Chugiak isn’t exactly easing its way into the 2017 prep football season.

After scrimmaging 2016 Medium Schools champion Soldotna in an Aug. 5 tune-up, the Mustangs will open their season for real against East — which won the 2016 Large Schools title.

“It’ll definitely be a test,” said Chugiak head coach Roger Spackman.

It’s one Chugiak’s players are ready for. Just two years removed from the Large Schools title game and coming off a Railbelt Conference championship, the Mustangs feel they belong in the conversation as one of the state’s top teams.

Following months of construction closures, inspection issues and cancelled events, the Mirror Lake Park pavilions reopened to the public on the last day of July.

“I’m so excited to let everyone in,” said Karen Richards, Eagle River Parks and Recreation manager.

The opening is months overdue. Closed for improvements in August of 2016, the pavilions were originally scheduled to be completed and reopened by November, but there were “deficiencies” with a newly poured concrete slab, the park manager said.

“Within 30 days it was heaving,” Richards said.

While summer rainclouds and Bear Paw Festival crowds converged outside the Eagle River Town Center Thursday night, a half-dozen locals gathered inside for a drier purpose – the monthly meeting of the Eagle River Community Council.

The ERCC, one of six area community councils, is the only council to hold regular meetings throughout the summer months. Its July 13 meeting covered community issues ranging from public safety to parks.

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

BURGLARY

On July 27 at around 9 p.m., police took a report that someone stole three sets of moose antlers bolted to a pole outside a residence on Aurora Borealis Road while the homeowner was at work.

BURGLARY

Author’s note: This was my report to the Pacific Region Garden Clubs, (the eight western states) concerning Alaska’s Community Gardens of which I am a Chair. I choose to share this information and I hope that you are encouraged by it:

How wonderful it is to see the excitement for gardening and “growing your own.” In Alaska we are seeing an increased interest in the growing of vegetables, herbs and fruits within our communities, cities and in the Bush.

The Lilies are blooming and they are gorgeous! Asiatic hybrids, (Lilium) are hardy Zones 3-10, and easy to grow. Native to Asia, mature plants can reach 1-6 feet and have long glossy leaves. These beauties come in many bold colors. Unlike Oriental Lilies, they have no fragrance. These plants are low maintenance, a perennial, and suffer from few diseases. A definite must have for the Alaskan gardener.

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

BURGLARY

On July 15 at around 5:45 a.m., police took a report from a woman who said she returned to her apartment on Hunters Drive to find the inside ransacked. Police said medications may have been stolen, but nothing else appeared to missing.

BURGLARY

The president of the Alaska Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want to be pessimistic — but thing’s aren’t looking good.

“I’m saying right now, our future is not that bright,” Curtis Thayer said at an August 2 meeting of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce at the Eagle River Ale House. “We have high unemployment, we have negative growth in the state of Alaska, we have people leaving Alaska, we have an industry in decline.”

A spirited crowd sent the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks to a warm send-off Monday at Lee Jordan Field in Chugiak.

With the field’s namesake on hand to help sing “Take me Out to the Ballgame” and players sticking around afterward to sign autographs for any kid who wanted one, it was easy to forget the 4-0 defeat the hometown nine suffered in its final game of a 17-27 Alaska Baseball League campaign.

A former Eagle River soldier charged with the 2013 death of her infant daughter has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter.

Ashley Ard, 28, accepted the plea deal during a brief afternoon hearing in a nearly empty Anchorage courtroom July 31. Anchorage District Court Judge Kevin Saxby scheduled a sentencing hearing for Dec. 5. Afterwards, still in handcuffs, Ard was ushered out a side door by uniformed Alaska State Trooper, and a small group of family members sitting quietly near the back of the courtroom filed out into the lobby.

The Municipality of Anchorage is hoping to develop a chunk of Chugiak hillside, seeking to sell a 19.4-acre parcel near Loretta French Park.

The land – wooded property located off Jasmine Road – is owned by the Heritage Land Bank, a municipal agency tasked with managing public lands around Anchorage. The land bank plans to offer the parcel for competitive bid sale, paving the way for residential development, according to HLB land managers; the sale is contingent upon approval by the Anchorage Assembly.

Eagle River’s Kristin Helvey, who owns Helvey Communications, has been honored along with Kathy Day Public Relations Virtual, as a 2017 Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil Award winner. The award “recognizes and honors the very best public relations programs planned and executed each year,” according to a press release.

Young Eagle River actors and actresses are learning to do more with less: The Alaska Fine Art Academy’s upcoming production of “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” assembled over the course of five short weeks, features six cast members performing 20 separate characters, with dialogue delivered in four separate dialects.

“It’s a lot of practicing on one thing at a time – one day is one thing, the next day is another,” said 12-year-old Haylee Nunez. “I just hope everyone enjoys the show.”

Construction at Birchwood’s newest shooting range is progressing ahead of schedule, and the Southcentral Law Enforcement Tactical Training Center is scheduled to open for business this fall, according to project managers.

“Everything’s tracking well,” said Alan Czajkowski, director of maintenance and operations for the Anchorage Public Works Department.

BIRD VETCH (Vicia cracca)

There is nothing more exasperating to a gardener than to see their plants being devoured by bugs. Just yesterday, tiny Thrips were all over my long awaited white Peony blooms and my disdain for these little creeps came out.

Financial problems persist at the Harry J. McDonald Center, which will need a municipal loan to continue summer operations.

Without a cash infusion, facility manager Reid McDonald said the center might not be able to pay its employees.

“I’m not sure if we’ll make our next payroll,” McDonald told the Chugiak-Eagle River Parks Board of Supervisors at its July 10 meeting.

McDonald said municipal funding seemed to be the only short-term option for shoring up the center’s finances.

“We are scrambling at this point – there’s not much more I can do.”

Independence Day festivities began with a boom at Eagle River Lions Park Monday night.

The annual community fireworks show — hosted by the Eagle River Lions Club — is always a major event, according to organizers and spectators. This year’s show involved $10,000 worth of pyrotechnics, several thousand onlookers, dozens of vendors and two stages for bands. While the fireworks display itself lasted about 15 minutes, the celebration leading up the show ran for six hours.

Route 102 bus riders aren’t ready to give up their stops.

Nearly two dozen Chugiak-Eagle River residents met with local transportation officials July 26, protesting planned changes to area bus service during a heated public forum.

Eagle River’s pint-sized Pop Warner cheer squad is back for another year, kicking off its 20th season with pep, positivity and plenty of pink flamingos.

“It’s fun,” said 8-year-old Shelby Beuch, one of the Eagle River Panthers’ veteran cheerleaders. “I’m excited about the very end — there’s a showcase at the very end and it’s super fun.”

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