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Posts from the 'Local News' category

Billionaire backs boondoggle bridge

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Talkeetna is literally the end of the road, and many residents are keen to keep it that way.  If one billionaire has his way, however, that may no longer be the case.

Recently, the State of Alaska has been approached by a private investor who wants to connect the villages of Talkeetna and Trapper Creek by building a bridge over the Susitna River.

Anonymous sources have told KTNA that Warren Buffet is willing to spend millions on the project.  A source within Buffet’s investment firm, Berkshire Halfway, says, “We’ll show them what a real ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ looks like!”   (more…)

Mayor Stubbs to have mayoral litter

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stubbs, Talkeetna’s honorary mayor cat, has made national and international news twice in recent years.  First, it was the mere existence of a feline mayor, and the associated media frenzy that accompanies strange things on slow news days.  The second round of media attention came when Stubbs was attacked by a dog during Labor Day weekend last year.  That incident resulted in dozens of cards and well-wishes being sent to Nagley’s General Store, where Stubbs holds the imaginary mayoral seat.

Yesterday, the Alaska Dispatch ran a story that could well start the viral craze all over again:  Stubbs may be retiring.  The story quotes Stubbs’ chief of staff, Lori Stec, as saying that the seventeen year old male cat might be starting to slow down, and maybe it’s time to enjoy a retirement full of sunshine and catnip.

Note that I did say “male” cat.  That’s what makes the story strange, but with a hopeful twist.  Stubbs the cat is pregnant. (more…)

Talkeetna 2014 Choose Respect Walk

Monday, March 31, 2014

Talkeetna Choose Respect Participants with Troopers Hegg and Shelley.

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Last week, approximately 170 communities in Alaska held events for the statewide Choose Respect program.  In Talkeetna, that involved nearly fifty people walking from the Flying Squirrel Bakery and Cafe to the Talkeetna Roadhouse with signs calling on state residents to help put a stop to domestic violence and sexual assault.

Talkeetna Resident Jenny Krepel explains why she took part on Saturday.

“I do it as often as I can.  I’ve had family members and really close friends that are affected by domestic violence, so I choose to be out there walking to show my respect for everyone…and to hopefully effect some change in attitudes toward domestic violence in our community and across the state.” (more…)

Legislature could add funds for education, prioritize megaprojects

Friday, March 28, 2014

With less than a month until the end of the state’s legislative session, increasing discussion of the state budget is inevitable.  Members of both the House and Senate, as well as Governor Parnell, have made it clear that this budget year will be tight.  Cuts to a number of state programs have already been considered, and much of the discussion of the state’s operating budget is winding down.

In a major development on Friday, the Senate Finance Committee voted to add an additional $75 million dollars for education beyond what Governor Parnell had requested.  Now, the total number for education is $100 million.  Senator Pete Kelly, Co-Chair of the Finance Committee says the increase does not represent the final word on education funding.

“We want, as a group, to figure out education.  We may need some time to do that.  This amendment gives us time, while we are not putting the school districts too far out on a limb as we make our determination.” (more…)

Denali Park Road open to mile 15

Friday, March 28, 2014

More of Denali National Park’s road has opened.  This year marked the first in a test program to begin plowing the first twelve miles of the road earlier in the winter.  Denali National Park spokeswoman Kris Fister says that the road is now open to Savage River at Mile 15.

While the mild weather has likely made it easier to clear the Park Road, Kris Fister says that it does have an impact on winter activities.  She says that snow cover for mushing, skiing, and snowshoeing is variable. (more…)

Project leader discusses Talkeetna Sewer and Water assessment

Thursday, March 27, 2014

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Last year, the Alaska Legislature voted to give the Mat-Su Borough $100,000 to perform an assessment of the Talkeetna sewer and water system.  The Borough has contracted CRW Engineering Group to conduct the study.  Andrea Meeks, a civil engineer with CRW, says that the assessment is designed to help develop a plan to balance the books, which are currently running at an annual deficit of about $100,000.

“Our approach is two prong.  One is to look at how we can reduce the cost of the system, [and] the other is a utility cost analysis to determine how best to generate the revenues, whether through a rate increase or another mechanism, to cover the costs of the system.” (more…)

Borough plans earthquake preparedness activities in Lower Valley through Saturday

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Through March 29th, communities around the state will be conducting training and exercises to help prepare in case of a major earthquake.  March 27th marks the 50th anniversary of the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964.  The 1964 earthquake was measured at 9.2 on the Richter Scale, making it the most powerful ever recorded in North America.

In the Mat-Su Borough, activities will largely center around the core area of the Valley, including Wasilla and Palmer.  Casey Cook, Emergency Manager for the Borough, says that anyone near Mat-Su Regional or the Palmer fairgrounds could see National Guard personnel, helicopters, or volunteers with fake injuries playing the role of victims.  He says that Valley residents should not be alarmed if they see the drills being conducted.

Casey Cook adds that the anniversary should also serve as a reminder for Borough residents to be prepared with supplies and a plan in the event that another “big one” strikes Southcentral Alaska.

 

Alaska Senate Finance Co-Chair: Supplemental Susitna-Watana funding “Up in the air.”

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Unless support materializes soon, the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project may not get the additional funds Governor Sean Parnell requested for it this year.  In February, Governor Parnell submitted his amended budget proposal to the Alaska legislature.  Included is a request for $32.7 million for the proposed Susitna-Watana Project.  If approved, the funding would be used to fund the 2014 field study season.  Governor Parnell has also requested $10 million for the fiscal year beginning in July, and the Alaska Energy Authority says it still has about $30 million left from the current budget.

With talk of the gas pipeline dominating energy and financial discussion, the smaller mega-project has not received as much attention.  On Wednesday, however, two Senate Republicans gave less than enthusiastic answers about the additional money.  Senator Kevin Meyer, who co-chairs the Finance Committee and focuses on capital projects, says that there are some items that the state “needs to fund,” but that Susitna-Watana is not currently one of them.

“I’m not convinced that it has to be funded….They haven’t used the appropriation we have given them in previous years, and obviously our focus right now is on the gas pipeline.  That one’s still up in the air, as far as I’m concerned.”

Thus far, no Senators in the Republican minority have come forward to publicly support the funding request for Susitna-Watana in what is already a tight budgeting session.  Senator Fred Dyson says it’s the wrong time for the project.

“At gas prices that we will see for the next ten, fifteen, twenty years, spending the capital cost to get the dam build and the transmission tie-ins is not economical.  I think it’s a decision that needs to be postponed at least a decade, and I think what the Governor has in mind is just keep the present engineering [and] surveying rolling forward.”

According to documents released by A-E-A on Monday, the additional $32.7 million for the current fiscal year would have an impact on 24 studies, including eleven that could not go forward at all this year without the additional funds.  A-E-A’s current timetable calls for limited field work this year, with the completion of many of the studies in the summer of 2015.   A-E-A estimates it will need a total of $110 million dollars to complete the studies necessary to apply for a federal license for the dam.

State Senate committee hears testimony on Knik Arm Bridge

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

On Tuesday, the Alaska Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on the proposed Knik Arm Crossing.  Last week, Senators heard the details of a new plan to finance the project.  Current estimates place the cost of a two-lane bridge between Point Mackenzie and Government hill in Anchorage at $895 million.  The new plan does not call for the construction cost to eventually be paid back completely by loans, a plan that many critics viewed as unachievable.  The new plan involves state revenue bonds and federal highway funds to lessen the amount that the state would have to repay if toll revenues fell short.   (more…)

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