Letters to the Editor

HEA ‘fair share’ should give one pause

Dear Editor and Eager Readers,

Electrical Stuff re: Homer Electric Association Kilowatt Courier, February 2020

In the back page article, paragraph 3, immediately after demonstrating that the customer charge is the built-in inequity of the HEA rate structure, the next sentence defines the customer charge as “a fair share.”

This should give one pause. Something to ponder. For more time, creative writing and reasoning, and an appreciation of our 5-line rate schedule, please read the full article.

Respectfully yours,

Tom Maloney

N95 masks don’t protect against COVID-19

I have over 30 years field experience in hazardous waste and asbestos removal and treatment. I have been the designated heath and safety officer on many high profile sites such as Lockheed Martin Burbank.

Respiratory protection is one of the most important components when working in hazardous environments. Correctly identifying the hazard is tantamount to determine the level/type of respiratory protection.

A human blood cell is 5 microns in size.

The novel coronavirus is .125 microns in size.

The protection value of the N95 mask is 0.3 microns.

The virus can easily pass through this mask.

Respirators used in hazardous environments are “fit tested” and certified, per user every year, and positive/negative pressure tests are personally done every time one puts the mask on.

The N95 mask does not afford any level of protection for this or any virus.

Note to the government: Please tell people the truth.

James Mikesell, Anchor Point

Ask and you shall receive

We’ve all heard, “one door closes and another opens,” but really is it that simple?

Well today (March 25) it was. As COVID-19 comes to the U.S., and more specifically to Alaska, schools have been closed. But here’s a small silver lining. Reid Brewer, Director at the Kachemak Bay Campus of the Kenai Peninsula College here in Homer, generously donated personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies for the hospital. A big thank you to Michelle Melchert for accepting the donation to allow hospital staff to do their important work. Donations can be dropped off at Skiff Chick Custom Designs on Pioneer Avenue.

As the coronavirus starts to become a reality here in Homer, if only in preparation for the time being, it takes us all to unite behind our local health care workers.

And sometimes all we have to do is ask. Do what you can; we are all in this together.

Concerned friend and community member,

Susan Kaplan

Embrace life despite pandemic

A couple of months ago, my husband and I decided that it was time to move off the hill to downtown Homer, where we could be within walking distance of coffee shops, the theater, First Fridays, etc. And so on March 4 we closed on a house that filled that bill, and two weeks after that we were more or less moved out/in and put our little kingdom up on the hill on the market. Well. You know what happened then. Long story short, we are hunkered (who knew how common a verb that would become?) down in town, the coffee shops and theater are closed, and our house on the hill isn’t getting a lot of offers.

But sitting here this evening, I am hopeful. Every day we take an extended walk exploring our new neighborhood. It’s an eclectic mix, reminiscent of the neighborhoods we both grew up in. Our view across Kachemak Bay – which is the main reason we bought this old house — encompasses my favorite hiking grounds, including Grace Ridge and Broken Knife. In a month or two, one way or the other I will be on those trails (can you practice social distance on a water taxi? I think so). When we walk down to the beach, Wendy Erd’s poems on the slough boardwalk — which I have read dozens of times — take on new meaning. Soon — two or three weeks now — the swans, geese and other shorebirds will be congregating and we will hear the first raucous cries of sandhill cranes. The daffodils and crocuses in front of Homer Electric will push their way up — a month or so sooner than mine up on the hill. Even if by then we are still “hunkering” down, I believe, I have to believe, that Homer-ites will take heart and embrace life. How could we not, living in a place like this?

Marylou Burton

Library is open online

As most of you know, the Homer Public Library building is now closed in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The last two weeks have been full of virtual meetings and brainstorming in an effort to keep up with the situation and to try to adapt to the sudden changes. Our highest priority is the health and well-being of each other and our patrons and our desire is to continue to engage with the community and stay connected throughout this time.

Our doors may be closed, but the Homer Public Library still has a lot to offer. The Alaska Digital Library is available 24/7 with thousands of titles available in eBook and audio format. If you have questions about getting started or if you need a library card, you can email circ@ci.homer.ak.us or call the circulation desk number (235-3180) between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Someone will get back to you and talk you through the process of getting the service set up.

Now is also a great time to get acquainted with other offerings on our website. We’ve got everything from Flipster, which allows you to look at issues of many of the latest magazines, to Mango Languages, a free online language learning service. Also available through our website are lots of how-to resources, from home and vehicle repair to crafts.

If you don’t have Internet access, feel free to call with questions. Staff is still available and if you leave us a message someone will call you back.

Over the coming days, the library staff will be figuring out how to move forward. Hopefully that will mean getting library materials back in your hands in a safe and manageable fashion. Until then, please stay safe and stay in touch!

Teresa Sundmark, Homer Public Library

HEA hiking again

Surprise, surprise. Homer Electric Association is raising their rates, again. Sure, sure. They have to go through the State Regulatory Commission, but those folks never saw a raise hike request they didn’t like. Isn’t it interesting that the Cost of Power Adjustment never seems to get adjusted down? HEA is touting rising fuel costs as one of the factors for the increase. But, I don’t recall the price of electricity dropping when the price for fuel dropped. And seeing as how currently the price for crude is about $20, perhaps HEA should renegotiate. Not to mention that this rate hike at this time is the best example of being tone-deaf I can think of.

Perhaps the over-paid staff could take a cut in pay just once. HEA is not just a public utility, it is a monopoly, because the only option is going off-grid, and not many of us can afford that initial cost. And hence they have us draped over a powerpole and just keep spanking us every chance they get with ever increasing rates.

Their website states the hike will “just” amount to about $8 per month for average resident. Come on, man. That’s two lattes, yo. Or two rolls of toilet paper, which is more to the point.

Remember to keep practicing safe-socializing.

Duane Christensen

The Imperfect heroes of SPH

We are at war — a quiet war where there is no safe place and no neutral ground. At the center of the battle is our little community hospital, South Peninsula Hospital, a place that has been the center of other battles over politics, money and loads of criticism. I expect, when this COVID-19 fight is done, we will gain a refreshing appreciation for SPH and the imperfect heroes who serve there.

This enemy, a virus, is a cowardly enemy, a silent and deadly opportunist type of enemy that kills and maims indiscriminately. It seeks out noncombatants, the elderly, the infirm, infants, and pregnant mothers and anyone displaying even the slightest hint of weakness. It forces us to separate when we need each other most.

Every SPH employee is facing this ugly enemy. At the center of the violent battle are our nurses, the front line fighters staring into the face of the horror, fear, and suffering of those infected with COVID-19. While most of us only read and watch stories of what this virus is doing to people, the nurses see it in real time, up close and very personal. The nurses know some of their ranks will survive and some might not, but all will be changed forever. While the rest of us flee into our homes, for safety, the nurses and SPH staff don their battle gear and run into the fight.

Imperfect heroes but courageous heroes they will be — once a warrior, forever a hero.

Bennett Johnson, husband of SPH Chief Nursing Officer Angela Dawn Johnson

Be counted

Census activities in Alaska have started. Please take the small amount of time that being counted requires.

Who? Everyone. The U.S. Constitution requires a count of everyone residing in the United States, citizen and noncitizen alike, every 10 years. The information you provide is confidential. Only the numbers, not the personal information, are public.

Why? The census count is used for redistricting purposes every 10 years. In 2021, the state will be redrawing legislative district lines again. Any area where people are not counted risks losing some representation in the Alaska Legislature. Alaskans need to make sure that we are completely counted in each district.

In addition, a whole decade of federal funding is largely based on population. For our fair share of representation and funding, we need to participate for the best count possible.

April 1 is Census Day.

Household visits begin to nonrespondents on May 13.

Self-response closes on July 31.

More information about the 2020 census is available online at alaskacounts.org/faq.

Alaska had the lowest participation in the census of all the states in 2010. Let’s participate to make a difference in 2020.

Cathleen Rolph, Peninsula League of Women Voters, Director on LWV Alaska State Board, Soldotna