Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cold affront — Breakup of ‘omega block’ will bring end to frigid temperatures

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Forget communism, this is the real cold war.

The central Kenai Peninsula has been under siege by frigid conditions for two weeks now, with temperatures plunging below minus 30 in Soldotna and Kenai at night, and even lower than that in the cold sink that is Sterling.

The culprit? Russia.

Not that the country has any control over the situation, but if having a scapegoat makes frozen pipes or dead cars any easier to deal with, Alaska’s neighbor to the east is as good a target for frustration as any.

A weather pattern called an omega block (or bloc, perhaps?) is holding court over Russia. In an omega block, low-pressure systems sandwich in high pressure and don’t allow anything to move east or west, said John Stepetin, a specialist with the National Weather Service’s Anchorage forecast office.

These conditions could form any time of year, but in the winter it’s leaving Alaska shivering from cold air coming down from the north.

“When we get that omega block it could last two or three weeks sometimes,” Stepetin said. “We could have it in the summertime and it could be nice and warm and dry. It’s just you get two low pressures blocking high pressure that nothing’s moving.”

Lack of air movement is making the peninsula even chillier than other parts of the state, with Anchorage registering about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than the Kenai-Soldotna area lately. That’s because Anchorage is getting a breeze, and the central peninsula is not.

“The difference between you and us is that we get a little wind that mixes up the temperatures and warms it up a little, whereas you’re not getting any kind of breeze. There are warm temperatures aloft, but it’s not mixing things up at all,” Stepetin said.

Without wind to bring warmer air down to the ground, there’s nothing to do but shiver until the weather pattern breaks, which should be soon.

“That block is weakening, so we’ll start seeing low pressure moving in and start warming things up Wednesday and Thursday,” Stepetin said.

That forecast didn’t do much to keep Chelsie White warm on her chilly walk along the Sterling Highway in Soldotna on Monday from her job at Subway to Sal’s Diner in minus 23 degrees. White was headed to Sal’s to get a ride from her dad.

She and her boyfriend, Ben Winn, usually walk back and forth from their home near Fred Meyer to their jobs — hers at Subway and his at McDonald’s. But in the recent cold snap, and with White nine months pregnant, she’s been getting rides more often.

“I haven’t been walking much since it’s been this cold,” she said. “I usually get rides from my parents. They get mad when I walk.”

White had a car, but it met an untimely accidental demise.

“My dad kind of hit it with a boat and trailer, so, yeah, it don’t work no more,” she said.

Overall, White said she likes winter. She enjoys snowboarding, sledding and hunting, but she was six months pregnant when snow first hit this year, so she hasn’t been able to enjoy her normal snowy pursuits. Mostly, she’s just walked in the stuff.

“The first part of winter when it was mostly wet snow instead of dry and cold like this, that was a nightmare to walk in,” White said. “It’s not bad when the sidewalks are plowed, but you get that fresh bit of snow and you’re walking through it. That sucked.”

The banged-up car isn’t salvageable, and other means of transportation aren’t affordable, she said. It costs about $10 for a one-way cab ride from their home to work, and Central Area Rural Transit System rides are $50 for a punch card.
“It’s expensive, and when you’ve got diapers and formula you’ve got to buy, it’s too expensive. That $50 is two packs of diapers, and they go through them so fast,” she said.

“If they had a bus down here, I think it would make it easier on so many people. With cabs you can spend $200 a month on cab bills, and that can be just going back and forth to work.”

So that leaves walking, which usually isn’t too bad, White said.

“My boyfriend doesn’t mind it, but he’s kind of a polar bear. He’s used to it. He’s been up here his whole life. A good pair of gloves and a jacket and he’s fine. I draw the line at him opening the window at night, though,” she said.

If it weren’t so cold, White wouldn’t mind the walk either.

“I need to exercise a little bit. I feel too much like Moby Dick on sticks right now,” she said. “I’m so ready to not be pregnant. I’m ready to put my own socks on in the morning.”

White and Winn’s son, Logan William Winn, is due Jan. 15. As of Monday, White is on maternity leave from her job, so she’ll be able to wait out the rest of the cold snap in the warmth of home.

If it helps pass the time between now and when the thermometer does finally rise, Stepetin suggests looking at the bigger weather picture.

“You look at the Yukon Flats and they’re anywhere from 55 below to 65 below, so it might make you feel a little bit warmer,” he said.

Testing the waters — HEA’s proposed hydro projects have years of research to wade through

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories examining possible Homer Electric Association hydroelectric projects near Moose Pass. Next week’s story will focus on the “low-impact” aspect of HEA’s plans.

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Average Homer Electric Association members, using about 600 kilowatt hours of power a month, could have bought themselves their own little generator with the amount their electric bill has gone up in the past year.

Rate increases in spring, fall and another 20 percent increase set to come in January means electricity on the Kenai Peninsula costs over 8 cents more per kWh than it did at the beginning of 2008, or roughly $50 more a month for an average household. As long as HEA gets the majority of its power from burning natural gas, that trend isn’t likely to change.

What may change is the distribution of HEA’s power supply. About 90 percent of HEA’s power comes through its contract with Chugach Electric Association, which gets most of its power from burning natural gas. As the price of natural gas goes up, so do HEA’s rates, often coinciding with hikes in Enstar’s rates for natural gas heating, as well.

In response, HEA is giving renewed thought to “green” technology.

“We definitely wanted to incorporate some renewables into our energy portfolio,” said Joe Gallagher, HEA spokesman. “The thought was that we were going to pursue the two that were the most developed and ready to go.”

That would be wind power and hydroelectric. HEA, in a partnership with a renewable energy company called enXco, is literally testing the wind and waters of renewable energy on the peninsula. The partnership has three towers up in the Caribou Hills and one near Nikolaevsk to study the feasibility of installing windmills, and is looking at four sites in the Crescent Lake area near Moose Pass as possibilities for hydro projects.

“The goal and the hope for our membership is it will help control rates because now our rates are at the mercy of the price of natural gas,” said HEA spokesperson Joe Gallagher. “The beauty thing about hydro is the fuel price doesn’t change.”

Water works?

As renewable power sources go, wind and hydro are the most feasible for HEA, because they’re the most established, Gallagher said. Harnessing geothermal and tidal power may be options in the future, but they present too many unknowns for HEA to pursue them now.

“We don’t have that capacity at this point, but others do and we definitely keep a close eye on the different developments that take place, and if in fact they prove to be feasible and something happens in one of those areas that makes sense for Home Electric, we are more than willing to take a look at it,” he said.

For the time being, water and wind have HEA’s attention.

“There are many renewable energy sources being looked at now, but Homer Electric, in the big picture, is a small co-op with limited resources,” Gallagher said. “And these hydro projects, they’re renewable but they’re not new. They’re proven technology. We’re not into the research and development phase. We know they work and we can get them online in the foreseeable future.”

Hydroelectric projects have been around for more than a century. The Kenai Peninsula already is home to two hydroelectric sites. Bradley Lake in Kachemak Bay produces about 10 percent of HEA’s power. And Chugach Electric Association runs the Cooper Creek hydroelectric plant near Cooper Landing.

HEA and enXco have teamed up to pursue the possibility of adding up to four more hydro projects on the peninsula. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently approved the necessary permits to study the feasibility of four projects in the Crescent Creek area. HEA also received $50,000 grants from the Alaska Energy Authority for each of the projects to help offset the cost of the preliminary permit work.

The technology exists, similar projects have proven effective elsewhere, and, once built, they would be relatively cheap to operate.

“The real benefit to Homer Electric is it would give us another source of energy other than natural gas, which we’re so heavily dependent on right now. We’ll still rely on natural gas for the majority of our power, but that dependency will be less and we’ll have a greater flexibility,” Gallagher said.

Water running downhill may be inevitable, but the hydro projects are not. They have to prove to be economically feasible and they have to get through the approval process, both at the regulatory level and in the court of public opinion.

The prospect of hydro around Crescent Lake has already garnered opposition from the Friends of Copper Landing organization, even at this preliminary stage where HEA and enXco are just starting to study which studies will need to be conducted.

At issue is hydro’s potential for environmental damage. As a “green” renewable energy source, its reputation can be blackened by environmental damage. In Cooper Landing, the Cooper Creek hydro dam is blamed for the decimation of fish stocks in the creek.
And in the Crescent Lake area, there be fish in them thar streams.

The players

Cook Inlet Regional Incorporated and enXco formed Wind Energy Alaska, which is working on wind projects in the state, including at Fire Island and on the Kenai, said Steve Gilbert, manager of Alaska projects for enXco. HEA formed a partnership with the company, Kenai Hydro LLC, to investigate hydro projects near Moose Pass.

The projects

With three-year FERC permits just recently approved, Kenai Hydro is only a few steps down the road that may lead to hydro projects. HEA and enXco representatives preface comments about design and other project specifics with the caveat that nothing has been decided yet. That being said, here are some of the ideas so far:

The sites being considered — Crescent Creek, Falls Creek, Ptarmigan Lake and Grant Lake — are in the Moose Pass area, part of the drainage system into the Trail Lakes along the Seward Highway.

The hydro designs being considered are low-impact, meaning they don’t involve dams or large structures, and would be designed to not harm the environment or fish habitat, Gilbert said. At least three of them would probably be run-of-river designs, where the stream’s natural water flow is used to generate power, rather than storing water to create a higher flow, Gilbert said.

The prevailing option so far is to install a siphon that diverts water a couple hundred feet down a pipe, called a penstock, into a small power plant. Water runs through turbines to generate electricity and is returned to the stream. Power is run through wires to the existing transmission line along the Seward Highway corridor nearby.

That sort of water conveyance system would involve an intake structure to hold the pipe mouth in place, a duct to divert water into the pipe and a trap to keep branches and other debris out of the pipe. The power plant would be relatively small, access corridors would be built to the plant and the intake site, and power lines would be strung from the plant to the existing transmission line.

Intakes and outlets of the system would be placed to avoid fish habitat, Gilbert said. “There is evidence of natural anadromous fish usage on all four sites, especially down where the creeks empty into Trail Lake, for instance,” Gilbert said.

Another option would be an in-stream system, where turbines are situated in the waterway, water is diverted through the turbine and released back out, with the power plant right there, necessitating only one access road. That may be possible in Falls Creek, for instance, which doesn’t seem to support anadromous — meaning migratory — fish at its headwaters, Gilbert said.

So far, Grant Lake doesn’t seem to support anadromous fish populations, Gilbert said, so they may consider water storage at that site. To do so, a larger structure — but not big enough to qualify as a dam by FERC standards — would be built at the siphon intake across the outlet of the lake, he said.

“Again, it would be the subject of study. If we need to maintain a certain amount of (water) flow past the intake structure down the creek, it ultimately would become a permit condition,” Gilbert said. “If not, the more water that can go to the penstock, the more fuel you can avoid burning, is the bottom line. Every kilowatt hour from wind or water saves a kilowatt hour of burning fuel.”

Along that line, water from nearby Falls Creek could be diverted to Grant Lake to add to the water storage capacity — and, thereby, the power generation capacity — at that site, Gilbert said.

Each site might generate an estimated 4 to 6 megawatts, Gallagher said. By comparison, it takes about 1 MW to power a full-sized Wal-Mart store, he said. HEA’s peak load on a cold day is about 90 MW.

Bradley Lake, which involves a dam, generates 20 MW. Cooper Creek, which also involves a dam, has an output of just under 20 MW, Gilbert said.

Cool catch — Fishing’s still hot, even when winter’s not

“Is it a cross-country skiing trip or a fishing trip?” I ask myself.

Both, of course. And what better way to spend one of our now-lengthening winter afternoons, than partaking in the two activities I enjoy most this time of year?

I’ve discovered that fishing, despite the cold, is a year-round sport. With the upper reaches of the Kenai still flowing and an estimated 15 percent of the trout population overwintering in these waters, there is simply no reason to put away the fly rod. Of course, one must prepare for the hardships of cold, and possibly wet, conditions.

I’m the first to admit that it appears somewhat crazy to even consider fishing when the mercury plunges so low your glasses regularly fog, the guides on your rod ice up time and again and when the mere thought of tying on a new fly is painful.

But there are reasons that inspire such madness. Perhaps the sense of urgency, of adventure, that comes with life in extreme weather, even in a place you know well. Maybe it’s also fisherman’s intuition, whispering that, as the mercury begins to climb even a little bit after the overnight freeze, the trout will become active and begin feeding.

Also, the long ski to the now-braided waters below Skilak Lake reveal a changed world. Not only has the water dropped significantly, but with the motorboats of summer long gone, it’s now supremely quiet. So quiet you can hear the brush of an eagle’s wings as they sweep the horizon, darkly silhouetted against the muted light of midday.

And there is not another soul within view. Even the most heated war zones in the summer battle for sockeyes have been relinquished back to the spirit of the river. The only footprints encased in the frozen ground now are a few wayward paw prints from restless bears that, like us, don’t know any better and have left the comfort of their dens for a day on the river.

This late in the season, our best hope for action might be a flesh fly, mimicking the decaying flesh of last autumn’s salmon. And if we spot some of the late-run silvers that continue to trickle into the river well past the first of the year, we might fish behind them with an egg pattern or egg-sucking leech. With less water in the system every pocket becomes more pronounced, the river easier to read, every hole ours for the taking.

It’s often a test of will. Just when fingers are beginning to numb and feet stiffening, that’s when the fly quietly drifts over the edge of a riffle, skirts the abyss of slow water, and suddenly stops. All at once the dull, muted rhythms of winter are interrupted by something spectacular. Fireworks burst at the surface of the pool as scales merge into a mosaic of black dots and a swirl of pink. Cold hands and frozen feet are instantly forgotten amidst the sudden sweet panic of playing a large fish.

It’s at moments like this that each one of your senses, every aspect of your being, is tied for an instant to the river. And it’s this that keeps us coming back, when the river is too low to float and the launch sites piled high with snow, skiing to our favorite destinations, warmed by our memories as well as the hopes and spirit of the river and the fish yet to be caught.

Winter fishing basics
The best thing anyone can bring winter fishing is patience and a good attitude. By late fall and early winter, many resident rainbow trout have headed to the nearby lakes for winter, and those that remain tend to be slightly less active. Often a fly needs to be placed right in front of their noses in order to entice a strike.

The next most important ingredients for a good time are warm clothes, and plenty of them. Cold-weather survival experts agree that dressing in layers is essential, starting with polypropylene underwear, followed by polar fleece, a warm coat and a wind shell. For waders, many winter fishermen have turned to the heavy neoprene variety favored by duck hunters. My Cabela’s neoprene 1,600 boot-foot waders are probably the warmest piece of equipment I own. The downside is they are heavy, and can be like wearing a pair of leg weights if you are walking a long way. It’s also easy to work up a sweat, which in cold-weather conditions can be deadly.

You don’t need a large selection of flies this time of year. A few standbys will do. Start with “old” flesh flies, in brown, white and cream — flies that resemble the remains of last year’s salmon carcasses. Also carry a variety of egg patterns, egg-sucking leeches and perhaps a few muddler minnows and sculpins.

Most of all you just need the desire to get out there, wet a line and enjoy this unique time year.

Dave Atcheson teaches a fly-fishing class each spring, starting in March, at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus, and is the author of the guidebook “Fishing Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.”

Drawing on support — Soldotna artist hopes to start graphic design school for youth in Philippines

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

The barriers between Soldotna and the Philippines are many: language, culture and economics, not to mention an entire ocean.

Yet even on a rice farm in a rural area of the Philippines, among straw huts, livestock running free and pig intestines for meals, Les Nelson, of Soldotna, found something oddly familiar — the romantic musical stylings of Dan Hill.

Nelson was visiting friends’ relatives at the farm. His group brought a rental karaoke machine to celebrate an 18-year-old’s birthday. They set it up outside a hut and took turns singing, when a 6-year-old boy wanted a turn.

“He knew all the words to ‘Sometimes When We Touch,’” a love ballad by Hill, Nelson said. “He had that entire song memorized. That kid came out and started to sing and the screen froze, and he kept singing the entire song without the lyrics on the screen.”

Nelson isn’t a carpenter. He’s not a doctor. He certainly isn’t a rice farmer.
“I tried my hand at it for five minutes, mostly just as a novelty for them,” Nelson said. “It was very National Geographic. I get there and we were surrounded by straw huts and water buffalo and exuberant village children and elders who’d never met a foreigner before. Actually, none of them had even met a foreigner before.”

But he is an artist, which bridges cultural, language and a host of other barriers, even better than ’80s love ballads do. Nelson, 26, is hoping to use his art background to help make life more beautiful, at least in one little corner of the world.

Nelson, who grew up in Soldotna and graduated from Nikiski High School in 2001, is Web and graphic designer along with many other media — drawing, painting and amateur photography. He’s a devotee of Flickr, a photo-sharing Web site on the Internet, and set his computer to show a sampling of other posters’ images. About two years ago he saw a photo by Ralph Matres, from the Philippines. Matres documents life in the Philippines, including those in poverty — children living on the street, youth trapped in the sex industry and farmers in rural areas.

The photos captured Nelson, and he struck up a correspondence with Matres. Their friendship developed at a time when Nelson was at loose ends. He’d gone off to school “for a semester and a week,” he said. He went to study graphic design, and was so passionate about it he felt like he’d learn it on his own, even without school, he said.

When he was a teenager he’d started a Web design firm – creating logos and other image branding designs. After school he did a variety of things, mainly working on the Web design company in Oregon and back in Soldotna.

Through Matres, Nelson learned about some of the challenges people in the Philippines face, especially poverty, fed in part by a lack of educational opportunities and jobs. The region became part of Nelson’s “someday” planning. Someday, he wanted to move there. Someday, he would look into starting a graphic design school that would give young adults a chance at a better life.
One day, Nelson figured he’d put an actual date to “someday.”

“I decided, ‘Well, that’s one of my long-term goals. I might as well make it a short-term goal. If I keep thinking it would be cool to do this in the future, it’ll never get done, so I need to start working on that now,’” he said.

He traveled to Caloocan, Philippines, and the surrounding area for a little over a month in October and November, to finally meet the friends he’d made long distance, and to start laying the groundwork for a school.

It was an eye-opening experience. The food was “quite delicious, actually,” Nelson said. He ate anything put in front of him, from pig ears and intestine to fertilized and partially gestated duck eggs. The weather was hot; it’s 80 to 90 degrees year-round with only two seasons — rainy and not so rainy, he said. And the living conditions some people endured strengthened his resolve. He met one family of 13 living in a house about the dimensions of a king-sized bed. They had to sleep in shifts because they couldn’t all fit in there at once.

And there were bright points. Nelson said he had a great time with his friends and met a lot of talented young artists that would benefit from the tutoring center he wants to start.

“Everyone’s showing me their art and they’re really proud of it and it’s really great art,” he said.

The goal is to start with graphic design. Students 16 and up with artistic leanings can learn design, create logos which they can put on T-shirts and sell, and put together a portfolio which will hopefully get them hired by an advertising firm, or one of the other international business opportunities the Philippines offers.

“A lot of them have jobs that they are ashamed of. They can’t even tell their families or friends about it. I’d like to give them an opportunity, if they have talent, to be graphic designers, to have an opportunity they can tell everyone about and their family can be proud of,” Nelson said.

Nelson wants to start with graphic design because that’s what he’s skilled at and is able to teach, he said. He hopes to expand the school in the future by bringing in volunteers to teach creative writing and filmmaking.

The first step is building support and laying the logistical framework. During his trip, Nelson found a three-story building that would be perfect for the tutoring center and office space upstairs and a retail shop on the main floor to sell students’ work, including shirts and books with covers the students would design. The owner is the son of the town mayor, and is willing to cut a deal on the space — 50,000 Philippine pesos, equivalent to a little over $1,000 a month, Nelson said.

“Everyone was incredibly warm and welcoming and very supportive. I didn’t meet one person who seemed like they were going to stand in the way. Everyone really wants this to happen over there,” Nelson said.

Nelson plans to spend the winter in Soldotna, squaring away the organization’s nonprofit status — it took nearly a full ream of paper to print out all the paperwork, he said — and plan some fundraising opportunities.

He’s already started one, a travel magazine called Ferdinand, as in Magellan. The first issue was about the Philippines, with photography from Matres. Nelson is hoping purchases of the magazine will help support the school. It’s available online at http://ferdinandcc.org, and people can sign up for e-mail updates about the project.

He’s hoping to publish and sell a coffee-table book of Matres’ work, and is thinking about holding auctions locally. Once the school gets going, he wants to sell the books students will design on the Internet, as well.

He’s looking forward to returning to the Philippines to get the school started once he gets funding squared away.

“I knew this was what I wanted to do. When I got back to Alaska, I’m still kind of homesick for the Philippines. I got there and it became home for me,” he said.

On a mission to fly — Roald Amundsen blazed new flight paths in Alaska

By Clark Fair
Redoubt Reporter

Driving down the highway at age 91, Hans Roald Amundsen crossed the center line and was pulled over by an Alaska State Trooper, who issued him a citation. His license was taken away and he was later informed that he would have to pass the written and practical driver’s tests and get medical clearance in order to get his license back.

Amundsen, who had been living in Alaska since 1945, had never taken the written test because he’d been grandfathered in since territorial days. Sixty years later, however, he wasn’t going to let his lack of prior testing experience deter him from getting back behind the wheel.

“Dad liked to drive,” said his daughter, Jeanette Klodt. “So he studied hard and passed his written. Then he got his OK from the medical — no medical reason why he shouldn’t drive. And he took his practical test, and they passed him with flying colors.”

Amundsen got his license back, although his triumph was short-lived. The following year, 2006, his daughter took away his car keys, determined that, despite his protestations, he was no longer safe on the road.

In 2007, his family moved him into Heritage Place in Soldotna.

“He didn’t figure he should be here,” said Klodt, who works as a registered nurse at the facility. He lived there until his death, at 94, last month.

A fiercely determined and independent man, Amundsen had worked regularly at his Missionary Aviation Repair Center hangar into the late 1990s, when he began staying home to care for his ailing wife, Harriett. He also had acted as chaplain for Bible studies at his home until 2007.

Amundsen had long been known for big dreams and finding ways to turn them into reality. Named after the famous Norwegian polar explorer, whose hand young Roald shook at age 4, Amundsen went on to live with a similar thirst for adventure.

Always proud of his Viking ancestry, he first came to Alaska in 1936, when his father, a traveling evangelist, was pastoring for a church in Anchorage. He came north to explore, to see what Alaska was like, according to his daughter, but he didn’t begin to settle on his life’s work until he entered training for the chaplaincy during World War II.

“As Dad found his niche in various places, (his life’s work) sort of evolved,” Klodt said. “He went toward an education degree, which he thought maybe would lead to medicine, and then he went to the chaplaincy seminary, which then led to his natural bent toward mechanics and working with his hands, to flying and to missionary administration, in some sense, although he was not a detail person.”

He may not have been much into details, but he had plenty of ideas. And all long, Klodt said, Amundsen was confident that God would provide what was necessary for success.

After learning to fly and completing his seminary training in the Midwest, he married Harriett in 1944 and returned the following year to Alaska to serve with the Evangelical Covenant Mission in Nome, flying out to visit villages along Norton Sound and south to Nunivak Island.

Amundsen’s primary task for nearly the next 20 years, while he and Harriett lived in Nome and Unalakleet, was to fly missionaries wherever they needed to go and supply them with whatever they needed to be successful. His secondary task involved hauling freight and other people commercially, but mission work always came first.

As Roald spent all this time in the air — and while the Amundsens raised three children, Jeanette and her younger brothers, John and Tim — Harriett stayed on the ground, praying for Roald’s safe return.

“My mother didn’t like to fly,” Klodt said. “At all.”

Over the years, Amundsen occasionally gave his wife reason to worry, but “he didn’t talk much about close calls,” Klodt said. “He felt that you don’t dramatize or enlarge on close calls because some of those things were stupidity, and when you talk about them, it romanticizes them.

“He does have the stories about flying low through a (weathered-in) pass, one of those kinds of things, or landing on a mountain. Or we’d hear things about shining a flashlight out the airplane to land, you know, because it was winter and there weren’t a whole lot of lighted (airstrips).”

Despite his close calls and his wife’s concerns, Roald Amundsen thrived.

“Alaska was the Last Frontier and he loved it, and he loved being a missionary,” his daughter said.

In the 1960s, according to Klodt, he had a vision of something greater: a mission that could reach out to far more people from a far more central location, while simultaneously providing a more efficient communication system and a qualified, reliable maintenance facility to keep planes in the air.

From the mid-1940s through the early 1960s, Amundsen had been “doing his repair (work) in a Quonset hut, and, like a lot of Bush people, using smudge pots to keep mosquitoes out during repairs in the summer, and having to heat up engines for cold-weather flights,” Klodt said.

“So that was part of primitiveness you dealt with up there, and he envisioned a service that would not just be for one mission; it would be for various missions in a wide area.”

So he packed up his family in 1964 and moved to the Kenai Peninsula.

“Dad talked about his dreams, and he would just kind of encourage people along the line toward his dreams, and if they came into place, that was fine,” Klodt said.

In Kenai, J.W. Thompson bought into the dream and gave Amundsen some lots in Thompson Park in Kenai, while Amundsen began to plan a missionary operation with Bud Lofstedt.

The Soldotna Airport offered easy accessibility to fuel and parts, and so Missionary Aviation Repair Center was born there, beginning with a small wooden hangar and a single Cessna 180. While Lofstedt went on to form his own commercial venture known as Kenai Air Service, MARC continued to prosper under the leadership of Amundsen.

A new hangar was built. New airplanes were added. Services were expanded.

By the time Len Wikstrom came from Washington state to Soldotna to join the fold in 1982 — and to help build a new 60-by-80-foot hangar to replace the 50-by-60-foot structure that had just burned down — MARC pilots were covering an ever-widening area.

Wikstrom, now the director of the repair center, stood recently at a wall map of Alaska and used a string anchored at Soldotna to trace an imaginary arc from Bristol Bay north along Western Alaska to Nome and then east toward Fairbanks. He explained as he did so that sometimes MARC pilots fly their Piper aircraft on missions outside this 500-mile arc, including some to eastern Russia.

In 1996, Amundsen expanded his mission even more, creating in Soldotna a small vocational school that would serve young people from Bush communities. Authorized by the state’s Commission on Postsecondary Education, the Amundsen Education Center opened on East Redoubt land supplied by Basil Bolstridge. The school offers certificates in home construction, and its New Frontier Technical Vocational Center offers classes in accounting and computer-based and secretarial skills.

Throughout all his years and all such accomplishments, Amundsen was driven by a singular, faith-based sensibility.

“I would like people to see how God uses someone, like what Dad said: ‘Do with what you have in your hand,’” his daughter said. “If you have an ability, if you’ve been trained in a certain way, use that particular talent for God. If you have a mechanical hand, or if you have a teaching hand, or whatever else, you use that particular skill at the time which you have to use it.”
Roald Amundsen used his God-given talents for 94 years.

Cold weather heats up business — Plumbers, auto mechanics snap into action when cold hits

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

When it’s 25 below and the furnace goes out or the car won’t start, the last thing customers want to hear is they’ll have to wait for service.

The second last thing they want to hear is the best solution to their problem would have been preventative maintenance.

Nevertheless, that’s the message many central peninsula residents are getting when they look for someone to bring their vehicle or heating system back to life.

It’s not that mechanics or heating and plumbing technicians enjoy telling people the equivalent of “I told you so,” but if people get the message now, it might save them from being in a similar situation in the future.

“Preventative maintenance — get your block heater tested, your coolant tested. Preventative maintenance is key because you never know when this kind of stuff is going to hit,” said Taft Davis, manager of Alyeska Sales and Service in Kenai.

Below-zero temperatures for the last two weeks have kept auto repair, vehicle remote start distributors and heating and plumbing repair businesses busy lately, especially with the recent holidays.

Jeff Bittle, a remote start installer at Rhino Linings in Soldotna, said he’d been working on Christmas orders when the cold weather hit.

“We’re seeing an additional two or three a day. We’re booked out about two weeks right now,” he said.
At Alyeska, orders for block heater installations increased as temperatures decreased, and they’re also seeing vehicles in need of repair.

“No starts, no heat and lots of flat repairs when the temperature drops down,” Davis said. “… Or they overheated if the thermostat sticks. You name it, I’ve got a parking lot full of cars from tow trucks out there right now.”

He said the shop is running about a week behind on repairs.

“Usually we tell people they can get right in, but now I tell them it’ll be Friday, and they’re like, ‘What? What do you mean?’” he said. “It seems like when it gets cold, people will fight their cars for three days. They’ll wrestle with jumper cables and fight with it but after three days they say, ‘Enough. I’m going to pay to have it fixed.’”

The best way to get out of that situation is to avoid getting into it. Regular maintenance and a properly sized, properly installed and properly maintained block heater can keep cars on the road, instead of in an auto garage parking lot waiting for a mechanic to have time to look at it.

Same goes for home heating and plumbing systems.

Rocky Smith, owner of Preferred Plumbing and Heating in Kenai, said Monday that they got about 150 calls over the New Year’s holiday weekend.

“We’ve been busy. Oh yeah. We have three lines and they’re just ringing nonstop,” he said.

Smith said he doesn’t think it’s been cold enough for long enough for underground pipes to be in much danger of freezing, but home freeze-ups are common in these conditions.

“When you have a freeze-up like that it can burst the pipes in your walls, then you get some water damage, too,” he said.

Freeze-ups can be as easy to avoid as making sure the garage door closes all the way or having someone reliable check on a home regularly if the owner is going to be gone, Smith said. He also recommends hooking up a freeze alarm, which can be set to dial a predetermined phone number if the device registers a temperature lower than the threshold at which it’s set.

The big problem is when the threat of freezing comes from home heating systems breaking down. That’s not unusual when temperatures drop and furnaces or other heating systems that involve an electric blower motor kick into overdrive.

“It’s like anything electric, your electric motors have a life of a certain number of hours. If they’re running constantly, they overheat and they just quit,” Smith said. “So that’s what happens there. When they don’t have to run very long or very hard they’ll last a long time.”

To keep heaters running, it’s back to the same mantra:

“Annual maintenance. Annual maintenance. Yep, that’s what we try to push people towards. Then you don’t have to worry about them when it gets really cold out,” Miller said.

Plugged In: When Windows cracks, try free software fixes first

Windows certainly has its foibles, and it’s a bit odd that the most effective fixes are typically inexpensive or free third-party utilities available primarily as Internet purchases or as free downloads.

Here are some that I’ve found invaluable when a Windows installation has become unstable or slow, but is not yet so flaky that a time-consuming reinstallation becomes necessary. Think of these as minor maintenance.

  • Ace Utilities. Ace Utilities is a reliable compact program that’s much less expensive than Norton, with lower system demands. Except for hard disk optimization, it performs basically the same diagnostics and Windows Registry clearing as Norton Utilities, but only on demand rather than as a potentially intrusive background process that runs continuously. I’ll typically run Ace Utilities as a first response whenever a computer system seems to be balky or slightly unstable. You can download a 30-day trial version at http://www.acelogix.com.
  • Free RAM Optimizer. Acelogix also provides, as a free download to its customers, a Windows memory optimizer. I’ve installed it on a home computer with 2 GB RAM, a computer that’s often used to edit photo files that may be several hundred megabytes each. This system often slowed nearly to a halt as a result of RAM overloads and resultant hard disk data swapping. Ace’s RAM Optimizer seems to have somewhat reduced such performance bottlenecks to a tolerable level without any noticeable adverse effects. Programs like this will make a difference when available RAM is low as a result of many programs loaded simultaneously or when you are intensively processing very large files, such as running text recognition on a several-hundred-page Acrobat document or sharpening a massive photographic file. You can download this program from www.acelogix.com.
  • Upgrading Performance. I’ve mentioned Diskeeper (www.diskeeper.com) in a prior article as one of the most effective long-term ways to improve overall computer performance. Other useful programs for detecting bottlenecks and tuning hard disk performance are HD Tune and Performance Test (www.passmark.com). You can download a free, 30-day trial of the full Performance Test program, and I recommend it as a means of finding performance bottlenecks in your existing system and checking whether any upgrades are worthwhile. Remember the common wisdom that you’ll need at least a 50 percent overall system performance increase before an ordinary business user will perceive any useful improvement. Passmark also provides a 30-day free trial of their “burn-in” software that stress tests computer systems for potentially flaky components. You should definitely run burn-in software on any new system, particularly before any return period expires.
  • Belarc Advisor. Windows handles security and other issues by applying a series of “patches” to fix specific portions of the operating system code. Sometimes, though, patches are not properly applied and various portions of your operating system can become mismatched and thus potentially unstable. Belarc Advisor, a free download available from www.belarc.com, checks your operating system for vulnerabilities, installed software and its status, and Windows components. If one or more Windows components or patches are not as they should be, such items are flagged and you will be directed to the specific part of Microsoft’s Web site where a corrective download and/or more information are available. This program is invaluable when you need it. It certainly beats reinstalling Windows and all of your programs and data, not to mention relicensing hassles. Belarc Advisor also provides a lot of other useful information about your hardware and software, such as data on all installed programs.
  • Dial-a-Fix. The other free Windows repair utility that’s occasionally worked wonders on an unstable system is “Dial-a-Fix,” which I’ve found available from a number of sites on the Web. Dial-a-Fix has resurrected systems that otherwise seemed destined for a hard disk reformat and complete reinstallation of Windows. I have never experienced any damage on a Windows installation from its use. In addition to trying the basic menu options, also try some of the various options in the Tools button, but avoid any of the reinstallation options unless absolutely necessary.
  • Hard disk failures. I have found a lot of useful hard disk resurrection and repair information at http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk. This site links to some potentially useful open-source programs, but I have not personally tested them.

Local attorney Joseph Kashi received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from MIT and has been writing and lecturing about technology throughout the U.S. since 1990 for American Bar Association, Alaska Bar Association and private publications. He also owned a computer store in Soldotna between 1990 and 2000.

Coed to cross-cultural — Hockey becomes ticket to international experience

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

When Whitney Ischi stepped on the ice to play hockey in Switzerland in September, she wasn’t quite the same as the rest of the players.

The rules of the game were different from what she was used to, for one thing. And being from Kenai, she wasn’t familiar with the culture, much less any of the languages spoken there. She couldn’t even talk to the coach.

But if she let differences from the rest of her team stop her from playing hockey, she wouldn’t have gotten that far in the first place.

Ischi, 19, grew up in Kenai, playing hockey since she was 5 with the Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association, and high school hockey at Kenai Central and Soldotna high schools. Being one of the few female players on the peninsula, it was either play with the boys, or not play.

“All through growing up I was basically the only girl down here on the peninsula that played. There weren’t many girls, and there were no girls teams down here to play on,” she said. “But it was difficult growing up being a girl playing hockey. A lot of people thought it wasn’t a place for girls to play.”
Ischi’s mother, Val, said she and her husband, Peter, encouraged Whitney to play, just as they did their son, Phillip.

“For us, we wanted the kids to do something they loved to do and something that was positive for them to do and helped take up their extra time,” Val said. “We spent a lot of money and a lot of time on it, but for us it was worth it. We didn’t have to worry about the kids getting into trouble. That was our goal. If it ended up being something they did after high school, great, but it was just something for the kids to do and not be couch potatoes.”

Even though she supported her daughter’s interest in hockey, Val said she was surprised that Whitney stuck with the sport.

“I think with it being typically not a girls sport and her having to play with the boys, I thought when she hit Peewee level and they started checking, this would be the point where she said, ‘That’s enough,’ and didn’t want to do this anymore,” Val said.

“The thing was, you are a girl. So, number one, you’re going to have to be a little tougher out there. And no whining. When you step on the ice, you’re a hockey player, you’re not a girl because you chose to play,” she said.

Whitney kept on playing through Peewee checking, through high school where the skaters got faster and bigger, through a girls competition league for Team Alaska and during a year of college in Minnesota.

“So far she’s done well and any injuries she’s had is against the girls,” Val said. “She had knee surgery from playing soccer, and went into the boards against girls. Go figure, you know?”

After her first year in college, Whitney wasn’t sure where she wanted to go with her education.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do this year. I wanted to take a year off school to figure it out. I didn’t want to waste another year of my family’s money,” she said.

Her older brother, Phillip, played pro hockey for Visp in Switzerland’s National League B for the past two seasons, and talked to his agent about a girls league. The teams are only allowed two “import,” or foreign, players, but both Whitney and Phillip got dual citizenship so they could play. This year, Phillip is playing for Crans-Montana and Whitney is playing for Kussnacht Rigi in the amateur Ladies A League.

Even though Whitney has family connections to Switzerland, she ended up there alone in September. Phillip didn’t head over for his season until Whitney was on her way back to Kenai for holiday break. Their grandmother had a condo in Switzerland, but she spends half the year in Hawaii.

Other then a family trip when she was 10, Whitney had never been to Europe. She doesn’t speak any of the languages spoken in Switzerland — French, Italian, German and Romansh. Her cell phone didn’t work and she didn’t have Internet access when she got there. She doesn’t have a car and the public transportation system was unfamiliar.

But she’s adjusted. There’s a translator on her team that helps her communicate when she’s in practice or games, and she’s taking German lessons. She’s got the transportation system figured out, and Phillip will be there when she gets back in January. She plans to travel with him for a month after hockey season is over in March.

“I really like Switzerland a lot,” Whitney said. “The whole other culture thing and how they go through life is different. Traveling on the transit system and the trains, that was very difficult at first, but now I like them.”

Her next moves are starting to fall into place. Whitney plans to take online classes next year to pursue a career as an X-ray technician. She may move back to Alaska someday, since her family is still here. Her parents own the Dairy Queen in Soldotna.

As for hockey, she plans to keep it a part of her life.

“It’s so different from other sports,” Whitney said. “… There’s so many different places that it takes you. You play people from all over. It’s so unexpected. There’s no certain plan. I can go any direction I want and can continue to do it anywhere, really.

“I’ll continue to keep playing for a couple more years, and if something else happens, something else happens.”

Whatever direction Whitney ends up going, Val expects she’ll skate down it with the same determination she’s showed in playing hockey.

“She’s very focused, very driven. There’s not a doubt in my mind she’ll succeed at it. If she couldn’t take it, she would be done. It was really her choice to do and she has just succeeded in it. She sets herself goals and she’s sure she’s going to attain them, and good for her,” Val said.

Phillip, who will be 23 in February, wants to see how far he can go in hockey, Val said.

“He found what he loves doing, and I wish him all the success in it,” she said. “Pete and I both have encouraged the kids to do it, mainly because how many people get that kind of experience? And learning the culture and all of those kinds of things is good. You might as well do it when you’re young and don’t have anything holding you back.”

That’s Whitney’s philosophy.

“Keep your mind open to any opportunity that comes your way,” she said. “Any chance to do something different, just take it. You always have your life to live afterward, but you can only be young once.”

Art Seen: Display brings out shared sense of color, introspection

Odie’s has been serving up more than sandwiches and coffee lately, with some really fine art displayed on the walls. Claire Rowley, Ashley Doremire, Sam Merry, Sue Zurfluh-Mann and Donna Schwanke are all artists who have taken classes at Kenai Peninsula College and have teamed up for an informal group exhibit at the popular sandwich shop on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna.

It is a show that hangs together better than most “student exhibits” tend to, and there seems to be a kindred spirit element to the arrangement. Most of the works actually feel like self-portraits, whether they are labeled as such or not. The abstracts have a vibrancy and immediacy that are as visually entertaining as they are colorful and accessible.

Sam Merry’s “Octopod” shows a geometrically stylized octopus that seems moody, quiet and intelligent. Most of the smoothly painted arms disappear off the edges of the frame, only to curl back inward toward the body of the creature. Sam is not afraid to let parts of the animal vanish into shadow, and the overall composition is maturely handled.

In “Sea, Land and Sun,” Claire Rowley (who is also an employee at Odie’s) has allowed the underlying painted texture to further animate her already dynamic brushstrokes. There is a yin/yang element to the piece without becoming trite or obvious. Another of her works, a fiber piece called “Family Dynamics,” is a happy, Picassoish wall hanging. The lines are bold and energized, the mostly primary colors strong but proportionately interesting. The title allows for easy empathy.

“Alone and Inbetween” is a painting by Ashley Doremire, and has a nice balance of abstract and representational elements. It feels as much, if not more so, like an honest self-portrait as her “Self Portrait,” which is still a fun and quirky little piece that depicts a severed head wearing big, red, squarish sunglasses and a somewhat petulant expression.

The character and emotional tone of “Alone and Inbetween,” however, tells me of a young woman with both the courage to take chances, and the thoughtfulness to learn from the results of whatever experience ensues. There is a reaching up and a digging down that create a striking balance.

It’s refreshing to view a joint exhibit that allows for so much personality to shine through the individual pieces, as well as the show as a whole. The exhibit will remain on view through the rest of January.

Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works gallery in Soldotna. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.

Arts and Entertainment week of Jan. 7

  • The Soldotna Senior Center is looking for artists to display their work in the center's lobby. Shows are one month long. Artwork must hang on the walls. Call Mary Lane at 262-8839.
  • Artists Without Borders, in the 4D Professional Building in Soldotna, presents a solo show by Laura Faeo with an opening reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
  • Art Works in Soldotna has photography by Joe Kashi on display through January.
  • Kaladi Brothers on Kobuk Street in Soldotna has artwork by Alyse Haynes on display through January.
  • Kaladi Brothers on the Sterling Highway in Soldotna has photography by Tony Oliver on display through January.
  • The Kenai Fine Arts Center in Old Town Kenai has “Facets of 3-Dimensional Art” by Joyce Cox on display through January with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
  • Odie’s coffee shop in Soldotna has a collaborative art show by Claire Rowley, Ashley Doremire, Sam Merry, Sue Zouslow-Mann and Donna Schwanke on display through January.

  • The Kenai Writers Group will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the conference room at Kenai Community Library. The public is invited. Bring extra copies of your writing to share.

  • The traveling statewide photography show, “Rarefied Light 2008,” will be on display at the Gary L. Freeburg Gallery at Kenai Peninsula College through January with an opening reception from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday.
  • Kenai Performers will hold auditions for a murder mystery dinner theater production written by Mike Druce at 6 p.m. Friday at the Old Town Playhouse in Kenai. Adult parts only. Performances will be March 6 and 7 at the Kenai Senior Citizens Center. For more information, contact Carol Ford at 776-8308, 398-9756 or whoville@pobox.alaska.net.

  • The Kenai River Folk Dancers will hold a contra dance from 7 to 10 p.m. at Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School with live music by the ContraBanD. Beginners are welcome, and instruction is given. Contact Treesa Holland at 260-4171 or gtholland@gci.net for more information.

  • Kenai Community Library will hold a family game day from 1 to 4 p.m. with a variety of board games, and players may bring their own games to share.

Coming up
  • Easton Stagger Phillips will perform at the Old Town Playhouse in Kenai on Jan. 16.
  • Peninsula Winter Games organizers are looking for carvers willing to do ice sculptures around Soldotna and Kenai from Jan. 20 to 28. Contact Tami Murray at tami@peninsulawintergames.com or 741-8119.
  • The Central Peninsula Writers Group is accepting submissions for its 12th annual Central Peninsula Writers Presentation on March 14 at Triumvirate Theatre in the Peninsula Center Mall in Soldotna. Adult and high school writers from Cooper Landing to Ninilchik to Nikiski may enter. Entries are due Feb. 6. Entry forms and complete guidelines are available at the Kenai Community Library and online at kenailibrary.org under the Writer Group link.

  • The Riverside in Soldotna has DJ Mark Gage on Friday and Saturday night.

Live music
  • Hooligan’s Saloon in Soldotna has Static Cycle on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • The Maverick in Soldotna has the Free Beer Band on Wednesday and Sunday nights.
  • Moosequito’s in Sterling has Paul Davis from Anchorage on Friday night.
  • The Place in Nikiski has bluegrass by Them Other Shuckers on Friday nights.
  • The Rainbow Bar in Kenai has The Mabrey Brothers at 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
  • The Riverside in Soldotna has Sean and Travis B at 8 p.m. Thursday.

  • The Duck Inn on Kalifornsky Beach Road has a karaoke contest Jan. 8 through early February every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 9 p.m. with a $500 prize.
  • 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at the .406 in Kenai.
  • 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Hooligan’s in Soldotna.
  • 9 p.m. Friday at J-Bar-B outside Soldotna.
  • 9:30 p.m. Monday at the Maverick in Soldotna.

  • The J-Bar-B has a cash drawing at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays. Patrons get one ticket each day they’re at the bar. Must be present to win.
  • Hooligan’s in Soldotna has Texas Hold ‘Em poker from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays and free pool Thursdays.
  • The Maverick in Soldotna has a pool tournament at 8 p.m. Fridays.
  • Moosequito’s in Sterling has a dart tournament Tuesday nights and Jager bingo Jan. 12..

Guest column: In Cook Inlet, change stays the same

A number of years ago I spent an evening perched 25 feet up on the cold, windy Cook Inlet bluff south of Deep Creek, watching the tide come in.

A brisk wind was coming out of the southwest and every four seconds a muddy, gray wave crashed onto the beach and dissipated into spray, bubbles and foam. As the water slithered back out, it rattled the beach cobbles menacingly like a shaman working mysterious magic with a puffin-beak rattle. The shaman-waves broke again and again, rhythmically chanting their ancient geological feast‑mantra, “Closer...closer...closer.”

The 20‑foot tide was rising fast, and the sediment‑crazed surf groped for the base of the bluff until finally it nibbled at the talus below my perch. During the 40 minutes of slack, high water, the hungry waves grazed on Tertiary sediments in a 100-mile long feeding frenzy. Eventually the ebbing tide pulled the ravenous water away from the bluff, but not until 600 breakers had been fed.

From Point Possession to Homer, Cook Inlet had taken another long bite out of the bluff. Tikahtnu was satiated — but only until the next big tide.

Most of Cook Inlet’s waves break harmlessly onto the beach, expending their energy on mundane tasks like rearranging sand, polishing stones and erasing footprints. But when the highest tides lift the waves to the base of the bluff, a set of events begin that result in a slowly changing coastline.

When tides reach the base of the bluff, the breaking waves wash out a notch and carry the sediments out to sea. Gravity likes her angles, and this disruption of the bluff’s angle of repose is not to her liking. In time, sand and gravel from above the notch fall down and fill it in. Eventually, the former angle is re-established, gravity is once again content, and the coastline has moved inland a little bit.

The usual process is for individual particles to fall in a slow trickle of downslope movement. However, if the area is saturated with water, a large part of the bluff may surge down in an earth flow and, like the Dow on a bad day, the property owner finds himself a few thousand dollars poorer. Unlike the stock market, however, there will be no recovery.

Usually only a few inches of bluff are removed at a time, but a big tide accompanied by strong onshore winds can take out as much as 5 feet. Over the years, landowners have tried everything imaginable to shore up their investment. Breakwaters have been constructed of pilings sunk into the beach fortified with everything from cement-filled barrels, to old car bodies, to the kitchen sink. Sometimes the erosion has been retarded for a few years, but in the end, the inlet always wins.

Nothing will stop the erosion of the bluff, with the possible exception of encasing the Cook Inlet basin in fiberglass.

Contrary to what one might expect, erosion of the west coast of the peninsula from Point Possession to Kachemak Bay is not due to a rise in sea level. It is due to the exact opposite — the land is rising, like Neptune coming out of the sea, causing a relative lowering of sea level.

Why should the western half of the Kenai Peninsula be rising? According to geologist Richard Reger, the reason is crustal rebound. During the Pleistocene, millions of tons of glacial ice covered the peninsula, depressing the thin crust into the less viscous mantle below. As the ice receded, the weight has been removed and the crust is slowly rising to its former state. The process has almost run its course, but over the past 10,000 years, waves have constantly cut into this rising coastline, making a new bluff.

Today the bluff has stabilized in several places but, in the long run, this, too, is only momentary. The next big earthquake or global climate change will revise the land-sea boundary and again our coastline will be changed.

When the tide lowered, I moved from my perch down to the now-exposed beach. As I picked my way down, a bit of siltstone broke away from the cliff high above me and the particles rained down around me, destined for the notch below recently washed out by the high tide. The siltstone had been layered there for 5 million years, and now, thanks to rebound, tides, waves and the pull of gravity, those particles were starting another trip on their journey through the geologic cycle.

Nothing, it seems, is forever.

Alan Boraas is a professor of anthropology at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kenai River Campus.