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Alaska’s crime rates went up significantly in 2016 in Alaska, according to statistics released Monday by the FBI.

Fall is in the air, which means the Eagle River-Chugiak Parks and Recreation Department is preparing for its most popular Halloween tradition – Beach Lake Park’s third annual Boo at the Beach.

The community event features a haunted trail, games and plenty of candy. Parks manager Karen Richards said she expects this year’s festivities to attract some 700 kids. All those trick-or-treaters require about 21,000 pieces of candy, Richards said, and the parks department is currently seeking donations.

An Eagle River woman is making waves for her work educating Alaskans about boating safety.

Kelli Toth, a program assistant with the Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Boating Safety, recently received a 2017 Boating Safety Educator of the Year award from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators. Since she joined the Alaska office in 2011, more than 75,000 have participated in Kids Don’t Float water safety classes, according to DNR. That number continues to grow.

“I see a great increase in demand for classes,” Toth said.

Fifty-four Alaskans became American citizens in the Eagle River High School gym Friday, surrounded by proud family and friends and more than 200 cheering ERHS government students.

Many waited years for the occasion, they said.

“We are a nation mostly of immigrants,” retired Anchorage Superior Court Judge Sen Tan said to those gathered in the school gym Friday. “I want to say in clearest terms: You are welcome.”

As a young girl growing up in Oostzaan, Netherlands, Maria Talasz made art with wood, dreaming up designs to cut into decorative pins she then sold around her neighborhood.

Years later, as an artist living in Eagle River, she dreamed up a design for a different kind of pin – the 2018 Fur Rondy commemorative edition.

“I’ve been making art for a long time,” said Talasz, who now works out of a home studio in Eagle River. “I’ve never really wanted to stick with paper much.”

Her Fur Rondy pin design was unveiled during a special ceremony in downtown Anchorage Sept. 8.

UPDATE (Friday, Sept. 22): The woman arrested Thursday, Sept. 21 was identified Friday by Anchorage Police as 23-year-old Brandy L. Nolcini. Court records show Nolcini was released the same day she was arrested and is currently free on $3,000 cash/corporate bail. Records show that at the time of her arrest Thursday in Eagle River, Nolcini was out on $250 bail for a misdemeanor case filed Sept. 17. Charging documents were pending in both cases as of Friday, Sept. 22.

A year after a routine municipal audit revealed more than half a dozen administrative and accounting issues at the Harry J. McDonald Memorial Center, local park supervisors are still searching for answers to lingering financial questions at the popular Eagle River rec center.

When Mary Turner woke with a start early on the morning of Sept. 5, she thought the sound she heard came from an earthquake, she said.

Then she saw the flames outside her window. A window imploded. She knew she had to get out, she said.

Homestead students’ rap gains national prize

A group of Homestead Elementary fifth-graders were celebrating after their rap placed in the top 10 in a national “We the People” essay contest.

According to a front-page story in the Sept. 10, 1987 edition of the Chugiak-Eagle River Star by reporter Sherri Spangler, the students decided to submit their entry as a rap when they noticed the essay contest put no rules on the format.

Staff reports via APD

Note: Items in the Police Beat 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.