Monthly Archives: February 2011

Halibut ports lobby for fish tax change

By Naomi Klouda

Photo courtesy of the Homer Tribune. Fishing boats ply Kachemak Bay outside of Homer, the halibut capital of Alaska. Even though more halibut passes the Homer docks than anywhere else in the state, it gets less revenue from the Fisheries Business Tax than communities with fish-processing plants.

Homer Tribune

A redistribution of the Fisheries Business Tax could net the city of Homer $800,000 to $900,000 a year, if amendments to a current law get passed by the Alaska Legislature.

The process has just begun as one of the top tasks assigned to the city’s new lobbyists, Linda Anderson and Yuri Morgan. The first step is to build a coalition of support from towns in coastal areas that would also benefit from the tax restructure, City Manager Walt Wrede said.

As it is now, 50 percent of the raw fish tax goes to the state and 50 percent to towns that have fish-processing plants. But ports where the activity amounts to icing down fish and hauling it out receive no tax.

“This amounts to changing an antiquated law that was written when we had a lot of canneries,” Wrede said. “Now the market is for fresh fish. The law was written at a time when every town had a cannery, with the idea the state keeps 50 percent and 50 percent goes to the municipality. Our problem is that in Homer, we are a huge halibut port but we don’t process halibut here.”

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Art Seen: Sip up some sunny views

By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter

Laurie Marta’s work is bathed in sunlight at Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna.

Fiber works, photography, ink and watercolor abound around town this month.

Brenda Clyde and Sharon Hughes have some quilted pieces lining the walls at the Cottonwood Center on Marydale Avenue. Clyde has designed all of the works (although Chelline Larsen had a hand in one, apparently by allowing the use of her animal motifs), and quilted some smaller pieces, as well as a wearable vest. Continue reading

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Plugged In: ‘Shutter to think’: Protect photos against loss

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

Properly stored and protected digital photographs should still be in decent condition after we’re all dust.

In fact, modern digital photography materials may potentially outlive anything produced with film and chemicals, no matter how well processed and stored. Longevity depends on several factors. The inherent shelf life of the material used for a photographic print or negative is an obvious point. How an image is stored, mounted and displayed is also quite important. We’ll consider these technical factors next week.

First, let’s consider the physical safety of digital images in both electronic and printed forms. In many regards, protecting digitally based images is no different than securing any other form of electronic data.

There are many classic and true examples of well-preserved and important images that are no longer with us because they were physically destroyed, either by accident or intentionally. One well-known example has a particular resonance for Alaskans.

I have often enjoyed Ansel Adams’ famous black-and-white image of Mount McKinley from Wonder Lake, but wondered why I did not see more photographs taken by Adams in Alaska. After all, he described Alaska as one of the places that most inspired him, and he did have a yearlong Guggenheim grant that paid his expenses while traveling throughout the state.

The “rest of the story” could have happened to anyone. When returning to Juneau from Glacier Bay by floatplane, the large case containing almost all of his undeveloped Alaska negatives fell into the salt water. Only a very few images, the ones we see today, survived the dunking. This wasn’t his first encounter with disaster. Many of his important earlier negatives were destroyed in a fire at his Yosemite house. Continue reading

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Carey cuts deep — Borough mayor seeks to absorb $12 million in next budget

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

There is one thing Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey and those most directly affected by his proposed budget cuts agree on — the public needs to speak up.

Beyond that, though, there hasn’t been much common ground as Carey shares the direction he plans to go for the borough budget this year. That lack of common ground includes agreement on who the public should speak up to.

Constituent groups supporting property tax exemptions, a seasonal break on sales taxes as well as Kenai Peninsula College, Central Area Rural Transit System and other “nondepartmental” agencies the borough funds, are encouraging outcries to the mayor and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members.

The mayor, however, while saying he’d listen to public input and pass on any written comments he receives to assembly members, suggested that anyone at odds with his suggestions for balancing the budget direct their vehemence where it has more potential to garner results —legislators in Juneau.

“I need all these groups that are concerned about funding to be communicating with Juneau and say, ‘Please help us.’ I believe it greatly that it helps when you have a community, and we’re 60,000 people, if you have people from all different parts of the borough as well as all different user groups saying, ‘This is a one-time need we have,’” Carey said. Continue reading

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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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