KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by Dora Miller

KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by James Trump

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song

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Talkeetna Bachelor Society Awards Funds from 2014 Auction

In the interest of full disclosure, Phillip Manning, wishes to make it known that he sits on the board of directors for the Talkeetna Bachelor Society.

Earlier this month, the Talkeetna Bachelor Society held its annual Bachelor Auction and Ball.  The event is a charity fundraiser aimed at organizations in the Upper Valley.  This year, the auction took in just over $20,000.  Of that, half went to the Talkeetna Bachelor Society Fund for families in crisis.  The remainder was divided up at a meeting of the Society on Wednesday.  Organizations submitted requests for funding, which were then reviewed.

Talkeetna Elementary was awarded a total of $2500 for projects ranging from art to technology.  Su-Valley Junior and Senior High School received $1,329.  In addition, the Bachelor Society has set aside $1,000 as a scholarship for a 2015 Su Valley graduate.

Other programs that received funds included Trapper Creek Elementary, KTNA, the Talkeetna Historical Society, and a number of charities established to help feed those in need.

Wednesday’s meeting also included very preliminary discussion of next year’s event.

Lonnie Dupre Makes Fourth Winter Solo Attempt on Denali

Lonnie Denali

Lonnie Dupre before leaving Talkeetna. Photo from Facebook. Used with permission.

On Thursday, climber and arctic veteran Lonnie Dupre  left Talkeetna for his fourth attempt to be the first person to summit Denali in January.  Before he left, he spoke with KTNA’s Phillip Manning.

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Climbing Denali is hard.  Even in peak season, temperatures dip below zero, and frostbite is a real concern.  In fact, this summer saw one of the lowest summit rates in decades, owing largely to weather.  Not many people attempt North America’s highest peak in winter.  Lonnie Dupre is one of the few who has.  He is beginning his fourth attempt to summit the mountain in January.  His previous attempts were all thwarted by the weather.  Dupre says he’s surprised at how mild the Alaskan winter has been so far. Read More »

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Talkeetna Elementary Performs Winter Concert

On Tuesday, Talkeetna Elementary held its annual Winter Concert.  The students performed songs about snow, Santa Claus, and even wildlife.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has this story:

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Below are all of the songs performed by each grade: Read More »

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Local Program Offers Help For Families Who Rely on School Meals

The holiday season is generally a time for celebration, family, and giving.  For some Upper Valley families with school-age children, though, it also comes with an extra financial burden.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:

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Everyone knows that eating is essential to living.  Beyond what the human body needs to stay alive, however, nutrients and energy from food have an impact on how well our brains and bodies function.  This can be especially true for children, who expend a lot of energy in the process of growing.  Lisa Shelby, Principal of Talkeetna Elementary, says that students who have had enough to eat simply do better.

“We feel pretty lucky that kids are well fed, which means that…their brains are ready to learn.  Their blood sugar isn’t low.  It helps [them] stay awake–gives them that energy to keep moving and keep learning.”

For some families, paying for school meals can be a struggle.  The regular price for an elementary school student who eats both breakfast and lunch at school comes out to $4.55.  While that may not seem like all that much, it adds up over the course of 180 school days, and that’s just for one child.  There is help for lower-income families in the form of free and reduced price lunches.  That helps to ensure that all students get the food they need in order to learn and grow.  Principal Shelby says that just under half of Talkeetna Elementary’s students are on either free or reduced-price lunches.  That assistance isn’t available during times like the two-week winter break, however.  LuAnn Tysdale heads up the Upper Valley’s “Filling the Gap” program.  She says the time off from school can pose a financial burden in areas like Talkeetna and Trapper Creek. Read More »

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Revised Proposal Halves State Capital Budget

Governor Walker’s office has released a new iteration of the 2016 state budget proposal.  The proposal does not year bear Walker’s endorsement, and was left behind by the administration of Sean Parnell.  The Parnell budget had a total of $219 million for capital projects.   The version released Monday cut that number to $106 million.  The only capital projects still on the list are those with some type of matching funds available and one legally-mandated school project.

One item that is no longer in the proposal is the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.  Governor Parnell’s budget originally called for $20 million to continue studies related to the proposed dam on the Susitna River.  The Knik Arm Bridge is also missing from Monday’s budget.  The previous version did not include any state funding, but did include $42.5 million in federal funds.

A statement released alongside the proposal says that Governor Walker has not yet endorsed a budget, and that items could be added back in after scrutiny by the administration.  The Walker administration says a final budget proposal will be submitted by February 18th.  After that, it goes through the legislature before returning to Governor Walker for signature.

Stardate Susitna 12-7-2014

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Su Valley Volleyball, Wrestling Teams at State Tourney This Weekend

The Su Valley volleyball team will not repeat as state champions in 2014.  The Rams were defeated on Thursday by Dillingham in four sets.  Their tournament is life is not over, however, and they could still place third in the tournament.  Su Valley plays Kenny Lake on Friday in the consolation bracket.

Su Valley also has two wrestlers competing in the state tournament today.  In the 126 pound division, Sophomore Brandon Young lost his first match on Friday morning.  In the 285 pound class, Sophomore Marshall Pinard has yet to compete in his first match.  Pinard is seeded third in the state tournament in his weight class.

More results will be posted as they become available.

Numbers and Upper Valley Tourism

Note:  Casey Ressler of the Mat-Su CVB will be discussing tourism data at the Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce General Meeting on Thursday.

Each year, the Alaska Division of Economic Development commissions a report that looks at the previous summer’s tourism numbers.  The numbers for 2014 are not far off, and KTNA’s Phillip Manning took a look at some trends that could affect the Upper Valley:

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In the middle of December, tourism is far from the minds of many.  Still, tourism numbers are very important to communities like Talkeetna.  For the period of October 2012 to September 2013, a record 1.96 million visitors traveled to Alaska, most of them for summer vacations.  Statewide, they spent $1.3 billion, not including the cost of travel to get here.

How much of that money comes to this area? Casey Ressler of the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau says that drilling down numbers specific to the borough and the Upper Valley can be tricky.

“That’s the challenge for us, because we don’t have a cruise port or an airport where we can count the folks who come in.  So, we use the bed tax as kind of a measuring stick.” Read More »

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Just One More Chance to Bid. 1pm – 3pm

Thank you for all the support of KTNA’s On Air Auction.

Listen in for one last day of the auction for a chance to bid on items from Talkeetna Gifts and Collectables, Ultimate Sewing, Kaladi Brothers and Denali Zipline Tours.

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