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Posts from the 'Local News' category

Talkeetna Airport Work to Begin Next Month

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Over the next two summers, expansion and improvement work will take place at the Talkeetna State Airport.

 

Laura Paul, Construction Project Manager for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, says that the contract for airport improvements was awarded to Ahtna Construction for just under $6.8 million. Plans for the improvements include taxi lanes, the transient aircraft apron, general aviation apron, and a pedestrian footpath.

 

Work on the project is scheduled to begin in mid-July, and will involve clearing trees, moving equipment, and putting in temporary access roads. Laura Paul says no disruption to air traffic is expected.

 

The project will also involve nearly 200,000 tons of gravel. Paul says that Ahtna Construction is still determining the source for the gravel. The exact placement of equipment, access routes, and traffic plans will be reviewed after a gravel pit has been selected. Laura Paul says the primary hauling route for the material will be Second Street, and that Beaver Road may be used as an alternate access route for later stages of the project, such as resurfacing the runways and taxiways.

 

Some Talkeetna residents have expressed concern over the heavy volume of traffic that the project will generate. Paul says the roads used will be assessed before hauling begins, and must be restored to their original condition after operations are complete.

Youth Conservation Corps provides jobs, experience for local teens

Monday, June 20, 2016
Rob Shelby and Sean Maguire overseeing trail work at the Talkeetna Public Library

Rob Shelby and Sean Maguire overseeing trail work at the Talkeetna Public Library Photo: Katie Writer – KTNA

By: Katie Writer – KTNA

Each summer, local teenagers work as part of the Upper Susitna Soil and Water Conservation District’s Youth Conservation Corps. The participants are paid to work throughout the summer on trail and other projects in the area. KTNA’s Katie Writer caught up with two of the YCC’s adult leaders while working on a project at the Talkeetna Library.

 

Unknown medical issue claims the life of Japanese climber on Denali

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On Tuesday, a Japanese climber on Denali died from unknown medical issues. According to the National Park Service, 66-year-old Masayuki Ikeda of Toride, Japan became ill on Monday night while his team was making an attempt at the summit of North America’s highest peak.

 

Early Tuesday morning, another team was descending from the summit when they found Ikeda and his three climbing partners between 18,400 and 19,000 feet of elevation. The National Park Service says Ikeda was unable to walk and had an “altered mental status.”

 

The second team helped move Ikeda to High Camp at 17,200 feet, and used a satellite phone to call for a rescue.

 

The National Park Service launched its high-altitude rescue helicopter from Talkeetna at 7:45. Masayuki Ikeda was loaded into the helicopter’s basket and flown to 14,200-foot camp. On arrival at camp, Ikeda had no pulse. National Park Service and military rescue personnel attempted to resuscitate Ikeda while flying further down Denali to base camp, and continued with advanced life support care when reaching camp. Rescuers were unable to resuscitate Masayuki Ikeda, who was declared deceased at 9:40 a.m. on Tuesday. His remains were flown to Talkeetna and transferred to the Alaska State Medical Examiner.

Borough to conduct “housekeeping” on zoning code

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mat-Su Borough staff is in the process of rewriting the zoning section of borough code. The zoning code, also known as Title 17, includes rules for utilities, tall towers, and a number of special land use districts, or SPUDs.

 

Sara Jansen, who works in the borough’s Planning Division, told the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors that the changes are intended to be “housekeeping.” Jansen says that, over time, the growth of Title 17, as well as the repealing of some sections, has left some sections confusing and others that may contain outright contradictions.

 

When the title is re-written, Jansen says it should be easier to follow. For example, conditional use permit requirements are currently written in each separate section of Title 17. Under the rewrite, they would appear once. Similarly, Sara Jansen says repetitive aspects of SPUDs would be consolidated. She says no substantive changes are planned to local SPUDs.

 

Some Talkeetnans present at the TCCI board spoke up regarding the changes. Ruth Wood, former chair of the TCCI board, says that she does not want to see the Talkeetna SPUD weakened. Jansen assured those present that the intent is not to weaken regulations.

 

A draft of the rewritten zoning code is expected to be complete sometime between October and December. The TCCI board asked that the community be kept informed on changes to the Talkeetna SPUD.

 

The rewrite also comes as a committee of the Talkeetna Community Council is reviewing the special land use district for Main Street in Talkeetna. The next meeting of the Main Street SPUD committee is scheduled for June 27th.

New business profile: Silverbear Sundries

Tuesday, June 14, 2016
FullSizeRender

Ember Haynes in front of Silverbear Sundries. Photo by Katie Writer – KTNA

By:  Katie Writer – KTNA

Each summer, new businesses come to Talkeetna. Silverbear Sundries has been in business for years, but has a new home on Main Street. KTNA’s Katie Writer paid the new location a visit and has this report.

 

New summer business channels Talkeetna’s golden history

Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Owners Tammy and Kevin Helms at Sourdough Bucks in Downtown Talkeetna.

Owners Tammy and Kevin Helms at Sourdough Bucks in Downtown Talkeetna. Photo:  Katie Writer – KTNA

By:  Katie Writer – KTNA

Along with each summer’s rush of visitors to Talkeetna come new businesses which  includes Sourdough Bucks. Owners Kevin and Tammy Helms are having just as much fun as their customers gold panning at their downtown mining camp…and recently they have found something possibly a lot more valuable than gold. KTNA’s Katie Writer spoke with them this week about their finds.

 

 

Borough seeks input on long-range transportation plan

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Mat-Su Borough is taking online input for its long-range transportation plan.

 

At Monday’s meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council, Lauren Driscoll from the borough’s planning division told community members that the online open house for the plan is currently running, and will end on June 15th.

 

The long-range transportation plan is intended to prepare for transportation infrastructure needs through 2035. Currently, the Mat-Su is the fastest growing area of Alaska.

 

As part of the current phase of the LRTP, borough residents can add “pins” to an interactive map to highlight problem areas that they would like the borough to include in the plan. Thus far, all of the pins added by users are located in the Core Area of the borough.

 

The next phase of the plan comes this fall, when the borough plans to include residents, experts, and other government entities in order to identify various alternatives for future transportation development.

 

A link to the long-range transportation page and interactive map is available at KTNA.org.

Vacant Talkeetna Council Seat Filled

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

At Monday’s regular monthly meeting, the Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. board of directors chose Chris Grabowski to fill its vacant seat.

 

Grabowski won a secret-ballot vote of the board to fill the seat initially vacated by Mark Moren earlier this year.

 

Grabowski was running against Geri McCann. McCann won a similar secret ballot election this spring, but the seat was vacated again after questions concerning her residency documentation. McCann said at the time that she was a permanent resident of Talkeetna, but had yet to update some of her official records. She says those records were updated shortly after the first vote by the board to appoint her. Following the confusion over McCann’s residency, the board enacted a policy to allow more opportunity to verify documents before a vacancy appointment is made.

 

According to Talkeetna Community Council bylaws, seats that are filled mid-term will be up for a general vote at the next regular borough election date. Due to vacancies, this year will see five of the seven seats up for election this year. At Monday’s meeting, TCCI chair Whitney Wolff encouraged interested community members to run for seats this October.

Salmon runs arrive earlier to Susitna Valley in 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

This year, the king salmon run in the Susitna Valley came about a week earlier than in 2015.

 

According to counts from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the first kings were observed on May 14th. Last year, the first kings didn’t show up until a week later on May 20th.

 

Thus far, the daily counts have followed a similar pattern of peaks and valleys as last year. The largest days for kings thus far occurred last Friday and Saturday, with over 1,100 kings counted on each day. Last year, the highest count of kings was on June 5th, with over 2,000 fish observed.

 

For most of the Susitna drainage, harvesting of kings is currently not allowed. Keeping kings is allowed in limited areas, and up-to-date regulations are available from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Regulations may relax or tighten based on the strength of the 2016 run.

 

The sockeye run on the Little Susitna River also started earlier than last year, and numbers thus far are significantly higher than in 2015. As of Monday, over 500 sockeye had been counted on the Little Susitna. At the same time last year, just over 100 had been observed.