Local News

UA appoints new president

ANCHORAGE — The University of Alaska Board of Regents has named a new university president after a monthslong search for the right candidate.

The Alaska Dispatch News reports  the university announced Tuesday that Jim Johnsen would replace retiring University of Alaska President Pat Gamble. Johnsen, who serves as senior vice president of Alaska Communications, will take over as president on Sept. 1.

New director announced for Division of Elections

JUNEAU — Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott has chosen a new director for Alaska’s Division of Elections.

Mallott asked for and accepted the resignation of Gail Fenumiai on Friday, said Claire Richardson, a special staff assistant to Mallott.

Fenumiai will be replaced by Nome city manager Josie Bahnke, who is scheduled to begin her new role Oct. 1. Lauri Wilson, a regional elections supervisor, will serve as acting director in the meantime, Richardson said.

‘Last Frontier’ reality show members charged with 2014 hunting violation

Two members of the Discovery Channel reality TV show, “Alaska: The Last Frontier,” have been charged with using a helicopter to hunt black bear in the filming of an episode of the popular Homer-based show. 

Atz Lee Kilcher, 40, and Cristina Jane Kilcher, 40, both face one charge each of unlawful method-helicopter. Under Alaska game laws, using helicopters to hunt is prohibited. 

Summertime Spots to See the Spit’s Wild Things

Tip of the Spit

• Flat-bottomed sea stars litter the beach and dangle from pilings during very low tides

• Sea birds — including black-legged kittiwakes, glaucous-winged and mew gulls, and sheerwaters — gather near the metal “dolphins” where the Homer Grind Shack discharges fish waste into the bay

• Fish — check out what people have caught while fishing from shore, including sculpin, pollock, Pacific cod, starry flounder and silver salmon

Building design moves forward

Recognizing some citizen reluctance to the idea of funding a public safety building that could cost as much as $30 million, the Homer City Council on Monday rejected a proposal to appropriate $621,000 for a 35-percent design of a new police and fire building. It did pass on a 5-1 vote an amended ordinance appropriating $355,000 for a “modified” 35-percent design.

“I think there’s a lot of controversy around taking the public safety building to the next design phase,” said council member Beau Burgess. “I think bringing it to half that amount is a good step.”

Homer feels Tuesday’s quake

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake that occurred Tuesday around 6:30 p.m had its epicenter on the west side of Cook Inlet in Lake Clark National Park, 58.8 miles northwest of Homer and approximately 44 miles southwest of Mount Redoubt Volcano, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Earthquake Hazard webpage.

The University of Alaska’s Earthquake Information Center tweeted that the quake was “felt from Kodiak to Fairbanks.” 

Nature of the Spit

In 1966, when Daisy Lee Bitter, then a middle school science teacher in Anchorage, first brought a school group down to Homer for a daylong marine science field trip on the Spit, the group came by chartered DC-3 twin-prop airplane.

Bitter was eager to show her students the incredible diversity of marine invertebrates you could find along the Spit, a place she had by then been visiting for about a decade. 

Personal odyssey ends in Homer

A year ago, Junie Rose regained consciousness to find her head in the lap of a stranger, her motorcycle smashed, traffic stopped around her and an ambulance arriving. She began to cry. Not, she said, for the pain, but out of the frustration that she could not continue on her quest to ride across the continent from Key West to Homer.

On the anniversary of that crash, July 16, she arrived triumphant at the end of the Homer Spit after 11 days and nights on the road, mostly alone. On the third try, she had reached her goal.

Budget deficit needs attention now

Alaska’s path to financial stability will be neither short nor easy, and local residents will have the chance to weigh in on the issue before the state forms its final plan of action.

Randall Hoffbeck, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue, addressed area residents in a presentation called “A Sustainable Future for Alaska” during a combined Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce luncheon Tuesday afternoon. 

City ends hook’s shudders

You can’t venture onto the Homer Spit without noticing something new and interesting — totes of beautiful red rockfish just unloaded at the Fish Dock; dark gray seabirds, shearwaters, among the scores of kittiwakes and gulls off the tip of the Spit; the 90-year-old wooden halibut schooner, the Grant, back in the Homer harbor after a longlining trip; a cooler careening down a steep harbor ramp, flinging its lid into the water. 

This week’s Spit story provides a few updates about things you may have noticed.

Pony Club

Eighteen riders and horses practice their jumps at Mariner Beach Friday. It was the wrap-up to a five-day clinic in which instructor Jim Briggs of Washington taught dressage, show jumping and cross-country jumping.

Homer confronts financial limits

The city of Homer convened a town-hall meeting Monday evening. Part of agenda was to discuss the city budget. But the focus was on a bigger issue: What services does the city need to provide and how will it pay for them over the long term?

The crux of the matter is that the public, based on past votes, wants services but does not want to pay for them.

Taken with the river

Gorgeous weather and a great turnout made the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust’s Anchor River Celebration, “Take Me to the River,” a success. At least 250 people flocked to the Coho Campground at the Anchor River State Recreation Area for the July 9 event, the first of its kind. The land trust held the event to celebrate and publicize conservation efforts in the Anchor River drainage, which include identifying and acquiring key areas for salmon habitat.

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