Flood control project keeps Fairbanks dry

MOOSE CREEK DAM — For the thirteenth consecutive day, four plates of steel in a framework of concrete have quietly saved Fairbanks.
Heavy rains in the basin of the Chena River, the waterway that spawned Fairbanks, have swelled the river to where motorboats can’t squeeze beneath downtown bridges.
Dam-tenders here have responded by lowering steel gates into the river. The gates skim river water, backing it into an immense channel perpendicular to the river. A 50-foot mound of rock dam reaches eight miles downhill to the larger Tanana River.

Seaton sweeps primary

Voter turnout one of highest in state. 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 […]

Naval exercise timing, location questioned

Concern over Naval training exercises in the Gulf of Alaska only a year ago were renewed afresh at this week’s Homer City Council meeting as residents testified in support of a resolution opposing proposed training in a highly productive area of the gulf during the spring whale migrations.
In 2015, Homer fishermen and citizens protested the exercises, which began in mid-June, with a parade of banners.
The training exercises planned for next spring are earlier than previous operations, starting May 1 of next year, which many testified coincides with the critical migration times for whales. In addition, the proposed location of the naval training activity is closer to shore than it has been in past years, and overlaps areas many say are critical fish habitat zones.

Candidates for state house present their platforms

Incumbent Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, faces a challenge this month for the Republican nomination from two candidates, John Cox, an Anchor Point business owner, and Mary E. “Beth” Wythe, the current mayor of the city of Homer. Since there is no Democrat candidate running for the seat, the House District representative will be decided by the state Republican primary election to be held this Tuesday, Aug. 16. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and early voting is open all week prior to the vote. Voters registered as Republican, nonpartisan and undeclared can vote. Democrats cannot.
Last week, the candidates gathered at the Homer Public Library, along with a crowd of interested residents, to present their platforms on issues ranging from how they would deal with the state budget gap to what their favorite book is.

Homer Tribune reborn in time for 25th anniversary

When one of the few remaining independent newspaper operators in Alaska heard that the Homer Tribune was shutting its newspaper boxes for good earlier this summer, they said they had to see what they could do.
Kiana Peacock and Jason Evans purchased the Arctic Sounder and Bristol Bay Times-Dutch Harbor Fisherman five years ago, and have been publishing them ever since with the help of Editor Carey Restino, who was based in Homer.
While the Peacock and Evans now live in Anchorage, they remain connected to the rural communities they come from and those in which their friends and relatives live. With staff already in place in Homer, adding the Homer Tribune to their company’s papers was a natural fit, said Evans.

Plans for flash-freezing fish facility on Spit move forward

A nonprofit company planning to use flash-freezing technology to create seafood products not only in Homer but in villages across Alaska has applied for a 20-year lease for two lots on the Homer Spit at the corner of Fish Dock Road.
City Manager Katie Koester briefed the council on new developments with Global Sustainable Seafoods of Alaska, which has been discussing its plans with the city for some time now. The company plans to build a prototype for its flash-freezing seafood program in Homer, then build similar units for installation in rural Alaska villages throughout the state. People from the villages will be brought to Homer and trained in how to use the modular flash-freezing equipment, said Koester.

Alaskans battling opioid epidemic get audience with U.S. surgeon general

PALMER – Kim Whitaker took the story of her anguish over her daughter’s ongoing battle with heroin addiction straight to the U.S. surgeon general.
Dr. Vivek Murthy was a key participant at a high-powered opioid summit convened by U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, at Mat-Su College Thursday. The summit aimed to bring federal officials up to speed on the challenges Alaska faces in combating heroin and prescription painkiller abuse.
Whitaker told about 500 people at the Glenn Massay Theater that her daughter became addicted to heroin after a doctor prescribed her opiates at 19.
Then she lost custody of her children. She’s been through detox three times, twice in Anchorage and the last at home.
Now she’s using again.

Alaskans spend more than most Americans

Compared to the rest of the nation, Alaskans are pretty big spenders, according to a state Department of Labor and Workforce Development report released Tuesday.
Alaska ranks fourth in the nation for personal consumption, spending an average of $46,229 per person on goods and services in 2014.
Why?
The ranking likely has more to do with the relatively high price of goods and services and robust personal income levels — sixth-highest in the nation as of 2015.

Warming climate expected to squeeze out Arctic bird habitat

Many species of shorebirds that migrate to the Arctic each year to breed their young will lose substantial amounts of their summer habitat to climate change, and the biggest losses in the coming decades will be in Alaska and neighboring parts of Russia, new research concludes.
By 2070, higher temperatures brought on by climate change will eliminate important Arctic breeding habitat for at least two-thirds of the 24 bird species evaluated in a study published in the journal Global Change Biology, scientists predicted. Some species, like the Pacific golden plover and the red phalarope, are on track to lose nearly all of the suitable Arctic conditions they use in the summer, according to the study.
The study was led by scientists at Australia’s University of Queensland and co-authored by scientists in Alaska, Norway, Russia and Denmark. It projects habitat conditions based on two different climate scenarios — an optimistic one that assumes greenhouse gas emissions will peak in 2040 and then decline, and a more aggressive warming scenario that assumes that greenhouse gas emissions will continue on their current trajectory.

Community news – Aug. 11

Birders take to the Spit The next Kachemak Bay Birders’ outing happens Saturday, Aug. 13 with a trip to the Spit. Meet at the parking lot at the base of the Spit on Kachemak Drive at 1:30 p.m. Interesting returning migrants and other birds out there right now include shorebirds, seabirds, some song birds and […]

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