Local News

Council opposes Navy’s exercises

The Homer City Council set an apparent record at its regular Monday night meeting with what may be the largest council packet ever, a two-volume, 1,600-page tome that included 700 pages on beach policy recommendations. 

Technically, the June 29 meeting was a special meeting since most council members said earlier they couldn’t make the meeting last week. Council member Beau Burgess was absent.

Aphids plague spruce stands

Bad bugs attacking the forest have become a recurring nightmare for Alaska. The latest alarm comes from Halibut Cove, where tiny invaders created an icky spring surprise.

How much of a threat they really pose to the trees and even their exact identities remain to be seen.

Burn ban continues

Firefighters and Homer Police responded to numerous calls last week for people burning campfires, but otherwise the lower Kenai Peninsula has been spared huge wildfires raging elsewhere in the state. With continued dry weather, low winter snowfall and equipment and firefighters spread thin around the state, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources last Friday imposed a statewide open burning and fireworks ban.

NONPROFIT NEEDS

Friends of the Homer Public Library
needs volunteers to help clean up/landscape the western lot and the use of a stump grinder on Sunday, June 28, from 1-5 p.m. at the library. Meet in the library parking lot at 1 p.m.

Contact:Erin Hollowell at
erin@friendshomerlibrary.org 

Haven Houseneeds beds, furniture, household items, toilet paper and toiletries.

Watermark

When two artists join lives together, it’s inevitable that their art also will merge. For Asia Freeman and Michael Walsh, a couple who met through art and have been married for 5 years, sometimes that collaboration becomes a synthesis, as with their installation art work, “Backyard, Alaska,” shown at the Pratt Museum in the spring of 2010.

It’s hot in Homer

Sunday’s solstice officially marked the end of spring and beginning of summer. But for practical purposes, summer arrived early on the southern Kenai Peninsula, continuing the trend of record warm temperature anomalies.

Average Homer temperatures ran about 5 degrees Fahrenheit above long-term normal for the months of March through May, and June has been unusually warm, too.

The National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict that Alaska will experience abnormally high temperatures at least through the summer.

Research Reserve gets new partner

More than a year ago, things looked bleak for the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve. The House Subcommittee on Fish and Game had cut annual funding. KBRR’s state partner, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, had told Homer’s community research program it would have to find another partner.

All that has changed. Effective July 1, the Research Reserve has a new home with the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Alaska Center for Conservation Science.

Shell ships call on Homer

Editor's note: This story has been changed to reflect that Shell is not moving 1,900 people to Alaska this summer.

A massive red-hulled ship tied up at the Deep Water Dock last week. The 750-foot-long M/V Marika was an impressive sight as it dwarfed structures on the Spit. It stayed through the weekend and then untied and set anchor in the bay just in time for the M/V Statendam cruise ship to slip in on Tuesday morning. The 817-foot-long Minerva Antarctica is scheduled to arrive today and remain through Sunday. 

All open burning prohibited

The State Forester announced yesterday that all open fires are now banned in Southcentral Alaska, including the Kenai Peninsula, Municipality of Anchorage and Matanuska-Susitna Borough. Due to past and prevailing weather conditions which have caused extremely dry conditions for the Kenai Peninsula, the Alaska Division of Forestry and the State Forester determined that it is necessary to prohibit the use of all open fires and activities which unduly increase the fire danger.

HVFD chief earns credential

Homer Volunteer Fire Department Chief Robert L. Painter was approved by the Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) Commission during the May 2015 review meeting to receive the Certified Emergency Manager credential. The CEM designation is the highest honor of professional achievement available from the International Association of Emergency Managers, CEM said in a press release. 

Central peninsula rallies in wake of fire

As the Card Street fire threatens more structures with each acre it expands, the Kenai Peninsula community has begun to rally around its own.

Estimated as of Tuesday night to be 2,000 acres, the fire has caused evacuations to be ordered for areas from Card Street to the Kenai National Wildife Refuge at Mile 76 and south of the Sterling Highway. This area includes Lepus Avenue, Arlene Avenue, Zenith Street, Caffyn Avenue, and Anetta Street.

Cooper Landing fires expand

Two confirmed fires in the Cooper Landing area are expanding and causing problems for residents and responders.

The Juneau Lake fire, located east of Juneau Lake and north of Cooper Landing, has grown to 60 acres, said Mona Spargo, USDA Forest Service Public Information Officer for Chugach National Forest. She said the Stetson Creek fire, formerly called the Russian River fire, is now estimated to be between 75 and 1,000 acres.

Card Street Fire advances

Firefighters continued to battle the human-caused Card Street fire in Sterling, estimated to be at 2,000 acres, Tuesday evening.

Crews of nearly 100 firefighters constructed fire breaks, dumped water from the Kenai River from planes and helicopters and retardant from tankers on the flames throughout the day.

An estimated 200 structures are still threatened. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management has reported the fire has consumed at least 10 primary and secondary structures.

New date set for gas assessment bills: Sept. 1

With only four Homer City Council members attending Monday’s special and regular meetings, it took unanimity to pass anything. Under council rules, to meet there must be a quorum of four members, but four votes also are needed to pass resolutions and ordinances. That meant the council postponed action and in some cases defeated proposals.

Absent were council members Bryan Zak and Gus VanDyke. 

The council did move forward on issues regarding a big-ticket item, the Natural Gas Homer Special Assessment District. Without objection, it passed:

ATV vandals damage wetland on KHLT property

Publicly accessible land in and around Homer is arguably one of the town’s most precious commodities. Both citizens and visitors in Homer use the land for exercise, enjoyment and to learn more about Alaska’s natural heritage. Unfortunately, these well-loved properties are not immune to vandalism.

On June 1, the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, or KHLT, reported extensive ATV damage to a wetland on one of its properties. Donated to KHLT by the Effler family in 2007, the property was one of Homer’s original homesteads and consists of 18 acres on West Skyline Drive.

Writing faculty inspires aspiring authors during annual conference

An exuberant mood ruled the 14th Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, held June 12-16 in Homer. The public readings crackled with enthusiasm. The radiant weather didn’t hurt, either.

This year 127 attendees shared the power of the written and spoken word, and the inspiring camaraderie of those who write such words.

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