We are going into a new year in Homer, after a 2012 that brought us a mixture of good, bad and ugly news. This is the way it goes in both life and the news cycles.
Homer began the new year buried in snow. We saw a record, or near-record, snowfall of 16 feet last January and February, snow that didn’t show any signs of disappearing until well into May. It was also the year when we received $10 million to fund the Homer area natural gasline, a boon many in Homer had advocated for, to help bring down our high cost of living. And, it was the year when Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami washed marine debris on our shores – though not much in Kachemak Bay.
The year 2012’s wild weather patterns didn’t stop surprising us until the last minute, it seems. Colder than normal temperatures held firm, freezing in the harbor earlier than normal and chasing off the ducks that normally take refuge there. Fortunately, the weather didn’t cause the Endeavour jack-up rig to fall over or freeze tight – a sight many had feared as a possible outcome of having a 410 foot giant reaching into the sky parked alongside our dock. We were happy at the news that the rig brought revenue to town, then saddened to find that financial problems plague the rig’s owners.
It was an election year, of course, one to endure grave concern as the country considered its severe fiscal debt and which leader might best carry us toward a solution. It was a year for remarkable presidential debates and enormous input from political action committees deemed “persons” by our U.S. Supreme Court. In our far-from Washington DC state of Alaska, all but one legislator was up for re-election. In reapportionment, our voting districts changed significantly. We send our best wishes to incumbent Rep. Paul Seaton and our new senator-elect, Peter Micciche as they prepare to head to Juneau in the weeks ahead. We also send our sincere gratitude and appreciation to Sen. Gary Stevens, whom we lost in reapportionment, but who now enters his 13th year in state office.
On the social front, Homer saw a few rough spots when our teens confronted the harshness of a teen drinking party. What happened next – how the town reacted – showed a true coming together by a people who take care of one another. Even the governor showed his concern by visiting Homer and taking part in the discussions for healing.
As economic matters worsened in the country, Homer saw signs of neighbors struggling to make ends meet. The numbers of people turning to local charities increased and the state’s food stamp numbers went up for the Lower Kenai Peninsula. The Homer City Council turned its eyes on the winter sales tax holiday on foods to add to the city’s revenue. It wasn’t a good year to make such a proposal since coffers had already benefitted from $6 million in cruise tax revenue and from a flusher-than-normal sales tax revenue picture. That discussion still isn’t over since it returns to the council’s attention in the weeks ahead.
As we end the year, Gov. Sean Parnell’s budget has included a Christmas gift for Homer’s hopes ahead: $4.8 million for harbor projects and more money for fixing our atrocious roads and highway. Who knows what other gifts may come for us in the year ahead. Let’s hope for the best and pray nothing too terrible is on its way to hit Homer.
How’s that for optimism?
Happy New Year!
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