It’s been three years since Mark Matthews was murdered near Poopdeck Trail in the center of Homer, three years during which family members, as well as the community, wondered if the unusual Homer murder case would ever be solved.
But last month, Homer Police finally got a break in the case and arrested Lee John Henry, 55, for Matthews’ murder.
According to a the court affidavit by Sgt. Lary Kuhns with the Homer Police Department, police had suspected Henry as being involved in Matthews’ murder since the early days of the investigation. He was seen with Matthews, then 61, on the day of the murder, and was seen in an apparently heated argument with the victim about a half-hour before he was found.
The Homer City Council got an inside look at the method behind the proposed Homer Harbor moorage rate increase, which have been debated and analyzed by the Homer Port and Harbor Advisory Commission for several years now.
The new rate structure, called a progressive rate structure, charges more per linear foot for larger boats than it does smaller vessels, but charges far less for larger boats than was initially considered.
Most of the large vessel owners, predominantly fishermen, who filled council chambers for the worksession, testified that they supported the proposed resolution, though one said the increase caused him to move his boat to another port. Many called for the council to respect the lengthy process that led up to the current proposal, and approve it unchanged.
TUTKA BAY — Sometimes the work is slow enough that you might as well sit down. Scoot on your butt and pull each blueberry stem in turn, until it curves under the moss, red and damp and rooty, and you can’t pull any farther. Snip the stem off, leaving the sharp stub tucked carefully beneath the earth. Grab the next one.
Half an hour and a couple dozen feet later, I stood up to admire my path.
“It doesn’t look like I did anything at all,” I marveled.
Framed by sunshine, blue waters and sports fishermen looking for salmon, Sen. Lisa Murkowski took the podium at Land’s End Resort last week to talk about state and national issues, and why she should be returned to Washington, D.C. for another term.
Murkowski told the standing-room-only crowd that she was optimistic about Alaska’s future, despite the challenges facing the state and the nation in coming years, such as the state budget, the ballooning cost of health care and the lurking national debt.
City staff presented the council with its first draft of the 2017 budget Monday night, and the picture painted was decidedly more rosy than last year’s budget with its $1 million shortfall.
City manager Katie Koester said the budget was boosted by a 3.8 percent increase in revenue to the general fund. She said sales tax returns from dining, lodging and visitor-related businesses was up significantly in 2016.
“It speaks to how fortunate we are to have as diverse an economy as we do,” Koester said, noting Homer’s fishing and large vessel repair industry as well as its visitor industry as part of that diversity. “We are really in a great position to weather the next three to five years of uncertainty in our state.”
Sprawled across 80 acres of “back country” at the top of Skyline Drive, the Ageya Wilderness Center served as an ideal location for Homer Folk School organizers to get the word out about the many different traditional arts and trades programs they hope to offer.
Saturday’s open house introduced board members, provided tours of the facility and offered children’s activities and a number of hands-on workshops. Attendees were invited to learn about everything from apple-pressing and indigenous kayaks of the Arctic, to sauerkraut-making, seed-saving, crystal stone properties and wild plant food medicine.
Lilli Johnson has an innate curiosity about the world.
“I have a deep desire to travel, to experience other cultures and to make a difference,” she said.
Johnson attributes her desire to live and work among other cultures to the diversity that exists within her own family. Her mother is Norwegian and Italian and was raised in the United States. Her father is Filipino and Guinean and his grandparents immigrated to New York City in the 1970’s.
When someone — especially children — experience crime in Homer, they have a long, twisting path to follow to get help. A first stop might be at the Homer Police Station to make a formal report, possibly followed by a trip to South Peninsula Haven House for an interview. Then, if the situation involves physical assault, such as child abuse or domestic violence, the person must make a third trip to an impersonal exam room at South Peninsula Hospital.
Homer voters elected Bryan Zak to lead the city through the coming two years, while a bond proposition to build a new public safety building failed to garner more than 50 percent of the vote.
Unofficial numbers Tuesday night put Zak ahead of David Lewis 52 to 46 percent with 2 percent write-in. Absentee and question ballots have yet to be counted. Zak, who has taken a more conservative stance on some issues, has sat on the council since 2008 and has worked as a small business development center. His opponent, David Lewis, who will now remain on the council, was elected on that same year.
Bonds for the South Peninsula Hospital and the Central Peninsula Landfill appear to be moving forward as voters approved the bonds by nearly 58 percent and 54 percent respectively.
Not passing at the moment, however, are two proposed measures aimed at bringing in more tax revenue to the Kenai Peninsula Borough coffers, as state support continues to dry up. The borough had proposed changes to the current senior property tax exemption code, which would have gradually phased out a series of property tax exemptions for seniors that are additional to the senior property tax exemption mandated by the state of $150,000.