Renee Gross

Reporter/Host

Renee joined KBBI in 2017 as a general assignment reporter and host. Her work has appeared on such shows as Weekend Edition Saturday, The World, Marketplace and Studio 360. Renee previously interned as a reporter for KPCC in Los Angeles and as a producer for Stateside at Michigan Radio. Her work has earned her numerous press club awards. She holds an M.S. in journalism from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in women's studies from the University of Michigan.

KBBI

One of the winners of the Homer City Council election is having her eligibility challenged. Storm Hansen-Cavasos won the second most votes out of all four candidates running for city council, according to the final election results released Friday. That should have guaranteed her one of the two open seats on the council.

Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Services

A fire destroyed roughly 350 scrap cars on Greenfield Road Sunday night, according to Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Services.  Fire crews arrived to Sarge’s Multi Services junkyard to find 10 cars on fire around 6 p.m. that evening. But the crews could not immediately gain access to a sufficient water supply to keep the fire from spreading to other vehicles.

The Homer Volunteer Fire Department, Ninilchik Emergency Services and Kachemak Emergency Services aided the Anchor Point crew. The fire was put out early Monday morning and required more than 90,000 gallons of water. 

KBBI

Storm Hansen-Cavasos won the second contested seat on the Homer City Council, according to final election results released Friday afternoon.

The political newcomer beat out incumbent Shelly Erickson by seven votes. Joey Evensen, also new to local government, secured his place on the city council earlier this week after the city announced the preliminary election results Tuesday evening. Incumbent Tom Stroozas garnered the least amount of votes out of all four candidates.

Hansen-Cavasos said she was ecstatic to hear about the win.

Photo courtesy of LGL Alaska Research Associates

Hilcorp may now blast seismic air guns at night in lower Cook Inlet. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a modified permit Friday, allowing the company to explore for oil and gas after the sun sets.  

Two environmental organizations are asking NOAA to revoke the permit. 

Julie Simmonds, an attorney with Center for Biological Diversity, says this permit marks a significant shift--- now Hilcorp can put out more cables or lines with seismic equipment off their boats in the evening. 

Courtesy of The Homer Tribune

One of Homer’s two newspapers is ceasing publication. The Homer Tribune delivered its last paper Thursday after more than two decades of printing.  City residents are mourning its loss. 

Lance Prouce was flipping through the last edition of the Homer Tribune. 

“It's all local news,” he said. “It’s about the election, the charging station, them stopping [publication]. I mean, it's Bristol Bay fishermen, it's about fishing. It's the stuff that affects us right here.”

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO

Updated: 5:59 pm 10/02/2019 

The city of Homer announced the unofficial results Tuesday night from its municipal election. There are two contested seats on Homer city council. Political newcomer Joey Evensen will be elected to one of them.

Evensen won the most votes out of any candidate. He came away with 726 votes, about 33% of the total. He says he was at a post-election-night gathering at a local restaurant when he heard the news:

Shahla Farzan / KBBI

Across the Kenai Peninsula today, residents are heading to the polls to vote. In Homer’s city election, community members are deciding whether to prohibit thin plastic bags. They are also choosing which candidates to elect for two seats on the city council.

Homer voters are passionate about the issue of whether or not to ban thin plastic bags.

“The one [issue] that sticks in my craw the most is probably that one because it has been voted on,” said Homer resident Charles Anderson.

Renee Gross, KBBI News

Two whale researchers are raising concern over Hilcorp’s activities in lower Cook Inlet. The company is using air guns to explore the area for oil and gas. But the researchers say it will cause irreversible damage to whales and other marine wildlife.

Biologist Olga von Ziegesar played a recording of seismic air gun blasts coming from Hilcorp. She recorded the underwater noise a few miles away from the company’s vessel.

Renee Gross, KBBI News

Candidates for Homer City Council squared off at a forum Wednesday night. Residents packed the city’s public library to hear the candidates speak on issues such as housing, social services and the environment.

Four candidates are vying for two open spots on Homer’s city council. Council members Tom Stroozas  and Shelly Erickson are both incumbents while Storm Hansen-Cavasos and Joey Evensen are both newcomers to local government.

Courtesy of Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference

A popular writers' gathering on the southern Kenai Peninsula is going on a one-year-hiatus. Next year, there will be no Kachemak Bay Writers' Conference.  Kachemak Bay Campus announced this week that it is cancelling next summer’s event in order to review its purpose, scope and future.

Reid Brewer is the director of the campus, and he said taking a step back is necessary due to the state’s budget cuts and funding uncertainty surrounding the Alaska University System.

Renee Gross, KBBI News

Seldovia residents can now do a few loads of laundry and shower on a normal schedule. The city on the southern Kenai Peninsula announced this week that there is no longer a water shortage. Now, residents are trying to repair the damage and plan for the future. 

Things are getting back to normal for the roughly 500 people who live in the area. This week, the city’s reservoir returned to a healthy level. The city reinstated senior meals and the library is operating on a regular schedule. 

But for some, recovery will take a while.

Courtesy of Winter Marshall-Allen

Teachers and students returned to public school Tuesday on the Kenai Peninsula after educators called off a strike early in the morning. The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and two educator unions reached a tentative contract agreement at 1:37 a.m.  

David Brighton is president of the Kenai Peninsula teacher’s union. He said the school district and the unions have been at an impasse over healthcare costs for over a year and a half.  

Kenai Peninsula Borough School District

Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 5:53 a.m. 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and educator unions struck an eleventh-hour deal on a contract Tuesday morning to nearly avoid a district-wide strike. The district and unions came to a tentative agreement for a three-year contract at 1:37 a.m. This comes after more than a year and a half spent at the bargaining table.                            

Residents are desperately trying to conserve water in the Native village of Nanwalek, located on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage. The village, home to the Sugpiaq tribe, is currently in a severe drought.

Nina Kvasnikoff's family is eating off paper plates, collecting water from the ocean to flush toilets and washing themselves with sponges.

"It doesn't feel like you're clean. You feel like you're just splattering a little bit of water," she says.

Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District is creating a workforce-training program for peninsula residents.

Tim Dillon is the executive director of the economic development district, and he said it’s critical for young residents to learn basic job skills and explore different trades.

“Carpentry 101,” he said. “Tool Safety.  Basics of, so how do you interact with other folks, when you're working, when you have a boss. What's the interpersonal dynamics with that if you’ve never had a boss. Just a variety of different things.”

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