Homeowners thankful for East End Road fire response

We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to our neighbor Jack Allen, Kachemak Emergency Services, the Homer and Anchor Point Fire Departments and the Division of Forestry and its Yukon Crew for their quick action which saved our home from an out-of-control fire that had spread onto our property. Jack’s observant eye, phone calls and initial suppression before help arrived is more than one can hope for in a neighbor. The fire fighting crews were professional, thorough, kind and informative in putting out the blaze. The plane dropping retardant and the helicopter dropping water were precise enough to stop the spread.

We lost a few outbuildings and trees, but our home was unscathed as was our neighbor’s. We would also like to thank the Yukon Crew from the Division of Forestry for remaining overnight and through most of the next day to insure that no flare ups were present. The continual ongoing monitoring gives us peace of mind. And thank you to our friends and neighbors for their offerings of support and help. There truly are no words to express the magnitude of our appreciation of everyone’s efforts.

Bill Marshall and Karen Murdock

Lead On group appreciates support

The Homer Lead On youth group was fortunate to have five local teens (from Homer, Nikolaevsk, Anchor Point) travel to Anchorage last November to attend the Lead On for Peace and Equality in Alaska conference, the largest youth leadership conference in the state. This conference is organized by the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and aims to empower young people like us to take a stand against violence and promote healing and peace in our communities. We would like to give a special thank you to the Homer Foundation and the Sheldon Youth to Youth Fund for making this leadership experience possible for us.

Meeting our peers from around the state was huge because we learned what it’s like living in different cities and villages in Alaska. Experiences for other Alaskan teens is something we didn’t quite know about before attending this conference. This helped us to understand each other more. We came home realizing that Homer is very spread out and there’s people with extreme views on all perspectives so respect is essential.

As is required for the Lead On conference attendees, we have to bring what we learned back to our community to promote peace and non-violence. We chose to do this by making a community art project we’re working on with local artist Mike Sturm. The “respect roots project” means rooting yourself with respect with others no matter where they come from. Rooting the relationship — the physical, the mental, the emotional — in respect. In Homer there can be so many differences in people and we chose the world and the tree to represent respect in and of itself. Our art project will be publicly displayed this summer around town.

Thank you.

Kenzie Williams and Aurora Shadley

Homer Lead On youth members

Grace Ridge tips support Family Planning Clinic

Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic enjoys the support of many benevolent people and organizations in this community, and that support enables us to continue providing high quality services at low to no cost. This month we are fortunate to be the recipients of the tip jar at Grace Ridge Brewing Company. Sherry and Don Stead are donating the tips for the entire month of June to KBFPC, and we are excited to be partnering with community members that are so consistently engaged and generous. Please join us there from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 23, for Beer &Brats, when KBFPC will be serving traditional and veggie brats with all the sides for donations. June is LGBT Pride Month and the Pride Parade will be gathering at WKFL Park at 11 a.m. and finishing at the Homer Real Estate parking lot right next door. Come celebrate with us, and help us say thanks to Grace Ridge Brewing Company as well.

Shay Hoffman, Board of Directors

Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic

John Callahan to be remembered

To all of you who have expressed your condolences, good wishes, and desires to help in any way during this difficult time, our heartfelt thanks. It is so comforting, and so much appreciated and makes me yet again realize why John Callahan and I decided to make our home here in Homer. A celebration potluck of John’s life will be held at the Down East Saloon on June 1 at 5 p.m. Please join us to share in his love. Contact Paula at 907-299-0172 for potluck dish coordination.

Betts Callahan and family

Scholarship helps Flex grad start nursing education

I would love to thank the Kachemak Bay Rotary Club for the generous scholarship of $1,000, and to express my sincere gratitude to you for helping make my 2018 school year possible. I was thrilled to learn of my selection for this honor and I am deeply appreciative of your support. This scholarship is going to help me succeed in the medical field.

This summer I am going to Anchorage to start my nursing future. I will be attending an accelerated Certified Nursing Assistant Program that is five weeks long. After I finish the CNA program I will return to Homer. In August I will start to attend Kachemak Bay Campus to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing science.

Thank you again for your generosity and much appreciated support. I will work very hard so one day I’ll be serving the community as a nurse and hopefully able to help provide scholarships for future students like mysetf.


Amber M. Bridgeman

Editor’s note: The following letters were received in response to the May 17, 2018 article, “Former rehab manager investigated.”

Rehab staff should develop sense of humor, respect for PT’s work

I am stunned upon reading the three-page article regarding Doug Westphal in the May 17, 2018, issue of the Homer News. Doug was my therapist after knee surgery some years ago. He was professional, courteous and, at times, a bit sarcastic in a friendly way in order to keep up some humor in my treatment. He is a tough therapist expecting the best for his patients and achieving very positive results for those he cares for.

The accusations of sexual improprieties I find to be overblown and imaginative from those who have never had physical therapy or have had different methods of recovery from different therapists. It is imperative that a physical therapist touch their patients in many places to feel the strength of their muscles and tendons. This is not sexual abuse — it is professionalism. To my knowledge, Doug has never made physical contact with anyone’s genitalia.

I wonder why the Homer News opted to write such a demeaning article without researching this issue further. Although one patient felt that she had been touched inappropriately with her loose shorts (a must for therapy) she continued her treatments. The “incident” occurred in 2009 and wasn’t reported until 2017. Why the delay? Why would the patient continue treatment if the patient was feeling abused? Is this a new trend — a new “fad” to accuse doctors, politicians, and the like of sexual misconduct years after the “fact?”

Doug is a tough therapist seeking the best for his patients and his staff. If some of his complimentary words to fellow workers were taken as abuse, I suggest that his staff develop a sense of humor and respect for all that Doug has done for so many patients in Homer.

Shame on Homer News for publishing such a libelous article. I am only sad that the Homer News is a weekly publication. Now everyone in Homer who has read this awful article will be stewing on it for one week at the least and eventually it will become “fact” and a source of negative gossip which is not deserved by a dedicated therapist.

I encourage everyone who has had positive encounters with Doug to support him in this time of his sadness and stress. He has been an asset to the people of Homer and deserves all of the support we can give to him.

Randi Iverson

Rehab complainers should have tried ‘simple communications’

Being a reader of the Homer News for 50 plus years I am compelled to comment regarding the longest article I have ever read in this paper’s history about even confessed convicted felons. This article took the by-word of the day #MeToo (sexual harassment) and turned the accusation of harassment into indeed an act to harassment itself. Not to by all means discount that unreported sexual harassments have occurred and our society has been very remiss in not appropriately dealing with it.

However, if the person with the education of a nurse who felt improperly touched or accosted in any way during therapeutic treatment, then continued to accept treatment thereafter from the very same therapist and chose to accuse him yet nine years later — something is really wrong. Saying a baby with a new tooth could hurt a nursing mother is hardly pornography, commenting about a sleeveless blouse, complaining that someone stands too close in talking all could easily be resolved with simple communications — “that bothers me.” Such instances hardly seem worthy for front page HEADLINE career busting, conviction by the press. As the article points our there is a labyrinth of complaint mechanisms in our hospital to deal with any such problems.

It would seem certainly that the Homer News should be far more responsible in their using the “power of the press.”

William J. Marley Sr., DDS

Guilt by media?

I am deeply saddened by the reporting on South Peninsula Hospital and Douglas Westphal in the paper on May 17, 2018. Guilt by media is not how our system works or should work. The article shows extraordinary enthusiasm to one side of a story and is based on hearsay, lending the reputation and respectability of your newspaper to these claims.

I have worked at SPH Rehabilitation Department for 18 years. As a manager, Douglas has had to make hard decisions to ensure that we are providing the best care to our patients and work as a team to accomplish these goals. If employees were not meeting these needs, he would have to look into the best interest of patients and act accordingly.

I can confirm what others have said about treatment following knee surgery requiring privacy, timing medication, clothing change, and performing therapy on joints above and below the knee as common practices.

I have raised two children while working at SPH where the management has always been supportive of employees and their families.

As in many situations, everything is not as black and white as the media portrays it. The accusations against Douglas have been heard by the hospital, the union and the police. We need to trust these entities and allow the people that have of the information to make a decision. The media is not the place to determine guilt or innocence, but many who read this story will believe all the accusations without all the information.

Given the momentum of the #MeToo movement, there was a risk that the growing scrutiny of behavior and intention could be itself abused. I believe this is the case here.

It is time to move forward and continue to serve our community with high quality care.

Emilie Otis, Physical Therapy Assistant

Time to heal and move on

The dark season of winter is over. Whew. This year our seasonal dirty laundry was hurled against the time-tested ethical manager of our hospital physical therapy which serves us all, dear Doug Westphal.

The potential problem: once that dark suspicious seed is planted in our community soul, a field of darkness already there multiplies, especially if it contains any implication about that once-forbidden topic, sex. We oldies miss Brother Asaiah who reminded us, in his regular Letters to the Editor, to see first the beauty of a job well done.

“It is not my true nature to offend,” says Doug. True. Our kind steady community leader for so many years is humble enough to give of his own time to learn the contemporary language sexual appropriateness. What a gem he is.

Every year our hospital physical therapy has grown, abundant with more therapists serving a growing population. Doug has spearheaded an environment of growth, caring, healing.

I am concerned about our community. We need to:

Respect the women who have openly shared their dark grievances. It is timely now to do so. When light is shined on dark, dark can be healed. Pray for healing.

Thank our great hospital staff for setting up a system to listen. They listened.

Most of all, we need to give due honor to our time-tested servant Doug Westphal. He is giving of his time to learn how to even better communicate his good will to all of us. It is our job to see clearly and support his great contribution to our community.

New sun-catching spring leaves are covering the skeletons of our old trees. Homer’s scapegoat season between winter-and-summer, our spring cleaning, cabin fever season is over. Let’s all heal and move on.

Martha Ellen Anderson