Point of View

In love with a place

Be still, my beating heart! I’m sitting at the table in the house at the lake. The sunlight is shading the mountains pink and gray and the stillness of frozen swamps and a soft crackle from the woodstove makes me want to freeze this moment as well.

I love this place. 

I love its subtle isolation — a couple hours from town but miles from Internet or phone signals.

I love its cozy crowded nights with friends out for the weekend. 

Keep your heart healthy: there’s a lot you can do

The well known phrase “knowledge is power” is an appropriate one to apply to cardiac disease and its preventable risk factors. The Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics reported that in 2011 the leading cause of death on the southern Kenai Peninsula was heart disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is also the leading cause of death in the United States. 

HCOA facing wave of change

It is with deep gratitude that I have submitted my letter of resignation to the board of directors for Homer Council on the Arts, effective June 30, 2015. 

Opportunity is the operative word of the HCOA mission: providing opportunities for everyone in the community to experience and participate in the arts. And opportunity is what HCOA has so graciously offered me. I have learned so much, grown so much, and discovered the art of administration. I want to thank the HCOA board and the people of Homer for embracing me with warm and welcoming arms. 

Preventing childhood trauma will improve health of community

Editor’s Note: MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning & Partnerships) is a local coalition that aims to use and build upon our strengths to improve our individual, family, and community health. Health is defined broadly to include cultural, economic, educational, environmental, mental, physical, and spiritual health.  

 

Time to empower, employ next generation

Alaska is one of the most productive commercial fishing economies on the planet. More than five billion pounds of seafood were pulled from the waters surrounding Alaska in 2012. This world-class catch generated $1.7 billion in Alaska ex-vessel value and earned Alaska the title of top U.S. seafood producer. We provide more than 55 percent of U.S. domestic seafood production. That’s nearly four times more seafood than the next largest seafood producing state.

Engine trouble brings TOTE ship into bay

It was probably the shortest job in the business. Marine pilot Captain Donal Ryan took the M/V Midnight Sun out of its anchorage off the tip of the Homer Spit to the pilot station near the green navigational buoy. From getting out of his car in the parking lot near the Salty Dawg to getting back in, the whole operation took only an hour. Ryan boarded the 839-foot vessel and ascended 10 flights of stairs to the bridge. 

New administration can make government better

A recent study out of Princeton University found we no longer live in a democracy. According to the authors, “[t]he central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” And an important component of this transformation is the rising incidence of secrecy.

Initiative all about greed, not saving Kenai’s kings

As you are out and about during this unusual winter, a clipboard-wielding stranger might approach you and ask if you want to save king salmon. Don’t be fooled. The petition being peddled by professional signature collectors throughout the state won’t save Alaska’s iconic king salmon. In fact, it will hurt our great salmon runs and result in smaller harvests for everyone except a small group of Kenai River sportfishing guides, lodges and private landowners. 

Adage is true: When you give, you receive

It’s December, it’s dark and more rain than snow falls. So what’s new? What can we focus on to brighten life a bit? Here’s a story about a volunteer who spread a little stardust magic wherever she went:

Cindy Birkhimer, a name some of you know, volunteered for the Homer Foundation for 3 years, approximately fours hours per week as the administrative assistant for Joy Steward, the executive director. This translates into being a little like the school janitor or school secretary, both who could run the school where they work. 

A New Year’s goal for you: Resolve to read 15 in 2015

Most of us read every day in one capacity or another. We check our email. We scan the headlines. We might read a few articles that by the end of the day we have largely forgotten. 

But how often do we allow ourselves to get lost in a good book? It seems as though distractions abound, and finding the time to enjoy reading takes a bit of effort.

Crew has cold feet on big ship

Most residents of Homer would say it’s been a mild fall. The grass is green. People are picking kale and herbs from their gardens. Unheated greenhouses hold tomatoes. Local kids sled down tarps unfurled across snowless yards. Temperatures in the last week have been in the 40s.

But the Chinese crew aboard the Zhen Hua 15, the 765-foot-long heavy lift vessel anchored in the bay in mid-November — a few days after hurricane-force winds pummeled western Alaska — had cold feet. 

Halibut Blues (played in key of the Bering Sea)

Why is more of the halibut resource wasted in the Bering Sea than landed and sold? Thirteen out of fourteen fish in the Central Bering Sea will be wasted next season. Overall the entire Bering Sea will only have 2.4 million pounds of halibut that can be sold in 2015 while more than 6 million pounds will be killed and thrown overboard as bycatch. 

Let’s protect Bristol Bay

Too few Alaskans know the humbling beauty of the Alaska Peninsula and the imposing journey into Bristol Bay. But over the past nine years, I have had the good fortune of spending summers aboard the F/V K2, combing the waters of Bristol Bay for sockeye salmon. In May, life abounds. Migrating birds flock overhead, pods of whales play at midship and eventually, bright, beautiful salmon arrive in overwhelming abundance. 

State’s high cost of living makes financial hardships common on peninsula

As a community we are identifying the best ways to support and increase family well-being. When families get the support they need and are resilient, they can flourish and the result is a healthier community overall.

So what are some of the factors that foster resiliency? 

A key resiliency factor for all families is to have stability. Important forms of stability include adequate income and housing and a stable living environment. 

Great opportunity awaits Alaskans with unity team

Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott have begun forming our new government — like Abe Lincolns, and like the mugwumps who, down to the 20th century, fought corruption and robber baron control. 

What’s a mugwump? Someone who is independent of party politics. The new Alaska Cabinet is being appointed without regard to party. Good luck getting our quite Republican Legislature to confirm them. 

After election: Time to continue moving forward to address needs

T

he election is over and the dust has settled. I congratulate Dan Sullivan. He and I disagreed on many issues, but now he is senator and it is time to move forward to address Alaska’s needs. 

 It has been an enormous honor to serve Alaskans as your U.S. senator the last six years. From the Alaskans who left their homes to work in Washington, D.C., to the staff in my six Alaska offices, to the interns and volunteers, I consider my team the best in the nation. 

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