A new marine education and research center complete with a 100-seat auditorium and 5,000 square feet of exhibits is holding a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at the center site on the Homer Bypass.
Sen. Ted Stevens is the guest speaker at the event scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday. The U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific will serenade the crowd.
The marine center, scheduled for completion in 2004, will provide research and education laboratory facilities for the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge visitor center also will be located in the building.
According to Glenn Seaman, director of NERR, the project will bring together a needed center for researchers and teachers with marine interests.
"This facility represents an unprecedented collaborations among federal, state and community interests to focus scientific research and education on coastal ecosystems in the northern oceans and estuaries," he said.
The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge visitor center will be the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's largest office in Alaska.
The $10.4 million project has a combination of federal funding for the structure, which is to be built on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land on the south side of the Homer Bypass, across from Petro Marine.
The 60-acre site stretches from Bishop's Beach to the bypass. Some spaces will be shared by agencies, but others will be independent. The eventual size of the building is still a guess, said publicist Poppy Benson, but it is estimated to be between 30,000 to 40,000 square feet, she said.
The groundbreaking festivities include hot dogs, watermelon and free flags for the kids. Visitors can park across from Burger King and walk to the two large tents set up for the celebration.
Other events planned on the peninsula this holiday week include:
n 8 a.m. -- Kenai Rotary Club annual breakfast
n 10 a.m. -- Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 10046 open house in Soldotna
n 1 p.m. -- Fourth of July Parade in Kenai with craft and food booths and games following parade
n 3 p.m. -- Peninsula Oilers baseball doubleheader
n 3 p.m. -- 1976 time capsule dig at Kenai Chamber of Com-merce cabin
n Seward Mount Marathon races:
* Juniors 9:30 a.m.;
* Women 11:15 a.m.;
* Men 3 p.m.
n 1:30 p.m. -- Seward parade, "A tribute to the 1900s," on Fourth Avenue
n 6 p.m. -- Mount Marathon Race awards ceremony at Alaska Vocational Technical Center gymnasium
n Midnight -- "Concert in the Sky," fireworks on Seward's waterfront
n Kenai Kennel Club Dog Show for obedience and conformation at Skyview High School on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
n Kenai River Classic is Friday and Saturday.
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