The good, the bad and the dirty

Posted: Sunday, December 31, 2006

It’s hard to believe it’s already 2007, but 2006 is hours away from being in the history books.

From too-close elections to a bridge and the river over which it spans, there’s been plenty to read and talk about on the Kenai Peninsula this year.

Agrium found a way to keeps its doors open a little longer, even though it’s closed for the winter. The Kenai River got a lot of attention — from sockeye to horsepower — and Thursday we reported that state regulators have finalized a decision to ask the Environmental Protection Agency to list the river as a Category 5 impaired body of water under the federal Clean Water Act for failing to meet water quality standards.

We lost one of our own soldiers. There were murder trials, but thankfully no murders. A ship ran aground in North Kenai, but oil spillage was small. Two peninsula residents survived bear attacks. And a survey by the Community Action Coalition told us one in 10 sixth-graders have used inhalants.

Mount Augustine erupted. The PRISM training center became property of the state. Kenai hired a new city manager, while Soldotna put the clamp down on vandalism at its skate park and still searches for a cemetery. A brushfire gave Kasilof a scare. Lowe’s appeared on Kenai’s horizon. And borough school contract negotiations went incredibly smoothly compared to the last round.

There was the gathering of 1,900 athletes, 2,700 volunteers and their friends and families from Nunuvut, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alberta North, and Nunuvik Quebec in Canada; Greenland; Samiland in northern Scandinavia; and Yamal, Russia; as well as the host team from Alaska. All these people converged on the peninsula for the Arctic Winter Games, an event that spanned everything from alpine skiing to wrestling. It brought an international event to our home and, along with it, an opportunity to learn about culture and camaraderie.

Indeed, the peninsula had a busy year.

The Clarion kept busy, as well. We kicked off the year with a new Neighbors format. We still hear an occasional “I like the old way better.” However, the door still is open for the public to contribute to the columns, just as it originally was. We hope you’ll consider contributing any news you may have by contacting our columnists, Brent Johnson (Kasilof), Joan Hansen (Kenai), Sara Hardan-Smith (Nikiski), Vicky Daniels (Ninilchik), Barbara Waters (Soldotna) and Debbie Clonan (Sterling). They’d love to hear from you.

We added a new cartoon strip, “Tundra,” by Chad Carpenter. “Tundra” has been a big hit with our readers, and we also congratulate Chad, who will make his debut in the L.A. Times on Tuesday.

We also added Chris Jenness’ movie review column to our arts and entertainment section, which in June was renamed “Pulse” by two readers: Leslie Baker of Nikiski and Soldotna’s Taylor Medley.

Pulse has gone through a couple of changes, including its look — now much more playful — and the addition of reader-contributed poems.

Our Community section got a boost from Peninsula Reflections, a local history column, and photos submitted to the Clarion Web site’s “Spotted” gallery. And we moved the page to a place in the paper that can be printed in color.

The Clarion poll question on our Web site has sparked great feedback for our readers, and many of you have sent in suggested questions and story ideas.

All of this helps us stay connected to you, but we want more. Letters, poems, photos, story ideas, questions — we encourage your feedback on what you like and don’t like. After all, this is your paper.

Here’s to a hopeful new year.

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