The first snowfall of the year brings a rash of ditch divers and car crashes. My kids and I used to have a game of rating the wrecks when we drove between Eagle River and Anchorage. The ditch divers, whom we scored as a 10, managed to cross four lanes of traffic, clear the guardrail, do a complete roll or summersault, and land on their wheels without hitting another car. You can come up with your own way of scoring these esoteric accomplishments.

Planning for safe(r) winter driving

At the rate she’s throwing curve balls, Mother Nature might want to try out for the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks baseball team next summer.

A pair of young women will represent the Chugiak-Eagle River area at the 2018 Miss Alaska pageant.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, 20-year-old Jordan Naylor was crowned Miss Chugiak-Eagle River, while 19-year-old Allison Jimenez was named Miss Birchwood. Both women received college scholarships for winning their respective titles.

Eagle River improved to 3-5 in the Cook Inlet Conference with a 6-2 win over Service on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at Ben Boeke.

Tucker Lien scored two goals and Ty McEnaney notched a goal and three assists to lead the Wolves. Nick Silance, Michael Maddox and Nat Nielsen also scored for Eagle River.

Ryan Gray made 31 saves for Eagle River, which won despite getting outshot 33-24.

Landon Hill and Ben Martensen scored for Service, which got 18 saves from Kevin Taunton.

Items in the Police Briefs are taken from the Anchorage Police Department’s online crime mapping system. Details about individual events are provided by the department’s public information office. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

A 24-year-old soldier from Anchorage who deployed to Afghanistan in September with the Army’s 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Brigade died in a vehicle accident Dec. 11, 2017 in Nangarhar Province.

The U.S. Army Alaska announced Tuesday that Staff Sgt. David Thomas Brabander, of Anchorage, was killed in the non-combat crash. Staff Sgt. Brabander was an airborne infantryman who served as a squad leader in the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment. He enlisted in March 2012.

Warm weather in Anchorage has forced a last-minute venue change for the upcoming Besh Cup Series Nordic ski races.

On Monday, the Cross Country Alaska competition committee met to discuss the races, which were to be held in Anchorage Dec. 16-17. Due to rapidly deteriorating conditions at Kincaid Park, the committee voted to move the races to Fairbanks instead.

One by one, nearly 20 people stepped to the microphone inside the Anchorage Assembly hall Monday night to sing different renditions of the same tune.

Their chorus didn’t fall on deaf ears.

“I’m just glad someone listened to what we’ve been saying,” said Sandy Quimby, who was all smiles after the Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission voted to postpone action on a widely panned proposal to increase allowable density housing on a parcel of municipal land near the McDonald Center in Eagle River.

The mantle at the Snell household might need some reinforcements.

Chugiak High senior Derryk Snell added another piece of hardware to his collection Monday when he was named the Gatorade Alaska Boys Football Player of the Year.

Snell is the second Chugiak High football player to win the award, joining running back Edward Booker, who was honored for the 1991-92 season.

Josh Robles was going to have to wait another year for his shot at a conference championship. With less than a minute left in his finals match Saturday at the Cook Inlet Conference tournament, the Eagle River 113-pounder trailed East’s Octavius McCleskey by eight points and was running out of gas.

“I was tired, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do it,’” he said.

But Robles wasn’t about to quit, either, and when McCleskey made a small mistake, Robles pounced.

“I just saw an opportunity and I took it,” he said.

UPDATE (Monday, Dec. 11, 2017):

Police on Monday identified the victim in an apparent fatal vehicle crash on the Glenn Highway as 23-year-old Matthew Tubin.

According to Anchorage Police Department spokesman MJ Thim, a number of questions remain about the crash, which was first reported at around 2:17 p.m. Saturday. Among them: Who was driving the vehicle and why the incident was not immediately reported to authorities.

Anchorage police charged six people during a recent sting operation to catch shoplifters at an Anchorage retail store.

According to Anchorage Police Department spokesman MJ Thim, nine officers from the department’s Investigative Support Unit worked a total of 72 hours on the “retail blitz” operation, which was conducted at the Fred Meyer store on Abbott Road in South Anchorage. Thim said the alleged thieves tried to make off with a total of $1,100 in stolen items from the store.

He said the department plans similar operations in the future.

For the second straight week, Eagle River’s Helen Wilson was the top local Nordic skier at Kincaid Park as she raced to a fourth-place finish Saturday at the Lynx Loppet, the largest high school ski race of the season.

Wilson held her position in Saturday’s pursuit race, a 5.4-kilometer freestyle race in which racers were sent onto the course in the order of their finish in Friday’s 5-kilometer interval start classic technique race. Wilson held off Chugiak’s Heidi Booher, who finished 15 seconds back in fifth.

Land use and crime are the hottest topics facing Chugiak-Eagle River residents this month, with several key meetings and issues on the docket at a flurry of meetings scheduled between now and the year-end holidays. Among the biggest are ongoing conflicts between the municipal officials keen on more development in Chugiak-Eagle River and residents who’d prefer things stay much the same in the semi-rural neighborhoods north of Anchorage.

Here’s a rundown of some of the key issues facing local community councils and boards this month:

Local teams won three of four prep bowling matches Thursday, Nov. 30 at the Eagle River Bowl.

The girls swept, with Chugiak rolling past Service 31-4 behind a 159 from Haley Scott and the Wolves posting a 29-6 victory over Dimond thanks in part to a match-high 205 by Hanna Graves.

Also rolling a 205 Thursday was Chugiak’s Kolton Reves, who led the Mustang boys to a 28-7 win over Service.

The Eagle River boys were the only local team to fall, dropping a 24-11 decision to Dimond. Brendan Iaulaulo led the Wolves with a team-high 203.

I think everyone has read the classic Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Those words ring as true today as when they were written in 1897. Last Friday at the tree lighting ceremony at Town Square Park, I found out there is a Mrs. Santa as well.

Led by a fourth-place finish by Ashtin Bennett, Eagle River shot its way to a third-place team finish at the Region IV Riflery Championships Saturday, Dec. 2 at West High.

Bennett fired a 282-14 to lead the Wolves, narrowly beating out Chugiak’s top performer, Hannah Fitzgerald, who had a 282-12. The Mustangs finished sixth overall.

Region IV Riflery Championships

Team Scores: 1) Dimond 3,287; 2) South 3,216; 3) Eagle River 3,176; 4) Service 3,174; 5) West 3,161; 6) Chugiak 2,990; 7) Bartlett 2,863; 8) East 2823.

Alev Kelter continues to fly high for the U.S.A. Eagles women’s rugby sevens team.

Kelter, a 2009 Chugiak High graduate, helped the national team to a second-place finish at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Dubai. The 27-year-old from Eagle River played a key role in the team’s quarterfinal victory over favored New Zealand, kicking the winning two-point conversion in the team’s 14-12 Friday, Dec. 1 win.

Eagle River’s Lauren Murphy improved her pro MMA record to 10-3 Friday, Dec. 1 with a victory at the Ultimate Fighter 26 season finale in Las Vegas.

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame blog reported Murphy’s victory, a narrow three-round decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) over Barb Honchak. The 34-year-old Chugiak High grad known as “Lucky” was making her flyweight debut in the bout.

UPDATE (Dec. 4, 2017): According to the Anchorage Police Department, Brandy Nolcini was arrested Oct. 30 by officers checking up on a suspicious vehicle parked on Gander Street off Lake Otis Boulevard in South Anchorage.

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