Homer News Letters to the Editor

We’ll be back

Thirty years ago our family left Homer and headed to California, after an incredibly lucky break when Tom, who was editor of the Homer News, received a Knight Fellowship for journalists at Stanford University. We had to pinch ourselves. We couldn’t believe it was true, but the fellowship was to change the course of all our lives forever. We returned to sell our house on High Look Court off East Hill Road, but had not returned for nearly 30 years.

Then, just a few weeks ago, we drove down Baycrest Hill and began the process of reconnecting with old friends and made many new ones. Jeff and Kyla left when they were 8 1/2 and 4, and are now in their 30s. Both have excelled, Jeff in engineering and Kyla is now an attorney practicing in San Francisco. Kathe loved all the opportunities at Stanford and now works as a nurse practitioner in Redwood City.

All of us got to act like tourists and see old friends. We hiked on the Spit, and at the Wynn Wilderness center off Skyline Drive and bought some great stuff at the Farmers Market. We caught some halibut with our friend Elliott Zeller, and we took a flight seeing flight over the glaciers with Beluga Air. And then there were the fabulous restaurants, including Cafe Cups, in the old Homer News building where I remember sweating out a few deadlines.

We are happy to see the Homer News is thriving today under the guidance of Michael Armstrong. It has been many years since Howard Simons, then the editor of the Washington Post, had formed a partnership with me to buy the paper from Gary Williams. With the help of some incredible staff members like Tom Kizzia, Chip Brown, Joel Gay, Hal Spence and many others, we managed to turn the Homer News into a darn good community newspaper, which won a fair number of awards from the Alaska Press Club in the 1970s and 80s.

We have promised ourselves that it won’t be another 30 years until we return again. We hope to see more of you next year.

Tom Gibboney, Menlo Park, California

Absent council members should resign

I think that Shelly Erickson, Tom Stroozas and Heath Smith are nice people. However, when all three did not show up at that council meeting, that was a disservice for our community. We deserve better.

We live in a democracy, don’t we? The above council members should apologize and then resign.

What will their future decisions be?

Carole Hamik

Homer should be more accessible

I recently had a guest who is confined to a wheel chair. I learned a lot about what some people have to deal with on a daily basis to get around, do a chore, or eat a meal. Homer is not totally accessible. We have a few accessible hotels and B&Bs, however, I found it difficult to find them. I would encourage businesses to note what is available. Ultimately, we rented a small house (“Molly’s Family Home”) so my guests could do their own cooking. We want to thank the Bowen family for constructing a small ramp and making other accommodations.

It was a good thing my friends had a kitchen, because many restaurants and coffee shops in Homer are not accessible. For instance, “Handicapped parking” is not always useable; many doors have difficult thresholds; often parking lots are impassable due to the large gravel. Gravel is the wheelchair’s worst enemy.

The Homer Farmer’s Market has difficult gravel. This was a great disappointment to my guests who wanted to spend time at the market. It was so difficult to maneuver the chair, that we gave up and left.

One great place to go is the Islands and Ocean Visitors’ Center, which is accessible inside and out. They loved the slough trail but were frustrated by the gravel road between the two sections of board walk. I understand the city is scheduled to fix the problem. I am so grateful that the City of Homer is in the process of doing an accessibility survey and bringing facilities to ADA standards. I hope businesses join the city in this endeavor. The Independent Living Center can offer guidance.

Lolita Brache

Thanks to Rotary for ‘Mobi Mats’

A vacation can be an adventure for most of us; unfortunately for you and your guest in a wheelchair the overwhelming challenge of accessing businesses and points of interest can be the greatest obstacle. Recently my friends experienced these challenges here in Homer. With the help of many great problem solving people we pulled together an accessible trip.

I want to give a special thanks to Dave Brann and the Rotary Club for making Mobi Mats available at the Alaska Coastal Center. Mobi Mats are a lightweight mat that is constructed out of recycled plastic bottles. These mats can be rolled out on sand so folks using a wheelchair can reach beach activities. They are easy to roll up and put in the back of a Subaru. SPARC, what can I say? It’s a great space to play wheelchair Pickle Ball.

Thank you Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins and the Port and Harbor Commission for continued ADA awareness and improvements. Finn’s Pizza has a wonderful solution for accessible doors that are not heavy, easy to slide and create a wind barrier as well as accessible furniture. Did I mention the pizza? The Homer Theater has designated seats and empty rows; these are wheelchair accessible seating as well.

I want to also thank everyone who listened to feedback with a new understanding and commitment to improve accessibility to their businesses. When our city buildings and businesses are barrier free and accessible you are welcoming everyone, including people with disabilities, the people who love them and the people they love.

Tess Dally

Trump should be stopped

I have now witnessed someone occupying the office of the U.S .President who publicly advances the interests of a foreign government over and above the interests of the United States of America. I’ve seen enough. It’s long past the time to put a stop to this travesty.

Paul Zimmerman, Kasilof

YAC helps readers

The Friends of the Homer Library would like to thank the Homer Foundation’s Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) for their support of the Homer Public Library’s Summer Reading & Learning Program. With financial support from the Sheldon Youth to Youth Fund and the Ashley J. Logan Fund, YAC helped to fund an author visit and comic camp from graphic novelist Nathan Hale, the Maker lab:E-Sewing, and an all-girl week-long computer science and engineering program called GirlsGetIT! Alaska.

In Hale’s comic camps, kids and teens learned how to use their individual artistic styles and imagination to create their own graphic stories.

In Maker Lab: E-Sewing, kids learned about electricity and developed sewing skills to make light up wristbands. GirlsGetIt! Alaska featured two program leaders from the National Council on Women in Information Technology, who introduced Homer girls to to a variety of computer science and engineering concepts using a variety of technology and hands-on projects that included programming robots, soldering, using HTML code to create websites and more. Two Homer teens assisted the visiting leaders, learned about the tech used in the program and mentored the campers.

Summer@HPL has been packed with activities, and we are proud of the reading and learning accomplishments of all of our participants. On July 27 at 5 p.m. kids and families are invited to the Sonic Storytime and Ice Cream Celebration at the Homer Public Library. The party will begin with a percussive storytime and performance led by Scott Bartlett and a cast of musicians. Awards will be announced at 6 p.m. Hot dogs, ice cream and music by the marimba Tamba Hadzi will follow.

Thank you Homer Foundation for your ongoing support of Summer@HPL.


Mercedes Harness, Coordinator of Friends of the Homer Library

Claudia Haines, Youth Services Librarian

Mary Lane Trail should be preserved

It was with great misgivings that I read your article in last week’s paper (July 19) about possibly closing off Dorothy Drive in the Gruening Vista estate subdivision. Dorothy Drive is an access to an old homestead trail, called the Mary Lane Trail, because it came up Bear Canyon to Dorothy, along Dorothy to Sandford and thence along Mary to Skyline. Mary was changed to Gruening Drive by the Kenai Peninsula Borough some years ago.

The homesteaders in the area, the Woodmans, Bellams, Sanfords and Fletchers, established this trail to haul winter goods from Miller’s Landing to their homesteads. There was no road to Homer from the East Skyline area at that time.

In 1995 the trail was threatened with closure and several of us endeavored to save it. I was asked to write up a history of the trail, which I did and it now is part of the Top Drawer Collection at the Homer Public Library. Our local trails guru Taz Talley wrote about it in the July 12 Homer Tribune. It would be a shame to lose that trail after so many years of use, and to close a road that has existed since the 1970s and before is also sad.

Milli Martin

Thanks for Elks Scholarship

I would like to thank the Homer Elks Club for its generous contribution to my education. I am very grateful to be a recipient of the 2018 Continuing Education Scholarship from the Elks, and I am glad that there are members of the community who care about the lives and education of high school graduates like myself. I have grown up in Homer, and this community is always so supportive of young people. This fall, I will attend the University of Montana in Missoula to study forestry and climate change science, and this scholarship will help me accomplish this.

Thank you,

Andie Sonnen