Daily Archives: September 12, 2012

Health on the menu — Student Nutrition Services digs into new school year

By Jenny Neyman

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. At left, third-graders Tristan Edmondson, in black, and Michael Garrett, in red, work their way through the lunch line Monday at Soldotna Elementary School, served by Abby Rodgers and Gavin Noblin, both in fourth grade.

Redoubt Reporter

To the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Student Nutritional Services workers at Soldotna Elementary School on Monday, lunch was a source of pride, an example of the carefully prepared and portioned nutritional efforts for which the school is being honored with a Bronze Award in the nationwide Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“It’s exciting,” said Thresea Grilley, who this fall began her eighth year with SNS. But more important than an award is the knowledge that the kids are getting good fuel for their brains and bodies. Her two boys went through SoEl, after all, so she’s a mom interested in healthy meals, as well as a lunch lady hired to provide them.

So is Gerri Habighorst, starting her 11th year with SNS. Her daughter was in sixth grade at SoEl when she started working there. Habighorst said she’s seen school lunches get healthier and healthier over the years.

“A pretzel and cheese — they used to call that lunch,” Grilley said, ringing up the contest of kids’ trays as they filed past with their lunches — according to the menu, “BBQ chicken flatbread, golden corn nuggets, chilled mixed fruit, Jungle crackers and milk.”

“We’ve seen some definite improvements in nutrition over the years,” said Habighorst.

To SNS administration, the meal isn’t a collection of entrée, sides and a beverage as much as it is a careful calculus of USDA school lunch nutritional guidelines — so many whole grains balanced with a certain amount of protein and vegetables providing calcium, vitamins and minerals, all without going over limits of calories, fat and sodium. On top of that, it’s also a balancing act between food, transportation and labor costs against the price charged for the meals, the amount of reimbursement funding the USDA contributes and the balance covered by the district.

“We are asked to provide a complete meal for the cost of a cup of coffee — about four bucks,” said Dean Hamburg, director of SNS for KPBSD. “Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, protein, labor, transportation — all that for the price of a cup of coffee. But we are pleased to take on that challenge for our kids.”

To Taylor King, though, a fourth-grader at SoEl and a kitchen helper Monday, lunch

Taylor King, fourth grade, serves an entrée portion to Zack Rodman, second grade, during lunch at Soldotna Elementary on Monday. According to the menu, it’s a barbecue chicken flatbread. According to Taylor, it’s “Uuuhhhmmm, a taco thing.”

was corn, white or — more preferable to many students — chocolate milk, a scoop of fruit, a packet of crackers with Scooby-Doo on the wrapper, and, “Uuuhhhmmm, a taco thing.”

“There’s meat in it. And cheese,” she added after leaning in for a closer inspection.

There’s the challenge of school meals these days — carefully balanced nutrients delivered in a carefully budgeted system that kids still care to eat.

There are a few changes to SNS’s recipe for approaching that challenge this school year.

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Walk in the Parks — Sinclair reflects on ranging, 35-year career

By Joseph Robertia

Photos courtesy of Jack Sinclair. Jack Sinclair, center, worked on building trails and tent platforms during the rainy summer of 1999 in Prince William Sound in one of the state’s marine parks. Also pictured, from left, is Natural Resource Technician Don Wray, Natural Resource Technician Eric Clarke and then-Kenai Area Superintendent Chris Degernes.

Redoubt Reporter

Whether it be hiking the myriad trails, staying at one of the many campgrounds or remote cabins or using the fishing access or other facilities, the Alaska State Parks system offers a lot of recreational opportunities to residents and tourists. But though these offerings are meant for play, they didn’t come about without a lot of hard work.

One of those hard workers recently said goodbye, after nearly 35 years with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Parks and Outdoor Recreation Service.

“It’s been nice to be a part of it all, in every role I’ve served,” said Jack Sinclair, who late last month retired from his position as DNR area superintendent for the Kenai Peninsula and Prince William Sound regions.

Sinclair’s love of the great outdoors began long before he came to Alaska. The seeds of his future career were sown in another forest, down in Southern California, where he grew up.

“Back when I was about 14 and still in junior high, I used to go backpacking in the High Sierras every weekend,” he said.

While out on hikes he bumped into forest rangers at work.

“It seemed like such a great job,” Sinclar said.

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‘Fore’ Frisbee fun — New disc golf course opens in Soldotna

By Joseph Robertia

Photo courtesy of River City Rotaract. Members of River City Rotaract gather around a basket of a new disc golf course on Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School. The course, installed this summer, can be accessed behind the football field at Skyview.

Redoubt Reporter

Being young in this day and age generally conjures up the reputation of being somewhat self-absorbed, what with all the technological options available for entertainment and social networking. But with youth also can come new ideas and the energy to make them happen.

A small group of young professionals from Soldotna have taken the latter approach and are now watching their endeavor soar — literally and figuratively. River City Rotaract, a division of the Rotary Club of Soldotna specifically for 18- to 35-year-olds, devotes itself to developing community projects, such as the recently completed addition of a disc golf course at Tsalteshi Trails.

“It ended up being a much bigger project than we anticipated,” said Stephanie Musgrove, of Rotaract.

Tsalteshi Trails, accessed from behind Skyview High School or from the trailhead on Kalifornsky Beach Road across the street from the Soldotna Sports Center, offers miles of trails for hiking, jogging and biking in summer, and skiing in winter. Adding to this now is a 20-basket disc golf course, located on the Squirrel Loop of the trails, accessed behind the football and soccer fields at Skyview.

“We thought it would be a great idea because while Kenai has two courses, Soldotna doesn’t have anything like this. It seemed like something people in our age group would want to do, and hopefully it will be a push in the right direction for other people in the community to stay active and be healthy,” Musgrove said.

The concept of disc golf, also known as Frisbee golf, or “frolfing,” is simple. Like the regular game, where clubs are used to drive a white ball down a fairway and eventually into a hole, in disc golf a disc is thrown down the course and eventually into a hanging basket, which also is sometimes called a hole.

“It’s pretty windy and a bit longer than the Kenai courses. Over two kilometers there are 20 baskets, which is a pretty long course. Nineteen of those are course holes. The other one is a putting hole, for people to practice on or warm up while waiting for friends,” Musgrove said.

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Almanac: Berger vs. railroad baron — Early freight operator carves out business niche for himself

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part story about mariner and entrepreneur Heinie Berger, who plied the waters of Resurrection Bay and Cook Inlet from the late 1920s into the mid-1940s. Last week, Part One described one of Berger’s most perilous adventures. This week, Part Two provides some details from his early life and his battles with the Alaska Railroad. Next week, Part Three will explore the fate of his ships and his ventures into the Anchorage entertainment scene.

By Clark Fair

Images photographed by John P. Bagoy’s “Anchorage Legends & Legacies.” Heinie Berger.

Redoubt Reporter

Col. Otto F. Ohlson was an autocrat who disliked interference, particularly where the railroad was concerned. Consequently, although he may or may not have respected Heinie Berger, he certainly found him an expensive nuisance.

In 1928, Ohlson had been appointed by President Calvin Coolidge as general manager of the Alaska Railroad. According to John P. Bagoy in his “Anchorage Legends and Legacies” book, the top spot with the railroad came with considerable clout:
“The job as general manager of the Alaska Railroad was, during the early years, the most prestigious, the most powerful, and the highest paid position in Alaska,” wrote Bagoy. “The man who ran the Alaska Railroad was next to God in Anchorage.”

From such a semidivine position, Ohlson could be bullheaded and iron-fisted when he chose to be. And as such, he did not appreciate — and went to great lengths to hinder — the efforts of Berger, a well-known peninsula entrepreneur who was attempting to hone in on railroad profits.

According to Bagoy, the federally owned railroad had not been built for profit-making, but Ohlson aimed to “operate in the black” nevertheless. He kept his freight rates high, infuriating merchants from Seward to Fairbanks, and opening the door for a cut-rate operator like Berger.

Berger, who in 1926 had begun a marine transportation service in Resurrection Bay and lower Cook Inlet, charged far less to haul freight than either the railroad or the Alaska Steamship Company. Ohlson, however, barely took notice when the competition’s capacity was a mere 50 tons. But in 1938, when Berger purchased a motorized scow capable of hauling up to 200 tons, Ohlson took exception.

Suddenly Berger was carrying automobiles, huge loads of lumber, merchant orders of groceries and plenty of miscellaneous freight, and Ohlson set out to stop him.

Ohlson was powerful, but Berger was wily. And Berger had spent a lifetime finding ways to get things done effectively, regardless of the obstacles he faced.

Although some of the details of Berger’s life are sketchy or even contradictory — for instance, he appears to have been counted three times in the 1940 federal census — a general sense of his background is fairly clear.

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A Trail Called Life: Summer malfunction — Rolling with bumps, brakes on the trail

By Dante Petri, for the Redoubt Reporter

I hate the summer-to-winter transition from the quick-and-easy lubing up of a chain and airing up of tires on a bike before heading out for a ride, compared to the much more laborious task of waxing, prior to skiing.

It’s true, pre-ride prep is far quicker than pre-ski. That being said, I was reminded

Photos courtesy of Dante Petri. Mountain bike components breaking on the trail might be a part of the sport, but a broken frame means it’s time to head to the bike shop. This 2004 Marin East Peak met its match outside of Fruita, Colo., in spring 2009.

this summer by how much maintenance goes into bikes compared to skis when looked at in the big picture. Specifically, into mountain bikes.

This past winter was the first year I ever had what I might call a “ski mechanical.” Ultimately, this amounted to a busted boot and, a few days later, a busted binding, on a set of hardworking skate skis that were halfway into their fourth season and should have been retired a season and a half prior. They were well-traveled and worn down, and I made the wise and rewarding choice of replacing them with a new set of skis. I couldn’t have been happier with them. End of story.

If I did the same thing every time I had a significant mechanical on one of my mountain bikes, well, I’d probably have to get at least a couple new bikes a season.

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Science of the Seasons: Evergreen, except when rusty red

By Dr. David Wartinbee, for the Redoubt Reporter

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Tree needles show the effect of “spruce rust,” a fungus that only affects the growth of the year. Needles are discolored, but the tree generally isn’t harmed overall.

Recently, I put my boat in at the upper launch of Skilak Lake. The water around the launch area, and all along the rocky shoreline, was covered with a bright, Creamsicle-orange layer. Immediately, I guessed that this was a layer created by spruce needle rust spores, remembering that similar orange-colored floating masses were reported in Kivalina and at Twin Lakes last year.

I photographed the large floating layer and collected samples to examine in the lab. Then I set about to see if many of the surrounding spruce trees showed the characteristic infection of yellowed needles at the tips of the branches. In the areas near the boat launch, I found no trees showing the infection. However, when I went to the far side of the lake, I found a large number of heavily infected trees. The winds had been from the southwest for a couple days and had apparently blown the spores to this northern shoreline.

The following day I was approached by two different individuals who asked about cream-colored or orange-colored layers they had seen on lakes near their particular homes. A day later, while fishing the Kenai River below Skilak Lake, I encountered thinner layers of the orange mass floating downriver. Because the brightly colored collections of spores have recently been seen on Skilak Lake, Arc Lake, the Kenai River and other lakes, I decided to revisit the topic of spruce needle rust.

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Art Seen: Harvest good deals on fine art

By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter

“Halibut Bowl” by Laura Faeo is part of the “Harvest Art Exhibit” on display at the Kenai Fine Arts Center in advance of the Harvest Art Auction on Sept. 28.

Fall is in the air, and it is time again to do a number of wonderful things — see a variety of art in one place, secure a piece or two of that art for ridiculously good prices, and help out the arts community by supporting an institution that has as its main goal the support of our local artists.

The 13th annual Harvest Art Auction will occur Sept. 28 this year, and the art that’s been donated to the cause is on view at the Kenai Fine Arts Center until the event.

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