According to testing information supplied by the Mat-Su Borough, fecal coliform levels are either at or near the permit maximum for the Talkeetna sewer lagoon. This comes after months of noncompliance and various steps taken by the borough to attempt to bring the numbers back in line.
According to Public Works Director Terry Dolan, two tests were taken in September and sent to two different test labs. This was done in part due to an anomalous test that was conducted in August. The lagoon’s permit from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation allows for a small amount of fecal coliform in the water flowing out of the lagoon and into the Talkeetna River. One of September’s tests came back just under that limit, and the other came back at about seventy-five percent over the limit. Whichever test is considered, it represents a significant improvement over the summer months. The lower of the two August tests, for example, came back at five times the permitted limit. The other test is the one that Terry Dolan considers anomalous; it showed results seventy-five times the permitted limit. Dolan says he believes the material flowing into the lagoon was tested by mistake, since a contractor and not borough staff conducted that test.
Terry Dolan says the DEC permit requires discharge from the lagoon to stop for the winter later this month. During that time, wastewater collects until the natural treatment process can resume once the ice goes out in the spring. Dolan adds that the borough has plans to improve the lagoons’ effectiveness that will be implemented over the winter months. In previous statements, Dolan has said that it is the hope of the borough that the treatment system, which uses natural processes to break down human waste, will be able to function properly again once it stabilizes. The ultimate test of this year’s measures and those planned for the winter will come next month when hundreds of thousands of visitors once again descend upon Talkeetna.
With Tuesday’s votes tallied, both the Mat-Su Borough Mayor and District 7 assembly races are close enough that nobody is admitting defeat or claiming certain victory at this point. More than 2,000 absentee and questioned ballots remain to be counted, so everyone is in a holding pattern for at least the next few days. KTNA’s Phillip Manning reached out to those candidates, and has this report:
After Tuesday, Doyle Holmes leads the race for the District 7 seat on the Mat-Su Borough Assembly. Holmes, a three-time member of the assembly, says he has faith that the borough staff will conduct a fair count of the remaining ballots.
“I have a lot of faith in Lonnie [McKechnie], the borough clerk, and their procedures, because I’ve been involved in those things over the years. And [they have] tried to make sure that everybody gets treated fairly, and there’s no new ways of getting around the election results.”
Randall Kowalke, Holmes’ opponent, was picking up campaign signs when reached for comment on Wednesday. Kowalke needs the absentee ballots to break significantly his way in order to overcome Holmes’ fifty-two-vote advantage. If he does win, Kowalke says the credit goes to the precinct that helped him close what looked to be a wide gap as early results came in.
“If I win this, it’s going to be because of Talkeetna…I was 136 votes down when I went to bed last night, and got up and [am down] fifty-two this morning.” Read More »
After hours of counting and waiting for results after Talkeetna’s AccuVote machine failed, the preliminary results of the Mat-Su Borough election came in just after 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
The most-watched race is for Mat-Su Borough Mayor. Incumbent Larry DeVilbiss trailed challenger Vern Halter by 179 votes out of nearly 9,000 total votes cast as of Tuesday night. Halter’s lead was padded by over 100 votes after Talkeetna’s ballots were counted.
Three borough assembly seats are up for grabs as well, including District 7, which represents the Upper Valley. Doyle Holmes currently holds a lead of fifty-two votes, despite Talkeetna’s delayed ballots giving opponent Randall Kowalke a significant boost.
Debby Retherford and Sarah Welton both ran unopposed for Mat-Su School Board seats A and B, respectively, and late write-in campaigns fell well short of defeating them. Seat E was contested, with Kelsey Trimmer holding more than a 300 vote lead on opponent Wade Long after Tuesday’s votes were counted.
Proposition B-1, which would change school board seats to geographic regions as opposed to at-large positions is very likely to pass, with the ‘yes’ votes holding more than a two-to-one advantage as of Tuesday night.
Proposition B-2 would change the Mat-Su Borough’s general election date from October to November. After Tuesday, the ‘no’ votes held a lead of over 750 votes.
The final ballot question was posed only to residents of Downtown and East Talkeetna, and asked whether East Talkeetna and the river subdivision should be added to the existing Talkeetna Flood Service area. Both areas voted separately, and both votes have to pass for the annexation to take place. Tuesday’s results make it very likely that the question will pass.
Over 2,000 absentee and questioned ballots remain to be counted, and the official results will be announced after they are certified by the Mat-Su Borough Assembly on October 20th.
In addition to the Mat-Su Borough election, the Talkeetna Community Council held its annual election on Tuesday. Four candidates ran for three seats. Incumbents Mary Farina and Iris Vandenham retained their seats on the council’s board of directors. Paul Button will also be joining the board. Caitlyn Hunt-Engwis did not receive enough votes to claim a seat on the board. Current board member Katie Writer chose not to run to retain her seat on the council. The winners will be seated at the board’s November meeting.
A grand jury has indicted a Wasilla man on eight charges relating to a series of break-ins in the Petersville area in August. Charges include burglary, theft, vehicle theft, tampering with evidence, and criminal mischief.
The Alaska State Troopers have issued a $10,000 felony warrant for Joel Gould, 20, of Wasilla. Troopers say Gould is known to frequent the Anchorage, Mat-Su, and King Cove areas. Anyone with information on Gould’s whereabouts can call the Alaska State Troopers at 907-352-5401 or Crime Stoppers at 745-3333. Troppers say Crime Stoppers calls may be anonymous.
A photo of Gould, released by the troopers on Wednesday, is posted at KTNA.org.
Attached is the complete recording of Su Valley Voice for September 30th with Mat-Su Borough mayoral candidates Larry DeVilbiss, Vern Halter, and Rosemary Vavrin.
On Wednesday, the Mat-Su Borough shut down its emergency operations center for flooding in the valley. According to a borough statement, six roads remain closed as of Wednesday afternoon, and ten homes have been flooded as a result of heavy rainfall that began last weekend.
Romano Road in Sunshine was closed as of Wednesday, as were Kenny Boulevard, Deneki Drive, Burrow Street, and Johnson Drive in Willow.
According to the most recent borough map, water is receding near all of those roads as well as Yoder Road, Kalispell Drive, and the Parks Highway.