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Bridges new and old, legislators coming and going and a major plane crash were among the headlines this year in Chugiak-Eagle River. In case you missed them, here’s a month-by-month account of the biggest stories to appear this year in the Star:



A new law allowing fireworks in the Municipality of Anchorage on New Years Eve led to dozens of complaints following a loud holiday celebration. The only major injury reported, however, was when an Eagle River airman lost his hand in a fireworks-related mishap.


Susie Gorski can finally put away her paint cans.

The Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce executive director had made sprucing up the old plywood “Welcome to Eagle River” sign an annual rite of spring.

“It was just tired,” Gorski said of the old sign.

Thanks to the work of several community members — and a $19,000 grant from British Petroleum — the iconic wooden sign in Chief Alex Park was recently replaced with a brand-spanking-new welcome sign that’s sure to become the area’s newest big attraction.

New Eagle River football field general Jason Brewer plans to bring a no-nonsense coaching style, enthusiasm and plenty of experience to the job when he takes over in the fall.

“The kids know me, the kids know what I’m about,” said Brewer, who previously served for two years as an assistant under Kenny Ray. “I’m about discipline and having fun.”

Brewer isn’t really a general, but he did recently wrap up his Army career as a 1st lieutenant who returned from a tour in Pakistan and Afghanistan last fall. He recently took a new job with the National Guard.

At a local church, a Christmas tree sits bedecked, not with flashy ornaments, but with paper ornaments representing donations from the congregation for pregnant women and mothers in need.

At Christmas time, many congregations say they are taking time to reflect on the example of Christ in caring for the poor and vulnerable.

“Christ said, ‘What you did for the least of my brothers, you did for me,’” said Deb Marino, director of faith formation at St. Andrew Catholic Church, which hosts the giving tree for the local Crisis Pregnancy Center.

Dear Santa,

Movies, doll house, cars, new books, computer, Barbie, dog pillow.




To Santa,

Monkey dress, monkey bowl and plate, monkey rubber ducky, a monkey hat, a little Dora monkey, a sock monkey, a new horsey bouning thing.



Dear Santa,

I hope you’re going to give me presents. I want a DS and a monster truck and an Army man costume and a Wii video game please.

The purpose of these recipes is to introduce you to a variety of different ways you can use beer in your cooking. Like wine, it can leave a specific set of tastes that enhance various foods. Protein-based foods are the best, and make for a different style of cooking.

Good facts to know about cooking with beer:

Beer has lots of extra vitamins — especially beers that are home-brewed

You can substitute beer for most recipes that call for wine. Use a lighter style of beer for white wines, darker, heavier beers for those calling for reds.

(Editor’s note: If you think giving up meat to become either vegan or vegetarian will destroy your chances of eating out and you’ll have to say goodbye to eating out forever—think again. This monthly column explores the vegetarian and vegan opportunities in Eagle River and Anchorage area restaurants. Longtime vegetarian Ruth DeGraaff also looks at other healthy options available in area restaurants like whole grains and low fat.)

Every day, Anchorage Police officers play a real-life game of cat-and-mouse with some of the most dangerous drivers in Alaska. And the baddest cat around these days is patrol officer Thomas Gaulke.

Gaulke, a 16-year veteran of the department, was recently honored by his peers with an unofficial — yet highly sought-after — award for catching more extreme speeders than any other officer on the force.

“I guess I’m in the right place at the right time,” said Gaulke, who nabbed 46 drivers caught traveling in excess of 100 miles per hour in 2011.