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There’s a Bakery in Seldovia!

| June 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Jenny Chissus

Tidepool is open

Seeing the light in the window and the OPEN sign at the Tidepool Cafe was a wonderful treat after over 6 months of quiet!  We have all heard rumblings that the Tidepool was going to be under new management, and that we would see the doors opening “soon” – but until Saturday – the situation was officially unknown!  Not any more!

Sonny and I had the opportunity to be the second customers in the door on opening day – to enjoy a coffee and the freshly baked croissants Michel Bieri has been talking about!  He has been a chef for almost 50 years, since June 29, 1965!   Michel has owned and operated hunting and fishing lodges, restaurants, the Linwood Bar and Grill, and created a very successful bakery in Anchorage among others!    We are so fortunate to have a chef of his experience and caliber here in our little community of Seldovia!

MichelMichel is not new to Seldovia either, as he married one of Seldovia’s own, Liza Colberg Bieri and has been operating his fishing and hunting businesses down in the Kodiak area with Seldovia as his home base.  Besides opening the Tidepool, Michel is also working diligently to lease the new building on Dock street to bring in the equipment to produce his salmon product “Seldovia Wild” right here in Seldovia!

The Tidepool is going to be open 7 days a week, from 7:30am to 3:30pm for breakfast and lunch.  The menu will be a bit limited these first few weeks, as he’s just getting started training and organizing the kitchen and wait staff with the new menus and systems.  Michel is thankful that a few of the original Tidepool staff will be opening the restaurant with him, including Stacy in the kitchen and Sirena managing the front, making for a smooth transition.  Michel promises that even though he’s not rolling out his full menu quite yet, it will all taste delicious and that you will be happy about the prices!    Because of his other work, he’ll be traveling to Anchorage weekly to get supplies, ensuring that all the produce is fresh and that he will never run out of product.  Michel himself will be cooking/baking in Seldovia 5 days a week!

MichelYou will also eventually see the moving of equipment and additional showcases to house the wide variety of baked goods Michel is planning to offer Seldovia! When we visited, he stressed to me that this will be a bakery/cafe, making fresh bread daily in Seldovia!  “When people walk in you will know that you are in a bakery! It will smell like a bakery!”  Michel will have retail priced baked goods, croissants, baguette, puff pastries, tarts and even cakes!    Making the bread on site will keep the prices inexpensive, and his hope is to match the Anchorage prices – right here in Seldovia!

Michel is all about taking care of the local clientele as well as the folks who are visiting for the day.  The prices that he is proposing are very reasonable!  The standard hamburger with fresh bun and fries will be $9.95!  The butter croissants are under $2, and the delicious reindeer sausage puff pastry is $3.95!

To give you an idea of the menu for breakfast, here are a few teasers:  ham and cheese croissant with black forest ham and swiss cheese, reindeer sausage Dijon butter puff pastry, chocolate croissant, butter croissant, pancakes, eggs, omelets and many specialties like eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy, french toast and breakfast sandwiches.  There will certainly be something on the menu for everyone!

His lunch menu looks just as spectacular with the standard hamburger and cheeseburgers with mushrooms and avocados, corned beef, roast beef Philly and French Dip, turkey and chicken, meatball and even italian sausage sandwiches all with fresh bread and homemade french fries!

Michel will be bringing many French favorites to the menu like the Croque Monsieur (Black forest ham, swiss cheese with sautéed mushrooms, Dijon mustard and lettuce on grilled white bread with Bechamel and gratinee parmesan cheese on top!)  There will even be a few Italian-style pasta specials like fettuccine, linguine and spinach ravioli!  All this to say that he will have a nicely varied menu – with some uniquely international flavors to tempt all types of customers!

Another big focus to the restaurant will be the availability of fresh seafood!  Michel is adamant about getting fresh fish: cod, bass, salmon and halibut to the Tidepool tables for you – along with mussels, oysters, crab, shrimp – whatever he can get his hands on!  This will be a fabulous addition to the Seldovia cuisine, as many people coming to Alaska want to savor our bounty from the sea – and Michel will do a masterful job of preparing it so that they will remember Seldovia and Alaska seafood with appreciation!

So, grab a friend or loved one and head on down to the Tidepool and enjoy a nice breakfast or lunch!  Soon, you too will greeted by that amazing French bakery smell when you walk in the door.

A bientôt!

A Total Loss, Yet, A Total Miracle

| June 6, 2014 | 1 Comment

by Jenny Chissus, interview with Police Chief Shad Haller and a statement from SVT Fire Chief Rick Harkness
updated at 2:59pm June 6, 2014

photo by Chief Haller

photo by Chief Haller

Early Tuesday morning – estimates are around 2-3:00am a fire broke out at the Johnson home just outside of town, on Jakolof Bay Road.  This large older home was tucked back into the woods, just past the Seldovia Lagoon adjacent to Outside Beach.  The home was completely engulfed in flames and burned unnoticed and unabated until SVT Barabara Heights Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Rick Harkness was on his way into town and noticed the smoke.  Rick immediately went to Chief Shad Haller’s home (as he doesn’t have a cell phone) and told Shad “It’s gone, it’s just totally gone! No need to call 911, there’s nothing left, the house is completely burned to the ground.”

Johnson Home before the fire - KPB Photo from 2009

Johnson Home before the fire – KPB Photo from 2009

Shad and Rick returned to the site by about 8:05am to assess the situation,  and witnessed just a few residual licks of flame – the structure and all of its contents were a total loss, nothing remained, not a thing.  Shad believes that the house was fully engulfed between 3-5:00am, and it looks like the flames reached between 80 and 100 feet high.  Shad explained: “It is by the grace of God that the whole place didn’t go.  As we all know when you throw spruce branches on a fire, it just crackles and instantly ignites.  We were so fortunate!  Had we not gotten the rain last week, I believe we would be looking at a whole different story!”   The Seldovia Volunteer Fire crew was called at 8:39am, and on site by 8:55am.

photo by Jenny Chissus

photo by Jenny Chissus

By the time the Seldovia Fire Department was called, this was not a containment issue but a mop-up situation, so they were able, as a fire crew to use this tragedy as a training opportunity, and a chance to use all the equipment available to both the Seldovia City fire department and the SVT Barabara Heights Volunteer Fire Department. The initial effort was to water down the surrounding area and to soak the trees that were smoking around the site ensuring that there was no chance for the fire to spread underground.

JanelThere were many trees that were standing very close to the structure.  The bark was burned off the trees, trunks were charred and branches were scorched as high as 70-80 feet up!  It is a total miracle that the whole forest didn’t catch fire!   The owners John and Judy Johnson had always protected those trees, as Judy didn’t ever want them removed from surrounding the home, so the family respected her wishes, even after her death.   When you see the photos, though the home was a total loss, you will be astonished at how Seldovia was spared a massive wildfire.  As Chief Haller mentioned, the rain of last week, soaking the entire Kenai Peninsula definitely played a role in saving us from a potentially devastating fire that could have impacted the whole area.

Rick and Radzy by Jenny Chissus

Rick and Radzy by Jenny Chissus

The cause of the fire appears to be a gravity-fed stove that was in the downstairs area.  An investigator came in on Thursday to assess the situation and meet with Rick who had been in the process of moving into the home for the summer.  It is not only a loss for the Johnson family, but Rick had completed the majority of his move to the property, and lost many precious antique items, including old guns, photos, documents, records and most of his personal belongings that he had recently moved into the garage.  Thankfully, Rick has found a new place to live for the summer, and Shad mentioned that he has been well surrounded by friends through this ordeal.  I had a chance to visit briefly with Rick who stated “I am very thankful for the people who approached me to offer help.  I lost a lot, but I am grateful to the people who came forward to offer me whatever I need.”

photo by Chief Haller

photo by Chief Haller

In addition to Rick Harkness, who is the Fire Chief on the SVT Barabara Heights Volunteer Fire Department, and the first one to respond with the SVT Fire Truck, showing up to assist in the clean up and containment efforts were Brian Slover from the SVT Barabara Heights Volunteer Fire Department, Jan Yaeger from EMS, Tyler Tucker and Randy Bond from the City of Seldovia, who brought out the 4,000 gallon water tank, providing the necessary support to suppress the continuing ground level burn.  Shad stated: “I also need to say thank you to Aaron Dillon, a young man who has been volunteering his time all over Seldovia from Dispatch, Fire, Harbor Master and has even spent several days with Doug Pieren.”  Radzy, regularly the fire truck driver came out and worked the fire hoses along side Rick and Aaron, for hours to ensure that the fire was indeed out.

City Manager Tim Dillon and Police Chief Shad Haller, photo by Jenny Chissus

City Manager Tim Dillon and Police Chief Shad Haller, photo by Jenny Chissus

“In addition to fighting this fire, over the last few days, Radzy had to dispatch himself and drive the Ambulance due to lack of available volunteers during a recent EMS call out.”  Shad exclaimed “The superstar of the day has to go to Janel Harris, anyone who wants to make the statement that it’s a mans world, fighting fires, obviously has not met this young firecracker.  She ran dispatch and reported to the scene to run engine 1 as the Chief Engineer.”

Fire Johnson 039

Aaron Dillon – by Chief Haller

Radzy, Rick, Aaron, Randy, Tyler and Janel were out there for more than 4 hours making sure the site was secure and that there was no further fire risk to Seldovia.   Though limited in numbers, Shad was proud of the team, and all the additional support during the episode:  “Thank all of you, for a job well done!!”

Dousing the ground, cooling the debris by Jenny Chissus

Dousing the ground, cooling the debris
by Jenny Chissus

“Thanks also to the individuals who brought food and drinks out to the Crew. Laurel Hilts from SVT, came with a much-needed and majorly appreciated copious amount of coffee, and to Nancy Opheim for the very refreshing fruit juice!!” – Chief Shad Haller

Though the home was a complete loss, Seldovia was spared, and we are thankful to our Fire Crews, both the Seldovia Fire Department and the Barabara Heights Fire Department!  As you can see, we are in desperate need of more volunteers at the Firehall, and would appreciate anyone’s interest in becoming a part of these very important volunteer crews!  During the summer months, there are more people in town, more activity with bonfires and campouts, and we must not only be safe, but available to serve when an emergency occurs.   Please, contact Chief Haller, Bobbi Sweatt, Bryan Barrett from the Seldovia Fire Department, or Chief Harkness or Alex Chartier from SVT’s Barabara Heights Volunteer Fire Department or any of our fire or EMS crew for more information about how you can become a part of these important crews!


Join the Seldovia Fire and EMS Department! We need YOU! photo by Jenny Chissus

This was quite a fortunate break, as this fire broke out when everyone was sleeping!  It is a stark reminder that we must ALL be alert to smoke in the air, strange explosions, etc. and call in any unusual sightings or noises – as an early response to a situation can make a huge difference!    Don’t assume someone else has called it in, or think that it isn’t your problem – let’s all remember that old adage: “Better safe than sorry!”

Also, the property has been staked off until all investigations are through, and it is against the law to cross that line until the investigations are complete, so please stay clear of the area as it is private property.

2014 Seldovia Summer Solstice Music Festival 

| June 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Margie McCord

Thursday-Sunday, June 19-22, 2014

The 13th annual Seldovia Arts Council’s Summer Solstice Music Festival presents again in one of the most beautiful settings in all Alaska, just a quick boat or plane ride from Homer. International and national performers mix with Alaskans and local talent to provide a unique potpourri of music, song and dance. If any of the previous Festivals are an indication of what’s to come this year, you won’t want to miss this one! This year a fine arts event, En Plein Air, has been added to our Solstice celebrations. Artists, professionals and hobbyists, are invited to come to Seldovia to create works of art inspired by our gorgeous, unique town.

The “Headliners” include:

OKAIDJA & SHOKOTOOKAIDJA & SHOKOTO, the dance and drumming ensemble from Ghana, provide outreach to youth around the world which combines cultural education, performance arts, and hands-on participation to introduce students to West African culture. Okaidja & Shokoto create innovative music drawing upon their West African roots and the diverse music of the African Diaspora. Okaidja Afroso had extensive training at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies and became a member of the Oregon Arts Commission for Artists in Residency Program. He travels to schools in rural Oregon to help kids discover the richness of Ghanaian culture. In 1994 Okaidja was accepted into the prestigious Ghana Dance Ensemble where he learned to blend the songs of his youth into an expression through dance. Other impressive members of his group include: Charles Mortimer, Mashud Neindow, and Benard Tetteh.

Ashu2ASHU, an internationally renowned saxophonist, will mesmerize both young and old with his phenomenal technique. Ashu has established an extraordinary ability to communicate with audiences around the world through his charismatic and emotive performance style. While his virtuosity continues to thrill listeners, his artistry reaches far beyond this demonstrating a unique personality and musical voice. He is a very engaging player-as much fun to watch as to listen to. He possesses a deep musicality which pours through his playing and hooks the audience. Last summer Ashu was selected as the winner of the prestigious “Audience Award” at the renowned International Musical Olympus Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, competing against the First Prize winners of the world’s foremost violin, piano, and voice competitions. He will be accompanied by Amy Briggs, a renowned classical pianist from Chicago. Briggs was appointed Director of Chamber Music and Lecturer in Music at the University of Chicago in 2009 and is a Steinway Artist.

That’s just for starters! The headliners will appear at both Friday and Saturday evening concerts but you will be equally impressed with the rest of the lineup for the weekend! We have a wonderful variety of performers from Pittsburgh, PA and St. Louis, MO to Alaskans from Fairbanks, Anchorage, Eagle River and the Kenai Peninsula.

GroupOneTakeThere will be a total of 4 bands in this year’s festival in addition to all the other artists with the first being SHOKOTO.  We will also present ONE TAKE from St. Louis, MO now based in Talkeetna, who build on the traditions of Reggae, Americana, Jazz and the Blues; their repertoire blends everything from rock to soul with a heavy dose of Island Music. Members are Brian Corbett, Danielle Asianian, Daryle Keefer, Matt Johnson, and Dennis Ward.

Swing 49In addition, SWING 49 from Anchorage  blends Gypsy jazz and contemporary jazz on their guitars and bass with vocals. Members include: Jacqueline Schafer, Tovi Newman, Arkadi Futerman, and Kevin Worrell.

Billy GoatLast- but-not-least of the bands is Seldovia’s own BILLY GOAT, the pride of the community, with their renditions of Oldtime music.  Long-time members are Kirby Corwin, Kari Hendrich, Chris Lillo, and Jeff Snedgen.

Elliott SussmanTalk about variety! We are pleased to welcome Elliott Sussman from Pittsburgh, PA,  who mixes it up with a bit of Americana, Tin-Pan Alley, Doo-Wop, and Ragtime Blues with his guitar, ukulele, and kazoo!

You also won’t want to miss a mix of Irish, British, Folk, and Gospel from Anchorage’s Wade Hampton Miller who originally hails from Missouri where he learned to play mountain dulcimer, mandolin, banjo and guitar. Wade has lived in AK since 1982 and has taken part teaching in music camps around the state and taught in Bush villages as part of the AK Artists in the Schools program. He has regularly appeared at the Anchorage Folk Festival and the AK State Fair.

Two very popular Kenai performers are Dan Pascucci and George Holly. Dan makes science fun for the youth in and out of the classroom using his mandolin, guitar,and “big barn boom” to educate about respecting wildlife and the environment. He is a regular at the Kenai River Festival and is joined by his wife Amy Lou. George Holly mesmerized the crowds last year with his commanding voice singing of Alaskan Native Culture. He is the recent recipient of the Rasmussen Foundation Artist Fellow award for 2014. He has been writing and performing original music for 20 years using his talents to support the native language revitalization movement in Alaska.

2014SolsticePosterSeems as though the Kenai Peninsula has an abundance of talent with Jon Crocker hailing from Anchor Point whose storytelling and folk singing with the help of his guitar, mandolin and banjo. He will be joined by Trina Uvaas. He has performed at Homer’s Concert on the Lawn, Fairbanks Folk Festival, and in the Southeast. He also plays in a Homer-based Celtic band called Guinness Records.  Johnny B from Homer will be returning playing Boogie Woogie and Neo-Classical pieces on his piano. He graduated from the Berkley College of music and composes most of his music.

Two more Alaskans from Fairbanks and Eagle River round out a large contingent from our great state! Inna Rivkin sings Alaskan Folk on the piano with vivid lyrics and evocative melodies influenced by the old Russian songs of her youth. She also hosts a monthly songwriter showcase in Fairbanks and facilitates songwriting workshops.  Lou Nathanson is a singer songwriter on the guitar and performed for 5 years with Sacred Scriptless Improv, but was fired because he could never memorize his lines! He will be appearing with Kristine Holmes.

Finally, we couldn’t complete our Summer Solstice Festival without a return appearance of our own Songster and Story Teller Betsy Scott who just might have composed a new song or an enactment of a favorite tale!

Now if these short bios haven’t tweaked your attention yet for this year’s festival, let’s tell you about the rest of the happenings at the festival! The festival schedule will surely include something for everyone and many opportunities to interact with the artists. The festivities begin on Thursday around noon with a ferry jam on the Tustumena, the Alaska State Ferry. On the way to Seldovia the performers will share a song or two with the lucky folks on the ship. Once they arrive in Seldovia, they will be hosted by local families. At 6pm join the performers at the Linwood Bar and Grill for a “Meet and Greet” and then attend the OPEN MIC session at the Susan B. English School Commons where the concerts and workshops will be held throughout the weekend. The OPEN MIC at 8pm will be open to any and all who would like to sing, play, tell a story, or recite and is often a fun and impressive evening!

A “must attend” activity which the Festival is being recognized for is the workshops on Friday and Saturday for any and all musically and non-musically inclined who would like to learn more about how artists compose, teach, play, or inspire others of their love of music. There will also be a workshop for the youth! There is a special Friday morning Songwriter’s Workshop from 10:30am-1:30pm  taught by several professional songwriters (Inna Rivkin, Jon Cocker, Kevin Worrell and Lou Nathanson) which features various songwriting angles, including instrumentation and lyrical writing. Even the most talented come to learn something new and we think you will truly be inspired with the many  presentations that will be available. A schedule will be available on the website ( and at the SBE School.

Saturday  morning’s 8:30am Yoga class for all ages, at the Sea Otter Community Center ( SOCC) next to the school has become a wonderful way to start the day. The festivities begin with the traditional 10AM  Song Circle, always a great time, and will be held at the former book store on the slough which is now called “Amon’s Coffee Shop”.

For those of us who may include the meaning of “ARTS’ FESTIVAL” with the thought of paints and easels…Friday, Saturday, and Sunday bring a delightful compliment to the Festival with the presentation of EN PLEIN AIR, a variety of artists who have been invited both locally and around Alaska to paint their impressions of beautiful Seldovia at favorite vistas and locations throughout our town. Many of their productions will be available for perusal and purchase. Go for a stroll to see how the artists are doing with their masterpieces.

The Friday and Saturday evening concerts begin at 6:15pm at the SBE School Commons and promise to deliver unforgettable performances until after 11pm. These evening performances are not to be missed for the headliners will each perform again along with the numerous other musicians.

FINALLY… if you haven’t heard it all, there is the ever popular Gospel Sing on Sunday afternoon at 1:00pm at the Dancing Eagles B&B on the slough.

The price for the entire festival is $49.00 at the door. The Earlybird Special is $39.00 for an adult for the entire festival including workshops can be purchased at “Thyme on the Boardwalk” until Wednesday, June 18th by 5pm.  Single night passes are $25.00 (adults), teens (13-19) $8.00 per night, and children (12 and under) are FREE and workshops $5.00 for each day if you don’t have an all Festival pass. Festival passes and one day festival tickets will be available at the door.

Dessert Potluck – Meet our New Principal!

| June 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Mark Janes

Welcome Dessert Potluck

Seldovia Fire & EMS to Raffle a Brand New Rancher

| June 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Jenny Chissus

2014 Honda RancherSo, do you feel lucky?

You should!  We are so fortunate to have a great Fire and EMS Volunteer department here in Seldovia!  In the last 30 days, we have had 5 emergency calls in Seldovia where our Fire and EMS services were needed.

We are lucky to have such a well-equipped Fire and EMS team, and that is due to a very organized and concerned group who works hard to make sure we have what we need to serve the community of Seldovia.  Living remotely, we are on our own to immediately respond to emergencies and having the right tools, equipment and trained team is essential!  Everything from oxygen (including expensive hazmat transportation to and from Homer) and EpiPens for allergic reactions (that can be up to $350 for two – and which also expire!) to all the supplies that are used in day-to-day operations, like gloves, antiseptic, bandages, ointments, etc. need to be on stock and immediately available to our teams.  It is very expensive to have a functioning, efficient and well-stocked department that is ready to care for all types of emergencies!

To help raise funds, the Seldovia Fire and EMS departments have purchased a brand new Honda Rancher to raffle off on July 5th.  Each ticket is $50.00 and there will only be 300 tickets sold. Once they are all sold out – they will be SOLD OUT.   The value of the 4 wheeler is around $8,000 (Fire and EMS will take care of the withholding taxes incurred on the prize).  The drawing will be held on July 5, 2014 at the Linwood at 6:00pm.  Of course, you do not need to be present to win! Tickets may be purchased at the following locations:

  • City Office
  • City Harbormaster’s Office
  • Seldovia Fuel and Lube
  • KacheYak Trading Post
  • Boardwalk Hotel
  • Linwood Bar and Grill
  • Creationz

If you have ever been served by our Fire and EMS crew, and want to acknowledge the GREAT work they do for us in Seldovia – this is a great way to make a donation – with a chance to win a brand new 4 wheeler!  How fabulous is that?  Their service and skills are invaluable to Seldovia, and my hope is that the tickets will run out far before their deadline, as folks show their support and belief in the importance of having a well-functioning department with updated equipment and supplies.  Thank you in advance for your continued support of our Fire and EMS services here in Seldovia.

If you are feeling the desire to support the effort, but cash is short – you can always VOLUNTEER!  Both teams are always looking for volunteers to help in a variety of capacities to serve our community.

SVT Calendar for June

| June 3, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Laurel Hilts

Click on image below to view full size.

SVT June Calendar