Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News’ 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past.
If it’s May, it’s graduation season, a time to celebrate what’s been accomplished and a time to begin something new.
“Homer High School has prepared us to go on to bigger, better things: It has given us our start in life, and for this we will always be grateful,” said the HHS class of 1964 in their yearbook, the Mariner Log, half a century ago.
July 1, 1964: University of Alaska Board of Regents approves request by the Kenai City School District to form Kenai Peninsula College.
1966: Kenai Peninsula College offers classes through Homer Branch.
1970: Gail Sibson, later known as Gail Ammerman, becomes part-time coordinator at a salary of $300.
1976: Gail Ammerman is the first Homer Branch graduate, receiving an associate of arts degree.
1982: Jim Riggs becomes full-time coordinator of the Homer Branch. The Homer Branch is in the basement of what’s now Bay Realty.
When the Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage awarded degrees or certificates to 151 people last Wednesday night, the event marked not just a milestone for the women and men graduating. It marked a milestone for the college, too. This year, Kenai Peninsula College celebrates its 50th anniversary. The campus that started out as the Homer Branch has been a part of furthering adult education on the lower Kenai Peninsula since 1966.
Yes, indeed, there is a Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival (see related story, page 1). The arrival of winged visitors from the tip of South America, Central America and all along the Pacific Coast as they make their way to northern nesting grounds is cause for more than a festival, however. It marks an opportunity for important citizen science with significance beyond the present day and beyond Kachemak Bay.
More fossil finds by Homer beachcombers have expanded scientists’ knowledge of the animals that lived here during an interglacial period from 27,000 to 55,000 years ago — what’s called stage 3, between the last two Penultimate and Naptowne glaciations. Radiocarbon tests were done for a horse tibia found by Bryan Zak and an unidentified ungulate — hoofed animal — found by this author.
It’s been almost a year since Peter Zollars came upon the metal cross along the beach of a Kachemak Bay island. Since then, he and local historian Janet Klein have been searching for information about its origin and purpose.
They have been able to find little information, making it clear there is more to be known.
“We don’t know its age or its origin,” said Zollars. “Of course, it raises the question why this piece is showing up in such a remote place. … The more we talk, the more I puzzle, the more we all puzzle over it.”
Stories about Homer’s bygone days fill the pages of books. On April 3, the public had an opportunity to hear the stories told by the ones that wrote them at “Meet the People,” an event co-sponsored by the Pioneers of Alaska and the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies.
Introduced by CACS Executive Director Beth Trowbridge and CACS volunteer Daisy Lee Bitter, Larene Tepa Hansen Rogers, Joan Gordon Edens, Laura Lofgren Barton and Wilma Shelford Williams shared accounts of growing up in Homer and raising their own families on the shores of Kachemak Bay.
It was a packed house at the Homer Elks Lodge on Monday, as residents gathered to wish the city a happy 50th birthday.
Stories of the community’s early days preceding incorporation, personal memories of arriving and growing up in the area, the reliance early residents had on each other, changes that have taken place, the difference the 1964 earthquake made and much more drew laughs, questions and more stories as emcee Dax Radtke passed the microphone among the crowd.
In a normal news week in 1964, the announcement that the city of Homer’s incorporation vote had been certified would have been huge news. Something happened to shove that story of Homer’s birthday to the lower corner.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News’ 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past. This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, an event that filled the pages of the Homer News for months.
For centuries, traveling across snow on skis has been a common way to travel in Alaska. Given that history, it’s not surprising that one of Homer’s oldest and still active recreational clubs is the Kachemak Ski Club, the organization that has operated a succession of rope tows on Diamond Ridge and off Ohlson Mountain Road. Founded in 1948 as the Homer Ski Club, in its day alpine skiing was one of Homer’s major winter activities.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past. The Homer Theatre has been providing entertainment for area audiences for more than 57 years, but it wasn’t the first theater to show movies.
Dominating the corner of Pioneer Avenue and Main Street, the Homer Theatre brings Hollywood’s newest, popular documentaries, movies from yesteryears and Metropolitan Opera to audiences at the end of the road.
While the Homer Café and Club might not be Homer’s oldest bar, for 63 years the establishment on Bunnell Avenue now known as AJ’s OldTown Steakhouse & Tavern has been operated as a restaurant or bar, making it one of Homer’s oldest businesses continuously run in the same place.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News’ 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past. This weekend marks the 54th anniversary of the Anchor Point Snow Rondi, a festival with close ties to the Homer Winter Carnival.
In terms of history, not only is the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic celebrating its 30th birthday this year, it’s also an organization that got started in some pretty historic buildings, too. Founded in 1983, its first clinics were held in the Sam and Vega Pratt House on Pioneer Avenue, built in 1941. About 1989, it moved into the Wythe house on Main Street, a pre-statehood building.
“It was very quaint with beautiful cottonwood molding around all the door and window frames,” said longtime board member Melon Purcell.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News’ 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past. Alice’s Champagne Palace is a local business with roots predating the News.
On Sunday, with shouts of Super Bowl fans echoing from the rafters, the smell of food lingering in the air and spilled beverages drying on the floor, the doors of Alice’s Champagne Palace were closed.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past. WKFL Park is a lot that’s been associated with the Barefooters since 1958.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past. Land’s End Resort is one business that’s been in Homer more than 50 years.
Whoever said location, location, location was important must have had Land’s End Resort in mind. This year, owner Jon Faulkner celebrates 56 years since the end-of-the-Spit business opened its doors.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past. One activity that has been part of Homer winters for more than 50 years is car races on Beluga Lake.
As Homer history goes, there might be a few institutions 40 or 50 years old, but there aren’t many that pre-date statehood and are pushing 60. One longtime tradition can trace its roots back to 1955: the Homer Racing Association, which runs the winter car races on Beluga Lake.
Editor’s note: With 2014 marking the Homer News’ 50th anniversary, it’s the perfect time to look at Homer’s past. One event that’s been part of Homer winters for more than 50 years is the Homer Winter Carnival.
Organizers for this year’s Homer Winter Carnival are using history as a template.