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Posts from the 'Local News' category

2016 Cardboard Boat Regatta

Thursday, July 14, 2016

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by: Katie Writer – KTNA

Another year of nautical fun in the sun. By Katie Writer

Northern Susitna Institute enjoyed another year of sunny skies for the 5th Annual Cardboard Boat Regatta held at Christiansen Lake.

The spectators of the 2016 Carboard Boat Regatta enjoyed looking closely at the boats before they entered the water. The various shapes and sizes look like works of art when untouched by water. But as soon as they shove off from shore, it becomes quite obvious which ones have a short life span. For Finn Benischek and Tristan Shelby, their boxlike boat design, “The Mudskipper” had some double motives. The pair managed to make their way around three of four marks, and then capsized before the crowd. “Go SeaHawks,” was spray painted on the hull and it was obvious that the race was not complete until this was in full view. (more…)

Borough finalizes sale of MV Susitna

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

As of last Thursday, the Mat-Su Borough no longer owns the MV Susitna.

 

When the borough acquired Susitna, the intent was to establish a ferry service between Port Mackenzie and Government Hill in Anchorage. While the Mat-Su Borough moved forward with the plan, the Municipality of Anchorage could not decide where a ferry dock and terminal should be placed, and the plan ultimately fell through.

 

Following years of attempts to sell the vessel, and a recent round of multi-million dollar repairs, the borough has sold the ship, a former naval prototype, to the Philippine Red Cross. The Susitna is on its way to the South Pacific, where it will be used as an emergency hospital ship for the thousands of islands that make up the Philippines. (more…)

Governor Walker announces shutdown of Knik Arm Crossing, Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric projects

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

In addition to discussing vetoed items in the state budget, Governor Bill Walker used this  morning’s press conference to announce that he is shutting down two megaprojects in the Mat-Su: the Knik Arm bridge, and the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more.

 

 

Large projects can often be contentious, and two of the more controversial projects in the last few years have been the Knik Arm Crossing and the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. Governor Bill Walker says those projects will now come to an end, not necessarily due to their controversial nature—Governor Walker describes himself as “pro-construction”—but due to the state’s financial situation.

”I ran for governor to build Alaska, not to balance the checkbook. We’re balancing the checkbook because that’s the hand we were dealt. It pains me to shut down anything involving a construction project or an infrastructure project.”

Governor Walker says that the studies and prep work that have gone into both megaprojects will be preserved. Susitna-Watana alone has spent nearly $300 million on studies as part of its federal licensing process, and Walker does not want that data to be lost. (more…)

Overdue hikers bound for “Into the Wild” bus found safe

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Two overdue hikers were found in good condition by National Park Service rangers in the Denali National Park area on Sunday.

According to the National Park Service, 25-year-old Michael Trigg of South Carolina and 27-year-old Theodore Aslund of Georgia were delayed on a trip to visit the abandoned Fairbanks Transit bus used as a shelter by Christopher McCandless. McCandless’ story was popularized by the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

The two men started their trip on June 20th. They shared their plans on Facebook, and asked that friends contact emergency responders if they did not return by June 24th. When the hikers did not report back on social media, concerned friends called the National Park Service. (more…)

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
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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.