Daily Archives: February 16, 2011

Ocean Beauty pulls out of inlet

By Naomi Klouda

Homer Tribune

Ocean Beauty Seafoods, a major salmon buyer on the Kenai Peninsula  both on the Homer Spit and at Nikiski, has ceased all its Cook Inlet operations.

Ocean Beauty sent the news out in letters to commercial fishermen telling them of the transition, said Vice President Tom Sunderland. Pacific Star will now handle all of the buying transactions.

Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC, a pioneer in the Northwest and Alaska seafood industry, ranks among the largest and most successful seafood companies in the Pacific Northwest. It began as a Seattle seafood business in 1910 and has operated in Alaska nearly that long, Sunderland said. Ocean Beauty will continue its operations on Kodiak Island and Cordova, as well as its canneries at Naknek, Kodiak, Alitak, Cordova, Excursion Inlet and Petersburg.

“The economics of processing hasn’t been as positive (on Cook Inlet) as in other areas of the state,” Sunderland said. “We will employ more people statewide this year than last year. But salmon processing economics for us on the Kenai haven’t been very good. The canneries that are left are good business.”

A salmon processing plant at Nikiski owned by Ocean Beauty for now isn’t going to be sold.

“We could sell it or re-open it at some point, but right now it is sitting dark,” he said. Continue reading

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Competition spices up winter — Chili chefs put heart, heat into efforts for annual area cook-offs

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. A hearty bowl of chili from the Albatross Restaurant and Lounge’s 18th annual Chili Cook-Off, which was held over the weekend. It was one of many chili cook-offs that took place around the peninsula.

Redoubt Reporter

Eating chili is more of an experience than just a meal. The heat of the spices is as much felt as tasted, warming not just the mouth, but the whole body on a cold winter day. Since recipes generally result in large batches, a hearty bowl of meat and beans can satisfy appetites for sustenance, as well as a social outlet as winter wears on.

Last weekend there were no less than three separate chili cook-off events around the central Kenai Peninsula. Of them, the Albatross Restaurant and Lounge’s event claims the longest history, with this being the 18th annual cook-off, said Pat Vinson, owner of the Kalifornsky Beach Road eatery and watering hole, known locally as “the Alby.”

Vinson said the event began as the brainchild of some of her employees. Mid-February is a time when many start to feel the effects of seasonal depression. Adding to the yearly blues, Vinson’s first husband was terminally ill midwinter, which also had Alby employees and patrons feeling down. They wanted to host an event that could bring them together and lift their spirits.

“That first year we only had six chili entries,” Vinson remembered, but added that the event was such a success it returned the next and each succeeding winter.

Since then the event has grown, drawing as many as 15 entries a few years ago. This year 10 people put together what they hoped would be the best blend of herbs, spices and other ingredients. Continue reading

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Eschew being inside —  Snowshoes good way to get around in early spring snow

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Kenai Peninsula Outdoor Club members, from left, Trevor Davis, Bruce Emerson and Marly Perschbacher, set off on a snowshoeing trip off the Kenai Keys Trail over the weekend, and get a little help from a couple of canine companions along the way.

Redoubt Reporter

One certainty of life, especially in Alaska, is uncertainty. You don’t always know where the universe, much less your own feet, may take you.

Case in point: Brian Beard, of Sterling, who on Saturday afternoon stared out at two large trumpeter swans gracefully floating through an open lead of the partially frozen Kenai River.

With each step getting there, Beard heard the crunch of crusty snow give way underneath his snowshoes. He felt the chilly air — the temperature hanging in the single digits — bite at his cheeks and sting his lungs with each breath. He was several miles from where he had left his truck before venturing into the dense spruce forest. Yet he felt completely happy with where he was at that moment in time.

“I’ve always wanted to live here,” he said. Continue reading

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Better safe than sorry to lose a friend — Even stable slopes stand to slide

From a Trail Called ‘Life’

Photos courtesy of Dante Petri. Ravens, or Butch Ridge, in Summit Pass just east of Lower Summit Lake, is seen in mid-December 2010 on a frosty evening. A year ago the mountain served as a stable go-to slope for backcountry skiers looking to tackle steeper gullies and aspects. This winter, however, the same mountain came close to being a death trap for four Anchorage backcountry enthusiasts in late January when the slope they were climbing avalanched, proving no mountain is always safe.

By Dante Petri, for the Redoubt Reporter

We’ve all at one time in our lives felt the pain of losing a friend who’s turned their back on a formerly close relationship.

Sometimes we part ways because our lives have diverged and the things that once made us close are no longer. In other, less fortunate instances, the end is sharp and painful.

As of late, I’ve had the feeling that I’m on the wrong end of one of those breakups.

Just a bit more than a year ago the relationship in question was at an all-time high.

I was spending quite a bit of time on a mountain — or a ridge line, really, in Summit Pass — that is often referred to as Butch, or Ravens Ridge.

More recently, however, that place has been identified as “the mountain on which four Anchorage skiers were caught in an avalanche at the end of January.”

The four were rescued, three of them in bad enough shape they needed to be airlifted, but all with their lives.

My experience with slides is not superior or extensive, but this isn’t my first rodeo when it comes to snow’s elasticity and the point at which it fails. Continue reading

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Almanac: Doctor’s order — hold on tight

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part story about a local airplane crash in 1967. Part one introduces the key individuals involved and describes the crash scene. Next week, part two will describe the crash itself, the rescue attempt and the aftermath of the event.

By Clark Fair

Photos courtesy of Lee Bowman. A few days after surviving an Aug. 2, 1967, crash in this single-engine Maule Rocket, Dane Parks poses near the front end of the wreckage.

Redoubt Reporter

Even though it was just Aug. 2, 1967, 16-year-old Jack Foster was already contemplating winter when a sound from above diverted his focus. What he saw next jolted him out of his snowy reverie.

Out in the yard at his parents’ home, as he worked on his snowmachine — a heavy, single-ski, double-track Ski-Doo Alpine — the sound of a single-engine airplane caused him to look up and investigate. Flying slowly only a few hundred feet over the exposed flats behind the Foster house, a blue-and-white aircraft was just crossing over the small airstrip owned by neighbors Dan France and Dave Thomas.

As it is today, the sight then of a small plane overhead was common, and this plane would have garnered little further attention from Foster if — quite suddenly — the plane’s engine had not died.

“I heard it sputtering, and then the engine quit,” Foster said.

The plane banked once and began nosing sharply toward the ground, and then it disappeared behind a line of trees. From hundreds of yards away, Foster heard it strike the ground with great force.

Although he feared the worst, he shifted into action. After grabbing a fire extinguisher from the garage, he raced for the driveway where he’d parked his panel van that he had painted a metallic blue to cover its original Army green. In his haste, he turned the key too far — from the first OFF position, past ON, and into the second OFF position. When he pressed the floorboard starter with his foot, nothing happened.

Once he realized the error, he adjusted the key, cranked up the engine and headed down the road toward the crash site. In less than two minutes he was clambering over the berm left from an old homestead clearing as he lugged the extinguisher and shuffled through some low brush and scattered, snaggly trees. He approached the crumpled aircraft quickly, the nose of which was angled into the soil.

The tail was bent to the left, and the left wing had suffered a deep gash about two-thirds of the way out from the fuselage. From the broken foliage, it appeared that the left wing had struck a tree and spun the aircraft back in the direction from which it had come. Foster noted the plane’s registration number, N4605T, but did not recognize it.

“I hollered in there, ‘Are you guys OK?’ And nobody answered me. That’s when I left the fire extinguisher there and I took off and went and got Dave, ’cause I knew that Dave had been in CAP (Civil Air Patrol) and probably knew a lot of first aid.” Continue reading

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Art Seen: Lighthearted heavy metal

By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter

“Wave” by Clayton Hillhouse is part of the “Heart and Soul — Sculptures in Metal or Wood” exhibition on display at the Kenai Fine Arts Center.

The Kenai River Council on the Arts has done a nice job putting on exhibits at the Kenai Fine Arts Center that add to the sense of it being a higher-end art gallery while maintaining the sensibility of a community-run center.

This month’s “Heart and Soul — Sculptures in Metal or Wood” is right in line with that objective and represents a nice mix of styles and mediums. Nine artists responded to the call, and while many of the works are all wood or all metal, a number of them are mixed media utilizing at least some of one or the other, or both. Continue reading

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Plugged In: Reformat for the slow of speed, not faint of heart

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

Better late than never, even with this column, although our “Redoubtable” editor is certainly entitled to a different opinion.

My excuse, of course, is that the computer ate my homework. Well, not exactly ate it. One of my office computers running the 64-bit version of Windows XP finally had its Windows installation go brain-dead after a year or more of me nursing it along and fixing Windows glitches along the way.

The 64-bit version of Windows XP is pretty stable. Although it looks like the more-fragile regular 32-bit version of XP, the less-common 64-bit Windows XP is actually quite good. After all, its core software is derived from high-end 64-bit Microsoft business-network software that merely looks and acts like regular Windows.

Still, after years of adding and deleting programs, and adding and removing hardware, something finally snapped. When you’ve got a system that been altered so much, it may not be possible to regain stability by continuing to tinker with Windows. Rather than spend more time trying to fix the old Windows system, it was clearly time to totally reformat the hard disk and start from scratch.

Doing a complete hard disk reformat because the operating system has gone bad is not warranty work. It’s not a job for the inexperienced or for someone who doesn’t have the manual and driver disk for the computer’s system board and the application program installation disks. If you’ve never reformatted a hard disk and reinstalled everything, then take your computer to a local technician. Continue reading

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