Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Agrium’s Blue Sky project nears Phase II
Until Agrium was able to secure a continued supply of natural gas last year they had announced that the plant would shut down in October 2005. With the news that they had been successful in acquiring a continued supply of gas through October 31, 2006, came the additional announcement that Agrium had begun a Blue Sky project to study the feasibility of building a plant that would continue to produce ammonia and urea from coal. The project would use proven coal gasification technology to transform Beluga coal into feedstock for Agrium’s Kenai Nitrogen Operation complex and would allow for the continued long term operation of the Kenai facility. Even with the supply of natural gas acquired last year, the plant had to shut down operation in January to free up supplies for domestic use. Something that has never happened before in the plants nearly 40 year history.

Great Alaska Pizza Co. opens in Soldotna
The Great Alaska Pizza Co. is now open in Soldotna and living up to their reputation for great pizza at a great value offering their “Fresh -N-Fast” large pizza with pepperoni or just cheese for only $8.88 all day, every day, according to franchise owner Cheri Logan. “I have really been overwhelmed and pleasantly surprised by the welcome we have received from folks in Soldotna and Kenai. I personally truly enjoy the community and have been quite overwhelmed by how open and supportive everyone has been to us,” said Logan.

Have fries will travel...
With cost of fueling your car or truck approaching $3.00 a gallon, many people are looking for ways to reduce the costs of fuel without cutting down on their transportation needs. Basement mechanic Mike Arnold of Soldotna has come up with an alternative that he says is getting him about 400 miles to a gallon of diesel fuel in his vintage VW Rabbit, “I get about 4,000 miles on a 10gallon tank of diesel in the summer and about 3,000 miles in the winter, so I don’t pull into gas stations very often,” says Arnold.

All my life I have loved to garden and tomatoes have been one of my favorite plants to grow. Growing beautiful ripe tomatoes in the Midwest is pretty simple; however up here in Alaska it gets much more involved then simply sticking the plants in the ground and wait to harvest a beautiful crop. Here on the Kenai Peninsula you need to use a greenhouse because of our late springs as well as cooler temperatures. Then you need a way to keep them from freezing on those extra cool nights that sneak in long after it has gotten warm enough to get your plants started.

Local help from a generous industry
After selling their Nikiski refinery and most of their Alaskan interests some twenty years ago, Chevron last year returned to Alaska in a big way when they purchased Unocal. Returning with Chevron is the company’s commitment to supporting the local communities where they live and do business. Last week at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce regular noon luncheon meeting, Chris Myers, Cook Inlet Field Superintendent for Chevron presented Jane Stein with a check for $25,000 for the Kenai Peninsula Foundation, “This represents monies that Chevron is committing to the local community and funds that can be dispersed to local entities in smaller amounts. We are not set up to contribute small amounts for individual projects, so the Kenai Peninsula Foundation fits a niche for us so that we can contribute to the community and have it distributed with no overhead so that all the money goes directly to meet the various needs of the community,” said Myers.

Light, slowing down, awareness best defense against moose hits
Information found in (the April 18) paper regarding “sound generating devices” to scare moose and deer is completely wrong. Several states (Utah for one, and I think New Hampshire) installed them on Trooper cars or did other studies and found them totally ineffective except to part suckers from their money. For one thing, they clog easily with snow and debris, and for another speed has to be above 30 mph for them to whistle.

Arctic Winter Games biathlon events blew competitors away
Thank you for helping to make the Biathlon events a profoundly positive experience.

State’s natural gas needs should be the priority
A recent phone survey asked me whether or not I thought the proposed gas line should go through Canada via one of two routes. I believe the caller also asked if I thought the Valdez NGL plant option should be considered. One option was missing that really disturbed me. I don’t think that one cubic foot of natural gas should leave Alaska until the needs of Alaska (specifically the Cook Inlet) are provided for.

Reader questions Rep. Chenault’s oil company support
If Mayor Williams wants to be mad at somebody, he needs to be mad at Representative Chenault. Year after year, Chenault fought to carve out a better deal for the oil companies that pay for his campaigns.

Kudos for education support
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the six members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly who, at their recent meeting, reaffirmed their commitment to support the largest and most important duty of local government. By voting to continue the long-standing and honorable tradition of funding education to the maximum amount allowed by state law, (to the cap) these five members sent a strong message. These assembly members confirmed that caring for the most precious 20 percent of the borough’s population, for eight hours a day, while preparing them to successfully contribute to tomorrow’s world is indeed a non-negotiable, top priority for the borough.

Experienced biologists weren’t asked to KRSA meeting
Recently, Kenai River Sport Fishing Association (KRSA) held a meeting to define research priorities for the Kenai River. The purpose of that meeting was to set research priorities for the spending of millions of federal and state tax dollars directed to KRSA by Ted Stevens. The executive director, Mr. Ricky Gease, stated that KRSA was bringing together land use managers and research personnel familiar with the Kenai River to set these research goals.

Eagles are nice, but not at cost of other birds
We have been reading and hearing about the feeding of eagles on the Homer Spit and haven’t seen much said about the impact of the bald eagle population on the surrounding bird colonies in Kachemak Bay, to say nothing of the migrating bird population into the Kenai River flats area this time of year.

Whining gets no sympathy from reader for oil companies
I hear that big oil companies are threatening to pull out of Alaska or severely reduce their spending here if the state raises their tax burden.

Gifts for AWG volunteers not expected
I just read the letter from Emma Russel (Clarion, April 21) explaining how proud she was of her son and his Boy Scout troop for volunteering their services during the Arctic Winter Games. I, too, was a volunteer for the AWG and was surprised to hear from Emma that because I received a coat and gloves, I was working, not volunteering.

Find new solutions to illegal immigration problem
Re: The Illegal Immigrant Problem

Isolation is the answer for borough misspending
My wife Samon and I are new members of ACT. With ACT’s success with regard to Props 4 and 5 and the Borough’s “business as usual attitude,” spend, spend, spend, we support the ACT-CAP proposed referendum.

On taxes and the difference between politicians, grizzlies
Re: April 12 letter from Mr. Bennett Sr., Subject: Sales Tax v. Property Tax.

Charter school numbers limited to 136 students
The next Kenai Peninsula Borough school board meeting will be June 5 in Soldotna.

Jury selection begins today in Fairchild murder
Jury selection is scheduled to begin this morning in Kenai Superior Court in the murder trial of Barry McCormack Sr., accused of killing a Soldotna woman 21 years ago.

Hospital sees staff changes, drop in surgeries, admissions
In his last report before being officially appointed chief executive officer of Central Peninsula General Hospital, the top finance officer gave a rather grim report of the hospital’s March numbers.

Burned cars clutter Kasilof beach
Torched and illegally dumped vehicles near the mouth of the Kasilof River have spring beach-goers hot under the collar.

Faux sod could expand multipurpose facility’s use
When snow and ice linger on athletic fields in Kenai in early spring, soccer, baseball and softball players often are forced to spend the beginning weeks of their playing season practicing in gyms.

K-Beach repairs lack money
Motorists on Kalifornsky Beach Road between Bridge Access Road and Kasilof will most likely spend another year bumping along the rutted, hole-strewn roadway.

Peninsula mayors plan for possible pandemic
As bird flu kills tens of millions of birds worldwide, disease experts worry that if the flu strain mutates to a human form, the world could face a pandemic that might kill millions of people.

Assembly floats idea for taxing big ships’ value
The owners of commercial, nonfishing vessels of 100 feet or more would pay borough personal property taxes based on the values of those vessels rather than the flat tax currently imposed if an ordinance on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s agenda for tonight’s meeting in Seward becomes law.

Mayors join in effort to combat meth use
Citing the spreading use of methamphetamine, the mayors of three of the state’s most populated boroughs signed a letter recently urging legislative funding in the fiscal year 2007 capital budget for a program to educate Alaskans about the dangers of the drug.

Vena McKune Rowley
Former Kenai resident Vena McKune Rowley died Tuesday, April 25, 2006, in Fountain Valley, Calif. She was 93.

Christine 'Chris' Garroutte
Longtime Ninilchik resident, Christine “Chris” Garroutte, died Sunday, April 23, 2006, of natural causes at her home in Ninilchik. She was 82.

‘Click It or Ticket’ not just a slogan: Officers would rather write seat belt tickets than see someone dead
Enforcement of Alaska’s seat belt law entered a new phase on Monday. This is the date the state’s tougher new seat belt law went into effect. “Click It or Ticket” is more than a slogan in our community. It’s a reminder that the seat belt law is strictly enforced in and around Kenai/Soldotna.

Support community fishermen: Alaska lawmakers must be backed in effort to pass fishery act
Marine fisheries of the United States are managed under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). This Act is reauthorized once per decade, a process currently under way in Washington, D.C. Recently, House Resources Committee Chair Richard Pombo introduced a MSA bill to parallel one introduced on the Senate side late last year by Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye. The House bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Don Young of Alaska. Both MSA reauthorization bills include national standards for future limited access privilege (LAP) programs, which include fishery cooperatives (now called Regional Fishery Associations) and individual fishing quotas or IFQs.

Around the Peninsula
Basketball clinics set TOPS information available National Day of Prayer services set KPC seeks council reps KPBSD programs committee to meet Lacrosse club seeks members Multicultural competencies to be discussed

Around the Peninsula
Kids activities sought Salmon celebration slated Genealogy class set KCHS after-grad committee to meet Open house geared for dog owners DARE track meet slated Tree sale set to branch out Host families sought Medicare Part D assistance available

Dependable finisher
Whether it’s in the classroom or in athletics, coaches and teachers don’t have to worry about Skyview senior Jesse Kloote being in the right place at the right time.

Soldotna boys, Homer girls notch victories
The weather, featuring a wind that had some corner flags nearly dipping and touching grass at times, made it apparent outside soccer was being played Monday at Soldotna Middle School.

Nikiski, Soldotna draw
The Soldotna and Nikiski boys high school soccer teams played to a 1-1 draw in a Northern Lights Conference-Southern Division match Tuesday in Nikiski.

Stars happy to take the field
Though the result wasn’t what the Soldotna High School faithful were hoping for, the Stars were nonetheless thrilled to be playing the first home softball game in school history Tuesday at Guy Hayes Field in Soldotna.

Around the District
Boyle fundraisers set Local students place in ASAA poster contest Aurora Borealis Charter Connections Cook Inlet Academy IDEA Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Sciences Kenai Central High Kenai Middle Kenaitze Cuya Qyut’anen Head Start Mountain View Elementary Nikiski Middle-High Nikiski North Star Elementary Redoubt Elementary Sears Elementary Skyview High Soldotna Elementary Soldotna High Soldotna Middle Sterling Elementary Sterling Head Start Tustumena Elementary Wings Christian Academy Honor roll announced

Fishing for grants
Folks passing through Kenai this summer may notice something fishy with the flower beds and planters around town, but don’t worry — it will be a good thing.

National expert on diversity issues to speak at Kenai River Campus
As a member of the University of Alaska Anchorage Diversity Action Council (DAC), Diane Taylor, coordinator of the Learning Center, seeks to nurture an environment where diverse cultures and beliefs of all people are acknowledged and diversity is respected throughout the UAA system. Taylor sits on the council as the sole representative from the community campuses in the UAA system.

Working on responsibility, finances and appreciation of better jobs
Why work? That is my thought on some days. It is like the age-old question, why go to school? The answer is always the same — to better oneself for the future.

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