Mayor Castner insistant returning residents self-quarantine

Apr 19, 2020

Credit KBBI

Homer Mayor Ken Castner was an early adopter of a Covid-19 public health emergency last month when the pandemic started to threaten Alaska. By adopting an emergency declaration, the City of Homer activated its Emergency Operations Center, which has been actively coordinating the city’s, the South Peninsula Hospital and the Public Health Clinic’s response.
    The declaration shut down city hall, and put Castner on the phone a lot.
     “I was on a conference call with Barack Obama. He said, 'Mayor Daley said a long while ago, you'll never be able to get in touch with your president or your governor, but you certainly know where the mayor is.' And in the last 20 minutes, I've had five phone calls and they're all people that you know, have ideas or concerns,” Castner said.
    As mayor, Castner has taken an active role in the city’s economic survival.
    “So the lane that I've chosen really has been the business elements I was really, really involved in as the CARES Act was being developed. How that was going to work and what the opportunities were and how you would have to go about it,” he said. “And I've been working hand in glove with Tim Dillon and Brad Anderson at the chamber, and both those guys have been just doing an amazing amount of work in processing the information and getting it out to the business community.”
    On top of that, of course, is the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget, which will likely not reach its revenue projections due to the health mandates.
     “You know, the other thing is as mayor, is that I'm looking at a budget that's not going to be met. You know, there's no way that we're going to take in the income that we had planned to take in, in 2020 so we've got that whole thing to grapple with,” Castner said. “What do we do? Do we spend a lot of savings? We have an emergency fund that we tap that, you know, do we replace it? Do we try and get the federal government to help us with it? How do we go about getting these things.”
    As the snow continues to melt, the anticipation of summer is building. Castner says snowbirds -- those Homer residents who live outside in the winter -- should be prepared to go on lockdown as soon as they arrive here.
    “You know, everybody wants a little bit of easing up, but they don't. They also don't really want anybody new coming to town. And so this is one of these things that if you know somebody that's coming, tell them we're serious,” Castner said. “We were going to treat you like you got the disease. And if you don't go into quarantine, you know you're, you're going to have to live with the consequences of that.”
    He says if people want to come up for the summer, that it’s fine.
    “But we are demanding that you go into quarantine for two weeks. So that we find out. And that's what the deal is. If you want to come back, then that's what the deal is. And that's got to be uniform and it's got to be really applied hard,” he said. “Nobody wants to go to that, European World War II, let me see your papers sort of a thing. But this is serious and this is a public health emergency.”
    Castner said he’s been in contact with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council which he expects may issue guidelines for the charter halibut fishery this week. KBBI will keep you updated.