Daily Archives: August 10, 2011

Serving up help for meal program — Effort to feed Kenai’s hungry requires boost

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Jackie Jones, left, and Yvonne Meek dish up dinner at a meal program for kids and low-income people in Kenai recently.

Redoubt Reporter

Going hungry isn’t something Pastor Robin Davis and the other volunteers at First Baptist Church of Kenai have experienced in their lives. They’ve perhaps known periods of spiritual hunger, gone through times where church seats were more empty than the congregation would like, or weathered stretches of church coffers dwindling to bare, but never their own cupboards.

This summer, they are getting a taste of hunger, as they struggle to prevent starvation of a meals program providing food for those in Kenai who struggle to do so for themselves.

“A few hundred dollars a night, a thousand a week. That’s not a lot of money and we can feed kids,” Davis said. “It doesn’t seem like much, but First Baptist, we’re just faith based. We just go one day at a time.”

There have been many long, challenging, yet infinitely rewarding days leading up to this program, where about 30 kids a night plus some adults are getting a healthy, filling meal in an old bar converted into a dining room in Kenai.

It started about six months ago, with the church wanting to start up service projects in Kenai.

“We really wanted to find ways to connect with the community, because we’re a little bit on the outskirts of town, so what can we do to have a positive connection to this community?” Davis said. The church is out past Forest Drive in Kenai. If headed toward Nikiski, it’s on the left where the Kenai Spur Highway bends to the right. Davis has been with the church for five years, after retiring from 20 years in the Air Force.

But what to do? Storming off on a mission without doing recon first is no recipe for success. So Davis started asking around, conducting about 20 interviews in all, with Mayor Pat Porter and city officials, area social service agencies and school officials.

“(I asked) what they did to help the community and then other needs they saw that the community needed. We were trying to find something we felt like we had the resources to be able to support,” Davis said. “There was a recurring theme that kept coming up. I think the (Kenai) Alternative High School principal said it most succinctly — there’s a need to provide nutritious food and a safe place to eat it.” Continue reading



Filed under community, Food, Kenai

Shot down — Moose hunting restrictions put in effect to boost bull population

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. A bull moose sporting antlers big enough to make it a legal target for hunters makes its way through a field in Cohoe recently.

Redoubt Reporter

Bowhunters can let arrows fly at moose today, Aug. 10, while rifle hunters get to squeeze the trigger Aug. 20, but before heading into the woods this week, hunters should be sure to brush up on new regulations to ensure they don’t harvest any violations.

For this season, a legal moose in the general-season hunt is a bull with an antler spread of 50 inches, or four brow tines on one side.

“The historic hunting of spike-forks and 50-and-three bulls is done, at least for the next few years,” said Jeff Selinger, area wildlife manager with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The change, made earlier this year by the Alaska Board of Game, came as a result of research into population trends related to the number of bulls to cows, as well as trends in moose harvests for the past several years, Selinger said.

“Our surveys have been showing decreasing bull-to-cow ratios. For example, in (game management unit) 15C, our fall surveys revealed about nine bulls to every 100 cows, when we really should be seeing about 20 bulls to every 100 cows,” he said. “And in 15A and 15C, where the bulk of the moose harvest is, we’ve also been seeing skewed numbers of spike-forks being taken. The harvest of yearling bulls has been around 65 to 70 percent of the total harvest.” Continue reading

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Drinking on the Last Frontier: Drinking in local brewing culture

By Bill Howell, for the Redoubt Reporter

There’s a concept amongst beer lovers such as myself that I want to talk about this month: beer culture. If you spend any amount of time reading about beer or brewing, you’ll almost certainly come across the phrase. People talk about British beer culture or West Coast beer culture, but what do they mean by it?

For me, when you talk or write about the beer culture of a country or a region, you’re talking about the prevailing attitude or relationship that the majority of people in that area have with beer. Sure, it’s a bit of a nebulous term, but at the very least it encompasses how folks choose to drink (in British pubs or German biergartens, for example), what is their drink of choice (craft beers or macrobrews, local brands versus national brands, imported versus domestic), and why they drink (enjoyment versus inebriation).

Some beer cultures are very old, like that of the British public house. The core concept dates back many centuries, to the Middle Ages or even before. Others are much younger; the entire American craft beer scene has only existed for four decades, give or take. Some are younger still; we’ve only had craft brewing anywhere on the Kenai Peninsula since 1996 and in the Kenai-Soldotna area only since 2006. Continue reading

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Next cycle of school — Soldotna grad heads back to college in style

By Jenny Neyman

Photo courtesy of Jyl Barker. Shelly Barker, or Soldotna, and a friend from college, Liz Kocon, pose in front of Mount Rushmore during a motorcycle trip the two and Barker’s parents took from Soldotna to Kansas.

Redoubt Reporter

Fall migration is a tradition common among Alaska youth heading off to college in the Lower 48. The trip can take hours or days if flying, a week or more if driving, and is usually more a logistical hassle to be endured than an experience to be enjoyed.

For Shelly Barker, of Soldotna, this year’s trip back to her senior year at the University of Kansas took nine days, and she savored every moment of it. What better way to capitalize on the last few days of summer abandon before slipping back into the stress and workload of college than making the transition via a mode of transportation that typifies freedom and open roads? Shelly rode her own motorcycle back to school.

“Motorcycles are just so much more fun. It’s an adventure. You feel so carefree. I think that’s what I like about it, I feel like I don’t have a care in the world when I’m riding,” Shelly said.

Though just entering her senior year of college, Shelly is an old hand at riding. She got her motorcycle license even before her driver’s license when she was 16, and is already on her third bike, plus the dirt bike she learned to ride on as a kid.

Her dad, Scott Barker, rides, so Shelly grew up around motorcycles, and all other things motorized and recreational. She used to ride three-wheelers and four-wheelers as a kid on the farm, Barker said, plus tagging along with her dad and grandparents on various tractors and trucks.

“We moved back to Alaska when Shelly was 11. Some of the neighborhood kids had dirt bikes and she decided she wanted one,” Barker said. Continue reading


Filed under motorcycles, recreation, Soldotna

‘Journey’ to theater in a day — 24-hour program produces original plays in a hurry

By Jenny Neyman

“Deckhand Snoozing” by Thor Evenson is a painting in the “Intersecting Journeys” show at the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center.

Redoubt Reporter

This close to a performance, a mere few days away, those involved in a play are usually in polish mode.

Actors have had weeks to months to memorize their lines, get comfortable with their characters and are working to refine nuances of their portrayals. Directors have been carefully crafting the story line and now are down to just making subtle nudges here and there to smooth any remaining wrinkles or rough spots. Previous to that, the playwright spent months to even years composing the work, mulling over the concept, carefully considering dialogue and agonizing over drafts until the script is just right.

In the case of this Friday’s performances, however, the luxury of just right is going to be superceded by the necessity of right now. All of it — from the writing of the lines to the memorizing, rehearsing and delivering them — will be done in just one day.

It’s called 24-hour theater, a way to speed up and liven up the theater process, in this case embarked upon by the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center and the Kenai Performers.

Writers will meet at the center at 6 p.m. Friday to meet a director and actors assigned to them, then will have until 7:30 a.m. the next morning to write a script for a five- to 20-minute play based somehow on the center’s summer art and culture show, “Intersecting Journeys.” Writers will have a brief amount of time to look at the art and artifacts at the meeting Friday. They’ll either find something to be inspired by, or, by gum, they’ll be given something to be inspired by.

“There’s no opportunity for writer’s block, for sure, and choices just have to be made very quickly,” said Laura Forbes, art and exhibits director of the center. Continue reading

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Art Seen: Kenai pottery display throws good curves

By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter

“Blue Flower Bowl” by Emanuela Meriggi.

The potters are at it again, and have their yearly exhibit up at the Kenai Fine Arts Center for the month of August. They also have bowls on display that will be donated to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank’s Soup Supper and Auction fundraiser, so interested parties can preview them and start to make their choices.

It’s something the potters have done for many years, and is the coolest part of the fundraiser. You choose your bowl, and eat your choice of gourmet soup from it. Seems like a simple-enough idea, but I think it makes the whole endeavor more palpable and real for participants, intimately relating the beautiful pottery given by talented potters to raise money for folks who give food to the hungry. Continue reading

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Get growing with garlic — Nikiski gardener sells successful crop at farmers market

By Joseph Robertia

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Mike O’Brien, of Nikiski, displays one of his homegrown garlic plants at the Soldotna Farmers Market on Saturday. Garlic is a fickle crop to grow in Alaska but can be done successfully, as O’Brien’s harvest shows.

Redoubt Reporter

Garlic. Its bold, strappy foliage almost deceitfully hides the white-lobed treasure buried beneath the soil’s surface, and growing this tasty treat in Alaska is not easy.

“If you’re a gambler, try garlic,” said Nikiski garlic grower Mike O’Brien. “Even in a good year I expect a 20 percent loss.”

A retired carpenter, O’Brien has enjoyed gardening since the early 1980s and cultivates a wide variety of berries and other root crops, such as red, white and sweet onions, but unlike these latter garden goodies, garlic is fickle.

“Unlike onions that like it hot, garlic prefers cooler summers, and they don’t do well with excessive watering, so we don’t like to see major rains either,” O’Brien said.

In addition to a narrower spectrum of growing conditions, garlic must also remain in the ground a lot longer than its cousins. Unlike many crops that are planted in April or May and harvested in October, fall is when O’Brien’s garlic goes in the ground.

“The optimum date is Oct. 1st,” he said. “I start with a bulb, dry it out and break it down into individual cloves, and plant it so it can get started and take root before going dormant for winter. It’s a lot like growing tulips really.” Continue reading

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