Monthly Archives: April 2013

Date to eradicate cancer — Bachelor auction makes bid for love, Relay for Life

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Auctioneer Jason Ness spots a bidder on bachelor No. 6, Kyle Martin, in a Relay for Life fundraiser April 6 at Main Street Tap and Grill in Kenai.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Auctioneer Jason Ness spots a bidder on bachelor No. 6, Kyle Martin, in a Relay for Life fundraiser April 6 at Main Street Tap and Grill in Kenai.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

The bachelor auction fundraiser for Relay for Life on April 6 at Main Street Grill in Kenai was a perfectly mild, mannerly affair, with the decorous ladies shyly placing polite bids on the restrained gentlemen, who wouldn’t dream of displaying any behavior as uncouth as bidding rivalry, or unbuttoning their shirt, or — heaven forbid — laughing at comments that could be construed to refer to certain areas of physiology.

In about the same way that cancer is a perfectly mild, mannerly disease, never causing pain or chaos, or bankrupting victims, or devastating families and friends.

Cancer fights dirty, so why should fundraisers to fight it be completely clean?

“Take it off!”

“Flex for me!”

Bachelor No. 8, Jake Eveland, gets a hug from his winning bidder. Sixteen eligible bachelors and accompanying prize packages were auctioned off, raising $8,015 for the local Relay for Life organization.

Bachelor No. 8, Jake Eveland, gets a hug from his winning bidder. Sixteen eligible bachelors and accompanying prize packages were auctioned off, raising $8,015 for the local Relay for Life organization.

“Tell us about your package!”

So went the catcalls from the crowd, their bidder numbers snapping above their heads like pennant flags at a NASCAR racetrack, their shrieks, cheers and whistles occasionally howling even above the auctioneer and his microphone.

The scene got more raucous as the evening went on, but even at its most outrageous it was all in good, mostly clean fun. And the most outrageous part, according to Johna Beech, Relay for Life’s central peninsula chair, was the evening’s success — $8,015 raised to help fight cancer.

Not bad for a first-time event — not only first time as a Relay fundraiser, but first time around here for anything, ever, in anyone’s memory. As such, Beech went into the night estimating conservatively.

“I have no idea what to expect from this. In my mind, if we got $100 per bachelor I’d be excited,” she said.

By the end, her conservative estimate went out the window, along with inhibitions, decorum and bidders’ budgets.

“I can’t believe this — $8,015,” Beech said. “I just, wow. Did that really just happen?”

Which that? Bachelor No. 9’s shirt coming off? Bachelor No. 11 fetching $1,000?

Yes, on all accounts.

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Clean scene — Custodian sets school story time with magic carpet art

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Tim Marsh creates light and dark shading in the reading area carpet with his vacuum cleaner, depending on which way he pushes the knap.

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Tim Marsh creates light and dark shading in the reading area carpet with his vacuum cleaner, depending on which way he pushes the carpet knap.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Renoir and his paintbrush. Michelangelo and his chisel. Ansel Adams and his camera. And now, Tim Marsh and his vacuum cleaner. Though Marsh, of Soldotna, isn’t as famous as these art masters distinguished throughout history, his fans are every bit as adoring of his creations.

“The kids love it. They’re excited to see what he drew, to try to guess what it is. Some kids will stop by in the morning before school to go look at what he did,” said Bobbie Baldwin, teacher and librarian at Redoubt Elementary School in Soldotna.

Photo courtesy of Tim Marsh. Tim Marsh, custodian at Redoubt Elementary School, created this design of Simba and Pumba, characters from, “The Lion King” in the library at the school. He creates a new design every day in the green carpet students sit on for story time in the library.

Photo courtesy of Tim Marsh. Tim Marsh, custodian at Redoubt Elementary School, created this design of Simba and Pumba, characters from, “The Lion King” in the library at the school. He creates a new design every day in the green carpet students sit on for story time in the library.

Marsh’s medium is a 9-by-12-foot patch of green, low-knap carpet in the story time area of Redoubt’s library. On it he spends five or so minutes a night creating fanciful renderings — dinosaurs, wild animals, characters from books, holiday scenes and many more — with nothing more than his vacuum, a stick, his feet and his imagination.

“All these little tricks I’ve come up with carpet. Who knew, right?” Marsh said.

Marsh has been working at Redoubt for four years, by way of Kodiak, Montana, growing up in Wyoming and being born in Anchorage. About two years ago he was going about his nightly cleaning duties as usual, when he noticed something about the patch of carpet the kids sit on for story time in the library. When he ran his vacuum over it, drawing the knap one direction or the other, the appearance changed from light green to dark green.

There can be an element of the monotonous in a custodial job — same thing, day in, day out — and the novelty piqued Marsh’s interest. He started experimenting with the possibilities of his discovery.

“When I first noticed it I just started making checkerboards, triangles, things like that. And then I thought, ‘I’ll make it fun for the kids,’” Marsh said.

A lion crouches in front of an elephant.

A lion crouches in front of an elephant.

So he started “drawing” into the carpet. Sometimes just general scenes, or holiday-related if Christmas, Valentine’s Day or the like were near. Then he started asking the librarian what books she was reading to the various classes, and drew characters, creatures or scenes to go along with a book.

“And the story was, when the kids come in and sit on the carpet and the librarian starts to read the story to them, Redoubt’s magic carpet brings them into the story,” he said.

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EDD cut by politics — Economic development agency loses state funding

By Naomi Klouda

Homer Tribune

Thanks to convoluted political maneuvering, an economic engine used to support small businesses on the Kenai Peninsula is due to expire at the end of June.

The Senate Finance Committee in the closing days of the legislative session could have extended the authorization for the Alaska Regional Development Organizations. Instead, its sunset was approved. ARDOR serves as the umbrella over 13 regional districts.

This includes the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District. Its mission is to serve residents, “By enhancing their quality of life through responsible and sustainable regional economic and workforce development.”

“It will be business as usual, with our fingers crossed,” said Director John Torgerson. While the predicament is worrisome, it’s not going to shut the doors. The district receives $75,000 a year in federal funding and events such as the industrial forums are supported by the oil, gas and other industries.

Another $68,000 usually comes from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Development. But that check won’t be arriving this year.

“The state funding surely will be missed. We are a federal- and state-recognized district,” Torgerson said. “Primarily the board hasn’t weighed in on the state funding, but hopefully this week they will be discussing it.”

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Almanac: Spying a future — WWII translator navigates career in military intelligence

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Fred Kehl, of Soldotna, displays a Sauer 38H semi-automatic pistol, made in Nazi Germany from 1938 until just after the end of World War II by J. P. Sauer and Sohn. He relieved it from a German soldier while accepting his surrender.

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Fred Kehl, of Soldotna, displays a Sauer 38H semi-automatic pistol, made in Nazi Germany from 1938 until just after the end of World War II by J. P. Sauer and Sohn. He relieved it from a German soldier while accepting his surrender.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

World War II was over, Hitler was dead, the Nazi party broken, the concentration camps liberated and the 42nd Infantry Rainbow Division was standing down from its six months of combat as part of the Allied push that swept through Germany. Though Staff Sgt. Fred Kehl, of Soldotna, was no longer facing enemy fire, he was under the gun on another front.

Following Germany’s surrender in May 1945, Kehl was reassigned from his 232 Regiment of the 42nd Rainbow Division to the Counter Intelligence Corps stationed in Berlin.

“Our job was to seek out high-ranking Nazi officials, both civilian officials that were members of the Nazi party and military high-ranking officials,” Kehl said.

They had the German police to use for information, and the Nazi party records that had been seized in Berlin. Kehl could read, write and speak German fluently, which made him a natural asset as a CIC investigator. Adding to that was his role as a harbinger in the war — a go-between, of sorts, carrying out the officers’ orders with Germans that his division encountered. He’d interview captured and surrendered soldiers, and explain to German families that they were being removed from their homes so they could be used as headquarters for occupying Allied forces.

“I had German ability on my record, and they used me quite a bit,” Kehl said.

But the reason for his fluency presented Kehl with an awkward situation. Though he was born and raised in Waukegan, Ill., his parents and older brother were German immigrants, fleeing the chaos and destitution of their homeland for the security and opportunity of the U.S. in 1923.

“In Germany after World War I you could take a bushel basket full of 1 million mark notes to go to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread. Inflation was absolutely at its peak. The Versailles treaty was pretty unfair. They punished Germany for that war. They took away a lot of land and other things, and Germany went to hell in a hand basket,” Kehl said.

Kehl had never been to Germany before being sent overseas with the 42nd Division in December 1944, and his identity and allegiance was thoroughly American. But he couldn’t deny that there were ties. When his division staged in Strasbourg, France, it faced across the Rhine River the German town of Kehl — same spelling, though he doesn’t know the familial connection — earning him the nickname of “Kraut.” And his family still had relatives in Germany. His father’s family was from Sistine, east of Berlin, and his mother’s from Königsberg, capital of the province of East Prussia.

“I knew I had aunts and uncles and cousins still there and they were probably in the German army, I had no idea where they were. So, from time to time I thought about it, maybe they were taking pot shots at me and me and them?” Kehl said.

The possibility of bullets coming from or heading toward his relatives didn’t bother him, Kehl said, as he had no personal ties to them. It was war, and he was determined to excel in the service.

“I was a very good soldier, I didn’t want to screw up, I wanted to be good, I wanted to advance, I wanted to do what they told me, and I did. My record was clean as a whistle,” he said.

That made his mother’s request even more difficult. First, that his job in the CID was to help find and arrest Nazis, and second, that he didn’t want to do anything out of line with his service.

“Mom put pressure on me, ‘Go see my sisters in Potsdam,’ which is about 20 miles outside of Berlin. I said, ‘Mom, I can’t just do that, I don’t know if they’re Nazis or not.’ If I’m sitting in the outskirts of Berlin in an open-air coffee shop talking with a bunch of Nazis, I would be obligated to put them under arrest,” he said.

But just as he didn’t want to disobey his military mission, neither did he want to disobey his mother. She lived up to her lineage of being from the Polish Corridor.

“They had a reputation of being thickheads, very stubborn people, and boy did my mother fit the bill. Man, I’m telling you, she would give you the shirt off of her back but if you crossed her, look out — you were in deep, deep trouble,” Kehl said.

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Sterling example — Residents, agencies, funders pull together for community center

Photos courtesy of the Sterling Community Club Board. A new community center, a decade in the planning, is set to open as soon as next month.

Photos courtesy of the Sterling Community Club Board. A new community center, a decade in the planning, is set to open as soon as next month.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

While Kenai and Soldotna community members have a variety of places to recreate indoors, people in outlying communities often have to drive into town to hold or take part in late-afternoon, evening or weekend events. Sterling residents decided they wanted a place to call their own, and after much ado, a nearly 14,000-sqare-foot Sterling Community Center is set to open as early as next month.

“It’s not done yet, but we’re hoping it’ll be done by next month, and we’re planning a big open house in June,” said Grace Merkes, a trustee for the Sterling Community Club Board, which will be overseeing the center, located on the corner of the Sterling Highway and Swanson River Road.

Not to be confused with the Sterling Senior Center, the community center will be a place for all ages to recreate and gather for a variety of functions.

“The impetus for this was to have a local community center for our youth to call their own, so they didn’t have to drive to Soldotna to practice sports or hold social events. The center will allow kids to play basketball, volleyball, to hold dances, the judo club can meet, and there will be foosball, pingpong and pool tables for them,” Merkes said.

There will also be work done on the nearby ice hockey rink and baseball field, and there are plans for construction of a new soccer field in the area. A paved parking lot will be laid out front.

Since the center will also have a DEC-approved kitchen, locker rooms and handicapped-accessible bathrooms, a library, 60-person conference room and offices, and a gym that can hold roughly 400 people, Merkes said the center will hopefully have enough users that it will be financially self-supporting.

“There will be modest membership fees, but operating expenses will be paid for by renting it out for larger functions, such as wedding receptions and other things. We’ve already got commitments for three large functions,” she said.

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Outdoors curriculum housed in new school

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

Growing up in Alaska is not like growing up in Florida, Texas, California or any other place in the Lower 48. It is a unique experience to live and mature in the 49th state, so why shouldn’t the educational experience of this area be as individualized and specific?

That is a question that Greatland Adventure Academy, a new charter school opening in Soldotna in the fall 2013, hopes to address. Its aim is to enhance middle school-aged children’s learning though “experimental learning,” which includes more emphasis on place-based education, and more focus on movement, music and time outdoors.

“What we are hoping to do here is not new; it’s being done elsewhere. We just want to open another opportunity for a different learning model than what our district currently offers for seventh and eighth grades,” said Teresa Moyer, a GAA academic board policy member.

Enrollment for the charter school was held earlier this month and 42 students signed up, near the maximum capacity before rolling into a sign-up lottery. There is also potential for the school to expand to encompass grades six through 12 in the future.

GAA will provide concentrated academics in the four core areas of math, science, language arts and history during the morning hours of operation. The school will be staffed with full-time certified teacher/facilitators and GAA will focus on differentiated learning.

The primary component of this, Moyer said, is in planning an educational program that will be most efficient to maximize each student’s potential, providing learning experiences using research-based models to promote integrated learning for all students, providing time to pursue excellence.

“It’s setting them on a course that meets exactly where they are,” Moyer said. “Students will be assisted in determining their interests and skills, and provided opportunity to be exposed to, and enriched in, those components as they emerge. This model will also allow them to explore a subject or interest deeper, rather than the stop-and-go, stop-and-go of going through classes based on when the bell rings.”

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Pluged In: Flash from the past —cameras go retro

Figure 1: “Wall Street” by Paul Strand.

Figure 1: “Wall Street” by Paul Strand.

By Joe Kashi, for the Redoubt Reporter

The photo industry has thrown some curveballs over the past several months, introducing quite a number of expensive, retro-inspired cameras.

Some cameras are merely styled to appear retro but are cutting-edge digital products underneath the chrome. Olympus’ OM-D and E-Pen series are good examples. The OM-D looks like a miniaturized version of Olympus’ OM-series film SLR cameras, popular with professional photographers in the 1970s and 1980s. Olympus’ E-Pen digital cameras were among the first retro-appearing, top-tier digital cameras.

The Pen series consciously mimics the size and appearance of Olympus’ tiny Pen-F from the 1960s. Fujifilm’s X-Pro1 and X-E1 clearly evoke the classic Leica M series film cameras used by 1960s photojournalists as they famously dashed around the world from one hot spot to another. These Olympus and Fujifilm models are the foundation of high-quality camera and interchangeable-lens systems and hence are quite versatile.

Other models are not only retro in appearance but also in reduced functionality and versatility. These cameras use a fixed, single-magnification prime lens permanently attached to the camera body. My sense is that they’re intentionally designed to be “prestige” models, as differentiated as possible from shiny, consumer, point-and-shoot cameras and cellphone cameras. To me, such cameras seem to be conspicuous-consumption throwbacks to the fixed-lens film cameras of the 1940s and 1950s. They’re the digital equivalent of buying an expensive Swiss-made mechanical watch in an era when inexpensive digital watches are usually more accurate.

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