Local News

Murder probe moves to DA

After years of investigation, Homer’s only unsolved murder now awaits a decision by the Kenai District Attorney on whether charges can be filed. Three years ago today, someone killed Mark Matthews, then 61, leaving his body off the Poopdeck Trail between Hazel Avenue and Pioneer Avenue.

Homer Police are still waiting for some DNA tests to be completed, but have sent an investigative report to District Attorney Scot Leaders for his review.

Governor to visit Homer, will meet with city council

Gov. Bill Walker visits Homer at 2 p.m. Tuesday for a meeting with Homer Mayor Beth Wythe and the Homer City Council. Held in the Cowles Council Chamber, Homer City Hall, the meeting is open to the public.

At press time, Walker’s press office had not confirmed other details of his visit.

Walker has been visiting with Alaska assemblies and councils this month.

Two bear-viewing planes crash at Chinitna Bay

Two Cessna 206 airplanes operated by bear viewing tour companies crashed while taxiing on a Chinitna Bay beach the same afternoon on July 19. No one was hurt in the incidents.

Pilots reported the incidents at 4 p.m. last Tuesday. National Transportation Safety Board air crash investigator Shaun Williams said it was only a coincidence the events happened about the same time. The planes weren’t near each other while taxiing and there was no safety issue involved, Williams said.

Council talks animal control, water assessments, budget

In its first meeting after a short summer break, the Homer City Council on Monday moved forward on issues basic to city government— water, animal control and the budget. It took these actions:

• Held a public hearing and approved a substitute on Ordinance 16-38, an overhaul of the city’s animal control laws;

• Discussed and postponed Resolution 16-78, an act that would establish how property owners in the Shellfish Avenue-South Slope Drive water main project could pay to hook up to the new line; and

Hearing continued in sexual abuse case

Homer District Court Judge Margaret Murphy on July 21 continued a preliminary hearing for Stephen R. Boyle, 43, a Homer man charged with six counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

Boyle is the deputy fire chief for Kachemak Emergency Services. Boyle was released on bail last month and remains on administrative leave with his Kenai Peninsula Borough job. Because he has not yet been indicted by a grand jury, a preliminary hearing was required.

Fire smoke hits Homer; burn permits suspended

Unusually warm temperatures, low humidity and dry brush and forest has put fire departments on edge across southcentral Alaska. The fire danger is high in Homer, and burn permits have been suspended.

A wildland fire burning through Chugach State Park near the McHugh Creek trailhead sent plumes of haze over Homer and the lower Kenai Peninsula this week. Kachemak Emergency Services also responded to its first wildland fire of the season on Monday when a small fire burned into duff near Mile 10 East End Road.

Pokemon Go provides time capsules for Homer's past landmarks

When people in Homer play Pokemon Go — the augmented reality game that launched in the United States as a smartphone app on July 6 to mass popularity — a world in which they can catch pocket monsters isn’t the only place they are transported to. 

Players of Pokemon Go also travel back in time, inadvertently touring a Homer of the past.

It's a slow go for cannabis ops

In the five months since the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office began accepting applications for commercial cannabis operations, just a half dozen businesses on the lower Kenai Peninsula have applied for cultivation or retail permits. None of them have started production.

As Alaska goes through the growing pains of licensing commercial cannabis for cultivation, processing, testing and sale, the status of pot in the Homer area can be summed up in two words: not yet.

The local industry has seen these developments:

Southern Kenai Peninsula Commercial Cannabis Update

Applications to date:

Active— Marijuana Control Board has issued license subject to METRC (Marijuana Enforcement Tracking, Reporting and Compliance) credentialing and preliminary inspection:

• Talisman Farms, 62250 Crossman Ridge Road, Homer

Owner: Omar Gucer, Homer

Initiated — License application has been submitted:

A1 Cultivation, 24640 Sterling Highway, Anchor Point (near Happy Valley)

Standard marijuana cultivation facility, retail marijuana store

Students explore science, math on summer break

Homer High School senior Eryn Gillam and Nikolaevsk School sophomore Chelsea Johnson chose to spend five weeks of their summer learning.

The girls are in their second week of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program’s Acceleration Academy at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where they are participating in hands-on activities and taking classes for dual high school and college credit along with 60 other students from across Alaska.

App gets people out to catch some monsters

Soldotna Creek Park’s playground looks safe enough in the sunshine with kids clambering over monkey bars, but to the right eyes, it’s full of monsters. These monsters are tamable, though — they’re Pokemon, and there are hundreds of trainers, or players, on the Kenai Peninsula ready to catch them.

Keenan Orth and his sister Ginni Orth maneuvered near to a railing near the edge of the playground known as the Fish Railing, lined with a number of brightly painted wood salmon silhouettes.

Burn permits suspended

The Alaska Division of Forestry has issued a burn permit suspension as of 8 a.m. July 18 for the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak areas. According to a notice from the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, the suspension has been put in place due to high to very-high fire danger in the region and the continued drying and curing of fine fuels. The suspension includes the burning of debris and brush piles, burn barrels and lawns as allowed in the 2016 General Burn Permit.

Chenault: House asks Senate for joint session on overrides

JUNEAU — The Alaska House has asked the Senate to meet in joint session to consider potential overrides of vetoes made by Gov. Bill Walker, Speaker Mike Chenault said Wednesday. The Nikiski Republican said he sent a letter to Senate President Kevin Meyer asking for a joint session Friday.

Chenault said he’s not sure where the votes might be to try to override any particular veto. But he said there’s enough interest on his side to at least hold a session to consider potential overrides.

Heroin, $23,000 seized in Kenai raid

Alaska State Troopers and the Kenai Police Department seized nearly half a pound of heroin and $23,000 in cash from a Kenai home in a raid Monday.

At approximately 3 p.m., troopers served a warrant on a home in Kenai with the assistance of the Kenai Police Department. Inside, they found Kenai resident Corey Clifton, 42, whom they arrested on outstanding felony warrants for probation and parole violations, according to a trooper dispatch.

In the search, officers discovered drugs, drug paraphernalia and cash in the home, according to the dispatch.

Grand jury indicts Vanbuskirk for Short Stop, espresso robbery

A Homer man who had robbery charges dismissed has now been indicted on three counts of first-degree robbery and first-degree vehicle, both felonies, and third-degree theft. The Kenai Grand Jury on July 6 indicted Dellan Vanbuskirk, 30. The charges stem from an incident on Jan. 6 in which Homer Police said Vanbuskirk held up at gunpoint employees of the Short Stop Tesoro Gas Station on Baycrest Hill. Vanbuskirk also has been charged with robbing at gunpoint a Fat Olives Espresso barrista on Dec. 28.


A caption for a photo in the July 7 Homer News incorrectly described how Joy Steward was named a Rotary International Paul Harris Foundation Fellow Award. Steward became a Paul Harris Fellow upon a unanimous vote of the Homer-Kachemak Bay Rotary Club Board of Directors in recognition of her many years of support for nonprofits and other organizations in the Homer area as executive director of the Homer Foundation. Also named Paul Harris Fellows were Flo Larson, Gayle Forrest, Bob Hartley, Ramona Pearce, Charlie Welles, and second time recipient, Sharon Minsch.

NTSB releases preliminary report on Cove Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board last Friday released its preliminary report of a July 3 plane crash in Halibut Cove that severely damaged a Cessna 206 flown by Anchorage pilot Alice Rogoff.

Rogoff, 64, the owner of the Alaska Dispatch News, crashed her plane about 5:50 p.m. after an aborted landing. The July 8 report said the floatplane hit the water about 100 feet from the Danny J, a tour boat approaching the dock of the Saltry Restaurant at the time of the crash. In a statement released on July 5 through her lawyer, Rogoff said she did not suffer any physical injuries.

Sports physical clinic open to high school students, one day only

Homer Medical Center is hosting a sports physical clinic from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 16.

The clinic is for high school students in need of a physical for participation in school-sanctioned activities. Exams on this one-day event are offered free of charge by volunteer health care providers from Homer Medical Center, according to a press release from South Peninsula Hospital.

Early voting starts Aug. 1 at the Homer City Clerk’s office.

Early voting starts Aug. 1 at the Homer City Clerk’s office.

Deadline to register online is 11:59 p.m. July 17.

Visit voterregistration.alaska.gov. Register to vote in person at the Homer City Clerk’s office until 5 p.m. Friday or at the Division of Motor Vehicles office 6 p.m. Friday. The Homer Public Library also does voter registration from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.

For more details, see page 5.


Republican Party ballot

Anchor Point gets life-saving machine

Search on Pulse Point, a smart phone app that locates nearby public-access automated external defibrillators, and in downtown Homer locations pop up like Homer City Hall, the Homer Public Library, Public Works and the Homer Harbor Office. Google Maps shows public-access AEDs at Wells Fargo, First National Bank, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union and Paul Banks Elementary School.


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