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As public facilities across the United States initiated efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus through social distancing, Homer institutions have followed suit.
Homer Mayor Ken Caster made a Local Emergency Declaration on March 18 in response to new cases of COVID-19 in Alaska. His declaration is effective for seven days and will be extended only after Homer City Council consideration and ratification at its next meeting on March 23.
Homer City Manager Katie Koester also ordered all city facilities closed until further notice.
“The declaration elevates Homer’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to Level 3 status,” Koester said in a press release. “… It also activates the continuity of operations plans (COOP) for all City departments, which adds further precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) among the public and employees and helps ensure the continuation of essential City services.”
Under the Level 3 EOC status, the city will continue response coordination under a unified command structure with South Peninsula Hospital, the local division of Alaska Public Health and other partners, Koester said in the release.
Here’s a rundown of public facilities and other entities that are closed or have altered hours in the Homer area:
Bunnell Street Arts Center
Bunnell Street Arts Center has closed the gallery to the public temporarily. All events through April 30 are postponed. The gallery has a “To Go” plate painting kit. It also is facilitating a Community Chalkboard to share ideas via Facebook, email, or by contacting staff members. To serve artists and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can offer online gathering spaces for conversation, studio visits and performances. Share ideas for opportunities by email at firstname.lastname@example.org on Facebookat https://www.facebook.com/BunnellArts/ where we can chalkboard those ideas as an inclusive conversation.
The April First Friday reception will not be held for “Waterhaul” by Thorey Munro and Catie Bursche. They will do a recorded artist talk that will be available online on April 3.
The Tim Easton concert and songwriting workshop has been postponed until Oct. 13-17.
For more information and updates, visit www.bunnellarts.org.
Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, 235-6667
Some outdoor activities at CACS will continue, according to an email.
The Wynn Nature Center Cabin at Mile 1.5 E. Skyline Drive is open from 1-4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and will be open for the Sunday Wynn-ter Family Fun Day from 2-4 p.m. Snowshoes will be out on the cabin porch and available for free use. They will be wiped down with sanitizer after each use and wipes will be available if desired prior to using them. Trail maps also will be available, along with handouts on scavenger hunts and various outdoor activities families can do outside of the cabin. Hand sanitizer will be available at the cabin and in the outhouses. Staff and visitors are recommended to honor the 6-foot recommended distance from others while enjoying the Wynn Nature Center trails and outdoors.
Outdoor “self-guided” activities will be available digitally through the CACS website and available outside of the headquarters building (708 Smokey Bay Way) for picking up hard copies if desired.
Snowshoes are also still available to rent from the headquarters, but call ahead to make sure there are pairs available and set a time for pick up to make sure a staff person is available to check them out.
City of Homer
The Homer Public Library, the Homer Education and Recreation Complex (HERC) and other Community Recreation programs are closed and all public programs and activities scheduled there are cancelled until further notice, the city announced in a press release on March 17.
Librry staff will still answer phone calls at 907-235-3180 and respond to emails at email@example.com. Staff will try to be available for calls Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will answer emails as they can. For information on the library, visit www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/library/homer-public-library-closure-faq.
The Homer Police Department also is closed to the public. 911 dispatch is operating as usual. Non-emergency police business can be conducted by phone at 907-235-3150 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City Manager Katie Koester has ordered all city offices closed to the public. City staff will be available during regular business hours by telephone and email. The public is encouraged to do city business over the phone or through email. Contact information is at the city’s website at www.cityofhomer-ak.gov. Updates on COVID-19 are on the city website. Bills can be paid online or by dropping off payments in the drop box at the front of City Hall by the Pioneer Avenue entrance.
The closures were taken by City Manager Katie Koester to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in the Homer community.
Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center
Until further notice, the Homer Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center office will now be closed for public access but staff can be reached by phone and email messages.
Homer Community Food Pantry
The Homer Community Food Pantry distributed food on Monday at its regular hours of 1 to 3 p.m. at the Homer Methodist Church on East End Road with modified operations. Next week and throughout the pandemic, patrons can request food packages at the front door, and volunteers will box them up and bring food to them.
Homer Council on the Arts
The HCOA office and gallery will remain closed until further notice. Other events are canceled or will be held online.
Eileen Ivers, March 27: Canceled
Weekly Portrait Group: On hold
Disability Art Show closing reception, March 28: Canceled.
However, the Disability Art Show is now available for viewing online. Enjoy the current exhibit from home and bid on the silent auction pieces with proceeds benefitting TRAILS. The show will be extended an extra month. The silent auction will now close at 3 p.m. April 30.
Art a la Carte: An online option is in the works. Art a la Carte instructor Carly Garay is working to develop alternative methods to continue the program. Information will be sent to currently enrolled students, and new students are welcome to join. Check this link for the latest updates as the program develops.
April First Friday: Online.
Jubilee Youth Art Exhibit: HCOA is accepting submissions for the Jubilee Youth Art Virtual Exhibit. The show will be shared through the HCOA Facebook page.
To participate, fill out the submission form at www.homerart.org and email it to email@example.com along with clear photos of each work being submitted. Contact the office to arrange help photographing works of art for submission.
Homer Electric Association
Homer Electric Association closed its Kenai and Homer office lobbies. Members can phone support representatives in Homer at 235-8551, in Kenai at 283-8551,or toll free 800-478-8551. Bills can be paid online at www.homerelectric.com, by phone or through the HEA on Apple or Android smart devices. They also can be deposited in secure lock boxes at HEA office entrances.
Homer Recall Dunleavy
Homer Recall Dunleavy urges all registered voters who have not signed the petition to recall the governor this winter to do so by requesting a personal household recall petition book at RecallDunleavy.org/sign/. Following CDC recommendations, the Recall Dunleavy campaign has suspended all in-person signature events and static locations. Hence, the Homer Recall office on Lake Street is closed until further notice.
Registered voters both in the state and temporarily outside the state may request a petition. Everyone who signed in summer 2019 must sign again in 2020 in order to put the recall before the voters. Petitions sent to those requesting them will include space for an individual or several members of a household to sign and postage paid return envelopes. A total of 71,252 signatures are needed on this second recall petition to get the recall before the voters.
For more information, contact Pat Cue, 907-299-3610.
The Homer Rope Tow
The Homer Rope Tow is closed for the next two Sundays, March 22 and 29. According to a post made by the organization on Instagram, “there is enough snowpack to last,” so organizers will reassess after the closure.
Homer United Methodist Church
Under the direction of the Methodist Church bishop, the Homer United Methodist Church will suspend public worship for the next two weeks. Pastor Lisa Talbott said she will email worship books to members and set up a Facebook Live broadcast of services through the church’s Facebook page.
“We’re doing this as a courageous act of prevention,” she said in a phone interview on Friday, March 13. “This is one way we can keep our community safe by making sure we’re not at close contact.”
On Sunday, Talbott held a video service. That can be viewed through the church’s YouTube link.
Twelve-step programs that meet at the church will continue, Talbott said, but people are encouraged to make arrangements to call in. Anyone sick or who has been traveling is asked to call in.
Kachemak Bay Campus
In order to promote the health of the community, Kachemak Bay Campus extended Spring Break through March 22. Starting March 23 all courses shifted to online/alternate delivery and will not be held on campus. Community events have been cancelled and non-credit classes have been postponed until further notice.
Professors will contact students directly on how to connect with classes. The college is working on a plan for lab classes and to make resources available to students who do not have access to computers or the internet.
While administrative operating hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, the college asks that people call 235-7743 with questions rather than stop by the office. The campus will be closed on Saturday and Sunday until further notice.
Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic
KBFPC will be implementing moderate mitigation strategies, including limiting services and actively screening staff, clients, participants, and any other visitors to the buildings.
All visits must be prearranged by calling 907-235-3436. This includes appointments and supply pickups.
“Clients will be informed during that call of our screening efforts and anyone experiencing fever, cough or shortness of breath (or any other COVID-19 symptoms) will be referred to primary care before coming to KBFPC,” said Executive Director Catriona Reynolds in an email. “Some routine visits may be delayed in order to prioritize time-sensitive care.”
Any client relying on a birth control method which requires supplies (pills, patch, ring) or is due for replacement in next three months is encouraged to contact KBFPC as soon as possible to ensure continuity.
The R.E.C. Room
The REC Room is no longer open to the public. Individual teens in need of food, hygiene supplies, or support from a trusted adult are encouraged to ring the doorbell (ideally between 3-6 p.m.) and a staff member will be available for them, pending a COVID-19 symptom screening.
Kenai Peninsula Service Area Boards
All Kenai Peninsula Borough Service Area Board meetings have been postponed until further notice. For more information, visit kpboem.blogspot.com.
Kevin Bell Arena and Homer Hockey Association
The Homer Hockey Association and Kevin Bell Arena board of directors announced this week that the arena will close three weeks early. The rink will not hold the Ash Cup Adult Hockey Tournament in addition to not providing a recreational outlet for members and the community at large.
Homer Hockey Association also is canceling its End of Year Celebration. The three individuals who are selected to receive awards in the Justin Adams Player of the Year Award, Youth Volunteer Award and Kevin Bell Coach of the Year Award will still be recognized. Please send nominees directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. The association also plans its Annual Meeting in April, subject to change.
South Peninsula Activity and Recreation Center (SPARC)
The SPARC closed its doors March 13, until further notice, in support of the community effort at social distancing and CDC recommendations.
South Peninsula Hospital
SPH Long Term Care
South Peninsula Hospital Long Term Care is restricting all visitation.
Only essential health care staff and pre-approved visitors for end-of-life or other compassionate care situations are the only persons permitted to enter the unit.
Long Term Care is following guidelines announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and to help protect seniors and some of the community’s most vulnerable population from the novel coronavirus.
The hospital also is now restricting access only for those with appointments for medical care, persons seeking critical care in the ER, designated visitors of patients, and staff. No other visitors are permitted; this includes delivery drivers, non-essential contractors, family members of staff, and public for any other reason.
Access to the cafeteria is for patients and staff only.
The Gift Shop is closed indefinitely.
Visitors to patients also are restricted. Only one visitor (who meets screening guidelines) per day per patient is allowed in the Acute Care and the Infusion center.
The lower level of the hospital has only one public entrance, which is the far west entrance near the Rehabilitation Department.
Sleep studies have been discontinued.
Homer Medical Center evening extended hours clinics are cancelled.
Large group events at SPH are postponed, including Childbirth, Newborn Care, Safe and Healthy Kids Fair, Walk with a Doc, and Stop the Bleed.
The Exchange, Homer’s safe and confidential resource for needle exchange that operates out of the South Peninsula Hospital Training Center, is still opening on the first and third Tuesdays of each month, from 5-7 p.m. with some modifications to operation. Ginny Espenshade, a co-founder of the Exchange, said the modifications are following CDC guidelines and social distance recommendations, “to best protect the health of our participants and volunteers.”
The Shop: Kachemak Bay Art Space
The Shop: Kachemak Bay Art Space has cancelled Homer and Anchorage workshops for the foreseeable future. Artist David Pettibone will offer drawing and painting classes online through Skype. Students can email him examples of work and what they want to develop. Students will have a 60-minute online session followed by email discussions of more work. At the end of the week there will be a 30-minute online session. The fee is $75 per week. For more information, email email@example.com.
The South Peninsula Haven House Women of Distinction Auction and Dinner scheduled for March 27 has been postponed.
The Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament has been postponed to Saturday, April 25.
The Kachemak Nordic Ski Marathon was canceled; however, the trail was groomed and is open to skiing.
The Sea to Ski Triathlon run by the Homer Cycling Club and scheduled for March 29 has been canceled.
The Epic Big Fat Bike Festival scheduled for March 27-29, also hosted by the Homer Cycling Club, has been canceled.
The annual Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival will not take place as scheduled in May, but will return in 2021.
If you have a closure or altered hours of operation to announce, send that information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Michael Armstrong at email@example.com. Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.