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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.
Eclipsed moon next to Virgo’s brightest star Spica, and well below Mars, now at opposition, it’s closest (and therefore brightest) to Earth. What a night! Kathleen Fleming took this photo with her point and shoot digital camera.
Earlier this month, the Alaska Energy Authority reached a land access agreement with the Cook Inlet Regional Working Group regarding land access to conduct field studies. The working group, which is composed six village corporations and Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated, will allow the studies to proceed on their land through 2015 and AEA will pay a permit fee of $2.5 million. The previous lack of an agreement meant that studies could not be conducted on the Alaska Native-owned land during 2013, and was the major reason cited by Governor Sean Parnell for cutting back significantly on Susitna-Watana’s budget for the fiscal year beginning in July.
The budget cuts and land access issues contributed to AEA’s request for an extension on the multi-year licensing required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on projects like Susitna-Watana. Part of that delay includes pushing back the release of an Initial Study Report, which details the work that took place in 2013 and will lay out the plan for work through the second study season. Originally, that report was scheduled to come out at the beginning of February, but has been pushed back to the beginning of June. When the review period is taken into account, it means that the meetings to discuss future study plans will take place in October. Read More »
At it’s meeting on Tuesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly will consider an ordinance that would call for a public vote to change assembly district maps. Part of that change would involve splitting off most of the land north and east of Talkeetna, which currently lies in District 7, and placing it in District 1.
Most of the population of District 1 lies in the far Southeast of the Borough, including the communities of Butte, Lazy Mountain, and Sutton. It does, however, contain land along the eastern border of the Borough, stretching north from Lake Louise. The new map would put what is currently considered Sheep Mountain into District 1, as well as part of Chase.
Vern Halter, Assembly Member for District 7, says that he opposes the ordinance. Halter says that while only a handful of voters are affected, it would mean that his district would no longer include the area near the proposed Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project, which he opposes.
The ordinance is scheduled for public hearing at the April 15th Assembly meeting. If the ordinance passes as-is, the issue will be on the Borough Election ballot this October.
Over the weekend, fourteen Talkeetna Elementary students competed in the district-wide Science Olympiad. Karen Mannix, coach for the team, says that students spent three months preparing for eleven events. The team’s many hours of preparation paid off as they brought home a total of fifteen medals from Saturday’s competition.
Some of the events tested the engineering skills of the students. The team of Cy Jolley and Luke Graupmann won third place in Tower Building, where students built a tower out of fifty straws and twenty straight pins. The towers were scored on ability to bear weight as well as height. The team also took third in the Rock Hounds competition.
Finn Benischek and Bryson Jolley placed third in the potentially messy Straw Egg Drop. In that event, students were instructed to build device using only masking tape and straws that would keep an egg intact when dropped from more than three meters. The Talkeetna team was one of only four that successfully kept their egg in one piece. Read More »