Letters to the Editor


I’d like to thank POPS, (Patrons of the Pratt) for their paying for the printing of the book, “And Some Stayed On: Settling the North Shore of Kachemak Bay and Points Beyond-1900-1959.”

As a Pratt Museum member, I appreciate the continuing financial support of POPS.

The book, which is owned by the Pratt Museum, is now available there.

Beth Cumming

Letter to the Editor,

Seven weeks have passed since our daughter Anesha “Duffy” Murnane vanished midday into thin air in downtown Homer. This is truly a parent’s worst nightmare: is the child dead or alive? If alive, is she warm and safe, or being harmed? Is she nearby, in Alaska, or trafficked out-of-state? The mind is drawn to these dark places like a magnet. You simply don’t know, and you may never know. Is hope even possible in the face of such realities? If this were the big city, I would say no, she’s dead and this is simply another missing Alaska woman. What gives me hope for Duffy is the absence of any obvious motive, criminal or personal. A sexual predator would be foolish pulling a large, nearly 6-foot tall woman off Pioneer Avenue into a vehicle at midday; a smaller victim could easily be found after dark on a side street. No ransom demand has appeared, so this is not a conventional kidnapping. At age 38, Duffy has experienced the deaths of close relatives and would not willingly lay this kind of agony on her mother and family by running off. No, this is a strange case, and its very strangeness provides hope beyond the usual abduction endings. My hope is that she is alive and held somewhere in Alaska. If we keep up the public outcry, we hope that she will be released and allowed to come home.

Ed Berg, Duffy’s stepfather

Dear Editor,

The Paul Banks staff, students, and Preludes steering committee wish to thank the businesses and individuals who donated desserts and food items for our highly successful Spaghetti Feed/Dessert Auction fundraiser on Oct. 11. The proceeds support the Paul Banks Preludes Violin Program. AJ’s OldTown Steakhouse & Tavern, Two Sisters Bakery, Fritz Creek General Store, Fat Olives, Brie Drummond, Gabriella Hussmann, and Darci’s Decadent Designs donated fabulous desserts for our live auction. Many parents and community members donated desserts for our silent auction. In addition, McNeal Canyon Meats, Safeway and Save-U-More donated the ingredients for our Spaghetti Feed. Homer Youth Orchestra provided live music along with the Paul Banks Preludes.

Thanks to the generous support of the Homer community, Paul Banks Preludes, along with Fireweed Frescoes and the Homer Youth String Orchestra Club (HYSOC) have reached sufficient maturity to become independent of our wonderful parent organization, the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra. Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, these groups will be organized under the newly incorporated banner of Homer OPUS (Orchestral Programs Unified Steering). Much will remain unchanged, but with the advice and encouragement of our current Artist Directors, Katie Klann and Daniel Perry, we plan to hire a single accredited music educator to direct all the groups — over 200 students. The students’ enthusiasm, increased focus, and teamwork are a testament to the program’s success, and we welcome the rising tide of music in Homer.

We are blessed to live in a community that supports the arts and our mission to create better learners and citizens through instrumental music instruction and ensemble performance.

Lyn Maslow on behalf of Preludes Steering Committee, Paul Banks Staff and Students

Dear Editor,

In an initial survey of cultural organizations nationwide interested in hosting Native artists-in- residence, 80% of responding organizations said they could use help with cultural education, understanding protocols and engagement with their local Native community. A grant from Homer Foundation sponsored a one-day training led by Ty Defoe (Giizhig, Oneida and Ojibwe Nations) of the consulting company Indigenous Direction, with guest speaker Loren Anderson (Sugpiaq, Kodiak) from Afognak Native Corporation, addressing protocols, relationship-building and Indigenous artists’ unique needs in a residency. The interactive workshop combined discussion with exercises designed to build the intercultural communication skills of Bunnell’s board, staff and vital community partners. Bunnell Arts is pleased to share this learning opportunity with representatives of MAPP, Pratt Museum, HCOA, KBBI, Storyknife Writers Retreat, Ageya Wilderness Center, Ninilchik Tribe, Cook Inlet Region Incorporated, Homer News and Kachemak Bay Campus.

The Native Artist Residencies pilot, held at Bunnell Street Arts Center November 17-27 with support from Rasmuson Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and Bodecker Foundation provided an example of how a host company can prepare for effective Native artist residencies. For this pilot, performing artists from seven Indigenous nations gathered to create The Indigenous Road Show during this time, a program that will return to Homer in the fall of 2020. These performing artists were guest panelists at the Cultural Competency Training. With support from Homer Foundation’s Willow Fund, our community was able to maximize learning opportunities surrounding Bunnell’s work as a residency presenter for the benefit of many organizations. Thank you for supporting networking, growth and professionalism in Homer’s cultural sector, strengthening capacities and community partnerships that make Homer a vibrant arts and culture capitol in Alaska.


Asia Freeman, Artistic Director, Bunnell Street Arts Center

Dear Editor,

We need salmon. They are very important to us. They’re a source of food, money, and even for fun, because what Alaskan doesn’t like fishing? Salmon is also a reliable source of protein. They are very healthy. Salmon need a good water temperature, healthy water, oxygen, food, and a good habitat.

There are many types of pollution that hurt salmon. For example, erosion washes into streams, and suffocates baby salmon. Rivers become warm and slow when water is taken for farming, which makes it hard for a good temperature for salmon. Runoff from city streets flows into streams and rivers and it brings toxic chemicals along. Brake dust, oil, and chemical fluids flow into watersheds, the contaminants are so bad that they can kill salmon within 24 hours. Salmon do not do well where humans affect their habitat. Even trash can go into streams. Not just big trash, but small trash that salmon can eat.

I don’t like eating salmon, but I enjoy fishing for them. People make memories while fishing with their family. Those memories are very important. Or for people who have kids, they want their kids to fish for salmon, and I’m sure they want to have a “first salmon” picture that shows the first salmon they caught. I remember being mad that I had to move from my warm home in Virginia, to a cold home in Alaska. Fishing for salmon here was really fun and it kind of changed my mind about living here. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I go fishing every summer, and I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t go fishing. We won’t have those special moments if we keep polluting the rivers. The salmon will die off. We will run out of a big source of protein.

Bethany Milam, student

Prioritize Public Safety

There is a countdown to helping — or harming — Alaska’s most vulnerable people. If the Legislature does not take action in the first five days of the 2020 legislative session, thousands of Alaskans face losing mental health and substance abuse treatment. Chances are we all know someone afflicted with mental illness or addiction.

If we genuinely value public safety and public health, then we must make addiction and behavioral health treatment a statewide priority. We cannot afford to go backwards.

The governor vetoed $6.1 million in behavioral health treatment and recovery grants to community programs and $10 million for addiction treatment facilities. Law enforcement officials will tell you the importance of treatment. When the Legislature convenes on Jan. 21, 2020, we have five days to overturn these vetoes. This will not happen unless your legislator hears from you.

Public outcry over the rise in crime drove changes to sentencing laws last session. However, if we fail to address addiction and mental health, we will continue to react to crime instead of addressing it head-on. The number of crimes committed by individuals battling addiction or suffering from mental health issues are alarmingly high.

I urge you to speak with your legislator about need to overturn the vetoes for the behavioral health treatment and recovery grants in the operating budget and the funds for addiction treatment facilities in the capital budget.


Representative Andi Story, Juneau, District 34

Acidification in our oceans

Ocean acidification is a major part of climate change, yet most people don’t know about it’s effects on our marine ecology, including our salmon. Its caused when the ocean absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere (about 30%). When CO2 dissolves in salt water, creating carbonic acid, the pH of the water decreases. In the last 200 years since the industrial revolution, the pH of the surface waters has dropped 0.1 pH units, which is approximately a 30% increase in acidity. Currently the oceans are absorbing about 22 million tons of CO2 per day, and the acidity is estimated to increase 150% by 2100. In places like Alaska with colder water, the acidity increases even faster because cold water absorbs more CO2. This process also creates more hydrogen ions, decreases the amount of carbonate ions.

Carbonate ions are one of the main components in structures like shells and coral skeletons. As carbonate ions get less common it becomes harder for calcifying organisms like plankton and mollusks to build and maintain shells.

Rising acidity is also affecting salmon in a number of ways, including decreasing growth rates of pink salmon.

Also, studies have shown that exposing salmon to the estimated future pH of the ocean causes the fish’s brain to process smells differently, making them more indifferent to odorants that normally signal a predator is nearby

Zooplankton like pteropods are one of the main foods of juvenile salmon in particular. The shells and skeletons of these plankton are already dissolving in the abnormally acidic water. It’s predicted that by the mid 21st century, there will be few to none of these organisms left in the polar waters, which will deplete of one of salmons’ main food sources.

Things we can do to help fight ocean acidification are staying informed, spreading the word and decreasing our carbon footprint by burning less fossil fuels.

Maggie Mae Gaylord