KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

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KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

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Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song


Posts from the 'Local News' category

New Talkeetna Public Library is likely on schedule, despite delay

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Mat-Su Borough says that the new Talkeetna Public Library will proceed close to schedule, despite a delay.

In February, the request for bids for the new library did not receive any qualifying responses.  In every instance, the bids from contractors came out significantly higher than the cost estimate.  This led the Borough to re-scope the project in order to put it out for bid once again.

Mike Brown, Capital Projects Director for the Borough, says that the new project scope will not have substantial impacts on the size of the library or the features of the building itself.  He says that by altering plans for where to place the building, walkways, and sidewalks, that a substantial amount of money can be saved by eliminating dirt work.

Currently, the Borough is waiting for a new cost estimate, and Mike Brown says he hopes to have the request for bids open around the beginning of May.  He says that would allow work to begin this summer, with the hopes of laying the foundation before freeze-up this year.  Work would then continue through the winter and allow the Talkeetna Public Library to open its doors sometime in June of next year.

Alaska State Senate advances budget bill

Friday, April 11, 2014

On Friday, the Alaska State Senate approved its version of the state’s capital budget.  The budget totals approximately $2.1 billion, and was revised twice in the Senate Finance Committee before proceeding to the floor for a vote.

Revisions included the subtraction of Governor Sean Parnell’s requested $32.7 million dollar supplement for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project and the addition of power generation upgrades for the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. (more…)

Bulldozer removed from unnamed lake

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Multiple sources have now confirmed that the D6 bulldozer that sank into an unnamed lake north of Talkeetna last spring has been successfully removed from the water.  The cat train that removed the dozer is returning approximately fifteen miles to Gold Creek before returning to Talkeetna.

The bulldozer broke through the ice last May while traveling to Stephan Lake Lodge.  The operator, Donald Kiehl of North Pole, died in the accident.

Parnell Administration will continue to try for dam budget supplement

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Alaska Senate Finance Committee has rejected a bid by the Parnell administration to return a $32.7 million dollar supplement for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project to the capital budget.

On Monday, the committee initially removed the item from the budget, but did leave in Governor Parnell’s request for $10 million for the next budget year.  Governor Parnell’s office said on Monday that attempts would be made to get the funding reinstated.  On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee released another budget revision.  That version included substantial funding for a power plant at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, but nothing additional for Susitna-Watana.  Sharon Leighow, spokeswoman for Governor Parnell, said in an email statement Wednesday evening that another attempt will be made when the budget goes to the House Finance Committee for consideration.

Eleven of the project’s field studies are entirely dependent on the supplement, according to AEA, and another sixteen will have their scopes impacted if the funding stays out of the budget.  AEA is currently conducting a total of fifty-eight studies in order to apply for a license to build the 735-foot tall dam.  The current timeline predicts that the application will be ready for submission by the end of 2016.

April Talkeetna Community Council Notes

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

On Monday, the Talkeetna Community Council Board of Directors held its regular monthly meeting.  Topics of discussion included the Talkeetna Village Park, the state legislature, and FEMA.

Howard Carbone, Chair of the Talkeetna Parks Advisory Committee, shared the results of last week’s public meeting to discuss upgrades to the Talkeetna Village Park on Main Street.  Changes are planned for both the lawn and the new pavilion.  Last year, issues arose when bands attempted to perform in rainy weather in the pavilion.  A roof without an overhang and a concave floor combined to create a potentially dangerous situation for musicians playing electric instruments when it rained.  Proposed changes include extending the roof and pad of the pavilion eight feet, adding a low-level deck, and creating better drainage.  Also, plans were discussed for seeding grass in the park.  The Parks Committee, and ultimately the Council, voted to support a plan that would involve hydroseeding this fall and closure of the park from September through next May to allow the grass to grow. (more…)

As spring arrives, mountaineering season ramps up

Friday, April 4, 2014

The beginning of April means the National Park Service, climbing guides, and air services are ramping up for the beginning of Denali climbing season.  A few climbers have already ventured into the range, and this year looks to be another busy one on North America’s tallest peak.

On Thursday, the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station reported that 772 climbers have registered to climb thus far.  According to Maureen Gualtieri, spokeswoman for the Park, that number is perhaps slightly above average, but definitely in the normal range.  She says that the Park Service is expecting around 1,200 climbers to make the attempt to summit Denali this year, which would be slightly higher than the 1,151 that attempted the climb last year. (more…)

AEA reaches land access agreement with Cook Inlet Regional Working Group

Friday, April 4, 2014

A land access dispute that threatened to delay progress on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project has been resolved, though the agreement has come later than expected.

Friday afternoon, the Alaska Energy Authority issued a press release stating that a “complex” land access permit had been reached between AEA, six Cook Inlet village corporations, and Cook Inlet Region, Inc to allow access to Alaska Native-owned land that is in the study area for the proposed megaproject.  Over the past two years, discussions over land access have been ongoing, and were occasionally complicated by allegations of trespassing by contractors hired by AEA.  Details of the agreement were not available on Friday.

The land access agreement could also have an impact on funding for the Susitna-Watana project this year.  Governor Sean Parnell has asked the Alaska Legislature for a $32.7 million budget supplement for the current fiscal year.  If lawmakers approve the supplement, it would still require AEA to secure access to the village corporation lands.

While the agreement comes more than a month after AEA’s estimate that they would have an access permit by the end of February, it still represents a step forward for the project.  Now, the decision comes down to lawmakers as they discuss the state capital budget over the coming days.

State announces prelininary Pick. Click. Give. totals

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Alaska Department of Revenue has released the preliminary figures for the 2014 Pick. Click. Give. program.  This year, Alaskans have pledged a record $2.7 million dollars through the program, which allows individuals to designate part of their PFD payment to non-profit organizations.  This year’s contributions represent an increase of more than $300,000 from last year, and the average amount donated by each individual topped $100.

In the Upper Valley, nine organizations received pledges from Pick. Click. Give, totaling $30,775.  Clear Creek Cat Rescue received the most contributions, with $9,950 pledged by 218 donors.  Other organizations that participated include the Denali Arts Council, Friends of the Talkeetna Library, the Jessica Stevens Community Foundation, KTNA, Northern Susitna Institute, Sunshine Station Childcare Center, the Talkeetna Historical Society, and the Willow Public Library.

This week’s figures represent pledges made as of March 31st, when PFD applications closed.  Residents who have already filed for their PFD can still choose to make a Pick. Click. Give. donation through the end of August.

State Legislature Continues Megaproject Discussion

Thursday, April 3, 2014

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As this year’s session of the Alaska Legislature enters its final weeks, discussions about the state’s capital budget are likely to take up a good deal of time in the House and Senate Finance Committees.  The Senate committee recently moved a bill forward that included a new financial plan for the proposed Knik Arm Bridge.  Other megaprojects are also on the table, including the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project and the new plan for a gas pipeline.  For the last week, words and actions of various legislators suggest a trend toward prioritizing projects in anticipation of what may be a series of lean budget years. (more…)

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