KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by Dora Miller

KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by James Trump

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song

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Thursday marked the official groundbreaking for the new Talkeetna Public Library and Community Resource Center, which is scheduled to open next  year.  K-T-N-A’s Phillip Manning was there, and has this report:

Including borough and state officials, about forty people attended the “golden shovel” event at the site of the new library.  Among them were Borough Mayor Larry DeVilbiss, Borough Assembly Members Vern Halter and Jim Sykes, various borough staff, including Borough Manager John Moosey, Jason Smart of the Rasmuson Foundation, and State Representative Wes Keller.

Talkeetna Librarian Ann Yadon spoke at the groundbreaking, near the spot where the entrance will eventually be.  She says the groundbreaking is a culmination of a great

Librarian Ann Yadon

Librarian Ann Yadon

deal of effort:

“We can definitely say,now, ‘Yes, this is really going to happen…’  Our library has moved many times in its forty-one year history, but, every time we’ve moved, its character and its personality have remained intact.”

Ann Yadon thanked the Rasmuson Foundation, the Friends of the Talkeetna Library, and the state legislature for funding, and singled out one man who she says was vital to the effort:

“Most especially, and I cannot stress this enough, thank you to Vern Halter, our [Mat-Su Borough] Assembly-person.  We would not be here without you today, Vern…”

Vern Halter took to the microphone next.  He praised the efforts of the community in pushing for funding, and recognized a number of borough staff who are part of the process.  He ended by joking that the 7,000-plus square foot

Borough Assembly Member Vern Halter

Borough Assembly Member Vern Halter

building will mean the loss of one Talkeetna experience for him:

“You know, I will miss going to community council meetings in the old library.  You’re kind of stuffed in there, [and] the community council is about three feet in front of you.  I’ll miss that part of life, but this is a great way to start…”

State Representative Wes Keller was the final speaker.  He says that credit in the legislature should go to Representative Neuman and Senator Huggins, who began the effort to fund the project when they represented the Talkeetna area.  Like the speakers before him, Keller had high praise for the residents of the area:

“State government works when communities are alive and engaged, and Talkeetna is one of the prime examples.  I’m sure that–that’s why it’s an honor to be here.  It’s an honor to be here to mark this day, because there are going to be a lot of things that happen in this library that will help define Talkeetna, help make us proud, both at the community level and the state.”

The ceremony concluded with photos of dirt being tossed with golden shovels.  All the while, the crew from E&E construction worked around the foundation of the building.  The new library is currently scheduled open in the first half of next year.

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Upper Valley Largely Follows State Trends on Primary Votes

Most of the votes have been counted in what is being called the most expensive primary election in Alaska state history.  Two high-profile campaigns resulted in millions of dollars being spent on the August 19th vote.

The Republican Party is looking to take control of the U.S. Senate, and Democrat incumbent Mark Begich is in their sights.  With many absentee and questioned ballots still to be counted, it appears that Dan Sullivan, former state Attorney General and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner, has won the nomination.  Sullivan ended up with 40% of the vote.  Fairbanks attorney and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller came in second with just under 32% of the votes, and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell finished third, with just under 25% of the vote.  Sullivan has claimed victory, and Miller and Treadwell have both released statements congratulating him.

The other major statewide vote was on Ballot Measure 1, which aimed to repeal the recently passed oil tax regime, known as the More Alaska Production Act, or MAPA.  As of Wednesday afternoon, the repeal effort trailed by 6,796 votes.  Opponents of Measure 1 are claiming victory. Read More »

Classics for Kids–The Adventures of Tom Sawyer #12

KTNA volunteer Cari Sayre continues The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain.

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Upper Valley Agriculture: Birch Creek Ranch

Most food Alaskans consume comes from Outside.  There are quite a few producers who grow and sell locally, however.  Last week, KTNA’s Phillip Manning visited one farm that has been operating in the Upper Susitna Valley for the last thirty years.

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In Alaska, the vast majority of the food we eat isn’t grown here.  Patrick Likely of the Alaska Food Policy Council says the proportion of food grown in-state is very small.

“Five percent of food that’s consumed in Alaska is actually coming from Alaska.”

While most of the food does come from Outside, there are still a fair few local growers.  In the Upper Valley, one such producer is Birch Creek Ranch.  Birch Creek has been run by the Kingsbury family for the last three decades.  Read More »

Semi, Tour Bus Crash Near Mile 169 of the Parks Highway

On Monday afternoon, a collision between a semi-truck and a Princess tour bus closed the Parks Highway near Mile 169 for three hours, according to the Alaska State Troopers.  Troopers say that the bus, driven by John Snyder of Trapper Creek, was stopped at a railroad crossing when it was rear-ended by a Lynden Transport semi driven by Jason Avila of Wasilla. The bus was heading north from the McKinley Wilderness Lodge to Denali National Park. Twelve to fourteen of the forty-four bus passengers reported minor injuries and were transported from the scene by ambulance.

Dan Sullivan, candidate for U.S. Senate, was in the midst of an R-V tour on the way to Willow when the accident occurred.  He and his staff were delayed, causing the events to be canceled.  Thomas Reiker, a spokesman for the Sullivan campaign, says that the candidate and at least one staff member aided in the accident response.

“The road was blocked off.  There was emergency personnel responding, and our bus driver, Colonel Otto Feather, retired from the U.S. Air Force, and Dan hopped off the RV to help any way that they could.”

Troopers say that the semi truck’s cargo of batteries was not breached, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation responded to the scene to clean up the 200 to 300 gallons of diesel fuel spilled by the crash.

Meet New Talkeetna Elementary Principal Lisa Shelby

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This year, Talkeetna Elementary School has a new principal.  Lisa Shelby has spent the last three years on Lopez Island in Washington.  Before that, she lived in Alaska for thirteen years, where she taught in Galena and the Mat-Su Valley.  I sat down with her on the second day of school to talk about her plans for Talkeetna’s students.

Lisa Shelby says that one thing that’s important is being willing to embrace new ideas.

“…Really looking at how we can be a little bit more creative, looking at where our students are, making sure that we are meeting them where they are ready to learn, and to have a year’s worth of growth, and doing that–looking at the curriculum that is provided by the district and then also getting creative and pulling from other places to make sure we’re meeting the standards.” Read More »

Writer’s Voice–Talkeetna Character, by Bill Was

Local blogger and KTNA volunteer Bill Was describes events during a couple hours of volunteering that affirmed, in a small way, why he’s glad he moved here.

 

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A couple of Fridays back I was sitting in the KTNA studio riding herd on the soundboard as KTNA broadcast one in its series of live summer concerts – “Live At Five” – from the Talkeetna Village Park.  Read More »

Silver Limits Eased on Little Su

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is continuing to ease restrictions on coho salmon fishing in the Lower Valley.  On Friday, Fish and Game issued an order saying that the daily bag limit on silvers caught on the Little Susitna between the mouth and Parks Highway bridge is increasing from two fish to three.  Fish and Game says that the escapement goal for the Little Su has almost been met, with 10,048 passing the counting weir.  The new regulations take/took effect on Saturday.  A complete list of current regulations can be found at the Department of Fish and Game’s website.

State Primary Election Coming Up Next Tuesday

Alaska’s state primary elections are on Tuesday.  Two choices on the ballot have dominated statewide media coverage:  Proposition 1, which would repeal the state’s new oil-tax regime, known as MAPA or SB-21, and the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate Seat currently held by Democrat Mark Begich.  The major candidates in that race are Joe Miller, former Attorney General and DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan, and Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell.

In addition to those high-profile campaigns, voters will be choosing candidates for Lieutenant Governor, Governor, and U.S. Representative to run in the general election in November.  In all of those races, only those registered as Republican, Independent, or Nonpartisan may vote to choose Republican general election candidates.  All registered voters may vote for other parties’ candidates.

In many parts of the state, voters will also choose candidates for the state legislature who will run in November’s general election.  In the Upper Valley, however, each party has, at most, one candidate.

Polling places in the Upper Valley include Talkeetna Elementary, the Upper Susitna Senior Center, Trapper Creek Elementary, and the Willow Community Center.

More information is available at elections.alaska.gov.

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