Daily Archives: December 17, 2015

Cooper Landing gets highway OK — ADOT identifies preferred north route for bypass

Graphic courtesy of ADOT

Graphic courtesy of ADOT

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

A trip through Cooper Landing is like driving back in time. Other than some repaving and filled potholes, the road hasn’t been upgraded since the Sterling Highway was completed in 1950, and it shows. Tight S curves with little visibility cling to hillsides and wind just above Kenai Lake and the Kenai River. Narrow lanes crowd big trucks, and the shoulders could be measured with rulers, not tape measures.

“Sometimes you can see the fog line on the outside of the lane that’s actually painted on gravel,” said Kelly Petersen, project manager with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.

Though the road hasn’t been upgraded in 65 years, traffic and its associated problems continue to increase. From 2000 to 2009, ADOT recorded 303 crashes between Mileposts 45 and 60, with 153 in the winter and 150 in the summer.

“Anyone that’s driven through this piece of highway, you know immediately when you’re at Milepost 45 because there’s no clear zones, there’s no shoulder, you’re more white-knuckled. And this is the place that everybody wants to be for the world-class experience of fishing,” Petersen said.

Yet a fix has been a long time coming. ADOT started working on an Environmental Impact Statement for a highway upgrade in the early 1980s, but for a longer stretch of the road — from Milepost 37 east of Cooper Landing, closer to the junction with the Seward Highway, to Milepost 60, west of the intersection with Skilak Lake Road. The project got split in two, with an upgrade of miles 37 to 45 being completed in 2001. The rest has been on the to-do list for so long that the original EIS has become the oldest environmental document for a highway project in the country.

But while the need for a safer road has been obvious, a solution has not.

“This project is in a unique place because it’s right next to Kenai Lake and the Kenai River, it’s a critical area with great salmon runs that are world famous. So, working between that and fairly steep terrain. And then, of course, we’ve got a wilderness area plus multiple trailheads, and there’s also cultural sites — archaeological and otherwise. So it’s definitely a challenging place to build,” said Shannon McCarthy, ADOT spokesperson.

Any one of those challenges can be a significant hurdle to a highway project. And in this case, the challenges kept coming.

“There’s just been a lot of changes in the corridor, both in traffic, the formation of (the Kenai River Special Management Area), the identification of selection properties under (the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act). The whole issue is, this is a complex piece,” Petersen said.

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Filed under Cooper Landing, driving, public safety, transportation

BOF no Kenai BFF — Effort to host Board of Fish gets unfriendly reception

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Local efforts to host a Board of Fisheries meeting on Upper Cook Inlet issues in the Kenai area have again netted no results.

In a somewhat circuitous discussion Dec. 8, the Alaska Board of Fisheries underlined its decision from a year before to hold its 2017 Upper Cook Inlet meeting in Anchorage, rather than moving it to the Kenai Peninsula.

The board hasn’t held an Upper Cook Inlet meeting on the Kenai since 1999, despite regular pleas from municipal governments, fishing organizations, business groups and individuals to do so. The board first decided on Anchorage in October 2014 during a work session held in Juneau, but a problem with the venue led the scheduling issue to resurface in October this year, prompting another round of requests to hold the meeting on the central Kenai Peninsula. Gov. Bill Walker was among those writing letters asking the board to consider a location change for the Upper Cook Inlet meeting, even pledging to come to the meeting if it’s held on the central peninsula.

The board voted 4-3 to address the location issue at its Bristol Bay meeting, held last week in Anchorage, but that didn’t stop board members from grousing about the discussion.

“I agree with the other board members that this is a real distraction on a meeting that I felt required our full attention. I guess I’m very disappointed in that, that we would be getting so many letters and so many comments right in the middle of an important meeting for some other folks,” said Bob Mumford.

The board spent over a half an hour Dec. 8 debating both sides of various points, fairness being one. Board member Reed Morisky listed the seven fishery allocation criteria the board is tasked to consider in making fishery decisions as justification for holding the meeting in Anchorage, under the argument that the majority of the sport- and personal-use participants in the Kenai-area fisheries live in Anchorage or the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

As for fishery users on the Kenai, board member John Jensen said that Anchorage meetings aren’t that difficult to attend, especially with web streaming of proceedings and agendas posted online.

“They can come up when they need to do public presentations or talk to the board members. We’re not hiding. Anchorage is an easy place to get to for all user groups,” he said.

Sue Jeffrey and Fritz Johnson also cited allocation criteria, but in support of meeting in Kenai.

“We referenced the importance of each fishery to the economy of the region and the local area in which the fishery is located, and I believe that the local area, in this case, with regard to meeting location, has been neglected for too long,” Johnson said. “… I just wonder if, given the different nature of the urban areas in and around Anchorage, that there’s a kind of tyranny of the majority that impacts the more traditional residents of the Kenai Peninsula that we might want to think about in terms of keeping the meeting in Anchorage.”

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Soldotna approves pot moratorium

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

The city of Soldotna is taking a wait-and-see approach to commercial marijuana activity.

The city council voted Wednesday to enact a two-year moratorium on the production, testing and sale of marijuana. Council member Regina Daniels submitted the ordinance. Those in support said there are just too many unknowns.

“I just don’t think we’d ready for it in town at this time. I think it will end up costing more. And I know it’s still here, I know it’s going to be here, people are going to smoke it,” said council member Linda Murphy. “I don’t want to criminalize marijuana. But I think in a couple of years we’ll see how it plays out in Kenai, we’ll see how it plays out in Anchorage.”

A few members of the public spoke in favor of the ordinance, some against marijuana in general, others in favor of taking a cautious approach.

“Right now the (state) Marijuana Control Board, in my opinion, is more of a work in progress,” said Barbara Jewell, of Soldotna. “This is new to the state of Alaska, and I think we could learn from other states, as well as cities, from the mistakes or whatever they fumble through what’s happened now.”

Many more people testified against the ordinance. Joyce Cox, of Soldotna, said a moratorium doesn’t make sense financially.

“We’re going to lose out,” she said. “We need to be aware of the declining state budgets. This is revenue that we are going to be losing. And I believe that the revenues from the sales of marijuana — and I need to tell you, I am not a user — but I do think we need that revenue for the city.”

Patricia Patterson, who owns Lucky Raven Tobacco in Soldotna, said banning commercial marijuana won’t do anything to stop marijuana from being used and distributed in the city.

“Marijuana is being sold today, it’s being smoked today. All this is doing is saying, ‘I don’t want to see it.’ That’s all this is,” Patterson said.

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‘Best’ bet of the season — Holiday show must go on at Triumvirate

Photos by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Gladys, played by Charli Byrd, performs her superhero rendition of the Angel of the Lord, disrupting the Christmas pageant that director Grace Bradley, played by AnnMarie Rudstrom, is attempting to stage.

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. Gladys, played by Charli Byrd, performs her superhero rendition of the Angel of the Lord, disrupting the Christmas pageant that director Grace Bradley, played by AnnMarie Rudstrom, is attempting to stage.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and said unto them —

“Shazam! Out of the black night, with horrible vengeance, the mighty Marvo!”

At least, that’s how it goes when Gladys Herdman plays the angel in the annual church Christmas pageant. She’s the youngest of the herd of six Herdman kids. Altogether, the brood is more unruly, ill-mannered and wild than anything that would eat out of a manger.

“They’re basically raising themselves, they run amok, they’re hoodlums, they smoke and they curse and they bully the other kids. They’re really terrible children,” said Kate Schwarzer, who’s directing “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at Triumvirate Theatre this weekend.

In the show, the pageant is a staple church tradition of the Christmas season, but the usual director is out with a broken leg, leaving eager but inexperienced Grace Bradley, played by AnnMarie Rudstrom, to take the helm. Her enthusiasm, patience and optimism know no bounds, until the Herdman kids decide to participate and bully their way into the lead roles.

“So, Imogene has volunteered to be Mary — I’ll just write that down. Now, what other names can I put on my list? Janet? Roberta? Alice, don’t you want to volunteer?” Bradley says, as other kids are too intimidated by the Herdmans to speak up.

Gladys, the youngest Herdman, played by Charli Byrd, is convinced the Angel of the Lord is a superhero, and regularly sends rehearsals off track with her dramatic outbursts.

“I know a name! I’d call it, ‘Revenge and Bethlehem!’” she shouts.

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Filed under entertainment, holidays, theater

Color me calm — Kids’ pastime crosses line into adult activity

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Briley Morton of Soldotna completes her butterfly during an adult coloring program at the Soldotna Public Library last week. Adult coloring is becoming popular at libraries across the country.

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Briley Morton of Soldotna completes her butterfly during an adult coloring program at the Soldotna Public Library last week. Adult coloring is becoming popular at libraries across the country.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

Coloring, once considered a fond pastime from childhood, is no longer viewed as a frivolous venture restricted to the youngest members of society.

“Adult coloring is becoming popular nationwide and at libraries across the country, so we thought we’d try adding it to our programming and seeing what the community’s response was,” said Reilly Selmser, a clerk at the Soldotna Public Library.

The library’s first adult coloring class was in November, and there has been half a dozen people coming each week since.

The designs are also not the simple outlines of cartoon characters, as is common with children’s coloring books. There are elaborate nature depictions, complex fantasy scenes and circular mandalas, just to name a few. And rather than crayons, colored pencils or narrow-tipped markers tend to be the medium of choice.

“They work better on the fine lines and intricate details,” Selmser said.

Jamie Morton, of Soldotna, was one of the participants in last week’s coloring class. She said that after a long day dealing with the responsibilities of adult life, it is therapeutic to come color for an hour.

“I like coloring for the anti-stressing part of it. It’s very relaxing,” she said.

Morton said that she was not an avid colorer as a kid, but has been making up for the lost time now that the library has been offering the program weekly.

“My 12-year-old daughter and I frequent the library and I brought her to one and we really enjoyed it,” she said.

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Common Ground: Take your ‘time’ in adventures

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Time takes on a different meaning in the outdoors.

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Time takes on a different meaning in the outdoors.

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

We had been on the boat for 11 hours when the captain suggested we stay out longer and fish for king salmon. We had already caught a limit of halibut. That was the plan for the day. I had agreed to fish for halibut. No one had once mentioned fishing for kings or spending more than 11 hours on a boat. I briefly felt that I’d been kidnapped. While the three others assembled the down riggers necessary to fish for kings, I mentally began to fashion means of escape by assembling an array of useful objects.

Dare I ask, I wondered, how long we were going to be out? The invite to go fishing only had a start time. I’d failed to ascertain when the party would end. These uncoordinated expectations could cause three people to be having the time of their lives, while the person who didn’t pack three square snacks (me) to be like Daffy Duck sizing up the others for a meal.

The more time I spend outdoors on uncoordinated fishing expeditions, the more I realize that the clock on the wall at the office is no longer valid. Time in numbers is meaningless in the outdoors. Even the terms used to describe time cannot be taken literally. Based on my experience working in offices, time is very literal to me. It’s not just the hours and minutes. There is lunchtime and break time and other designated times. All of that was clearly out the window, since the boat didn’t have a window. We were on fishing time, and that was a very scary form of timekeeping. Because I care about my fellow human beings who may count time as I do, it is necessary to share some of the things I’ve learned about declarations of time in the outdoors.

  • Early. If you ask what time we will be leaving the next morning and the answer is “early,” beware! Early is an adverb, not a noun, and it is closer to the word “soon” than “morning.” Some people think 8 a.m. is early. It is not. Early can be any time after midnight.

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Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce: Calculations on giving more in getting less

By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt reporter

When we were first married, I announced to my husband, “I have an idea!”

That idea led us to living in a very remote cabin in Southeast Alaska with four children under 5 and no running water (unless it rained and filled the cistern). Wahooo! It was hard and awful and truly the best of times.

A few years ago I made a similar announcement, “I have an idea!” We agreed on this “idea.” We sold our suburban mansion of 1,500 square feet and traded up for 325 square feet of log loveliness and an amazing upgrade on outdoor elbowroom. No, we’re not a boat ride away from civilization and we have running water so we don’t qualify for own reality show. (Darn. There goes my chance to be a millionaire.)

The other day I did some rough calculations. Once I subtracted the stove, cabinetry, beds and so on we had approximately 125 square feet of actual unoccupied space, divided by three persons and three fur creatures, that leaves about 20.83 feet per being, give or take boot driers, fishing/hunting/musical gear or other seasonal trappings.

In our spare time (Ha ha! Like we actually have spare time) we are building a slightly larger log cabin. The first cabin will be a weaning pen for our youngest and a storage facility for company. We have never built a log cabin before, but we once had company for a month. That’s THIRTY days!

And we are still married. (Applause.)

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Filed under Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, holidays, humor