Letters to the Editor

The S-word

It is with a fair amount of trepidation that I am going to bring up the s-word. Someone needs to do it: Bring it up and set it out there and let the light of day shine down upon it …

S for shuttle-busses. They might or might not work, but why is there no mention of a shuttle-bus to and from the Spit and/or between parts of the Spit? No mention, no discussion, let alone any serious evaluation of their feasibility.

I have listened to many meetings concerning the existing spit parking problems and what the harbor expansion plan would mean for the traffic out there. Somehow, somewhere there needs to be a closer look at alternatives to paving over every square foot of the Spit that’s left just so people can park cars out there.

The word is “shuttle-bus.” Let’s talk about it.

Lani Raymond

Thank you for supporting a healthy ecosystem and community

The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies (CACS) would like to thank the City of Homer for continuing to support local nonprofits in the community through the City of Homer Grants Program administered through the Homer Foundation. We are especially thankful for the $2,733 in operational support we received in 2022 through this program. This annual support in the form of unrestricted funds helps to support the vital operations of nonprofits, especially since these types of funds are difficult to raise.

City of Homer grant funds are used primarily to support free and reduced priced after-school and community programs and our CoastWalk program. CoastWalk is conducted every fall and contributes to coastal monitoring and marine debris data collection.

In 2022 we had 44 individual volunteers and over 350 students and groups involved in CoastWalk. An additional 180 people engaged in presentations about marine debris and its impact on healthy ocean ecosystems. This program, started in 1984, is an important stewardship activity for the Homer community.

In partnership with the City of Homer our High School and KPC/KBC Semester by the Bay Interns continued to monitor three recycling stations at key public venues (Karen Hornaday Park, Bishop’s Beach, and Mariner Park) throughout the year. In 2022 we collected and sorted 839 pounds of recyclable materials.

Community partnerships are very important to CACS and our programs. These funds help leverage other grants and opportunities for collaboration. We thank the City of Homer for their continuing support of all nonprofits in Homer who are collectively contributing to the important work being done to promote a healthy ecosystem, and an engaged and connected community.

Elizabeth Trowbridge, executive director Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies

Cultural asset falling apart

Your story in the paper last week is a good reminder to take care of business.

Deferred maintenance costs more than ignoring timely action. I was the volunteer building committee chair for the Pratt Museum for 20 years when we built the Marine Room addition in 1976. That roof is leaking now, threatening the collections. The main roof from 1967 has been leaking since 1990.

Always underfunded, the museum put on great exhibits and the collection has been vital to community education.

Professionals have steadily asked, even begged, for the roof surfaces to get another layer. For 25 years many have advised simple upgrades but only topical patches — Band-Aids have been applied. The Pratt spent more on engineers for recommendations than it would have cost to fix the roof.

Engineers report: Take care of the roof and the building is good for 50 more years. The City of Homer has an obligation to assume control of the museum agreed to when original funding was received from the state. The time for that to be considered has come. Once before the city refused to take it on, but has since contributed substantial sums annually.

Like the library, the museum should have a share of an increment of the service area mill rate. The museum board and the city council could have a joint committee to get public input and consider changing ownership. First, city public works should take charge of assessing options for the roof.

This is building community and it is embarrassing to have our prime educational and cultural assets falling apart.

Larry Smith, past chair of the Pratt Museum Building Committee

More thoughts on Harbor expansion

I wish to start off the conversation with a thank you to Penelope Haas for your Point of View Feb. 23 Homer News.

I, too, have been wondering what the vision looking forward might end up as. I have been a slip member in the harbor since the middle ‘80s. J float was the last float in the harbor in that time period. None of the other floats existed then, including the large float the Coast Guard patrol vessel moors at.

I have witnessed the expansions and improvements to the harbor, along with it the increase of fees associated with them.

As a harbor tenant and resident of the Homer area, I have formed friendships with members of the community and harbor. This is where it gets tough, similar to politics at the Thanksgiving table. I have friends who serve the current boating community, who say that it would be great to have the harbor expansion (i.e. more work possibilities for them).

From my perspective, they all seem to be pretty busy currently. Just walk in to any of the shops and ask about availability to have services on your boat short term. You most likely be given the deer in the headlights look.

Depending on what you ask for it might be months out for your turn. With that many more boats will likely end up with more competing businesses (which can be good while looking for a deal); with the businesses more workers will be needed.

Where are they going to come from? Where are they going to live? Are they bringing families? Are our schools big enough to educate their children? How many of the ones that come are going to bring bad behaviors to the Homer area? Will we need more fire and police to keep things under control? Who’s going to fund this growth, taxes?

It has also been brought to my attention that the reservoir that supplies Homer and the surrounding area with drinking water might one day be an issue with having the volume to keep up with demand. So that’s a snapshot of that end.

I think we all have seen the demise of local fish stocks. Between the charter fleet and personal fleet and, yes, it’s a fleet (personal that is) — any sport fishing within a day range of the harbor 25-35 miles is only a shell of what it once was. Only to add more boats to the fleet would continue the downward spiral.

When I look at the Spit now, and then close my eyes to my memory when the only two boardwalks that were in existence were the one across from the Salty Dawg which had vacant spots and the Glacier one. Now we have what we got, all trying to survive selling similar items, most made somewhere overseas.

During the summertime more than once while I struggled to find a parking spot, I thought that the Spit might sink with so many vehicles and pedestrians on top of it.

To Ms. Haas’s point, what do we as current the residents of Homer want this special place to look like 30-60 years from now?

At what cost to the environment, quality of local lifestyle, and everything else that goes along with this progressive approach?

Have any of you been to Ketchikan, when the cruise ships are in? I suggest you do so, then visualize Homer with something similar.

I apologize now if I have offended any of my Homer friends with putting this in print, but I had to do so. Sometimes progressive is also regressive at the same time!

Dan Anderson

Lack of judgment and leadership

Last week our Rep. Sarah Vance exhibited incredibly poor judgment again when she defended notorious Wasilla Rep. David Eastman, who suggested it might be “good for society” when a child is fatally abused. Eastman pondered whether there were hidden savings if abused kids died (instead of surviving to take from social service systems).

Eastman has a nasty resume. He was censured by the Legislature for his remarks on Native women “getting pregnant just so they can travel out of the village for abortions.”

He was removed from the ethics committee for violating Ethics Act (breaching confidentiality), voted against protecting a Native cemetery for Aleut internees because it was for a “mere 30” individuals, voted against a bill recognizing tribal sovereignty and against establishing a tribal affairs committee and repeatedly promoted medical misinformation claiming that the COVID vaccine is dangerous.

But he supported child marriage and is currently under ethics investigation for using state resources for private gain.

His coup de resistance is a lifetime membership in the Oath Keepers whose leader, Stewart Rhodes, was just convicted of seditious conspiracy for the violent attempt to overthrow the government on Jan. 6, 2021. As an election denier, Eastman was there, in D.C. supporting the group.

Eastman, who should have been kicked out of Juneau long ago, made these latest comments as a member of the powerful House Judiciary Committee. But since he has been barred from any caucus, he is not entitled to a seat on any committee. So, why was he there?

According to Rep. Vance, it was at her request. She is the chairwoman of the committee and believes that Eastman brings valuable perspective and keen legal analysis. Vance made this special request in spite of Rep. Eastman’s long existing history of repulsive behavior, including his 2017 censure.

Now Eastman has done it again, has been censured again and Rep. Vance is his lone defender.

Rep. Vance has shown, at best, appallingly bad judgment and at worst active affinity for a man everyone knows is an extremist, a bigot, and a moral cretin. The people of Homer cannot trust and have confidence in Rep. Vance as long as she continues to give voice to David Eastman.

Shelley Gill

Time for Vance to go

From the beginning of Sarah Vance’s term as representative of House District 6, she has aligned herself with the far-right faction of the Alaska Republican Party. Now she has aligned herself with the farthest right member of this group, David Eastman. His membership in the Oath Keepers has caused him to be shunned by even the rest of his far-right friends, except for Sarah Vance. While he is has been refused membership on House committees, he has been welcomed to the Judiciary Committee by Vance for “his different thought process.”

This “different thought process” was evident last week when he asked if there “might be any economic benefits from the death of abused children.” Different thought process indeed!

Subsequently the entire House voted to censure Eastman for his comments. And while she did ultimately vote to censure, Vance objected to the censure process, calling Eastman’s incredibly unconscionable comments “inconsiderate and messy.”

I know what is inconsiderate and messy, it’s how Vance represents our House District 6. By her support for Eastman she has showed she does not represent the values of normal thinking folks. It’s time for her to resign or be recalled.

Hal Smith, MD

Public comments needed

From Oct. 15 to April 30, trappers can legally set traps most anywhere on public lands, including on established and popular mapped groomed ski, snowshoe, snowmobile, biking and dog sledding trails and even in trailhead parking lots and on beaches.

The traps have stink scents that will attract any dog walking by. The traps can be set right in the trail or right next to trails and trappers do not have to post signs to warn other trail users.

Since last season over eight pet dogs accompanying recreationalists have been trapped right along popular Homer trails including the McNeil Ski trails that are posted as “dog friendly” trails.

Trappers and other trail users worked together and created two proposals to make Homer area public trails safer for ALL users. A set distance of 100 yards from the most popular mapped trails will provide a guideline to help prevent conflicts as winter recreational use only increases.

Proposal #146, offered by Kachemak Bay State Park Citizen Advisory Board, places a 100-yard setback on trails used heavily during trapping season across the bay: the Saddle and Glacier Spit trails leading up to Grewingk Glacier and Diamond Creeks Trails.

Proposal #147 prohibits trapping within 100 yards from mapped snowmobile and Kachemak Nordic Ski Club trails. These proposals go before the Alaska Board of Game at their March meeting in Soldotna. Comments are due by March 3.

The BOG needs to hear from Homer residents! Please help make our trails safer for all users by taking five minutes to support these proposals via this link: https://rb.gy/nxaaro. Or, go the Alaska Board of Game website and follow the directions for submitting your comment.

Kathryn Carssow

Thank you for supporting hospice’s services

Hospice of Homer would like to thank the City of Homer and the Homer Foundation for the generous 2022 City of Homer Grant. These unrestricted funds offset general operating costs, allowing us to focus on promoting our services, recruiting and educating volunteers, and shifting the general assumption that Hospice of Homer is only about end of-life.

With that in mind, as part of my message of gratitude, I’d like to share a little more about what we do here at Hospice of Homer.

Much of our time and resources is dedicated to the Medical Equipment Loan Program. This program helps our community recycles medical equipment, providing it to those who need it most and making it available for anyone who needs it temporarily. Thanks to volunteer Larry James, who keeps the equipment in good working order, we are able to recirculate gently used equipment. This offered service is free of charge, just like our other services, thanks to organizations like the Sons of the American Legion and local donors.

We also offer peer-facilitated support groups for those grieving, a team of volunteers who work to fill a variety of client needs, and yes, we support clients and their families as they transition at the end-of-life.

Hospice of Homer is committed to being a valued community resource on issues related to health and wellness, caregiving, death and dying, and grief.

For example, next month we’ll host the Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska for a weekend of education and experiential offering from March 16-19.

On behalf of Hospice of Homer’s clients, donors, volunteers, board of directors, and staff, thank you to the City of Homer for supporting the essential services we provide.

Holly Dramis, executive director Hospice of Homer

Homer Council on the Arts thanks Homer community

Homer Council on the Arts is grateful for the support of the City of Homer Grants Program. We are fortunate to live in a place where our City Council and administration recognize the value of the arts in contributing to community well-being, vibrancy and the local economy. This operational support helps fund the “nuts and bolts” so that HCOA can deliver educational programs to all ages, elevate and empower local artists, and present dynamic touring performances to the Homer community. Thank you!

Scott Bartlett, executive director Homer Council on the Arts