MICHAEL ARMSTRONG

Council OKs Spit rezoning

A revised Homer Spit rezoning ordinance almost died on a 3-3 tie vote at Monday’s Homer City Council meeting after the council got hung up on the issue of allowing heliports as a conditional use. An amendment also died in a 3-3 tie vote to eliminate heliports from the rezoning ordinance. 

With the ordinance in limbo, and with Mayor Beth Wythe absent and not able to break the tie, the council on reconsideration passed in a 5-1 vote the ordinance with the heliport conditional use provision included. 

Council ponders possibilities for future of Pier One area

A Homer City Council work session Monday afternoon started with a simple question: Should the city lease a 10,000-square-foot lot at the Pier One Theatre campground lot — officially, Tract A, the Fishin’ Hole Subdivision — to the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society?

The topic, however, morphed into a broader discussion of an overall plan for the 11-acre lot that’s now a mixture of industrial, recreational and cultural activities. 

Dixon family café now open on Spit

From upscale white tablecloth restaurants to take-out sandwich shops, Homer’s creative chefs have been crafting a cuisine that, for lack of a better term, could simply be called Homer Style. It’s a food culture distinguished by an emphasis on wild seafood and locally grown vegetables, many from local high-tunnel greenhouses, mixed with a variety of styles from fusion to French.

Biologist turned filmmaker schools other scientists on art of storytelling

For scientists to connect to citizens, it’s as easy as A-B-T.

On April 17 at the Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership’s Science Symposium, keynote speaker Randy Olson tossed out a new approach to scientists. Rather than just laying out the facts, scientists should inspire people with something elemental to the human experience — stories.

“The public’s not interested in science,” Olson said. “The number one thing the general public is interested in is other human beings.”

Namesake mountain drew shorebird artist to Alaska

The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival featured artists have much in common in their choice of subject — shorebirds, of course — but Mary Bee Kaufman, this year’s featured artist, stands out among them in one way: She’s the only featured artist to have an Alaska peak named after her. 

It’s that mountain that brought Kaufman up to Alaska.

21st Shorebird Fest Starting Out Strong

The 21st annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival has started with a junior birders discovery lab held Wednesday morning. The festival kicks into gear today with a spread of events, starting at 12:01 a.m. this morning with the Big Spit Plus Birding Challenge, a three-day event spread over the festival, challenging birding teams to spot as many species as possible, but without the one-day rush of previous versions of the contest.

Public hearing on Spit rezoning set for Monday

The Homer City Council at its 6 p.m. Monday meeting holds a public hearing and could act on proposed changes to zoning regulations and maps for the Homer Spit. Citizens can speak on two ordinances, 13-11(s) and 13-12, during the public hearing portion of the agenda.

The ordinance adds these activities as permitted uses in the Marine Commercial District, generally the area around the harbor:

• Accessory lodging, that is, apartments or rental rooms as part of building use such as fishing charter offices;

The rib bone’s connected to ...

In a photo on her Facebook page, Marissa Paul, a 2011 Homer High School graduate, holds a shiny curved bone. It looks like the kind of bone beachcombers might find along Kachemak Bay from a moose or bear. 

Paul, however, got the bone from a place closer to her heart — about six inches up toward her shoulder bone.

It’s her rib.

Birding: It’s for anyone, anywhere

“The birds are always out there waiting for us to notice them,” said Jeffrey Gordon, this year’s keynote speaker at the 21st annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival. 

Gordon, 48, is the president of the American Birding Association based in Colorado Springs, Colo. He will be welcomed to Homer at a reception with featured author Philip Hoose from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Land’s End Resort. At 7 p.m. Saturday at the Mariner Theatre, Gordon presents his keynote talk, “Birding Together.”

Man arrested in shooting tries, fails at jail break

An Anchor Point man arrested last week for a shooting incident faces a new charge after he allegedly tried to escape from the Homer Jail two days later. A Kenai grand jury last week indicted Niko Mogar, 22, for attempted second-degree escape. It also indicted him and his co-defendant, Christopher Murphy, 24, also of Anchor Point, for second-degree weapons misconduct. 

Cleanup day is annual rite of spring

Some nations celebrate the start of May with Beltane, the Celtic festival marking the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstices. Other countries consider May Day as labor day, the day to honor workers. In Homer, we get down and dirty the first Saturday of May with our annual Cleanup Day as local volunteers pick up trash and recyclables all over town and wherever it emerges from breakup.

June 3 deadline for initiative to repeal ban on plastic bags

With a month to the June 3 deadline for turning in petitions, a citizen initiative to repeal Homer’s plastic bag ban as of this week has collected more than half the 230 signatures needed to get the initiative on the October ballot. 

Organizers need 25 percent of the ballots cast last October, said Justin Arnold, 27, the initiative organizer. As of Tuesday, Arnold, who is recovering from a broken collarbone, said sponsors had gathered about 150 signatures from registered Homer voters.

Homer holds nose at spring scent

If the print edition of today’s Homer News had scratch ’n’ sniff ink, an eau de Homer this spring would have a recipe like this:

• Start with a generous dose of wet dog;

• Add a sprinkle of sewage sludge;

• Toss in a dead sea otter;

• Throw in that yucky black stuff at the bottom of an unturned compost heap;

• Marinade in fresh horse manure, and

• Let stand in a sealed 5-gallon bucket.

Wildlife art shows preview shorebird festival

As hundreds of geese, dozens of cranes and a few shorebirds descended on Homer last weekend, and with the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival happening next week, it seems natural that this Friday’s art openings should feature art of birds and wildlife. Festival artist and naturalist MaryBee Kaufman has a show, “The Art of Birds,” at the Fireweed Gallery. At Ptarmigan Arts, another naturalist artist, Kristin Link of Girdwood and McCarthy, shows her paintings and field sketches, “Feathers, Stones and Flowers.”

Huge flock of geese feeding at Beluga Slough

A huge flock of greater white-fronted geese flew in this weekend over Kachemak Bay, drawing a steady stream of bird watchers on Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning. At Beluga Slough, hundreds of geese fed in the slough, some within yards of the Lake Street path. Along with the greater white-fronted geese could be seen smaller flocks of cackling geese, a species similar to Canada geese but not as large, and snow geese. Shorebirds also can be seen in the slough, including greater yellowlegs.

Council: Where’s money for HERC building, bike path?

Show me the money.

While Mayor Beth Wythe and some council members didn't say it in exactly those words, that was the sentiment at Monday night's Homer City Council meeting and council work sessions earlier that night and the previous Monday.

Several items prompted Wythe and others to express an austerity philosophy driven by discussions with Alaska legislators on a recent trip to Juneau and what Wythe sees as overuse of city staff resources. Among them:

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