Local News

Community rallies to help families who lost homes to fire


Autumn Jones had just finished working out and was getting ready to leave her East End Road home on China Poot Court on Jan. 7. Her daughter, Destiny, 13, was in class at Homer Middle School. Her partner, Neils Cordes, was at work.

“Then some guy came and told me the house was on fire,” said Jones.

Hannah Walker, Jones’ longtime friend and neighbor — only a garage separated their homes — was away at the time. Her children, husband, Ryan, daughter, Trinity, 9, and son, Dallas, 5, also were away from the residence. 

News Briefs

Civil rights talk set for Jan. 21

Stephen Haycoxwill present a talk on Civil Rights in Alaska: The Historical Perspective and the Popular Perception” at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21.

The program is in honor of Alaska Civil Righs Day and is presented with support from the University of Alaska Anchorage Diversity Council.

Council preserves food tax exemption

BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG

STAFF WRITER

On a second vote to repeal a seasonal sales tax exemption on food, the Homer City Council again defeated the ordinance proposed last year by council member Bryan Zak. 

This time, with council member Beau Burgess switching his vote, the council fell two votes short of passing the controversial ordinance. As before, Zak and council member Francie Roberts voted yes, and council members James Dolma, David Lewis and Burgess voted no.

Mayor opposes city’s help on gas line

Homer residents took to the microphone at Monday’s regular Homer City Council meeting to express their views on formation of a citywide Natural Gas Homer Special Assessment District. Among those testifying was Homer Mayor Beth Wythe.

Before commenting, Wythe — who has been determined to have a conflict of interest on the natural gas issue due to her employment with Homer Electric Association Inc. — passed the mayoral gavel to council member and mayor pro tempore Francie Roberts.

Happy ending wraps up search for snowmachiner

What was meant to be a short, two-hour snowmachine ride with a friend last Friday turned out much differently for Steven Craig, 41, of Homer. After Craig became lost, an estimated 100 individuals on the ground and in the air spent the weekend battling foul weather in hopes of finding the snowmachiner alive.

Their efforts were successful. Craig was
spotted Sunday afternoon.

Earlier this week, Craig, his wife, Rita, and daughters, Kristina and Brittany, shared details of the family’s 50-hour ordeal with the Homer News.

Road kill provides good meal for residents, data for scientists

It’s 1:30 a.m. when Laurie Speakman gets the call. Alaska State Trooper Dispatch tells her another one has been hit and gives her the GPS coordinates.

Outside it’s probably below zero when she starts the pickup, equipped with a flashing siren, a wench and a boom.

She dresses in thick clothing while coffee brews and the truck warms. Then she drives from a warm bed and sleeping husband to pick up another dead moose from another car accident.

Measure to repeal borough stream ordinance withdrawn over open meetings concerns

A Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member’s attempt to introduce an ordinance that would have undone an expansion of the borough’s anadromous waters habitat protection ordinance was foiled by an unlikely source: the “reply all” button on his email.

Newly elected assembly member Kelly Wolf withdrew Ordinance 2013-03 from introduction Tuesday night citing concerns from borough administration about possible violations of Alaska’s Open Meetings Act.

Herrick associate charged with hindering prosecution


The man driving a truck when Alaska State Troopers arrested Bret Herrick, 52, on Dec. 8 in Anchor Point has been charged with first-degree hindering prosecution, a felony. Troopers allege William R. Dalton, 35, knew that Herrick had a warrant for his arrest and had given him a ride knowing he had a warrant. Herrick is alleged in August to have kidnapped a man at gunpoint from his Skyline Drive home and forced him to get money out of a cash machine.

Children in Head Start help spread tobacco-free message


Shortly before the holiday break, the youngsters at Homer Head Start joined Alaska’s fight against tobacco use, thanks to a program sponsored by RurAL CAP, Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc.

When the 4- and 5-year-olds headed home that day, the youngsters carried little buckets containing items like color crayons, pencils and stickers. On the side of the bucket was the message “growing up tobacco-free in Alaska.” The message was meant to be a conversation-starter, said Martha Wagele, Homer Head Start family advocate.

Moving Day at the Pratt

Saturday was moving day at the Pratt Museum when about 25 volunteers showed up to help move sections of a gray whale from the workshop into the space where the new exhibit, “Encounters: Whales In Our Waters,” will open on Feb. 1. The exhibit will profile nine cetacean species with the centerpiece this gray whale that washed ashore near Halibut Cove in 1999.

Rig’s woes benefit city, borough

BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG

STAFF WRITER

Although Buccaneer Oil had intended last fall to have moved the jack-up rig Endeavour-Spirit of Independence to oil and gas exploration sites in Cook Inlet, that the rig remained at the Homer Deep Water Dock as of Jan. 1 could mean a tidy tax payment to the city of Homer, Kenai Peninsula Borough and the South Peninsula Hospital Service Area. The borough collects tax payments on behalf of cities and service areas.

Coast Guard leads investigation into sunken vessels



When it happened is uncertain — Christmas Eve or Christmas Day — but the F/V Leading Lady and F/V Kupreanof are now on the bottom of Jakolof Bay.

The reason for the sinking of the 53- and 58-foot wooden vessels, owned by Tim Barclay of Valdez, also is uncertain. There was a heavy snowfall in the area over the Christmas holiday, but whether that was the cause is unknown.

First baby of the year arrives early at SPH

Welcome to the world, Titan Kasius Swenning Norman.

The 7-pound, 13.7-ounce, 21.5-inch son of Nikalai Norman of Port Graham and Barbara Swenning of Nanwalek was born at South Peninsula Hospital at 6:13 a.m. New Year’s Day.

Titan’s first name was chosen by his father. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines “titan” as “any person or thing of great size or power.”

While that may be true, a few hours after Titan’s birth, he was quietly sleeping, wrapped in a blanket and snuggled in his mother’s arms. 

Hearings scheduled for major Homer criminal cases

Last year Homer Police and Alaska State Troopers arrested and charged nine defendants with major crimes ranging from murder to sexual assault. As the new year starts, Homer judges have a full docket as those cases move through the criminal justice system. Here are some major cases and the next scheduled court action:

• Alfred Jones, case number 3HO-12-00213CR. 

Incident: A May 29, 2010, car crash on the Sterling Highway that killed Kathleen Benz, 25, of Washington, D.C. 

New ordinance only applies to thin, disposable bags


Starting Tuesday, the city of Homer’s ban on thin, disposable shopping bags took effect. Ban supporters expecting an ecotopia where every shopper carries a reusable bag and plastic bags disappear overnight won’t see that. In fact, today, next week and even next summer might look a lot like last year as businesses use up plastic bags purchased in 2012.

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