Letters to the editor

Mayor Zak did right thing by standing up to prejudice

I notice that several of the critics of our mayor’s Pride Month proclamation claim that their objections are based solely on the potential divisiveness caused by singling out one segment of our community for special recognition.

Do their same objections apply to Municipal Clerks Week, I wonder? We aren’t all municipal clerks. Surely the rest of us deserve recognition too. Where was the outrage when this segment of our community was singled out for special treatment?

And how about Homer Bike Week? If I were a council member, how would the public react if I refused to do my job and then claimed I was protecting the city from the divisiveness caused by failing to include pedestrians and drivers of cars and trucks? Would citizens come to my rescue, alleging that Bike Week was part of an anti-Trump plot? I don’t think so.

Somehow it is only when the part of our community being recognized is the LGBTQ component that council members develop imaginary illnesses and letters to the editor appear in our papers censuring the mayor and his proclamation. It is prejudice, pure and simple, whether born from religion or paranoia or ignorance or just plain hatred. It was prejudice that motivated someone to send out a call to all parts of the state to bombard the city council with hateful emails. It is prejudice that has caused a certain right-wing blogger to spew forth her venom on her Internet so-called news site.

Congratulations to Mayor Zak for standing up to the prejudice and doing the right thing. Homer is better for your brave commitment to this community.

Sincerely,

Ann Keffer

Fund moves forward

The Educators Professional Development Fund began as a group of educators with two purposes: (1) honoring working education professionals on the lower Kenai Peninsula and (2) a means of recognizing the myriad contributions and legacies left by those professionals no longer living. This will be a way to memorialize their career commitments to teaching and learning.

A third part of the fund’s purpose is to promote the necessity and importance of education to the general public. Lastly, and of interest to current educators, the fund will provide professional development opportunities to enhance and support classroom teaching.

To establish a fund at The Homer Foundation, the group committed to raising the requisite $10,000. Thanks to the many donor contributions, that goal has been met and earnings from the fund will be available for grants, albeit modest at first, to local educators in the near future. Professional development applications and guidelines for this new program will be available at the Homer Foundation office beginning August 1. Area schools will receive information regarding the program as it becomes available.

Please consider a donation to the fund in honor of a living or deceased educator who has made a difference in your life. Donations may be made online or by check to The Homer Foundation for this fund at P.O. Box 2600, Homer, AK 99603. If you are interested in serving on the Steering Committee, contact Elaine Grantier at 907-299-1424.

On behalf of the Steering Committee,

Elaine Grantier, Mark Robinson, Shirlie Gribble

Proud to receive Scalzi scholarship

I want to thank the Drew Scalzi Memorial Maritime Scholarship and Homer Foundation for their support in granting me a scholarship for my continuing education. I am very thankful for the donors and people in the community who help support Homer High School graduates in furthering their education. I am excited to attend Washington State University this fall and this scholarship money will really help.

My family are longtime Alaskan Commercial fishermen; and I have fished with my father almost every year since I was a child. My father has always spoken very highly of Mr. Scalzi, both as a fellow commercial fisherman, and as a much respected legislator and advocate for fishermen’s issues. I am very proud as a fellow fisherman to receive this scholarship in his name and memory.

Thank you very much again.

Sincerely,

Mystique Ross

What’s going on with birds?

I understand that 2018 has been declared in your paper to be the “Year of the Bird.” It seems from my observations to be the exact opposite. I’ve lived on the ridge above Homer for over 20 years and never have I seen less. Usually I have several tree swallows nesting in the boxes I provide. This year, none. Usually sleep is impossible at dawn and this year it’s deathly quiet. Usually I see dozens of varied thrush. This year I’ve finally spotted one. By now the spruce grouse should have large clutches of chicks. Of the half dozen hens I’ve observed I’ve seen no chicks. The snipes [aka night hawk] whose whistling flight is usually a continuous symphony is now a rare solo. The three notes of the crown sparrow are absent and I haven’t seen a pine grossbeak once, when in the past flocks of them would command my feeders. The huge flights of pine siskins are non-existent and only rarely have I seen the little green and yellow bird that used to be common.

What’s going on? Does anyone else notice this?

Concerned on the ridge,

Skreg Phillips

Mariners appreciate Bear Creek music fest softball team support

The Homer High Mariner Softball Team is very grateful to Bill and Dorothy Fry of Bear Creek Winery for allowing us to participate in their marvelous music festival recently. The support they give our program with donations and access to fund raising opportunities is amazing and allows us to build a strong program that focuses on building teenage female resilience and confidence. Thanks especially to all those that dug deep into their pockets to participate in our Split the Pot drawings. See you next year when we go for our tenth straight Northern Lights Championship.

Hannah Zook and Bill Bell, coaches

Thanks for Elks Club, Emblem Club scholarships

I would like to thank the Homer Elks Lodge and the Homer Emblem Club for awarding me their scholarships. They will go a long way to help me achieve my goal at AVTEC of becoming a chef. Thanks very much.

Isaac Jump

Westphal acted professionally

I worked with Douglas Westphal in the Physical Therapy Department of South Peninsula Hospital many years ago. At the time, it was a very small department with only three employees, so I worked closely with Douglas. I never saw Douglas act in any way but with kindness and professionalism toward the patients and staff. The Homer News did a grave disservice to Douglas and our community with the article that was printed.

Marsha Rouggly

In support of Doug

During my many years of living in the Homer, I have had physical therapy at the hospital several times. I have always found Douglas Westphal to be an excellent therapist who acted in a professional manner as well as being kind and caring.

Donna Martin

Appreciation for the Ptarmigan Arts Visual Arts Scholarship

I would like to express my gratitude to the donors of the Ptarmigan Arts Visual Arts Scholarship for supporting my journey to not only further my education, but to also further my abilities as an artist. It was truly exciting to see a scholarship available for aspiring artists such as myself. It was also so lovely to see the Ptarmigan Arts panel pick not only one, but three recipients for the scholarship. I am very grateful to be included as a scholarship recipient.

I will use this scholarship to contribute to my tuition this upcoming fall at Washington State University. I plan on studying Digital Technology and Culture, a major with an exciting mixture of art and technology. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to grow up in a community that has been so supportive and encouraging of art and I’m looking forward to continuing to develop my passion in college.

Thank you again,

Maggie Alston

Thanks for after-grad party support

On behalf of all of the parents of the 2018 Homer High School graduating class, we would like to extend our heart-felt thank you to all of the generous Homer businesses who donated fantastic door prizes for the “after- graduation” party held at the Elks on graduation night. We know that you are asked time and time again to support students for various causes, and we are so appreciative of your generosity to this community. This after-graduation party provides a great opportunity for the kids to be together and celebrate their accomplishment in a safe and healthy environment. Thank you also to the Elks for providing us space and the gaming tables for the graduates.

Karin Sonnen

Stick to city business

I fail to understand why the mayor and Homer City Council continue to address political issues instead of conducting the city’s business as they were elected to do. The council and mayor are costing the city a lot of money through dealing with divisive issues that are not business related. That is not what they are elected to do.

Max J. Lowe

Gibson family grateful for support

Thank you to everyone in the Homer community and from afar who reached out to us in so many kind and thoughtful ways in the days following the death of our beloved son and grandson Parker Gibson. Your love and support meant more to us than words can adequately express.

We were fortunate to have Parker in our lives for nearly 16 years and we are fortunate to have you all to get us through this unimaginable loss. We especially want to recognize and thank the R.E.C. Room for your generous contributions to the memorial gathering and your continuing support of the grieving young people of Homer and us.

With enormous appreciation,

Bob Gibson and Betty Siegel

Thumbs up to businesses

The Kachemak Bay Water Trail Committee and The Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park give a big “thumbs up” and a big “thank you” to Grace Ridge Brewery and Homer Saw and Cycle.

May tips donated by Grace Ridge Brewery go a long way to support boat transportation for volunteers and projects in Kachemak Bay State Park.

In support of Trails Day, Homer Saw and Cycle donated $400 worth of $20 gift certificates to lucky volunteers selected in a random drawing.

The generous support of these businesses is a great benefit to the communities of Kachemak Bay.

Dave Brann

Kachemak Bay Water Trail Committee

Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park

Grateful for Rotary scholarship

I want to thank the Rotary Club and the Homer Rotarians for the generous scholarship they have given me. Their generosity will take a significant amount of stress off me and my family in paying for college, and I am humbled and thankful. I am excited to go to college at the University of Montana to study Forestry and Climate Change Science, and experience the western US culture (although I will miss the special community of Homer). I am very thankful for people like them in this wonderful community that care about the post-secondary education of students and support us so generously. I hope this letter is able to express my gratitude and honor in receiving this scholarship.

Thank you,

Andie Sonnen

Back from the Land of the Inca

Lima, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Puerto Maldonado, Qorikancha, Sacsayhuaman, Urubamba, the Peruvian Amazonia… these are among the places that the Homer Globetrotters’ Peru Crew visited on a recent trip to the country.

On this EF Educational Tour, participants learned about the history and culture of the Inca, folkloric dances of Peru, local traditions in weaving and silversmithing, ancient styles in ceramics, how to identify real alpaca products, and the flora and fauna of the Peruvian Amazon region — just to mention a few. Among the trip highlights, travelers will always remember the removal of the blindfold to a first look at Machu Picchu, a soccer match with locals in an Amazonian downpour, a scavenger hunt in a chaotic, local market in Cusco, the creepy-crawly critters of a jungle night hike, a stroll through the salt ponds of Maras, the train ride among the Andean peaks, being packed in like sardines on a local bus ride in Lima, trying to enjoy the Sacsayhuaman Fortress while struggling to get enough oxygen at 2 miles of altitude, the alpaca burger and many other new and delicious foods, salsa dancing, visiting the daycare cooperative for low income single mothers, the Milky Way at night in the Amazon, and the overall awesomeness of traveling and learning with friends, family, and colleagues.

On behalf of the Peru Crew’s intrepid travelers and chaperones, which included Austin Shafford, Sophie Morin, Ethan Pitzman, Eve Brau, Summer McGuire, Seth Adkins, McKenzy Johnson, Mina Cavasos, Daniel Reutov, Landon Bunting, Abby Middleton, and Denise Pitzman, I would like to thank the following local businesses that contributed financially to make this great experience possible: Scotts Family Pharmacy, Kachemak Gear Shed, Lower Peninsula Power Sports, Alyeska Tire, Desperate Marine, Homer Art & Frame Company, and In Demand Marine.

Additional gratitude is due to the families that supported our trip and saw the value in educational travel. Thank you all.

Gordon Pitzman, EF Tour Group Leader

Reunite refugees; avoid trade war

I’m writing today about two issues. First, the United States has a moral and legal obligation to reunite children with their parents and to use due process to allow asylum seekers to apply and await their asylum status.

The second is tariffs. Given the consequences, this policy seems as ill conceived as the immigration decision. U.S. policy should be more consistent and reasoned than late night tweets. Trade wars are not easy to win and violate 70 years of sound economic study. I ask our representatives in Congress to help insert some reason into this misguided policy before it starts hurting our fishing industry.

William Noomah

Show up for council or leave

Homer City Council members who refuse to show up to city council meetings should not remain on the Homer City Council. To be afraid of conflict is not a reason to not fulfill your duties as council members. Other city items on the agenda for June 11, 2018, had to be postponed due only to the unwillingness of Smith, Strooza and Erickson to merely show up to represent the people of Homer. Pandering to drama created by forces outside of Homer instead of working for the people of Homer reveals your true bias. Show up and do the work you were elected to do at city council meetings.

Wendy Wayne

Food Pantry appreciates support

On behalf of the Homer Community Food Pantry board of directors, volunteers and clients, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to the community donors and letter carriers for the collection and generous donation of canned goods from our local Post Office through their annual Stamp Out Hunger campaign. Thanks to your program, HCFP is able to feed an average of 1,400 individuals each month, Our community is truly blessed to have such a giving resource that supports our mission to feed the hungry and provide assistance to those in need. Thank you from all of us at the Food Pantry.

Cinda Martin, Secretary

Homer Community Food Pantry

Pickleball tourney a success

Thank you, Mike Ilg and Homer Recreation for co-sponsoring and promoting a high level Pickleball tourney right here in Homer.

What a fun opportunity to showcase our talents and our beautiful town.

I can’t wait for Mike Hoxie and “Pickleball is Great” to return next year and make it an ever bigger and better event

Gratefully,

MJ Cambridge

Why I marched with Pride

I attended high school in Houston, Texas in the late 1970s. I remember sitting in class more than once listening to several boys discuss their plans to take baseball bats to Montrose to look for “faggots” and “queers” to beat up. I pictured a man walking down the street by himself, maybe heading home from work or to a gay bar, startled by a pickup truck screeching to a halt next to him and bat-wielding teenaged boys jumping from its bed to descend upon him. A gut wrenching image. But I did nothing. I just sat still and listened. Who was I, I thought, a scrawny anonymous girl in a class of 600 kids, to say something to these boys, popular boys who played sports and hung out with our class president? This memory and the guilt of doing nothing remains with me today.

I stood by Mayor Zak when he read the Pride Month recognition on June 11 and I marched through Homer on June 23 because I am no longer a scrawny anonymous girl. I have a voice in our beautiful city and I can use it to support my friends who are scientists, artists, fishermen, health care professionals, chefs, bartenders, students, and part of the LGBTQ community. Pride Month and the Pride March are about seeking equality, acceptance and inclusion. Humans are social beings; we all want to be accepted into community for who we are, what makes us unique, the gifts we offer. We all want to walk down the street without fear of baseball bat-wielding teenagers.

Last spring, during a difficult personal time, I found a creatively decorated Homer Rock that read, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” I stopped and picked up the painted stone, held it in both hands to feel its cool surface, and squeezed the energy of those words into my heart. Those were the exact words I needed in that moment. I set the rock down knowing someone else also needed those words.

I ask everyone in our community to “be yourself” and work hard to accept others for who they are. The diverse viewpoints expressed in Homer are what make us strong. We can be diverse. Respectful. Equal. And, yes, inclusive.

Donna Robertson Aderhold

Low voter turnout disappointing

Dear Editor and Citizens: I see the folks in Homer seem not to value their right to vote. That turnout in last week’s election of 17 percent means that a tiny fraction of citizens did their duty; the rest of you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. If you think that vote was not important enough to get off your butts, well think again, because the next time a vote is called it might cost you a lot more money. A tiny majority just imposed a 20-year tax of .035 percent. Because the city is going to go for a 20-year bond on that $5 million, the true cost will be $10 million. Itakes me wonder if more than 10 citizens are actually paying attention.

I wrote about a month ago about 41 percent of the property owners paying the bills for everybody, and didn’t hear a peep out of anyone. I also suggested that the city of Homer try to sell those bonds locally, instead of making Wall Street even richer. I did not hear anything about that either. Now, I do not live in Homer, but my wife and I made a pledge to try to do all of our shopping locally, in Homer. I just bought a computer from Ulmer’s Drug store. Even though they do not stock them, I asked them to get me one, and they gave me to their tech guy and helped me obtain a really nice one. I told them that I prefer to shop in Homer, and since I am a good customer they took good care of me.

Sometimes I hear someone at the council meeting beefing about the out of town people not carrying their fair share. Well, we support the Homer Food Pantry, the Homer Library, the Homer Council on the Arts, and a few others like KBBI. I guess we could start heading to Kenai or Anchorage if Homer is unhappy with us out-of-town folks. It would be nice in November to see an 80 percent or higher turnout. It would make me proud of you people.

Thank you for paying attention.

George Trudeau, Anchor Point

Hate and fear have no place in Cosmic Hamlet

A couple of weeks ago, we saw three city council members decide not to attend their scheduled city council meeting, all because of a proclamation that was to be read that shed a positive light on our LBGTQ community. These three city council members need to examine their conscience. By not attending the meeting because of the proclamation, it just showcased how important that proclamation needed to be read. As a community we still need to strive to make all members feel inclusion and acceptance.

At the very least, these three city council members should apologize for their refusal to attend the city council meeting. The disregard they showed by not attending just caused further divide in our community and showed how bigotry/homophobia still exists.

However, their actions did spur our community to show overwhelming support to the LGBTQ community, as hundreds of people marched in Homer’s first Gay Pride parade. The true spirit of Homer was in full force after the three city council members’ refusal to attend their meeting.

We live in this wonderful, beautiful town, where we all help one another. I’ve seen it time and again — and the LGBTQ community is part of who we are. They follow our state laws. They have worked hard to get laws changed, so they do feel included, and the LGBTQ community should not have to feel threatened because other people think their lifestyle is not appropriate.

When city officials show outright disrespect to another group, they should consider the greater good, put away their personal feelings and work to make this community the very best it can be. Hate and fear have no place in our “cosmic hamlet by the sea.”

Alex Koplin

Pride Month Recognition act abused the civic process

Generally I like and respect the promoters of the Pride Resolution (sic) as individuals. But they seem blinded by a hard knot of anger and resentment residing within their breasts, one that occasionally bursts forth in premeditated emotional confrontations against conservative values. Hence the police presence in the council chambers. The three missing council-members not conducting other city business is a red herring.

So, what is it they desire for their proteges. Equality under the law? They have that. A perfect world? It’s a fantasy; human angst is universal. To be liked or respected? Would they use government to compel that from the conservatives, who’ve held this country together for over 200 years, thereby creating a stable foundation for human progress?

Why the impatience to work within existing strands of human community, as done since time immemorial, through gaining another’s acceptance by sharing your bread with him?

The answer, I expect, is that it’s more emotionally gratifying to fast-track the process, to encourage the formation of mutually exclusive groups, and then to abuse the civic process by bludgeoning the opposition onto their knees.

Do those tactics sound familiar? Yep, just like him, the man you love to hate.

Larry Slone

SPH thanks volunteers

Thank you to the Homer Chamber of Commerce for again hosting the annual 4th of July Parade. It’s wonderful to see tradition in action for a family-friendly event in our community. Preparing for, participating in and watching a parade is enjoyable for young and old alike.

In recognition of the parade theme “Celebrating Homer’s Volunteers,” I take this opportunity to especially thank the dozens of volunteers who every day support the mission of South Peninsula Hospital. From working in the gift shop or hand-sewing novelty cold pack covers, to playing music or reading the newspaper aloud with a resident in long term care, volunteers make a world of difference in our organization. The SPH Auxiliary volunteers can be found everywhere, from weeding the flower beds and hosting at open houses, to delivering gifts of cheer at the holidays. The volunteers who spend their time in our Long Term Care are invaluable for providing companionship and good spirits to our many residents.

Volunteering can be mutually beneficial for all involved. Research shows that volunteering fills many un-met needs for the community, as well as providing the individual with a sense of purpose and a feeling of belonging to their community. According to the Mayo Clinic, volunteering can also lower stress, boost self-confidence, decrease the risk of depression, help one live longer, help someone stay physically and mentally active, and help someone meet and develop relationships.

Thank you to the generous volunteers at South Peninsula Hospital, and the hundreds of volunteers who contribute selflessly throughout our community. Your service makes a difference.

Derotha Ferraro, Director of Public Relations

South Peninsula Hospital

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