Monthly Archives: February 2009

Legal ease: Don’t let precious paper pile up

The dark days of winter are leaving, but the long days of winter are yet to come as we crowd into the end of February. If you want something important to do that will be helpful for you and for your family, then it is time to dust off several important papers in your house and get them in a single, safe place.

For many years, my wife and I kept a briefcase by the front door. In the briefcase were our passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, estate plans and other valuables that could be taken out of the house in a moment’s notice in the event of fire. As time went on, we purchased a fireproof safe. Too heavy to carry, but fire safe.

A really great project for this time of year is to gather up all of those papers and get them into a fireproof box or safe. These documents, while not impossible to replace most of the time, are very difficult to replace. Birth certificates and baptismal certificates are still necessary items when you hire for a new job or need a passport.

With passport requirements changing at borders, these documents are more necessary than ever. Having them safe is also important. I can spend $20 and get my birth certificate, and it may just take three weeks to get. But more than likely when I need it, I need it today, not in three weeks.

Your insurance policies also are important. This tells you what your house and its contents are worth. Since you bought that couch back in 1965, it has gone up in value and its replacement will require a lot more money. Simultaneously, you and your spouse may have accumulated jewelry, guns, coin collections, rare stamps, stocks and bonds, children’s birth certificates and the pedigree of your dog.

All of these documents are important enough that they should be kept safe and they also should be checked again for value.

The single biggest difficulty I hear about after a house fire is not that there was no insurance (which happens far too often) but rather that the dwelling and its contents were greatly undervalued.

People who are the victims of a house fire or severe damage suddenly discover that the house they paid for will now require a new mortgage to be rebuilt because its value to the insurance company wasn’t updated.

People like to rent a safety deposit box at the bank, but there are a couple of things to know first. If you put the box in your name only and something happens to you, there is a list of problems if someone has to get in it.

First, somebody has to know that you have a safety deposit box. They have to know where the key to the box is or the box has to be drilled out and the lock replaced, which costs money. Third, because the box is an important item, you have to have a court order to get in if someone is incapacitated or dies.

When the court order gets issued to open the safety deposit box, some tax authority has to be standing by when you open it to be sure there isn’t an excessive amount of cash or property on which you may be obligated to pay taxes.

If you’re renting a safety deposit box to keep your insurance policies in, you’re paying for awfully expensive storage. A good floor safe will keep an honest person honest.

You may not be interested in keeping grandpa’s gold watch there, but keeping a document safe in the closet of your bedroom means you can access these important documents and they are safe from fire and hazard. And this may cost you less than a couple of months of safety deposit box rent. A couple of screws in the floor or a cable around the back stud of the closet will keep anybody from running off with the safe.

A safety deposit box will certainly keep thieves away from the expensive valuables. But a good safe or fireproof box in the floor of your closet will certainly give you substantial peace of mind concerning your policies, important documents, and the valuables you will find time-consuming and difficult to replace in the future.

So get those policies updated and your important documents safe.

Mark Osterman is a lawyer in Kenai and has practiced in Alaska, Michigan and federal courts for 19 years doing family, commercial, divorce and criminal law. The information in this column is not intended to be used as legal advice. Please contact a legal professional for specific questions.

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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. Continue reading

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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.” Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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