Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Expos' move encounters roadblock
WASHINGTON Major league baseball's return to Washington might be for one year only.

Pedro confirms deal with Mets
NEW YORK - Pedro Martinez confirmed Tuesday that he has agreed to join the New York Mets.

Agrium, Unocal settle
Unocal and Agrium have reached a final settlement of all claims arising from a 2-year-old legal dispute over natural gas sales by the oil giant to the fertilizer company.

Without more gas, plant will close
Without a new supply of gas, Agrium's Nikiski nitrogen plant will close by the end of next year, Agrium President and CEO Mike Wilson warned Tuesday.

CIA Carolers spread Holiday cheer
For the last fourteen years, Beck Dwinnell, fondly known as Miss Becky at Cook Inlet Academy (CIA), has spread the spirit of Christmas in the local area with her group of pre-school through 3rd grade students. "This is always an exciting time of the year for our kids, they love telling others about Christmas and singing for them," said Miss Becky as she prepared the 50 some carolers to spread some holiday joy through the halls at Central Peninsula General Hospital (CPGH). The young voices start preparing for their well coordinated tour about a month in advance, "It takes a lot of help from the parents, but they look forward to it as well and really enjoy the smiles it brings to those who hear the children sing," said Dwinnell.

Local songwriters take APRN awards...
For the last ten years the Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN) has been giving special recognition to Alaskan song writers by sponsoring the annual Song of the Year awards. This year two winners of the statewide competition are both from Kasilof. Shannon Darling was the awarded the best over all song of the year in the country category, and Kelsey Shield's entry was given the under 18 years of age song of the year award. Darling says she has been writing music since she was 13, but had never entered her work in a competition before, "I've been playing in Alaska for about 20 years with Vickie Tinker and Bonnie Nichols mostly and have led music in my church for some 13 years, but this actually was the first recording I've ever done. I was inspired to write the song a little over a year ago when my son left Alaska to head to Austin, Texas to turn the music world up side down with his band," said Darling. The lyric of the song is about a mother encouraging her son while her own heart is being pierced.

Local nurseryman & builder cuts gems from around the world...
Dan and Ron Sexton moved to the Kenai Peninsula with their families over 30 years ago. They left the fast lane of a thriving custom built camper business in Southern California for the more tranquil Alaskan lifestyle. Master carpenters, the Sextons went to work as contractors shortly after settling in the local area. They constructed many custom built homes and commercial buildings in the local area, one of which was the former Gottschalks or Lamonts store building in Soldotna. After their success as contractors, the Sexton brothers became interested in building and operating greenhouses and eventually founded Trinity Greenhouse on K-Beach Rd, where they quickly earned a reputation for offering the highest quality flowers, plants and shrubbery.

New Postmaster for Kenai..
For the last 15 years Laurel Pickering has served everyone's postal needs at the Kenai Post Office, and now she is the new Post Master and looking forward to serving in her new position. "I've worked hard to achieve this position and I'm very excited about having this new job," said Pickering. Laurel received a warm welcome Wednesday at the weekly Kenai Chamber of Commerce luncheon that included several floral arrangements. Pickering takes the helm in the middle of the busiest time of the year for the Postal Service, but didn't seem a bit worried, "We sent out an excellent mailing on tips for the holiday season that included how to prepare your packages and what kind of tapes are best and additionally we have a wonderful on line system called Click-N-Ship, where you can down load and print your own postage and just drop your package off without standing in line to get it metered, and even request a package pickup on line," said Pickering

Problems with retirement systems due to many causes
It's not uncommon to hear private sector grumbling about the benefits and retirement packages for public employees. Fiscal problems in their retirement system (PERS/TERS) are becoming a major state issue. It's not fair for the private sector to consider public pay rates separately from their retirement benefits as though public employees deserve one but not the other. Retirement account contributions are no less a part of one's salary then the monthly take home pay. Our problem now is that the promises to pay retirees a certain amount and cover health care are rooted in three assumptions that have lost some validity —life expectancy, medical costs and rate of return on retirement fund investments.

Soldotna Elementary's food drive a hearty success
This November, Soldotna Elementary made something wonderful happen. They held a food drive. It was a huge success, brining in more food than they had ever hoped for. Classes competed against one another in weekly contests. Prizes were awarded. Everyone got involved and showed their enthusiasm, but more importantly, their willingness to give. I would like to thank the PTA for sponsoring this worthy event, the teachers and staff for getting the students excited and involved and the students and their families for being so very generous this holiday season.

Light parade was right not to include religious images
In response to the article of Dec. 1 entitled, "Light parade left religion out of Christmas season," I want to say that I was glad to see that there was no reference to the "religious" aspect of what is known as "Christmas." As it is a man-made holiday and not truly one that Jesus the Christ, himself, would participate. I feel that it was appropriate. For the first time I could enjoy the Parade of Lights for what it truly represents: a gathering of friends and strangers to help break up the soon-to-be "monotony of darkness."

Porter's work appreciated by Clarion readers outside
Although we have never met, I would like to let you know that from the great state of Texas, I read the online edition of your newspaper every day. I would be lost without reading it! What an outstanding job I am sure you have done for your paper and your community.

Capital move, gas line could work together to benefit state
May this relate to the capital move, versus filling a bottomless pit, as common sense will varify.

NASCAR sues companies over porn videos
NASCAR filed a lawsuit against three companies that created a video called "Racetrack Girls Go Nutz." The sanctioning body said the companies violated trademark rights.

Labbe will be Mayfield crew chief in 2005
Richard "Slugger" Labbe originally was hired at Evernham Motor-sports to give that team a hand with restrictor-plate racing. Now he's being asked to bring much more.

Nemechek, Rudd among those to watch next season
All Joe Nemechek wanted for Christmas are some more races this year.

Busch champ Truex Jr. reflects back, looks ahead
Newly-crowned NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. will return to defend his title next year for Dale Earnhardt Inc. He also will run selected races on the Nextel Cup Series as the company continues to groom him for a full-time job on the senior circuit.

NBC shakes up NASCAR broadcast teams
Bill Weber and Allen Bestwick will change jobs next year.

Good morning. Something to put you in a festive mood: "Christmas is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it's Christmas." — Dale Evans Rogers

Happy holidays, neighbors. There's something magical about this time of the year. It seems like there's an undercurrent of excitement in the stores, of expectation and anticipation. In each of the shoppers there is that quest for the perfect gift, and what adds the excitement to it all is that we're also shopping for the element of surprise. While shopping is tedious to some, it's a delight to others, who revel in the hunt for that special item that will bring emotion to the receiver of the gift. Believe me, it would bring delight to this shopper if I could figure out what to get anybody, surprise or not. Maybe I don't start early enough.

Hi, neighbors. Last week, Sterling Elementary School had its holiday program, and I am told it was fabulous. Mick Audette organized a wonderful program with the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders. Thanks to the people whose invaluable assistance helped make the program possible — Billi Ingles, Mary Daigle, Beth Braxling and Debbie Clonan.

Seasons greetings. I will be taking a holiday break from my column until Jan. 11. Community members who have information to put in the column may e-mail it to Nan Misner at the Clarion at, fax it to her at 283-3299 or drop it off at the Clarion at 150 Trading Bay Road in Kenai. The deadline to get your information in by is 5 p.m. Thursday. Call Nan if you have any questions. In the meantime, I'll be relaxing — I hope.

Colder temperatures and more snow make it seem a lot more like Christmastime. Hopefully, the Christmas spirit is aglow in your heart and home this week.

Hi, neighbors. If your house is like our house, it's full of activity and endeavors at keeping secrets. Yes, we're in the mode of doing those traditional special things in preparation for the special birthday that is celebrated world wide.

Cooper Landing
Everyone is invited to attend the Christmas potluck Saturday night beginning at 6 at the community hall. This is a family night sponsored by the Cooper Landing activity divas.

Kenai Grand Jury let go
Following publicity regarding a letter he wrote last week rebuking Kenai District Attorney June Stein for holding off-record conversations with the Kenai Grand Jury, Kenai Superior Court Judge Harold Brown on Tuesday excused the Kenai Grand Jury from further service.

Winter storm dumps on southern peninsula
As much as fall looked like spring on the lower Kenai Peninsula last week, it looked like the dead of winter when folks in Homer arose Monday morning to find six to eight inches of snow in their driveways and huge flakes accumulating at a rate of a couple of inches an hour or faster.

CPGH elects board members, new VP
The Central Peninsula General Hospital Inc. Board of Directors on Thursday elected three board members and a new vice president. Rick Ross, who already is a board member, will take over the vice president position for the remaining one year of Steven Hoogland's term.

Photo feature: Sweet schooling
Mary Harrington places a tray of freshly made candy into a refrigerator at Nikiski High School on Tuesday morning.

Sinclair named area Parks head
Jack Sinclair has been named the new Kenai-Prince William Sound area park superintendent for the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. Sinclair will oversee all of the park operations within the state's largest park management area, encompassing more than 60 park units ranging from the Valdez-Thompson Pass area, across Prince William Sound and throughout the Kenai Peninsula.

Easy pickin's
A raven samples trash from the back of a pickup truck in Kenai last weekend. Winter brings higher numbers of the birds to town, where food is easier to find.

City chilly over AWG treatment
Representatives from the Arctic Winter Games got a somewhat chilly reception Monday evening from Kenai City Council members during a joint work session to discuss improvement plans for the Kenai Multipurpose Facility.

Oliver Lawrence Earl
Nikiski resident Oliver Lawrence Earl died Sunday, Dec. 5, 2004, at the Stone Brook Inn Assisted Living Home in Soldotna. He was 90.

Herrick Alfred 'Al' Poore
Longtime Alaska resident and homesteader Herrick Alfred "Al" Poore died Friday, Dec. 10, 2004, at home attended by his family. He had lived for 16 years with Huntington's chorea which finally contributed to his death.

Cecelia 'Cece' Honea-Miller
Longtime Kenai resident Cecelia "Cece" Honea-Miller died Monday, Dec. 6, 2004, of unexpected heart failure in Post Falls, Idaho. She was 32.

Bush administration didn't do homework
Former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik's withdrawal as President Bush's pick as homeland security secretary indicates some lessons in public affairs are never fully learned.

Christmas correctness
Emboldened by their Election Day successes, some Christian conservatives around the country are trying to put more Christ into Christmas this season.

Who was doing Renkes' job?
Many questions remain about Attorney General Gregg Renkes' involvement in a billion-dollar coal deal between Alaska and Taiwan. But one that still needs to be asked is who was doing Renkes' job while he was out promoting international trade instead of being a lawyer.

Law should hit back against 'basketbrawlers'
Michigan law is now taking a punch at the celebrated basketbrawlers whose fights in the stands and on the court did so much last month in Detroit to tarnish the image of the National Basketball Association.

Around the Peninsula
Internet health workshop plannedDisable veterans to meetAuction fund-raiserSafe Sitter classes offeredNew dog classes availableSenior service board to meet

Around the Peninsula
Caregiver training set 'Toy and Joy' application deadline Friday Senior citizens to host Santa Library sets holiday schedule Boys and Girls Club to host Santa Senior service board meeting set

Kenai Middle
Yearbooks are on sale. The cost is $30. Certificate of purchase are available to wrap up for Christmas. Order forms are available at the office.

Soldotna High
The Partners Club has begun. It is a school-based program that teams students with and without intellectual disabilities through sports, recreation and social opportunities. The club provides opportunities to build student character, increase acceptance of disabilities, develop leadership and other skills in a service-learning environment and to enhance the school community. There are 6 members and the club is looking for more. Students interested in joining are invited to meet in room 11 on Tuesdays to hear about upcoming activities and how to become a member.

Mountain View Elementary
All third-graders are going skating Friday afternoon as a winter celebration.

Soldotna Elementary
Students have been writing Christmas poems and stories to increase their writing skills. They have been working on word choice and writing conventions as they create poems and stories. Parents are encouraged to see the student work that is up in the halls and classrooms.

Kalifornsky Beach Elementary
Mrs. Tobin's class will travel to the Forget-Me-Not Senior Center in Kenai on Thursday. The students will share plays they have written or adapted and songs they have written, as well as other holiday treasures with the seniors.

VFW art contest winners announced
The winners of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary art contest are Kaitlin Walker of Kenai Central High School, China Wen Chea of Soldotna High School and Karlee Martin of Skyview High School. They placed first, second and third place, respectively, in the overall category.

Kenai Cooperative Preschool
On Monday, the kids made snow globes, gift cards and wrapping paper for the gifts they made last week.

Cultivating culinary skills
The culinary class at Nikiski Middle-Senior High School has been treating students well these days with chocolate truffles and chocolate coconut crunch projects.

Tustumena Elementary
The Kenai Senior Citizens Center Golden Girls presented its annual Christmas dance program at the school last week. The school thanks these ladies for bringing the show out to the school.

Schools struggle to give students transfers
WASHINGTON - Many school districts are struggling to let students transfer from poorly performing schools to better ones, as required under federal law, a study finds.

The Lifeskill for the week continues to be courage.

KPC to host annual Art Extravaganza and Winter Ball
The KPC Student Union and the Student Art League Association invite the community to Kenai Peninsula College at 7 p.m. Friday for the second annual Art Extravaganza and Winter Ball. Admission is free, donations are welcome and will be used to fund future campus events.

Kenai Central High
With Christmas break approaching, the student council is trying to help everyone get into the holiday spirit. It held a snowball dance last Friday. The school staff and students are in celebration mode.

Skipping college pays off for techies
CHICAGO - Caleb Sima still marvels at how angry the people around him got when he fled high school for a computer job during the high-tech boom, thumbing his nose at the traditional career path.

Kenai Montessori
This month the children are learning about the continent of Antarctica. They also will learn about the solar system and winter solstice to help them understand why it is colder and darker during the winter.

Lunch menus
White or chocolate milk served at each meal.

Kenaitze Cuya Qyut'anen Head Start
The preschoolers have been making Christmas gifts and cards for their families and also decorating trees. The Dena'ina word for spruce tree is Ch'wala.

Winter holiday break
Public schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will be closed Dec. 20 through Jan. 2 for the winter holiday break. Classes will resume at their normal time Jan. 3.

Nikiski Middle-Senior High
"C" team basketball will travel to Seward on Thursday.

Nikiski North Star Elementary
Mrs. Zimmerman's class will take pictures of your child with Santa at the Kenai McDonalds from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Soldotna Middle
The aviation classes took a field trip to Kenai last week and were given instruction on navigation with the Civil Air Patrol. Students also were introduced to a Cessna 172 and a De Havilland Beaver at the CAP hangar. The Kenai Flight Service gave a description of its role in aviation, from weather information to aiding in search and rescue missions. Students also were allowed to climb the Kenai Control Tower to see how control tower operates.

Skyview High
The boys and girls varsity basketball teams are traveling to Kodiak to play in the Joe Floyd basketball tournament.

Sears Elementary
In Ms. Fischer's class students are working on fine motor development and listening skills as they make an assortment of evergreen trees. In science, students reviewed how trees around the school looked in the fall and made comparisons between spruce, pine, fir and birch trees. Students are exploring number patterns of ones, fives and tens as they create a variety of decorations with their hand prints. The students are using the colors of the season and the projects to help add color words to the sight word vocabulary.

The staff would like to thank students and parents for making the Christmas Angel program a success. The students earned enough funds to buy gifts for two less-fortunate children in the community.

Science fair sign-ups are being accepted at the office. The science fair is open to all students in grades kindergarten through 12. Call Steve Hackett for more information.

Congratulations to the Lego team that won second place for robot design, robust design and robust programming. The team has offered to do a demonstration of the program at the office after the holidays. Date and time to be announced.

Cook Inlet Academy
The staff would like to thank high school seniors Brian Beeson, Alyse Bell and Tristan Leiter for coaching the junior high girls basketball team. The boys team was coached by school parent Doug Munn. The students, parents and staff appreciate the dedication and efforts of these volunteer coaches.

Wings Christian Academy
The Christmas program will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday. The program is titled "Sing a Song of Christmas." Parents are reminded to bring a favorite holiday snack to share.

Senior Menus
Home Senior Menus for the following: Homer Kenai Nikiski Seward Soldotna Sterling

Senior Briefs
Senior Briefs for the following areas: Homer senior, Friendship centers Kenai Nikiski Seward Soldotna Sterling

NHL owners prepare counteroffer
NEW YORK — The NHL reportedly will reject the latest proposal from the players' union that was meant to end the lockout and salvage the season.

Chief beat Titans in wild one in Music City
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It wasn't quite as dramatic or significant as the Music City Miracle. The Kansas City Chiefs will take it just the same.

Shaq nets 40 in win over Wizards
MIAMI — Shaquille O'Neal scored a season-high 40 points, and the Miami Heat overcame the loss of leading scorer Dwyane Wade to beat the Washington Wizards 106-83 Monday night for their fifth straight win.

Nuggets can't stop Iverson
PHILADELPHIA - Allen Iverson had 31 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve Willie Green scored his season-high 17 points in the final 16 minutes as the Philadelphia 76ers rallied to beat Denver Nuggets 110-102 Tuesday night.

Skyview's Wehrli ready to fly
Sometime down the road, Tyler Wehrli is hoping his career will take flight. But for now, the Skyview High School senior, who hopes to eventually become a pilot, has his feet firmly on the ground as he chases another goal — that of Alaska state wrestling champion.

McNair could be done for season
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair could sit out the final three games of the season with a bruised sternum that has kept him from playing the past two games.

A losing team could make the playoffs
In 1982, the NFL season was shortened to nine games by a strike, and the playoffs were expanded to 16 teams, including a pair that went 4-5.

NHL, union reject new proposals
TORONTO - The NHL moved a step closer to losing the season Tuesday, when the league and players' association rejected proposals for a new collective bargaining agreement.

Pedro picks Mets over Red Sox, Lee dealt to Brewers
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Pedro Martinez picked the New York Mets over the Boston Red Sox, and the Chicago White Sox dealt Carlos Lee to Milwaukee for Scott Podsednik and a reliever on Monday as baseball's annual winter meetings finished with many top stars still searching for teams.

Tiger's swing returns
Tiger Woods was atop the leaderboard going into the weekend and talking about how excited he was that everything was starting to come together. And then it all fell apart.

Miller wins slalom in Italy
SESTRIERE, Italy — World Cup leader Bode Miller won a slalom Monday to join Marc Girardelli as the only men to win races in all four disciplines in a season.

Vikings have time to save ship
The Minnesota Vikings were convinced they wouldn't end this season like they did the last, when a 6-0 start was wiped out by a 3-7 finish. They could be right. This season might be worse.

Blue Devils collar Illinois-Chicago
DURHAM, N.C. - Shelden Williams had 23 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots to lead No. 7 Duke to an 88-55 victory over Illinois-Chicago on Tuesday night.

Southern Miss rips apart North Texas
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Dustin Almond threw for 247 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score, leading Southern Mississippi to its first bowl victory in four years, 31-10 over North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl on Tuesday night.

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