Monthly Archives: May 2012

Almanac: Sentiment set in stone — Memorial Wall honors pioneers of early Soldotna

By Clark Fair

Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger. Art Frisbie is shown with one of his many guns in his cabin near the mouth of Cottonwood Creek on Skilak Lake, probably in the 1950s.

Redoubt Reporter

Arthur C. “Art” Frisbie liked telling stories, and he occasionally liked to startle his listeners by stretching the facts, but the truth is that he did live a long life full of adventure, such as the time he accidentally shot himself in the hand or the time he accidentally shot himself through the armpit when he set down his hair-trigger rifle butt-first and it went off.

Frisbie was also at one time the only law officer in Seward. He served in the military near the end of World War II. He worked as a watchman on a fish trap in Southeast Alaska. He trapped during one winter on the Sheenjek River south of the Brooks Range. And he helped fight the massive 1947 Kenai Burn.

An early settler on Skilak Lake — after acquiring George Nelson’s cabin at the mouth of Cottonwood Creek — Frisbie also became one of Soldotna’s earliest residents when he bought 10 acres of Howard Binkley’s property and moved into town. As such, he has earned a place on the pioneers’ Memorial Wall planned by the Soldotna Historical Society at the Soldotna Community Memorial Park.

The wall, according to city of Soldotna documents, “was designed as a way to celebrate the lives of past citizens of the Soldotna area who have been interred in other locations. For those whose hearts will always be in Soldotna, their memory can be brought back home to our community.”

So far, the historical society has a list of more than 70 names of individuals, now deceased, who moved to the Soldotna area after homesteading opened in 1947 and prior to 1955. An additional and much shorter list includes the names of some individuals who are still living but meet the other criteria. The historical society decided on the cutoff date of 1954 in order to control the number of names and ensure that space would be available on the Memorial Wall.

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Song for her state — Kasilof’s Shields wins Alaska Song of the Year honors

By Jenny Neyman

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Kelsey Shields performs at Odie’s on Friday.

Redoubt Reporter

The seeds of music have been rooted in Kasilof’s Kelsey Shields her entire life. That they’d sprout into something was as inevitable as a willow tree sending up runners or dandelions turning from viscid yellow tendrils to achromatic airborne fluff.

This is a kid who could plunk out a tune she’d hear by ear on her toy piano, and retained that ability with guitar, banjo and grown-up piano as she also learned the technical aspects of written notation. She learned to read at 3 years old, and as words traveled from her eyes through her brain to her mouth, they picked up a tune along the way, so that whatever popped into, then out of, her head was more often than not delivered via some kind of singsong melody.

“I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t singing,” said Lea Shields, Kelsey’s mom. “From the time she was really little she would sing her books. We made up songs to nursery rhymes, to storybooks, to her favorite books, and she would sing those. We’d sing Bible songs, all kinds of children’s tapes. My husband’s pretty creative and he would tell stories and sing songs and she would mimic those. So she was always singing, sometimes to the annoyance of her brothers.”

She’s loved music as long as she can remember, and even earlier than her unaided memory stretches, as evidenced by family videos showing a toddler Kelsey standing in the dining room singing whatever randomness occurred to her.

“There’s these ridiculous home videos of me making up songs. Those embarrassing things that your parents do — like, ‘Why did you spend so much time taping this?’” Shields said. “I think I just always loved music.”

What was undetermined, however, is what form that musical bloom would take. Were it sprouted somewhere in the Lower 48, it might have turned out something like a rose, with its sweetness and beauty manicured into the cultural cache of mass-produced popularity, arranged with sprays of ferns and baby’s breath and gilded in shiny cellophane to a ribbon-wrapped, $19.95, perfect-to-the-point-of-plastic-looking dozen.

But she was planted in Alaska, and the influence of her environment has had a Mount McKinley-sized stamp on her songwriting. What results is more authentic than manicured, with a little dirt in the delicacy, more fireweed alongside a glacial-fed salmon stream than the easily replicable bouquets of 1-800 Flowers.

“Mud boots on a girl are pretty and the boys smell of oil and spruce trees,” she sings in “Take Me There.” “City lights are bright and pretty but the frost on my window in the morning shines too.”

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Join the Tribe to help teens — Family expands network to aid youth in need

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Shawn and Krista Schooley, founders of The Tribe, a nonprofit group devoted to meeting the needs of youth, ages 13 to 25, facing homelessness, hold a barbecue Saturday to feeds teens at the Soldotna Skate Park.

Redoubt Reporter

For some teenagers, it can be hip to have tight jeans, but there’s nothing cool about having clothes you’ve completely outgrown. Some may like to have purposefully scraggily looking hair, but no one likes having an itchy, dirty scalp. Some teens like staying out late, but not having no place to go home to.

Unfortunately, for some teens right here on the Kenai Peninsula, the latter is their reality — no home and not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

“We don’t have stats for this year, but last year there were 300 teens here that were homeless and going to school, but we don’t know how many might be homeless and not going to school,” said Krista Schooley, of Soldotna, who with her husband, Shawn, began The Tribe, a nonprofit group devoted to meeting the needs of area youth aged 13 to 25 struggling with homelessness.

“Some are teens whose whole families are homeless. Others are teens who were kicked out. Others left home to get out of an unsafe environment, such as where they were being physically abused, sexually abused or where drugs or alcohol were a problem,” she said. “Regardless of the reasons, now they have nowhere to go or they surf from couch to couch.”

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Art Seen: Art comes to (wild)life — Summer show renders Alaska fauna in fine detail

By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter

“Two Curious Bear Cubs” by Carl Brenders.

The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center is gearing up for its big summertime art show that opens Friday with a catered gala bash. “Alaska 2012: A Celebration of Wildlife Art” is the third time wildlife has taken center stage for the summer art show at the center.

Curated once again by Dr. David Wartinbee, who is an avid collector of wildlife art, the participating artist list reads like a who’s who in the wildlife art world. In fact, Carl Brenders has four original pieces in this exhibit — one of which was created expressly for this show and has not even been seen by his own publisher. It is called “Two Curious Bear Cubs” and is truly exquisite.

Carl Brenders is the undisputed master of this particular genre. He goes beyond realism and into a realm where the elements portrayed come alive before your eyes — every rock, every lichen, and the branches of every tree. Representing detail to a maximum, his compositional skills and color sensibilities are beyond mere talent. He uses a combination of acrylic and gouache, and literally paints every hair and twig.

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Drinking on the Last Frontier: With summer heat comes refreshing wheat beers

By Bill Howell, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Elaine Howell

With the coming of the warmer (dare we hope for hot?) days of summer, it’s traditional to start thinking about drinking lighter beers.

When thinking about light beers, wheat beers often come to mind. Brewed with a greater or lesser amount of malted wheat substituting for malted barley, these beers are often the perfect choice for quenching your thirst on a hot summer’s afternoon.
Brewing beers using wheat is likely almost as old as brewing itself. We know that both the ancient Sumerians and the ancient Egyptians brewed them more than 5,000 years ago.

However, malted wheat is much more difficult to brew with than malted barley, as the qualities that make wheat so perfect for baking into bread — naked kernels and lots of gluten — make it a real challenge to deal with in the brewing process.

Still, over the years three very distinct styles of wheat beers have emerged, each named after its country of origin: Germany, Belgium and the United States. We’ll look at each in turn.
When many people think of wheat beers, the beer they think of is the classic German (or, more accurately, Bavarian) hefeweizen.

Most beer drinkers are probably familiar with this style of beer, traditionally served in oversized glasses and famous for its aroma of cloves and bananas. This aroma is not from the actual addition of spices or fruit, but from phenols and esters produced as a byproduct of fermentation by the specific strain of yeast used.

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Night Lights: Once in a blue moon? Try once in a Venus transit

By Andy Veh, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo courtesy of Andy Veh. This picture shows the last Venus transit, seen June 7, 2004, in Barrow.

Tuesday, June 5, will herald an unusual event, rare enough to only happen every 120 years — Venus, from our vantage point, will pass in front of the sun.

What is a Venus transit?

Venus moves in front of the sun’s disk. Only the inner planets, Mercury and Venus, both orbiting between Earth and sun, are able to transit.

Why is this Venus transit special?

A Venus transit is extremely rare, as they happen in pairs only every 120 years. The phrase “once in a blue moon” should be replaced by “once in Venus transit.”

Johannes Kepler discovered the laws of planetary motion in the 1610s, allowing astronomers to predict the positions of planets, transits and eclipses very accurately. The invention of the telescope around the same time helped the cause, too. Hence, prior to Kepler, no transits had ever been observed. In contrast, eclipses were somewhat easier to predict, even with the knowledge of accurate planetary motions.

Mercury, on average, transits every seven years. Thirty-six such transits have been observed since 1631 (Kepler’s first prediction). Personally, I’ve observed the 1999, 2003 and 2006 Mercury transits.
There are only six Venus transits that have been observed historically, in 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882 and 2004.

This list excludes 1631, predicted by Kepler but not visible from Europe and no astronomer made the effort to book a flight from Paris to Chicago. Personally, I’ve seen this one from Barrow.

The next Venus transits after 2012 will occur in 2117 and 2125.

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Common Ground: On Memorial Day, home can be good, too

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

When I agreed to go on a camping trip on Memorial Day weekend, I made one, if not two, major mistakes. The first could not be helped, as the camping gear was already loaded and I was more than 100 miles from home when my fellow camper uttered the first sounds of dismay.

By sounds of dismay, I mean to allude to a string of expletives that were so mumbled and growled they could not possibly resemble words to be found in Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, which I happened to carry in my fly-fishing vest. The Seaview Campground in Hope looked more like fairgrounds than the historical mountain hideaway by the sea.

“Doesn’t look like there’s a spot,” I said.

More unsanctioned words of the English language followed as the truck and camper wheeled around, tires smoking, before we crushed over smaller vehicles and up and over a man-made barrier at the Social Hall. It appeared that my fellow camper was not interested in wedging in between the two honeymooners in a Pinto or the painted school bus with the “peace, love and music” flag.

“I’d like to stick around and get my face painted,” I said, unwrapping my English setter’s paws from around my head.

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Oh so vein

Hunting, Fishing and other Grounds for Divorce,

By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

Maybe it’s a coincidence, but since starting nursing school, I’ve found myself noticing people’s veins. While I know that it’s good manners to greet someone by making eye contact and using their name at least twice in a sentence, recently I’ve had a hard time focusing on the topic of conversation.

This is because, what I really want to know is: Would they be an easy stick? Should I use a tourniquet? Are they the kind who turn white and hurl or are they the stoic sort who watch the whole procedure and don’t flinch?

Sometimes I’ll even shamelessly eye veins of complete strangers — take a look at the pipes on that guy! Probably a fainter… .

The other day, as I was chatting with my teenager, I absentmindedly ran my fingers over his impressively muscled arm, noting with pride that he had the “man vein” running proud and juicy down the underside of his forearm. Long story short, there was no way he would be my guinea pig. Not even for a Rock Star drink and candy bar. Not for a Saturday without chores. Not even for unlimited texting. The kid should be a contract negotiator.

I’ve started noticing my own veins. What sites on my hand were most suitable for an IV start? Was that a valve or an age spot? Out of curiosity I did a thorough assessment of my other extremities. I used a mirror. To my horror I realized that the decade-old, fine-lined, baby-blue spider squiggles on my legs had morphed into big hairy blue tarantulas. Tarantulas that seemed to be spelling out my name, in bold!

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Plugged In: Safer, sharper developments in photo history

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

Uniquely among the arts, technology limits the subjects that we can photograph and the manner in which we do so. That was as true 150 years ago as it is today.

From the invention of photography in the 1830s until digital photography became the norm within the past 10 years, all practical photographic processes depended on chemically developing silver-based films and printing papers.

Experienced photographers frequently produced memorable results with film and paper. Less technically adept photographers found that silver-based photography placed many limitations on them, compared to what today’s novice finds easy with even a middling digital camera.

Until the early 1970s, black-and-white images were the artistic norm because color processes either had not yet been invented or, later, were too demanding for most users. Color processes were expensive, had no tolerance for less-than-perfect exposure and darkroom techniques, and allowed little or no creative control over the appearance of the final image. Facile digital manipulation a la Photoshop was barely within the realm of science fiction.

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Beluga dead at river mouth — Juvenile whale entangled in educational fishery set net

By Jenny Neyman

Photos courtesy of LGL Alaska Research Associates, MMPA/ESA research permit No. 14210. Tamara McGuire, wildlife biologist with LGL Alaska Research Associates, has been documenting beluga whales in Upper Cook Inlet as part of a photo identification project. The project has been extended to the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Seen here are examples of some of McGuire’s beluga identification photos from the project.

Redoubt Reporter

Though an updated Cook Inlet beluga whale population survey isn’t going to be conducted until early June, there is one recently confirmed change to the 2011 population number, when a subadult beluga was caught in the Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s educational fishery set gillnet near the mouth of the Kenai River on May 7.

“We were deeply saddened. This was not an intentional harvest,” said Sasha Lindgren, cultural director for the Kenaitze Indian Tribe.

The whale was found the evening of May 7 in the tribe’s educational fishery net, about a mile south of the mouth of the Kenai off Cannery Road.

Lindgren said that the crew running the net was on the beach, noticed the whale and called authorities.

“We’re not exactly sure what happened, if the beluga was dead and got caught. It looks like it was dead and just it rolled up into the net with the surf action, so we’re thinking it was dead or had no strength, because normally they go right through a net,” she said.

Barbara Mahoney, with the National Marine Fisheries Service out of Anchorage, said the

Photos courtesy of LGL Alaska Research Associates, MMPA/ESA research permit No. 14210

cause of death wasn’t immediately clear. Representatives from the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward collected the whale May 8 and performed an autopsy.

“The cause of death is not known at this time, but tissue samples have been sent out for analysis,” Mahoney said. She said that it could take weeks for the necropsy samples to come back.

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Beluga sightings spark 80 years of memories

By Naomi Klouda

Homer Tribune

“Since I ran every day, I saw the belugas regularly. They were usually diving for fish. I ran along the beach below the bluff where I lived and the belugas would swim along next to me at high tide. And they would be singing while I ran. They liked to play, so they would keep pace with me for a short period of time, maybe 10 minutes, and then swim on. I remember thinking it was cool when I saw them.” — Unidentified interview

Beluga stories abound, and so does mystery on the whales’ basic habits — until a newly released report filled in many details. Cook Inlet beluga whales steered clear of the southern waters beyond Kachemak Bay, where orca whales pose a threat.

A single beluga was seen swimming with porpoises in 2006 off the Glacier Spit. It was seen again in Halibut Cove. That was one of the last live beluga sightings in the bay, said Janet Klein, a historian who conducted interviews compiled in “An Oral History of Habitat Use by Cook Inlet Belugas in Waters of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.” Authors, including Klein, were Ian M. Dutton, Karen J. Cain, Ricky Deel, Rebekka Federer, Hillary LeBail and Joseph Hunt. The report is now available to the public through libraries, but will not be sold in stores.

“We were really going back in time because we were trying to ascertain habitat use and population distribution,” Klein said. “The more recent memories were not the main part of discussion, but we did record them. There have been few and far between. We were looking for historic information.”

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School talks stall again — Associations say KPBSD pays worst of large districts in state

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Collective bargaining teams for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Kenai Peninsula Education Association and Education Support Association met Monday in Soldotna in an attempt to iron out the details of a contract to cover the next three years, but again left the table without resolution on the two biggest-ticket items remaining — salary and health care.

No further negotiation dates have been set for the spring or summer. The associations have put in a request for arbitration, which would begin in the fall. The teams already have gone through mediation earlier this month, after which the associations filed a claim of unfair labor practices against the district for publicly disseminating details of the school district’s offer. The ULP charges that information presented in closed-session mediation should have been kept confidential. Pegge Erkeneff, communications specialist for the KPBSD, offered the district’s response Monday:

“The district is aware that a ULP has been filed with the Alaska Labor Relations Agency. We’re prepared to assist ALRA in finding a positive outcome to the claim, and the district is very confident that the charges will not be substantiated and we’ll be able to continue to bargain for a successful settlement for employees, and that affects the students of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.”

After mediation, the teams agreed to meet Monday in an effort to settle contracts before the end of the fiscal year June 30. That did not happen.

“The bottom line is that the district refuses to meet our reasonable proposal on health care or salary. If we can’t fix health care, then I don’t see how this is going to end with an agreement,” said Joe Rizzo, spokesman for the KPEA bargaining team.

“The district is confident that we are offering a competitive package,” Erkeneff said.

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