This week on Su-Valley voice, host Phillip Manning sat down with John Leonard, South District Ranger for Denali National Park, and Roger Robinson, Mountaineering Ranger for Denali National Park to discuss all things Denali. Su-Valley Voice airs live every-other Wednesday at 10:00 am. On May 7th, Phillip will be discussing borough issues with Assembly Member Vern Halter.
Robin Song updates the story of the wounded Northern Goshawk, and she tells of some memorable time spent with our big, white, impressive early migrants, the Trumpeter Swans. Audio is seven minutes.
Here’s an update on the Goshawk that Trigger Twigg rescued on December thirtieth. For those who don’t know the story, he was returning to his cabin that morning when he heard a noise and turned to see a Goshawk falling from a branch and landing spread-eagled on the snow. Read More »
On Tuesday, Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey submitted his proposed Borough budget for the next fiscal year. The proposal comes in at $403 million dollars, which is about $20 million less than the budget for the current year.
The largest expenditure in the proposed budget is just over $269 million for schools in the Borough. $55.9 million is allocated for borough operations, making it the second highest expenditure. Debt service is the third most expensive item, at $34.3 million.
The M/V Susitna continues to be a major expense for the Borough as well. The proposed budget estimates more than $700,000 in maintenance and other costs associated with the ferry prototype. That number represents approximately half of the budget for the current year. The Borough is continuing to attempt to sell the ferry or give it to another government entity.
At Tuesday’s budget presentation, Borough Manager Moosey also said that the Borough will lose $1 million in revenue sharing funds from the state. He says the change is accounted for in the budget, and will be considered in future budgets, as it could mean a gradual stepping-down of the program over the course of a few years.
Included in the budget is the revenue projection for the Talkeetna Sewer and Water utility. For the current budget year, the total revenue budget was set at $307, which included a $75,000 infusion that Assembly Member Vern Halter pushed through the Borough Assembly. Given current rates, the total revenue is estimated for next fiscal year is estimated at $245,000, and expenses are estimated at about $330,000. Both of those numbers are subject to change once the current assessment of the utility’s finances and operation is completed this year.
The Borough Manager’s proposed budget is subject to amendment by the Borough Assembly. The Assembly will hold public meetings on May 1st in Wasilla, May 2nd in Willow, and May 5th in Palmer to listen to input from Mat-Su residents.
Warm weather is easing the process of clearing the Park Road in Denali National Park. According to a press release on Thursday, the road will be open to the Teklanika Rest area beginning Friday.
The spring thaw has also brought out some of Denali National Park’s wildlife. According to the National Park Service, moose, caribou, Dall sheep, ravens, ptarmigans, fox, eagles, and a wolverine have been sighted. The bears are evidently still waking up, however, as the road clearing crew has not reported any sightings, yet.
While the road will be open to private vehicles, the Park Service cautions visitors that snow and ice can still be present, especially in shaded areas.
Tuesday evening, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly voted to amend an ordinance that could result in a redrawing of the voting districts of the Borough. Assembly Member Steve Colligan, who sponsored the ordinance, says that the goal is to align the Borough’s districts with the state’s voting precincts.
Vern Halter, Assembly Member for District 7, which includes the Upper Valley, took issue with the original redrawing of district lines. The original plan would have included most of the land in District 7 east of Talkeetna being moved to District 1, which mostly covers the southeastern portion of the Borough. Assembly Member Halter says that the northern portion of that land has traditionally been part of District 7, and the four residents in the area are often dependent on Talkeetna for airborne transportation and resupply.
Mike Wood, resident of the Chase Community, said at the meeting that the original plan would mean that the community council area would be split into two Borough districts. Jok Bondurant, Talkeetna-based pilot and KTNA board of directors member, testified that the area in question was tied more to Talkeetna via the airport than to other areas of the Borough.
An amendment, offered by Assembly Member Halter, kept the northern portion of the land in question as part of District 7, and ceded land closer to the Hatcher Pass area to District 1. Jim Sykes, Assembly Member for District 1, said he did not object to the amendment, and it passed unanimously. The ordinance as a whole also passed without objection. The final decision will be up to Borough voters during the October election.
At 12:24 pm on Wednesday, the Upper Valley got a bit of a jolt. A magnitude 5.1 earthquake, centered near the Parks Highway between Talkeetna and Cantwell, occurred at a depth of seventy-six kilometers. No damage or injuries were immediately reported.
At the KTNA studio, the ground shook for about half a minute in total. The earthquake was felt as far away as Valdez and Fairbanks.