Talkeetna resident Robin Song tells the story of her participation
in this year’s Talkeetna-Trapper Creek Birdathon.
It’s a remarkable thing, to me, that every Birdathon is different. It’s held on the first Friday and Saturday of May each year, in the same fifteen-mile radius, and yet it is unpredictable. And that’s what makes it fun.
I had invited a newcomer to the group, Maureen, to join my long-time birding partner-Richie-and me, and I picked her up at her trail head at 5:30 Friday evening. We arrived at the pullout at the same time and noted a Grey Jay in a spruce, watching us and my dogs. We couldn’t put it on our species list yet, as Bird-A-Thon starts at 6 o’ clock. We felt sure we’d see another ‘Camp Robber’ during the 24-hour birdathon. Read More »
While changes may be coming soon for the Talkeetna Solid Waste Transfer Site, the top borough official in the Public Works Department says the current plans do not include closure.
Currently, the borough solid waste division operates at a significant deficit. The division is set up as an enterprise fund, which means that it should, in theory, pay for itself. Since that is not currently happening, Public Works Director Terry Dolan says the Mat-Su Borough Assembly has directed him to look at other options for the transfer sites.
One option being considered at the direction of the assembly is privatization of the sites. Terry Dolan says that the Solid Waste Division is discussing options with the Talkeetna Community Council, and that the community’s needs have to be taken into account. He says that’s because the elected members of the borough assembly have final say over any change in the structure of the division.
For now, the Talkeetna Transfer Site will operate the same way it has for years, and while change is coming, it will likely take some time.
Currently, there are 888 people registered to climb Denali. Of those, 208 are currently on the mountain. Nine climbs have been completed with one successful summit. That makes the current summit rate eleven percent. Nine climbers are registered to attempt Mt. Foraker. Nobody is currently on the mountain, and all four attempts thus far have been successful.
This week on the Denali Report, KTNA’s Phillip Manning talks with mountaineering ranger Dan Corn about avalanches.
The National Park Service reports that the remains of a solo Argentinian climber have been found at a camp high on Denali.
According to a statement on Thursday, the body of 39-year-old Heraldo Javier Callupan was discovered shortly before midnight on Sunday, May 10th. The Park Service says Callupan began climbing on May 1st, and was last seen leaving the camp at 14,200 feet to continue his climb on May 6th. He was discovered four days later by another climbing team. No other teams were reported in the area between May 6th and May 10th, and mountain patrols were not yet in place at the highest camp.
The National Park Service says Callupan was discovered lying in the snow, and had no apparent signs of trauma. Thursday’s statement says he appears to have died from “unknown medical issues”.
Positive identification of Callupan’s remains took several days and coordination with the Argentine Consulate. The Consulate notified his next of kin on Wednesday.
This is the only death reported thus far in the 2015 Denali climbing season.
On Wednesday afternoon, Talkeetna Elementary School received a threatening phone call while students were out of the building on a field trip.
Joe Schmidt, School Safety Coordinator for Mat-Su schools, says that the call is similar to one received at Pioneer Peak Elementary last week. He did not give details of the call.
Schmidt says that Talkeetna Elementary Principal Lisa Shelby made the right decision by keeping the students at the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar while the situation was being assessed. Bus and parent pick-ups were re-routed to the hangar.
Joe Schmidt says he expects the situation at Talkeetna Elementary to be resolved by tomorrow.
Wednesday’s call is one of several received at schools throughout the state in recent weeks.
Cari Sayre continues the book The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum.
Mt. Dickey after Monday’s avalanche. Photo by T. Chenoweth – Denali National Park and Preserve
The National Park Service reports that two Idaho climbers have been rescued after an avalanche on Mt. Dickey, twelve miles southeast of Denali, in the Alaska Range. According to a statement from Denali National Park, 27-year-old Saxon Spillman and 24-year-old Michael Wachs, were about 7,500 feet up on the mountain when the avalanche occurred on Monday evening, but neither was caught in the slide. The pair attempted to climb down after the avalanche, but could not find a safe route.
Maureen Gualtieri, spokeswoman for Denali National Park, says the climbers signaled a local air taxi pilot by stomping an ‘SOS’ into the snow and waving their arms. They also activated a GPS locator. After mountaineering rangers spotted Spellman and Wachs from the air, a search and rescue helicopter was dispatched. The rescue helicopter, piloted by veteran rescue pilot Andy Hermansky, was able to land on the mountain and pick up the two stranded climbers.
Photos taken by a ranger show that where Wachs and Spellman were was one of few safe places on the face of Mt. Dickey.
Park Service staff have reported an increase in avalanche activity in the Alaska Range following several feet of fresh snow and windy conditions. Thus far, no major accidents have been reported in the Alaska Range for the 2015 climbing season.
On Monday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly held its first deliberation on the Fiscal Year 2016 budget. Nine amendments were accepted on Monday, but requests for more information from the Assembly mean there will be at least one additional meeting on Wednesday.
The budget that Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey submitted to the borough assembly last month was about $4 million smaller than the budget for the current fiscal year. On Monday, assembly members added some items back in that had initially been left out.
Nine amendments were passed by the assembly on Monday. The Mat-Su Borough School District was appropriated an additional $1.3 million, which is slightly less than the increase it requested. Assembly Member Vern Halter moved to have the borough’s minimum reserve amount lowered to $25 million, which would free up the necessary funds for the increased school appropriation.
Block grants for cities were re-established at a total level of $106,000. Youth Court was funded at a level of $150,000, as was the Valley’s Sexual Assault Response Team. A handful of staffing reshuffles in Mat-Su Central Fire Service Area, as well as the creation of two new positions were also approved.
The issue that the assembly could not come to a final decision on was additional paramedics and EMTs for the borough ambulance service. Assembly Member Dan Mayfield carried an amendment to add eight new positions. Questions about expenditures, ambulance fees, and other issues led the assembly to continue the discussion Wednesday.
More amendments could still be brought, and a final mill levy has not been set.
The Media Skills class at Su Valley Junior-Senior High School produced podcasts which they uploaded to SoundCloud. KTNA airs one each Tuesday at 12:30.