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


MEA provides additional information on Thursday’s power surge

More details have been made public regarding last Thursday’s power surge and outage in the Northern Susitna Valley.

According to Matanuska Electric Association spokeswoman Cassi Campbell, multiple lightning strikes over the course of about forty-five minutes were the cause of a power surge that damaged MEA infrastructure. In addition, many area residents report damage to surge protectors and electronics across the area.

The first lightning strike hit the main transmission like shortly after 5:00 pm on Thursday. Campbell says that strike affected two substations servicing the area from Willow to Talkeetna. Much of the Willow area lost power temporarily as a result.

All power was restored by around midnight. One of the last locations to come back online was the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge at Mile 133 of the Parks Highway.

Campbell says MEA has a form that members who suffered damage to property as a result of the surge can fill out. She says a third-party insurer will review the claims. The insurer will determine whether the damages resulted from negligence on the part of MEA.

MEA also has a briefing available online on various types of surge protectors, their efficacy, and their proper use.


Susitna Writer’s Voice–“Robin’s Wild Hare”, by Robin Song


The many years I lived as caretaker at Birch Creek Ranch, I rarely saw a Snowshoe Hare. I looked for their tracks in winter, and noted the rise and fall of cycles in the population. Occasionally, while driving the six and a half miles of dirt road out from the ranch, one would dart across the road, or I would glimpse a hare in the forest, nibbling on something tasty.

When the cabin in which I now live was being built, the crew told me they often saw hares in the area – in and around the clearing. I was heartened by this, for this was one animal I wanted to know better.

Read More »

New Su Valley, Talkeetna Elementary principals unanimously approved by school board

On Wednesday, the Mat-Su Borough School Board unanimously approved the hiring of two new principals in the Northern Valley. Lisa Shelby, formerly principal of Talkeetna Elementary, will be taking over at Susitna Valley Junior-Senior High School. School Board President and Talkeetna resident Donna Dearman expresses enthusiasm about Shelby’s hiring.
“I will say that I have been honored and thrilled to work with you over the last several years at Talkeetna Elementary.   Your creativity and ability to think outside the box has been absolutely amazing. You have helped grow that school. You brought ideas and excitement to that school that raised those children to a whole other level, so I’m very excited to see what you’re going to do at Su Valley.”


Lisa Shelby moving to Su Valley meant a vacancy at Talkeetna Elementary. After Shelby’s confirmation, the school board unanimously approved the hiring of Becky Moren. Among other roles, Moren was deeply involved in Talkeetna Elementary’s science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, curriculum. When asked, she says she hopes to continue and expand learning through technology.


“That’s probably my passion at this point. In terms of growing that program, maybe rolling some things up to the high school that were started there. I’d love to get a makerspace in the school. It’s absolutely part of the whole-child education.”


Both new principals come from rural teaching backgrounds, including experience in the Northern Valley.

MEA: Lightning strike caused Thursday’s power surge and outage

Matanuska Electric Association says a lightning strike caused the power surge that was experienced through much of the Northern Valley on Thursday.

According to MEA social media, approximately 1,900 customers lost power around 5:00 pm on Thursday in the Willow, Nancy Lake, and Caswell Lakes areas. At least one person reported an extended outage at the McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge north of Trapper Creek.

Even in places where the power stayed on, many people say they experienced a significant power surge. On local social media groups, Upper Valley residents say that breakers, surge protectors, and some home appliances and electronics were affected by the surge.

Approximately two hours after the initial outage report, MEA said on social media that the surge and outage were caused by a lightning strike.

Tips for Healthy Living 6-9-17

KKehoe-Tips by KWriter

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.

Today they talk about seeing so many more transient and seasonal patients at the clinics, the importance of identifying allergies, and wrist pain:  causes, diagnosis, differentiating wrist pain from thumb pain, how to prevent it from becoming debilitating, and treating it.

News From the Ranger Station for June 8, 2017

A band of brightly-colored climbers observe the comings and goings at the 'Kahiltna International Airport'. (NPS Photo/Steve Mock)

A band of brightly-colored climbers observe the comings and goings at the ‘Kahiltna International Airport’. (NPS Photo/Steve Mock)

In this weekly segment, produced by the staff of the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station, four climbers headed to Denali talk about preparation.

Denali Report for June 9, 2017: Crevasse Rescue

Martin Takac was trapped in a sixty foot crevasse for about sixteen hours before rescuers could reach him.  NPS Photo/Frank Preston

Martin Takac was trapped in a sixty foot crevasse for about sixteen hours before rescuers could reach him. NPS Photo/Frank Preston

This week on the Denali Report, KTNA’s Phillip Manning discusses an increase in the summit rate and the emergency rescue of a climber that combined efforts of guides, rangers, and volunteers.

As predicted by mountaineering rangers last week, the summit rate on Denali has finally started to rise significantly. As of Thursday, it was listed at thirty-six percent, with over 150 climbers having made it to the top of the mountain.

This week also saw a harrowing rescue on Denali. Tucker Chenoweth, South District Ranger for Denali National Park and Preserve, says warming temperatures mean this time of year is often the most dangerous for crevasse falls. Late Sunday evening, Slovak climber Martin Takac fell into a crevasse near “Camp One” on Denali. Takac was climbing with a partner, but the two were not roped together. His partner saw the fall and went to base camp for help.

Tucker Chenoweth says guides from Mountain Trip guide service responded to the scene, but quickly realized they were not equipped to free Takac from the deep, narrow crevasse.

“[The] initial report was forty feet. It ended up being more like sixty feet down in a crevasse that was twelve to fifteen inches wide, and not straight down. It kind of arced, so you couldn’t even see

View from the top of the crevasse, with Martin Takac and a rescuer inside, but not visible from the surface. NPS Photo/Frank Preston

View from the top of the crevasse, with Martin Takac and a rescuer inside, but not visible from the surface. NPS Photo/Frank Preston

[Takac] from the top.” Read More »

Rep. Eastman comments on Governor’s fiscal plan

The Alaska State Legislature has just over three weeks before a potential government shutdown. Earlier this week, Governor Bill Walker proposed a set of measures as the starting point for a budget and revenue compromise. KTNA’s Phillip Manning spoke with Representative David Eastman, whose district includes the Susitna Valley, about his impression of the governor’s plan.




Borough: First 2017 test of Talkeetna sewer lagoon in compliance

Talkeetna’s sewer lagoon passed its first round of tests for 2017, according to the Mat-Su Borough.


Borough Public Works Director Terry Dolan says the lagoon, which has struggled with compliance issues for the last few years, is now showing test results well within permit requirements.


Specifically, Dolan says fecal coliform bacteria levels tested very low. The presence of too much fecal coliform in the water flowing out of the lagoon was a consistent problem in recent years.


Dolan’s staff has taken multiple measures to try to bring the system back into compliance, including mechanical aeration, clearing of grease on the surface, and addressing excess water leaking into the system.


Consistent issues with the lagoon led to a notice of violation from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in 2015. The borough and ADEC have held multiple closed-door discussions on the lagoon and what level of fines and/or corrective action will be required.


While Terry Dolan says the current test results are good news, he hopes to see consistency going forward in the busy summer months. While this is the third test in a row that has come back in compliance, he says the months of June and August have been the most problematic for the system.


In the meantime, Dolan says work will continue, including manhole repairs and a video inspection of the system’s sewer lines.