Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Let the local shopping begin! Christmas comes to Kenai, Soldotna lights its trees
With sirens blaring, cookies baking, bonfires burning, fireworks blasting, Drumlines drumming, soldiers saluting, and Santa Claus waving under moonlit arctic nights, the 2009 Holidays are happily underway on the Central Peninsula. Long before the day after Thanksgiving became known as "Black Friday", it was the traditional day for "Christmas Comes to Kenai," and Santa's first visit to the Peninsula sponsored by the Kenai Chamber of Commerce. "This 30-plus year tradition in Kenai has been a success year after year, thanks to our dedicated community members. Although the Kenai Chamber of Commerce is responsible for hosting this event, it is truly made possible by the folks in our community. From cookies and hot chocolate to our volunteer Santa Claus, Tim Navarre, there is a myriad of donations and volunteer support that makes this event possible and so much fun for the community. We couldn't do it without them," said KCC executive director Tina Baldridge. According to Baldridge photos with Santa this year will be available for downloading at through Dec. 15th, due to Polaroid discontinuing their instant film camera.

H1N1 Vaccinations are now available
With the arrival of the long awaited H1N1 vaccine, the Central Peninsula H1N1 Task Force recently held five community mass-dispensing clinics. The task force has conducted the clinics for the H1N1 vaccine at central peninsula elementary schools, including three clinics at Soldotna, and Kenai Middle and Soldotna high schools. Clinics were also held at the Kenai National Guard Armory on Forest Drive. The task force is a group of local agencies formed to plan clinics to vaccinate as many students, public, private, home school, and pre-school aged individuals in the central area as possible against the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) because of their risk of spreading the virus.

Moving to Alaska was a very good move for my family and I in 1995. Leaving behind a life as a dairy and hog farmer in Wisconsin, and going back to the oil field again, was a very prosperous move for me personally. Farming today is a very difficult occupation, with constantly fluctuating prices and a never-ending rise in expenses. Despite working seven days a week, there is no overtime pay, paid holidays, retirement benefits, hospital insurance or vacations. We lived from paycheck to paycheck, just trying to survive and somehow keep ahead of the operating expenses.

Redoubt kids win Food Bank challenge!...Principal Pothast too ill to trot
Students at Redoubt Elementary school kept the spirit of the first Thanksgiving feast alive last week, when they shared what they had with those having less. It was a challenge that school principal, John Pothast, presented to the kids and their families to see if they could collect 500 pounds of food and $500 dollars to give to the Food Bank. According to Sharron Hale, volunteer coordinator at Redoubt, the challenge from Mr. Pothast was that if they reached those dual goals, he would dress up as a turkey for the day and dance the Turkey Trot. "Amazingly we surpassed both goals, delivering 769 pounds of groceries to the Food Bank last week, and today we and our Turkey for the day presented Linda Swarner, executive director for the Food Bank with a check for $644 dollars. Unfortunately, Mr. Pothast was too sick to come to work the day of our Turkey Trot assembly, so our physical education teacher, Bill Withrow, put himself into some smashing orange tights and a turkey suit, and stuck his neck out to be our turkey for the day," Hale told the Dispatch.

Cranberry Orange Pecan Chocolate Biscotti
3/4 cup chopped pecans

Bar cookie category: Pumpkin gingerbread bar cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour

Drop cookie category: Cranberry white chocolate shortbread
4 cups all-purpose flour

Cookies score big: Happy baking, happy memory making
Folks, who are familiar with the Bluffton Today cookie contest, now in its fourth year, know that cookies with a family history, or those that are fresh and innovative, score big with cookie contest judges.

Molasses cookies
1-1/2 cups shortening

Assembly setting more than one flawed precedent
The editorial "Setting a flawed precedent" (Opinion, Dec 4) stated in part, "American government systems don't make laws for a single person. American government systems make laws for us all. Singling out an individual suggests some deserve different treatment than others, that some individuals are more special."

Many contribute to keeping kids safe
On Nov. 14, Safe Kids Kenai Peninsula and Central Peninsula Hospital held the 10th annual Children's Snowmobile Safety Awareness event at Soldotna Middle School. This year, 97 children along with their parents or caregivers attended the event. Over 70 full-faced shield helmets were fitted and sold for $30. This year, those purchasing helmets received a balaclava head sock and reflectors for their helmets.

What if healthcare reform doesn't work?
First of all let me say that I think there should be some kind of healthcare reform, but has anyone in this country really figured out what will happen if healthcare reform is passed by the congress and it doesn't work the way they think it will and does more damage then good for the people?

Essays build excitment for new playground
Soldotna Community Playground would like to thank all of the young people who participated in our essay contest. We received more than 50 entries! It was wonderful to read each one and learn how our community's kids feel about having a brand new community playground. They wrote about how the new playground will be a special place for them as well as for their families, friends and neighbors, and their own future children. It is gratifying to know that our community is blessed with such thoughtful and forward thinking young people who will one day be guiding this community.

Road maintenance needs improving
For a state that is known for harsh winter weather, our winter road maintenance system is pathetic. Coming home from the night shift the other morning, I was reminded of the joke that is our snow clearing system. About 6 inches had fallen over night and it was still on the main road in Kenai at 6 a.m.

School board OKs contracts: 3-year deals cover district's teachers, school support staff
After a little over a year of negotiations, three-year contract agreements for the Kenai Peninsula Education Association as well as the Kenai Peninsula Education Support Association were passed unanimously at a school board meeting Monday.

Early morning fire claims Kasilof home
A Kasilof man tried to save his two-story home from fire with a garden hose Tuesday morning but ultimately lost the battle and his Amber Drive cabin.

Blaze totals home; kills 1: Nikiski fire still under investigation
Emergency crews found the remains of a fire victim inside a Nikiski home that went up in flames Sunday evening. Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire and attempting to identify the body.

Kenai man indicted on sexual assault
A Kenai man was indicted last week with eight sexual assault charges relating to an alleged Nov. 29 incident when he was discovered having sex with a 32-year-old woman with Down syndrome.

District looks for space: School board, administration eye solution for crowding at borough building
Feet from the entrance to the school district's Information Services Department is a desk, sheltered from gusts of cold outside air bursting in every time the doors open by nothing more than a stack of empty cardboard boxes.

Decks the halls: Contests start: Nikiski, Soldotna, Kenai kick off annual holiday lighting competitions
'Tis the season for holiday decorating contests, and the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce, as well as the Community Council in Nikiski, want to encourage people to nominate their neighbors and commercial businesses that have extraordinary holiday decorations on display this year to recognize their efforts.

Photo feature: Sing songs of good cheer
Mike Morgan gets help with a carol from Kaladi Brothers Coffee employees Lyla Marey and her sister, Amirah, on Sunday afternoon during the company's annual Christmas party. A cheerful crowd kept the music loud.

Photo feature: A shot in the arm
Pete Triana of Soldotna receives an H1N1 vaccination from Betsy Laws during the mass-dispensing clinic conducted by the Central Peninsula H1N1 Task Force on Tuesday at the Kenai National Guard Armory.

Regina 'Gina' Lee Caudle
Longtime Alaskan and Kenai resident Regina "Gina" Lee Caudle died Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009 at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna. She was 42.

David R. Roberts
Sheridan, Wyo., resident David R. Roberts, 67, died Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, at St. Vincent's Hospital in Billings, Mont.

Tollef W. Thompson
Lifelong Nikiski resident Tollef W. Thompson, 45, died Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, in a house fire at his home.

Scholarships offer incentives
Alaska's high school graduation rate jumped nearly five percentage points last school year, to 67.5 percent. We graduated more than 8,000 students, up by 700 students five years ago despite declining enrollments over that period.

Around the Peninsula

Breakfast with Santa offered

Around the Peninsula

H1N1 mass dispensing slated

Best Friends
Chip and Zachary are shelties owned by Gwen Bennett of Kenai.

Best Friends
Heidi Watkins, 9, of Kenai, is shown with her rabbit, Bun Bun. Bun Bun, 6, is a Holland Lop.

Homer Invitational results announced
The results of the Homer Invitational, which was held on Friday and Saturday at Lookout Mountain, were released. Soldotna won the two-day girls team title, while Kenai nabbed the two-day boys team title. Friday's three-kilometer classical race was won by Kailey Mucha of Kenai with a time of 10 minutes, 7 seconds. Soldotna's Bree Mucha finished at 10:41. On Saturday, Bree won the five-kilometer skate while Kailey was taking the SATs. Bree had a time of 19:26, while Soldotna's Maranda Merkes was second at 20:51. Kenai's Travis Semmens swept the Friday three-kilometer classical race and the Saturday five-kilometer skate race. On Friday, Semmens finished in 9:04, while Anders Nyquist of Kenai was second at 9:23. On Saturday, Semmens finished at 16:51 while Ryan Sanders of Soldotna was second at 18:09.

Avalanche bury Brownies in 3rd period
After being outplayed in the second period, Alaska Avalanche of Wasilla head coach Dave Boitz said he challenged his team to come out and play to their potential.

Brownies, Avs want Bear Cup
The Kenai River Brown Bears will face the Alaska Avalanche of Wasilla tonight at 7:05 p.m. at the Soldotna Sports Center in the first game of the Alaska Bear Cup.

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