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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New DNR commissioner calls for Feds to partner up at Economic Outlook Forum
The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District (KPEDD) in partnership with the Kenai Peninsula Chapter of the Alliance held the 2011 Industry Outlook Forum at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai January 13th and 14th. Nearly 200 participants registered to hear the latest updates on the oil, gas and mining industries as well as the state of the Alaskan economy from federal, state and local officials. The new Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, Dan Sullivan, was the keynote speaker at lunch on Thursday. Commissioner Sullivan shared his insight on his dealings with the federal government in his short time in office. After a conversation assuring the Commissioner cooperation and open communication, Ken Salazar with the US Interior Department designated parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska west of the North Slope oil fields as "Wild Lands". In reference to the impact of this designation, the Commissioner urged everyone working with the federal government at any level to encourage cooperation over regulation of Alaska lands. "We need the federal government as a partner in developing Alaska's resources not an opponent," said Sullivan.

Russia interested in preserving historical sites in Alaska
A small informal gathering of dignitaries and local officials including Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor David Carey and City Mayor Pat Porter greeted director general and IGU council member, Sergey Kalityuk, from Moscow Russia last week.

Unsung Heroes honored at Kenai Community Awards Ceremony
The custom of honoring the un-sung heroes in our community who consistently contribute to the well being of Kenai and make this a great place to live, work and play is a valuable tradition carried out annually by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce. "These are humble folks, so we have to be very secretive until the Awards Ceremony or most of them would chose not to be present, and intrigue makes it fun," said Carol Bannock, executive director for the Kenai Chamber. The keynote speaker at this year's presentations was Kip Knudson, external affairs manager for Tesoro and chair for the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce. He addressed the reasons why Alaska was ranked the least favorable state to do business in the U.S. and presented tangible ways for the Kenai Chamber to partner with the State Chamber in communicating that Alaska is not only open for business, but a great place to do business.

Harvesting ice for art is a Peninsula Winter Games tradition
It started more than two weeks ago as the mercury hovered well below the zero mark and Soldotna Rotarians gathered at River Bend Lake off Beaver Loop Rd. for their annual fishing for ice ritual. It was an idea of Jerry Near, Norm Blakeley, and John Torgerson, to add a signature ice sculpture event to the annual Peninsula Winter Games that were started 35 years ago by Sterling missionary Al York. This inspiration led to the invention of the chainsaw powered "Near Ice Fishing Jig," a machine intended to harvest ice cubes, not fish. These are ice cubes weighing nearly two tons each. "It required some technology modifications. Chainsaws were never designed to be used for what we use them for, so we designed a cutting jig to hold the saw with a remote throttle and ability to adjust the cutting depth according to the thickness of the ice," explained Near. In years past the open water has been used for polar plunges to raise funds for Rotary International's fight to eliminate polio worldwide. "It's become a fun club project over the last 10 years and this year at our new location it only took 20 breakfast sausages, 15 hamburgers, and a half dozen hot dogs to move over 100 tons of ice out of the pond and to 20 different locations," said Allan Auxier, Soldotna Rotary president.

Hamburger Helpers: Mushrooms, Gravy and a Side of Gnocchi
Ground beef for making hamburgers continues to be one of the best buys in the supermarket, but the tastiest burgers are not always made from the leanest of meat. As a compromise, you might consider making your own burger mix from part ground chuck and part ground sirloin and limiting the size of portions. Except for a bit of salt and fresh ground pepper, I don't like to add anything else to the ground beef, especially if I am planning to serve burgers topped with sauted sliced fresh mushrooms and, maybe, a sauce prepared with red wine. When making burgers, shape them into patties, about 5 ounces each -- so you'll need one and one-quarter pounds of ground beef to make 4 servings. And, even if you like your burger still pink on the inside, as long as it's cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, it will be safe to eat. If, on the other hand, you prefer burgers well done, poke them in the center to assure a cooked, juicy middle and edges that are not frizzled and dried out. Turn them only once during cooking. For a change of pace, try serving burgers with homemade gnocchi, a real treat especially if there's gravy to pass around. Gnocchi dough isn't hard to make and once you get the hang of it, you'll want to make them often to serve in soups and stews. Burgers, good for lunch or supper, are versatile and have no shortage of takers. Add-ons for burgers are limitless meal stretchers and always in budget. If you don't know what to have for dinner, have a burger. Burgers on a bun, burgers with fries, or burgers -- with gnocchi.

More gas coming for Southcentral
Utilities and oil and gas companies are securing new natural gas supplies for Southcentral Alaska, but they aren't finding new gas fast enough to offset the likely need for imported liquefied natural gas in a few years, Colleen Starring, president of Enstar Natural Gas Co., told a business group in Anchorage.

Fire Island in limbo; CIRI scales back project
Cook Inlet Region Inc. has submitted a scaled-back plan for its Fire Island wind project to Southcentral electric utilities, its potential customers.

Photo: Drive-thru

Gas storage facility moves ahead: Regulators grant needed certificate
A proposed natural gas storage facility on the Kenai Peninsula is moving forward after recent decisions from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska and City of Kenai.

Man Tasered at mall
Soldotna police used a Taser to subdue a mentally unstable man at the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna Monday morning.

Carey taps Bannock for interim borough HR director
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey named Duane Bannock interim General Services Director while the borough searches for a new human resources manager at the assembly meeting Tuesday night.

Photo: Piling up

RCA denies Anchor Point Energy waiver
The Regulatory Commission of Alaska denied another utility on the Kenai Peninsula's motion not to disclose financial records.

Troopers bust grow operation: $150,000 worth of marijuana seized in Ninilchik; 3 men arrested
A Ninilchik marijuana grow operation involving two residences, three men, and nearly 500 plants was busted last Friday when troopers acted on a citizen's complaint of suspicious activity and strong marijuana odor emanating from a neighborhood house.

James William Cooper
Longtime Alaskan and Homer resident James William Cooper, 61, died Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011, at his home with his family by his side.

Around the Peninsula

Bereavement support group meets

Around the Peninsula

Ice fishing derby going on now

Pet Photo: Sophie Selby

Soldotna hoops squads sweep Homer
When Soldotna boys basketball coach Matt Johnson called timeout at the 2:30 mark of the fourth quarter, the lead was shrinking, the momentum was shifting and the fouls were mounting.

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