The sounds of friendly pickleball competition fill the air inside the gym that is part of the HERC, the Homer Education and Recreation Complex. Laughter, the slap of shoes on the gym floor, the pop of balls on paddles. Three games are in progress, four people each game, more sitting on the sidelines waiting their turn.
In the 50 years of Homer News’ existence, stories about elections have figured large. From the local citizenry laying the groundwork for questions to be resolved to the actual voting, it has been the process through which issues big and small have been decided.
On page one of the very first Homer News, Jan. 7, 1964, one of the most significant elections was beginning to take shape, whether Homer should incorporate.
Appreciating the time and expertise of individuals serving on the city’s boards, commissions, committees and task forces, the city of Homer, Mayor Beth Wythe and the Homer City Council invited those dedicated volunteers to a recognition reception at the Elks Club last Thursday.
Mayor Beth Wythe acknowledged the volunteers’ contributions and each one was individually introduced.
It was a full house at the Homer City Council’s meeting on Monday as area residents lined up to make their concerns known. Most comments focused on two topics: the future of the gym that is part of the HERC, Homer Education and Recreation Complex, and the city’s acceptance of a”whimsical” seven-foot upright loon holding a windsock. It was created by Alaska artist Rachelle Dowdy for installation at Bishop’s Beach.
While the Oct. 7 municipal election has several Kenai Peninsula Borough propositions, there is only one on the city of Homer ballot: Shall a charter commission be elected to prepare a proposed charter?
A “no” vote puts a stop to the process; a “yes” vote opens the door to new possibilities for Homer, currently a first-class city.
“Homer would have greater powers if it becomes a home-rule city, subject to the limitations of AS.29.10.200,” said Brent Williams of the Local Boundary Commission.
At a Monday press conference, Jim Lavrakas announced the official results of the 2014 Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. Topping the list was the jackpot winner, 16-year-old Eagle Scout Jackson Hobbs of Franklin, Idaho. Hobbs will pocket a $16,731.50 check for the 335-pound halibut he caught Aug. 19 while fishing with Capt. Travis Larson of Alaska Premier Sportfishing.
Reached by Lavrakas via cell phone during the press conference, Hobbs was greeted by shouted cheers from those attending the press conference.
The Homer Mariners swim team hit the pool at SoHi last week for the 32nd annual SoHi Pentathlon, competing against athletes from Colony, Kenai, Kodiak, Palmer, Seward and Soldotna.
Crowned champions of the event were the SoHi girls team and the Kodiak boys team.
Kodiak’s Tahna Lindquist, a senior, was the top female swimmer with a total time of 2:57.51. Her brother, Talon, a freshman, was the top male finisher with 2:36.59.
Cast out a hook and you never know what’s going to bite. In the case of the Kachemak Swim Club’s search for a new coach, it appears they’ve found a keeper in Neil Romney.
“We posted the job on the Alaska Swimming site and the USA Swimming site and got some interest from across the country,” said Paul Story, president of KSC’s board of directors. “They all had pretty good credentials, but (Romney) had really good credentials and amazing references.”
Special Olympic unified bocce teams and individual athletes, unified golf teams and one individual golfer brought home an array of medals from the 2014 Special Olympics Alaska Fall Tournament in Anchorage on Sept. 14-15. They were among 200 athletes representing the communities of Anchorage, Ketchikan, Kodiak, the Matanuska-Susitna valley and Fairbanks, as well as Homer. Following are results for Homer athletes:
Unified Bocce Doubles, M1 division:
5. Homer team of Eddy Escalera and Peggy Brown;
In a game where you have to count your blessings wherever you find them, Mariner Head Coach Josh Fraley and the Homer High football team have something to brag about in spite of Saturday’s 51-6 loss to the Soldotna Stars.
“We’re only the second team to score on them all year,” said Fraley of the Mariners putting themselves on the board during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game.
With the Kenai Mountains as a backdrop and Kachemak Bay to their left and right, high school cross-country runners from Kachemak Selo, Nikiski, Nikolaevsk, Soldotna and Homer took to the Spit Trail on Saturday in a 5K Homer invitational.
Homer’s varsity girls claimed a first-place team finish. A first-place tie on the boys side, which takes into consideration the finishing times of the top five runners of each team, was decided by the finishing time of the sixth-place runner and that boosted Kenai into the lead, with Homer taking second.
The Homer High School DDF — Drama, Debate and Forensics — team began its season with a meet at Bartlett High School in Anchorage last weekend and came home with some impressive results:
Duet acting: 1. Evan Boyer and August Kilcher; 2. Robert Hockema and Eryn Gillam; 3. Loren Jones and Zane Boyer; 4. Drewy Wimmerstedt and Iustine Kuznetsov; 5. Johanna Allen and Maya Jones.
Identifying what stands out about Connections, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s homeschool program for grades K-12, was easy for Lee Young, principal of the program for the past 10 years.
“The relationships with parents,” said Young. “I’ve been in public education for a lot of years and a homeschool education provides for a setting to become education partners with families. Also it’s about seeing the success of dedicated homeschool families and the overall achievement that’s attained.”
If horseman Ron Wilhoit has a business plan, it is clearly built around mythologist Joseph Campbell’s advice to “follow your bliss.” That’s exactly what the former owner of Tye Dye Trucking, a Seattle waterfront trucking business, is doing and he couldn’t be happier.
With Alaska Draft Horse, Wilhoit is inviting others to share that bliss as he guides clients into the Kenai Peninsula backcountry astride Liberty and Justice, two gentle equine giants.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre is no stranger to campaigns. All told, this is his tenth, including his years in the Alaska State Legislature from 1985-1996 and as the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor from 1996-1999 and 2011 until the present.
“I have lots of experience and I have established lots of contacts … and there’s some things I want to try to focus on,” said Navarre of his decision to run for re-election.
Letting the experience of the past frame his vision for the future, Carrol Martin’s reasons to be elected as the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s next mayor are to prepare peninsula residents for the next disaster.
“I think of the disasters that we need to plan to avoid,” said Martin. “One is that we will have another earthquake one day and it’s probably going to be sooner than we think.”
With a background that includes serving as mayor and law enforcement officer for the city of Soldotna, being pastor of a church and accumulating day-to-day lessons of life in general, Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor candidate Tom Bearup believes he has acquired “a lot of quality things over the years that will be attributes for a borough mayor.”
Bearup’s vision of being mayor includes developing a “team of quality people” that would complement the directors and managers already in place in the borough.
A candidate for the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly District 8-Homer, Kelly Cooper isn’t waiting until she’s elected to find out what’s going on in the borough. She’s already doing some homework.
“When I got on the (South Peninsula) hospital board, I did that, too,” said Cooper, a SPH operating board member since 2008. “I went to some meetings before I decided to accept the board position so I could see what I was getting into, so I could come in a little prepared and up to speed, understanding how they operate. It’s invaluable.”
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly moved smoothly and quickly through the agenda of its regular meeting held in Homer on Tuesday. The biggest attention-getter of the evening was assembly member Bill Smith, who represents District 8-Homer on the assembly.
Having served on the assembly since 2007, this was Smith’s last at-home meeting before the municipal election on Oct. 7. He has termed out of office.
Most school open-house events are an opportunity for families to visit inside a school building and meet teachers. Flex School took it another step this year with a farm-to-table spin.
“It was amazing. We’ve never seen anything like it,” said Principal Karen Wessel of the attention the event attracted.
In addition to having grown the showcased vegetables in the school garden, Flex students spent the day preparing food for their guests. Broccoli casserole, borsch, appetizers, pies.