Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Governor Palin honors international excellence in Alaska
Governor Sarah Palin has announced the seven companies and international organizations that won the Governor's North Star Awards for International Excellence. The awards were presented by Commissioner Emil Notti at the Export Alaska luncheon in Anchorage, attended by more than 150 Alaskans. "I'm proud of our state's broad range of outstanding international activity," Governor Palin said. "From the export of aviation technology to cultural exchange to the visitor industry, Alaskans know how to promote positive international relations. It's a privilege to honor this hard-working group.

Tauriainens celebrate 50 years of homesteading
May 30th, 1959 was a special day for the pioneering Tauriainen family. It was the day their covered wagon (a 1953 Buick) loaded with most of their earthly possessions crossed from Canada back into the United States of America. Only four months after Alaska had officially become the 49th State of the United States. "It was the real Memorial Day, the original date," recalled Mike Tauriainen as he remembered that day last week, "We left home on April fools day and we planned to be here sooner, but we encountered some delays along the way so it just happened to be Memorial Day when we crossed the border," said Tauriainen. The meal that day however, was no coincidence, "We crossed the border about 5:00pm and went a little further until we came to a gravel pit where we stopped. We had saved a special dinner for when we made it to Alaska and that was a can of chicken and a box of instant mashed potatoes, so our arrival celebration dinner was chicken and mashed potatoes and ever since then on May 30th our family has celebrated our arrival anniversary by having chicken and mashed potatoes, and this is our 50th anniversary, and what else would have on Memorial Day except chicken and mashed potatoes," added Mike.

Air Fair showcases military rescue craft
The 9th Annual Kenai Peninsula Air Fair was a great day for the community with nearly 60 pilots/friends participating in the traditional poker run and hundreds of other visitors turning out for the EAA breakfast at the Soldotna airport and the military rescue aircraft display and BBQ at the Kenai airport in the afternoon. Participating pilots flew to at least five of the seven designated airports earning a complete poker hand and then returned in the afternoon to the Kenai Airport. According to Mary Bondurant, Kenai Airport manager the winning hand was a full house collected by Dr. Greg Motonaga who won his choice of a variety of prizes including tickets from ERA and Grant Air, "We also had 7 float planes and 2 amphibious aircraft participate this year with pilots entering from all over Alaska, including Anchorage, Big Lake, and Palmer. I want to extend our sincere appreciation to the Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak, they came out in full force giving the public a rare opportunity to get an up close tour of these amazing aircraft that are used to save lives and protect our boarders, they also did two H-130 fly over's to commence our military appreciation event, and of course the U.S. Air force Band of the Pacific Arctic Saxophone quartet were just fabulous," said Bondurant.

At the present time I find myself working in the Shirleyville area which is one of my favorite places to work in Alaska. The area is crawling with bears, besides being one of my favorite spots to go fishing. The only thing I hate about this area is the bugs! They are way over populated and relentless to say the least. Lucky for us it has been cool and windy which tends to make flying difficult for members of the insect world.

Community fights back with nearly $100K to help kill cancer
As the quarter moon shown over the Skyview High School track hundreds continued their trek through the night at the 11th Annual Relay for Life, dedicated to supporting those fighting cancer, remembering those fallen and raising funds to find a cure. "It would be sad if someone told me I had cancer and I might not live to be a grown up, so we're out here walking so that someday no one will ever have to be told they have cancer," said 11-year-old Kylie who had just completed her scavenger hunt list. So far this year's Relay for Life has tallied over $96,000 to hasten that day, according to co-chair Penny Furnish of Stewart Title, "We'll be accepting donations through the end of August, so we are still working toward our goal of $108,000," she said. The Luminaria Sales set an all time record this year with $5,217.50 being collected to remember those fighting or fallen to cancer, "Over 1,000 bags were sold and lit and 800 names were read," said co-chair Sarah Hough. "I had a family member who passed away and I wanted to do something to keep his spirit alive so I got involved through my husband, a Rotarian, and have found this a very rewarding thing to do. It all started with one doctor who said he wouldn't stop walking until he raised a certain amount of money and now the Relay for Life is the largest fundraising event in the world for the American Cancer Society. I come from a larger state and here in a small community it's just amazing that we are able to raise this amount of money on an annual basis," added Hough.

Torch Run lights' athletes' enthusiasm
On May 16, there was a successful Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run held in Kenai for the area. The event was well-attended with wheelchairs, bikes and runners. Everyone had an exciting time and the weather was beautiful.

Donations a class act
On behalf of the class of 2009 of Nikiski High School, I would like to extend thanks to Arby's, NAPA, Golden Tan, Carquest, Shucks, The Haircutters, Three Bears, Block Buster, Affinity Salon and Day Spa, Spenard Builders Supply, XTO Energy Inc., Dan's TV, Kenai Vision, Fred Meyer, Alyeska Tire and Auto Service, Tesoro, Elite Health and Fitness, Dan's Automotive, La Casa Italiana, McDonald's, AK Kutz, Dr. Julien, DDS, Dr. Hudson, DDS, Nikiski Middle-High School PTA, British Petroleum, Homer Electric Association, Dukowitz Machine, Brown Agency, Big G Electric and, last but not least, North Peninsula Recreation Service Area for their generous gift donations to the Nikiski High School's class of 2009 graduation celebration. It was awesome.

Redoubt still erupting -- quietly
Approximately 50 miles across Cook Inlet, Mount Redoubt stands at a towering 9,000 feet; a steady trail of steam emanating from its peak. Though the last explosive spectacle occurred more than two months ago, the volcano has continued to erupt, going relatively unnoticed.

HEA to increase rates slightly
Homer Electric Association rates are going up again -- but just by one percent.

Get out & Play: Amenities abound in city parks
Editor's note: This is the first in a planned three-part series on Soldotna and Kenai city parks and what they offer to residents and visitors.

Nose sniffs out wildland fire, prevents disaster
A keen sense of smell prevented a wildland fire from becoming a bigger blaze than it was on Monday afternoon.

Burn ban in effect
As of Tuesday, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources suspended the use of burning permits on the western Kenai Peninsula based on a return to sunny, dry weather. Burning in barrels will not be allowed during the suspension.

Redoubt watch
According to the Alaska Volcano Observatory, seismic activity remains low, but above background levels, as of 7:50 p.m. Monday. The volcano is monitored 24/7.

Thelma Elizabeth Murto
Alaska pioneer Thelma Elizabeth Murto died Thursday, Aug. 7, 2008, surrounded by her family and friends at South Peninsula Hospital Long Term Care in Homer. She was 90.

Ellen J. Rappe-Boling
Longtime Alaskan and Nikiski resident Ellen J. Rappe-Boling died Tuesday, June 2, 2009, at her home in Nikiski. She was 77.

Around the Peninsula

Soldotna TOPS meetings available

Pet photo: Best Friends
Ian Mercado --then 3, now 10 -- does his impression of his best friend Missy -- then 4, now 11. This photo was sent to us by Ian's grandmother, Meldy Lee of Kenai.

Sports Briefs

Motocross Division hosts 1st race

The Bird opens up for play
We are up and running and the course is turning all of the beautiful shades of green that golfers in Alaska are so lucky to experience. Most of our great help from last year is back.

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