Local News

Jury acquits Homer man on kidnapping, assault charges

After two-and-a-half days of deliberation last week, a Homer jury last Friday morning found a Homer man not guilty on three felony counts of kidnapping, third-degree assault and third-degree weapons misconduct. The jury did find William O. Daugherty, 47, guilty on two counts of fourth-degree assault, domestic violence.

Because of Daugherty's roots in the community and his criminal past, almost 300 potential jurors were called.

The charges came about after an incident where Daugherty drove around Homer with a woman, then 18, in early July 2012.

Online registration underway for 20th winter king tourney

The countdown to the 20th annual Winter King Salmon Tournament, sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, has begun. With online registration available, fishermen are already making clear their intentions to catch the winning fish.

"The biggest difference this year is that we are offering online registration," said Monte Davis, chamber and visitor center executive director. "I've tried to get that word out as much as I possibly can. It will simplify matters a bunch."

Jury rules in favor of police

A federal civil jury last Thursday exonerated three Homer Police officers and the city that employs them.

In a unanimous verdict delivered about noon March 7, the 8-member jury found that Cherry Dietzmann and her children, the plaintiffs in a $45 million suit against the city and officers, did not prove that Homer Police officers Will Hutt, Stacy Luck and Dave Shealy shot Jason Anderson Jr., then 2, in a shootout with Homer Police and U.S. Marshals seven years ago at the Homer Airport.

Council OKs contract with Enstar

With one member excused, three participating telephonically, two present in the council chambers, and with Homer Mayor Beth Wythe stepping away from the gavel due to a conflict of interest based on her employment at Homer Electric Association, the Homer City Council approved a not-to-exceed $12.1 million contract with Enstar Natural Gas at its regular meeting on Monday.

Can you feed Kandu?

Save-U-More manager Mark Hemstreet puts canned food in Kandu the Care O’Saurus, the Homer Food Pantry collection sculpture, after artist Brad Hughes installed it Tuesday at Save-U-More. Kandu roars when the bone lever is pressed to open his jaws. Hughes and assistant J.P. Rooks donated time and material. They also put up stickers in the store encouraging shoppers to pick up food to donate before getting to the check-out line. “Let’s make it fun,” Hughes said of the donation box.

Bowling event raises funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Pins were racked nonstop at Kachemak Bowl on Saturday, where packed lanes of young and old bowled for the "Bowl for Kids Sake" event, a fundraiser for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Homer program.

More than 100 participants and 16 teams attended the event to raise a goal of $9,000 for the Homer program. Aside from individual donations, 54 Homer businesses donated items for the raffle. Wells Fargo, GCI, First National Bank of Alaska, and Petro Express also made corporate donations to the event.

Homer fish, game panel seeks more community involvement

With the Alaska Board of Game meeting coming up March 15 to 19 in Kenai, the Homer Fish and Game Advisory Committee's work is done for that meeting, but the "AC," as it's called, would like to see more interest in Homer's local voice on fish and game issues.

"We're a committee to represent the constituents of Homer," said Dave Lyon, a longtime hunter and fisherman, former guide and water taxi operator who is the new AC chairman.

The Homer AC meets at 6 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the NERR building on Kachemak Drive, and meets this Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Trial delayed in kidnapping case

It wasn't only that the defendant's lawyer said he wasn't ready to go to trial next week in the case of a man charged with kidnapping.

In the trial of Bret Herrick, 52, on kidnapping and other charges, the main witness in the trial, a Homer fisherman, is off fishing in the Bering Sea and might not be back in time. On that basis, Superior Court Judge Charles Huguelet on Friday postponed until March 26 Herrick's trial.

Herrick is charged with kidnapping, first-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, four counts of third-degree assault and third-degree theft.

No changes in works for Era in Homer

Contrary to what you may have heard, Era Alaska is not departing. The airline company has no intention of abandoning its service to the southern Kenai Peninsula.

However, rumors of a possible pullout from Homer have spread all the way to Era Alaska's sales and marketing director, Steven Smith.

"A lady called me last week and said she had heard that," said Smith of speculation that Era's 30-year service to Homer was coming to an end. "I asked her who told her that and she said she'd heard it was a whole realignment. That's absolutely not true."

Big show

A great gray owl sits on a downed spruce tree just off West Hill Road early Monday evening. The owl caused a small traffic jam as people stopped to view and photograph it.

Young bird watcher Landon Bunting first sighted the owl and told another birder, Jason Sodergen, who then put out an alert on the Kachemak Bay Birders email list.

"It was just an amazing event," Sodergen said. "It was great to see it."

 

No foul play suspected in Ninilchik woman’s death

The state medical examiner has ruled out foul play or anything suspicious in the case of a Ninilchik woman found dead in a field in Ninilchik last Wednesday. Alaska State Troopers identified the woman as Kathy L. Kvasnikoff, 40.

Next of kin has been notified, and an autopsy with toxicology screening was done on Kvasnikoff last Friday. The body was released to a funeral home. Troopers are still waiting for the results of the toxicology screening, which can take several weeks.

Planning commission chair resigns

The chairperson of the Homer Advisory Planning Commission, Shelly Erickson, resigned last month. In a letter dated Feb. 20, Erickson said she resigned because she has been distracted by the pressure of trying to save her business, HomeRun Oil.

In 2000, Erickson and her husband, Jeff, started their heating fuel oil and gasoline station, the only locally owned heating fuel company.

So far, there’s been no rush of customers for natural gas

Enstar Natural Gas has chosen a contractor — Chumley Inc. of Sterling — to construct a trunk line to bring natural gas from Anchor Point to the southern Kenai Peninsula. The Homer City Council has voted to create a city-wide special assessment district within which will be built a natural gas distribution system. Kachemak City not only approved a similar scenario, but also is offering a rebate for residents signing up with Enstar.

With construction work scheduled to begin soon, what's missing? Users.

'Silver tsunami' hits Homer

It might be a dance with live music and a floor crowded with waltzing couples. It might be a forum for political candidates with non-stop questions being asked. It might be a parade float, an afternoon card game or swimming at the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center. It might be grocery shoppers taking advantage of a 10 percent senior discount. Whatever the occasion, Homer's senior citizens are there.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough leads Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Matanuska-Susitna areas in percent of population 65 and older according to the 2010 census:

Peninsula legislators invite public to town hall meetings

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, has invited his District O constituents to two town hall meetings to be held in Homer and Soldotna this week. The senator will discuss key issues and provide an update on the 28th Legislature.
The senator’s staff also will be present to help with constituent issues and provide information about contacting the senator in Juneau and participating in teleconferences. Ask questions, voice concerns and enjoy pizza and refreshments.
• March 8: Homer City Council chambers, 5-7 p.m.;

City OKs bond for gas distribution

The big-ticket item at the Homer City Council's regular meeting on Monday was Ordinance 13-03(S)(2), authorizing the city to issue a natural gas distribution special assessment bond in the principal amount not to exceed $12.7 million for the finance, design and construction of natural gas distribution improvements.
The 22-page ordinance, which includes a loan agreement with the Kenai Peninsula Borough as lender and the city as borrower, passed with all six council members, including Barbara Howard who attended telephonically, voting in favor of it.

Kenai grand jury indicts Gherman on kidnapping, assault charges

A Kenai grand jury last Friday indicted Ilya Gherman, 53, on two counts each of kidnapping and third-degree assault and one count of second-degree misconduct involving weapons. The grand jury charged that in a Feb. 12 incident, Gherman restrained by threatening with a firearm his wife and daughter at their Old Sterling Highway cabin. He also is charged with shooting up his cabin with a 9mm handgun and an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle. Alaska State Troopers arrested Gherman after the incident and he is at Wildwood Pretrial Facility.

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