Local News

Farmers reap honors for respecting stream

When working with nature, doing nothing often means a great deal.

Such is the case of Paul and Jen Castellani, the owners of Will Grow Farm, and their home located off the beaten path between Homer and Anchor Point. Despite the Castellani’s efforts to leave the land on which they live and reap the produce of their labor unspoiled, they were stunned by the recognition when they heard they would be the second recipients of the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust’s new King Maker award.

Soundview sidewalks get attention

The city of Homer has received a $500,000 state grant to improve pedestrian access and safety on Soundview Avenue. The half-million dollar Transportation Alternatives Grant from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities adds to $200,000 the Homer City Council appropriated earlier to add sidewalks between Mullikin Street and Cabana Court, an area near West Homer Elementary School. The grant will complete the project, and provide a continuous Soundview Avenue sidewalk to the school.

Air taxi crashes in Nanwalek

Air taxi crashes in Nanwalek

A Smokey Bay Air plane crashed on landing at the Nanwalek Airport a little before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. No passengers were on board and the pilot escaped without injuries, said National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator Mitch Gallo.

The crash caused major damage to the Cessna 207, Gallo said. Gallo said the single-engine plane touched down too far on the runway as it headed north toward the village. The plane had no mechanical difficulties, Gallo said — the plane just ran out of room.

Hospice celebrates birthday with community party

Hospice of Homer has been serving the greater Homer area for 31 years, and this Saturday, its staff and board of directors are throwing a party to celebrate.

You’re invited.

Last year’s event drew about 70 people, said Hospice Director Darlene Hilderbrand. If the weather cooperates, the outdoor cookout at the hospice office on Pioneer Avenue could be as big, she added.

“It’s almost the end of summer, a perfect opportunity to have a lot of fun and support hospice,” Hilderbrand said.

Lake-Heath connection now open

There were no brass bands and no city officials with big scissors cutting a ribbon, but at the end of the work day on Aug. 15, the city opened a new stretch of Grubstake Avenue connecting Heath Street and Lake Street. Homer Public Works Director Carey Meyer had said earlier that though paving had been done, the city would wait until striping was finished to open the new street.

But on Aug. 15 when Meyer talked with the contractor, East Road Services, and found it would be awhile before striping was done, he decided to open the new road.

No matter what happens, council will see new faces

With the closing of the city of Homer election filing period at noon Monday, five candidates have filed for three seats. In the Oct. 4 city election, and with no incumbents running for their current seats, voters will choose two new Homer City Council members and a new mayor. Council members Gus VanDyke and Bryan Zak and Homer Mayor Mary E. “Beth” Wythe are not running for re-election. However, Zak is running for mayor. Wythe on Tuesday lost her bid to represent District 31 in the State House. (See story, this page.)

Council saves for next year

In a Homer City Council meeting that covered everything from opposition to U.S. Navy war games in the spring to whether cannabis workers should have criminal background checks, the council returned to a perennial topic: the budget.

The council also postponed action on an ordinance to allow further public testimony, an ordinance amending animal control rules. That ordinance will be heard at the Aug. 22 meeting.

Fishing for knowledge

While the annual Salmonfest has no shortage of entertaining musical acts, many festival-goers are attracted to Ninilchik each year for the festival’s work with education and advocacy as well.

Presented by the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, this year’s festival got significant support from Cook Inletkeeper. Community Organizer Kaitlin Vadla said coordinating the salmon education and awareness section of the event was a great learning experience for the organization.

Marijuana ban petition won't be on October ballot

A citizen initiative seeking to ask voters whether commercial marijuana is legal in the Kenai Peninsula Borough outside the cities is a no-go.

The borough clerk’s office finished verifying the signatures Friday and found the petition came up short. The petitioners were 62 signatures shy of the 898 they needed to qualify for the Oct. 4 general election ballot, said Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.

“They submitted 998 signatures,” Blankenship said. “We were only able to validate 836.”

Hiker injured in Kachemak Bay State Park bear attack

A Homer man shot and killed a charging sow brown bear at Humpy Creek last Friday. Kim Woodman, 57, shot the bear five times with a 10mm handgun before the bear fell about 6 feet from him. While backing away from the sow, Woodman fell and accidentally shot himself in the left foot.

Woodman was able to get to his skiff and return to Homer, where he checked into the South Peninsula Hospital emergency room. Woodman had no injuries from the bear, said Jack Blackwell, area superintendent of Alaska State Parks, Kenai-Prince William Sound region.

Walker: Alaskans must pull together to get out of state's financial crisis

In a talk before the Homer City Council on Tuesday, Gov. Bill Walker mentioned a historic photo of Metlakatla villagers Lt. Gov. Byron Mallot gave him. It showed the villagers pulling together to remove a stump — a Tsimshian tradition.

“‘This is what we need to be doing,’” Walker said Mallot wrote on the photo. “We need to find our place on the rope.”

That was Walker’s message as he spoke to citizens and officials about what he called Alaska’s greatest fiscal crisis in its history.

Voters to have say on senior property tax exemption

Kenai Peninsula voters will decide whether to continue the borough’s optional senior property tax exemption in this fall’s election.

The proposal comes out of a comprehensive review of the borough’s tax code that Borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s office has been engaged in since last year. It joins another proposal on the ballot that would raise the purchasing cap for sales tax from $500 to $1,000 in the borough, also part of the mayor’s rewrite.

Senior property tax exemption to go to voters

Kenai Peninsula voters will decide whether to continue the borough’s optional senior property tax exemption in this fall’s election.

The proposal comes out of a comprehensive review of the borough’s tax code that Borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s office has been engaged in since last year. It joins another proposal on the ballot that would raise the purchasing cap for sales tax from $500 to $1,000 in the borough, also part of the mayor’s rewrite.

Police report increase in drunk calls

At a Homer City Council work session Monday night on addressing the heroin and opioid epidemic in Homer, Homer Police Chief Mark Robl brought another issue to the council’s attention: an increase this summer in police response to public drunks.

“The police department has dealt with an inordinate amount of inebriates this summer,” Robl said at the work session.

Murder probe moves to DA

After years of investigation, Homer’s only unsolved murder now awaits a decision by the Kenai District Attorney on whether charges can be filed. Three years ago today, someone killed Mark Matthews, then 61, leaving his body off the Poopdeck Trail between Hazel Avenue and Pioneer Avenue.

Homer Police are still waiting for some DNA tests to be completed, but have sent an investigative report to District Attorney Scot Leaders for his review.

Governor to visit Homer, will meet with city council

Gov. Bill Walker visits Homer at 2 p.m. Tuesday for a meeting with Homer Mayor Beth Wythe and the Homer City Council. Held in the Cowles Council Chamber, Homer City Hall, the meeting is open to the public.

At press time, Walker’s press office had not confirmed other details of his visit.

Walker has been visiting with Alaska assemblies and councils this month.

Two bear-viewing planes crash at Chinitna Bay

Two Cessna 206 airplanes operated by bear viewing tour companies crashed while taxiing on a Chinitna Bay beach the same afternoon on July 19. No one was hurt in the incidents.

Pilots reported the incidents at 4 p.m. last Tuesday. National Transportation Safety Board air crash investigator Shaun Williams said it was only a coincidence the events happened about the same time. The planes weren’t near each other while taxiing and there was no safety issue involved, Williams said.


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