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


Mat-Su Adopts Commercial Marijuana Permit Requirements

Earlier this week, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly adopted regulations for permitting marijuana retail and cultivation operations.


On Tuesday, the Borough Assembly changed the proposed regulations that have been in the works for over half a year. Various versions of the proposed rules went through both the borough’s marijuana advisory committee and the borough planning commission.


One issue that had raised concerns amongst potential operators of cannabis operations was the imposition of setback requirements. Initial wording included setbacks that would require a buffer of 500 feet from all public parks and boat ramps. That went beyond the state’s requirements, and would render some areas, such as all of Downtown Talkeetna, ineligible for a borough marijuana permit.


The new wording maintains restrictions around schools, churches, and correctional facilities. In addition a 500-foot setback is required around “recreation or youth centers.” In the ordninance, those are defined as facilities specifically geared toward minors. It represents a narrower definition than the previous one, which excluded all public parks.


Additionally, the borough assembly removed the cap of 5,000 square feet for cultivation facilities that was in a previous version of the ordinance. The removal of that restriction came at the advice of the marijuana advisory committee. In arguing for the removal, Assembly Member Jim Sykes says that the existing setbacks, including the 100 foot buffer required from any lot lines, meant that the size restriction would not be necessary, especially for operations on large lots.


Aspects of the permit process that did not change include requirements for security measures and odor control.


For most areas, the permitting requirements are still contingent on a ballot issue on this October’s borough ballot. This year’s borough election will determine whether or not marijuana businesses of any kind are allowed in the unincorporated areas of the Valley. Thus far, only the City of Houston has opted to allow commercial marijuana. Wasilla and Palmer have both voted not to permit commercial sale or growing of cannabis.

Borough Assembly rejects putting bed tax increase on ballot

After an hour of testimony and deliberation last night, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly voted narrowly to defeat a measure that would have put a bed tax increase on October’s borough ballot.


Bed tax is charged to visitors renting nightly lodgings, and one way to extract tax dollars from tourists. Currently, the borough’s bed tax is five percent.


The proposal, which came from the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors, would have asked voters whether to increase the borough’s bed tax by three percent in order to fund tourism infrastructure.


Most members of the public who spoke against the proposal were from the Upper Valley, including the general managers of the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, two of the largest single payers of bed tax in the borough. Supporters of putting the tax on the ballot were largely from the Core Area of the valley. Talkeetna Chamber of Commerce President Trevor Walter testified at the meeting, and says that only one member of the chamber responded to an organizational poll saying they favored an increase in bed tax.


On the assembly, opposition was voiced on the grounds of lack of a plan as to how the additional revenue, estimated at around $700,000, would ultimately be spent.


Even if the Assembly had passed the ordinance, a public vote would have taken place before the bed tax increase could have taken effect.

Su Valley Voice for August 3rd, 2016: David Eastman

This week on Su Valley Voice, host Phillip Manning spoke with David Eastman, one of the Republican candidates for the Alaska House of Representatives. They discussed various issues facing the state. Eastman and three other candidates are running in the Republican primary, which will be held on Tuesday, August 16th.


Talkeetna Airport tree clearing concerns some neighbors

One edge of the newly cleared area at the Talkeetna State Airport Photo:  Katie Writer - KTNA

One edge of the newly cleared area at the Talkeetna State Airport Photo: Katie Writer – KTNA

Contractors are currently working on a federally funded expansion and improvement project at the Talkeetna State Airport. As part of the initial phase, many trees near residential areas have been cleared. Now, some residents say that the methods used have unnecessarily resulted in the loss of hundreds of trees near private property, with more on the way. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:


The plans for Talkeetna’s airport expansion have been in the works for a decade or more. Now that heavy equipment is operating in the area, however, some property owners are saying that the clear-cutting of trees near private property has gone to unnecessary lengths. In many cases along Easy Street in East Talkeetna, trees were clear-cut to a buffer twenty-five feet from the airport’s property line. Will Monbleau owns a home near the airport, and says he has worked in the logging industry for a quarter-century. He believes that a method could have been used that would have achieved a better compromise between clearing and preservation of trees.


“I think they could have done a little different along Easy Street. You know, you have two different ways you can do things. You can do the shock and awe clear cut, or you can lighten the harvest when you get near the property lines.” Read More »

Tips for Healthy Living 7-29-2016


A  live 15-minute conversation about health and health news

from the Sunshine Community Health Center:

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

Physician Assistant at the clinic.

Su Valley Voice for July 27th, 2016: Rep. Wes Keller

On Wednesday, KTNA’s Phillip Manning spoke with Representative Wes Keller, who represents District 10 in the Alaska House. Keller is running for re-election this year.


Flooding possible for Chena, Matanuska Rivers; No floods forecast for Upper Valley

Weekend rainfall has made it easier for firefighters to contain the McHugh Fire burning south of Anchorage, but has also raised flooding concerns in other parts of the state.


In the Interior, a flood advisory was listed for the Chena River, and some areas of North Pole were experiencing minor flooding as of Monday morning. In the Mat-Su Valley, rising river waters prompted concerns of flooding east of Palmer. No evacuation orders were made, but officials advised people living between Mile 13 and 15 of the Glenn Highway to be prepared to leave in the event the Matanuska River continued to rise.


In the Upper Valley, most monitoring stations show rivers and creeks well below flood stage. One exception is the Talkeetna River at the railroad bridge just outside of Downtown Talkeetna. There, the river was measured at the bottom end of “Action Stage,” meaning that the river is higher than usual, but not in flood stage. Forecasts from the Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center say that the river is expected to rise more over the next twenty-four hours, but the Talkeetna is currently projected to remain more than a foot-and-a-half below flood stage.


Missing hiker found safe in Denali National Park

A hiker missing in Denali National Park over the weekend was found Sunday evening.

According to the National Park Service, 42-year-old Mukunda Egen of California was located by a helicopter at the headwaters of the Sanctuary River around 7:45 pm on Sunday.

Before being located on Sunday, Egen had last been seen Friday night about six miles away in the area of the Teklanika campground. Egen and a hiking partner became separated when Egen took a different route back to the campground. The pair lost sight of each other in foggy conditions, and Egen’s companion attempted to retrace their route before returning to the campground early Saturday morning and notifying Denali National Park rangers. Search efforts began Saturday morning, with approximately fifty people contributing to the search by air and ground.

Though he did not have additional food or water with him, and was not equipped for staying overnight in the wilderness, park officials say that Egen was in good condition when found by rescue personnel.

Search efforts underway for missing hiker in Denali National Park

According to the National Park Service, approximately forty people are searching for a missing California hiker in Denali National Park.

42-year-old Mukunda Egen is seasonally employed in the area of the park, and was last seen Friday night in the area of the Teklanika Campground. Park officials say Egen is six feet, one inch tall, and weighs around 170 pounds. He has brown hair, a short beard, and was last seen wearing an orange jacket and gray hat. Egen is described as a “novice backpacker,” and the National Park Service says he only had a small amount of food and water in a daypack.

Egen was hiking with a partner on Friday. The pair separated Friday around 11:00 p.m. Egen’s hiking partner says Egen complained of knee pain earlier in the day hike and opted to take a less steep path back to the campground. Park officials say Egen’s companion attempted to retrace their route, then contacted rangers after reaching the campground early Saturday morning.

Weather and terrain are impacting search efforts, with rain and fog currently covering the search area. The National Park Service says five teams of hikers, two helicopters, and two search and rescue dog teams are currently combing the area.