MICHAEL ARMSTRONG

State withdraws plea agreement in boat arson case

The prosecution withdrew a plea agreement last Wednesday, Aug. 14, in the case of Makai “Mike” Martushoff, 59. Martushoff had been charged with one count of first-degree arson, a class A felony. A change-of-plea hearing scheduled for July 29 had been continued to Aug. 8 and then Aug. 14, but on Wednesday assistant district attorney Kelly Lawson said the state was pulling the offer.

At last week’s hearing, Magistrate George Peck took no action on the plea withdrawal and continued a preliminary hearing to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 23.

Priest tells story of social activism

On a drizzly Saturday afternoon at WKFL Park — a park donated to Homer by Brother Asaiah Bates, another combat veteran turned peace activist — Father Roy Bourgeois spoke quietly of his journey to social justice. 

“I don’t know what can be more important than working for peace and justice,” he said.

Billed as a discussion of Bourgeois’ work against the School of the Americas, or SOA, a counter-insurgency program at Fort Benning, Ga., the talk really was about the former Maryknoll priest’s life.

Understanding the currents of Kachemak Bay

If you built a raft with a big sea anchor and pushed off from Point Pogibshi, you’d drift east along Kachemak Bay on the south shore, turn left at the Homer Spit and eventually circle around the north shore and go west toward Bluff Point, spinning back around in a big gyre. 

Or, maybe not. You could wind up at the head of the bay. You could be pushed out into Cook Inlet. In a big storm and tide you could get washed up on the beach.

Seeing green

There’s been a lot of talk about green dots lately — and red dots. The phrase “green dot” might sound like social-worker speak, but the message of the concept really comes down to one thing.

Starting now, starting today, starting with a group of civic leaders, there is a new attitude in town.

“If you want to perpetuate violence, Homer is not the place for you. It will not be tolerated,” said Jennifer Messina, director of training and development for Green Dot, a national sexual violence prevention program.

Charter captains question halibut proposal

With no budget for travel to hold an information workshop or take public comments at a hearing, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries officials held an informal audioconference presentation on Tuesday night on the proposed halibut Catch Sharing Plan. Participants had the chance to call in and ask questions. Most listened in and asked questions at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center with a group of about 15, mostly charter captains.

San Diego woman swims across bay

Last Friday on her 40th birthday, a San Diego cold-water, open-ocean swimmer did what only six other people, including three other women, have done: swim across Kachemak Bay. With her partner Al Bremer paddling alone beside her in a bright-yellow kayak, Claudia Rose pushed off from the beach by Land’s End Resort on the Homer Spit at about 11 a.m. and by 1 p.m. landed at McKeon Flats at the mouth of China Poot Bay, about 4 nautical miles or 4.6 miles.

Ninilchik EMS board sues to collect fees

In the state and national health care debate, one issue keeps coming up. Medical providers cannot refuse to treat patients with emergencies, and yet many patients don’t have health insurance. How do hospitals, doctors and emergency medical services collect from the people who can’t or won’t pay?

One small town fire and EMS department’s solution? Take them to Small Claims Court. 

Early morning fire destroys storage building

An early morning fire on Sunday destroyed one of 16 storage buildings at East End Mini Storage, a storage and business complex on East End Road near Redden Marine. Building O was 95-percent destroyed, said Homer Fire Chief Bob Painter.

Neighbors did not notice the fire until about 4:10 a.m. Aug. 4, when they heard explosions coming from the building. Ten Homer Volunteer Fire Department firefighters responded with five units. Kachemak Emergency Services also provided mutual aid.

‘Unalaskana’ show challenges Alaska clichés

In Alaska art and culture, a spirit of irreverence often runs counter to serious or commercial images of Alaska. Done well, traditional Alaska art celebrates the state’s natural beauty and character of its people. When this celebration runs to excess — think painted gold pans or romanticized landscapes — artists and entertainers like Mr. Whitekeys stand ready to throttle back on an overly sentimental vision of Alaska.

Power outage shuts down Spit, other Homer areas

An electrical equipment failure shut down power from the Safeway grocery store on the Sterling Highway to the end of the Homer Spit on Monday afternoon. Power was out from about 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 5.

Related to the outage, Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins ordered a precautionary evacuation and closure of the Fish Dock Road area about noon after Kevin Hogan of the Auction Block notified police and other officials that there could be a carbon dioxide leak in his refrigeration plant. The loss of power caused a pressure build up in the unit, Hawkins said.

Homer youths creating suicide-prevention film

It’s a scene common to most any American high school. A girl walks down a crowded hallway, students milling around lockers. Clutching her notebook, the girl shuffles her feet, looking down at the floor, as she walks by other teenagers. You can almost imagine their thoughts — “What’s up with her?” “Why’s she acting so weird?” “What a dork.”

Then, out of the blue, a mean kid rushes by and knocks the books out of her arms. The girl goes to a locker and kicks it.

Top to top family explores world

By land and sea, world explorers often visit Homer on their way north for further adventures or an end-of-the-road finish from points further south.

Last Thursday, a 50-foot silver sailboat slipped into the Homer Harbor on an expedition that outshines anything else by comparison.

NOAA to hold teleconference on halibut plan

Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries and the Homer Chamber of Conference and Visitor Center hold an informational teleconference on the halibut Catch Sharing Plan from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the chamber office. Seating is limited to 20 participants, so those interested should e-mail Jim Lavrakas at jimlav@homeralaska.org.

Reward doubled in trail homicide

Following a forensic examination and further investigation, Homer Police have ruled the death of Mark Matthews, 61, a homicide. Matthews was found dead about 10:15 p.m. July 28 by two people walking on the Poopdeck Trail, a path connecting Pioneer Avenue to Hazel Avenue and Poopdeck Street in downtown Homer.

Police also doubled the reward to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Matthews’ killer.

Hearing continued in 2012 boat arson case

A change of plea hearing scheduled for Monday in the case of Makai “Mike” Martushoff, 59, has been continued to 1 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Homer Courthouse. 

According to one of the alleged victims in the case, lawyer Michael Hough, Martushoff was scheduled to appear for a hearing in which a charge of first-degree arson, a class A felony, would be reduced to criminally negligent burning, a misdemeanor. If the plea deal stands, Martushoff would serve no more than one year in jail.

Latest election districts a lot like pre-2012

Homer will go forward into the past with a redistricting plan passed last month by the Alaska Redistricting Board. Following an Alaska Supreme Court decision that the board redo the 2012 plan, the board last month approved new House and Senate districts and, if it wins court approval, will include these changes:

• The lower Kenai Peninsula will be put into Senate District P, a district that includes a House district of Kodiak Island. If re-elected in the 2014 elections, Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, would again represent Homer, as he had until 2012.

Gov. Parnell talks Alaska with Homer

On his visit to Homer last Thursday to be the host of the fifth Governor’s Family Picnic held in Alaska this summer, Gov. Sean Parnell stopped by the Kachemak Bay Rotary Club weekly noon meeting for a short speech and a lot of questions.

“I like to spend a lot more time interacting with you than giving a prepared speech,” Parnell said.

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