Letters to the Editor

Masks also stifle unkind words

To the gentleman at the Homer Post Office who, without a mask, repeated “baa” sounds at me when I helped hold the door open as he juggled a large box: I will steadfastly continue to wear a face mask in public places, to help protect you, me, and all others from sharing droplets, and to also stifle any unkind words that might come to mind in response to the confusing actions of others.

Thank you for sparking the idea to create face masks that feature the cute, soft muzzle of a sheep, to help make it clear to others that our mouths remain as gentle as a lamb’s as we follow state and local guidelines. May we all stay safe and well, and may we practice kindness and humility for our fellow Homerites and all others. Soon there will be many more of us in Homer, with many more opportunities to choose kindness.

Sarah Peter

Reopened businesses have responsibility

To business owners on the southern Kenai Peninsula who have been able to stay open and to those who just opened, congratulations. With your good fortune comes a responsibility to the rest of us. How you conduct your business determines whether you contribute to the spread of the coronavirus or help stem it — whether more businesses can open and more people can go back to work, or we have to close back down.

Simply put, the bottom line is disinfecting, social distancing and wearing masks to protect your customers and employees. It includes requiring your customers to wear masks to protect each other as well as to protect you and your employees. Your mask protects me; my mask protects you. Together, we protect each other’s loved ones and our community.

Northwind, Homer Bookstore, Classic Cook, Alyeska Tire, The Grog Shop, Homer Jeans and Anchor Point Greenhouse are shining examples. Along with other safety measures, all employees and the owners wear masks and all customers are required to wear masks too. Customers are limited in number and spaced safely. Shopping at these businesses is stress-free because they are safe. These business owners, employees and customers are each doing their part to protect themselves and others to the benefit of all the businesses and residents of our community

If your business hasn’t yet put these safeguards in place, please do. Lives and livelihoods in our community are depending on you.

Kathryn Carssow

Bristol Bay Closure?

Opening of Bristol Bay is a rolling of the dice for this administration as there will be 10,000 fishermen and cannery workers inundating the entire area of western Alaska’s processing communities. These workers and fishermen are required to be tested and quarantined two weeks prior to the opening of the season. How do these packing companies plan to keep social distancing in bunkhouses, chow halls, ath and toilet facilities for crowded fishermen and cannery workers at each and every one of several packing plants in the Bristol Bat area of the state? Let alone, the rest of the state will have thousands of fishermen and plant workers in the same situation.

After two weeks of quarantine and millions of salmon begin coming into these processing areas, where hundreds of workers, orking the Iron Chinks, butchering tables, can lofts, sealing machines, retort cooking and cooling rooms and warehouse activity, are shoulder to shoulder at their work, social distancing is impossible.

Normal seasonal injuries and illnesses call for evacuation and the replacement of these workers. In that event testing may be one thing, but 14 daysquarantine will go the way of all flesh as these new workers are badly needed to process millions of fish. Of the workers going into the Bristol Bay area, if one slips through the proverbial crack, you have the makings of an epidemic in that state’s fishing district alone. Fifty sick persons would flood any medical facility in the area with limited medical staff.

Keep Alaska’s salmon fishing closed for the season taking, the gamle of lives off the gaming table. Overescapement? Every salmon stream in the U.S. has had over escapements for 10,000 years, and nature has been able to enhance these streams so that Native and white folks could harvest billions of dollars over the years. Point of fact: Red salmon are a4 -year cycle salmon, so even with an overescapement,t here are three years left to build the economy in fishing communities back up with, I might add, great subsistence ability for the locals.

John A. Anderson

Food pantry grateful for grants and donations

On behalf of the Homer Community Food Pantry board of directors, volunteers and clients, I’d like to extend our sincere appreciation for some very generous grants and donations during this unprecedented time. As you can imagine, we have seen a significant increase in need in our community during the pandemic due to higher unemployment and the added stress of food and housing insecurity. We have been providing food boxes in a drive-through fashion each Monday serving over 200 families weekly.

To the City of Homer in partnership with the Homer Foundation, thank you for your unending support of the food pantry. Your award of $5,700 from the special COVID-19 Fund will be instrumental in providing consistency for our clients as we assist them to navigate through this difficult time. We anticipate that need for non-food emergency assistance will increase significantly as deferred payments for rent and utilities come due; we will be there to help thanks to you.

To Fat Olives and Two Sisters, you have no idea how the simple gift of weekly fresh vegetables and bread fulfills such basic needs among our clients. You all are the best; thank you for your support.

A big shout out to the Homer Elks for their $2,500 donation. The officers of the Homer Lodge submitted a grant to the Elks National Foundation on our behalf; to get this award is a testament to how our nonprofits collaborate to build each other up.

Thank you also to Safeway for their generous grant of $5,000 from their “Nourishing Neighbors Fund.” The support received from our local hometown store to the top of the house is just terrific.

And to our community donors, your unwavering support is magical. As times get tougher, you give even more, whether monetary, baked goods, fish, jelly and even crab.

To all of you, a heartwarming thank you from all of us at the Food Pantry! We are so fortunate to live in such a caring community.

Be well,

Cinda Martin, Secretary, Homer Community Food Pantry

To Fish or Not To Fish?

With less than a month to go before the traditional salmon season opens in Alaska, we longtime Alaska fishermen wonder whether this season will happen? Or will it be canceled — only for everyone to regret the decision later?

Cancellation of the statewide fishing season should be determined by every factor, and not influenced by this media-driven fear mongering. Last year alone, the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run of 56.5 million fish set the fourth largest record for catch, and became the fifth consecutive year the run topped 50 million fish.

“The 2019 preliminary ex-vessel (dockside) value of $306.5 million for all salmon species ranks first in the history of the fishery,” wrote Laine Welch. “Bristol Bay salmon fishermen are set to take home their biggest paychecks ever.”

Imagine then what 2020 might hold. Would you want to be responsible for cancellation? Would you want to face Kodiak, Homer or Bristol Bay fishermen and their communities? “The 2019 preliminary ex-vessel (dockside) value of $306.5 million for all salmon species ranks first in the history of the fishery,” emphasized longtime fisheries reporter Welch. The benefit of these multi-millions in revenue provide many Alaska communities with their life support, not to mention tourism and sports fisheries. They depend on all of our wild seafood products. Shut down? Perhaps ask the thousands of those most affected.

Certainly some say this coronavirus is different from others and far more dangerous. Other calmer heads say it’s just the seasonal flu and few healthy folks catch it, aside from seniors suffering multiple prior health issues. Most who catch it recover, and many do not even know they had it. Mostly media fear-mongering, say others, to cover for an economic reset, while leaving fishermen and small communities high and dry.

Perhaps one wise solution is to require all boats to carry a supply of testing kits and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets aboard, much like survival suits are now required. These tablets are relatively cheap and effective (according to many doctors), and can be prescribed by medical people. Skippers could dispense them at the slightest sign. Tenders, processors and canneries would also be required to have a supply. Additionally top guys, like Chuck Bundrant of Trident Seafoods, could supply local Alaska hospitals with ventilators, not excluding the area Coast Guard bases. Think of the PR benefit, Chuck.

Before the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, together with the Alaska state legislators, decide to shut down an enormous asset, they need to weigh all the pros and cons, especially the repercussions. Then decide.

Fish need to be caught because, come late spring, salmon won’t be sheltering in place. No matter what the so-called experts decide to do.

Douglas Herman