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Posts from the 'Local News' category

Dunleavy Faces Independent Challenger in Senate E Race

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

by:  Ellen Lockyer – KSKA, Anchorage

Tiny Chickaloon, population 272, lies just within the newly redrawn boundaries of Senate E, the lengthy district that threads the Richardson Highway from Valdez to Delta Junction. Independent candidate for Senate E, Warren Keogh, has called Chickaloon home for three decades.

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“I am a lifelong independent. I have been approached by folks in both parties, to become a Republican or become a Democrat, but I have decided to stay on the course that I have always been on and not become a partisan person.”

Keogh has a varied background – military service in Vietnam, firefighter and paramedic, paralegal and water resources specialist. He has served as Chickaloon Community Council president, and spent one term on the Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly, representing the communities North of Palmer. He says he’s got the name recognition to take on the incumbent.

“Mr. Dunleavy has been in office only two years, so he does have the advantage of incumbency, however, in this new district, he is only incumbent in half the area, and I reside in the other, the easternmost district E, so we both have considerable name recognition.” (more…)

Mat-Su School District Suspends Military Recruitment

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Mat-Su Borough School District has temporarily suspended all military recruitment in Valley schools.  This comes one day after the Anchorage School District’s decision to halt military recruitment on its campuses.

In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, Mat-Su Borough School District spokeswoman Catherine Esary says that the decision is a result of allegations of past misconduct by Alaska Army National Guard recruiters in Anchorage.  Documents pertaining to those alleged incidents, as well as many others, were leaked earlier this week.

Mat-Su Superintendent, Dr. Deena Paramo, says that the district is reviewing its protocols regarding military recruitment.  Paramo says that, while the district “values its partnership with the military,” the safety of students is the highest priority.

Military staff who recruit in Mat-Su schools have been contacted, and there is currently no estimate for when recruitment will be allowed to resume.

Talkeetna Man Arrested for Domestic Violence

Monday, October 20, 2014

On Saturday night, the Alaska State Troopers arrested a Talkeetna man after a domestic violence incident downtown.  Robert Reichert is charged with assault, criminal mischief, and driving without a valid license.  Troopers say that Reichert recklessly injured a family member and intentionally broke two cell phones.  The call came in to troopers just before midnight on Saturday.  Reichert was contacted near Mile 2 of the Talkeetna Spur Road in his truck.  He was taken to the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility in Palmer, where he is being held without bail.

Mat-Su Borough Assembly to Certify Election Results This Week

Monday, October 20, 2014

All of the counting in this year’s Mat-Su Borough election is done, and none of the results have changed.  Final numbers show 13.6% of eligible voters went to the polls earlier this month, up from an initial figure of 11%.

Upper Valley voters decided on two ballot issues and two school board seats.  The candidates for both of those seats ran unopposed.  Proposition B-1, which passed comfortably, allows the borough to redraw district maps to bring them in line with the state’s voting precinct boundaries.  Borough officials have said that the change will mean fewer unique ballots will have to be printed due to precinct overlap between the borough and the state.

Proposition B-2 passed overwhelmingly, and allows for increased property tax exemptions for senior citizens and disabled veterans.

Elsewhere in the borough, Steve Colligan was re-elected to represent District 4, which covers much of Wasilla, in the borough assembly, and Dan Mayfield defeated Bill Kendig to represent District 5, which includes Big Lake.  Darcie Salmon, who currently represents District 5, did not run for re-election.

The results will be certified at a special meeting of the borough assembly on Tuesday.

Early Voting Has Begun

Monday, October 20, 2014

While election day isn’t until November 4th, some Alaskans began voting on Monday.  Early voting has begun, along with applications for electronic absentee voting.  Alaskans applying for an absentee ballot by mail have until Saturday to send their request.

In the Upper Valley, voters will choose representatives for the state House and Senate, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, and Lieutenant Governor.  There are also three initiatives on this year’s ballot concerning legalized marijuana, increasing the minimum wage, and mining in the Bristol Bay region.

Susitna Dam Study Report Meetings Begin Wednesday

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Beginning on Wednesday, the Alaska Energy Authority will hold meetings to discuss the initial study report for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.  Wednesday’s discussion will include study reports on fish in the Susitna River drainage.  Those studies have recently drawn criticism from the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  AEA maintains that criticism is unfounded.

Other meetings will cover water, ice, plants and wildlife, geology, and social studies.  The overall objective of the meetings is to allow stakeholders and AEA to discuss the studies.  The outcome of the meetings will be a potentially revised plan for second-year studies in 2015.

The full schedule of meetings, as well as draft agendas, is available here.

Upper Valley Residents Remember Barbara Washburn

Friday, October 10, 2014
Barbara Washburn/ Photo:  Museum of Science, Boston

Barbara Washburn/ Photo: Museum of Science, Boston

Recently, Barbara Washburn passed away at the age of ninety-nine.  She was the first woman to set foot on the summit of Denali, but her legacy in the Talkeetna area has as much to do with who she was as what she did.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has this remembrance.

Barbara and Brad Washburn’s adventure together began in New England.  Ken Pauley, who worked with the Washburns at the Museum of Science in Boston, explains how they met.

“She was his secretary.  Needless to say, over time, there was a relationship developed.  They spent a lot of time together, and became husband and wife…”

After Brad and Barbara were married in 1940, Ken Pauley says it was not common to see them apart.

“They were inseparable. Whither he or she went, they went together.” (more…)

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AEA: Fisheries Service Criticism of Susitna Dam Studies “Untenable, Bordering on the Absurd”

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Alaska Energy Authority has responded to letters from the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that questioned research being done on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.

Of the two federal agencies, the National Marine Fisheries Service took a stronger position regarding A-E-A’s ability to produce accurate models of salmon activity in the Susitna River.  The NMFS letter cited fourteen areas of concern, including sampling methods and possible misidentification of juvenile fish.  The agency says that the problems are significant enough that no further studies should be done until they are resolved.

On Wednesday, AEA labeled the criticism as inaccurate.  In a news release, Susitna-Watana Project Manager Wayne Dyok says the NMFS letter, “relies on mischaracterizations and generalizations.”  The actual response letter by AEA, which is signed by Dyok, goes even further, saying that assertions made by the Fisheries Service are “untenable, bordering on the absurd.”

AEA’s response letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service totals nearly fifty pages.  Most of that is a line-by-line refutation of the concerns listed by NMFS.  Many of AEA’s specific responses assert that NMFS is either ignoring the data or misunderstands the methodologies being used.  The Alaska Energy Authority maintains that it is following the study plan approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC will have the opportunity to hear out both sides, soon.  Meetings are scheduled to start next week to discuss the Susitna-Watana field work.  Part of the objective of those meetings is for FERC to decide what, if any, changes need to be made in future field studies.

Talkeetna Community Council Election Results in Coin-Toss

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Results from the Talkeetna Community Council election are also in.  Four council board seats were up for election.  There were four candidates on the ballot, as well as one official write-in candidate.

The only incumbent running for re-election is Whitney Wolff, who received 107 votes and will remain on the council.  New council members include Mark Moren and Rich Crain.  There was a tie for the fourth seat, with Rob Shelby and write-in candidate Caitlin Hunt both receiving sixty-nine votes.  Per Talkeetna Community Council bylaws, the race was decided by a coin-toss, which was won by Rob Shelby, making him the final member of the board.

Additional write-in votes included a handful of Talkeetna residents, as well as one write-in vote each for Mickey Mouse and Mayor Stubbs.

In addition to electing board members, East Talkeetna residents voted 48-10 in favor of exploring adding East Talkeetna to the local flood service area.

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