Local News

In Brief

Donor to help homeless students

After learning about a candlelight vigil to support homeless youth on the Kenai Peninsula last week, a generous person has offered to match up to $10,000 in donations to the school district’s Students in Transition program, which provides supplies and support to borough students in unstable housing situations. The program serves 185 students this year, and is nearly out of funding. For more information or to donate, call Jane Dunn at 226-1890.


Adult Education Association honors KBC’s Carol swartz

There’s a piece of paper taped above Carol Swartz’s desk that reads, “To love what you do and feel that it matters — how could anything be more fun?”

It’s an apt description of Swartz’s feelings toward her job as director of Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College of University of Alaska-Anchorage. In June she’ll have been at it 30 years, working with a passion that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Kids find joy in hard work of performance

Beginning at the age of 5, children in Homer can audition for the biggest ballet production in the town, the Nutcracker. Skill level ranges from beginner to experienced dancers, and the experience can be in many types of dance. There are more than 150 parts for youth ages 5-18, with the parts evolving every year. 

Auditions in September are just the beginning of the work that the dancers must dedicate themselves to putting in before the December shows.

Homer’s Nutcracker:

When the curtains open at Mariner Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 5, nearly 100 people will pirouette, leap, tango and hula hoop across the stage — the 27th annual Homer Nutcracker Ballet includes 85 dancers between the ages of 5 and 18, and 13 adult performers.

But backstage, in the light and sound booths, in the dressing rooms and in the audience, there are at least an equivalent number of people who’ve put their all into the show, and they won’t step into the spotlight in ballet slippers.

Homer breathes sigh of relief

By a 3-to-1 margin, Proposition 1 easily passed in a special election on Tuesday. The measure diverts into the general fund a .75-percent sales tax collected for the Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails fund. With a 13-percent turnout, voters in both Homer precincts approved the vote. 

Prop 1 won with 368 yes votes to 115 no votes.

Prop 1 easily passes

By a 3-to-1 margin, Proposition 1, the vote to divert into the general fund sales taxes collected through the city of Homer's Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails fund, easily passed in a special election on Tuesday. With a 13-percent turnout, in unofficial results, voters in both Homer precincts approved the vote. Prop 1 won with 368 yes votes to 115 no votes.

Prop 1 campaign legal

A low-budget campaign by the city of Homer to influence the outcome of Proposition 1 appears to follow state law, Paul Dauphinais, the executive director of the Alaska Public Office Commission, said this week.

Spruce aphids may be troubling your spruce

The summer of 2015 was a hard one for our native trees. Lack of snow and unusually warm dry weather early in the spring put spruce trees into stress mode.

So for the first time in our part of the world, the Spruce Aphid (Elatobium abietinum) originally from Europe, has found its way to our green shores. The result has been browning needles and sad-looking spruce in the Homer area as well as Halibut Cove.  


Editor’s Note: Every month to accompany the Pay It Forward column, which is coordinated by The Homer Foundation, the Homer News runs a list of needs from area nonprofits. If you see a need you can fill, we encourage you to contact the agency and help pay it forward.

Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies needs a good working vacuum cleaner; a twin bed box spring and mattress; a monitor oil stove

News in Brief

Planning panel holds hearings on subdivisions; discusses pot regs

The Homer Advisory Planning Commission holds two public hearings at its next meeting on Dec. 2. The commission also continues discussion on regulations regarding cannabis. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Cowles Council Chambers, City Hall. 

‘Being mortal’ stimulates community discussion on dying

Homer’s book clubs often lead to intense discussion among small groups, but it’s not often that a book leads to a wider town conversation. This fall on Sept. 18 the Friends of the Homer Public Library held what could be called a mega book club: a standing-room only talk at the library on Atul Gawande’s “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Happens at the End.”

Prop 1 fuels questions on HART funds

With the vote on Proposition 1 looming next Tuesday, the Homer City Council had many of the issues in that question on its agenda at Monday’s regular council meeting. The Nov. 23 meeting was the last council meeting before the election and the council’s Dec. 7 meeting, when the council will pass its 2017 budget. The council considered the future of the Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails fund, or HART, but also pondered potential cuts and a few minor revenue sources to the budget.

Group works on details of creating shelter for Homer’s homeless youth

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to show that the vast majority of homeless students on the peninsula are unsheltered but a few who are either over 18 or staying with a parent and a victim of domestic violence are sheltered at South Peninsula Haven House; and that the next Homeless Action Committee meeting occurred on Dec. 3, not Dec. 4.

UA looks to return to its roots as it faces challenges

No Kachemak Bay Campus programs are on the chopping block.

That’s the good news delivered by University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen during a visit last week to Homer. KBC, the branch campus of Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage, also won’t see changes to its popular Kachemak Bay Writers Conference.

More otters washing up; cause remains unknown

The cause of an unusual number of dead and dying otters winding up on Homer beaches remains unexplained, but preliminary results suggest toxins from harmful algal blooms and stress from bacterial infections might be contributing to the deaths. Infections also might cause otters to forage in shallower waters on less-nutritious prey like blue mussels.

“The otters are getting a double whammy,” said Deborah Boege-Tobin, a biology professor at Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College. “We don’t know for sure, but that’s what we’re looking into.”

Outcome of Dec. 1 special election will help shape city’s 2016 budget

In less than two weeks, Homer citizens vote in a special election that will decide the fate of the city’s 2016 budget. Last month, City Manager Katie Koester submitted to the Homer City Council, and the council introduced, its budget for next year. Homer follows a calendar fiscal year, with the budget taking effect Jan. 1.


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