Learn not to burn

You wouldn’t know it — gauging from this week’s spate of cooler (normal) Alaska air — but it was hot out there last week. Too hot.
Sure, everyone enjoys a summer of sunshine and tropical temperatures. You don’t get many opportunities to stroll barefoot on a warm sidewalk in Homer, Alaska, and locals have a tendency to sit up and take notice when even the tourists start donning short sleeves.
It’s no coincidence, however, that this warmer summer of 2015 also brought massive wildfires to almost every part of all the state. So far, the Card Street fire east of Sterling has scorched some 7,352 acres, destroying homes and cabins in its way.

Homer Prevention Project practices Positive Community Norms

“Most Homer High and Homer Flex students don’t drink in a typical month,” says a “Just the Facts” message; a positive community norms campaign run by the Homer Prevention Project. This statistic — along with “78 percent of Homer area adults drink two or fewer drinks on the nights they do consume alcohol,” have papered the town over the past year. They appear on flyers, coffee cups, information cards and in ads on the radio and in print.
Here’s why:

War is not a game: it’s time for the Navy to evolve

It was 78 degrees in Homer Tuesday. Used to be that two straight days of sun here and you busted out the paint and did up the house. Teenage girls on Bishop’s Beach in bikinis! It is warm. Too warm.
The warm oceans spell trouble for fishermen. NOAA Fisheries scientists are watching a persistent expanse of exceptionally warm water stretching from Baja through the Gulf of Alaska and extending north into the Bering Sea.
Called “The Blob,” the five-degree, warmer-than-normal water could send reverberations through the marine food web. The Blob appeared about a year ago, and the longer it lingers, the greater potential it has to affect ocean life from jellyfish to salmon. Scientists blame it for mass die-offs of starfish, sea lions and Pacific seabirds. And those are just the effects we can see.

Homer Prevention Project introduces Youth Resource Guide

On June 11, the Homer Prevention Project will officially launch the Youth Resource Guide as a comprehensive list of activities and businesses in Homer and the youth-specific services they offer. Created for and by teens, YRG will be an online “living document for youth.”
Making its debut in time for summer, YRG will be useful to more than teens. With categories like ‘restaurants,’ ‘outdoors,’ and ‘shopping,’ as well as individual pages for each business listing hours and location, people visiting or new to town can use YRG as an easy way to learn what’s around Homer and where to find it.

Every halibut counts

Having worked in Alaska’s fisheries for 40 years, I was surprised to learn only recently that about half of all halibut caught by sport fishermen are released. Anglers let them go because they are too small, too big, would exceed the size or bag limits, or they just enjoy catch-and-release fishing.
Most halibut survive release, but improper handling can injure or even kill a halibut.

Building a sustainable future: conversations with Alaskans

Next weekend, Lt. Governor Byron Mallott and I will kick off a series of conversations about the future of our state. The essence of these conversations is: What do we want our state to look like? What services do we want our government to provide? How will we pay for those services?
As most of you know, the price of oil fell precipitously over the past year, and with it, Alaska’s biggest source of revenue. Alaska’s budget for the coming year proposes to spend $5 billion in state general funds. We expect to receive only $2 billion in general fund revenue. That leaves a gap of $3 billion.
When your family’s income plummets, you have two basic options: spend less and earn more. The State of Alaska is no different.

Just breathe: spreading resiliency through our community

Resiliency is the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, or other significant sources of stress. Used in psychological fields as a way to help people learn how to heal, resiliency is finding its way into the Homer community. As one of its strategies, the Homer Prevention Project is working to educate Homer about the significance of resiliency within the community.
The results of a study about the prevalence of childhood traumatic experiences and its effects on the brain’s ability to create new neural pathways has created a forum in which to discuss resiliency as an approach to combat intergenerational cycles of trauma.

Public safety building ordinance not in Homer’s best interest

On Monday, May 28, the first of two readings for Ordinance 15-18 took place at the Homer City Council meeting. The ordinance amends the FY2015 Capital Budget by “appropriating $613,000 from the General Fund Balance to the Public Safety Building Project Account to fund the new public safety building to 35 percent design.”
The second reading for Ordinance 15-18 is set for June 8. If the city council passes this ordinance, the City of Homer will have come close to spending $1 million toward this monster of a building. I say, make it stop.
The state funding for this $28 million project is simply not there. Look at what has been happening in Juneau: cuts are across the board. We have been warned to plan ahead, as things are changing.

Just where does your boat sewage go?

Did you know that the Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of raw sewage from a vessel within three nautical miles of the U.S. coast?
As the summer boating season approaches and more boats are utilizing coastal harbors, it will be important to keep your sewage management strategy in mind. Where do you dump your sewage if your boat has a marine head? Do the harbors you visit offer pumpout facilities?

Erin’s Law: An overdue ounce of prevention

We were lucky, my sister and I. As kids, we were inseparable and had that built-in buddy system not all kids have. Still, we had some close calls. Our parents were more reactive than proactive. Had we known the reasoning behind their reactions, we would have been better equipped.

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