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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.

Love,

Noah

 

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.

Mara

 

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.

Recent tweaks to the municipal law that allows fireworks on New Year’s Eve require that people light ‘em off at least 200 feet from buildings around them.

The good news for Chugiak and parts of Eagle River: larger lots are more plentiful here than in Anchorage proper, so the amended ordinance probably won’t affect local residents as much as people who live in town.

That’s also the bad news.

Hard work pays off.

Tha’s something Carrie Wehmeyer, Christian Alvarez and Gavin Willman can attest to.

Those three were the top team out of nearly 100 Gruening Middle School eighth-graders who competed in a submersible remote operated vehicle (ROV) challenge at Buckner Physical Fitness Center’s pool on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on Friday, Dec. 9.

Thirty teams made up of three to four students navigated their ROVs — constructed out of PVC pipe — through an underwater course.

Too bad it’s not fishing season.

For the second week in a row, a huge Chinook arrived in the area, bringing high winds, heavy snow, power outages and icy roads to the area.

The storm’s full force hit on Sunday, Dec. 11, with temperatures soaring into the 40s as the wind began to pick up over the course of the afternoon. First rain, then wet, heavy snow blanketed Chugiak-Eagle River as winds began gusting to as much as 70 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

Eagle River could benefit from the more than $500,000 the Anchorage Assembly added to Mayor Dan Sullivan’s proposed 2012 budget.

The Assembly, which passed a $452.3 million budget Dec. 6, added about $79,500 for a records clerk for the Anchorage Police Department. Assembly chair Debbie Ossiander and budget/finance chair Bill Starr are hoping the money will be used to staff the Eagle River substation.

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