Matt Tunseth

Now in its 32nd year, Eagle River’s Bear Paw Festival has grown from a small community shin-dig to a major summertime event drawing thousands of visitors to downtown Eagle River each year.

If they haven’t started already, locals will soon be strapping long-handled nets to the top of pickup trucks and the backs of motorhomes and heading south en masse.

The Kenai River personal use dipnet fishery — by far the state’s largest and most popular — opens July 10, a date many Alaskans keep in their heads like Christmas.

Lyndon Thomas has always been a daredevil. As a teen, he said he once flew his hang glider from the Chugach Mountains to Chugiak High School.

“Everybody thought I was 007,” he said with a laugh.

That was back in the late 1970s, when Thomas and a few of his buddies were just getting into the new sport. Back then, they’d launch from a spot near the old Wallace Homestead overlooking Chugiak and Eagle River.

The Chugiak Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department responded to a house that was smoking but not ablaze Thursday, June 29 on Oberg Road in Chugiak.

Department chief Virginia McMichael said firefighters were called out after someone turned the electricity back on at the home.

“They had recently turned the electricity on, it appears, and the house filled with smoke,” she said.

(Updated Thursday, June 29, 2017)

One of the last surviving Blockbuster Video locations has rented its last movie.

Workers on Wednesday, June 28 said the Eagle River location in the Carrs mall in downtown Eagle River is going out of business. Wednesday was the last day customers can rent movies. Starting at noon Thursday, everything in the store — from DVDs and Blu-Rays to posters, Pocky sticks and soda — went on sale.

“We’re selling everything,” said store manager Heather Glidden Wednesday.

Sen. Dan Sullivan took time June 19 to honor a giant of Chugiak-Eagle River with a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

Sullivan recognized Lee Jordan as his “Alaskan of the Week,” singling out the local community leader for his work to support Alaska baseball through his commitment to the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks Alaska Baseball League team.

“He and former State Senator Bill Stoltze, a good friend of mine and another huge booster of baseball in Alaska, hatched a plan to get a team to their area as part of the Alaska Baseball League,” Sullivan said.

A 33-year-old woman has been arrested for allegedly stealing roughly $180,000 from the Mustang Hockey Association.

An Eagle River man’s quick thinking — and a can of bear spray — may have saved his friend’s life during a harrowing bear attack Saturday, June 24 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Cyclist Alex Ippoliti was riding with his friend, James Fredrick, on a road near Clunie Like on base Saturday morning when they heard some rustling in the bushes. Ippoliti said they slowed down, but weren’t overly concerned with the noises.

Three Chugiak mushers signed up for the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, June 24, the first day for entries into the annual race to Nome.

Among the 52 entrants who signed up on the first day to enter were veteran mushers Jim Lanier and Mike Suprenant, along with rookie Tom Schonberger.

Erin Johnson wasn’t just one of the good ones — she was one of the best.

“There are certain students that stand out,” said Heather Beck, Johnson’s eighth-grade English teacher at Mirror Lake Middle School in Chugiak.

Johnson was one of those students. Even as a middle-schooler, it was clear the girl with the sparkling eyes and wide grin had a unique presence, Beck said.

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