KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

Photo by Deb Wessler

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KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by James Trump

Winter Black-capped Chickadee

winter chickadee

Photo by Robin Song

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song


Posts from the 'Local News' category

Crews optimistic about Sheep Creek fire efforts

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Over the weekend, crews battled a wildfire near Mile 91 of the Parks Highway. According to the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, a private aircraft discovered the fire on Saturday afternoon. Local crews as well as firefighters with the Division of Forestry responded. Initial efforts were slowed by the fact that the fire is more than a mile from the highway, limiting which vehicles could get to the blaze.


Estimates for the fire topped out at 40 acres. By Sunday morning, crews had laid a hose around sixty percent of the fire’s perimeter, and anticipated having full containment by the end of the shift.

Crews responding to wildfire near Mile 91

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Fire crews are responding to a wildfire burning near Mile 91 of the Parks Highway.  According to Ken Barkley, Deputy Director of Emergency Services for the Mat-Su Borough, the fire is currently estimated at 35 acres and is located a mile-and-a-half from the Parks Highway.  The fire is located north of the railroad tracks and east of the highway.

KTNA will continue to provide information as it becomes available.

Judge Pfiffner denies injunction for Medicaid expansion

Friday, August 28, 2015

On Friday, an Anchorage judged ruled that Medicaid expansion will be allowed to proceed on September 1st, but the underlying legal questions have not yet been fully resolved.

The Alaska Legislative Council has sued Governor Bill Walker for unilaterally accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid to individuals between ages 18 and 64 who fall below 130% of the federal poverty level. The expansion is part of the Affordable Care Act. The Council’s lawsuit alleges that Walker does not have the authority to accept the funds or to add a new group to those qualified to receive Medicaid benefits.

Friday’s ruling was on the Legislative Council’s request for a restraining order or injunction, which would have stopped the expansion from going into effect on September 1st. Judge Pfiffner’s ruling means that the process may continue. The lawsuit itself will continue.

On Friday afternoon, Governor Walker issued a press release praising the ruling, which he says will ensure healthcare to over 20,000 Alaskans.

Local businesses reflect on summer 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

by: Katie Writer

Though the summer may not officially be over, Talkeetna businesses notice a slowing trend of traffic in town as the school year begins.

KTNA’s Katie Writer interviewed a handful of local businesses, new and old, about their impressions of the summer 2015 season.


Here are some of the local work force’s thoughts of what shaped the summer of 2015.

Many merchants noticed an increase of independent travelers.

Brenda Walsh of Conscious Coffee believes that, due to the popularity of reality TV shows, Alaska seems more accessible. She noticed this both in her shop as well as on the train.

“I’m amazed at the number of families that are clearly traveling on their own, either in RVs, rental cars, or even if they’re doing it by the public transport, by the trains or buses, there’s a lot more independent travelers, I think. (more…)

AEA asks to un-pause licensing for Susitna-Watana

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On Wednesday, the Alaska Energy Authority proposed an amended licensing schedule for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project after it was put on hold for months. Last December, Governor Bill Walker issued an administrative order year freezing new discretionary spending on six projects, including Susitna-Watana. In July, the Walker administration eased that restriction, allowing AEA to continue work on studies required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. About $6.6 million of the previously allocated funding remained available at that time. A July 5th memo from Walker’s Office of Management and Budget Director, Pat Pitney, says that using the remaining funds to complete studies in progress would help preserve the state’s investment thus far. The memo also states that the project will be re-evaluated during next year’s budget process.


If AEA’s proposed schedule is accepted, it will allow the agency to submit technical memoranda and other supplemental information to the initial study report that was written last summer through November 6th. The meetings discussing the study report with stakeholders would begin in mid-February. Along with the request, AEA submitted records from meetings with Native organizations and state and federal agencies. Of those, only the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service expressed concern over the proposed schedule.


Currently, the federal licensing process for Susitna-Watana remains on hold through September 2nd until and unless AEA’s request to resume is approved by FERC.

20th Annual Art Auction and dinner with the artists

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Art Auction Poster 2015


20th Annual Art Auction

MSB Assembly continues discussion of dump fees

Thursday, August 20, 2015

For its last two meetings, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly has discussed rolling back increases to fees at borough solid waste transfer sites. That discussion will last at least one more meeting, after a decision was delayed earlier this week.

Assembly Members Dan Mayfield and Vern Halter sponsor the proposal currently on the table. It rolls back rate hikes for dropping off trash at transfer sites. The assembly approved the increases during the borough budget process. Now, Halter and Mayfield say the new fees went too far.

The borough’s solid waste division is run as an enterprise fund, which means it is supported exclusively by user fees. No tax money is allowed into its budget. As of the end of the last fiscal year, the fund was in the red by $3.5 million. When an enterprise fund runs in the red, the difference is borrowed from the general fund. (more…)

Three injured, one seriously, in Parks Highway crash

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A three-car collision Tuesday morning on the Parks Highway involved two Upper Valley drivers, according to the Alaska State Troopers.


The crash occurred shortly after 11:00 am near mile 52 of the highway. According to troopers 71-year-old John Hensel was driving southbound, and had either slowed or stopped to turn left off of the highway.   Troopers say Hensel’s vehicle was rear-ended by a van, driven by 62-year-old Roger Demiller of Trapper Creek. Hensel’s car was pushed into the northbound lane, where it was struck by an SUV driven by 68-year-old Ruth Strong of Talkeetna.


Hensel, whose place of residence was not identified, was trapped inside his vehicle and was removed by emergency responders. He was taken to the hospital with what troopers describe as “serious” injuries. Ruth Strong and her passenger were also transported for evaluation and treatment.

New for the 2015 hunting season,a Hatcher Pass youth hunt and custom hunting maps

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

While the bulk of moose hunting season has yet to open, some early season hunting activities are underway in the game management units around the Upper Valley. Todd Rinaldi, area biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, says one completely new hunt in Hatcher Pass is specifically for young hunters.


“What this does is it has a youth only area from August 10th through August 25th. What that means is the area is closed to small game hunting, except that small game can be taken by hunters sixteen years old or younger when they are accompanied by a licensed hunter at eighteen years [or older]. We’re pretty excited about this. This is a proposal that went through the Mat-Valley advisory committee, and basically what it’s going to do is provide an opportunity for young hunters—for families—to get out and actually get an opportunity to take some small came and instill some hunting safety practices.”


In this case, small game means rabbits, ptarmigan, and grouse. Todd Rinaldi says bowhunting for moose, which began on August 10th in game management unit 14, will be allowed in the area, but adults will have to wait one more week if they intend to take small game in the Hatcher Pass area.


Also new this year are custom hunting maps. Todd Rinaldi says the new map tool, which is available on the Fish and Game website, lets hunters create a map that is specific to their needs.


“Typically, most of the maps that are produced online are either an entire game management unit, which someone may or may not want, or it’s the entire draw unit or hunt zone. Sometimes those maps are bigger than people want; sometimes they don’t contain as much information or as much area as someone would want. So, you can go online, and you can customize. Maybe [you] have a map that includes both game management units. Maybe you want to zoom in to a specific drainage in a sheep hunt area. It just gives you a lot of flexibility…”


Keep listening to KTNA this week to hear about changes to hunting regulations in and around the Upper Valley.