Fish cutters at Coal Point Seafoods notice there’s less halibut coming into the 23-year-old fish processing business on Thursdays. Clad in head nets, aprons and rubber boots, they might grumble about filleting boney pollock instead.
On Thursdays, they see more pollock, as well as salmon, lingcod, and rockfish instead of halibut, which streams into the building as soon as charter boats return to the harbor every other day of the week. Owner Nancy Hillstrand confirms that Thursdays are slow.
Alaska’s economy and demographics are changing. Declining revenues have serious long-term implications for local government.
Underlying causes — the oil industry decline and the graying population — are more pronounced for the Kenai Peninsula than for the state as a whole. While the city of Homer is pursuing its “Closing the Gap” project to solicit citizens’ ideas on economizing, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, too, is launching a comprehensive review of its tax code.
Alaska State Troopers on July 24 charged a fourth person in an alleged theft of about $200 in oysters from a Little Jakolof Cove oyster farm. Using images from a trail camera that took photos of a group on the dock of the oyster farm, troopers identified a fourth suspect as Anders Gustafson, 37. Troopers previously had identified Ward Matthew Clarke, 44, Rebecca M. Clarke, 38, and Christine L. Anderson Kulcheski, 47. All four face charges of fourth-degree theft and first-degree criminal trespassing.
Bristol Bay’s late-arriving sockeye run has contributed to a healthy commercial harvest of more than 47.6 million sockeye statewide, though some fisheries have yet to heat up with strangely behaving tardy returns.
Statewide, the sockeye harvest has already surpassed the 2014 total and on the contentious Kenai River, king salmon have rebounded from the lows of 2012-14 and the run size has eased restrictions on all user groups.
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.
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.
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.
With an agenda rivaling a contractor’s punch list of things to do before freeze up, the Homer City Council at its regular Monday night meeting plowed through a 26-item agenda.
The Kevin Bell Arenaneeds stacking chairs with sled bases as skating aides during public skates.
The R.E.C. Room (Youth Resource & Enrichment Co-op)needs four large plastic tote storage bins with lids (20+gallons each).
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
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.”
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.”
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.
At life’s most difficult times, hospice caregivers offer valuable help. Yet hospice relies on the community for help in return. Volunteers and donors make it work.
In a meeting with an 8-page agenda and 26 items, the Homer City Council on Monday met until 10:10 p.m. — “my longest city council meeting yet,” first-term member Catriona Reynolds described it.
Most area moths are small, with wingspans of about an inch. But catching them with a digital camera macro lens gives us an opportunity to see their intricate, beautiful and sometimes bizarre details up close. Little is known about Alaska’s moths, so this area may harbor some biological rarities.
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.
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.
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.
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.