Local News

Card Street Fire advances

Firefighters continued to battle the human-caused Card Street fire in Sterling, estimated to be at 2,000 acres, Tuesday evening.

Crews of nearly 100 firefighters constructed fire breaks, dumped water from the Kenai River from planes and helicopters and retardant from tankers on the flames throughout the day.

An estimated 200 structures are still threatened. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management has reported the fire has consumed at least 10 primary and secondary structures.

New date set for gas assessment bills: Sept. 1

With only four Homer City Council members attending Monday’s special and regular meetings, it took unanimity to pass anything. Under council rules, to meet there must be a quorum of four members, but four votes also are needed to pass resolutions and ordinances. That meant the council postponed action and in some cases defeated proposals.

Absent were council members Bryan Zak and Gus VanDyke. 

The council did move forward on issues regarding a big-ticket item, the Natural Gas Homer Special Assessment District. Without objection, it passed:

ATV vandals damage wetland on KHLT property

Publicly accessible land in and around Homer is arguably one of the town’s most precious commodities. Both citizens and visitors in Homer use the land for exercise, enjoyment and to learn more about Alaska’s natural heritage. Unfortunately, these well-loved properties are not immune to vandalism.

On June 1, the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, or KHLT, reported extensive ATV damage to a wetland on one of its properties. Donated to KHLT by the Effler family in 2007, the property was one of Homer’s original homesteads and consists of 18 acres on West Skyline Drive.

Writing faculty inspires aspiring authors during annual conference

An exuberant mood ruled the 14th Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, held June 12-16 in Homer. The public readings crackled with enthusiasm. The radiant weather didn’t hurt, either.

This year 127 attendees shared the power of the written and spoken word, and the inspiring camaraderie of those who write such words.

Legislators predict tougher session next year

It took until last Thursday, but after endless days where most legislators waited for majority and minority leaders to reach a compromise, the Alaska Legislature finished its one big job: passing a budget.

On Monday in separate phone interviews, Homer’s legislators, Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, and Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, reflected on the tortured path to borrowing about $3 billion from the Constitutional Budget Reserve and funding the state’s fiscal year 2015-2016 budget.

“I would call it really, really painful,” Stevens said from Kodiak.

Fishing Hole: Fun for all ages

Tom Schroeder’s got time on his hands. So much time he’s booked about 150 hours so far this season at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon, otherwise known as the Fishing Hole.

Schroeder has fished the Hole since the first salmon returned after the original smolt were stocked here in 1984. When the fish are in, chances are you can find him sitting on a white plastic lawn chair with a black cushion on top along the Hole’s rocky edge. 

Kenai Peninsula Borough to seek disaster declaration

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker met with Kenai Mayor Pat Porter and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre on Wednesday to discuss state resource use, a potential statewide burning ban and a disaster declaration for the Kenai Peninsula.

The more than 2,500-acre Card Street wildfire, alongside several smaller burns on the Kenai Peninsula, have stretched local firefighting resources thin, while state resources are being devoted to a large fire in Willow and others in the state.

Card Street grows; new fires spring up

As of noon Wednesday, Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Terry Anderson was unable to confirm the exact size of the Card Street Fire stating only that it has surpassed the previously reported 2,574 acres.

One additional home was burned in the Kenai Keys subdivision Tuesday night, bringing the total to 11. Anderson said several other structures were saved by firefighters as they battled flames in the Kenai Keys.

Card Street grows; new fires spring up

As of noon Wednesday, Division of Forestry Public Information Officer Terry Anderson was unable to confirm the exact size of the Card Street Fire stating only that it has surpassed the previously reported 2,574 acres.

One additional home was burned in the Kenai Keys subdivision Tuesday night, bringing the total to 11. Anderson said several other structures were saved by firefighters as they battled flames in the Kenai Keys.

Red flag fire danger warning is issued

Because of high temperatures and low humidity, the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning until 10 p.m. Monday for most of Southcentral Alaska, including the western Kenai Peninsula. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are imminent or occurring now or will shortly. Temperatures are in the upper 70s to high 80s north of Clam Gulch and in the upper 60s to mid 70s south of Clam Gulch.

Drug for opiate withdrawal seeing abuse

A drug prescribed to treat the symptoms of opiate withdrawal has started showing up in court reports as being abused. In two separate incidents late last month, Homer Police and Alaska State Troopers charged two people with crimes suspected to be related to abuse of Suboxone, the brand name of buprenorphine. Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said Suboxone has been around for awhile, but abuse in Alaska has been relatively new. 

Man dies at Ninilchik campground

An Anchorage man collapsed and later died on May 23 at a Ninilchik campground. According to an Alaska State Troopers press release, at about 9:20 p.m. troopers received a report that Henry Baldwin, 77, had collapsed and needed medical assistance. Ninilchik Emergency Medical Services medics responded and began resuscitative efforts, but after 30 minutes Baldwin was declared dead. Troopers said Baldwin died of natural causes and there were no signs of foul play. Troopers notified the State Medical Examiner’s office and the medical examiner did not require an autopsy.

Murkowski: Arctic issues important on global scale

For Sen. Lisa Murkowski, there aren’t many topics hotter than the Arctic these days, especially as the U.S. steps into the chairmanship role of the Arctic Council this year.

Alaska’s senior senator spoke last week about why discussing Arctic issues should be a nationwide priority. The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental group consisting of eight member countries that addresses issues pertaining to Arctic governments and the 4 million people who live there. The U.S.’s chairmanship of the council will last through 2017.

The following interview has been edited for length.

Relay for Life to take place at West Homer Elementary

Because of issues with vehicle access to the Homer Middle School track, Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society fundraising and awareness event, has been moved to West Homer Elementary School. 

The time and date have not changed. Relay for Life starts with opening ceremonies and a survivors’ walk at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at noon Saturday.

Protest targets military exercise

About 100 people on land and sea last Friday afternoon protested the upcoming Northern Edge 2015, a joint military exercise running June 15-26 in the Gulf of Alaska. A flotilla of about a dozen boats from big seiners to a man in a kayak cruised off the Homer Spit while an enthusiastic group on shore waved banners and flags at the Seafarers Memorial.

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