Fire station sees upgrades

Drive by the Homer Volunteer Fire Department building on Pioneer Avenue this week and you are likely to see changes afoot. The building is getting a facelift starting literally at the ground level. But those are just some of the new developments at the fire hall this month. The department just received a much-needed ambulance through a mix of city, state and federal funds. And last but certainly not least, a grant is making it possible for the department to hire an assistant fire chief, a position that has been unfilled for a decade.
“We are trying to keep up with it all,” said Fire Chief Bob Painter.

Car crash injures driver, knocks out power

An Anchor Point woman was seriously injured in a rollover crash near Homer early Monday when her vehicle struck a power pole, knocking out electricity to hundreds of area residents for hours.
Alaska State Troopers said in a dispatch that they responded at 7 a.m. to Mile 13 of East End Road, in the Fritz Creek area northeast of Homer. They found 39-year-old Jill Davis still in her vehicle at the scene.
“An investigation showed (Davis) had been driving on East End Road when she failed to negotiate a curve in the road,” troopers wrote. “Davis’ vehicle went off the road, rolled several times and struck a power pole.”

Josh Fraley coaches skills on and off the football field

For Josh Fraley, head coach of the Homer Mariners, athletics is about building better individuals and better communities.
“Athletics are super important,” he said. “Whether it’s football, baseball, skiing – it makes sure kids are involved in something that teaches them discipline, hard work and physical fitness. It helps reinforce decision-making and helps them keep their eye on the prize with their studies.”
Fraley knows of what he speaks. His own early days with football influenced his future. He began playing football as a freshman after his dad sent him to football camp.
“Right away, it opened my eyes to what football was about – the camaraderie and brotherhood, relying on everyone to make the game happen,” he said.

City mulls centralized emergency dispatch

When you call 911, how beneficial is it to talk to someone who knows the back roads of the Kenai Peninsula, not to mention the police officers they are communicating with? This and other questions were at the heart of a discussion Monday night between city administrators and the council regarding centralized dispatch service proposed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Not everyone is a fan of the idea, for obvious reasons, including City Manager Katie Koester, who said the city would not see any financial savings from the move, but would absorb a good bit of risk and uncertainty from the move.

Growing alongside the family business

For 14-year old Zach Condon, the family business is a source of pride, not to mention a great workout. Woody’s Alaskan Firewood Company supplies firewood to residencies and businesses in the Homer area and Condon, a freshman at Homer High School, has been helping his parents with the business since he was 8 years old.
“I started out clearing brush, moving the little rounds and picking pieces of wood out of the splitter,” Condon said. “When I was 11, I was learning to run the splitter – moving rounds onto the splitter, cutting them into sizes, throwing them onto the truck and helping my dad with deliveries.”

Residents react to proposed oil and gas lease sale

If those who testified at last week’s public hearing on the proposed oil and gas lease sale in the Cook Inlet were in charge, the 1.09 million acres currently being analyzed for potential development would never make it to market.
“There are a zillion reasons why this shouldn’t go ahead,” said Tamara McShane. “Pretty soon, we will be the endangered species.”
McShane and others, including Cook InletKeeper Executive Director Bob Shavelson, testified that the marine environment in the Cook Inlet and Alaska was already showing signs of stress, with recent marine mammal and bird die-offs.

Nelson leads halibut derby

Austin Nelson of North Pole landed a 252.2-pound monster halibut last week to become the current Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby leader. Nelson was fishing with Homer Ocean Charters and Capt. Travis Blount aboard the F/V Diamond Cape when he caught the fish that edged previous leader Daniel Spies’ halibut by just over a pound.

Seaton sweeps primary

The tempo was upbeat at Alice’s Champagne Palace as supporters of incumbent Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, compulsively hit refresh on the state Division of Elections web site to see the latest updates from the polls.
By 10 p.m., with only 6 precincts reporting, Seaton had more than 50 percent of the vote. Supporters shook hands with the Alaska State House representative, who campaigned on a moderate platform and said his record in Juneau reflected his ability to bridge party lines and be an effective lawmaker.
When all the votes were tallied, Seaton had earned 46.6 percent of the votes, while John Cox, an Anchor Point businessman, took the second-highest vote count with 28.7 percent. Beth Wythe, the outgoing mayor of Homer, received 24.7 percent of the votes.

Zak, Lewis face off in Homer city mayor’s race

Two current council members who have often found themselves on opposite sides of issues will face off for the mayoral seat of Homer this fall. Bryan Zak, a business counselor with Southwest Alaska Small Business Development Center, will face off against David Lewis, a retired teacher and former coordinator of the Kachemak Bay Campus’ Youth Job Training Program.
Both candidates were elected to city council in 2008 and have weathered a variety of issues around the council table, from the legalization of marijuana to the ever-shrinking city budget. The two have disagreed on many issues, including the institution of a bed tax in Homer, which Lewis has long supported, and Zak has summarily opposed.
In his candidate statement, Zak said he believes encouraging involvement in local government is key to the success of the community.

Against odds, fisherman lands huge halibut

It was a slow day on the water for Daniel Spies and the employees of his Soldotna construction company. But that was all about to change as Spies hooked into something that felt like dead weight at first.
“I didn’t know what to think” Spies, a longtime fisherman who placed fourth in the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby last year with a 187-pound fish. “I couldn’t really tell what it was.”
Spies said at first, he thought maybe his line was stuck on the bottom. Then the mystery fish took off running for a bit and stopped again. Every time he would reel the fish up a bit, it would head right back down to the bottom.
“It was like it was stuck to the bottom with suction cups,” Spies said. “It really didn’t move around a lot.”

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