Friday, February 18, 2005

No. 12 Louisville notches big comeback
MILWAUKEE — Francisco Garcia's 3-pointer with 2.6 seconds remaining capped a 14-0 run that gave Louisville a 64-61 win over Marquette on Thursday night.

Schilling, Wells turn up volume early in season
TAMPA, Fla. — With the Curt & Pedro tandem broken up, Boston began its first spring as World Series champions since 1918 with some striking words from Schilling and new teammate David Wells.

State BLM proposes dividing NPR regions
Colleen McCarthy, deputy state director for energy and solid minerals for the Alaska Bureau of Land Management, said Tuesday at the Alliance luncheon in Kenai that the BLM has proposed dividing the northeast region of the National Petroleum Reserve into seven lease tracts for oil and gas exploration.

Agrium reconfirms plant closure
Responding to analyst questions, Agrium reiterated its plans to close its North Kenai nitrogen facility in its fourth quarter and year-end earnings conference call Feb. 10.

The gift of garb
Nuson Smith says all of the pretty people go to the Riverside — especially when there is a runway lingerie show.

Business Briefs
Chamber to host after hours Chamber to host after hours Area chambers set schedule Business workshops set Builders meeting slated AT&T donates to book project Republican women plan dinner Business workshops set Builders meeting slated AT&T donates to book project Republican women plan dinner

Little, Mackey lead Quest
FAIRBANKS (AP) — Jon Little of Kasilof was the first musher to leave the Pelly Crossing checkpoint and tackle the 200-mile stretch to Dawson City in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.

Area real estate market could be headed for slump
In light of Agrium's announcement that its North Kenai fertilizer plant is closing down, people in Nikiski are on edge about what will happen to their property values, said Karen Kester, recreation director for North Peninsula Recreation Service Area. Kester said the concern about a sudden influx in houses on the real estate market and a drop in property values have been big concerns in her community.

Division seeks to boost businesses to benefit all
Quarterly reviews of the Kenai Peninsula Borough's economy conducted over the past year have noted slow but steady growth and credited that generally healthy trend to the economy's diversity.

Companies have busy year ahead looking for, developing reserves
The Cook Inlet Oil & Gas 2004 Annual Report includes outlooks for gas and oil exploration efforts in 2005. Much more attention apparently will be paid to natural gas than to oil. Below is a quick look at what the energy companies will be up to this year.

Kenai Landing site taking off
By transforming old into new, the developers of Kenai Landing hope to bring new life to the Kenai waterfront.

Tesoro aims to be fuel of choice
One of the largest independent petroleum refiners and marketers in the Western U.S., Tesoro Corp. is reporting strong financial results for 2004 with a $400 million reduction in debt and increased shareholder value.

Plant closure could affect schools
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District officials have braced themselves for the shutdown of Agrium's North Kenai fertilizer plant Oct. 31 and the loss of jobs and students it will likely entail. The plan is to react in a calm, factual manner as the community responds to the change.

Marathon finds new reserves
Development work on Marathon Oil Company's Ninilchik field has significantly increased the company's estimate of proved, recoverable reserves of natural gas, according to Marathon's manager of its Alaska business unit.

Learning to meet the needs of the future
Due to an increased in demand for health care workers, Kenai Peninsula College has developed new programs to train students in medical fields, has slated a paramedics curriculum for the fall and continues with its third year of EMT courses. The two-year nursing program is up and running as of spring semester and a mining curriculum is being ironed out while students can already take introductory mining classes. KPC continues to install timely courses geared to benefit the economy in the coming years.

Peninsula's diversity pays off
While other parts of the state struggle to make ends meet, state analysts are crediting the diversity of business and industry on the Kenai Peninsula with producing a relatively healthy local economy.

Alaska construction labor shortage expected to get worse
Brought on by the field's growth and an aging work force, thousands of jobs in Alaska's construction industry could go unfilled — or be filled with untrained or inexperienced workers — over the next eight years.

Native corporations have varied, positive affect on peninsula
Alaska Native corporations engaging in enterprises ranging from petroleum and forestry to tourism and real estate has a positive influence on the economy of the Kenai Peninsula.

Projects planned to get to root of wildfire problem
The Spruce Bark Beetle Mitigation Project, entering its sixth year, has projects for the coming year that coordinators believe will continue to help make the community safer from the threat of wildfires.

Pierce leaves Cook Inlet legacy with Unocal
After nearly five years, Chuck Pierce has left his position as Unocal's top executive in Alaska.

Welfare to work program taking off in Alaska
The number of Alaska families collecting welfare has dropped 54 percent since the inception of the federal welfare reform efforts in 1996, according to the state Division of Public Assistance.

Enstar customers see higher prices
Due primarily to the high price of oil during 2004 and the higher cost of new gas supplies, Enstar customers can expect natural gas rate increases of between 16 and 18 percent in 2005, according to the company's division manager.

CNA has healthy outlook on job
Partly because of the slower pace, Laura Williams prefers the night shift at Central Peninsula General Hospital, where she is employed as a certified nursing assistant.

ConocoPhillips plans to spend big
ConocoPhillips, Alaska's largest producer of North Slope crude oil and natural gas, plans to spend $1.5 billion in Alaska in 2005.

Fishers getting a cool break
It could be a very cool year for Cook Inlet commercial fishers.

Exploration yields more gas, less oil than thought
For the first time in seven years, the proven reserves of Cook Inlet natural gas have grown rather than declined, thanks to recent efforts by industry to explore for and tap new pockets and to rework existing wells.

Health care field shifting to meet demands of senior citizens
As the overall population of the Kenai Peninsula Borough ages, health care professionals are adjusting to meet the needs of its older citizens.

Hansen takes reins of Tesoro in Alaska
There is a new face at the Tesoro petroleum refinery in North Kenai, and he could not be happier about it.

Area's economy matures with aging population
As the Kenai Peninsula experiences a shift to the oldest population it has ever seen, services for that population expand, as well.

Business booming into bigger digs
As the population of the Kenai Peninsula grows, so, too, does the customer base of several peninsula businesses. As such, several familiar business have expanded existing facilities, renovated antiquated facilities to give them a modern look or opened new branches in different locations.

Cities ready for busy building season
A new library, a major hospital expansion, some new restrooms and the addition of miles of water and sewer lines are among the major projects Kenai Peninsula residents can expect to see in various stages of construction this summer.

Guide's life: Finding fish, sleep
Some people love fishing. Kenai River guides like Steve and Rondi McClure live fishing.

Future of Era ownership up in the air
Chuck Johnson believes that in the 56-year history of Era Aviation on the Kenai Peninsula, the company has improved and grown throughout the years just like the communities it serves.

Peninsula could cash in on Pebble mine project
Although the economy of the Kenai Peninsula is heavily dependent upon the oil and gas, fishing and tourism industries, interest has turned lately to the promise of a proposed major mining project in the borough next door.

Experiment's over: GTL plant to be dismantled
An experimental plant built by BP at Nikiski to test new technologies for turning natural gas into synthetic crude oil has served its purpose and likely will be dismantled in the near future.

Hospital enters second phase of growth spurt
In June 2004, Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna broke ground for its $49.9 million expansion.

Artists need community help to thrive
Homer and Girdwood have established art communities and some believe the central Kenai Peninsula is fully capable of cultivating such a culturally conscious populace, as well.

The economy at a glance
Kenai's top property taxpayersBorough's top sales taxpayersTop 10 EmployersHomer's top sales taxpayersSeward's top sales taxpayersBorough's top property taxpayersSoldotna's top property taxpayers

Government a boon for workers
Government employment has grown on the Kenai Peninsula between 2000 and 2003, accounting for nearly $180 million in payroll in 2003.

State tourism rebounding after 9-11
Tourism, an important sector of the Kenai Peninsula Borough economy, is on the rebound in Alaska since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, slowed things down.

Agrium plant to close
Agrium announced that it will shut down its North Kenai fertilizer plant Oct. 31 because it is not able to secure a cheap supply of natural gas. The company said 230 jobs will be lost with salaries averaging $80,000.

State natural gas line could be lifeline for Kenai Peninsula
Trapped beneath the North Slope may lie an estimated 250 trillion cubic feet of natural gas waiting for an economically feasible way to get to market.

Peninsula retains cheap living status
The Kenai Peninsula has a reputation for having a diverse economy, but how does the cost of living compare to other areas of Alaska? Is the peninsula a cheap place to live like many believe?

$20 million slated for pipeline training
Federal dollars promoting the training and hiring of Alaskans to construct a gas pipeline has state officials and representatives of Alaska's trade organizations talking about how they can spend the money. Some say, however, the money is not enough and may come too late.

Check please: Business lunch may be ready for retirement
Unlike Rob Hanson's predecessors in the sales industry, he does not often conduct business over lunch.

Many factors determine gas prices
Steve Hansen, the new vice president of refining at Tesoro Alaska, said he has been spending a lot of time explaining why gasoline prices are higher on the Kenai Peninsula than they are in Anchorage. Here are the reasons he gave:

Hitting the bull's-eye with handcrafted bows
MARIETTA, Okla. — A hunter at heart, G.W. Flanagan decided to use his youthful enthusiasm to take his passion one step further when he was just a teen. Since he was 15 years old, Flanagan, now retired, has been making his own bows, a ''hobby'' he's honed into a fine skill that attracts the attention of hunters far and wide.

From the bookshelf: Satirical novel skewers Alaska government
Neil Davis's new novel, "The Great Alaska Zingwater Caper" is likely to tweak the state's movers and shakers. But for humble folk who look askance at how the power brokers conduct their business, this pointed satire is a hoot. Alaska readers who follow public affairs with skepticism won't know whether to laugh or cry at its send-up of current events.

Art Briefs
Writers' group meets today Peninsula Art Guild meeting planned Tile-making workshop slated Students invited to enter contest Money available for artists Homer concert series seeks musicians Concert on the Lawn looking for acts Writers conference slated

What's Happening
Best Bets Events and Exhibits Entertainment Upcoming events Films Anchorage events

Arthur Miller dies at 89
NEW YORK — Arthur Miller, one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, gave America — and the world — ''Death of a Salesman'' and its iconic title character Willy Loman.

Enchanting entertainment
It takes a real man to wear a kilt, especially in Alaska in February. The Kenai Performers found they have no lack of those, or women, children, singers, dancers, musicians and volunteers, for its musical this year, "Brigadoon," by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe.

Advisory committee members were right: Fish board is broken
The board of fish missed a great opportunity to solve many problems. Some of us remember how KRSA Executive Director Ricky Gease convinced the board how dangerous Soldotna is and then later apologized for it. How about KRSA's attorney, Dan Coffey, brokering deals in the midnight hour? In a recent letter to board chair Art Nelson, Bob Penney explained about tides and windows and what "we all discussed and agreed to."

Anchorage's proposed bed tax will affect all Alaskans
The mayor of Anchorage proudly states the hotel tax for the new convention center will not cost Anchorage residents in new taxes. True. Now the rest of therest of the story. Tourists are supposed to pay for it.

Students, volunteers helped Valentine's event succeed
Schools' recent Valentine's Craft Fair was a heart warming success! This annual event, co-sponsored by the Soldotna High School National Honor Society, hosted many creative children and their parents. Children visited several craft tables, with an opportunity to "make and take" Valentine-themed items. The NHS students helped the children to create some simple and some not-so-simple crafts, ranging from heart crowns to heart-shaped treat pockets.

Security guard's firing shows legislators play without rules
I hope the security guard in Juneau that was just fired sues his employer and any other party associated with it. It's bad enough for our government to find ways to void elections (how many times did we vote to move the capitol?) but now that someone has come forward and made public what has been going on for years, he is fired. It's obvious to everyone that legislators want the distance between constituents and themselves so they can act autonomously.

Basketball program a slam dunk
The Boys and Girls Club's third-fourth grade basketball league, with 20 teams and nearly 200 kids, just wrapped up yet another fun-filled, action-packed season. The success of the program rests with the positive and caring individuals who took time out of their busy lives to give the kids the opportunity to experience the comradery of being on a team, the thrill in learning a new skill and the responsibility of teamwork.

Social Security 'crisis' nothing more than government lie
Social Security crisis? Balderdash! Congress simply has a monstrous, insatiable spending overload. This is the case and has been for a good many years. Probably back to the time our senior senator entered the Senate. Paying businesses for not utilizing their land, outright grants of big bucks to the other countries of the world, the bloated welfare state, etc.; all this with no discernable effort to reign in spending. I'm certainly not the brightest bulb in the woods, but it's clear as a bell to me that the administration and Congress are pulling a gigantic scam on the public. If they would allow the revenue from Social Security to be spent for its intended purpose only, the so-called crisis would disappear like a snowcone in the desert. All this rhetoric about the "lock box" or the "trust fund" is a shameful lie.

Kerry Earnhardt follows family success at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kerry Earnhardt's first career pole came at a fitting place: Daytona.

Waltrip, Earnhardt up front again at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Daytona 500 is still three days away and already NASCAR is in midseason form. The Dale Earnhardt Inc. team is running out in front and Kevin Harvick is being rapped for reckless driving.

Outsiders need big day in Daytona qualifiers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Stanton Barrett sat in the shade at the back of his team's hauler looking glum.

Kenai clock may run out of time
Unless the public steps forward with significant funding, it doesn't look like Kenai will be getting a town clock any time soon.

Light earthquake shakes southcentral
ANCHORAGE (AP) — A light earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.7 rattled southcentral Alaska on Wednesday, the Alaska Earthquake Information Center said.

Dinner to mark 'One Year Out Celebration'
Supporters of the Arctic Winter Games could find themselves enjoying a tropical vacation in Hawaii.

In your face!
Joel Brower, 5, gets a face wash while sledding with family on the bluff in Kenai on Thursday afternoon.

Grant will add to road upgrade
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted Tuesday to accept a $909,700 state grant that will go toward improvements to Keystone Drive Road, a collector road along the Kenai River serving local residents, tourist businesses, federally managed and private park facilities and a public boat launch.

Restoration earns environmental award
Before this summer, juvenile salmon wanting to find a good place to hang out on Silver Salmon Creek were forced to stay downstream of a small culvert that blocked their passage beyond Oilwell Road, leaving miles of prime silver and king rearing grounds essentially unused.

Construction days away
After years of planning, waiting and delaying, the stars have aligned to allow the construction of the Kenai River Bridge. In less than two weeks, the long-awaited Kenai River bridge project is due to begin.

Concerns arise from timing of Games resignation
The Arctic Winter Games International Committee is keeping an eye on the situation in Alaska after learning this week that general manager of the 2006 Kenai Peninsula Arctic Winter Games Host Society had resigned, an official with the committee said Tuesday.

Starkweather to be sentenced in May
Sentencing of Justin Starkweather was set for May 20 by Kenai Superior Court Judge Charles Cranston on Wednesday. Starkweather is the 23-year-old man convicted of the 2002 sexual assault and attempted murder of a 46-year-old woman in her home near West Poppy Lane.

Nancy Yandell
Former Sterling resident Nancy Yandell died Monday, Feb. 1, 2005, at Providence Hospital in Anchorage due to complications from a long illness. She was surround by family and friends.

Stephen A. Schachle
Anchor Point resident Stephen A. Schachle died Saturday, Feb. 12, 2005, at Heritage Place in Soldotna with his wife, Lois, and brother, Mike, by his side. He was 80.

United States must accept global warming
Glaciers are retreating in mountains from Alaska to the Andes to Tibet. An age-old Antarctic ice shelf the size of Rhode Island shatters and melts into the sea. Greenland's ice, which holds enough water to raise ocean levels 21 feet, is starting to melt. ... Yet James Inhofe, the Oklahoma senator and chairman of an environmental committee, calls global warming the ''greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.''

State doesn't need an elected attorney general
Does Alaska need more politicians?

Regional forester OKs helicopter landings for wilderness surveys
KETCHIKAN (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service will use helicopters to reach remote wilderness areas and monitor forest health, according to the regional forester.

Moose Range Meadows conservation a worthwhile 'work in progress'
If you like to do some salmon fishing in the Soldotna area, you've probably heard of the Moose Range Meadows subdivision on the Kenai River. Maybe you have fished off the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge's fiberglass boardwalks on the north bank, or maybe a law enforcement officer has asked you to pack up your fishing gear and leave what you thought was a public river bank. Or maybe you are a riverbank property owner who either fumes about government restrictions against a desired dock or gazebo, or who enjoys the more-or-less "wild" view when looking up and down the river from your property. If your riverbank property in Moose Range Meadows is an investment, you may well appreciate the extra appraisal value that non-development restrictions can add to your property.

Around the Peninsula
Cajun dinner, auction SaturdayUsed book sale slatedCoal bed methane workshop setAWG to host auction fund-raiser

Around the Peninsula
Volunteers for wildlife education sought Open house set DAV to meet Cajun dinner, auction set Asian relief fund-raiser planned CIAA to meet Car seat safety checks slated Annual lip sync contest scheduled

Church briefs
Poetry contest slatedChurch changes meeting placeMOMS to meetClothing availableYouth seeking funds for hungryChurch production slatedBible study group to meetClothes 2 Go openAddictions group meeting slated

True victory is when we make it to the finish line
Most contend that the last presidential election was nothing less than a war. It was a battle of values and ideals with two major sides entrenched and determined: us versus them, and never the twain shall meet.

Bring on the spring
Though it's just the middle of February, conditions on the Kenai Peninsula's cross-country ski trails have skiers thinking spring.

Kenai Peninsula Cross-Country Ski Trails
Tsalteshi Trails — Located behind Skyview High School, with trail heads at the high school parking lot and on Kalifornsky Beach Road just across from the Soldotna Sports Center. Difficulty — Trails for all levels.

With six fingers and no legs, player beats odds
MADISON, Wis. — When Scot Vesterdahl, the basketball coach at Madison Area Technical College, opened the gym for tryouts he knew Brandon Watkins would have his work cut out for him.

Slight stroke slows Bruschi
BOSTON — New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffered a mild stroke but is walking, talking and in good spirits, the team said.

Clippers can't take the Heat
MIAMI — Damon Jones had a career-high 31 points and Dwyane Wade added 28 points and 12 assists to help carry the Miami Heat to a 113-95 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

Are darker days ahead or behind the NHL?
NEW YORK — Day 155 of the NHL lockout was stunningly Day 1 of the offseason.

Davis takes the lead, with Tiger lurking
LOS ANGELES — The shifting wind and gloomy rain gave the Nissan Open a distinctively British feel Thursday.

Armstrong to go for Tour win No. 7
Armstrong had left open the possibility he wouldn't compete this year in cycling's showcase event to pursue other races. But in an announcement Wednesday on the Web site of his Discovery Channel team the Tour's only six-time winner said he will again commit himself to the race to which he's dedicated his cycling life.

In reaction to brawl, NBA introduces new security measures
DENVER — The NBA is using All-Star weekend to introduce new security guidelines for all its arenas in hopes of preventing a repeat of the brawl between players and fans in Detroit earlier this season.

Where does the NHL go from here?
Football, a sport so much more popular and richer than hockey the two almost cannot be compared, never attempted a gambit so risky. Neither did baseball, a sport so indigenous to the fabric of American society that its very president once was a team owner.

New York Olympics a longshot without new stadium
The Big Apple is all dressed up and ready to go. Central Park is decorated, Olympic banners and ads are everywhere, and Donald Trump's hair is firmly in place.

Powell leads Illini to 26th straight victory
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Roger Powell Jr. went 10-for-10 from the field and scored 21 points and Dee Brown added 19 points to lead No. 1 Illinois to its 26th straight win, 83-63 over Penn State on Wednesday night.

Timberwolves take down Cavaliers
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota's backups were too much for Cleveland's All-Stars.

California elk captured as part of restoration effort
LOS BANOS, Calif. — State and federal wildlife officials captured dozens of Tule elk for relocation Wednesday, part of an effort to restore a native California species that has rebounded from the brink of extinction.

Colorado requests more lynx for reintroduction
WHITEHORSE, Yukon Territory (AP) — The state of Colorado would like to import eight lynx from the Yukon in the next month as part of its program to restore the animals to the wild.

Scientists seek help in counting birds
JUNEAU — You don't have to be in your backyard for the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count. Organizers of the event, which runs from Feb. 18 through Feb. 21, will be glad to take findings from any location. You can walk the shore, trudge through the woods, or sit beside your kitchen window.

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