Michael O’Meara’s cartoon for May 21, 2020.

Michael O’Meara’s cartoon for May 21, 2020.

Letters to the Editor

Thank you, Mr. Hooker

I followed my third grade teacher to Homer. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. Born in Palmer, Alaska, my parents enrolled me in third grade at Birchwood ABC school in Chugiak, Alaska, where I landed in a first year teacher’s classroom: Mr. Steve Hooker’s. He was a Walt Whitman type and paced the room with coffee cup in hand barking orders and commanding our attention.

He read us the Secret Garden, corrected our spelling tests, and demanded apologetic sentences for our misbehavior that he tore up as we walked out to recess. And we loved him for it. He sent me to the principal’s office not because I did anything wrong but because, and I quote, “Everyone needs to be sent to the principal’s office at least once.”

I couldn’t tie my shoes, and he taught me about Velcro. He is an amazing educator and the fact that he was at our Homer High School 2020 graduation cheering on his grandson, Austin Shafford, while I was directing traffic made life that much more interesting. Thank you, Mr. Steve Hooker, for making a difference in my life and always showing up when it truly matters.

Sunny Mall

Homer does it again

I want to thank everyone in Homer who supported our seniors and their graduation ceremony on May 18, 2020. While most communities and schools canceled graduation, Homer made sure we honored the Homer High School class of 2020 in style. People from the community were calling me unsolicited to donate money or help with preparations. The actual ceremony turned out better than expected, and was memorable and meaningful to our families. Many of our seniors were ecstatic to see everyone who turned out for the procession, honking horns and supporting them. Thanks for making their graduation something they will remember the rest of their life.

It is amazing the number of people I need to thank who made this happen. This ended up being one of the larger and more complex events HHS has put on.

First, I want to thank the committee of 25 parents, students and teachers who helped plan this event from scratch, all via Zoom. Thanks to the Homer Police Department and Homer Fire Department for managing traffic and leading the procession. Thanks to the City of Homer for putting up banners in town, letting us borrow cones and candlesticks for traffic control, and working with us to get permits for our procession.

I would like to thank several anonymous community members for making donations to purchase banners, Lotus Condin for finding someone to make our lawn signs and Sarah Vance for helping make the signs happen. Thanks to Cindy, Sharon and Alayne who worked diligently to create Facebook posts for all seniors. Thanks to Church on the Rock for doing our sound during the ceremony. Scott, Aaron and your crew are rock stars.

Thanks to the HHS Theater crew and IT folks who figured out our streaming and ran the cameras. Thanks to Kate, Mike, Chad and Paul for organizing, creating signs, managing and setting up our parking for this event. There are many more who should be thanked, but there isn’t space.

I am proud of our staff for coming together to make this happen in a pandemic, our parents for supporting us and giving this event a chance, the students who gave up so much their senior year and the citizens of Homer for supporting HHS.

Yes, Homer, you “did it again” and exceeded my expectations and earned my gratitude.

Sincerely,

Douglas Waclawski , Principal, Homer High School

Homer Foundation helps Rotarians — again

Dear Editor,

When it became obvious this year that everyone nearly everywhere would be impacted, to some degree or another, every country, state and city scrambled to do its best to protect its citizens. They are all caring and providing services for those who contracted the disease, while challenged by the shortage of personal protective gear and medical supplies. Volunteers throughout this country flocked to try to help with food donations and protective face mask donations.

Alaska’s Rotary International District 5010, gave every Rotary Club in Alaska $1,000 to spend on COVID-19 impact mitigation.

In conjunction with the Rotary Cares for Kids program, the Rotary Club of Homer Downtown, with help from the Homer Foundation, added $400 to that amount. $1,000 went for food gift cards at Safeway and Save-U-More for homeless teens. $400 was spent on material for the production of about 300 cloth safety face masks, made available for free to area residents.

We want to thank the Homer Foundation for its help with this project.

Sincerely,

Jan O’Meara, Secretary 2019-1010, Rotary Club of Homer Downtown

Vance has been divisive

Politics is a terrible spectator sport, especially when it involves watching this town tear itself apart from 2,000 miles away.

I love this town, and yet each year our relationship grows more complicated. Homer raised me and shaped my worldview. But in the years since leaving, it has disappointed me many times.

So when I read that Nikiski’s representative compared coronavirus restrictions to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, I wasn’t surprised that Sarah Vance came to his defense. But I was definitely outraged.

I wish talking to people in this town about why these remarks are dangerous didn’t feel so much like shouting in a void. It’s astounding that people are unable to see why it is offensive to compare being asked to stay home to racially-motivated genocide. Why it is outrageous for Vance to defend a man who claimed that “Hitler wasn’t motivated by white supremacy?”

Then again, Vance has been dividing this town since Day 1. She’s built her political career on controversy and deflecting accountability. Vance prefers easy political wins — like writing letters that embolden COVID-19 rumors — to ensuring her constituents’ safety or securing them economic relief.

Vance has played a major role in this community’s communication breakdown. It should be simple to see that there’s no comparison to be made between coronavirus restrictions and concentration camps. And yet so many have rushed to her defense.

Vance’s recent comments were disgraceful. Her willingness to openly defend a Nazi sympathizer (yes — that’s what it’s called when you claim Hitler “wasn’t a white supremacist”) should alarm this entire community. And we’re the only ones who can hold her to account.

So why wasn’t my Facebook feed filled with denouncements? Why wasn’t Vance’s phone line flooded with angry calls?

Again I ask: Where is the outrage?

Kaitlin Armstrong (Cashman), Tacoma, Washington

COVID compliance sticker diluted constitutional safeguards

The wearing of a legislative-approved emblem as evidence of having been tested for COVID, although a powerful symbol of solidarity in fighting COVID, isn’t a legislator’s prime duty. A primary function is to actively represent our precious heritage of constitutional government, the great institutional stabilizer in times of civil unrest, such as now, when COVID is creating mass fear and stress. We’ve been here before: In World War II, for example, when 120,000 Japanese-American citizens on the West Coast were arguably unconstitutionally interned for several years in guarded camps. The argument was that their loyalty was in question, that they threatened American lives through sabotage. Few such acts ever occurred, but the camps did provide volunteers for the 442nd RCT, by their sacrifices becoming the most decorated Regiment in U.S. History.

In our Civil War, historically our nation’s darkest hour when patriotic Americans were dying by the thousands on the battlefields, the people’s civil liberties and free speech were never seriously threatened by the Abraham Lincoln administration, other than temporarily jailing some individuals in border states who actively threatened or supported rebellion.

Thus, justifying an emblem for COVID compliance can readily be viewed as the first innocent step in diluting the citizen’s constitutional safeguards, just as Jews being forced to wear a yellow Star of David was the first justified step in the chain that led to their virtual extinction in Auschwitz-type camps as verminous sub-humans, as deadly threats infecting the purity and life of the supposedly intelligent and highly-cultured German (Aryan) race.

Larry Slone

Honor business requests to wear a mask

Dear Editor,

COVID-19 is still here and being transmitted the same way as it was before the Governor opened up the state on Friday. The major differences are that the hospitals are more prepared to handle the expected increase in cases, and there are more people traveling around Alaska with undiagnosed COVID. Many of them are likely asymptomatic.

Personally, I hope to not be one of the new cases and to do so I choose to mask, social distance and wash my hands often. I will choose to support the businesses in town that have these protocols in place, whenever possible. I suggest if you agree with me, then show it with your pocketbook. If you don’t, then you can choose to bring your businesses to other establishments. If you want to shop at a store that is requesting masks, honor that with respect.

Thank you.

Janet Fink

Homer OPUS says thanks

Dear Editor,

A most wonderful and magical thing has been happening here in our creative artistic community by the sea. A rising tide of youth ensemble programs have been blooming in our schools and in our community. They have been growing and thriving under the direction of a talented and enthusiastic cadre of music professionals. Homer OPUS would like to thank and honor these musical directors for their love and service to the children of Paul Banks Preludes, Fireweed Frescoes and the Homer Youth String Orchestra Club (HYSOC).

To Katie Klann, Daniel Perry and Lisa Schallock, and our super volunteer Gabriela Husmann, Homer OPUS would like to thank you for your incredible devotion, your wisdom and expertise, and your creative and enthusiastic leadership. You have made visible our vision to build a stronger community by creating music together. The Paul Banks and Fireweed children and families thank you Katie for helping our music programs to flourish and grow at our schools. The HYSOC families are grateful to Daniel and Lisa for their musical guidance and support as the players have grown into a talented youth string ensemble in this community.

Katie, Daniel, Lisa we are so happy you have been here to nourish, sustain and strengthen this incredible rising tide of musicians. Paul Banks Preludes, Fireweed Frescoes and HYSOC tip a hat and bow in your direction and say thanks.

The music lives on and flourishes.

Kim Fine, for Homer OPUS

Masks protect others from COVID-19

Editor:

It is incredibly sad and dangerous that wearing a mask has apparently become a political statement. It should not. This pandemic is real and has claimed almost 100,000 lives. Masks help prevent the airborne release of a dangerous disease that is spread in the air by droplets when we cough, sneeze and speak. Many of us have pre-existing conditions that make the disease more dangerous, and most of us either have a family member with such a condition or know someone with a condition that could make this illness fatal or disabling. Why put these loved ones and friends in peril needlessly?

It is a fact the coronavirus is spread by asymptomatic carriers (those who don’t exhibit symptoms yet) and that people who wear masks are protecting everyone else from this disease.

With restrictions being lifted on activities, contact between people will increase substantially and in order to prevent further increase in coronavirus it is essential that everyone use a mask when out in public. This is not a constitutional issue that is restricting someone’s rights or freedom. Please just think for a moment about all the laws we adhere to without question in order to keep our society safe. It is strictly a public health issue and one of basic consideration for our friends and neighbors.

It’s time to take this situation seriously and make a small sacrifice for the health of others and ourselves.

Hal Smith, M.D.

Resist vote by mail

Seldovia, Kachemak Bay and Fox River had vote by mail forced on them by the will of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

The rest of Homer and all of the rest of the Borough will also be annexed into the vote by mail system for the October borough elections if Ordinance 2020-24 passes.

No vote of the people necessary — the assembly granted themselves this power in 1995.

They used it in 1998 to Place Kachemak city in vote-by-mail only status, then in 2012 to place Seldovia and Fox River into vote-by-mail only.

The voice of Homer residents is your elected officials and your testimony on 2020-24.

Living in a forced VBM only district I wish the option to go to my local school and vote, like I do in state elections, was still a choice I had.

You decide.

David Nees, Cooper Landing

COVID-19 patient grateful for community help

On March 28 my husband, Richard’s, test for COVID-19 came back positive with this insidious illness and he ended up on a ventilator. He was then medevaced to Anchorage. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all who were so kind and helpful when Richard was so very sick with the COVID-19 virus, especially our neighbors Jan Rudolph and Jack Sibson who realized something was wrong and called the EMTs. Their quick action really helped to save his life.

A big thank you to the American Legion family of Post 16, Rep. Sarah Vance, Kenny of Ace Towing and Chip Duggan who helped get our car from Homer to Anchorage. It was most appreciated. Also, the quick action of Dr. William Bell, Dr. Paula Godfrey, and the Emergency Rood staff at South Peninsula Hospital who immediately medevaced Richard to Providence Hospital and all the wonderful caring staff at Providence Hospital in Anchorage.

Words can’t begin to express our appreciation to Dawn and Paco who came and picked up and cared for our dog, to all the angels including Adrienne, Alex, Lori and Cheryl who not only cleaned our house but who made it possible for us to make a smooth transition back into the community. There are many who sent prayers and good thoughts and support; thank you so very much. Each of you will have a very special place in our hearts. Homer is truly a wonderful place to live.

Bless you all,

Richard, Carolyn Turner and family

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