If you think giving up meat to become either vegan or vegetarian will destroy your chances of eating out — think again. This monthly column explores the vegetarian and vegan opportunities in Eagle River and Anchorage area restaurants. It will also look at other healthy options available in area restaurants like whole grains and low fat.

Lunch at Eagle River Piccolino’s/Greek/Italian Cuisine on the Old Glenn; next to NAPA.

Mary L. Willis, a former resident of Montesano, Washington who had resided in Eagle River, Alaska with her family for the last two years, passed away peacefully at the Elmendorf Hospital Monday, Oct. 31, 2011.

Mrs. Willis was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Raymond A. Willis, a retired Navy veteran who died in 2002. Mrs. Willis was 92 years old at the time of her death. She was born in North Chicago, Illinois on September 7, 1919. She was a longtime member of St. John’s Catholic Church in Montesano.

Longtime Eagle River resident Vernon “Phil” D. Phillips died Oct. 28, 2011 after a battle with Leukemia and complications of COPD. He was 79.

He was born in Camdenton, Mo. in 1932 and served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1961. He ran Phil’s Texaco Service Station in Eagle River for 10 years. He became a truck driver in 1975 and retired from the Teamsters Union in 1998.

Alaska’s representatives in Washington, D.C., aren’t too happy with the recent announcement that 53 civilian workers at Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson will be losing their jobs. And they made their concerns known to the United States Air Force.

“We are extremely concerned about workers impacted by this decision,” said a letter sent to the secretary of the Air Force, Michael Donley, and the Air Force chief of staff, Norton Schwartz, by Rep. Don Young and Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski on Nov. 4.

The Eklutna Bridge is in immediate need of repair, according to an inspection conducted by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities in August.

The bridge, located just past the Thunderbird Falls parking lot, will be a topic of discussion during the Chugiak/Birchwood/Eagle River Rural Road Service Area Board’s meeting Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Eagle River Town Center at 7 p.m.

A little less than a year from now, Rep. Anna Fairclough could be a state senator.

Fairclough, who’s served as Eagle River’s District 17 representative in the state House since 2006, has filed to run for Senate District M. Fairclough, a Republican, is pitted against Sen. Bettye Davis, a Democrat, who’s represented District K for more than a decade.

A massive swath of land at the confluence of the Knik and Matanuska Rivers has been set aside for conservation thanks to a $1.95 million land deal signed Friday, Nov. 4 by Eklutna, Inc. Board President Michael Curry.

The deal, which was announced earlier in the week, will set aside approximately 4,800 acres of land as a conservation easement.

“It’s a glorious day for us to set that aside,” said Eklutna CEO Curtis McQueen.

The Alaska Baseball League team formerly known as the AIA Fire will be christned anew Thursday, Nov. 10 at an organizational meeting for the team at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and include discussions on committees and the team's structure. Athletes In Action, a faith-based athletic organization based in Ohio, announced last fall that it would move its ABL team to Loretta French Park for the 2012 season.

Kelly Cobb, whose prowess on the soccer field at Chugiak High made her one of the most feared strikers in Alaska history, now has proof she's also one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's best players.

Cobb, a 5-foot-9 forward from Peters Creek, was named second-team All-ACC last week after a vote of the league's coaches. She was also named to the league's all-freshman team after leading the Blue Devils with 10 goals and 27 total points during the regular season.

Chugiak's Katilyn Friedli won her first state diving title at the ASAA Alaska State Swimming and Diving Championships at Bartlett High on Saturday, Nov. 5. 

Friedli scored 355.05 points to beat Kodiak's Sophie Hogen by more than 10 points. Chugiak's Sammy Burke finished third in the girls' 100 freestyle race for the top Chugiak swimming performance.

Chugiak's boys 200 medley relay team of Andrew Espe, Ethan Espe, Derek Cluff and Grant Ensign placed sixth in a time of 1:44.27 to break their own school record in the event.

Chugiak earned a 3-0 (25-23, 25-15, 25-12) victory over East on Saturday, Nov. 5 in the third-place match of the Cook Inlet Conference volleyball tournament at Service High. The victory gave the Mustangs a berth in the state tournament for the fourth year in a row.

"We had some players really come on strong," said Chugiak coach Kelly Kavanaugh.

Sophomore Kirsten Veech led Chugiak with 12 kills, Karlee Kavanaugh added nine kills, Mollie Matthis had six kills and 19 assists and Kathleen Gill notched 18 assists.

Chugiak advanced to the semifinals of the Cook Inlet Conference volleyball tournament with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-20) win over West on Thursday, Nov. 3 at Service High. The Mustangs will face Dimond at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4 with a berth in the state tournament on the line. The winner of that match will advance to Saturday's championship at 6 p.m., while the loser will play in the third place match Saturday at 4 p.m. The top three teams in the tourney advance to state.

Here's the APD press release on the Nov. 1 accident:

 (Left to right) Tiger Harkless as Mr. Drysdale, Trevor Spackman as Jed Clampett, Matea Williams as Elly May, Isabelle Garcia as Granny (in rocker), Jesse Peters as Jethro and Hayden Laver as Mrs. Drysdale pose for a picture in costume during a rehersal for the upcoming stage adaptation of “The Beverly Hillibillies,” which will be presented Nov. 17, 18 and 19 at the Steve Primis Auditorium at Chugiak High. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students and $3 for children under 12.

 Eagle Academy Charter School third-grader Addison Strzempka looks skyward during a balloon release at the school timed to coincide with Red Ribbon Week, which was Oct. 22-30. Students at the school wrote pledges to stay free of drugs, then released the pledges inside red balloons.

With “In Time,” writer-director Andrew Niccol takes a clever, compelling idea — that time is currency and you can buy your way to immortality or die broke — and beats it into the ground.

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