On Saturday night, the Alaska State Troopers arrested a Talkeetna man after a domestic violence incident downtown. Robert Reichert is charged with assault, criminal mischief, and driving without a valid license. Troopers say that Reichert recklessly injured a family member and intentionally broke two cell phones. The call came in to troopers just before midnight on Saturday. Reichert was contacted near Mile 2 of the Talkeetna Spur Road in his truck. He was taken to the Mat-Su Pretrial Facility in Palmer, where he is being held without bail.
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All of the counting in this year’s Mat-Su Borough election is done, and none of the results have changed. Final numbers show 13.6% of eligible voters went to the polls earlier this month, up from an initial figure of 11%.
Upper Valley voters decided on two ballot issues and two school board seats. The candidates for both of those seats ran unopposed. Proposition B-1, which passed comfortably, allows the borough to redraw district maps to bring them in line with the state’s voting precinct boundaries. Borough officials have said that the change will mean fewer unique ballots will have to be printed due to precinct overlap between the borough and the state.
Proposition B-2 passed overwhelmingly, and allows for increased property tax exemptions for senior citizens and disabled veterans.
Elsewhere in the borough, Steve Colligan was re-elected to represent District 4, which covers much of Wasilla, in the borough assembly, and Dan Mayfield defeated Bill Kendig to represent District 5, which includes Big Lake. Darcie Salmon, who currently represents District 5, did not run for re-election.
The results will be certified at a special meeting of the borough assembly on Tuesday.
While election day isn’t until November 4th, some Alaskans began voting on Monday. Early voting has begun, along with applications for electronic absentee voting. Alaskans applying for an absentee ballot by mail have until Saturday to send their request.
In the Upper Valley, voters will choose representatives for the state House and Senate, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, Governor, and Lieutenant Governor. There are also three initiatives on this year’s ballot concerning legalized marijuana, increasing the minimum wage, and mining in the Bristol Bay region.
Beginning on Wednesday, the Alaska Energy Authority will hold meetings to discuss the initial study report for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. Wednesday’s discussion will include study reports on fish in the Susitna River drainage. Those studies have recently drawn criticism from the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. AEA maintains that criticism is unfounded.
Other meetings will cover water, ice, plants and wildlife, geology, and social studies. The overall objective of the meetings is to allow stakeholders and AEA to discuss the studies. The outcome of the meetings will be a potentially revised plan for second-year studies in 2015.
The full schedule of meetings, as well as draft agendas, is available here.
Recently, Barbara Washburn passed away at the age of ninety-nine. She was the first woman to set foot on the summit of Denali, but her legacy in the Talkeetna area has as much to do with who she was as what she did. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has this remembrance.
Barbara and Brad Washburn’s adventure together began in New England. Ken Pauley, who worked with the Washburns at the Museum of Science in Boston, explains how they met.
“She was his secretary. Needless to say, over time, there was a relationship developed. They spent a lot of time together, and became husband and wife…”
After Brad and Barbara were married in 1940, Ken Pauley says it was not common to see them apart.
“They were inseparable. Whither he or she went, they went together.” (more…)
The Alaska Energy Authority has responded to letters from the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that questioned research being done on the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project.
Of the two federal agencies, the National Marine Fisheries Service took a stronger position regarding A-E-A’s ability to produce accurate models of salmon activity in the Susitna River. The NMFS letter cited fourteen areas of concern, including sampling methods and possible misidentification of juvenile fish. The agency says that the problems are significant enough that no further studies should be done until they are resolved.
On Wednesday, AEA labeled the criticism as inaccurate. In a news release, Susitna-Watana Project Manager Wayne Dyok says the NMFS letter, “relies on mischaracterizations and generalizations.” The actual response letter by AEA, which is signed by Dyok, goes even further, saying that assertions made by the Fisheries Service are “untenable, bordering on the absurd.”
AEA’s response letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service totals nearly fifty pages. Most of that is a line-by-line refutation of the concerns listed by NMFS. Many of AEA’s specific responses assert that NMFS is either ignoring the data or misunderstands the methodologies being used. The Alaska Energy Authority maintains that it is following the study plan approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
FERC will have the opportunity to hear out both sides, soon. Meetings are scheduled to start next week to discuss the Susitna-Watana field work. Part of the objective of those meetings is for FERC to decide what, if any, changes need to be made in future field studies.
Results from the Talkeetna Community Council election are also in. Four council board seats were up for election. There were four candidates on the ballot, as well as one official write-in candidate.
The only incumbent running for re-election is Whitney Wolff, who received 107 votes and will remain on the council. New council members include Mark Moren and Rich Crain. There was a tie for the fourth seat, with Rob Shelby and write-in candidate Caitlin Hunt both receiving sixty-nine votes. Per Talkeetna Community Council bylaws, the race was decided by a coin-toss, which was won by Rob Shelby, making him the final member of the board.
Additional write-in votes included a handful of Talkeetna residents, as well as one write-in vote each for Mickey Mouse and Mayor Stubbs.
In addition to electing board members, East Talkeetna residents voted 48-10 in favor of exploring adding East Talkeetna to the local flood service area.
Preliminary results are in for the Mat-Su Borough election.
Across the borough, voter turnout was almost exactly 11%, with just over 7,000 votes cast. In the Upper Valley, voter turnout varied. In Talkeetna, 13% of eligible voters turned out on Tuesday. In Susitna, turnout was 9.5%, and in Trapper Creek just over 6% of eligible voters voted.
Areawide elections were held for two school board seats. Tiffany Scott ran unopposed or Seat E, and Ole Larson ran unopposed for Seat D. Both candidates received more than 5,000 votes. In Borough Assembly District 4 in Wasilla, incumbent Steve Colligan ran unopposed, receiving 730 votes. The only contested race is for Assembly District 5. In that race, Dan Mayfield leads Bill Kendig by 293 votes, with just under 1,000 total votes cast.
Both borough ballot measures, one to redraw district lines to match state voting precincts and the other to increase property tax exemptions for senior citizens and disabled veterans, passed by comfortable margins.
Tuesday, Upper Valley Residents will vote in both borough and community council elections.
The Upper Valley will not be choosing its Borough Assembly member this year. There are two Mat-Su Borough School Board seats on the ballot, but both candidates are running unopposed. That means the decisions on the ballot come down to questions. The first is proposition B-1. If passed, the proposition would mean a redrawing of some of the borough’s districts in order to conform more closely to the state’s voting precincts. It would also eliminate fourteen polling places. The ordinance to place the question on the ballot passed unanimously in April. The second ballot question would increase property tax exemptions for elderly disabled veterans and their widows or widowers. Currently, those who qualify are exempted from the first $150,000 of property value. Proposition B-2 would increase that amount by an additional $68,000.
Talkeetna residents will also be voting for community council members and on one advisory question. Four seats are up for election. The candidates are Whitney Wolff, who currently serves as the TCC chair, Rich Crane, Mark Moren, Rob Shelby, and write-in candidate Caitlin Hunt. (more…)