• Governor slated to “turn the valve” to start hospital’s natural gas flow
By Sean Pearson
So far, it’s been a banner summer for Homer. Clear, blue skies, lots of sunshine and actual summer-like temperatures continue to welcome tourists to the end of the road.
And, it’s not every summer you get Senator Lisa Murkowski as your Fourth of July Parade Marshal — and host the Governor’s Picnic. We must be doing something right.
Governor Sean Parnell will visit Homer on July 25 to host the annual family get-together that’s held in different Alaska cities every year. This year was Homer’s turn, and apparently, we’re not planning to let loose of the governor until we’ve gotten a full day’s work — and fun — out of him.
First up for the governor is a Rotary luncheon, where the governor has been asked to speak for 20 minutes, and take questions after.
Rotary Club President Heather Beggs said the topic of discussion is open to Parnell’s choice.
“The luncheon fit in perfectly with the governor’s busy day leading up to the picnic,” Beggs said.
Members of the Homer-Kachemak Bay Rotary Club and the Homer Downtown Rotary club are invited, along with one guest each. Other visiting Rotarians are also welcome.
After lunch, Parnell will head up to South Peninsula Hospital for a historic valve-turning event.
The hospital is the first public building to receive the long-awaited Homer hook-up to natural gas. The community is invited to share in the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and join Parnell as he turns on the gas valve to the building.
Other public officials, including Rep. Paul Seaton and Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre, are slated to join Parnell in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Hospital Director of Public Relations, Derotha Ferraro, said it seemed appropriate to commemorate the milestone event for the hospital and the community.
“It wasn’t a decision to be first; we just happen to be the first public building hooked up, based on our location,” Ferraro said. “We wanted to take advantage of the fact that the governor and numerous other elected officials who were instrumental in the overall project will happen to be next door at Karen Hornaday Park for the Governor’s Picnic.”
Ferraro said the hospital thought it would make for a special moment to gather together and turn the valve.
“We’re finally getting natural gas to the first public building in Homer,” she said. “It’s a milestone event for the hospital, as well as the community!”
And, while ceremonies are great and all that, the real moment of truth comes when the actual gas is turned on.
“Gas is expected to flow, however we won’t be actually using it for a few more weeks,” Ferraro explained. “The boiler company representatives are coming on site to be a part of that transition and provide training for staff. ”
Ferraro said ENSTAR will also assist hospital staff in advance.
As far as speculation as to how much money the gas conversion will save, Ferraro said the hospital has estimated that number to be at least $200,000 annually.
The event is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. Thursday at the hospital. It will be immediately followed by the Governor’s Picnic, beginning at 4 p.m. at Karen Hornaday Park.
Gov. Parnell and his wife, Sandy, are sure to soak up not only Homer’s spectacular, sunny days of summer, but also the sense of community from fellow Alaskans in Homer.
Parking for both the hospital and picnic events is located at the park and in designated overflow picnic parking areas.
A free shuttle will take guests both from the park to the hospital, and back again for the picnic. For more information visit www.sphosp.org or call 235-0397.
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