Letters to the Editor

Vance has failed voters

Rep. Sarah Vance has failed the voters of our district miserably. She has had little if any contact with her constituents. Phone calls and emails are rarely answered, she has not responded to radio and newspaper requests for interviews and she has failed to schedule any sort of town hall meetings regarding the impasse over the destructive vetoes by the governor.

Contrast this with our previous representative, Paul Seaton, who was always a reliable presence in our community and reported regularly to the voters via radio and newspaper interviews. Even if you did not agree with his positions at least you knew what was happening and what he was thinking.

On the floor of the House, Rep. Vance recently gave an “impassioned” speech about why she will only vote for the $3,000 Permanent Fund Dividend. She was adamant that the $3,000 PFD ($18,000 for her family) was important to her family and I’m sure it . But she makes no mention of the tremendous cost of this dividend to the future of Alaska. The millions cut from the education of our (and her) children, the loss of Head Start, the gutting of our University of Alaska, the thousands of poor and working poor who will no longer be eligible for Medicaid (and the resultant financial burden and possible ruin of rural hospitals like South Peninsula Hospital), aid to seniors, the Arts Council, Public Broadcasting, the list goes on. And we cannot forget the resultant loss of many thousands of Alaskans’ jobs and the loss of millions of dollars of federal matching grants. The cost to the financial and social fabric of Alaska is ruinously high ,yet she makes no mention of this and obviously does not care.

Ms. Vance should channel her passion to the actual future of Alaskans. If she truly cared about children she would care about their future instead of this year’s dividend.

Hal Smith, M.D.

Proud of Pride support

Thank you to everyone who supported and participated in Homer’s Second Annual Pride celebration last month, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that sparked the modern LGBTQ+ liberation movement. This year’s planning committee would like to recognize our sponsors at the Pride Foundation and Full Spectrum Health, along with the generous local businesses who offered donations and resources and who showed up for inclusion and diversity by displaying rainbow flags in June. Even a month later, the effects of your actions are felt around town and our future looks a lot brighter thanks to all your efforts and vital support.

Analise Hartnett, on behalf of the Homer Pride committee

City helps nonprofits

It is with deepest appreciation that I write to thank the City of Homer for supporting the nonprofit sector.

Sprout Family Services was a recipient of the 2019 City of Homer Grants Program through the Homer Foundation. The operating funds contributed by the City of Homer allows Sprout to maintain the various programs that we offer to families wherever we need it most.

This past year, funds were used to:

• Maintain our high enrollment in Imagination Library (over 400 kids),

• Pay recruitment costs for a much needed pediatric Occupational Therapist to join our team, and

• Hire a local community consultant to complete technology planning so that our staff have the hardware and software they need to serve families.

Thanks to the City of Homer, we can give more families the opportunity to grow up with Sprout.

Jillian Lush, Executive Director

Golden family thankful

Our family wants to extend our deepest thanks to the friends, neighbors, and even strangers, who have come forward to help out since Bryce’s cancer diagnosis. We would love to list every individual who has helped here, but the names could fill the whole newspaper and we would still run out of room.

To those who have brought us meals, watched our pets, donated to our GoFundMe, sent gifts, helped care for our home, provided airline miles for medical travel, and who have offered support, love, friendship, and well-wishes, we send our heartfelt gratitude. Your love has made our sadness infinitely easier to endure.

We also wish to acknowledge the kindness of the individuals at Hospice of Homer, South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services (The Center), Fireweed Academy, Homer Middle School, the Harbor School of Music & Dance, and Pier One Theatre for their support

Last, but not least, we want to thank by name Dylan and Angela Smith, Kristen Wright-Cook and Jared Cook, and Mercedes and Ben Harness for caring for our daughters like their own and for providing them with safe and loving homes when needed.

The months ahead will be a trying time for our family. But we are able to face the tribulations before us with brave and hopeful hearts because we know we aren’t facing them alone. We are so grateful for and humbled by the generosity of this amazing community. Thank you, Homer, with all our hearts.

Jessica and Bryce Golden

KBBI grateful for City of Homer grant

KBBI would like to thank the Homer Foundation and the City of Homer for making the City of Homer Grants Program possible. It is difficult for any nonprofit to find funding for general operating support, and to be able to find these funds locally is extremely valuable to KBBI and to our entire Nonprofit community here in Homer.

Thank you, City of Homer Grants program, not only for administering this funding throughout our community, but for holding a special discussion session at City Hall with two Homer City Council Members and the grantees present. We appreciate your interest in keeping this nonprofit community, and KBBI, running strong.

Sincerely,

Alder Snow, KBBI Development Director

Visitors appreciate state ferries

My wife and I completed the Homer – Dutch Harbor round-trip ferry (July 16 – 23, 2019) on the Tustumena. This was our second try; a previous one had been cancelled due to maintenance. It was an unforgettable trip. With mostly decent weather and calm seas, the scenery was spectacular. The captain and crew were exemplary: helpful, friendly and professional. The food was good and the service great.

The passengers had the opportunity to walk around at every port of call. As we observed and interacted with locals, it was clear that the ferry was very much appreciated. The kitchen acted as a restaurant at places where there were none. There was also some port to port traveling by workers and by locals to visit. As we became more aware of the immediate uncertainty regarding the future of the ferry system, we were more appreciative of this crew who projected nothing but goodwill.

While this was a fantastic experience, so was our first ferry trip from Bellingham to Haines some years before. As ones who are hooked on visiting Alaska, we see the Alaska Marine Highway System and the Alaska Railroad as great things: things to be proud of, things worth keeping and bettering. No place else has them. Please, let it not come to pass where the only coastal transportation options are cruise ships.

Thanks, Alaska, for another great trip.

Barry and Marsha Sabol

Socorro, New Mexico, USA

Hospice also appreciates city grants

Hospice of Homer would like to thank the City of Homer for awarding our organization a City of Homer grant for 2019.

This grant is especially important to Hospice of Homer because it provides unrestricted funds that offset the expenses of our day-to-day services.

These funds support nuts-and-bolts operations such as volunteer care for our clients, (including care-giver respite), and medical equipment loans and delivery for individuals who are recuperating from surgery, as well as to those who are ill and isolated or facing end of life.

Hospice of Homer is also committed to being a community resource on issues related to caregiving, death and dying, and grief and bereavement. All Hospice of Homer services are available to the public free of charge.

On behalf of Hospice of Homer’s staff, board, volunteers, clients, and donors, thank you to the City of Homer for supporting the vital services we provide.

Jessica Golden, executive editor, Hospice of Homer

Understanding the Permanent Fund

I am continually surprised and dismayed that so many Alaskans don’t seem to understand the difference between the Alaska Permanent Fund and the Permanent Fund dividend (PFD). I keep hearing statements to the effect of “I want my Permanent Fund” as well as the assumption that the Permanent Fund is money paid out to Alaskans as some kind of “right.”

It’s difficult to have a reasoned discussion about the Fund and the dividend, and Alaska’s future, unless voters share a common and factual understanding. It seems to me that confusion is encouraged by those who want to manipulate our politics for their own purposes.

The Alaska Permanent Fund was created by voters as a constitutional amendment in 1976 to save a portion of our oil wealth for the future, when oil revenues would inevitably dwindle. Earnings would then substitute for resource revenue to maintain Alaska’s operations.

The dividend was created in statute (that is, as a law) in 1980, to share some of the Fund’s earnings with Alaskans. The idea was that some sharing of the wealth would encourage Alaskans to take an interest in protecting the Fund, to make sure it would be invested wisely and maintained (and grown) forever. Laws, unlike the constitution, are reviewed and altered periodically.

That arguments over the size of dividends are now being used to divide Alaskans and create a political crisis is a very sad state of affairs.

Nancy Lord

Research Reserve adds value

The current dilemma and discussion throughout Alaska about state funding for the University of Alaska brings to mind the ancient proverb;

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,

For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,

For the want of a horse the rider was lost,

For the want of a rider the battle was lost,

For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,

And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.

How many of the University of Alaska budget vetoes imposed by Gov. Dunleavy amount to losing a nail? How many nails will be lost — how many horses and riders?

Like any quality university, the University of Alaska is a complex academic system with many interrelated parts. This includes a number of allied organizations. Typically, the work of these organizations adds to the education and career development of the students and brings in additional funding via research grants. The Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (KBNERR) is an example of such an allied organization.

KBNERR, based in Homer, is part of a national network of 29 reserves that are supported through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which requires a state partner with matching funds. KBNERR’s state partner is the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, KBNERR has earned an excellent national reputation for user-oriented research and monitoring as well as providing hands-on and field educational opportunities throughout the Cook Inlet region. Furthermore, KBNERR has consistently been a magnet and platform for researchers who come to Kachemak Bay to study its relatively pristine conditions to better understand estuaries and marine resources.

But continuing this work, vital to sustainably managing our local, state, and national marine resources, depends on receiving a small amount of state general funds via UAA as a mandatory match for KBNERR’s operating grant from NOAA. KBNERR’s budget for this year is about $1,225,000. Of that, it gets only $60-70,000 of state matching funds for its NOAA grant — which keeps the doors open and staff employed. The rest of KBNERR funding comes from agencies and institutions, mostly from outside Alaska, for specific projects.

The fundamental point is that the total funds KBNERR attracts is about 19 times greater than the seed money that it gets from the state. And, based on potential projects that KBNERR staff is now working on, this ratio will probably increase if it can keep the doors open. Furthermore, expenditures for food, lodging, charters, etc. by visiting scientists and students brings to the state additional economic benefits. Just from an economic perspective, KBNERR is clearly a winner.

A concern that KBNERR has is that most of the discussion about UAA funding will focus on the biggest issues. What might get lost in the frenzy are the small parts, like KBNERR. Individually, these small parts might not seem significant, but in combination, the small parts can be just as vital to the overall system as the big parts, resulting in what Aristotle said (to paraphrase) “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Aldo Leopold, the renown conservationist, said “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” While fixing Alaska’s and UA fiscal issues might be beyond tinkering, Leopold’s basic message still applies; don’t sacrifice the pieces without first knowing what they are worth. Alaska’s future needs to be based on its value, not its price under a cloud of bankruptcy. State matching funds for KBNERR clearly adds value to UAA and is a worthwhile investment that benefits the public as well as the private sector, such as fishing and tourism. Individually, we could not afford the services provided by KBNERR, but collectively we can.

Sincerely,

George Matz, Chair, Kachemak Bay Research Reserve Community Council

Alaska, R.I.P

Here we go again, regressive leftist politicians, driven by special interest and a lack of ethics, are wasting yet another year of opportunity and a dwindling bucket of available funds in a pathetic display of mismanagement and childish behavior.

Five years they have had to deal with a shrinking budget — plenty of time to develop a physically responsible glide slope to a sustainable, manageable balanced budget that reflects our revenue. We had an election last year. Remember? Dunleavy won by a very large majority on a campaign of balancing the budget and restoring the PFD. Now, unlike regressive leftist folks like Gary Knopp, Gabrielle LeDoux and Louise Stutes who lied to their constituents during their respective campaigns, Dunleavy has been true to his promises.

He has recognized that an over-bloated budget that continually year after year exceeds our revenue by over 1 billion dollars is unsustainable. Apparently, our Alaska Democrats, like the national ones, don’t understand how our country functions. See, we vote — whoever wins has the mandate. Our reserve has shrunk from about $14 billion to $2 billion in these last five years because these children managing our budget keep kicking the proverbial can into the next budget cycle. In the meantime they just burn through the dollars staying in special sessions, essentially becoming year-round legislators.

Common sense states that overspending our annual revenue is not sustainable. Eventually they will burn through the Permanent Fund as well. Then what? BTW, the Permanent Fund was never set up to be an option for general budget fallback. There are plenty of bloated items to cut. Education and subsidies for arts and the university system, as examples. The University of Alaska was given large chunks of land to be used to offset costs not covered by revenue.

Stop playing us.

Duane Christensen

Food Pantry grateful for Farmers Market help

Dear Editor,

The Homer Community Food Pantry Board of Directors would like to thank the Homer Farmer’s Market for their generosity in providing space for nonprofits such as ourselves in order to raise funds for the many important causes in our community.

We at the food pantry are especially grateful to the farmers/vendors who so generously donate produce to us each week so that many in our community may enjoy these fresh organic vegetables. Each Monday is such a delight as all the delicious and nutritious produce is distributed to the community.

Thank you so much.

Susan McLane, Homer Community Food Pantry Board Member

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