Local News

Police find basket vandal, but no charges yet filed

Tire tracks and a tip lead police last week to the man who burned and then destroyed the Burning Basket. An 18-year-old high school student confessed to both acts of vandalism on the weekend of Sept. 11-13. Homer Police have forwarded charges of fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, to the Kenai District Attorney, Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said. 

Halibut Festival includes serious talk amid the fun

For many Homer residents, last weekend’s inaugural Halibut Festival provided an opportunity to be immersed in the marine world. 

From a fun run to a fish fry to a halibut cabaret, most of the weekend was a celebration of Homer’s iconic resource. But much of the discussion at Saturday’s “State of Our Halibut” lecture series at the Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center was serious and centered around a major issue: the total mass of Pacific halibut is shrinking and no one is entirely sure why or what to do about it.

Body of missing Colorado man found near Kenai Lake shore

The body of 34-year-old Daniel Compeau, a Colorado man who went missing near Kenai Lake last month, has been found, Alaska State Troopers say.

Soldotna troopers got a call that someone found the body near the Kenai Lake shoreline on Sept. 15. It was identified by the state medical examiner Monday, according to a trooper dispatch. Compeau’s next of kin have been contacted.

Cannabis panel waits for state to finish regs

Now that cannabis, also known as marijuana, has been made legal in Alaska for possession and ultimately cultivation, processing and retail sale, many advocates of a legal cannabis industry can’t wait for the market to bloom. Some want to see social clubs while others see a potential boom in real estate for cannabis-related businesses.

Not so fast, though. Members of the Homer Cannabis Advisory Commission and the Alaska Marijuana Control Board both have the same message: Wait.

Mediation yields no results for school district, associations

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and the Kenai Peninsula Education and the Kenai Peninsula Education Support associations did not reach a tentative agreement through the closed mediation process that took place Monday and Tuesday.

From here the school district’s negotiation team or the associations, which chose to work together during collective bargaining for teacher and support staff contracts originally set to begin on July 1, may choose to again meet face-to-face or request entering advisory arbitration. 

Budget, beaches, bud hot subjects at debate

Homer got its first look at most of the Homer City Council candidates last Friday for the Friends of the Homer Public Library debate. Moderator Michael Hawfield, a Kachemak Bay Campus history professor, asked each candidate a set of questions. Audience members also submitted written questions. Issues covered the A-B-C’s of civic issues, from C for cannabis to B for budget and, well, A for anything.

Co-op oysters safe despite Halibut Cove PSP scare

Although the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation last week shut down a Halibut Cove oyster farm because of increased paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) levels, oysters sold by the Kachemak Bay Shellfish Growers Cooperative remain safe to eat, Marie Bader, the president of the Kachemak Shellfish Mariculture Association said on Monday.

“We want the general public to have full faith in the co-op, and we will only sell product that is 100-percent safe for them to eat,” Bader said.

R.E.C Room receives donations from Homer Elks

Homer Elks Lodge No. 2127 Exhaulted Ruler Justin Cole, second from right, and Marlena “Mo” Hodgdon PER and grant writer, second from left, dropped by the R.E.C. Room on a sunny summer afternoon to donate much-needed supplies for youth. Among the donations were XtraTuf boots for winter, an Apple laptop for Youth On Record Alaska and other youth programming, warm winter clothes, sleeping pads and after -chool snacks. This funding was provided through the Elks National Foundation Grant.

Smoked seafood school offered in Kodiak

The Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program is offering a three-day smoked seafood school in Kodiak, Oct. 7-9.

Chris Sannito, Marine Advisory seafood technology specialist, and John Springer, from Enviro-Pak in Clackamas, Ore., will lead lectures and hands-on activities. The class will be held at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center, a branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

Emergency listing sought for Prince of Wales Island wolves

ANCHORAGE — Six conservation groups have asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to use an emergency endangered species listing to protect a population of southeast Alaska wolves.

The groups want hunting and trapping stopped the rest of the year for Alexander Archipelago wolves, which den in root systems of large trees and prey on Sitka black-tailed deer.

Funny River man improving after bear attack on Sunday

A Funny River resident is improving after being attacked by a brown bear near his home on Sunday.

Danny High underwent surgery Monday morning.

“His condition is serious but improving,” his wife, Janice High, said. She declined to comment on the extent of her husband’s injuries.

The 62-year-old was walking less than a quarter mile from their home when he was mauled, she said.

Vandals can’t stop Burning Basket event

Despite an attempted torching on Friday night and destruction of the Burning Basket early Sunday at Mariner Park, volunteers rallied Sunday afternoon to rebuild “Reach: A Basket of Remembrance and Unburdening.” The 12th annual event happened as scheduled, with about 150 people visiting the repaired basket and watching the celebratory torching of the impermanent art.

Council extends grace period for gas assessments

Homer property owners who missed the Sept. 1 deadline to make Natural Gas Homer Special Assessment District payments got a 35-day grace period. At Monday’s Homer City Council meeting, the council passed on the consent agenda a memorandum setting a new deadline without penalties for property owners who did not pay either the full $3,265.77 assessment or an annual payment of $405.27. The new deadline of Oct. 6 falls after Oct. 1, when 

annual Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends get paid.

Meetings explore fiscal gap solutions

At meetings in Homer and Ninilchik last week, Alaska Department of Revenue Commissioner Randy Hoffbeck laid out the cold, hard facts. Like a sourdough looking to get through the winter with half a food cache full of moose, Alaska has a fiscal gap it has to close in three years before its savings reserve runs out. 

Closing that gap won’t be easy, it won’t be pretty and it can’t be solved by cuts alone.

Enrollment down, funding at risk

Enrollment for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is hovering at 90 fewer students than originally projected, which may mean a nearly $1 million cut to expected local and state funding for the 2015–2016 school year.

Assistant Superintendent Dave Jones discussed a one-day snapshot from the school district’s annual 10-day count of full- and part-time student enrollment with the Board of Education at the Sept. 8 meeting. On Sept. 1, the single day from the count Jones presented, the number of full-time students was down by 98.

Vandals destroy Burning Basket; artists will rebuild

Despite an attempted torching on Friday night and destruction of the Burning Basket early Sunday at Mariner Park, artists on Sunday morning said they will rebuild “Reach: A Basket of Remembrance and Unburdening.”

“We are going to still have a Burning Basket,” said artist Mavis Muller, the facilitator of the annual project. “The only thing that’s missing is the basket.”

The basket was to be presented to the community at 1p.m. today. It still will be, Muller said.

Reynolds to delay introduction of beach ordinance

A proposed ordinance that would restrict driving on Homer beaches east of Bishop’s Beach won’t be introduced until January, council member Catriona Reynolds said last week. Reynolds had said earlier she and council member Francie Roberts intended to introduce a compromise beach policy ordinance at Monday’s regular Homer City Council meeting.

City attorney Thomas Klinkner also released a memorandum addressing some confusion regarding city and state authority over municipal tidelands in the Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area.

Homer pickleball players bring home the gold

One of Homer’s newest sports might have a funny name, but pickleball has become a great sport accessible to all ages. 

It’s played both indoors and outdoors on a badminton-sized court with an oversized ping pong paddle and a whiffle ball. It combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong and can be very fast and competitive. In Homer, pickleball meets in the historic gym 5:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and noon-2 p.m. Sundays at the Homer Education and Recreational Complex.

Injuries sustained at fairgrounds plague quilter year after incident

The intricate patterns of quilts made by Laveda Youngblood reflect the 80-year-old’s artistry. For more than 20 years, she has selected, as well as created her own designs. She’s matched fabrics, embroidered and appliqued detail. She’s stitched by hand and machine hundreds of quilts that have become gifts for her husband, Tom, their family and friends; have been displayed in numerous shows and earned her a reputation as a talented quilter.

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