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Posts from the 'Local News' category

Senate Subcommittee Eliminates Public Broadcasting Funding

Friday, March 27, 2015

On Thursday, a Senate Finance subcommittee removed all funding for public broadcasting and the Alaska Rural Communications Service. KTNA’s Phillip Manning spoke with the subcommittee chair about the decision, and has this story:

Senator Mike Dunleavy, whose district includes the Upper Valley, began Thursday’s budget subcommittee meeting with a warning that this iteration of the state’s Department of Administration budget contains significant cuts.

“There’s going to be a lot of good programs across the board that may not be funded, and as we go through this, it’s not necessarily a judgement on those programs, but it has to do with the fact that we may not have the money to pay for everything.  Actually, we don’t have the money to pay for everything.” (more…)

Local Musher Claims Rookie of the Year Honors in Junior Iditarod

Thursday, March 26, 2015

By: Kaitlin Daly

Although the relocation of the Jr. Iditarod made big news this year, even bigger may be Dakota Schlosser’s impressive run.  KTNA’s Kaitlin Daly spoke with the young musher, and has this story:

This year, Susitna Valley High School student Dakota Schlosser ran the Jr. Iditarod. This race is open to all teenagers from the age of 14-17 and acts as a qualifying requirement to run the Iditarod in the next year. As a consequence, the race provides plenty of rigor and competition for all of those who enter. Dakota states that the amount of time it takes to run the race, although seemingly short, requires months of practice ahead of time.

“I started training this summer–June probably–and I’ve worked all year.  Got my dog team built up.”

This year the race began three miles in on the Denali Highway where the teams then mushed in to Alpine Creek Lodge, approximately 65 miles away. From there teams were required to take their 10 hour mandatory layover before mushing back. Along this total of 130 miles Dakota said he saw a lot of the amazing sights Alaska has to offer, but something far simpler was his favorite part.

“I’d have to say the best part was probably coming into the finish line, because I was done.”

While perhaps the greatest victory is simply finishing the race and being able to take it off of his bucket list, Dakota made memories with his 12 hour and 42 min finish.

“I got fourth place and Rookie of the Year, and I was the only rookie in the top five, so that was pretty good.”

With these accomplishments under his belt Dakota plans to run again next year before pursuing his passion in the 2017 Iditarod.

Upper Valley Legislators File New Education Bills

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Both Alaska legislators representing the Upper Valley have filed new legislation in the last week dealing with education.

On Monday, Representative Wes Keller filed House Bill 156.  The bill deals with state assessments of schools and students.  Under Keller’s plan, schools that do not receive high assessment scores will still be required to submit improvement plans.  Language added in HB 156 would require preference be given to improvement measures that increase ‘local control of education and parental choice.’  Keller’s bill also adds a category of recognition for schools that demonstrate improvement in scores from year to year.  Currently, only high-achieving schools receive special recognition.

On Wednesday, Senator Mike Dunleavy filed Senate Bill 89.  The bill would allow parents to withdraw their children from any ‘activity, performance standard, test, assessment, or program’ that they believe would harm the child.  The bill specifies that any school activity that questions beliefs or practices concerning health, reproduction, or sex education would be subject to the provision.  Dunleavy’s bill also requires two-weeks’ notice before any health, human reproduction, or sex-ed instruction is given.  Parental consent would also be required before students receive any such instruction.  Additionally, SB 89 allows for parents to opt students out of a broader range of questionnaires and surveys that might be given to students.

Both bills have been referred to the education committees of their respective chambers, where Representative Keller and Senator Dunleavy are the current chairs.

National Park Service: Llamas Allowed in Parks; Sheep and Goats Still Out

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

In other Denali National Park happenings, good news for llama enthusiasts.  Last year, a number of livestock animals were banned from the park.  Goats, sheep, bovids, and llamas were all barred due to concerns for the health of the wild sheep population.  Biologists feared that a bacteria present in livestock could cause pneumonia when introduced to wild Dall Sheep.  The story came to light after a man was cited for walking his pet goat inside Denali National Park last July.

Last week, the park released a compendium of regulations that will take effect on April 1st.  Among them is the easing of the llama ban.  The National Park Service says it heard from numerous groups around the country that support the use of llamas as backcountry pack animals.  The Park Service also acknowledges that there is not a documented case of disease passing from a llama to wild sheep.  Goats and sheep remain banned.  Before you pack your llama and head into the hills, however, you will need a permit from the park superintendent.

Denali National Park Begins Spring Road Opening

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

On Tuesday, the National Park Service announced that work is underway for the spring opening of the road into Denali National Park and Preserve.  The Park Service says staff expect to encounter less snow and more overflow ice than in previous years.  Once the roads are clear, the crew will then use steam to open drainage culverts.

Currently, the Park Road is open to the Mountain Vista Rest Area at Mile 12.  The Park Service says that the road could be open to Savage River by early April, and that the road may be cleared to the Teklanika River Rest Area by mid-to-late April.  Additional details on the road opening are available at the Denali National Park website.

Tuesday’s press-release is provided in it’s entirety after the cut: (more…)

Talkeetna Hosts Sunny Oosik Classic

Monday, March 23, 2015

50k Start

On Saturday, the Denali Nordic Ski Club hosted the Oosik Classic Ski Race and Tour in Talkeetna.  More than 600 skiers took part in the event, ranging from competitive collegiate skiers to people dressed as dragons, judges, and bumblebees taking part for the fun of it.

It was a beautiful day for skiing, with the shun shining brightly and temperatures in the low 40s.  Denali Nordic Ski Club Vice President RubberneckerPaul Beberg says, despite a warm winter, that conditions were “excellent” on 95% of the trail. (more…)

Moosey: Mat-Su Working Through Federal ‘Hoops’ Regarding M/V Susitna

Thursday, March 19, 2015

This week, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly went through the quarterly process of approving the next three months of funding for storage and maintenance of the M/V Susitna, which currently amounts to about $18,000 per month, excluding insurance.

The Susitna was meant to be used as a ferry between the Mat-Su Borough and Anchorage across Knik Arm.  That project never came to fruition, however, and the borough has been trying to find a new home for the boat.  For more than a year and a half, that has meant trying to sell it.  The borough has an interested buyer, but there’s a catch.  That buyer is located outside of the United States.  Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey says that means going to the federal government, who built the vessel, for permission.

“Because this is a U.S. Navy prototype, primarily designed for battle missions, that it was potentially thought could be used as a ferry, we have to go through these extra hoops.  A second thing is, as far as export license, when you sell outside of [the] Continental United States, you need permission to do that.” (more…)

Rare Geomagnetic Storm Caused Upper Valley Light Show

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Tuesday night, the Upper Valley experienced an impressive display of the Aurora Borealis.  The lights are caused by particles from the sun being thrown into space and interacting with the charged particles in Earth’s ionosphere, which begins about sixty miles above the surface.  This is referred to by scientists as a geomagnetic storm.  Donald Hampton researches those storms for the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  He says the geomagnetic storm on Tuesday was very rare.

“It’s kind of a once-every-ten-year kind of storm.  Just the magnitude and the duration were quite spectacular, actually.”

Geomagnetic storms are rated on a scale of one to five, based on their intensity.  This week’s event was rated a G4, or ‘severe,’ storm.  On Tuesday, the northern lights were visible across substantial areas of the Lower 48.  Storms that strong also have another effect, however.  Donald Hampton says communications systems, such as telephones and radio, can be impacted when their signals hit the ionosphere.

“That plasma actually reacts to that electromagnetic wave going through there, and it can do things like attenuate it, so the signal you think you’re going to get out of the other side may be a lot weaker.  So, instead of hearing a radio station ten miles away, you might only be able to hear it one mile away, or something like that.”

No significant outages were reported in the Upper Valley as a result of Tuesday’s geomagnetic storm, meaning that the event amounted to nothing more than an impressive light show.

 

Do you have pictures of last night’s lights?  We want to see them on our Facebook Page!

Mat-Su Assembly Rejects Advisory Vote on Commercial Pot Ban

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly unanimously opposed Mayor Larry DeVilbiss’ request for an advisory vote on banning commercial marijuana operations in unincorporated areas of the Valley.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:

All seven members of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly voted against a resolution that would have put multiple advisory questions on the borough’s October ballot regarding commercial marijuana.  Mayor DeVilbiss submitted the resolution, which would have asked whether borough residents outside of incorporated cities desired a ban on commercial growth, manufacture, testing, and sale of the plant. (more…)