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

Archives

Susitna Writer’s Voice – “The Real Winner” by Ruth Moore

The sun glinted off the compacted snow, causing me to squint my eyes to narrow slits. It was mid-January, and the eager gathering of people was heading in a single, definite direction.

I could feel the cold steel through my heavy-duty jeans and long johns as the crowd pushed me against the frost-covered chain link fence. I leaned over the icy cold wire and strained to see the reason for the crowd’s excitement. The pressing spectators shouted and screamed as though gladiators had been turned loose on the strip of snow-packed trail no wider than four feet.

A sudden hush fell over the crowd. Excited barking of dogs could be heard in the distance.

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Sen. Dunleavy Releases Fiscal Approach Plan Favoring Cuts over Taxes

Senator Mike Dunleavy (R) - Wasilla. Photo courtesy of the office of Mike Dunleavy

Senator Mike Dunleavy (R) – Wasilla. Photo courtesy of the office of Mike Dunleavy

For the last three sessions, the Alaska Legislature has been faced with multi-billion dollar budget shortfalls, and has had to borrow from its savings. Republican Senator Mike Dunleavy has released a plan he believes will allow the state to continue functioning without adding new taxes or finishing off its savings accounts. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more.

On Wednesday, Senator Mike Dunleavy’s office released a plan that he believes could right the state’s fiscal ship and begin putting money back into governmental savings accounts within a few years.

The goal of Dunleavy’s initial plan is to utilize just over a billion dollars in budget cuts over four years and a reduced cap on increases in state spending. He says those measures will help make it so that the state can return to a net gain of revenue without imposing additional taxes or reducing payment of Permanent Fund Dividend checks each year. Read More »

Happy Birthday KTNA!

Happy Birthday KTNA!  January 17, 1993 was KTNA’s first day on the air.  Join us for a KTNA open house birthday party from 11:00am-4:00pm  on Tuesday, January 17th.  Stop by for a piece of cake provided by Cubby’s Marketplace.

 

Sen. Dunleavy Explains Bills to Restore Vetoed PFD Payments

In advance of the beginning of Alaska’s legislative session next week, Senator Mike Dunleavy , whose district includes the Upper Valley, pre-filed two bills that would restore cuts to Permanent Fund Dividend checks made last year by Governor Bill Walker. Dunleavy spoke with KTNA’s Phillip Manning on Thursday about the prospects of restoring last year’s PFD and his reasons for trying to do so.

Senator Dunleavy also released a fiscal approach plan this week that he believes can balance the state budget without taxing individual Alaskans. More on that plan soon from KTNA news.

Mat-Su Borough Assembly Closes Marijuana Permit Loophole, Grandfathers Talkeetna Retail Shop

On Tuesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly approved the ordinance to close a regulatory loophole for commercial marijuana facilities located inside special land use districts, or SPUDs. A late amendment to the ordinance could mean a marijuana retail store in Talkeetna could be cleared to open sooner than anticipated.

Due to an oversight when crafting the regulations for conditional use permits for marijuana, areas inside SPUDs were unintentionally exempted from borough permit requirements, meaning only a state license would be required for those businesses to open their doors.

The loophole affected two businesses in the Talkeetna area. Talkeetna Herb Company had already completed the state licensing process before the error in borough code was discovered, and thus was grandfathered in to not needing a permit from the borough. The High Expedition, a marijuana retail facility planned for Main Street, was also subject to the loophole.

A few Talkeetna residents who have become vocal opponents of The High Expedition’s location spoke at the meeting, urging the assembly to take steps that would prevent the store from opening. One of the requests was for the borough to reinstate a buffer around parks for commercial marijuana facilities. The High Expedition lies across the street from the campground at the end of Main Street.

Assembly Member Randall Kowalke, whose district includes Talkeetna, introduced an amendment to the ordinance that would effectively grandfather The High Expedition into the old version of marijuana regulations, meaning a borough permit is not required. Kowalke cited errors the borough made that prevented the owners of the retail facility from applying for their borough permit up to this point and letters from the Talkeetna Community Council asking that the application process for the business not be delayed.

The amendment and the ordinance as a whole passed without objection.

Su Valley Voice for January 11th, 2017: Will Peterson and Jeff King

Jeff King (Left) and Will Peterson (Right)

Jeff King (Left) and Will Peterson (Right)

 

This week on Su Valley Voice, guest host Will Peterson spoke with four-time Iditarod winner Jeff King about the Iditarod, mushing in general, and King’s success in the state sport.

Susitna Writers Voice – The Friendliest Nuthatches, by Robin Song

After fetching male NH out of Jetta.jpg Sweetie & Robin.jpg

It began in October, when I put suet out for the many birds populating the forest around the cabin. Some were migratory species, some were birds which would be spending the winter. I noticed a family of Red-Breasted Nuthatches-two parents and five offspring. They were very active and noisy, beeping and chattering, as only Nuthatches can do.

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Susitna Writer’s Voice – StarDate Susitna, by Kathleen Flemming 1-08-2017

http://www.mreclipse.com/SEphoto/TSE1991/image/TSE91-4cmp1w.JPGIn this episode of Susitna Writer’s Voice, Kathleen Fleming looks ahead to astronomical events in the coming week and anticipated highlights of  new year.

Talkeetna Council Recommends Changes for Temporary Structure Rules on Main Street

With the continued growth of tourism in the Upper Valley, new businesses come to Talkeetna each year. Real estate on Main Street is limited, however, so many end up using trailers or other temporary structures to set up shop for the summer. Now, the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors is asking the Mat-Su Borough to clarify the rules regarding those temporary structures on Main Street.

 

Last spring, the Talkeetna Community Council, Incorporated board of directors created a committee to review portions of the regulations in the Main Street special land use district, or SPUD. On Monday, the board approved a recommendation from the committee to clarify rules regarding temporary structures.

 

Currently, the Main Street SPUD defines a structure as temporary if it does not have a footing or foundation, and is used for thirty days or less. After thirty days, it has to be removed. During that time, temporary structures are not subject to all of the rules as permanent structures, including setbacks. The regulations do not currently specify whether the thirty-day period can be restarted after moving a structure. Talkeetna council board member Paul Button says the current rule leaves room for interpretation.

 

“What does that mean? Some people would construe that to mean they could drive around the block and come right back, and the clock starts again. The committee does not believe that was the intent of the SPUD.”

 

Talkeetna resident Geri McCann took part in the SPUD committee, and believes some businesses are taking advantage of the current wording.

 

“It just seems like when they read it, the thirty days, they’ve just been taking advantage and pushing it beyond its reach—beyond what was intended. If I was going to put up a temporary structure and I see thirty days, that’s thirty days.”

 

Troy Smiley, co-owner of the Dancing Leaf Gallery, hosts the popular Spinach Bread trailer on his property in the summer, and says that at least one Mat-Su Borough code compliance officer told him that the regulation was for thirty days at a time.

 

“When borough code compliance came around and we had the discussion about the thirty day thing, it was the borough’s interpretation that, ‘Move every thirty days for a legitimate business reason, and then come back,’” would be compliant behavior.

 

In order to clarify the rules for temporary structures, the Main Street SPUD committee recommended changing the language to make it clear that the thirty-day limit applies for an entire calendar year. That would make it impossible for a structure to stay up all summer and still count as temporary.
One source of concern regarding long-term temporary structures is that they don’t follow the same rules for setbacks and separation as other buildings on Main Street, which can lead to crowding. Paul Button says there are potential consequences to that crowding beyond aesthetics.

 

“So you get a temporary structure closer than code would allow to adjoining structures. When you have a fire in one building, that’s bad enough. All of a sudden, you have a fire in four buildings…It happened Downtown in 2013, I think, [with] three buildings, two of which were almost burned to the ground. So, this is not an academic exercise.”

 

Paul Button says some businesses may not have to change what they are currently doing to be in compliance, so long as they follow the setback and easement rules required of permanent structures.

 

“It doesn’t even affect temporary structures like we think of, like trailers. Just don’t call it a temporary structure, keep it out of the easement, [and] we don’t care what you do with it.”

 

Some business owners want more notice given for those who may be making plans for this summer under the current rules. Jenny Krepel of Talkeetna Gifts and Collectibles wants more notice given before a change in how some people may have to do business.

 

“I think businesses need a little bit more heads-up…because it is going to affect how they are going to do their business, if they’re going to have to move, if they’re going to have to build something else. I would like a little bit more notice.”

 

A motion was made to make the requested changes effective next year so that there would not be the potential for disruption this summer, but the motion failed after not receiving a second.

 

Despite that, the process to change the SPUD will take time. The Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. board of directors does not have direct control over the document. Since SPUDs are part of Mat-Su Borough code, the borough will have final say over what, if any, changes occur and in what timeframe.