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Wendy Martin thought a vacation in Hawaii would prevent her from competing in this year’s Bear Paw Pageant.

Good thing she returned just in time.

Just four days after entering the pageant, Martin was crowned Miss Bear Paw 2012 on Thursday, July 12 at Chugiak High’s Steve Primis Auditorium.

“It feels absolutely fantastic,” said Martin, who’s entering her senior year at Chugiak. “It’s so rewarding.”

Seeking a low calorie frozen treat?

The Ice Cream Social has you covered.

The new Eagle River business located at 11823 Old Glenn Highway offers non-fat, gluten-free, lactose-free ice cream as well as Dole pineapple sorbet.

The menu isn’t limited to desserts.

The entire Pizza Man menu is also available thanks to a contract with the popular local pizza place.

The Ice Cream Social also offers an 850-square-foot “playland” complete with tents, books, blocks and other toys for children.

A 24-year-old paratrooper assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division was killed on July 14 when his patrol was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade and small arms fire in the Khost Province of Afghanistan.

Chugiak’s Lauren Fritz, Eagle River’s Alexander Babos and Eagle River’s Keegan Crow were the top local finishers in this year’s Mount Marathon Race on July 4 in Seward.

Fritz, 24, finished second only to Anchorage’s Holly Brooks in the women’s race, clocking a time of 54 minutes, 48 seconds up and down the 3,000-foot mountain in Seward.

Babos, 19, was 37th among men’s finishers, crossing the finish line in 53:49. Anchorage’s Matt Novakovich won the race in 44:07.

Crow’s time of 35:01 was good enough for 10th place in the junior race.

Cheryll Heinze, a former Alaska state legislator who served as Matanuska Electric Association's Director of Human Resources and Public Affairs, was killed in a plane accident Tuesday, July 10, in Homer, according to Alaska State Troopers and MEA.

Winning $1,064,121.24 in Las Vegas was a dream come true for Linda Fleury — literally.

Prior to her trip, Fleury’s husband, Al, had a dream that she hit the jackpot of a progressive slot machine.

Fleury said she typically plays single slots with five-figure payouts because the odds are much better.

But, at her husband’s request, Fleury visited the linked slot machines at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino every other day.

“The only reason I played it was because my husband told me to,” she said. “If he didn’t tell me that, I wouldn’t play it.”

When John Hillyer first saw reports of the devastating 2011 Japan tsunami, the Eagle River jet pilot’s first reaction was to pack his bags and head home.

“As soon as this hit it was so hard to watch,” said Hillyer.

At the time, Hillyer — a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve who flies full time for FedEx — was commanding the reserve’s F-22 unit, a position that made it difficult for him to leave Alaska for an extended period of time.

“I was never called,” he said.

The five fun-filled days of the 2012 Bear Paw Festival continue today (Thursday, July 12) throughout Chugiak-Eagle River.

The event started with the presentation of the Bear Paw awards during the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday at Bear Mountain Grill. Here’s a few of this year’s highlights:

 

Today’s events:

The Golden Wheel Amusements carnival opens this afternoon in the Eagle River Commons. The carnival offers everything from a Merry Go Round, to roller coasters, to a Ferris wheel and games.

Get ready for all the activities you can handle.

The 2012 Bear Paw Festival runs today (Thursday, July 12) through Sunday, July 15 in Chugiak-Eagle River.

“The focus of this is to have fun and focus on community,” said Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susie Gorski.

Gorski said this year’s theme “It’s a Jungle Out There” should make for plenty of humorous floats in the parade, which starts Saturday at 11 a.m.

“It’s kind of a play on words,” she said. “It’s a jungle out there in more ways than one.”

The wreckage of a military plane found this month on Colony Glacier is that of an Air Force plane that crashed in 1952, killing all 52 people aboard, military officials said Wednesday.

Army Capt. Jamie Dobson said evidence found at the crash site correlates with the missing C-124A Globemaster, but the military is not eliminating other possibilities because much investigation still needs to be done.

Processing DNA samples from relatives of those on board the plane could take up to six years, Dobson said.

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