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For thousands of Chugiak-Eagle River families, the last full week of August marks a shift to school schedules filled with classes, sports and social events.

Public school students in grades 1-12 began classes Aug. 21. Kindergarten students are set to return to their classrooms Aug. 28. Weekends are packed with games and meets, and school calendars brim with important dates and deadlines. Here are a few key facts, phone numbers and other information to help you navigate the back-to-school rush at Chugiak-Eagle River’s 12 public schools:

As David Thomas’s scheduled trial date creeps closer, the Eagle River man accused of fatally strangling his teenage girlfriend is asking the Alaska Court of Appeals to intervene.

An Aug. 22 hearing in Anchorage District Court was the latest in a series of court dates that have stretched on for nearly three years.

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources has closed the Albert Loop Trail near the Eagle River Nature Center for the fall.

The annual fall closure has taken place since 1997. According to a DNR press release anouncing the closure, brown and black bears use the bridges and beavers dams to fish — making the trail a potentially treacherous place to be for humans.

Other trails near the center will remain open. The Albert Loop Trail will reopen after freeze-up.

Here’s the complete announement from DNR:

ENSTAR Natural Gas has tapped into the Chugiak-Eagle River area to find its first home-grown president.

Eagle River’s John Sims has been named to head up the company, which delivers gas to more than 143,000 customers in the Cook Inlet area from Homer north to Big Lake, according to the company’s website.

At a meeting of the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, Aug. 16, Sims (who is also the chamber president) said he’s the first “born-and-raised” Alaskan to be the company’s president.

“I’m very proud of that,” he said.

An Eagle River man accused of commiting a violent sexual attack on an Anchorage woman earlier this month appeared in court again Aug. 17, in custody and facing new charges of felony assault and kidnapping.

Preparing for a flood of future development, a local utility is laying the groundwork for new water and sewer lines in Birchwood.

The announcement triggered a wave of community concern at an Aug. 9 Birchwood Community Council meeting, where local homeowners talked about looming property assessments and population growth.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of ‘if,’ I think it’s a matter of ‘when,’” said council president Kevin McNamara at the Wednesday evening meeting at the Beach Lake Chalet.

Matanuska Electric Association issued an urgent warning Tuesday, Aug. 15 about an ongoing phone scam targeting the cooperative’s members.

According to an email sent out by MEA public relations supervisor Cassi Campbell, the con artists have manipulated phone systems so their caller ID reads ‘MEA Outage Line.” Campbell said the callers are demanding immediate payment and threatening to cut off members’ electricity immediately.

“Please protect yourself!” she wrote. “Hang up immediately and call MEA (phone numbers) if your receive suspicious phone calls.”

A driver was injured after a pickup truck left the roadway and smashed into the front of an Eagle River salon Wednesday morning.

According to Anchorage Fire Department assistant chief Eric Schuenemann, the male driver suffered non life-threatening injuries in the crash, the cause of which Schuenemann said was under investigation by police Wednesday.

If there’s a big construction project on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, there’s a good chance Joel Spano had something to do with it.

As a lead quality assurance representative for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Spano “is responsible for providing mechanical support for military construction projects across Alaska,” according to a press release issued by the Corps’ Alaska District Office.

(Note: The following story contains graphic accounts of sexual assault that may be disturbing to readers.)

UPDATE (Aug. 17): Schneider was indicted on kidnapping charges Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017. He was in custody and the $30,000 bail originally posted had been exonorated, meaning it had been returned to the person who posted it. As of Thursday afternoon, Schneider remained in custody at the Anchorage Jail.

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