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 Names New Emergency Services Director

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

On Wednesday,  Bill Gamble was chosen as the new Emergency Services Director for the Mat-Su Borough.  Gamble has served as the interim director since since the resignation of his predecessor, Dennis Brodigan, on April 1st.  Gamble served as the Chief of the West Lakes Fire Department since 2003, and first worked as a responder in the borough in 1990.  He oversaw the merging of West Lakes and Big Lake Fire Departments, and was Big Lake Fire Chief during the Miller’s Reach fire in 1996.

In a statement, Borough Manager John Moosey says he believes Gamble will “bring a new level of leadership.”

As Bill Gamble takes over Emergency Services, he inherits an environment where three of his chief deputies have either been terminated or resigned amidst an internal investigation.  Gamble’s title will change from Acting Director to Emergency Services Director on April 20th.

Borough Assembly Hears Talkeetna Sewer and Water Financial Report

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

At Tuesday’s Mat-Su Borough Assembly meeting, Borough Public Works Director Terry Dolan presented the financial analysis of Talkeetna’s sewer and water system, and gave an indication of what the new rates may look like.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more.

Last year, a grant from the state legislature paid for an assessment of Talkeetna’s sewer and water utility.  That report covered the operation and condition of the system as well as the finances.  On Tuesday, Mat-Su Borough Public Works Director Terry Dolan presented the fiscal portion of the assessment to the Borough Assembly.  The report shows a significant annual gap between revenue and expenditure.  Dolan says that does not come as a surprise.

“We knew at the beginning, but they verified that the revenues do not cover the cost of operating the water system.  The difference is about $80,000 on the water side of this.  And, the study also noted that there are no budgetary provisions for things like major maintenance or renewal and replacement, which are normal functions of a public utility.” (more…)

Talkeetna Recycling Committee Broadens Fundraising

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Talkeetna residents raising funds for a local recycling program have made significant progress.  At Monday’s Talkeetna Community Council board of directors meeting, board treasurer Katie Writer said that local funds have begun to come in at a faster pace, and there is the possibility of help from other organizations.  Writer says the fundraising committee’s goal is $25,000.  With that money, the committee would pay for two refurbished three-bin trash containers and allow for additional funds for outreach and education.

Thus far, Katie Writer says that over $1,800 has been raised locally, and an unnamed entity has offered a $1,000 match for additional donations.  Those donations have come through the designated account at Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union, through the committee’s crowdfunding site, and from cash donations at the Talkeetna transfer site. (more…)

Moosey: Mat-Su Working Through Federal ‘Hoops’ Regarding M/V Susitna

Thursday, March 19, 2015

This week, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly went through the quarterly process of approving the next three months of funding for storage and maintenance of the M/V Susitna, which currently amounts to about $18,000 per month, excluding insurance.

The Susitna was meant to be used as a ferry between the Mat-Su Borough and Anchorage across Knik Arm.  That project never came to fruition, however, and the borough has been trying to find a new home for the boat.  For more than a year and a half, that has meant trying to sell it.  The borough has an interested buyer, but there’s a catch.  That buyer is located outside of the United States.  Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey says that means going to the federal government, who built the vessel, for permission.

“Because this is a U.S. Navy prototype, primarily designed for battle missions, that it was potentially thought could be used as a ferry, we have to go through these extra hoops.  A second thing is, as far as export license, when you sell outside of [the] Continental United States, you need permission to do that.” (more…)

Alcoholic Beverage Control Board issues ’emergency regulation’ regarding public marijuana use

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On Tuesday, Ballot Proposition 2 went into effect.  The measure allows possession, consumption, transportation, and display of limited amounts of marijuana.  The state legislature and many local governments are in the process of crafting regulations.  While the initiative does allow marijuana consumption, public use is still banned.  What constitutes ‘public’ has yet to be defined by the legislature, however.  On Tuesday, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board issued an emergency regulation defining public to include places such as highways, transportation facilities, schools, places of business, parks, and playgrounds.  It also includes areas in hotels and apartments with public access, such as hallways and lobbies.

For the Upper Valley, all of which consists of unincorporated communities, the state regulations are the law of the land as of now.  The Mat-Su Borough has the option to impose certain restrictions within its boundaries, but has not yet done so.  The borough has established an advisory committee to take part in the crafting of any local regulations.

Sale of marijuana is not yet legal, though the ballot initiative passed last November does call on the State of Alaska to create regulations and a permitting process that will eventually allow commercial sales of the substance.

Update:  Alaska Governor Bill Walker’s office has released a PSA concerning some of the more commonly asked questions.

Talkeetna holds recycling meeting

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On Tuesday, the Talkeetna Recycling Committee held its first meeting.  About twenty-five area residents attended the meeting to discuss the possibility of a recycling program for Talkeetna.  A handful of local business were represented at the meeting as well.

The committee was formed by the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors after hearing from Macey “Butch” Shapiro, Solid Waste Manager for the Mat-Su Borough.  Shapiro says he is interested in community-driven recycling programs, because they would result in fewer new landfill cells being built.  Each cell costs the borough more than $4 million to open.  The plan would involve a refurbished container being placed at the Talkeetna transfer site.  The container will be divided into three sections, allowing for three different types of recyclables.  The borough would manage the hauling of the container to the Valley Community for Recycling Solutions facility, which is located near the borough’s central landfill. (more…)

Talkeetna Community Council Notes from January 5th Meeting

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

This story has been updated to better reflect the Mat-Su Borough’s role in the float plane lease program on Christiansen Lake.

On Monday, the Talkeetna Community Council board of directors held its regular monthly meeting.  Most of the discussion centered around float planes on Christiansen Lake, but other topics got attention as well, including flood mitigation and nuisance beavers.

On the issue of flooding, the board noted on Monday that the process of including East Talkeetna in the Talkeetna Flood Service Area is making progress.  Currently, all of Talkeetna east of the railroad tracks is not covered under the Mat-Su Borough’s flood service area.  That means that the borough cannot currently allocate funds or conduct any work on flood control in the area.  The issue is in the hands of the borough clerk, and will ultimately require a vote by all residents of both East Talkeetna and the current flood service area. (more…)

Borough Eyes Plan for Recycling at Transfer Stations

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dealing with trash is a growing issue in the Mat-Su Borough.  The borough’s solid waste division is millions in the red, and user fees are not making up the difference.  Now, the Mat-Su may be laying the groundwork for a community-driven recycling program to take pressure off of the landfill.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council, the most discussed topic was the outline of a plan to incorporate recycling with refuse transfer stations in the Mat-Su Borough.  Butch Shapiro is the borough’s solid waste manager.  He started Monday’s presentation by explaining how landfills are divided into units called ‘cells:’

“A landfill cell is like a big swimming pool.  You have to build this structure to put this stuff in because you don’t want this stuff leaking out into the water system, and those things are expensive.”

The expense comes from measures that are required to prevent toxins from leaking out of the trash and into soil and groundwater.  Those cells eventually fill up.  Butch Shapiro says that each one is estimated to last for 5-7 years.  After that, a new cell is needed.  Shapiro says that adds up quickly.

“The last one we built was about $4,350,000.  That’s just to open a cell…We have about another $4 million to close a cell to EPA standards.” (more…)

Mushing Legislation Proposed for Mat-Su Borough

Monday, November 17, 2014

The next regular meeting of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly will be on Wednesday.  One item on the agenda is an ordinance sponsored by Assembly Member Vern Halter, whose district includes the Upper Valley.  The proposed ordinance deals with sled dog facilities, and comes in the wake of the Alaska Legislature declaring Alaska a “right to mush” state.

The proposed legislation would allow owners of sled dog kennels to apply for a special designation.  To qualify, owners must have been registered as a kennel for at least three years, and must meet a list of care requirements that are more strict than regular kennel regulations.  Vern Halter says that there is no requirement to register for the special license, but that it comes with benefits.

One potential benefit is the official recognition of tethering as the traditional method of restraint for sled dogs.  The practice is opposed by some animal rights groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.  The ordinance also lays out that sled dog kennels are loud places at times, and that a certain level of noise is to be expected.  Property licensed as a sled dog facility would thus be exempt from the borough’s animal annoyance code.  Subdivision covenants and city ordinances would still apply.

In addition to the special licensing, the proposed ordinance would make it illegal to intentionally interfere with legal mushing activity, such as felling trees in trails or using firearms to scare mushers or dogs.   The Borough Assembly will hear public comment on the ordinance and make its decision on Wednesday.