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


Borough to conduct “housekeeping” on zoning code

Mat-Su Borough staff is in the process of rewriting the zoning section of borough code. The zoning code, also known as Title 17, includes rules for utilities, tall towers, and a number of special land use districts, or SPUDs.


Sara Jansen, who works in the borough’s Planning Division, told the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors that the changes are intended to be “housekeeping.” Jansen says that, over time, the growth of Title 17, as well as the repealing of some sections, has left some sections confusing and others that may contain outright contradictions.


When the title is re-written, Jansen says it should be easier to follow. For example, conditional use permit requirements are currently written in each separate section of Title 17. Under the rewrite, they would appear once. Similarly, Sara Jansen says repetitive aspects of SPUDs would be consolidated. She says no substantive changes are planned to local SPUDs.


Some Talkeetnans present at the TCCI board spoke up regarding the changes. Ruth Wood, former chair of the TCCI board, says that she does not want to see the Talkeetna SPUD weakened. Jansen assured those present that the intent is not to weaken regulations.


A draft of the rewritten zoning code is expected to be complete sometime between October and December. The TCCI board asked that the community be kept informed on changes to the Talkeetna SPUD.


The rewrite also comes as a committee of the Talkeetna Community Council is reviewing the special land use district for Main Street in Talkeetna. The next meeting of the Main Street SPUD committee is scheduled for June 27th.

New business profile: Silverbear Sundries


Ember Haynes in front of Silverbear Sundries. Photo by Katie Writer – KTNA

By:  Katie Writer – KTNA

Each summer, new businesses come to Talkeetna. Silverbear Sundries has been in business for years, but has a new home on Main Street. KTNA’s Katie Writer paid the new location a visit and has this report.


Susitna Writer’s Voice–Three from the archives

Archived programs of Susitna Writer’s Voice were aired on 88.9 FM the past three weeks.

Click on the title of the program, if you’d like to hear / read it again:

Susitna Writer’s Voice–Building an Alaskan life: A decade to cherish, by Katie Writer

Susitna Writer’s Voice–The Run for Women, by Sondra Porter

Susitna Writer’s Voice–The Trapper Creek AMC Eagle, by Peter Mathiesen

Denali Report for June 10th, 2016: Team Lebanon

Team Lebanon on the summit of Denali.  Photo by Dustin English - Alaska Mountaineering school, photo courtesy of Team Lebanon

Team Lebanon on the summit of Denali. Photo by Dustin English – Alaska Mountaineering school, photo courtesy of Team Lebanon


This week on the Denali Report, updated statistics on this year’s mountaineering season, plus KTNA’s Phillip Manning speaks with the first all-Lebanese team to summit Denali.



In total, 1,075 climbers have registered to attempt Denali. Of those, 502 are currently on the mountain, and 376 climbs have been completed. There have been 162 summits of Denali so far, making the summit rate forty-three percent. Sixteen people are registered to attempt Mt. Foraker. All sixteen have completed their climbs, and seven made it to the summit, making the 2016 summit rate for Mt. Foraker forty-four percent.


Over the past week, the number of mountaineers who summited Denali increased dramatically. Team Lebanon was among them, and is the first all-Lebanese team to make it to the summit. After they returned to Talkeetna, Phillip Manning spoke with the members of the team.

Read More »

New summer business channels Talkeetna’s golden history

Owners Tammy and Kevin Helms at Sourdough Bucks in Downtown Talkeetna.

Owners Tammy and Kevin Helms at Sourdough Bucks in Downtown Talkeetna. Photo:  Katie Writer – KTNA

By:  Katie Writer – KTNA

Along with each summer’s rush of visitors to Talkeetna come new businesses which  includes Sourdough Bucks. Owners Kevin and Tammy Helms are having just as much fun as their customers gold panning at their downtown mining camp…and recently they have found something possibly a lot more valuable than gold. KTNA’s Katie Writer spoke with them this week about their finds.



Borough seeks input on long-range transportation plan

The Mat-Su Borough is taking online input for its long-range transportation plan.


At Monday’s meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council, Lauren Driscoll from the borough’s planning division told community members that the online open house for the plan is currently running, and will end on June 15th.


The long-range transportation plan is intended to prepare for transportation infrastructure needs through 2035. Currently, the Mat-Su is the fastest growing area of Alaska.


As part of the current phase of the LRTP, borough residents can add “pins” to an interactive map to highlight problem areas that they would like the borough to include in the plan. Thus far, all of the pins added by users are located in the Core Area of the borough.


The next phase of the plan comes this fall, when the borough plans to include residents, experts, and other government entities in order to identify various alternatives for future transportation development.


A link to the long-range transportation page and interactive map is available at KTNA.org.

Vacant Talkeetna Council Seat Filled

At Monday’s regular monthly meeting, the Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. board of directors chose Chris Grabowski to fill its vacant seat.


Grabowski won a secret-ballot vote of the board to fill the seat initially vacated by Mark Moren earlier this year.


Grabowski was running against Geri McCann. McCann won a similar secret ballot election this spring, but the seat was vacated again after questions concerning her residency documentation. McCann said at the time that she was a permanent resident of Talkeetna, but had yet to update some of her official records. She says those records were updated shortly after the first vote by the board to appoint her. Following the confusion over McCann’s residency, the board enacted a policy to allow more opportunity to verify documents before a vacancy appointment is made.


According to Talkeetna Community Council bylaws, seats that are filled mid-term will be up for a general vote at the next regular borough election date. Due to vacancies, this year will see five of the seven seats up for election this year. At Monday’s meeting, TCCI chair Whitney Wolff encouraged interested community members to run for seats this October.

Salmon runs arrive earlier to Susitna Valley in 2016

This year, the king salmon run in the Susitna Valley came about a week earlier than in 2015.


According to counts from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the first kings were observed on May 14th. Last year, the first kings didn’t show up until a week later on May 20th.


Thus far, the daily counts have followed a similar pattern of peaks and valleys as last year. The largest days for kings thus far occurred last Friday and Saturday, with over 1,100 kings counted on each day. Last year, the highest count of kings was on June 5th, with over 2,000 fish observed.


For most of the Susitna drainage, harvesting of kings is currently not allowed. Keeping kings is allowed in limited areas, and up-to-date regulations are available from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Regulations may relax or tighten based on the strength of the 2016 run.


The sockeye run on the Little Susitna River also started earlier than last year, and numbers thus far are significantly higher than in 2015. As of Monday, over 500 sockeye had been counted on the Little Susitna. At the same time last year, just over 100 had been observed.

Denali Report for June 3rd, 2016

This week on the Denali Report, KTNA’s Phillip Manning updates this season’s climbing statistics and speaks with a climber who just broke an impressive record.


As of Thursday afternoon, 1,029 climbers have registered to attempt Denali, and 523 are currently on the mountain. 227 climbs have been completed, and forty-two people have made it to the highest point in North America. The summit rate so far for Denali is quite low for the season at eighteen percent. Eighteen climbers have registered to attempt Mt. Foraker. Nine climbers are currently on the mountain, and nine have completed their climbs. There have been two summits of Mt. Foraker thus far in 2016.


While Denali’s summit rate is very low, some people have managed to make it to the top of North America. One of those people is Colin O’Brady. O’Brady’s summiting of Denali marks his completion of the Explorer’s Grand Slam. Not only does he join the list of fewer than fifty people to complete the challenge, but he is by far the fastest to do so. With a name like “Explorer’s Grand Slam,” one would expect an epic challenge, and the name does not disappoint, as Colin O’Brady explains.


“The Explorer’s Grand Slam is a mountaineering challenge to climb the Seven Summits, so the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents, plus an expedition across the last degree of both the North and South Poles.” Read More »