Letters to the Editor

Part of Skyline Drive extremely

hazardous; guard rails needed

There have been significant changes to two Kenai Peninsula roads this summer. The good news is the delightful improvement along the 31 miles of the Sterling Highway between Clam Gulch and Ninilchik. Repaving and numerous guard rails have been installed wherever the roadway is significantly higher than the land bordering it.

The bad news is close to Homer. This is a state road and is used by many people for a variety reasons and 0.8 mile of East Skyline Drive has now become extremely hazardous due to removal of trees very near the south side of the roadway. Who removed them and why?

Many years ago old-timers told us about a driver whose car went off the south side of this section of road and rolled down the steep southern slope. A miracle occurred. His vehicle was caught by a large tree. The vehicle was wrecked, but the driver lived!

Skyline Drive has needed guard rails along this dangerous section with the steep south-facing slopes for decades.

Although DOT does a good job of sanding, but just how big a mountain of sand would it take to cover every inch of ice on slick roads in winter?

I shudder to even think about what would happen if a school bus, a skier and family headed for Ohlson Mountain Road area for skiing this winter, Alaskans and tourists headed toward the Wynn Nature Center, and yes, the growing number of people who live in the Homer hills should get into a skid along this 0.8 mile stretch.

Sure, we all know that state funding is tight, but 0.8 mile of guard rail for only the south side of the road is a crucial need before this winter begins.

The cost is well worth it if it enables Alaska to save even one life.

Daisy Lee Andersen Bitter

Thank you, Mayor Wythe

Honorable Mayor Beth Wythe: When I look over the various committees you have served on and the ordinances and resolutions you have sponsored it is very apparent your passion for community improvements has always been top priority for you. You signed up to make a difference and that you have done.

It all began way back in October 2004 when you were elected to the Homer City Council. Then you became “our mayor” in October 2012. Preparing for and presiding over approximately 300 city council meetings with less than 5 absences demonstrates your commitment to the citizens of Homer.

I will particularly remember your long-range vision of moving forward whether it be climate change; roads and trails development; upgrading government buildings in order to provide the community and employees with safe and efficient work space; and inviting the governor’s picnic to be held in Homer. Mayor Wythe, you have kept the vision of a pubic safety campus as a high priority for many years.

The “Strategic Doing” plan of action that holds the council, staff and community accountable to timetables in order to achieve completion of a project is an example of your leadership.

Beth, you spearheaded the numerous improvements at the harbor. The load/launch ramp, ramp 3, harbormaster building, paving of Freight Dock and Fish Dock roads, improving the floats — to name a few.

Beth, I remember when you sponsored a resolution urging the Alaska State Legislature to work toward a balanced, sustainable and predictable state budget for the foreseeable future along with setting in place city of Homer budget/fiscal guidelines designed to keep the city on solid financial footings.

Your family deserves a big “thank you” for their support that helped with your achievements.

Thank you, Mayor Wythe, for your years and years of public service for Homer. You will be missed, but your legacy will live on.

Barbara Howard

Recipe for vibrant festival hinges

on broad mix of community support

The joint Homer Halibut Festival and Wooden Boat Festival owes much of its success to new partnerships and a host of community support. As we looked at planning a speaker evening, a fish fry, a buoy auction and more, we knew it was time to engage Homer’s steadfast ecosystem of community helpers.

Turn these frozen cod fillets into delicious stew? Two Sisters is on top of it. Where can we put 70 people, dinner, a movie and a professional presentation? Alaska Islands and Ocean Visitor Center has the technology. Potato salad for 300 people? Portioning 100 pounds of halibut donated by local fishermen? No problem — Homer volunteers show up with their own fillet knives. Coal Point opened the doors to its kitchen for our fish fry prep, and our generous sponsors helped us purchase the essentials needed to make all our events come together. We even discovered that our visiting halibut scientists from the International Pacific Halibut Commission are excellent at both giving ecological presentations, and making vast amounts of coleslaw.

Between our set-up helpers, prep cooks, dish washers, food servers, fish fryers, and cleanup crews, plus the generous fishermen of the North Pacific Fisheries Association and the processors that donated time and protein, the community truly showed up for the Halibut Festival. The same goes for our evening events, including the auction supported by Alice’s, additional volunteers and the many artists from around Alaska that decorated and donated buoys. To wrap it all up, the Kachemak Bay Running Club hosted another fantastic 5K Halibut Hustle.

The Halibut Festival is a celebration of the fish we love and the incredible marine ecosystem that supports them. Much as it takes a village to raise a child — or a festival for that matter — the same is certainly true for the fish we rely on and the communities we’ve built around them. Every halibut caught in the North Pacific, every business that depends upon it, the people fed by it, are the positive results of a complex ecosystem of species and dynamics working together. Whether we’re talking about halibut bycatch, ocean acidification, ecosystem-based fisheries management, clean water, healthy fishing communities, or any number of other issues vital to sustaining our fisheries and fishing way of life, all roads lead back to one essential thing — a healthy ecosystem whose many working parts are valued and considered vital to the whole.

I want to thank our festival partners, the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society, and the many sponsors, volunteers, artists and donors that made this year’s festival possible. See you next year, Homer, for a bigger, badder Halibut Festival.

Hannah Heimbuch

Alaska Marine Conservation Council

Celebration marks life well lived

This is a heartfelt thank you to all the people who contributed to a beautiful celebration of Carmen Field’s life on Saturday. Gentle strummings of the ukulele group and fresh flowers from Rachel and Stacy soothed our souls, and the remembrances flowed smoothly thanks to Sunny Jesse, and Neal behind the scenes at Homer High School, and Dave and a wonderful group of speakers on stage.

The warm gathering at Bishop’s Beach was made possible with the help of Angie and crew from Homer Public Works, Michael at K Bay Caffé, Two Sisters Bakery, Mike’s Place Restaurant, and an astounding cadre of potluck chefs, fire tenders, and tent-raisers. We thank all the environmental educators from AMNWR and CACS who helped children build kites and the many gardeners who donated flower seeds (there are still packets available at the Homer Bookstore for anyone who wants to enjoy a Carmen garden in the spring).

Gratitude and hugs are offered to organizers Suanne, Sue P., Sallie, Heather, Sue M., Marianne, Erin, Lysi, Karin, Emmy, and especially the indefatigable Jenny, as well as the myriad of Carmen’s admirers who paid their tribute in countless loving ways. From the spectacular sunrise to the children playing in the driftwood, from the stories by the fire to the tunes carried skyward by the wind, Carmen was surely smiling on us.

On behalf of her friends and family,

Jackie McDonough

Going mobile

Homer Council on the Arts extends a heartfelt “thank you” to The Homer Foundation for the recent funding support for a shiny new, mobile friendly website. The website will be formatted for easy updates as our programs and offerings change. Community members will be able to explore and purchase classes, workshops and performances from their mobile devices. Information will be up to date without layers and layers of non-essential, organizational information. We are so looking forward to our “new look.” Thank you, Homer Foundation!

Peggy Paver, executive director

Homer Council on the Arts

Basket help needed

It is that time of year again when I start seeking donations toward the Thanksgiving Basket program. PFDs come out this week and I would ask that you reserve a portion to donate toward this very worthy program.

Last year we served more than 600 people with 215 baskets. There is always room to help with the packing day which will be on Nov. 19 this year. If you would like to donate money, we would greatly appreciate it. Please make your checks out to Kachemak Bay Lions, P.O. Box 1824, Homer, AK 99603. We will be grateful for any amount you can spare. Thank you in advance for being a part of this wonderful giving community.

Fran Van Sandt,

Community Service chairman

Lt. Christian Fankhauser,

co-chairman

Kachemak Bay Lions

For Opinion pieces on HEA deregulation, please turn to page 18.

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