Citizen initiative would repeal plastic bag ban put in place by Homer City Council

While the Kenai Peninsula Borough has several initiatives on its ballot, the city of Homer keeps its simple with one question: “Shall Homer City Code Chapter 5.42 prohibiting sellers from providing customers with disposable shopping bags be repealed?” 

A yes vote repeals the plastic bag ban. A no vote keeps the bag ban.

The initiative made the ballot after lifelong Homer resident Justin Arnold put together a petition and gathered sufficient signatures. Arnold, 28, also is running for Homer City Council.

Artist incorporates sign-painting techniques into Old Town mural

As summer slides into fall, Alaskans track the fading of the season by an iconic flower and plant: the persistent, sturdy fireweed. Weeks ago, fireweed lost its flowers and has now gone to fluff, its stems and leaves turning into red tinged with golden. Only summer-long visitors or residents can actually see that transformation. Thanks to a new mural by Homer artist Dan Coe, that change has been visualized. Coe installed the six-panel mural in late August on the Driftwood RV Park fence on Bunnell Avenue.

EPA, Justice and Safeway settle on ozone disharge

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Justice last week reached a settlement with Safeway to reduce emissions of ozone-depleting refrigerants nationwide, the EPA announced in a press release.

Safeway, the second-largest grocery store chain, agreed to pay a $650,000 civil penalty and implement a $4.1 million plan to reduce its emissions of HCFC-22, a hydro-chlorofluorocarbon greenhouse gas used as a refrigerator coolant.

Quebec man accused of stealing $2,000 in wine

Homer Police last week charged a Canadian man with shoplifting wine from a local liquor store — very expensive wine, it turns out. Eric Laurence, 37, of Montreal, Quebec, faces two counts each of second-degree theft, a felony, and two counts of third-degree theft. Police arrested Laurence and he is being held at Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai.

September shows feature longtime Homer artists

Art openings this month feature exhibits from two of Homer’s most distinguished artists, R.W. “Toby” Tyler, showing at Ptarmigan Arts, and Karla Freeman, showing at Bunnell Street Arts Center. Tyler and Freeman have art careers stretching back 50 years. Tyler first came to Alaska in 1953. Freeman, who has spent the last six years in Baja, Mexico, lived in Homer for 40 years.

Wooden Boat Festival features ‘Year of the Kayak”

Last Saturday for Tamamta Katurlluta, the gathering of Alaska Native traditions, a small fleet of skin-on-frame kayaks and one big umiak landed at the Pier One Theatre beach on the Homer Spit (see photo, page 1). Traditional Native boats return again this weekend for the 21st annual Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival as it celebrates “The Year of the Kayak.”

That’s not coincidental. With Tamamta Katurlluta held this year, Wooden Boat Festival organizers decided it was time to focus on kayaks.

Teen pleads to lesser charge in fake bomb incident

A Homer teen pleaded guilty last Wednesday to a reduced charge in a fake bomb incident that happened at Homer High School last May. Zachary Fraley, 18, accepted a plea agreement charging him with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail.

The Homer High School graduate originally had been charged with first-degree terroristic threatening, a felony, for placing a fake bomb near a stairwell at the school. The incident resulted in an evacuation of the school.

Enstar begins energizing lines in downtown

The ceremonial valve turning in July of a natural gas meter at South Peninsula Hospital drew a crowd of dignitaries, including Gov. Sean Parnell, but when gas actually flowed to two homes on Fairview Avenue, there was no fanfare. Last Friday, Enstar Natural Gas Co. crews turned the valves and started gas service to two homes on the Anchor Point-Homer 8-inch-diameter trunk line bringing gas to Homer.

Homer now has natural gas.

“We’re definitely burning gas over there right now,” said Matt Hambrick of AC General Contractor. “It’s happened.”

Resetarits hearing continued again; Murphy gives another 30 days

Despite a warning last month that she would need to see progress on a resolution in the case of two Homer brothers charged with second-degree sexual assault in relation to an incident last year at a Homer teen drinking party, Judge Margaret Murphy continued for another 30 days a preliminary hearing for Anthony Resetarits, 21, and Joseph Resetarits, 19. 

A year later: Have we changed?

Almost a year after a large East End Road teenage drinking party turned ugly, with one boy sexually assaulted while others allegedly watched, how has Homer changed from the incident?

For the victim and his family, they’re trying to move ahead. The victim is now in college and healing from the incident, his mother said in an interview with the Homer News. He’s studying psychology and thinking about a career in social services. The Homer News does not name victims of sexual assault and is withholding the mother’s name to keep from identifying the boy. 

Homer: A quaint little fishing town with a ukulele problem?

Walk around Homer and what do you see? On Saturday mornings at Friendship Terrace in the Homer Senior Center, from five to 12 people strum their ukuleles. At the Farmer’s Market, the Homer Ukulele Group Society — that’s HUGS for short — performs. In the window of Cornish Music on Pioneer Avenue, a rainbow of brightly colored ukuleles is displayed.

Heck, Homer’s former mayor and retired judge, James Hornaday, has even cut an album of ukulele tunes. 

Ukulele mania has hit Homer.

Dog’s job opens world for blind

Walking down Pioneer Avenue with his German shepherd, Rick Malley is just cruising. Malley doesn’t slow down, not even to pose for a photo. He may be visually impaired, but his dog, a beautiful, lean male shepherd, leads him safely through the world. That’s his job.

“I can fly with him, as fast as I want,” Malley said. “His job is protecting and guiding me. He loves to do it.”

“You don’t want to endanger yourself,” said Peter Nowicki, an instructor with the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, of a guide dog’s main purpose. “The dog is a fluid means of travel.”

Comments received in halibut CSP

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration–Fisheries officials estimated thousands of comments were received on the proposed halibut Catch Sharing Plan. The comment period closed Monday. Officials are reviewing comments and haven’t determined a final number.

The CSP regulations would replace the current charter guideline harvest level with a percentage allocation for each area of the combined catch limit as determined by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The catch would be split between the commercial and charter fisheries. 

Hospital creates Reflection Room

South Peninsula Hospital might have modern patient rooms, a birthing center, a Long Term Care home, state-of-the art radiology and imaging equipment, and a medevac helicopter pad, but until now it lacked a facility that might seem essential for healing — a quiet place to sit, meditate or pray.

That changed last month when the hospital dedicated the Reflection Room, a small room across the hall from the cafeteria on the lower level. 

Longtime Homer writer publishes 28th book

You can tell a lot about an author by the books in his or her library. Along one wall of Jim Rearden’s office in his home, Sprucewood, he has an almost complete run of Alaska Magazine. Another row of bookshelves holds an Alaskana library that would make any sourdough envious. The titles reflect his career in fisheries and wildlife management and his interest in Alaska history and culture.

Abuser faces new charges

A Homer man convicted of attempting to sexually abuse a girl under age 13 faces new charges related to the same victim. Corey Rosano, 36, pleaded guilty in February on an amended charge of attempted second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and received a sentence of eight years in prison with six suspended.

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.