The work of newspapers often runs toward what goes wrong in the immediate vicinity or larger region. Such as break-ins at a local business, the misconduct of drivers, individuals or politicians, a tragic vehicle accident. Man’s inhumanity to man type of stories, or government or business infractions. Or the drug crimes and their sorry legacy. These reports on the issues of the day are the majority of a newspaper’s labors.
In Homer, to be sure, we all too often are encumbered with such stories in need of our reporters’ attention. Then, there are days when we see a different kind of news that catches us off guard, a look back at the week when an opposite trend can be spotted: Instead of the lopsided focus on the town’s underachievers, we find the overachievers embroiled in such activities that they can’t help but be remarked upon.
Here are some of those achievers: Homer has produced the current Mrs. Alaska, see her story on page 2. Vicki Sarber is new to Homer, but a lifelong Alaskan and very much in sync with some quintessential Cosmic Hamlet traits such as XtraTuff boots and solid accomplishments between this beach-walking mom’s achievements.
The Math Counts meet brings bright mathematics wizards to town from across the peninsula, and who rises to the top? Read through the list on page 11; Homer dominates the meet. There are more than middle school champs here. Look at the sixth graders who won placement in the junior-level high meet.
Then the news came on Friday that this year’s West Homer Elementary 5-6th-grade teams placed second in the Kenai Peninsula District and the 3-4th-grade teams placed first, which enabled them to participate in the State Battle of the Books.
And yet, wait. The news week isn’t over yet. Sustainable Homer, a grassroots effort by Kyra and Neil Wagner, along with many community partners, are getting more than 20 People’s Gardens in the planting stages for profusion this summer. These gardens will give children and families access to organic, locally-grown vegetables at the end of harvest season for the first time ever in a large-scale project. Over at the high school, teens did a clothing drive and brought in prom dresses for their own girls as well as to be shared with SoHi students for their prom.
And so it goes.
Homer’s news topics are unusual or an outright anomaly, from a newspaper’s angle. The same week our news shifted from tournament winners to new work for sustainable farming, Anchorage had a policemen sentenced to 87 years for rape. They began the week with news of the heart-breaking story of an abducted barista found dead in Wasilla Lake. In Kodiak, an unknown suspect shot two U.S. Coast Guard officers and is on the lam – knowledge that terrorized the island-bound community. In Fairbanks, a woman was found guilty of a massive fraud scheme that involved millions of dollars and dozens of victims.
Newspapers and journals were devised in America, by overachievers Benjamin Franklin all the way to Hunter S. Thompson. The task was not to give all the cozy little right developments to the public, but to bring them the social, economic and political problems in need of solutions. The objective of journalism is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Since that is the case, it’s all the more striking to step back and look at Homer’s range of news items. The achievements at work in this town are nothing short of amazing in an age when so much has gone terribly wrong.
This week, we salute the town’s overachievers – you are a sight to behold.
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