Editor’s note: Following the March 16 court hearing, Assembly member Willy Dunne submitted his opinion piece to the Homer News. That opinion piece can be read at http://homernews.com/homer-opinion/2017-03-17/eliminating-invocation-right-thing-do
A Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member from Homer has challenged a clause prohibiting him from speaking or writing about the assembly’s controversial invocation policy. In a civil suit, assembly member Willy Dunne, District 9, said a legal nonprofit’s contract to defend the borough in an ongoing lawsuit over the invocation policy violates his constitutional right to free speech.
A controversial project to install a new boat ramp on the banks of the Kasilof River has been put on hold.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District wants the public to put pressure on the Legislature and the borough assembly to provide additional funding in the upcoming fiscal year.
The public will finally get a formal chance to weigh in on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s invocation practice in March.
Fishermen, regulators, biologists and stakeholders will gather in Anchorage later this month to clash over and collaborate on Upper Cook Inlet fisheries policies.
To help bridge some of the state’s $3 billion budget gap, Gov. Bill Walker has proposed a bill that would triple the motor fuel tax statewide more than two years.
The tourism season in Alaska is projected togrow by 2 percent over this year, but the future for the industry’s marketing is still uncertain.
Kenai Peninsula students will get a chance to play and sing along with the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra in a set of concerts this week.
A resolution planned for hearing at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly would clarify that each assembly member’s opinions about the assembly’s controversial invocation policy are his or her own.
Though there are still nearly 10 months before Kenai Peninsula Borough residents will pick a new borough mayor, two people have already announced they are running.
Sterling resident Charlie Pierce filed a letter of intent with the Alaska Public Offices Commission in mid-October, approximately a year ahead of the election. A little less than a month later, Soldotna resident Linda Hutchings submitted her own letter of intent for the office. The position will be up for grabs when current Mayor Mike Navarre is termed out in October.
The Alaska Construction Academies might see a steep decline in funding next year if the Legislature accepts Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed budget cuts.
The governor’s fiscal year 2018 budget, released Dec. 15, proposes a $600,000 reduction in general fund dollars for the Alaska Construction Academies, an Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development program that offers free basic construction training to high school students and adults in Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan, Fairbanks, the Mat-Su Valley and on the Kenai Peninsula.
The Alaska Board of Game plans to debate a proposal at its Bethel meeting that would reauthorize a program allowing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to eliminate all the wolves on a part of the lower Kenai Peninsula.
to change policy
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted not to change its invocation policy during its Tuesday night meeting.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating the cause of a recent oil spill near the Tesoro Refinery in Nikiski.
On Dec. 18, the facility operator noticed blackened snow near the wastewater tank at the Tesoro facility during a nightly inspection, according to a Dec. 27 situation report from the Department of Environmental Conservation. The company estimated that approximately 165 gallons of a crude oil and water mixture had spilled, according to the report.
The plans for a history conference next April in Soldotna marking the anniversary of America’s purchase of Alaska from Russia are under way. With just over four months until the event, the organizers are gathering presenters, public engagement and, as always, stories.
“It’s progressing,” said Shana Loshbaugh, the main organizer. “Right now we have more things going on on the central peninsula, and we also have … things rolling now in Homer.”
Plans for the central Kenai Peninsula’s first medical detox facility are underway.
Over the last several years, opioid addiction on the Kenai Peninsula and in Alaska in general has become a significant public health issue. Last May, the community coalition Change 4 the Kenai brought it to broader public attention with a series of highly attended town halls on the issue.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska is suing the Kenai Peninsula Borough over the borough assembly’s invocation policy, which it claims is discriminatory.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, comes on the heels of the assembly recently reviving its controversial invocation guideline policy, initially passed in October, that outlines who can offer the invocation before the assembly’s regular meetings.
The Kenai Peninsula has seen a steeper drop in jobs than the state in general between the first two quarters of 2015 and 2016.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly revived its invocation policy during a reconsideration vote at its Tuesday meeting.
The assembly passed an amendment Nov. 22 deleting the entire policy it had passed in October. That policy set guidelines for who would be allowed to provide the prayer before the regular assembly meetings. However, at the end of the meeting, assembly member Blaine Gilman of Kenai filed for reconsideration, which brought the topic up again for discussion at the Tuesday meeting.