Local News

PSP found in mussels tested in Kachemak Bay

Toxic shellfish have been found in Pacific blue mussels in the Homer harbor, according to an alert from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Mussels sampled by the Kachemak Bay Research Reserve tested positive for paralytic shellfish poisoning by Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research.

Commercially sold shellfish is tested by the Department of Environmental Conservation and considered safe to eat.

Animal owners take note: Don't let Fido ride loose or in your lap

At its regular meeting Monday night, the Homer City Council made amendments to the city’s animal control laws that ban a practice some might think of as Alaskan as log cabins and flannel shirts: letting your dog ride loose in the back of a pickup truck.

As of Tuesday when the law took effect, pet owners in the city limits can be fined $75 if dogs, pigs, goats and any domestic animal are not restrained in open truck beds.

LEDs may light up harbor

A proposed purchase of $30,000 in light-emitting diode lights for one harbor mast light pole could save the city up to $6,200 per light pole annually. At Monday’s regular Homer City Council, the council introduced on first reading Ordinance 16-45, a sole-source contract to Puffin Electric to purchase 12 LED fixtures.

Farmers reap honors for respecting stream

When working with nature, doing nothing often means a great deal.

Such is the case of Paul and Jen Castellani, the owners of Will Grow Farm, and their home located off the beaten path between Homer and Anchor Point. Despite the Castellani’s efforts to leave the land on which they live and reap the produce of their labor unspoiled, they were stunned by the recognition when they heard they would be the second recipients of the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust’s new King Maker award.

Soundview sidewalks get attention

The city of Homer has received a $500,000 state grant to improve pedestrian access and safety on Soundview Avenue. The half-million dollar Transportation Alternatives Grant from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities adds to $200,000 the Homer City Council appropriated earlier to add sidewalks between Mullikin Street and Cabana Court, an area near West Homer Elementary School. The grant will complete the project, and provide a continuous Soundview Avenue sidewalk to the school.

Air taxi crashes in Nanwalek

Air taxi crashes in Nanwalek

A Smokey Bay Air plane crashed on landing at the Nanwalek Airport a little before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. No passengers were on board and the pilot escaped without injuries, said National Transportation Safety Board air safety investigator Mitch Gallo.

The crash caused major damage to the Cessna 207, Gallo said. Gallo said the single-engine plane touched down too far on the runway as it headed north toward the village. The plane had no mechanical difficulties, Gallo said — the plane just ran out of room.

Hospice celebrates birthday with community party

Hospice of Homer has been serving the greater Homer area for 31 years, and this Saturday, its staff and board of directors are throwing a party to celebrate.

You’re invited.

Last year’s event drew about 70 people, said Hospice Director Darlene Hilderbrand. If the weather cooperates, the outdoor cookout at the hospice office on Pioneer Avenue could be as big, she added.

“It’s almost the end of summer, a perfect opportunity to have a lot of fun and support hospice,” Hilderbrand said.

Lake-Heath connection now open

There were no brass bands and no city officials with big scissors cutting a ribbon, but at the end of the work day on Aug. 15, the city opened a new stretch of Grubstake Avenue connecting Heath Street and Lake Street. Homer Public Works Director Carey Meyer had said earlier that though paving had been done, the city would wait until striping was finished to open the new street.

But on Aug. 15 when Meyer talked with the contractor, East Road Services, and found it would be awhile before striping was done, he decided to open the new road.

No matter what happens, council will see new faces

With the closing of the city of Homer election filing period at noon Monday, five candidates have filed for three seats. In the Oct. 4 city election, and with no incumbents running for their current seats, voters will choose two new Homer City Council members and a new mayor. Council members Gus VanDyke and Bryan Zak and Homer Mayor Mary E. “Beth” Wythe are not running for re-election. However, Zak is running for mayor. Wythe on Tuesday lost her bid to represent District 31 in the State House. (See story, this page.)

Council saves for next year

In a Homer City Council meeting that covered everything from opposition to U.S. Navy war games in the spring to whether cannabis workers should have criminal background checks, the council returned to a perennial topic: the budget.

The council also postponed action on an ordinance to allow further public testimony, an ordinance amending animal control rules. That ordinance will be heard at the Aug. 22 meeting.

Fishing for knowledge

While the annual Salmonfest has no shortage of entertaining musical acts, many festival-goers are attracted to Ninilchik each year for the festival’s work with education and advocacy as well.

Presented by the Kachemak Bay Conservation Society, this year’s festival got significant support from Cook Inletkeeper. Community Organizer Kaitlin Vadla said coordinating the salmon education and awareness section of the event was a great learning experience for the organization.

Marijuana ban petition won't be on October ballot

A citizen initiative seeking to ask voters whether commercial marijuana is legal in the Kenai Peninsula Borough outside the cities is a no-go.

The borough clerk’s office finished verifying the signatures Friday and found the petition came up short. The petitioners were 62 signatures shy of the 898 they needed to qualify for the Oct. 4 general election ballot, said Borough Clerk Johni Blankenship.

“They submitted 998 signatures,” Blankenship said. “We were only able to validate 836.”

Hiker injured in Kachemak Bay State Park bear attack

A Homer man shot and killed a charging sow brown bear at Humpy Creek last Friday. Kim Woodman, 57, shot the bear five times with a 10mm handgun before the bear fell about 6 feet from him. While backing away from the sow, Woodman fell and accidentally shot himself in the left foot.

Woodman was able to get to his skiff and return to Homer, where he checked into the South Peninsula Hospital emergency room. Woodman had no injuries from the bear, said Jack Blackwell, area superintendent of Alaska State Parks, Kenai-Prince William Sound region.

Walker: Alaskans must pull together to get out of state's financial crisis

In a talk before the Homer City Council on Tuesday, Gov. Bill Walker mentioned a historic photo of Metlakatla villagers Lt. Gov. Byron Mallot gave him. It showed the villagers pulling together to remove a stump — a Tsimshian tradition.

“‘This is what we need to be doing,’” Walker said Mallot wrote on the photo. “We need to find our place on the rope.”

That was Walker’s message as he spoke to citizens and officials about what he called Alaska’s greatest fiscal crisis in its history.

Voters to have say on senior property tax exemption

Kenai Peninsula voters will decide whether to continue the borough’s optional senior property tax exemption in this fall’s election.

The proposal comes out of a comprehensive review of the borough’s tax code that Borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s office has been engaged in since last year. It joins another proposal on the ballot that would raise the purchasing cap for sales tax from $500 to $1,000 in the borough, also part of the mayor’s rewrite.

Senior property tax exemption to go to voters

Kenai Peninsula voters will decide whether to continue the borough’s optional senior property tax exemption in this fall’s election.

The proposal comes out of a comprehensive review of the borough’s tax code that Borough Mayor Mike Navarre’s office has been engaged in since last year. It joins another proposal on the ballot that would raise the purchasing cap for sales tax from $500 to $1,000 in the borough, also part of the mayor’s rewrite.

Police report increase in drunk calls

At a Homer City Council work session Monday night on addressing the heroin and opioid epidemic in Homer, Homer Police Chief Mark Robl brought another issue to the council’s attention: an increase this summer in police response to public drunks.

“The police department has dealt with an inordinate amount of inebriates this summer,” Robl said at the work session.

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