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.
The big action, of course, was approving an ordinance creating the Natural Gas Homer Special Assessment District, more popularly known as the gas line. On the theory that if you're going to go big, go long, with Enstar Natural Gas bringing a natural gas trunk line from Anchor Point to Homer, the council last summer initiated the process of creating not small neighborhood assessment districts to build out the gas line, but a city-wide assessment district from the Homer Spit to Skyline Drive. When finished by the end of 2014, that brings the opportunity to get gas to every home and business in town.
Not only will construction of the $10.6 million trunk line and the $12.7 million distribution line mean a construction boom for Homer, it will mean more jobs for the building trades and sales for appliance businesses as people convert to natural gas. In the long run, energy savings that currently are estimated at about 60 percent less than fuel oil will dramatically reduce the cost of living here. Natural gas is the cleanest of fossil fuels, with the smallest carbon footprint, and a good bridge fuel as alternative energy sources like wind, tidal and geothermal power are developed.
On a smaller scale, the council appropriated $3,554.70 to the Green Dot program using earnings from the city's Permanent Fund. That's a good example of the city partnering with nonprofit organizations and businesses to improve our town -- something Homer does well. Green Dot will use that grant as a match for $7,000 to train community members in the violence intervention program.
The idea is that red dots on a map represent incidents of violence and green dots represent violence prevented. Green Dot trains people how to directly intervene, delegate if not comfortable intervening and distract a potential incident from happening. When you consider the cost of police, doctors, judges and social workers in responding to even one incident, that's city money well spent. Reducing violence in our community will have as big an impact on our quality of life as cheaper energy.
Green Dot shows the value of volunteerism in Homer, too. "It's a collaboration between the whole community," said South Peninsula Haven House Director Jessica Lawmaster in speaking of the program to the council, but she also described a lot of what we do here.
From civic commissions to churches and nonprofit organizations, volunteers put in thousands of hours worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Feed the poor, comfort the sick, pick up the trash, make music, buy sports equipment and help a child -- those are just some of the things volunteers do every day in this town. Know someone who puts the V in volunteer? First Lady Sandy Parnell is looking for nominations for her Volunteer of the Year award. See her letter, page 5, for how to nominate.
On this Valentine's Day, and in Homer, Brother Asaiah Day, show a little love not just to your sweetie, but to your fellow citizens who show their love to us. That's worth celebrating -- a lot.