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

Winter Black-capped Chickadee

winter chickadee

Photo by Robin Song

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song


Troopers seek information about Willow burglary

The Alaska State Troopers are asking for the public’s help with information regarding a burglary in Willow.

Troopers say a 36-year-old Willow woman reported the burglary around 5:30 on Friday afternoon. An estimated $10,000 worth of property, including multiple firearms are claimed to have been stolen from the Lo-An Drive residence.

Troopers ask that anyone with information call them at 352-5401 or Crime Stoppers at 745-3333.

Susitna Writer’s Voice–Ski Trails, by Katie Writer


Living year round in Talkeetna, Alaska has provided a lot of days of snow underfoot.
We walk back and forth from the house to the parking area on a snowy trail for a good six months of the year. We pack the snow with a snow machine and groomer. The trails around our yard not only connect us to the shop, sauna and various out buildings and firewood storage, they connect to other trails that lead to the Talkeetna Ridge Trail.  Keeping these trails maintained has been a joy with our kids getting rides, taking naps on our laps when they were young and eventually being towed on skis behind the snow machine with fits of glee.

Read More »

Tips for Healthy Living-3-24-2017


A  live 15-minute conversation about health and wellness

from health care providers in our communities.

It’s hosted by Holly Stinson, with today’s in-studio guest Keith Kehoe,

a Physician Assistant at Sunshine Community Health Center.


In this program, Keith lets listeners know about an upcoming  diabetes self-management program, Living Well with Diabetes, on April 7th, for pre-diabetics, diabetics, or anyone interested in living well and making healthy choices.

Also coming up is the Choose Respect March, raising awareness for domestic violence on April 15th, along with the Community Baby Shower at NSI, focused on parenting, same day.

Keith also talks about Savvy, a workshop to support families with a member who has dementia or Alzheimer’s, taking place on April 24th.

The medical topic for the day is hematuria (blood in the urine), which can signal a variety of medical conditions, is different for men and women, and can be benign or serious.

Mat-Su Assembly Approves Expansion of Talkeetna Community Council Area

The yellow area in this map was added to the Talkeetna Community Council area on Tuesday. Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy: Matanuska-Susitna Borough

The yellow area in this map was added to the Talkeetna Community Council area on Tuesday. Click to enlarge. Photo courtesy: Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Correction:  A previous version of the story incorrectly stated that the expansion incorporated the entirety of the Greater Talkeetna Road Service Area.  A significant portion of the GTRSA lies within the Susitna Community Council area.  This story has been changed to reflect that.

On Tuesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly has approved the expansion of Talkeetna’s community council boundary to the east.

The expansion keeps the Talkeetna River as the northern boundary, and the Sunshine Community Council as the southern boundary for as far as it extends. The newly included area is largely undeveloped, and stretches into the Talkeetna Mountains. Many neighborhoods closer to the Talkeetna Spur Road are also now part of the Talkeetna Community Council area, and the expansion means the entirety of the Greater Talkeetna Road Service Area is now inside either the Talkeetna or Susitna Council area. Only those living inside a council’s area are considered members and thus allowed to run for its board of directors.

Consideration of expansion by the Talkeetna Community Council began after the Mat-Su Borough Planning Department sent notice that council boundaries were being reviewed. Last year, a committee of Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. met and discussed various options. The one they settled on, and which the Assembly ultimately approved, matches up with the Talkeetna Comprehensive Plan. During discussions at TCCI board meetings, some members expressed a desire to make sure that the decision of which council the area would end up in was left to the local community. Read More »

Local Trail Expertise Helps Make the Oosik a Success

A competitor in the Oosik's 50km race makes his way through the Talkeetna woods.  Photo:  Phillip Manning

A competitor in the Oosik’s 50km race makes his way through the Talkeetna woods. Photo: Phillip Manning

by:  Katie Writer – KTNA

The 2017 Oosik Classic Ski Race and Tour has concluded, and hundreds of skiers from the Upper Valley and elsewhere have returned to their lives. KTNA’s Katie writer spoke with one of the event’s long-time participants and organizers about this year’s Oosik.

The 12th annual Oosik Classic Ski Race and Tour has come and gone. The ever-popular ski event has tripled in size since its inception in 2005.

While the costumes and festive atmosphere add to the day’s fun, a different 25/50K course makes each year’s race unique. Nordic skiing legends such as Olympian Adam Verrier and Norwegian Trond Jensen are fond of the Oosik’s rustic appeal. Unlike the typical well-groomed wide track of today’s

A sample of this year's festive Oosik costumes.  Photo:  Phillip Manning

A sample of this year’s festive Oosik costumes. Photo: Phillip Manning

nordic race courses, the Oosik trail is challenging and often unpredictable.

As Denali Nordic Ski Club founder, Chris Mannix explains.

“It’s this single track through the woods; you’ve got to communicate with other skiers as you pass. It’s a throwback to the early days of Nordic skiing, and I think that’s one of the attractions.”

Chris Mannix attributes the key role of the Trail Meister to the success of the event.

In the beginning, Chris and his brother, Art Mannix were not only the race organizers, but also the trail crew. They utilized Fish Lake for the start and finish area. Since then, a number of knowledgeable local woodsmen have played the role of the Trail Meister, including Mike Wood and Bill Barstow.

Putting in a ski trail entails much more than dragging a groomer up rivers and through the wilderness.  There is a tremendous amount of physical labor involved in brushing out trails, building bridges over creeks, and packing down a continuous 25-50 kilometer course.

Some years, the rivers are open, even in December. In recent years, there has been barely enough snow and race organizers teetered on the edge of calling off the race.

This year’s Trail Meister, Wade Hopkins utilized the zone up and around the Talkeetna River, including Whiskey Creek and up towards Papa Bear Lake.

The Oosik has had a reputation of being flat. More than one year, the course sent skiers for a majority of the miles up the Chulitna River. As beautiful it was to look up at Denali, the lack of variation of terrain led to boredom for the skiers. Not this year. With the steep and winding descents of the Talkeetna Ridge Trail, even the most experienced skiers were challenged.

“Yeah, I biffed big time at the bottom of that hill. It didn’t go smoothly for me, and I’ve been skiing that hill since the ‘80s.”

The flats that followed by the airport and various feed stations gave the skiers time to recover before the last grueling 3-kilometer climb to the finish at the Alaskan Lodge.

“The atmosphere that surrounds the Oosik is one of the things that make it special. Some other races, you get off the course, maybe chat for a few minutes, grab some food to eat, then off you go—you go home. But…Adam’s original intent was to make it more of an end of season get-together for Nordic skiers across Alaska.”


While the race is over, numerous local skiers and mushers are out enjoying this year’s Oosik trail as long as the snow conditions permit.

2017 Oosik Classic Ski Race and Tour Results

Racers begin the 50k race at the 2017 Oosik in Talkeetna. Photo: Phillip Manning

Racers begin the 50k race at the 2017 Oosik in Talkeetna. Photo: Phillip Manning

This year, the Oosik Classic Ski Race and Tour saw exceptional weather and more than 650 total participants.

Results for this year’s Oosik are divided into men’s and women’s division for the 25 and 50 kilometer races.

In the 50k, Dylan Watts came in first place, Galen Johnston took second, and Seiji (SAY-jee) Takagi came in third. Watts and Johnston are both on the coaching staff for Alaska Pacific University’s ski team, and Takagi skied for the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

For the women’s 50k, Nicole Bathe came in first place, Shalane Frost, last year’s winner, took second, and Nicole De Yong took third. Bathe and Frost both ski with UAF, and De Yong is a member of the University of Alaska Anchorage ski team.

In the 25k, Sadie Fox won the women’s division, with Karina Packer coming in second, and Nancy Pease in third. Fox skis for UAA, and Packer was a member of Dartmouth’s Nordic ski team. Nancy Pease is a well-known trail runner and a member of the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. For the men, last year’s winner, Gus Schumacher of Service High School, took first place, Andrew Hull of South Anchorage High repeated in second, and Zachary Bassett of APU came in third.

Full results from the 2017 Oosik Classic Ski Race and Tour

Susitna Writer’s Voice–StarDate Susitna 3-20-2017, by Kathleen Fleming

Kathleen for StarDate


The Spring Equinox edition, with info about the moon, sun, visible stars and planets!

Earth’s seasonal tilt illustrations


Trapper Creek Cabin Fever Reliever Ski Race Results

This story was submitted by Kathy Ernst.


The day dawned cloudy but became sunny and beautiful by afternoon. The ski trail was well groomed and fast (2.5 kilometers). There were a total 15 skiers competing from kindergarten to high school. Starting with the youngest – three skiers Kaiden Snider, Cipi Dmitryev and Charlie Spotts in the K-2nd grade category did a great job on the short loop through woods. One 2nd grader, Dustin Garrett took on the challenge of the 2.5 K and finished with a time of 30:21.


Cienna Gudmundson took 1st place in the 3-4th grade girls category with a time of 30:57. In the 3-4th boys division, Kasen Buzby took 1st with a time of 21:47. Harley Benedix (25:22) finished in 2nd place.


Seven 5th– 6th graders competed this year. In the boys 5th – 6th group Zavier Annis finished first with a time of 23:10. Christopher Spotts (31:02) was second and Joseph Silva   (56:32) finished third.


The fastest time in the girls 5-6th, as well as fastest in the race for the second year in the row was Cori Gossett who sailed into the finish line in 15 minutes 21 seconds. Cierra Gudmundson was second in her category and overall with a time of 19:13 and Lena Spotts was a close third at 21:58. Cadence Garrett placed 4th (24:59). Our one Su Valley student Aldon John took 3rd over all with a time of 19:51.


No adults officially entered the race but special thanks go to Ralph Kolbeck, Julie DeLoach, Katrina DeYoung, and Laura Derungs who helped keep our skiers safe out on the trail.


Joseph earned a Perseverance Award; he never gave up, had a smile on his face the whole time while he is mastering the sport of skiing. Race officials gave a special Sportsmanship Award to Cierra for the way she cheered on everybody in the race.


Alaska Senate Votes to Use Permanent Fund Earnings for Government Over Valley Senators’ Objection

A bill that would impact how Alaskans receive Permanent Fund Dividends passed the Alaska Senate on Wednesday over the objection of Democrats and a handful of Republicans, including Senator Mike Dunleavy.

Senate Bill 26 would use part of the Permanent Fund Earnings to fund state government. Proponents of the bill say it will significantly close the state’s current budget gap. That would result in smaller Permanent Fund Dividend checks for qualifying Alaskans.

For the past few years, the State of Alaska has drawn on the Statutory and Constitutional Budget Reserve accounts in order to fund annual operating budgets. The statutory reserve has been all but depleted, and the constitutional reserve has significantly diminished in that time. Once those reserve accounts are exhausted, the Permanent Fund’s earnings could be the next place legislators look, which could endanger the PFD in its entirety. By beginning to use the earnings now and shrinking PFDs, those in favor of SB 26 hope to extend the life of the other reserve accounts.

Democrats opposing the bill say that SB 26 would disproportionately impact poorer Alaskans, who rely more heavily on the PFD as part of their annual income. For a family with children, the impact could be thousands of dollars per year.

Senator Mike Dunleavy, the Wasilla Republican whose district includes the Upper Valley, along with fellow Valley republicans Shelley Huges and David Wilson, all voted against final passage of the bill. Before the final vote, Senator Dunleavy attempted to amend SB 26 to restore the full amount of last year’s Permanent Fund Dividend. A veto by Governor Bill Walker reduced PFDs statewide by about $1,000 last year.

Prior to and during the current session, Dunleavy has tried a number of tactics to restore last year’s dividend to its full amount. Those attempts, as well as his desire to continue the current PFD funding model, place him on the side of the Democratic Senate Minority. The Senate Majority moved to table Dunleavy’s amendment rather than vote on it as a substantive issue. Caucus rules for the majority require members to vote as one on procedural issues. Thus, Senator Dunleavy was effectively forced to vote against his own amendment.

In final discussion of SB 26, Senator Dunleavy once again stated that he believes more cuts are necessary to state government, and that the draw from the earning’s reserve proposed by the bill is too large.

Senate Bill 26 ultimately passed by a vote of 12 to 8.