Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Don’t re-appropriate station funding

The city council is considering an ordinance to move money dedicated to the Police Station fund to a new proposal to bring a 16-bed men’s residential treatment center to Homer.

The city council previously directed $177,000 of state community assistance to the Police Station fund as an enticement for voters to approve the $5 million bond necessary for construction. We did.

During the 2019 budget process, the council approved an amendment to transfer $250,000 from the general fund to the police station:

“Rationale: As the number-one priority for the City of Homer, it is prudent to commit any extra resources to this project. Furthermore, by adding $250,000 of General Fund dollars to the project, the City can reduce the amount it bonds for from $5 to $4.75 million.”

Now, not even three months into the 2019 budget, with not even construction plans completed for the new police station, the council is considering re-appropriating at least $177,000 from the number-one priority for the city to a new project which did not have to compete with other funding requests during the budget process.

“Uncertainty still persists in Alaska’s economic future. Municipalities will be a target for cost shifting either directly by reducing Community Assistance funds and contracts for services or indirectly by a declining level of state services that in turn puts pressure on municipalities to pick up these state-initiated shortfalls.

“Every department has expressed a need to increase staffing under the strain that years of tight budgets have put on their capacity. The Public Works complex is aging; the City Hall roof needs replacing” (Information taken from 2019 Homer Budget Document).

Please encourage the city council to defeat this re-appropriation of police station funding.

Mary Griswold

Wonderful Opportunity

I’m writing this letter to the editor in appreciation to Homer Council on the Arts for the opportunity to participate in the Body Moves class, and also to TRAILS (Total Recreation And Independent Living Services) through the ILC (Independent Living Center). They both helped me, through scholarships, to pay for the class. This class was available for people with Parkinson’s, and though I do not have Parkinson’s, I love discovering ways I can experiment with movement, especially with music, and we had beautiful, live piano music, which affects me in a profound way. One of the participants choreographed a dance for us to perform in Tiny Dances at Homer Council on the Arts, if we chose to, and I did choose to (Feb. 22 and 23). This was a wonderful opportunity for me. I so enjoyed it and experienced how good it made me feel. It was a bit challenging to learn something to be performed, but just the right amount of challenge to grow from. This was so fun and healing. Again, my thanks to HCOA for this opportunity and for the support from the TRAILS staff at the ILC.

Carol Charat

Sorry Stormy

As a Fritz Creek resident of 20 years, I feel sadness that the old familiar Stormy can’t greet us anymore at the Fritz Creek (General) Store. I will miss her serenity, her quiet ways and the joy on children’s faces when they came to see her.

There are rules that can and should be broken or considered for reevaluation when there is a valid reason for reconsideration, and there certainly was. Stormy patrolled outside and in the building, keeping it clean.

This is rural Alaska, where we all know there are legions of mice to deal with and that’s exactly what Stormy did. She made sure they were gone. When a cat is on the premises, mice can detect their presence and many avoid the area.

Hard to believe this is a matter of cleanliness — what a joke. The worst illnes I ever got was a potentially dealy one from a hospital, the other from an airplane. I have eaten delicious food from the Fritz Creek Store for more 20 years and thrived on it.

I repeat: The children and patrons at Fritz loved Stormy — she has been there for years. Apparently one patron did not. I feel dismay over this person’s mean-spirited, hygienic heart. Meanwhile, I feel a loss every time I walk in. And DEC, I am sorry you felt compelled to act on this; it wasn’t necessary. The result of the loss of Stormy will be felt not only in our hearts, but in the great job she did.

Sharon Henry

Cutting education should be last option in balancing the budget

I was born in Alaska in 1952 and I’m a product of Alaska public education from kindergarten to graduate school. I went to Cordova Elementary School, Seldovia Elementary School and graduated in 1969 from Seldovia High School. I took my BA in 1973 from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and my MFA in 1985 from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Since then I have been a novelist, during which time I have published 34 novels as well as many short stories, columns and articles. I’ve been successful enough to make a decent living and to sponsor a small philanthropic project. I live in Homer now, where I support the local economy in the purchase of goods and services and in the payment of local and borough taxes.

Alaskan success stories are founded on Alaskan educations. Cutting funding for education should be the very last option the state government exercises in balancing its budget.

Dana Stabenow

Protect Arctic Refuge

I am writing to voice my opinion about the proposed drilling in the pristine wilderness of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I am not a resident of the state, but I have visited in an RV and so have camped and seen the beauty and the animals who call Alaska their home. The experience changed my life, and the idea of it all going away is one of the most disturbing scenarios I’ve encountered in my long lifetime.

Since I am not a resident I may not fully understand why several tribes and Lisa Murkowski are in favor of drilling, but I can definitely offer what I believe to be true. Several issues lie at the root of this; one is the jobs which will come from this project. Unfortunately these jobs will not last, and at the end of it the landscape will be forever changed, the caribou will have lost their breeding ground, plus many other bird and animal species that roam through the area to forage for food.

And hidden within this proposal is the loss of tourist travel. Who wants to visit an area where the landscape has been ripped apart, the unique animals scattered, and oil derricks mark the skyline? Cruise ships arrive on a daily basis bringing people interested in seeing animals they can’t see anywhere else. This trade brings in billions of dollars a year. Will the oil that is found bring more profit than that? Even the preliminary seismic testing to discover how much oil is even there will disrupt the landscape with building roads and hauling in equipment. Another group who will lose out are the ethical hunters who come to enjoy one of the last unspoiled areas of our country.

I hope that Alaskan residents will see and appreciate the unspoiled beauty of the state where they live. Please don’t give it away.

Nikki Broadwell

Tucson, Arizona

Support Dunleavy on budget, PFDs

Gov. Dunleavy has introduced two bills for the back-pay owed to Alaskans on their PFDs. The legislature should act switfly on those bills. Every penny of that PFD money due Alaskans is sitting in the Earnings Reserve Account, and is available for distribution. There should be no change to the PFD without a vote of the people. I fully support the governor in the direction he is taking the state — balanced budgets and full PFDs; no new taxes. I trust the governor will find inefficient departments to cut to save us money.

As to the special interests jamming the public comments, they should not be able to comment on state budgets if they receive a salary from the state. Public employees serve the people and do not call the shots. Let me repeat that. Public employees serve the people. The public has declared that there need to be cuts and some of you will be let go as the state is in a budget crunch thanks to poor leadership of past politicians. Thank you for your service.

Sincerely,

Arseny Polushkin

Keep your mouth shut

This is the time of our discontent. Never have I seen the level of polarization in our people as now. I have lived through the Vietnam era, Watts riots, political assinations, and studied U.S. history in college. I have engaged, many times, in discussions about wars, race discrimination, U.S. roles in the world, etc., with vigorous interaction with at most/least an agree-to-disagree ending.

Today I find I need to keep my mouth shut as my input can lead to a loss of friendships, unbridled anger from the liberal opposition, and a level of irrational viewpoints that disregards any and all facts. These are vial attacks on anyone voicing approval of our presidents possition on any issue.

I fear for the future of this country when one cannot feel safe to freely speak their mind.

James Mikesell

My 2 cents

I am backing Gov. Dunleavy 100 percent. The PFD was made bluntly clear by Clem Tillion. It belongs to us, the citizens of Alaska. My hope is for a full PFD and payback. I thought the governor’s idea is wise and should be followed.

John Nott, Anchor Point

Love for Stormy

It makes me sad that Stormy has to leave Fritz Creek Store. I live right near the store and love seeing Stormy. Please, oh please, don’t make Stormy leave. I love Stormy. Please tell the sanitation people we want Stormy to stay.

P.S.: Please say good-bye to Stormy and if she needs a home we can adopt her.

Keva Campbell, age 4

State needs a reboot

Some thoughts concerning comments made at Rep. Sarah Vance’s town-hall meeting:.

Just to remind to those who are having a knee-jerk reaction to Dunleavy’s budget proposal, Dunleavy won over Begich in a landslide, as did Sarah Vance. And if Gabrielle LeDoux, Louise Stutes and Gary Knopp were individuals of integrity and actually honored the fact that they ran as Republicans, then the House would be under Republican control.

So, what can be said concerning what the vast majority of Alaskans want?

Exactly what Dunleavy ran on:; get our fiscal house in order and restore our PFD, including that which was stolen from us. To restore honor to our governance so that private enterprise can once again flourish in our state and start getting folks back to work; to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs and people from Alaska.

As to the “education” budget, please stop with the nonsensical rhetoric. It is way past time for adults to have an adult conversation concerning how much we are spending and how we are “educating.” For longer than I can remember, we have been throwing more and more funds at the problem, with ever worsening results. The 2018 ranking of states puts us at 44. Let’s see, what is that old adage: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results = insanity. Perhaps we should take a look at places like Sweden to see what they have done to actually turn around their education system.

We need a complete reboot. We need to take a hard look at how we educate and what we are educating. Time to stop throwing our children under the bus in order to advance a particular agenda.

Duane Christensen

Vance’s appreciation for KBBI, college is ironic in light of budget cuts

Oh, the irony. Rep. Sarah Vance ended her contentious Town Hall meeting Saturday by thanking KBBI Public Radio for carrying it live (and also making it available on their website), while supporting a budget that would zero out state funding for the very venue that allowed hundreds, probably thousands of people who couldn’t attend the meeting to hear her message and the voice of her constituents. She also thanked the Kenai Peninsula College, Kachemak Bay Campus that hosted the estimated 400 people who could attend in person, a satellite campus that would undoubtedly be shut down if the Dunleavy budget were to come to fruition.

One has to wonder if she realizes the dichotomy. And one of her messages was essentially that because she won the election, people that didn’t vote for her don’t concern her as much as those that did.

”I will not ignore the vote of the people. All of you matter, but you do not represent all of the district,” she said.

Cristy Fry

Reject Gov. Dunleavy’s slash-and-chaos budget proposal

I walked away from Sarah Vance’s town hall on Saturday feeling frustrated. She seems more receptive to Dunleavy’s budget cuts than to finding new ways of generating revenue to support our universities, ferries and other critical state services.

What’s happening in Alaska feels like a microcosm for the rest of the world. The public sector is on the chopping block while the wealthy and large corporations enjoy record profits. Bought politicians continue to champion bogus tickle-down economics. Income inequality in the U.S. is surpassing that of the Gilded Age. Alaska is victim to the petrochemical curse that plagues other oil-rich places. Corruption, mismanagement and a failure to diversify. Our answer? Double down with far right politicians who push for severe austerity measures while demanding that we still get to eat our cake — the PFD — too.

Vance’s “cuts first, maybe revenue later” stance I saw displayed at the town hall is a sham. This is Alaska’s oil. We need to get a good deal for it or we should explore a Norweigan model of partial state ownership in extraction. Our wealth should be funding teachers, not stock buybacks. I’m a fan of the PFD as a form of universal basic income, but we shouldn’t be cutting those checks in full if we cannot properly fund public services. We should tie the PFD to income to make sure that subsistence economies and the poor aren’t decimated. And let’s institute a progressive income tax.

Finally, I don’t believe elections are ever referendums. They’re just one part of the political process that represents a singular moment in time. Alaskans, let’s reject Dunleavy’s slash-and-chaos budget and make our voices heard, as it seems like our local house representative lacks the leadership. If it comes to it, I’ll see you on the picket line.

Shawn Biessel

KBC celebrates students

Here at the Kachemak Bay Campus, we Celebrate Our Students and we think our community would like to hear about their successes. Here is one of many:

Jacob Socha started at KBC with the Jumpstart program, which allows high school students to take college classes at significantly reduced rates. Jacob took welding, math, writing and communications. After he graduated from Homer High, Jacob continued with more college classes at KBC. After completing the Fall 2018 semester, he applied to be an apprentice in the UA Local 375 Pipefitters Union in Fairbanks.

“It is a combination of classes and working,” said Jacob. “I am currently attending ten weeks of training, and then will work as a Pipefitter’s Apprentice. At the end of the fifth year, the apprentices become Journeyman Pipefitters.”

Jacob, now 20 years old, credited KBC for preparation for the apprentice program.

He said, “I think that having a college education really helped me get into the program. The math classes that I took at KBC helped prepare me for the math that pipefitters have to use on a daily basis. The welding classes also helped me prepare for this program.”

Jacob grew up in Homer and reflected, “I think that small campuses such as KBC are critical to Alaska.” He felt the campus in Homer allowed him to begin his college career without having to leave the state. “I think it is important to keep people in Alaska,” he said, “and small campuses help do that, because they offer quality education close by.”

We congratulate Jacob on his career path, one that will not only build his own skills but also help build our state. We are proud of his success, and proud to call him our own.

Sincerely,

Paula J.S. Martin, Interim Director, KBC

Artist helped students learn life skills

Recently the students of West Homer Elementary were fortunate to host Homer artist and retired teacher, Debbie Piper for an Artist in Schools residency. During her time there, students created numerous works of art, including painted abstract sculptures made from coat hangers and pantyhose, ceramic animal sculptures, hanging mobiles of metal foil in the style of Alexander Calder, and paper mache sculptures of people engaged in a favorite activity. Additionally each child and staff member created textured ceramic tiles, which were glazed and fired for a permanent community mural titled by the students “The Orca’s Splash.”

Throughout the residency, Debbie guided the students to learn important life skills as they made their sculptures. Making these sculptures was a perfect opportunity for students to let their creativity shine. Although we focused on understanding the creative process, we were also able to validate other valuable skills students practiced like persistence, striving for accuracy, and learning from mistakes.

Without the support from the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska USA FCU, Ulmer’s Drug and Hardware, Kenai Fine Arts Center, and community fundraising who partner with Bunnell Street Arts Center to sponsor our Artist in the School programs, these experiences wouldn’t be possible. We’d also like to thank private donors Debbie and Chuck Piper, April Rhodes, Melon Purcell, Kay Bunnell, Phaedra Bennett, and Dave and Linda Etzwiler for their generous donations of time and material which helped make it possible.

On behalf of the students and staff of WHE, we are truly grateful for these opportunities that broaden our experiences and enrich our lives. Thank you. It was a whale of a job, but we had a tail-flippin’ good time.

Krista Etzwiler, Artist in the Schools Coordinator

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