Next Thursday Homer will be the host of the Governor’s Picnic when Alaska’s 10th governor, Sean Parnell visits, so it seems appropriate this Sunday that we pause and remember Alaska’s fourth governor, Jay Hammond, who served from 1974 to 1982. The Alaska Legislature in its wisdom designated July 21 Jay Hammond Day. In signing the proclamation, Parnell said he encouraged “Alaskans to remember his service to our state and honor his memory on his birthday.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” — The Declaration of Independence
The recent debate over a Kenai Peninsula Borough ordinance designed to protect salmon habitat might give one of two impressions:
1. If you believe in the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution, you don’t favor protecting salmon.
2. If you favor protecting salmon, you don’t believe in the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution.
As they’ve been outside playing this summer, friends Beatrix Strobel and Thea Person, both age 7, have noticed a common phenomenon: Lots of cars going really fast.
“I almost got run over by a car,” said Thea.
“It’s really hard to ride your bike,” said Beatrix.
The two decided to do something about the fast cars in the Bayview Court neighborhood where they frequently play. They made a sign to remind motorists to watch out for them — and other kids.
After a winter that seemed to never end, Alaskans are ready to enjoy the sunshine. In the warm beauty of the season, it’s easy to forget that summer carries its own perils.
The dangers of winter’s cold, dark, ice and snow are replaced by long days that often are filled with too much activity and not enough sleep. Drier weather conditions mean that carelessness with a campfire can lead to a wildfire. Warmer temperatures and sunshine can lull us into a sense of complacency about potential dangers on the water or in the woods.
The world has changed.
In the 21st century — after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, and more recently, after the April 15, 2013, Boston Marathon bombings — what once may have passed as an acceptable high-school prank is no longer even remotely funny, if it ever was.
Last week our colleagues at the Peninsula Clarion ran the above photo with the headline “That time of year.” The photo showed traffic backed up for more than a mile on a stretch of the Kenai Spur Highway that connects Kenai and Soldotna.
We hate to admit it, but the reason for the pileup stumped us for a minute. It’s too early to see traffic backed up like that, we thought. No three-day weekend in sight. The fish aren’t in, yet. And it’s still a little early for summer visitors to slow traffic to a standstill while they photograph a moose.
The annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival has come of age. If it was a young adult, this year’s 21st festival would be celebrating full legal rights. As one of Homer’s many weekend events that draw visitors to town, the shorebird festival ranks up there with Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.
Shorebird stands out, though, as the first big event of the season. We northerners, desperate for any sign of spring, have come to see the return of the shorebirds and the festival as welcome relief to the long winter, especially this winter.
Sometimes the problems of this world seem so huge it feels pointless to try and do anything about them. “Being part of the solution” often sounds like a feel-good phrase and actions to match it appear largely symbolic.
But, so what?
A Kenai River guide has provided inspiration to do what you can about whatever problem pulls your heartstrings. For Greg Brush of Soldotna, the issue is weak Kenai River king runs. Fishing is Brush’s passion. He’s built his livelihood as a fulltime Kenai River guide.
Last year as the merits of natural gas coming to Homer were discussed, there were a couple of recurring questions: Why aren't we talking about renewable energy? Wouldn't an investment in renewable energy be better for residents and the planet?
Next time you’re tempted to whine about how much you pay in taxes, you might reconsider with this information: “Tax Freedom Day” for Alaskans falls on Saturday this year. For most Americans, the date is April 18. And for the unlucky folks who live in Connecticut the day doesn’t arrive until May 13.
Remember that old ’60s slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby”?
It implied that women were making progress when it came to equal rights with their male counterparts, that life for the female gender was getting better.
A new study released Tuesday indicates Alaska still has a long way to go when it comes to women and their well-being.
This week marks a milestone in the Homer News’ almost 50-year-long history: a renovated website.
For those of us at the Homer News, the website is noteworthy for its upgraded technology. Our webmaster Adam Bauer is breathing a sigh of relief — perhaps you heard him — because for quite some time he’s been holding our website together with the tech equivalent of Duct tape and rubber bands. Our reporters are looking forward to being able to post stories and photos from the field or the comfort of their kitchen tables while still in their jammies.
Barring an appeal, a federal jury's decision last week exonerating three Homer police officers in the March 1, 2006, Homer Airport shooting brings closure to the seven-year-old case for the city and police department.
Last Saturday, some good policing by an alert Alaska State Trooper got a potentially dangerous device off our streets. After making a routine traffic stop, Wildlife Trooper David Chaffin saw what looked to be a meth lab in a car driven by a 26-year-old man. Troopers seized what they believe is a one-pot or shake-and-bake meth lab. Troopers called in a hazardous material team to safely dispose of it. Good work, troopers.
One of the barriers to some people embracing the flow of natural gas to Homer homes is the cost of replacing appliances, particularly their heating systems. A bill currently making its way through the Alaska House of Representatives would help with some of those concerns.
In a really big way and one small way, the Homer City Council moved forward Monday to address two large problems in our town: expensive energy and violence, especially domestic and sexual violence. If successful, both actions will make Homer a stronger, better community -- a cause to celebrate on this holiday of love, St. Valentine's Day.
A story in this week’s Real Estate and Business section (page 5) gives more fodder as citizens chew on the question: What is the proper role of government?
Homer is host to two unique opportunities this week.
The first is the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District’s Industry Outlook Forum. The event happens today and Friday at Land’s End Resort.
Thank you, Homer City Council.
Let’s hope this week’s discussion and council vote will preserve the seasonal sales tax exemption on nonprepared food items for good. Canning this perennial discussion is long overdue.
Like others who testified Monday night, we believe a tax on food is regressive.
But more importantly, citizens voted for this tax holiday. Council members need to listen, and they did Monday night.