McKibben Jackinsky

Mariner XC girls crowned state champs

Hats off to the Homer Mariner varsity girls cross country team who just earned the 2014 123A state championship crown at competition in Anchorage on Saturday. The boys team secured a hard-earned third-place state finish. 

“The girls rocked it,” said Head Coach Bill Steyer. “They had great times, great performances.” 

Homer Flex High School: Changing lives

With almost 39 years in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Karen Wessel is in her 18th year at Homer Flex High School.

“Every morning I come in with the hope that I can help make a difference in a young person’s life,” said Wessel, the school’s principal. 

Hope has guided this alternative school for grades 9-12 since it opened its doors in 1989, even though the school has changed since its early days.

Navarre leads race for borough mayor

With 28 of 29 precincts reporting, current Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre has taken 53.52 percent of the vote in a three-way race against Tom Bearup of Soldotna and Carrol J. Martin, also of Soldotna.

Navarre had 4,794 votes. Bearup was in second place with 3,270 or 36.51 percent of the vote. Martin was in third, with 846 votes of 9.45 percent of the vote.

Looking at the spread of votes between the candidates, Navarre said, “I don’t think we’re headed to a runoff and I’m really pleased with that.”

Namesake celebrated

At Paul Banks Elementary School’s first “Paul Banks Day,” Sept. 16, the K-2 students, faculty, staff and visitors celebrated the school’s namesake, the late Paul Banks. Having worked on the construction of East Homer Elementary School in 1964, Banks also was the school’s first custodian.

Fireweed Academy: offering alternative education

The only charter school in the southern Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, Fireweed Academy opened its doors as “Homer Charter School” in 1997. Two years later, using a consensus decision-making model, the teachers, parents, staff, the school’s Academic Policy Committee and community members renamed it “Fireweed Academy.”
One of KPBSD’s 43 public schools, what sets Fireweed apart is a charter that presents an alternative curriculum based on theme immersion, a specific theme chosen each quarter to be incorporated throughout the school.

Homer divers back from statewide meet

The Homer High School swimmers took a week off, but Coach Harmon Hall and five Mariner divers headed to Chugiak to participate in the dive portion of the Bartlett-Chugiak Invitation swim-dive meet last Saturday.
“It was an experience,” said Hall of the full day of competition.
“There were 22 boys and 17 girls from all over the state. Nineteen schools were there. We saw everybody except for Fairbanks, who has one boy diver ranked in the top five.”
Competing for Homer were Ian Hall, Ren Carroll, Spencer Warren, Daniel Wiest and Annali Metz.

Mariners lose to Kards, ready for homecoming

Senior Ian Lowe gave Homer Mariners their one and only touchdown in Saturday’s 41-6 loss to the Kenai Kardinals, saving the Mariners from a complete shutout.
“I wasn’t planning on playing him, but we had a bunch of people with injuries go down,” said Coach Josh Fraley of putting Lowe in the game. It was the senior’s first time back on the field since being injured earlier this season.
The Mariners defense kept the Kardinals to one touchdown in the first quarter. After that, however, things started to fall apart for the Homer team.

Homer girls crowned Region 3A champs

Coach Bill Steyer knew the Mariner girls could do it, but was careful what he said before the cross-country regions competition in Kodiak on Saturday. He was right. The girls were crowned the Class 3A champions. In addition, athlete Megan Pitzman was named “girl athlete of the year” and Steyer received the “coach of the year” award.
Boy athlete of the year went to Michael Todd of Anchorage Christian.

Voting under way in local election

The municipal election is just around the corner, Tuesday, to be exact. However, for those who anticipate not being available to get to the polls Tuesday, absentee voting began Sept. 22.

In Homer, city residents and Kenai Peninsula Borough residents living inside the city can cast absentee ballots in person at Homer City Hall from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday, through Oct. 6.

HERC gym hums with busy-ness

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. 

Homer elections: 50 years of decision-making

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.

City says ‘thank you’ to dozens of volunteers

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.

Public testimony favors keeping HERC

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.

Prop presents opportunity for new options

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. 

It’s official: Idaho teen wins $16,731.50

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.

SoHi, Kodiak take top pentathlon honors

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.

Swim Club welcomes new coach

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.”

Unified teams score big at Fall Games

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; 

Mariners find reason to smile in loss to SoHi

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.

XC girls take first, boys tie for second

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.

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