Matt Tunseth

Saturday’s Eagle River Classic was an uphill battle — and that was just fine with Anchorage’s Julie Johnson.

“I just keep going on the uphill,” Johnson said after becoming the first woman to win the 10-kilometer wilderness race through the rolling hills of the Eagle River Valley in in its 15-year history.

Eagle River’s Dayton Denter led the race for the first 15 minutes or so, he said, until Johnson powered past on a long, steep hill.

It may be slow going for a while for Glenn Highway commuters, but a speedier highway is on the way.

Construction on “Phase II” of the Glenn Highway Artillery to Hiland Capacity Improvements is now underway along the state’s second-busiest highway corridor. The project will add a new three-lane southbound bridge across the Eagle River alongside the northbound bridge completed in 2015, as well as a new southbound frontage road west of the Glenn.

Teamwork can be a funny thing — and sometimes funny can be what makes a team work.

For Eagle River 21-year-olds Annie Connelly and Keegan Crow, a working partnership meant adopting a “smile a mile” policy in order to complete the grueling Chugach Front Linkup, an epic 12-peak wilderness adventure that has become the unofficial Holy Grail of Anchorage mountain runners.

Repairs and seismic upgrades at Anchorage-area schools damaged in the Nov. 30 earthquake could cost more than $150 million, according to the latest Anchorage School District projections.

The district estimates two schools need more than $20 million to repair and improve seismic performance, six may cost at least $10 million and improvement projects at 14 schools could cost at least $1 million each.

After more than 50 years serving Chugiak families, the CCS Early Learning program may soon be forced to leave the community where it was founded.

According to CCS executive director Mark Lackey, the program’s Chugiak Head Start Center will close if a $6.8 million budget veto by Gov. Mike Dunleavy remains in place. Since 2010, the group has received about $567,099 annually from the state, which Lackey said is crucial to providing about 60 children with Head Start services.

“To make up that amount is just impossible,” Lackey said Monday.

Alice Mae’s is getting a new look.

The gas station, convenience store, liquor store and laundromat formerly known as Alice Mae’s and The Shopper’s Cache located at 19223 Old Glenn Highway was purchased in February by Anchorage-based Vitus Energy and is currently undergoing a full makeover and name change. The first signs of the overhaul were seen late last week when the old Alice Mae’s signage was taken down and replaced.

Three of Alaska’s largest Native organizations have sent a letter questioning a July 11 Facebook post by Sen. Lora Reinbold (R-Eagle River) they say was ill-informed and inflammatory and have called on the state senator to publicly retract her statements.

Demolition work has begun at the Eagle River Lions Park tennis courts, and backers of a plan to renovate the courts have started an online fundraiser to help pay for the project.

Project coordinator Ken McCarty believes the restored tennis (and pickle ball) courts will be an asset to the community.

Massive crowds turned out for Bear Paw over the weekend as people weary of scorching temperatures and smoky skies allowed the 2019 festival to beat out dipnetting as the hottest ticket in Southcentral.

Event organizers don’t charge admission so getting hard numbers on attendance is tricky, but the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber does have one way to estimate crowd size: trash. Rinckey said the group’s Dumpsters have never before been filled by the end of the festival.

A pair of hometown racers ran to unexpected victories Saturday at the Bear Paw 5K race in Eagle River.

“I didn’t think I had a chance,” said Eagle River 16-year-old Michael Earnhart, who took the overall title in 16 minutes, 54 seconds.

At least Earnhart has been atop a podium before. Women’s race winner Hannah Booher, 21, said Saturday’s victory was a complete shocker.

“It’s the first time I’ve really won anything,” said Booher, a 2015 Chugiak High grad and former teammate of Earnhart’s on the local Alaska Nordic Racing team.

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