Homer, Alaska: Letters to the editor

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. It makes 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

Did community learn from 2012 teen party assault?

Do you ever think about the young student who was victimized and sodomized by his Homer High School classmates at that party several years ago? How and where is he? Has he found healing ? And what of those at the party? It would not have been fair for only two to have taken the blame for the actions of all involved, yet no responsibility for the egregious wrong was ever accepted, though everyone at that party was culpable.

Had the event taken place now in the full light of the “Me Too” movement,” no doubt things would have played themselves out very differently. With no responsibility accepted, was anything learned by the students and community by that tragic event? And do you ever think about this, and him, and the student offenders who have gone on to lead their lives post graduation without consequences while one of their own is scarred for life by their actions? How does an egregious wrong that permanently damages become righted?

Jo Going

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

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

DOT&PF gets ’er done

I would like to commend Gordie and his maintenance crew — let’s throw in Jessie, too — with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. I went on pothole alert. They were so on it — get ’er done, making the roads safe. You fellers do good work.

It ain’t heaven, but it’s Homer, the winding road of life.

Thank you,

Doug “Dug” Urbon

Homer Transfer Facility

Hospice appreciates ACUL support

In May, the Alaska Credit Union League hosted their Annual Meeting here in Homer and selected two local nonprofits to be the recipients of the proceeds from their fundraising auction.

Attendees generously purchased art from Fireweed Gallery and donated it back to the auction to secure funds for Hospice of Homer and HOWL.

I would like to thank the ACUL for selecting Hospice of Homer as a recipient of this fundraiser. The ACUL’s decision to leverage their event to benefit local nonprofits is commendable. Hospice of Homer will use the funds to support our three programs: volunteer direct-care, medical equipment loans, and grief and loss support for those experiencing bereavement.

In addition to the ACUL fundraising proceeds, two credit unions — Alaska USA Federal Credit Union and Credit Union 1 — went above and beyond and made additional donations directly to Hospice of Homer and HOWL.

Our deepest thanks to the ACUL, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union and Credit Union 1. Your generosity touches many lives in the Homer area.

Jessica Golden, Executive Director

Hospice of Homer

Zak did right thing in Pride action

I applaud our Mayor Bryan Zak for being the brave, kind human being that he is, and for knowing when to do the right thing.

Jim Lavrakas

How to save the birds

In reply to Skreg Phillips’ letter in last week’s paper (“What’s going on with birds?”), it was our birding group, the Kachemak Bay Birders, who suggested that we declare a Year of the Bird here in Homer for 2018. (A resolution passed the Homer City Council and a similar one in the Kenai Borough Assembly. Many other organizations in other areas are doing this also.)

One reason we did this was to draw attention to our birds: resident birds, those that come for part of the year, and those that pass through on their migrations. Birds worldwide are suffering alarming losses due to habitat destruction and climate change. Many of us care deeply about birds generally and are particularly concerned when locally we notice fewer of some species and others disappearing from our area.

There are things that everyone can do to help birds. Some of these are:

• plant native plants in your yard

• keep cats indoors

• make windows bird-safe

• put up bird feeders (in the winter only)

• provide some water

• encourage children to observe and care about birds

• never feed birds bread or other baked goods

• keep litter cleaned up, especially plastic

Other things you might consider would be putting up a bird house, participating in a bird count, and finding out what to do if you find a chick out of a nest or an injured bird.

A good source of information for these topics is the Kachemak Bay Birders’ website, www.kachemakbaybirders.org. We can all help make Homer a good place for birds.

Lani Raymond

Swallows absent

This is in response to Skreg Phillips’ letter to the editor and published in the July 5th edition of the News. I too have also noticed something strange going on with the swallows. I live just below Skyline off of East Hill Road and have 6 swallow houses on my property. Up until this year I have always had 5-6 of the houses occupied with the babies taking off around the 4th of July. This year however, few swallows showed up and only one house is occupied, and they were even late getting started. Also I have mosquitoes all over the place which is not the case when the swallows are around. I hope this is a one time event and that they will be back next year. I wonder if the swallows showed up in Chicken this year. they have always had a thriving population of swallows this time of the year.

Dick Leirer

Quechua pride

The return of EF Tour Group certainly seems to have touched off a flood of support for this proud ancient people of the Andes. Seeing the flag of Cuzco flying around town always gives one the time to pause and say “thank you.” Thank you to this hardy and colorful culture for the word “poncho.” For without them, tourists might be wearing trash bags.

Dan Hasche

It was a special treat for the Homer Chamber and Commerce & Visitor Center to celebrate the Fourth of July with the community during the annual parade celebrating freedom and the volunteer spirit in Homer. We have so many people to thank. Without our parade sponsors Alaska USA Federal Credit Union and Grand Stand sponsors Bay Realty the parade couldn’t have gone on. Special thank you to first time parade MC Dave Eckwert.

Thank you, parade judges Talena Kinder, Kyah Fisk and Helen Phipps. Thank you, parade volunteers Megumi Beams, Terrilynn Dale, Julie Davis, Dana Cordle, Lucy Marrott, Susan Kaplan, Bob Neubaur, Pam Soderholm, Jane and Ron Echler, Paula Riley, Chad La Blanc, Dee Macy, Irene Randolph, Mark Speakman, and Beth’s Boys. Thank you, City of Homer police and fire department. Thank you to parade coordinator Jan Knutson.

The Grand Marshals of this year’s parade were Dave & Ruby Nofziger. These extraordinary community volunteers really exemplify the volunteer spirit.

Finally, a special thank you to the community of Homer who came out and cheered on those marching in the parade.

Debbie Speakman, Executive Director

Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center

Right now, around 8 percent of the global population is living in extreme poverty on less than $1 per day. However, many in the United States seem to believe that their contribution to the cause of combating global poverty cannot possibly make real change on their own. Well, there is an organization that is dedicated to ending global poverty by lobbying our Congress on behalf of global poverty reduction legislation and it is called The Borgen Project. Started in 2003, The Borgen Project has focused on mobilizing and educating the populace on major global issues and advocating for global food security, food aid reform, newborn child and mother survival, and access to clean water, sanitation, and power for those in the most impoverished and overlooked corners of our world.

During a world public opinion poll, it came to light that the average American believes that 20 percent of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid programs. The reality is that less than 1 percent goes to assisting the world’s poor. If we want to make a true difference in the lives of the struggling and starving, we cannot stay the course. It is imperative that we educate ourselves on the issues at hand. That is why I recommend that we all take a minute to go to www.borgenproject.org, and see the impact that volunteer-centric advocacy has made in helping to change the world.

The world is changing day by day, and the impact that we have on that change is only limited by our own willingness to care. With just a phone call or an email, you can help make a difference in the world by sending a message to our Congress that when the world is better off, that makes us better off as well.

Evan Boyer

Delusional king solutions

I just love listening to anglers complain about our king salmon runs shrinking or disappearing. When they finally get done complaining, I ask what their solutions are. I can handle just about any creative attempt except the one that includes hook and release king fishing while commercial gill netters continue slaughtering kings.

What if Alaskan natives would have released their whales while our whaling fleets were slaughtering them a hundred years ago? Would “release hunting” been able to save our whales from extinction? Probably not but it would have been a nice delusional gestor that would have harmed the natives while doing nothing to save the whales.

Anglers hooking and releasing king salmon in the freshwater to help increase future kings in the saltwater would basically do the same. Hook and release king fishing does nothing to help the future king salmon resource because all those extra kings are just killed off by excessive commercial gill net fishing. Hook and release king freshwater fishing within “a gill net slaughter saltwater environment” equals nothing but self-deception.

Self-deception can be a pretty funny thing. I use to hand out money to the homeless. It was a fast and easy way to ease my conscience because I was helping them. One day I saw my money get spent on alcohol and discovered how a superficial solution can deceive you into believing you are solving a problem when you’re actually just creating another problem. I discovered that superficial solutions usually have unintended consequences. Superficial hook and release solutions within a gill net slaughter environment may ease your conscience but they help reduce efforts, resources and finances for real king salmon solutions.

Alaska currently has a huge statewide king salmon problem. Hook and release king solutions within a gill net slaughter environment are like putting Banaids on cancer. They only serve to delay real future king salmon solutions. Delusional hook and release king salmon solutions are used by people who do not understand how complex our king salmon problems really are.

Donald Johnson