Kenai does not have any pumping stations, so all storm water travels by gravity to the outlets. However, Kenai’s storm-water system was implemented in pieces as the city grew, so storm water sometimes follows more of an illogical pattern, depending on the construction of roads rather than natural topography.

To find out the path of storm water and the pollutants it can carry, KWF used a Global Positioning System unit to determine the coordinates of culverts, manhole covers and storm-drain inlets and outlets.

A construction level and observations on rainy days were utilized to clarify which direction storm water travels through ditches and gutters that eventually drain into No Name Creek and the unnamed creek.

Once the series of storm drains and gutters were mapped out, this data was used to build a drainage network in a Geographic Information System. This digital drainage network provides a better understanding of how the different areas of Kenai are linked to No Name Creek and the unnamed creek. In a few weeks, monitoring equipment will be placed where the storm water connects to the stream and water samples will also be collected. Using the GIS, monitoring equipment and water-quality collection in unison will help narrow down potential sources of water pollution that are being flushed into two of Kenai’s creeks and harming salmon habitat.

Jennifer McCard is a watershed scientist at the Kenai Watershed Forum.

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Science of the seasons: Textbook case of collaboration

Did you ever wonder what it takes to write a book on topics like the “Birds of Alaska” or the “Insects of South-Central Alaska?” Is it possible for one person to have visited every part of Alaska? And have they been able to find every bug or bird that is found there?

Sometimes one person actually can put together a book about something they have studied extensively for a long period of time. In virtually every case, the author has done extensive field observations and some of these are from a lifetime of collections and investigations. As an example, Dominique Collet, who has recently written the above-mentioned insect book, has an extensive personal collection of insects from many parts of Alaska.

However, most authors look beyond their own experiences and collections. There are a variety of species lists that can be examined, as well as historical records to be perused. As an example, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is currently compiling a list of all the species of organisms that have been identified from the refuge.

In some cases these records can be very old. For instance, there are extensive ship’s logs and records of the animals that were seen or collected by G.W. Steller during Vitus Bering’s voyages from Russia to Alaska in the 1700s. It was fairly common for early exploring ships to take a naturalist on voyages to record the biota that were encountered. Charles Darwin was such a naturalist on the famous voyage of the Beagle.

Museums throughout the world are repositories for ship’s logs and many extensive biological collections. If well-preserved, well-cared-for and properly documented, these collections can be used by researchers and specialists for a great many years. Darwin’s many biological collections from the early 1800s can still be examined in the British Museum. Most authors will spend considerable time examining the collections held in various museums.

Many authors will be well-versed in the specific biota of an area but will join with others who have collected specimens from additional areas. Professors Ken Stewart, of Texas, and Mark Oswood, formerly with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, have written a book on “The Stoneflies (Plecoptera) of Alaska and Western Canada.” Together they compiled a vast collection of stoneflies. They have both visited many parts of Alaska, collecting stoneflies wherever they went.

In addition, there are many other colleagues in Canada and the U.S. who have shared their Alaska collections with them. In the book, they describe all the specimens they have examined, list the hundreds of biologists who have collected them and list where the insects were found. I have personally been sending them stonefly specimens from Alaska for almost 30 years.

Because many book topics are so large, it is common for several authors to join together to create a book on a particular group of organisms. This is common when there are vast numbers of different subcategories within the overall group. The most authoritative book on identifying aquatic insects is “An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America.”

It was put together by three specialists — Rich Merritt, Ken Cummins and Marty Berg. Instead of being listed as authors, they are described as “editors.” While each wrote a section of this 1,214-page book, they have invited a variety of other international experts to write a section (with identification keys) about a specific order or family of aquatic insects. The number of insect groups covered in this book is so large that it is almost impossible for any one author to know them all. In this case, it has taken a large team to put together one book.

One of the hallmarks of taxonomists — specialists who identify and name newly discovered species — is a willingness to work with others on identifying unusual, unknown or new specimens. There is a constant sharing of specimens between specialists as they collaborate to understand the scope of any particular group of organisms.

As a new graduate student many years ago, I found the aquatic insect taxonomists and the authors of many of the well-known identification books were some of the most gregarious, engaging and helpful scientists I met.

A highlight of attending international meetings on aquatic ecology is seeing the cooperative and collegial work among so many taxonomists, as they try to understand the great variety of life that surrounds us.

David Wartinbee, Ph.D, J.D., is a biology professor at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus. He is writing a series of columns on the biology of the Kenai River watershed.

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Plugged In: To print, or not to print

Editor’s Note: The following column contains puns. Be forewarned.

Whether ’tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune-gouging, or to take arms against a sea of paper, and end it?

All mock seriousness aside, whether to print a document, and the best way to do so, is a question to which there are a variety of right, or nearly right, answers. Actually, I was tempted to say “write answers,” but I’ll forego that homonymic bad pun. Really. One needs to be restrained in these printed pages and, as a modest word-wright, show the Write Stuff.

Paper documents remain highly useful, even though more than 95 percent of all business documents are electronic, and e-mails with grandparents are now more common than scrawled thank-you notes. Paper handouts are usually a more effective way to conduct meetings. A few sheets of paper can be folded and carried easily in a pant or jacket pocket. Printed documents can be read by any literate person when there’s no computer around and are often a more effective way to present data and reasoning, particularly in complex matters — for example, note that the homonymic puns in the first two paragraphs work only in written form. Courts require paper exhibits, even if they are photocopies. A high-quality, fine-art photo enlargement is almost always preferable to photos displayed on a computer screen.

In my opinion, though, paper is no longer the data recording, archival and filing medium of choice. Paper is easily misfiled, cannot be easily searched and is expensive to reproduce and store off-premises in case of a disaster. Losing your business records, especially accounting records, to any sort of casualty like fire, flood or storm, is tantamount to ultimately losing your business. That’s happened to several of my business clients over the years.

I believe that the best overall approach is to preserve documents electronically in a standard, easily searchable format, and to print paper copies only when needed. This approach has several benefits. It maximizes your business efficiency and effectiveness. It minimizes storage and filing costs, is much more economical, and is more ecologically sound. It’s also more convenient, especially when you can e-mail signed copies in seconds and enable electronic marginal notes and comments by readers, who can then electronically return their comments to you with a few mouse clicks.

Let’s first look at the more modern approach to “printing” electronically. Adobe Acrobat PDF files are already the de facto standard for the federal government, most state and local governments and businesses generally. Thus, printing a document to Adobe’s PDF makes the most sense as a long-term medium for storing data electronically in a way that’s easy to search, back up and protect.

It’s always been important to store data in an open data file format like Acrobat’s PDF, and to avoid long-term storage of data in proprietary data file formats. It’s unwise to trust that most niche vendors, or their file formats, will be around next year, or that the data will be usable with another program. That’s especially true in tough economic times.

Acrobat documents can be “printed” to a standard format electronic file directly from digital data stored on your computer, such as e-mail, Web browsers, spreadsheets, word processing programs or photographic programs. Basically, printing data to a PDF file costs you nothing in supplies. Unlike printing paper documents, “printing” to an electronic PDF file is essentially without any cost — it’s only some electrons being moved around the computer and hard disk.

If you already have paper documents that you wish to preserve electronically, then you can scan them directly into Acrobat using a wide variety of flat image scanners and document scanners that can feed and scan many pages a minute. I’ll discuss scanning in the near future.

Adobe has recently provided a new, archival version of Acrobat, PDF/X, that should be suitable for long-term data storage so long as you take care to ensure that the physical storage (hard disks, portable USB flash drives, CD disks, etc.) are in good working order and that you regularly transfer the electronic files to newer types of data storage hardware.

In order to make Acrobat PDF documents easy to search across a large hard disk, you’ll need to run the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) process so that the internal contents become readable to search programs and to Acrobat itself. I like Copernic’s Desktop Search because commercial versions can search an entire network, rather than your computer alone. Google’s desktop search program also has its enthusiasts. Downloads of each are free and worth trying.

Even if you are committed to storing all of your data electronically, there will be many times when you will want, or need, paper copies. That obviously requires a printer. There are several types of printers in common use: color laser printers, monochrome laser printers, ordinary inkjet printers and photo-grade inkjet printers. Each has unique uses, advantages and disadvantages.

Inexpensive, compact home printers are usually inkjets, often part of “multifunction” devices that include a slow scanner, light copying functions and perhaps some fax capability. These are typically inexpensive to purchase, are suitable for light home and home office use but are too slow, and insufficiently robust, for heavier business use.

Because smaller inkjet printers use very low-capacity but expensive ink cartridges, your ink cost is the killer. Light-duty inkjet printers are like the reputed Gillette razors of years past — the razor itself is basically given away to induce you to buy only Gillette razor blades and at a pretty high unit cost. As with razor blades, the real profit for inkjet vendors is in the supplies.

Some midrange consumer inkjets, such as HP’s Photosmart series, the Kodak ESP-7 and ESP-9, or some Canon or Epson multifunction devices, can do a very creditable job printing lab-quality photographs up to 8.5-by-11. If you don’t care about photo-quality printing, then almost any inexpensive multifunction device will be suitable for home use.

Businesses should generally consider getting a laser printer. Laser output is typically faster, looks better and is more water-resistant than inkjets. If you do not believe that you will ever need color output, then a monochrome (black and white) laser printer will be sufficient. Low-end monochrome laser printers tend to be fairly inexpensive, while upper-end ones tend to be quite fast. I have tried several brands, but HP LaserJets have always proven to be the most reliable, and the HP dealer in Anchorage, Lewis and Lewis, has been very good to work with.

Realistically, though, color laser output is becoming the norm and it is quite useful. Color laser printers are often more convenient. Most color laser printers run slower than advertised, so don’t buy an inexpensive one that claims high output speed and then expect quick results. I have had several Lexmark color laser printers costing less than $1,000 and I have been disappointed.

I have, as a result, reverted to HP’s slow Color LaserJet 2,600 series. These printers do a quality job but are suitable only for fairly low volume, despite being advertised as a printer sufficiently fast to service an entire small business. I found that was not the case and purchased an excellent Konica-Minolta 5,670 printer. This series is very fast and the quality is adequate, although not quite as good, in my opinion, as the photo output from my HP LaserJet 2,605. Konica-Minolta printers are sold locally at Frontier Business Systems and Hi-Speed Gear. Konica-Minolta also makes some less-expensive, slightly slower color laser printers that I found to be good values.

Color laser printers are generally limited to 8.5-by-11 output, and their photographic print quality is not very good compared to good inkjet printers. If you want any sort of printout larger than 8.5-by-11, particularly photographic work, then you’ll need to buy a large-format inkjet printer. Large-format photo printers deserve an entire article, and we’ll do just that next week.

Local attorney Joe Kashi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MIT and his law degree from Georgetown University. He has published many articles about computer technology, law practice and digital photography in national media since 1990. Many of his technology and photography articles can be accessed through his Web site,

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