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.
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;
Kari Dendurent has been hired as the principal for Homer Middle School, according to an announcement from the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.
Dendurent is currently assistant principal at Houston High School, Houston, Alaska, and was assistant principal at Palmer High School prior to that. She comes to Alaska from Florida, where Dendurent taught and was an assistant principal of instruction in Orlando. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Fla.
With current Homer High School principal Dr. Allan Gee leaving the school at the end of this school year, a new principal has been selected. Doug Waclawski, the school’s assistant principal since 2010, will become the school’s principal for 2013-2014.
“This is the best school in the state of Alaska,” Waclawski told the Homer News about his interest in becoming the school’s top administrator. “It is Homer’s best kept secret.”
Homer area residents and voters from other areas of the Kenai Peninsula got a two-for-one special Friday with an opportunity to listen to and ask questions of Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, and Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, during a town hall meeting held at Homer City Hall.
“Thank you to both men,” said Homer City Council member Francie Roberts in her introduction of the two legislators who represent areas of the central and southern peninsula.
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.
“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.”
Joanne Thordarson, left, and Betty Siegel look for shorebirds on Friday at Mud Bay on the Homer Spit as the morning tide was going out. Siegel, the volunteer coordinator for the Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, was counting and identifying shorebirds as part of a shorebird monitoring project. Dunlins, black bellied plovers and a western sandpiper were seen on Friday.
The day before his trial was set to begin in Homer, a 53-year-old man accused of kidnapping, armed assault, robbery and burglary has accepted a plea deal dismissing those felony charges.
June sailings for the M/V Tustumena have been cancelled, the Alaska Marine Highway System announced last week. The Tustumena will not return to service until July. The Tustumena has been undergoing repairs and retrofitting since last November, and had been scheduled to return to service in April. Unexpected repair items, including steel work, pushed that date to the end of May, but that work now isn’t expected to be done until July 4, the AMHS said in a press release.
Enstar Natural Gas has provided the following update on its project to bring natural gas from Anchor Point to Homer and Kachemak City.
Chumley crews are working near the bottom of the Homer hill and will continue onto West Hill Road later this week. The 8-inch diameter trunk line bringing natural gas from Anchor Point will follow West Hill Road for about a quarter mile and then turn east to Fairview Avenue. The Fairview section of the line is scheduled to begin this week, with crews focusing their attention on areas scheduled to be repaved later this summer.
The first in-town bear of the season was reported seen Tuesday morning near South Peninsula Hospital. According to a police report, a hospital employee about 9:30 a.m. reported seeing a black bear sow and cub heading from above Karen Hornaday Park to the park. At press time on Wednesday, police and Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials were not available to comment on if officers or biologists responded to the report.
Among those being recognized at commencement ceremonies for Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College-University of Alaska Anchorage, is Campus Director Carol Swartz. Honoring her 27 years of commitment and service to the university and to the community of Homer, Swartz will be presented with the 2013 UA-UAA Meritorious Service Award by Patricia Jacobson, chair of the University Board of Regents, UAA Chancellor Thomas Case and KPC Director Gary Turner.
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.
With 16 teams and an organizing committee hard at work, the 2013 Relay for Life of Homer is lining up to be a success.
“It’s going good,” said Marilyn Parrett, co-chair for the event, adding there’s been a bit of a slow start, which she attributes to a long winter. “Usually spring is kind of invigorating and you feel that energy to move into Relay season, but this year we’re still kind of getting our inspiration back.”
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.
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.
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.