Renee Gross

Reporter/Host

Renee joined KBBI in 2017 as a general assignment reporter and host. Her work has appeared on such shows as Weekend Edition Saturday, The World, Marketplace and Studio 360. Renee previously interned as a reporter for KPCC in Los Angeles and as a producer for Stateside at Michigan Radio. Her work has earned her numerous press club awards. She holds an M.S. in journalism from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in women's studies from the University of Michigan.

Renee Gross, KBBI News

The tsunami warning on Tuesday sent people along the Gulf of Alaska scrambling to find higher ground. In Homer, residents evacuated to the north side of Pioneer and over 60 people waited out the warning in the South Peninsula Hospital and Homer High School.

Chuck Hagen was asleep at his home on Bay Avenue when he realized something was wrong.

“I heard the sirens going and I turned the radio on and it said a tsunami was coming this way,” he said.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The City of Homer may have its first marijuana cultivation facility next December. Dan Coglianese and Janiese Stevens, owners of Alaska Loven It, applied for a standard marijuana cultivation license to operate out of a 5,000 square foot building on Kachemak Drive.

Coglianese said they’re aiming to offer better quality cannabis than other facilities by testing out their product out before selling it.

Renee Gross, KBBI News

This weekend, the Women’s March is returning to cities all across the country. In Homer, this nonpartisan event will focus on women’s rights and getting out the vote.  To prep for the march, community members made over 90 signs at the Old Inlet Bookshop.

Almost a dozen women hovered over pieces of cardboard in the backroom of the bookstore. Jan Agosta’s sign was bright pink, yellow and purple.

Homer Tribune/Cindy Barker

Internet is a basic commodity for most of U.S. consumers, but some remote Alaskan towns like Point Hope on the Chukchi Sea are just getting connected to the digital world. Other rural towns in Alaska have surprisingly been connected nearly as long as their peers in the Lower 48. 

The internet came to Homer in 1995, but it wasn’t a large internet provider that broke into the rural Alaskan market, it was a 20-year-old college student that saw the business opportunity.

Renee Gross, KBBI News

The National Center for Biomedical Research and Training taught nearly 40 emergency responders this week on how to handle an active shooter situation. The three-day course began with lectures, but increasingly became more hands on and cumulated with an active shooting simulation. The center, which partners with the Department of Homeland Security, is housed at Louisiana State University but provides trainings all over the country free of charge.

Fire Chief Bob Painter applied for the training to come to Homer.

Michele Smith Vasquez

In honor of the #MeToo movement, nearly twenty women gathered at the Soldotna Library for a panel discussion on sexual harassment and abuse Tuesday night. Many Voices, a local social justice group organized the get-together.

The panel, which included two doctors, pastors and an advocate, discussed destigmatizing experiences of abuse. Clinical Physiologist Dr. Pamela Hays said she sees survivors’ shame run deep:

Courtesy of the City of Homer

The Homer City Council held a work session with the Park, Arts, Recreation and Culture Advisory Commission Monday to discuss the future of the Homer Education and Recreation Complex, also known as the HERC.

The city has debated what to do with the former school for years as bringing the building up to code and maintaining the building becomes more expensive.  Still, a vocal part of the community fights to keep it open, noting the importance of a recreational space.

Courtesy of Davin Holen.

Last week the Trump administration proposed to drastically increase the amount of Alaska waters open for oil and gas leasing. Along with keeping Cook Inlet open, it would also make areas near Kodiak and the Gulf of Alaska available for drilling, both of which are currently closed. Yet, it’s unclear if companies will be interested in drilling there even if the plan is approved. Still, the move worries local environmentalists and fishermen.

Marilyn Sigman

Throughout her former job as the director of the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies, Marilyn Sigman, saw how climate change was affecting the state. But instead of researching how climate change might develop in the future, she decided to look to the past, specifically at how Kachemak Bay’s climate has changed over time and how people have adapted. Her book “Entangled: People and Ecological Change in Alaska’s Kachemak Bay” is coming out on February 15th. Renee Gross sat down with Sigman to talk more:   

Safe Families for Children

A national program that lets struggling parents place kids with temporary host families launched a chapter in Homer on Monday. Safe Families for Children aims to prevent parental abuse and neglect by giving parents a support system. Alivia Erikson is the head of the local chapter, which is hosted by Church on the Rock Homer.

“We have such a supportive community but there are still individuals who are new to town or don't have those relationships that they can turn to and the goal is to give people that community,” she said.

Renee Gross, KBBI News

Homer Fire Chief Bob Painter is retiring after more than 26 years of service in Homer. He said he’s proud of his achievements. 

“I think the biggest accomplishment, and I don’t want to jinx anything is that during my time with the department, especially since I’ve been chief since 2000, is we’ve not had a serious injury and definitely haven’t had a firefighter fatality in the line of duty,” he said.

In total, Painter has spent nearly 40 years as a first responder.

Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic

Identifying as gay or lesbian or anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum can be a struggle for those who are trying to find out who they are, but for teens making their way through middle and high school, exploring their sexual and gender identity can be especially hard. But one program is giving teens in Homer a space to talk about what it’s like being an LGBTQ teen in rural Alaska.

Alaska State Council on the Arts

The Alaska State Council on the Arts is purchasing pieces from two Homer artists for its Alaska Contemporary Art Bank. Deland Anderson and Deb Lowney are among 18 artists that were selected to become part of the state’s collection of art. State of Alaska offices and agencies will now have the opportunity to take their artwork out on loan and display them in their offices.

Alaska State Council on the Arts executive director, Andrea Noble-Pelant, said the goal of the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank is twofold:

Courtesy of the City of Homer

Local officials and politicians are analyzing Gov. Bill Walker’s 2019 budget proposal, which was released last week. The budget is status quo compared to last year, but does call for some changes to oil and gas tax credits.

Homer Rep. Paul Seaton said he is happy Walker’s budget didn’t call for further cuts to some state services.

“I'm happy to see that there aren't cuts to D.O.T. and road maintenance or any trooper cuts,” he said. “We're trying to get services back up to where they were.”

Image Courtesy of Homer Electric Association

Homer Electric Association members will see an increase in their monthly bills beginning on Jan. 1. The average resident will see her bill go up by $1.49 per month.

Homer Electric spokesperson, Bruce Shelley, said the association regularly reassess the cost of power.

We adjust this on a quarterly basis and it primarily reflects the cost of natural gas used by generation power for HEA members,” he said.

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