Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Donna’s Country & Victorian GiftsWhere it feels like Christmas all year long
For more than two decades Donna’s Country & Victorian Gifts at the Blazy Mall in Soldotna has been a holiday shopping tradition, a place where the aromas and friendly spirit of the season is truly felt all year long. It all started when Donna Schwanke opened her first gift shop in Sterling next to the Chevron station. A couple of years later in 1984 Donna moved her small shop into the Blazy Mall in Soldotna where she set up at the front counter of the Mall. Since then her unique displays and rooms filled with specialty gift items seem to permeate and beautify the entire lower level of the Mall. “I don’t just come here to shop, I come for the shopping experience,” commented a customer, “My mother use to bring me here when I was a little girl and she would say that it made her feel like she did when she went shopping with her grandmother. You can’t just rush through Donna’s, one pretty item leads to another and then to a whole room filled with beautiful things you want to spend time looking at. I don’t care how long you spend shopping here or how many times you return, you always see something different.”

Bikers trade helmets for Santa Hats
For motorcycling enthusiasts the only thing as fun as riding their bikes in Alaska is pushing a shopping cart through the toy department at Fred Myers. According to Dennis Bible, district director for the Gold Wing Riders Association (GWRA), the toy shopping spree is in its sixth year, “This is a continuing program. We have four GWRA chapters in Alaska and they are all participating in similar Christmas programs in their area where they help out kids and give back to their local communities,” explained Bible while selecting specific Angel Tree requests with his wife Sue.

The River City supports our troops and lights up for the Holidays
Yellow Ribbons were the theme of this year’s Soldotna Tree lighting celebration, “In addition to our traditional Christmas tree that we light with a star at the top, we have one tree with only yellow lights on it and tonight we added 26 yellow ribbons each with the name of someone from our community who is serving in the military. The community and media has been wonderful in getting the word out and in the last eight days we went from having ten names to 26 names that we are honoring on our Yellow Ribbon Tree. We want everyone serving in the military to know that their home town is behind them and is praying for their safe return,” said Soldotna Mayor David Carey. After distributing all 26 ribbons to volunteers of all sizes, Mayor Carey asked Soldotna Chamber of Commerce intern Nate Gallagher and friends to do the official honors of plugging in the Christmas tree in front of the Central Emergency Services building across from McDonalds. Then the yellow ribbon volunteers, some climbing on shoulders of family or friends tied their ribbons to the Yellow Ribbon Tree.

Emergency Supply Kits ready for Low Income Seniors
Borough Mayor John Williams offered thanks to volunteers and sponsors at a special “Thank You” event last week at the new KPB Emergency Response Center. Through the efforts of the Borough Citizen Corps more than 200 basic emergency supply kits have been assembled for distribution to low income senior citizens, according to Citizen Corps Coordinator, Glenda Landua. Landua who coordinated the local effort says, “The distinction between victim and survivor is that a victim feels he or she is subject to a situation over which they have no control. A survivor on the other hand has regained a sense of control and is able to meet the demands of whatever difficulty confronts them. A victim is passive and dependent on others; a survivor is able to take an active role in efforts to help themselves and their community recover from disaster.”

At the end of my trip to Texas I realized despite being so many miles apart Texas has a few similarities to Alaska mixed in with a bunch of direct opposites. Yes, they are the two biggest states in the United States and while Alaska is the most northern state in the U. S., Texas is one of the most southern states. They both have oil fields including off shore oil producing platforms. Texas generally is known for its hot humid weather while Alaska is known for its cool to arctic weather. It is interesting to note that while we were there a “Blue Norther” came through one night and we just about believed we were back in Alaska. Texas has spiders, snakes, and turtles while Alaska seems to be content just getting along with spiders. Texas has more people in one city then Alaska has in the whole state despite being twice as big as Texas.

Boy who lost belongings shows how to be grateful
I had the honor this year of spending Thanksgiving Day with someone who is very special and a Hero to me. I was reminded that no matter what happens in life there is always something to be grateful for. My heros name is Colton Sterling.

Community dug in to dinner theater
I would like to thank the community theatergoers for supporting out third Annual Mystery Dinner Theater Fundraiser performed by the Kenai Performers and dinner prepared and served by the Kenai Senior Connection.

Teacher on way to Antarctica
Allan Miller, a teacher from Sterling, has arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile, and has started posting updates on the Oden Expedition to McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

Hospital service area considers putting excess money to use
Central Kenai Peninsula Hospital Service Area board members are considering a program to provide grants to local nonprofit healthcare organizations out of surplus funds that may become available within the hospital’s budget in healthy fiscal years.

Woman tries to shoot trooper
A Soldotna woman was arrested on an attempted murder charge Saturday after she pointed a loaded pistol at an Alaska State Trooper and pulled the trigger several times, according to troopers.

Council OKs Angler paving
With few exceptions, Angler Drive landowners giving public testimony Wednesday night agreed with the assessment method used by the city of Kenai to determine who pays how much to pave their street.

Project to reduce vehicle-animal highway crashes collars subjects
The second phase of a wildlife mitigation and human safety project has begun with 37 animals — 32 moose and five caribou — captured and fitted with global positioning system collars.

Hospital looks to update strategy
Central Peninsula General Hospital Board members generally agree their hospital could accomplish more with a plan to improve its strategic plan, or at least the process by which the plan is created and implemented, said Tom Boedeker, the board’s vice president.

Cell tower put on hold
Not unlike many municipalities around the country, Soldotna has found itself at the center of a controversy over the siting of a cell phone tower.

Photo Feature: Lights out
The sun sets behind a cloud hanging above Cook Inlet recently. The weather forecast for the central Kenai Peninsula is calling for cloudy skies through the rest of the week.

Ida Mahle Sigler
Lifelong Alaskan Ida Mahle Sigler died Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006, at Heritage Place in Soldotna after an extended illness. She was 84.

Margaret Hodgson
Homer resident Margaret Hodgson died Sunday, Dec. 10, 2006, at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. She was 81.

Community Events
Raising the bar for a good causeGrant available for women seeking educationWomen’s award offeredHelp wanted in exchange programsClass of ’97 plans reunionHoliday stained glass classes offeredPhone cards soughtCoping with holidays to be discussedGenealogical Society to meetImmunization clinic postponedHoliday tea to be servedPrescription drug benefits to be discussedFundraisers for cancer victim beginQuilting for a cause

Around the Peninsula
Coping with holidays to be discussedSoldotna bridge construction to be discussedPrescription drug benefits to be discussedSpaghetti dinner set to dishHoliday concert set to entertainNikiski dance set to swingFundraisers for cancer victim beginTurkey shoot takes aim

· Cindy and Shawn Lewis of Kenai announce the birth of their son, Austin Connor Lewis, at 8:44 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2006, at Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna.

Holiday, travel safety tips
The holiday season is upon us, and the Alaska winter along with it. The American Red Cross of Alaska offers some safety tips to prepare you and your family for a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

Around the Peninsula
Food bank board to meetBridge construction to be discussedBerry growers to meetPhotos with Santa availableNinilchik potluck slatedAlcohol and drug abuse council to meet

Peninsula Reflections
Spruce Grove Memorial Park has more known graves than any other cemetery on the Kenai Peninsula.

Peninsula People
Bushon joins Army

Keener plays hoops for George Fox
Lindsay Keener, a 2006 graduate of Kenai Central High School, is a freshman point guard on the George Fox University women’s basketball team. George Fox plays in the Northwest Conference in NCAA Division III and is located in Newberg, Ore.

Area athletes boost UAA cross country
Seven area athletes helped the University of Alaska Anchorage cross country team to a successful season in 2006.

Skyview senior was cut from 8th grade hoops team
Don’t get Skyview volleyball coach Sheila Kupferschmid wrong. She’s not about to complain about ready-made players.

Fowler makes All Star Rodeo Team
Jacob Fowler of Soldotna was chosen to the Wrangler High School All Star Rodeo Team recently. It is the second year Fowler has made the team.

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