Man charged in gun assault

Homer police last week charged a Homer man, Patrick Wheeler, 45, with third-degree assault, a felony, and two counts of fourth-degree assault, all domestic violence related. 

Police alleged that Wheeler got into an argument with a woman about 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 1 and held a gun to her head. 

Man dies of injuries sustained in car crash

An Anchor Point man died on Sunday of injuries from a two-car collision near Mile 155 Sterling Highway in Anchor Point on Saturday. Dale Keefer, 53, succumbed to his injuries, Alaska State Troopers said in a press release. He had been transported to an Anchorage hospital after initially being treated at South Peninsula Hospital. Next of kin has been notified.

Judge: In city’s gas assessments, condo complex should be treated as one unit

A 2-inch natural gas distribution pipe run to a lot is the same whether the lot has an apartment building or a condominium complex, Kenai Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet said in a decision released Monday in response to a lawsuit filed by condo owner Ken Castner.

By that logic, a city of Homer ordinance assessing condominiums individually places “an arbitrary, unreasonable and inequitable burden” on condominium owners, Huguelet wrote. The city cannot assess condominium units separately, and must assess them on a per-lot basis.

Birder achieves Big Year in Homer

A wayward Siberian bird seen last month not only caught the attention of local and Alaska birders, it brought another visitor thousands of miles just to tag it. 

That sighting of a rustic bunting by Massachusetts birder Neil Hayward helped him tie the record of 748 bird species seen in one year set in 1998 by Sandy Komito.

Last Saturday, Hayward broke Komito’s record — if three provisional species sightings stand — when he spotted a great skua in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Homer News marks 50 years in 2014

During 2014, Homer will note several milestones. Some are sad, like the 50th anniversary of the March 27, 1964, Great Alaska Earthquake, and the 25th anniversary of the March 24, 1989, Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Others are transformative, like the March 28, 1964, official incorporation of the city of Homer. The year begins with an anniversary important to this paper: the 50th year of our publication as the longest-running newspaper on the lower Kenai Peninsula. 

First Friday events

With some galleries closing for January as they do annual cleaning and reorganizing, it’s a good time for new artists to shine this month. Fortunately, young photographers have chosen this First Friday to show off what they learned in the 12-week PhotoVoice classes taught in Rand Paul’s Homer Middle School and Alayne Tetor’s Homer High School classes. Tara Schmidt and Rachel Romberg of the South Peninsula Haven House team have joined with local artists to teach youth photographic techniques that also can be used to address social issues.

New Year’s events

With Christmas and New Year’s Day both happening on Wednesday and in the middle of the week, holiday plans might be a bit off-kilter. It will be hard for working-stiffs to take a long weekend off, but that won’t stop Homer from celebrating the end of 2013.

Opposition could lead to changes in HB 77

A proposed bill that Gov. Sean Parnell intended to streamline permitting on state lands and waters ran into a buzz saw of opposition in hearings held last week in Soldotna and Homer by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna. “Buzz saw” might be an understatement. With only one person speaking in favor of House Bill 77 out of 125 attending in Kenai and 150 in Homer, opposition to the bill was like a spruce log going into a chip mill.

$10,000 offered in murder case

Homer Police on Tuesday increased the reward to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who murdered Mark Matthews last summer. 

Matthews, 61, was found dead July 28 by the side of the Poopdeck Trail between Hazel Avenue and Pioneer Avenue. The reward earlier had been $2,000, but after Homer Police Chief Mark Robl spoke with Homer City Manager Walt Wrede, the two agreed it was necessary to offer more money.

“I felt it was very important to get it out on the streets right now,” Robl said of the reward increase.

Planning commission OKs microwave tower

In a unanimous vote, the Homer Advisory Planning Commission last week approved a conditional-use permit to allow a 160-foot microwave tower to be built on Easy Street off Skyline Drive. The commission initially had voted 4-2, one vote shy of the supermajority city code requires to approve conditional-use permits, but after reconsideration and further discussion approved the CUP in a 6-0 vote.

City health policy better than some can afford

Homer city workers complaining about proposed increases of health-insurance premiums won’t find much sympathy among small businesses and employees also looking at increasing health insurance costs. In a survey of health insurance premiums for private-sector workers, some employees pay almost 10 times the monthly premium compared to city workers.

December shows offer locally made gifts

With Homer’s reputation as one of Alaska’s thriving arts communities, local art lovers can find creations worthy of sharing as gifts at shows opening Friday. First Friday exhibits won’t be the only place to find art. From 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday and noon-6 p.m. Saturday at Homer High School, the Homer Council on the Arts holds its annual Nutcracker Faire, with almost 85 booths of arts and crafts by lower Kenai Peninsula and other Alaska artists.

Magic continues with silver anniversary of Nutcracker Ballet

“As full of magic as the story it tells,” reviewer Jan O’Meara called the Homer Nutcracker Ballet in the Dec. 14, 1989, issue of the Homer News. “From start to finish it was completely enchanting.”

That magic continues with the 25th production of the Homer Nutcracker Ballet, the homegrown, small-town version of Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet. The Nutcracker opens with performances at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, and continues Dec. 8, 13 and 14. All performances and all seats are $10 (see box, this page).

Homer man will plead guilty to hunting in Denali National Park

A Homer hunter entered a plea agreement last week with the Alaska U.S. Attorney’s Office admitting he hunted illegally in Denali National Park. Michael J. Barth, 29, was one of four men charged last week with the illegal take, possession and transport of two bull moose taken in the park between Sept. 3 and 7, 2012.

Kachemak Bay State Parks: Planning for the future

The last time the Alaska Department of Natural Resources updated its Kachemak Bay State Park and Wilderness Park Management Plan, the parks had gone through some major impacts, including the March 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, and adding 50,000 acres to the parks in 1989 and buying back 23,000 acres of private lands in 1993 to prevent logging. Those events prompted a 1995 update of the management plan.

While some gas line work winds down, others labor 7 days a week

As natural gas line projects on the lower Kenai Peninsula wind down for the end of the construction season, contractors can check off these items on their punch list:

• 22 miles of the Anchor Point to Homer Trunk Line: done;

• 9 miles of the Kachemak City expansion project: done;

• Phase 1, 37 miles of the city of Homer expansion project: near completion; and

• Installation of 668 paid service line applications: 90 percent complete.