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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.

What happens to those halibut after being caught?

When you pull over Baycrest Hill and catch a glimpse of the Spit, it almost looks like a hook dangling in the gaping mouth of Kachemak Bay. 

And then you pass the sign proclaiming Homer to be the “Halibut Fishing Capital of the World.” Last year, 2.8 million pounds of halibut came over the Homer dock. That was 18 percent of total commercial halibut landings in the United States, and the most poundage of any Alaska port. 

Which makes the Homer dock a busy place.

Voznesenka lease agreement stalled

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the Voznesenka Community Council Inc. have not yet reached a lease agreement for the upcoming school year for the buildings that house the village school’s students. Changes in the assessed fair market value and summer fish runs have postponed mutual approval of a new contract.

District begins work on budget

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is starting the budget process four months early for the 2016-2017 school year.

Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones is asking program directors to begin reviewing department expenditures and potential internal cuts.

The concern is how those reductions may translate to education in the classroom, said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff. Cuts will likely need to be made in the areas of salaries and benefits, she said.

Buccaneer bankruptcy demand hits Homer businesses, agencies

In the Buccaneer Oil bankruptcy case, some local businesses have been hit with a double whammy. Not only does Buccaneer still owe them money, a Houston, Texas, law firm has now sent them dunning letters asking back money Buccaneer had paid. The city of Homer and Homer Electric Association also have received letters for what’s called a “demand for recovery of preference payments.”

Algal bloom not harmful, tapering off, say experts

A huge algal bloom present in the Pacific Ocean from Monterey Bay, Calif., to Alaska has been seen in Kachemak Bay, but so far has not been in large enough concentrations to cause problems here. Known sometimes as a red tide, the bloom of a plant, or phyto, plankton called pseudo-nitzschia closed razor clamming and shellfish harvesting in areas off the Oregon and Washington coast. Of concern is a chemical given off by the plankton, domoic acid.

Kachemak Heritage Land Trust Celebrates Anchor river

This evening there’s a party in Anchor Point. The Kachemak Heritage Land Trust (KHLT) is hosting “Take Me to the River,” a free public celebration of progress in preserving the Anchor River.

The event, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Coho Campground of the Anchor River State Recreation Area, combines food, fun and information for all ages. This family-friendly gathering will happen, rain or shine, thanks to the Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce, which will provide a tent if needed.

No injuries when boat burns

A 22-foot Chris Craft boat burned to the waterline and sank on the Fourth of July off Yukon Island, but all four mariners on board made it off safely in a life raft. A passing mariner rescued them. None of the boaters suffered injuries.

“Nobody got wet. They were a little rattled from the fire and that was it,” said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Dave Simonds of the Homer Marine Safety Detachment. 

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