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Posts from the 'Local News' category

Borough Assembly Adopts Mushing Ordinance

Thursday, November 20, 2014

At its meeting on Wednesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly unanimously adopted an ordinance creating an optional licensing program specifically for sled dog kennels.  Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss said after the meeting that the public testimony resembled the Iditarod Hall of Fame, as many area musher spoke in favor of the ordinance.  The new ordinance, sponsored by Upper Valley representative Vern Halter, offers some protections for mushers, and includes a number of additional requirements for animal care.  Halter owns a sled dog kennel and is an Iditarod veteran.

The ordinance exempts kennels with the special license from borough animal annoyance code, which has some borough residents speaking out on social media. It also puts forth tethering as the recognized means of restraining sled dogs makes it illegal to interfere with legal mushing activities.

Also on Wednesday, the Assembly delayed discussion on changes to the borough’s regulations regarding power plants.  The proposed regulations would make it easier for power plants between fifty and one hundred megawatts to be constructed in the borough.  That public hearing will now be held on December 16th.

Alaska LNG Holds Public Meeting in Trapper Creek

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The State of Alaska has made many attempts to build a gas pipeline.  Currently, a lot of effort is being put into the Alaska LNG Project, a partnership between the state, the three largest oil producers, and Trans-Canada.  The project recently held an open-house meeting in Trapper Creek.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning was there, and has this report:

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Tuesday night’s meeting in Trapper Creek was the eleventh hosted by the Alaska LNG Project in recent weeks.  There was no presentation.  Instead, representatives of various parts of the project were spread throughout the elementary school’s gym to answer questions from area residents. (more…)

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Mushing Legislation Proposed for Mat-Su Borough

Monday, November 17, 2014

The next regular meeting of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly will be on Wednesday.  One item on the agenda is an ordinance sponsored by Assembly Member Vern Halter, whose district includes the Upper Valley.  The proposed ordinance deals with sled dog facilities, and comes in the wake of the Alaska Legislature declaring Alaska a “right to mush” state.

The proposed legislation would allow owners of sled dog kennels to apply for a special designation.  To qualify, owners must have been registered as a kennel for at least three years, and must meet a list of care requirements that are more strict than regular kennel regulations.  Vern Halter says that there is no requirement to register for the special license, but that it comes with benefits.

One potential benefit is the official recognition of tethering as the traditional method of restraint for sled dogs.  The practice is opposed by some animal rights groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.  The ordinance also lays out that sled dog kennels are loud places at times, and that a certain level of noise is to be expected.  Property licensed as a sled dog facility would thus be exempt from the borough’s animal annoyance code.  Subdivision covenants and city ordinances would still apply.

In addition to the special licensing, the proposed ordinance would make it illegal to intentionally interfere with legal mushing activity, such as felling trees in trails or using firearms to scare mushers or dogs.   The Borough Assembly will hear public comment on the ordinance and make its decision on Wednesday.

Troopers Report Two Upper Valley Arrests Over the Weekend

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Alaska State Troopers reported two arrests in the Upper Valley over the weekend.

The first occurred on Friday afternoon.  Troopers say that 39-year-old Gregory Berryman of Anchorage was pulled over for an equipment violation.  He was charged with driving on a suspended license, and troopers say he had an outstanding warrant in Anchorage for failure to appear at a court hearing, also on a charge of driving with a suspended license.  He was taken to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility and held on $11,000 bail.

On Saturday, troopers received a call from Willow claiming that a female subject had purchased a bottle of whiskey, then drank the entire bottle while at a gas pump.  They caught up with the 2004 Mercedes at a residence on Grubstake Street.  Troopers identified the Mercedes’ driver as 65-year-old Ann McLain.  McLain was charged with Driving Under the Influence and taken to Mat-Su Pretrial on $1,000 bail.

Mat-Su Libraries Link Up With Joint Library Catalog

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thanks to a merging of online catalogs, Mat-Su libraries and their members now have access to the collections of libraries throughout the state.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning spoke with Talkeetna librarian Ann Yadon to find out more:

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Small libraries have limitations in terms of funding and space to store large collections of books and other media.  The Mat-Su libraries have been linked for some time, but their reach has just been greatly expanded after they joined the Joint Library Catalog.  Anchorage’s municipal libraries and many of the UAA libraries are part of the system.  Ann Yadon, Librarian at Talkeetna Public Library, explains what that means for local users:

“Now, if you have a library card at a Mat-Su library, you can use it in Anchorage; you can use it at UAA Mat-Su.  So, you can go to Mat-Su College with your public library card and check things out from them.”

In addition to having access to their catalogs with a single library card, the library partnership means they can act as drop-off locations for each other.

“If you check something out at any of those libraries, you can return it at any of those libraries, which is really nice for people who come up from Anchorage for the weekend.” (more…)

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Final Assessment of Talkeetna Sewer and Water System Submitted

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The final assessment of Talkeetna’s sewer and water system has been completed.  Included is analysis of the functionality of the system, suggested improvements, and plans to make the system fiscally solvent.

In total, the assessment of the sewer and water system in Talkeetna is hundreds of pages.  It was funded through a $100,000 grant from the state legislature at the request of local residents, including the Talkeetna Sewer and Water Advisory Board.  CRW Engineering did the study, and looked at a number of areas.

Not much changed in the assessment of the system itself since the draft report was released in July.  One interesting note has to do with the water treatment plant.  The plant was not required until allowable levels of arsenic were dropped from 50 parts-per-million to 10 parts-per million.  The increased cost of operating the plant is a major cost driver.  The report says that arsenic levels are still too high to meet regulations, but that the region as a whole has seen shifts in levels of arsenic, with some of them dropping.  If the base level of arsenic were to fall below 10 parts-per-million and stay there, it could be feasible to shut down the treatment plant.

Whether or not that happens in the future, the system is currently deep in the red.  According to the study, the current annual deficit is likely to be over $100,000.  If rates were to remain constant, that figure would grow due to inflation and other factors.  As a result, the report suggests revenue increases of 13% per year for water and 6% for sewer for each of the next five years. The report notes that this would allow the system to break even on operations, but that more money would be needed to establish a reserve fund and for repair and replacement costs. (more…)

Mat-Su College Will Experiment With Offering Upper Valley Classes

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In January, Mat-Su College will begin offering credit for classes taught in Talkeetna.  The college’s director hopes it could pave the way for a satellite program in the Upper Valley.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:

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Mat-Su College’s main campus is the closest option for in-person college courses for Upper Valley residents.  That may be changing, however.  Starting with the Spring 2015 term, the college is offering credit for an English class that will be taught at Northern Susitna Institute in Talkeetna. (more…)

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Single-Vehicle Accident Results in Minor Injuries, Totaled Tesla

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Talkeetna man received minor injuries after crashing on the Parks Highway.  His electric sports car, however, was not as lucky.  According to the Alaska State Troopers, Jack West of Talkeetna was driving northbound on the Parks Highway near mile 85 when he lost control of his 2011 Tesla Roadster.  Troopers say there was ice on the road at the time of the accident.  West was wearing his seatbelt, and received non-life-threatening injuries.  His vehicle, however, was totaled.

Troopers Arrest Trapper Creek Man for Harrassment

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Alaska State Troopers arrested a Trapper Creek man shortly after noon on Monday for an incident at a gas station.  According to troopers, 45-year-old David Thompson harassed employees and threatened the store owner.  Troopers pulled Thompson over, and believe that he was driving under the influence of alcohol.  Thompson was arrested for DUI and two counts of harassment.  He was taken to the Mat-Su pre-trial facility on $2,250 bail.

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