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


Obituary for Patricia Grosz

Submitted by the family:

Longtime Alaska resident and beloved wife and mother, Mrs. Patricia Josephine Grosz, née Callahan, 69, passed away at home surrounded by family on Sunday, June 28, 2015.
Patricia was born on August 18, 1945 in Spenard, Alaska to Nellie Ivy Callahan, née Atwater, and John Leahy Callahan. She was the second youngest of 4 siblings. Her father nicknamed her “Paddy” when she was young, inspired by her name and her Irish heritage. When Paddy was a little girl her father moved the family to Gold Creek. The family homesteaded there for several years before becoming seasonal residents, spending summers out on the tracks and winters in Anchorage. Read More »

Classics for Kids–The Prince and the Pauper #7

Cari Sayre continues the historical fiction book by Mark Twain, about two boys living in England in the 1500’s.

End of king season sees increased returns on Deshka, Little Su

King salmon season has ended in the Northern Cook Inlet Region, and at least one river posted the highest counts in five years. On the Deshka, which has housed a fish weir since 2011, 23,609 kings were counted as of Monday. The Deshka was one of the few places where anglers could potentially take a king salmon home. Numbers from 2011 to 2014 failed to reach 20,000 fish. The Deshka’s escapement goal is between 13,000 and 28,000 king salmon.

On the Little Susitna River, the 4,727 returning kings are a significant increase over the last two years. Data from a handful of years in the eighties and nineties is also available for the Little Su, and the only year that topped this year’s run was 1988, when nearly 8,000 kings returned to the river.


Other Upper Valley rivers did not have counting weirs, but anecdotal reports from catch-and-release areas tell of fair-to-good fishing.

Charging documents detail state’s version of Sockeye Fire origin

The two Anchorage residents charged with causing the Sockeye Fire were burning lawn debris, according to charging documents filed with the Third District Court in Palmer. The affidavit, filed by investigator Thomas Greiling, says that there was evidence of three piles burning at the Ringler Circle lot where the fire began.

According to the affidavit, multiple spent fireworks were discovered on the scene, but Greiling says that there is no conclusive evidence that they were part of the cause of the 7,200-plus acre blaze.

The affidavit claims that Greg Imig admitted to burning four piles of debris on the property, and that Imig was not certain that the burn piles were fully extinguished before leaving them unattended.

The charging documents say that Amy Dewitt also admitted to burning debris piles. Dewitt told investigators that she was unsure if one of the piles was out, and she placed boards on it, believing that they would begin to burn if the fire was still hot. Greiling believes that particular pile is the one that ignited nearby woodlands and started the Sockeye Fire.

Imig, Dewitt, and Dewitt’s juvenile son left the lot in a motorhome due to the fire. Dewitt says she called 9-1-1 from the property before leaving. Greiling says Dewitt did not provide the location or cause of the fire to authorities. The affidavit says there is evidence of a rapid exit from the property, and that a chainsaw, gas cans, and jack pads for a motorhome.

Greg Imig and Amy Dewitt are charged with eight misdemeanors related to the ignition of the Sockeye Fire, including burning without a permit, failing to clear the burn area, allowing the fire to spread, leaving a fire unattended, criminally negligent burning, and three counts of reckless endangerment. Four of the charges are Class A misdemeanors, and carry maximum penalties of $10,000 and one year in jail. The other four charges carry penalties up to $500 and six months in jail. Arraignment is scheduled for July 28th.

A call to Greg Imig was not returned before deadline.

State files charges against two Anchorage residents in connection to Sockeye Fire

On Monday, the State of Alaska filed charges against two Anchorage residents for starting the debris burn that turned into the 7,200 acre Sockeye Fire. The fire destroyed fifty-five homes and damaged forty-four other structures, according to the state.

In a press release issued Monday afternoon, Division of Forestry spokesman Tim Mowry says that charges were filed against 59-year-old Greg Imig and 42-year-old Amy Dewitt. Charges include three counts of reckless endangerment, negligent burning, failure to obtain a burn permit, not clearing the burn area, and, ultimately, allowing the fire to spread unattended.

The Division of Forestry and Alaska Fire Marshal’s office say that Imig and Dewitt were burning debris on the evening of June 13th near their cabin at mile 77 of the Parks Highway. The state claims that the fires were left unattended, and one continued to smolder, igniting the nearby forest the next day.

The charges facing Imig and Dewitt are all misdemeanors, four of which carry maximum penalties of $10,000 and a year in jail, each. Forestry spokesman Tim Mowry says that individuals responsible for starting a wildfire can be held accountable for two-times the cost of fighting the fire. The state’s latest estimate on the cost of suppressing the Sockeye Fire is eight million dollars.

Archaeology Open House Features Finds by Upper Valley Youth



by: Katie Writer – KTNA, Talkeetna

This past Saturday, the Walter Harper Ranger Station and University of Alaska’s Museum of the North hosted a Culture Camp Open House. Local students have been conducting an archaeological dig at a site in Downtown Talkeetna, and invited the public to see what they found.  KTNA’s Katie Writer attended the open house and has this report:

Denali National Park Archeologist Phoebe Gilbert led a group of Youth Conservation Corps members in a dig next to the Ranger Station.

“One of the first things the students found was a metal dinner plate with an enamel cover [and] ’T.S. Germany’ on the back, so that was pretty cool.  That was within the first five minutes of the dig.” Read More »

Susitna Writer’s Voice–Shawoman, Big Mama, and Blue Moon Turtle, by Ellen Thea

thea gig#1

Talkeetna performance poet Ellen Thea

reads her poems Shawoman, Big Mama, and Blue Moon Turtle.

She is accompanied by Dennis Ransy on percussion.

In the fullness of the moon,

in the fullness of her moon,

power whisper

not a word

or hair may catch fire

and burn.

Read More »

Talkeetna Council and public discuss commercial dock application for Fish Lake

The most contentious topic at the July meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors was an application for a floatplane dock on Fish Lake. While docks do already exist, this case involves a number of factors that make it more complicated. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:


Aviation is an integral part of Talkeetna’s history, and numerous air services currently operate out of both the Talkeetna State Airport and area lakes. The most recent application for a new floatplane dock of Fish Lake has caused a stir, however.

Before we go too deep into the details of the current situation, here is some background. Above Alaska Aviation, the company trying to build the new dock had a lease from the Mat-Su Borough for a floatplane dock on Christiansen Lake. Drew Haag, owner of Above Alaska, explains that the Christiansen permit became unavailable.

“Obviously, through a lot of other research, that permit never should have been issued, but that was ours…”

Essentially, because of the way that the Christiansen Lake special land use district rules are written, when the old lease on the dock lapsed, it should have no longer been available for commercial use. Above Alaska Aviation then tried to find a way to access Fish Lake, which already has a number of commercial floatplanes based on it. With no lease or ownership on private land, and with the borough designating a substantial portion of the shoreline as parkland, options are limited.   Haag says that attempts to find other legal means of access were difficult.

“This is basically what it’s left—I’ve tried to work with the [Talkeetna] Community Council, and this is where it’s left us. We’re fighting to stay in business.”

Now, Drew Haag has applied for a permit to access the shore via a section line easement. The borough granted that permit. He also needs a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources to build the dock on a navigable waterway. Read More »

Borough attempting to address Talkeetna sewer’s fecal coliform problem

Last year, the Talkeetna sewage treatment system was cited for exceeding allowable levels of fecal coliform in treated water. Now, the Mat-Su Borough is taking steps that it hopes will improve the lagoon’s performance.

Public Works Director Terry Dolan believes that the primary causes for the fecal coliform levels in water flowing out of the lagoons are duckweed and grease on the surface of the water. Dolan says that the “rotten egg” smell that some East Talkeetna residents reported last year indicates a lack of oxygen in the system, which could be caused when the gas is unable to penetrate the surface. He adds that personnel were on-site Thursday to conduct another round of cleaning on the surface of the lagoons.

In addition, the borough has used equipment to remove sludge build-up at the bottom of the lagoons. Efforts to re-vegetate the wetlands where the treated water flows out have also been made, and will likely resume next spring. Terry Dolan says water is slowly being released into the wetlands, and that the system will be allowed to settle for about a week before discharge from the lagoon begins.