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Posts from the 'Local News' category

Borough Assembly Will Meet Again on a $12m Question

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On Tuesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly met to discuss a letter from the Federal Transit Authority asking for repayment of $12 million in grant funds.  That money was used to fund a ferry project between Port MacKenzie and Anchorage that was never completed. Most of Tuesday’s meeting took place in executive session.  The Assembly decided to hold another meeting on August 21st to continue the discussion.  Deputy Mayor Ronald Arvin says the Assembly needs to know more before making a decision on how to respond to the FTA letter.

“There are several potential solutions and responses to that, so we’ve asked staff to put together some additional information, because we couldn’t arrive at a conclusion without knowing some additional details, and that will be the basis of the [August 21st] meeting.” (more…)

Oil Tax Referendum Ignites a Neighborly Sign War

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

by:  Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN

On top of being the most expensive ballot measure in state history, next week’s referendum on oil taxes may also be one of the most contentious. The polling shows a tight race, with the state’s voters almost equally divided on the question. Which means that no matter which side you’re on, it’s almost inevitable you’ll have to deal with someone who disagrees. Alaska Public Media’s Alexandra Gutierrez has this story of a block divided.

 

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Denise Roselle and Dan Anderson share a lot as neighbors. He plows her driveway; she lets him park his truck there. Their Spenard ranch homes are nearly identical save the paint jobs. But there’s one area where they’re clearly divided.

ROSELLE: I am voting yes on Proposition One.
ANDERSON: I am voting no on Proposition One. (more…)

The Free Box is Closed, but Maybe Not Forever

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Talkeetna is home to a number of stores, most of which cater to visitors.  One, however, is more geared toward locals, and you don’t need much money, none, in fact, in order to shop there.  Recently, however, it has closed its doors, leading to concern among some locals.

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For the last few days, the windows and door of the Free Box Community Store have been boarded up.  That left many local residents wondering if the store will ever re-open.  Nancy Yow, board president for the Free Box, says permanent closure is unlikely.

“Don’t panic.  It’s just reorganization.  It’s happened however many times before, and we’ve always gotten better.” (more…)

Search for Missing Fisherman Ends

Monday, August 11, 2014

On Saturday, the search for a missing fisherman around Willow Creek was called off.  Jerry Warner of Missouri was last seen on August 3rd walking upstream from an RV campground for a solo fishing trip.  The Alaska State Troopers describe Warner as an experienced outdoorsman, but say that he did not have survival gear or a cell phone with him when he was last seen.

The six-day search included troopers, Mat-Su Borough emergency responders, and volunteers from a number of search and rescue groups.  Up to forty people were searching for Warner at one point using dogs, ATVs, boats, and a helicopter, but no sign of him has been found.  Troopers say that they will analyze and respond if any new clues to Warner’s location are found.  His photograph and description have been added to the Alaska State Trooper website along with more than ninety other missing persons.

ADF&G Tightens Regs on Reds and Eases on Mat-Valley Silvers

Friday, August 8, 2014

A weak run of sockeye salmon has prompted the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to shut down retention of red salmon in the Larson Creek area.  According to a press release, the escapement goal for the creek is at least 15,000 fish.  As of Wednesday, 9,000 fish had been counted.  Fish and Game estimates a total run of 11,800 sockeye on Larson Creek.

It’s a different story for coho salmon in the Matanuska Valley.  Silvers counted at the Fish Creek weir have already surpassed the low end of the escapement goal, and more are anticipated to keep coming.  As a result, the daily bag limit on silvers in Fish Creek, Cottonwood Creek, and Wasilla Creek has been raised from two to three fish.  Fish and Game also added Mondays to the fishery, which was previously only allowed on Saturday and Sunday.

Both changes take/took effect on Saturday.  Further details, including full fishing regulations, can be found at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.

Litigation Blamed for Port MacKenzie Rail Spur Delays

Friday, August 8, 2014

by:  Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Construction of the railroad link between the Matanuska-Susitna Borough city of Houston and Port MacKenzie is over budget and way behind schedule. Borough officials blame litigation for the delays.

 

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At Tuesday night’s Mat Su Borough Assembly meeting, Joe Perkins, the Borough’s executive for the rail extension project, updated earlier financial data on the cost overruns beyond the initial $272 million  pricetag.

“When you add all this up, it totals about $31 million. So if you take $ 272 .5 and add $31 (million) to it,  you get a total project cost now of  $303. 5. (million)” (more…)

Borough Consultants Meet With Talkeetna Residents on Sewer and Water Rates

Thursday, August 7, 2014

On Wednesday, CRW Engineering Group met with community members in Talkeetna to discuss the recent sewer and water system assessment.  The two-hour meeting was dominated by discussion of potential rate structures.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning was at the meeting, and has this report:

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While there are some operational tweaks that could slightly ease the deficit spending of the Talkeetna Sewer and Water System, what the state-funded study finds is that a significant increase in revenue, meaning water bills, is necessary.  On Wednesday, Andrea Meeks of CRW Engineering Group laid out three potential new rate structures, all of which incorporate significant annual increases.  For example, the average residential user would end up paying around $145 per month in the summer of 2019, as opposed to the current rate of around $87. G. Denny, a member of the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors,  said that, while the rate hikes might work on paper, they are not feasible in reality. (more…)

Federal Government Gives Mat-Su Borough 30 Days to Repay $12 Million in Ferry Funds

Thursday, August 7, 2014

MV Susitna. Photo from Mat-Su Borough Press Release.

20140807Ferry

READ THROUGH FRIDAY AM

The federal government has contacted the Mat-Su Borough asking for repayment of $12.3 million dollars in grant funds connected to the idle MV Susitna.  In a letter dated August 5th, the Federal Transit Authority says that the borough has thirty days to repay the amount or else risk delinquency.  The borough has made attempts to sell the 190 foot vessel as well as to transfer it to another public entity.  In the latter case, the hope was that the federal grant funds could be transferred as well.

Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey says he is not surprised to receive the letter, and that the challenge of selling the ferry has been greater than expected.   On Thursday afternoon, Moosey spoke with reporters.  He says that the borough will continue to look at options to avoid paying the full $12.3 million that the FTA is asking for.  Whatever conclusion is reached, the funds would have to come from the borough’s general fund, since there is not money currently set aside to repay the federal grants.

If the borough does not repay the grant within thirty days, the FTA says it could charge interest and eventually late payment fees.  The special meeting of the Borough Assembly to discuss the matter will take place at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, August 12th.

 

Borough Press Release

Mat-Su Borough Assembly Resumes Meetings

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Mat-Su Borough Assembly is back from its July break, and this week’s meeting included two issues in the Susitna Valley as well as the introduction of an ordinance that would change the way vehicle registration works in the borough.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more.

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On Tuesday night, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly held its first regular meeting since June.  After staff reports, the first topic on the agenda was a two-percent rate increase for the Talkeetna Sewer and Water System.  That increase has been delayed multiple times, most recently in order to wait for the results of a $100,000 state-funded study.  Those results were not final by the end of July as initially planned, so the rate increase was delayed once again.  Speaking on the subject, Assembly Member Vern Halter indicated that the ultimate rate increases will be significantly higher.

“I think Mr. Dolan sent out an e-mail a few days ago.  They’re going to ask for a thirteen percent increase for four or five years in a row, something like that, to go from red to black.” (more…)

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