Very late at night, nearly every Wednesday for the past 17 years, I have written the lead for this column. Putting fingers and thoughts to computer keyboard has always been preceded by communication with many individuals and organizations in and around our fair city through the years. I've put a zillion miles on my car just looking around town for new changes to tell you about. You have been generous with your phone calls, e-mails, newsletters and chats in public places. While I have gathered items I hoped would be of interest to all of you, we have become friends and you helped to make this home to me and my family.
I have seen Kenai grow and develop from a small, rather random little town, to a well-maintained, progressive, vital community. Progress is essential in building a city, but it's the people who make it a home. Thanks, too, to the Clarion, for allowing me to help weave the fabric of our little community. My gratitude extends to my loyal news contributors, and to the readers who have tolerated and encouraged me. Most of all, thanks to my Hero, who has endured my late night computer crisis modes on your behalf. It's been a hoot.
This weekend will be the Fourth of July parade, and there will be hundreds of you lining the streets, wearing traditional colors and cheering the participants. Later you may support the booths and the events. (Have a piece of pie at the Kenai Senior Citizens Center's pie booth for me, will you?) This tradition makes us part of a larger whole, the spirit not just of Alaska but of America.
This last week I experienced a hometown celebration in Wyoming, and at the end of the traditional "follies" production, they had the audience join in singing the song, "I Love This Town." It was touching and nostalgic and the tears dripping off my chin at the end of it were not just for the sense of belonging for this town of my birth, but for my feelings about Kenai, the town of my life.
Our Hansen clan came to Kenai as one son, followed by his dad and a brother, then the rest of the family. Now we have swelled to four generations in less than 20 years.
Thanks for welcoming us.
Swim lessons make a splash
The Kenai High School pool will hold swim lessons with Red Cross certified instructors. Lessons are eight days for 40 minutes. Lesson dates are: Tuesday through July 11 (closed 4th of July); July 15 through 25; and July 29 through Aug. 8. Preregistration is required.
Lesson times available are 9 to 9:40 a.m.; 9:45 to 10:25 a.m.; 10:30 to 11:10 a.m.; 11:15 to 11:55 a.m.; 11:15 to 11:45 a.m. (3- and 4-year-olds); and private lessons noon to 12:30 p.m. and 3 to 3:30 p.m. (Monday through July 18). Pool rentals are available. Pool fees are $40 for lessons; $4 for lap or open swim; $35 for a 10-punch card; and $15 for private lessons. For more information, call 283-7476.
Metal Magic of North Kenai, Keen Foundry and Arctic Fires Bronz will sponsor the Kenai River of Iron Pour in Kenai. They are seeking community members interested in participating in an opportunity to have something two or three-dimensional transformed into iron.
The mold making workshop will take place Wednesday and Thursday at Metal Magic, followed by the iron pour Friday at the ConocoPhillips outdoor ice rink in Kenai. There is a fee to participate. Entry fees start at $50. Interested artists may call Scott Hamann at 776-7676.
A free shuttle will be available Friday from the festivities on the Green Strip to the iron pour from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Call the Kenai Chamber at 283-7989 for more information about parade and festivities in Kenai.
The Kenai Community Library will host the following events and organizations: Wednesday -- Wee Read at 11 a.m.; Thursday -- summer reading program from 1 to 2 p.m.; and Friday through Sunday -- closed.
* The Central Peninsula Writers Group will meet at 6:30 p.m. July 10 and 24 in the library conference room.
* The Totem Tracers Genealogical Society will hold a work session at 6 p.m. July 9. The group will brainstorm and help with filling out forms. Also, ancestor research help will be available from 1 to 3 p.m. July 12 in the library conference room.
* The Friends of the Library annual book sale will be held at the state office building beside the library from 5:30 to 8 p.m. July 17 (Friends only presale), 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 18 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 19. Volunteers may sign up at the library or call Vicki at 262-6221.
* The Kenai Community Book Club will meet at 6:30 p.m. July 29 in the library conference room to discuss "Broken for You," by Stephanie Kallos.
The library hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 283-4378.
The Friends of the Kenai Community Library board of directors are taking applications for community members interested in working with the board for the benefit of the community. Applications are available at the library. For more information, call Kathy Heus at 283-7930 or Sal Mattero at 283-2869.
The Alliance Kenai Golf Tournament will be held July 12 at the Kenai Golf Course. To register and to download an information packet visit www.alaskaalliance.com. For more information, call 907-563-2226.
* Kenai resident Julianne Pettey was named to the dean's list at Harding University. To be eligible, a student must carry 12 or more hours and have an 3.65 grade point average.
Pettey is a junior majoring in electrical engineering.
* Kenai resident Dustin Kyle Ward was named to the honor roll at George Fox University. To be eligible a student must earn a 3.5 grade point average or higher while taking at least 12 graded credit hours of classes.
Ward is freshman majoring in engineering.
He is the son of Walter and Colleen Ward of Kenai.
* Kenai resident Amber R. Huhndorf was name to the honor roll at Oregon State University. She is a Sophomore.
Hailey Strickon has been awarded a $4,000 scholarship, which is granted in $1,000 annual increments by Alaska's Kenai Peninsula Chapter of SCI.
Her scholarship essay topic was "The Effects of Ballot Initiatives on Wildlife Management." Hailey is a 2008 graduate of Kenai Central High School. She plans to attend Western Washington University to major in biology.
She is the daughter of David Strickon of Washington and the granddaughter of Marnett Love-Hamrick and Michael Hamrick of Kenai.
USDA Rural Development and Rural Alaska Community Action Program officials honored 10 Kenai families that have begun building their own homes in the area as part of the USDA Rural Development Self Help Housing Program.
RurAL CAP and USDA Rural Development will host a picnic in the families' honor at the Kenai site today.
RurAL CAP recently completed a similar project in Sterling. Eight families finished building homes, closed on their permanent mortgages and moved in. Members of those families also will be invited to the picnic.
Under the program, families and individuals work together to build their homes under the direction of a supervisor hired by a non-profit housing developer. They work on those of their neighbors, as well, and are required to complete 65 percent of the work themselves. No one moves in until all the work is completed. Also each participant must contribute at least 30 hours a week to the project. No down payment is required, but participants must submit to a credit check and purchase construction insurance. The loan interest rate at closing depends on household income. Volunteers from Restoration Point Foundation of Pass Christian, Mississippi are working on the Kenai project, and will attend the celebration.
For more information, call Rural Development's Kenai office at 283-8732. Prospective homeowners wishing to obtain more information about participating in future projects should call RurAL CAP's office at 907-260-3451 or visit www.ruralcap.com.
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