Local News

Bill would provide low-interest loans to help replace home heating systems

A bill creating a low-interest loan program for homeowners wanting to improve or replace their home heating systems is making its way through the Alaska House of Representatives.
Sponsored by Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, House Bill 35 would provide homeowners with an opportunity to receive a maximum, one-time loan of $15,000 to be repaid over 10 years at 1 percent interest.
Now that natural gas is headed toward the southern Kenai Peninsula, passage of the bill could benefit area residents.

Bill would make some drug crimes misdemeanors

JUNEAU -- One lawmaker is trying to establish an escalating scale of punishment for certain drug possession crimes, similar to what Alaska has for those convicted of driving under the influence.
Senate Bill 56, by Sen. Fred Dyson, would make the possession of a small amount of certain drugs a misdemeanor if a person has not been convicted of more than two drug-related offenses.
Currently, the possession of any amount of certain drugs, like heroin, is a felony.

Federal jury trial starts in airport shooting suit against city, police

A federal jury trial started on Feb. 4 in U.S. District Court, Anchorage, in the case of a Minnesota woman against the city of Homer and Homer Police alleging misconduct for their role in the March 2006 Homer Airport shooting. Cherry Dietzmann seeks compensatory damages for injuries to her son, Jason Anderson II, who was shot in the head and severely wounded. The boy has been under 24-hour care since then. Dietzmann also seeks damages for her daughter, Darla Anderson, and herself.
Judge Robert Bryan is presiding over the case.

Grant Aviation halts Homer operations

Less than three years after expanding operations to include Homer, Grant Aviation has dropped the southern Kenai Peninsula from its schedule. The last day of flights in and out of the Homer Airport was Feb. 9 and the first day with no service into Homer was Feb. 10, Grant Aviation station manager Phaedra Bennett told the Homer News.
Requests for reasons about the company's change of plans were referred to Grant Aviation's Anchorage offices. No response had been received by noon Wednesday.
However, Bennett said the changes were being made "indefinitely."

Invasive species bill advances in House

A bill requiring the state to create a rapid response and management plan to deal with invasive aquatic species moved out of the House Fisheries Committee Tuesday and will now come before the House Resources Committee.
House Bill 89, introduced by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, would authorize the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to control or eradicate invasive species in Alaskan waters, following the plan it would craft in conjunction with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and other entities.

Hunters being notified

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game will notify hunters who applied for big game drawing hunts, Tier I and Tier II hunts by email for the first time this year. The emails will be sent early Friday morning.
By noon Friday, links to the results will be posted on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game's website at hunt.alaska.gov and the highlights section on homepage adfg.alaska.gov. Frequently asked questions regarding the drawing hunts and species-specific hunting information also is available on the website.

Homer charter captain gets 10 years for meth dealing to teens, child porn

A federal judge on Feb. 8 sentenced a Homer sport fishing charter captain to 10 years in prison for distributing methamphetamines and oxycodone to teenage girls and for possessing child pornography. Randall Hines, 34, also was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess to 10 years supervised release and to register as a sex offender for 15 years.
Hines also is to fund a $160,000 trust fund that will help victims get drug treatment and counseling.

Cops tase man in arrest

Homer Police Officer Jacob Ruebelmann last Saturday shot twice with a Taser a man at a Pioneer Avenue bar parking lot after police said the man, Thomas Custer, 27, refused to get on the ground while being arrested and present his arms to be handcuffed.

Marshals capture man

U.S. Marshals last week arrested in Tacoma, Wash., a former Port Graham man charged with first-degree sexual assault on a minor. Benjamin L. Moonin, 49, had been accused by Alaska State Troopers of fondling a young girl in Port Graham in January 2011. Marshals said in a press release that Moonin had a criminal history in Alaska and Washington, with convictions for first-degree sexual assault, burglary, assault and failure to register as a sex offender.
Moonin was jailed without bond at Pierce County Corrections Center in Tacoma pending his extradition to Alaska.

‘Give and take’ secret for this long-term pair of lovebirds

On Valentine’s Day, couples all over the world declare their love for each other. Some say it with cards. Some with flowers. Some with a candlelight dinner.
Ask long-time married couple Toras and Edna Fisk of East End Road how they plan to celebrate their almost-70 years of marriage — their anniversary is June 5 — and the answer is a little different.
“After you get so old and have had so many different Valentine’s Days, it’s just another day,” said Toras, who turns 90 on Friday. Edna is 92. “There’s no big excitement.”

Council OKs gas build-out

Moments before the Homer City Council finally voted on an ordinance creating the Natural Gas Homer Special Assessment District, a telephone connection with council member Barbara Howard failed. Other than a slightly tense moment as City Clerk Jo Johnson tried and reconnected with Howard, the vote on Monday night seemed anticlimactic.

Peninsula welcomes responsible development

"Cook Inlet -- Energy for All Alaska" was the theme of the 2013 Industry Outlook Forum, organized by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District and co-sponsored by the city of Homer. Certainly, there were presentations about energy -- oil, natural gas, electricity -- but the energy level among the 200-plus forum presenters and attendees also was evident.
"It was just great fun," said John Torgerson, executive director of KPEDD. "I think we accomplished our goal of having education seminars."

Seavey gets first T200 win

The sled dogs pulled Mitch Seavey to the finish line and the veteran musher smiled. He appeared comfortable wearing a lightweight jacket. A blotch of frost covered the left side of his mustache.
It was Seavey's first win at the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race. The win caught him off guard, he said.
"I went out for a training run and came back first," he said.

Oil, gas companies outline plans for Kenai Peninsula, Cook Inlet

By McKibben Jackinsky AND MICHAEL ARMSTRONG
STAFF WRITERS
"It's great being in Homer again," said homeboy John Hendrix in his opening remarks at last week's Industry Outlook Forum.
That was just one of the hats the 1975 Homer High School graduate was wearing Thursday evening. Hendrix also is the general manager of Apache Alaska Inc., an oil and gas company that, with more than a million acres, is "the largest acreage holder in Cook Inlet," he told forum participants.

City insurance won't pay for sewage flood damage

The city of Homer's insurance provider won't pay for damages to homes hit by a mid-January sewage flood. An insurance adjuster for the Alaska Municipal League told the city the event was "an act of God" -- a legal term for a natural disaster no one could have prevented. A third-party engineering report showed no negligence by the city, Public Works Director Carey Meyer said insurance adjusters told him.

Borough wants public input on land grant

Kenai Peninsula Borough officials are asking for the public’s help picking out which state lands the borough should gain ownership of as part of its long-standing municipal entitlement land grant.

To help, borough residents are being encouraged to use an online mapping tool and survey that will allow them to pick lands and comment on the fate of which 28,000 acres the borough ultimately chooses.

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