Homer has joined five other Alaska cities as an official “Coast Guard City,” according to a May 23 press release from the City of Homer.
The designation, which was given May 22 in a proclamation, “acknowledges and celebrates the positive relationship the Homer community and the USCG have shared for more than 50 years,” the release said.
Homer serves as the home port to USCGC Aspen, the USCGC Naushon and the USCG Marine Safety Detachment.
At the May 22 city council meeting, Homer Mayor Ken Castner expressed gratitude for the honor.
“This designation further solidifies Homer’s deep-rooted connection with the Coast Guard and serves as a reminder of the vital role they play in ensuring our safety, protecting our waters, and upholding maritime security,” Castner is quoted as saying in the release.
City council member Caroline Venuti said the designation is a testament to the strong relationship we have built with the Coast Guard over the years,” according to the release.
“We recognize and appreciate the significant contributions the Coast Guard has made to our community, and we are committed to continuing to support their welfare and well-being.”
The Coast Guard has had a presence in Homer going back to January 1969, with the arrival the Ironwood. According to Homer News archives, the 180-foot vessel with six officers and 47 enlisted men was reassigned from Honolulu to operate primarily in Cook Inlet.
The city council in 2022 set a goal of becoming a designated Coast Guard city, the release said.
The application process to achieve the designation includes a submission packet a letter from city describing community outreach to the local unit, support from district Coast Guard offices, letters of support from city and state government offices and examples of the city’s efforts for outreach and support, according to the U.S. Coast Guard website.
According to former Assistant City Manager Christine Drais, the application process took from April to November of 2022.
“Council member Caroline Venuti was the spokesperson for the council for the project and she and I immediately started collecting letters of recommendation and interviews from local residents such as Kate Mitchell, with Nomar, who is a Coast Guard veteran. We just explored all the ties we could,” she said.
“I also looked for support from Homer’s Coast Guard Auxiliary to get a feel for the presence and history of community service the Coast Guard has provided to the community and the symbiotic relationship we’ve had with the service agency for a long time,” Drais said. “We wanted to commemorate all they’ve done over time for Homer and they’ve always been happy to contribute and serve for us.”
During the application process, the Homer Chamber of Commerce archives and scrapbooks also provided substantial historical material for Coast Guard presence in parades and the reoccurring Halloween “Haunted Hickory” event
“This is a very high national recognition; it will really help put Homer on the map and will provide a catalyst for future annual events. For example, the Coast Guard will provide the grand marshal services for Homer’s 2023 4th of July parade,” Drais said.
Homer is the 31st city in the nation to receive the designation. In Alaska, Kodiak, Sitka, Ketchikan, Cordova and Valdez are also recognized as Coast Guard cities.