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


Proposed Vehicle Registration Changes Could Cost Borough

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Next Tuesday, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly will hold a regular meeting for the first time since June.  One ordinance that is scheduled for introduction next Tuesday would eliminate recurring registration for older vehicles.   While that could mean less out-of-pocket expense for some drivers, KTNA’s Phillip Manning found that it could also come with trade-offs.

The ordinance, sponsored by Assembly Member Jim Colver, takes advantage of a new state law that gives municipalities the option to allow permanent registration of vehicles that are more than eight years old.  Under the proposed system, owners would have to register the vehicle one last time and pay a $25 fee to the state, but would then be exempt from state or borough registration fees as long as the vehicle did not change ownership.

While that could mean a significant convenience for many borough residents, it’s not without a potential cost in the form of lost revenue. According to the borough’s estimates, it could mean a total loss of more than $2.4 million in revenue by fiscal year 2018.  According to Terry Dolan, Public Works Director for the borough, dust control is a major part of what the registration fees cover. (more…)

Port MacKenzie Poised For Post-Oil Economy

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By: Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Earlier this month, the Matanuska Susitna Borough’s Port MacKenzie took on a load of sixteen miles of cement-coated pipe from a foreign vessel.  The pipe now rests at the Port, awaiting shipment to Nikiski to be used in construction of a new Cook Inlet oil platform. As KSKA’s Ellen Lockyer reports, although the pipe shipment has boosted Borough revenues,  some are asking questions about whether the port will ever be profitable.

29port mac budget

Port MacKenzie director Marc VanDongen says the load of cement – coated pipe proves the Port’s heavy lifting capabilities:

“Each piece of pipe is 42 feet long and it weighs 10,500 pounds. So we were lifting four pieces of pipe at a time off the ship, 42, 000 pounds at a time, and placing them on flatbed trucks. “ (more…)

Borough Seeking Input on Transportation Plan

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Mat-Su Borough is soliciting public input in order to update its Long Range Transportation Plan.  The plan was last updated in 2007, and was intended to act as a guide for borough-wide transportation improvements through 2025.  The update currently in progress will run through 2035.  While the plan covers the entire borough, the focus for the update is on fast-growing areas such as Knik Goose Bay Road and the Big Lake and Meadow Lakes areas.

The goal of the LRTP is to allow infrastructure to keep pace with growth.  It involves plans for roads, trails, airports, and public transportation.  While the update is focused more on the core area of the borough, the rural areas are also covered.  Talkeetna, Trapper Creek, and Sunshine all have lists of community desires listed in the 2007 plan.  For Talkeetna, that includes items like the wish to continue as an “end of the road” community.  Trapper Creek’s largest item is the improvement of the Petersville Road, and Sunshine has requests for pedestrian access and general safety improvements, especially along high traffic roads and the Parks Highway. (more…)

Draft Report Looks at Talkeetna Sewer and Water

Friday, July 11, 2014

Currently, the Talkeetna Sewer and Water System is operating at a six-figure annual deficit, according to a draft report by CRW Engineering Group.  CRW was contracted by the Mat-Su Borough to assess the system with $100,000 allocated by the state legislature last year.  The idea is to get a picture of the current state of the system, which was installed in the 1980s, as well as to look at the financial status.  In all, there are hundreds of pages of raw data in addition to the report itself.

CRW Engineering did two separate assessments, one for sewer and one for water.  On the operational side, they found that the water treatment and distribution system does have some issues, but that the system is working well, and has some room for growth in usage.  One of the larger issues that was pointed out is the inability of the current backup generator to supply both well pumps.  Normally, that isn’t an issue, but if there was a sudden, dramatic spike in usage during a power outage, say, in the event of a fire hydrant opening, the pumps might not be able to keep up.  The borough was already aware of the issue, and has begun looking for funding for a more powerful generator. (more…)

Borough Official Updates Talkeetna Council on Flood Recovery and Control

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

At Monday night’s meeting, the Talkeetna Community Council received an update from Borough Emergency Manager Casey Cook regarding federal money for recovery from the fall 2012 flood.  Cook also shared a new piece of information regarding the Talkeetna Flood Service Area that could have implications on future flood mitigation efforts.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:


If one were to choose a single word to describe funding for flood mitigation and recovery in the Upper Valley, a good choice would be “complicated.”  With more than a dozen agencies involved from the borough to the federal level, it’s easy to get confused by the process.  In short, after the fall 2012 flood was declared a disaster, the Upper Valley became eligible for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Actually getting that money, however, is a long process that involves mountains of paperwork. (more…)

Borough Receives Draft of Sewer and Water Assessment

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Mat-Su Borough official says that his office has received the draft of the state-funded assessment of the Talkeetna Sewer and Water System.   Terry Dolan, Director of Public Works for the borough, says that the report arrived while he was on leave last week.  Dolan says there are two documents, one each for the sewer and water system.  He says the total page count is somewhere around 500.  Terry Dolan says he and other borough staff will be reviewing the draft report to ensure that it covers all of the areas requested.  Of particular interest to many, including Dolan, is the financial analysis.  The Talkeetna system is currently operating at a significant deficit, and one aspect that the contractor, CRW Enigneering Group, is tasked to look into is potential rate structures.  The document is not yet publicly available, but CRW has said they do plan to present the findings of the assessment to the community in the form of a public meeting.

Federal government to give $3.45 million to Mat-Su Borough for tax exempt lands

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that a total of $28.5 million will be coming to Alaskan municipalities in the form of payment in lieu of taxes, or PILT.  That’s the money that the federal government pays on land it owns that is exempt from local property taxes.  This year’s amount is the highest ever, and it will mean more money for many boroughs throughout the state.

The Mat-Su Borough will once again receive the largest sum, more than $3.4 million.  That’s an increase over last year’s $3.2 million.  PILT funds represent a substantial revenue source for the borough.  Since the announcement was just made, it’s unknown what the extra money in the borough and statewide could eventually be used for.

Borough Emergency Services Director discusses EMS plans

Thursday, May 8, 2014


One of the items up for consideration as the Mat-Su Borough Assembly discusses the upcoming borough budget is EMS services in the Valley.  The Department of Emergency Services has a new plan on the table that, if proven successful in the core area, could make its way to the Upper Valley next year.  KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more:

In the last year, borough EMS service has encountered two major unanticipated financial hurdles.  The first came in the form of contribution to the Public Employee Retirement System, or PERS.  The State of Alaska ruled in 2013 that the borough is required to make contributions to PERS for emergency personnel who work more than thirty hours per week.  In addition, those same employees will, starting next year, be subject to health coverage mandated by the federal Affordable Care Act.  As a result, hours for responders were cut throughout the borough so that they would not trigger those requirements.  A long-term solution was held off pending the current budget discussions. (more…)

Assembly Member Vern Halter discusses budget, projects, and more

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


On Wednesday morning, Mat-Su Borough Assembly Member Vern Halter visited the KTNA studio to answer questions about the borough budget, schools, the railroad, and other issues facing Upper Valley residents on Su-Valley Voice.  Unfortunately, an issue with the recording means that KTNA will not be able to re-air the program or post it online this week.  Su-Valley Voice host and News Producer Phillip Manning went through the parts of the recording that were recovered, and has this report: (more…)