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After spending nearly five decades as Chugiak’s most curious curio shop, the treasure trove known as Fuji Gifts is being liquidated.

“The building will be totally cleaned out,” said Chugiak’s Donna Henegar, who runs Alaska Auction Queens with her partner, Jessica Jansen.

Josh Otto is terrified of heights.

But that hasn’t stopped the Gruening Middle School seventh grader from facing his fear.

On Tuesday, April 24, Otto and a couple dozen Gruening and Central Middle School of Science students took a day off from class and spent it scaling Bartlett High’s cringe-inducing ropes course.

“I’m trying to break my fear,” Otto said after climbing higher than he ever had before. “It’s best to try, then to forget the fear.”

After a lunch break, Otto said he was determined to reach the top.

To see her splashing energetically in the springtime mud outside her parents’ Chugiak home, you’d never guess that the ball of energy and mischief called Madisyn Brittain was once a frail infant whose survival was very much in doubt.

“She was basically dying,” said Madisyn’s mom, Heidi.

Dad Clint Brittain said his first child struggled to flourish in the first months after he and his wife brought Madisyn home from the hospital.

“At 3 months she was three ounces lighter than when she was born,” he said.

On the morning of April 25, Chugiak High students streamed out of their classrooms to witness a nightmare.

In the school’s parking lot sat two wrecked vehicles — one of which had a lifeless human sticking out from its front windshield. As hundreds of students watched in silence, the screams of their injured classmates could be heard coming from the two cars.

Fortunately for all involved, the grisly scene wasn’t real, but a presentation of the “Every 15 Minutes” program, which gives high school students a realistic look at the aftermath of a drunk driving accident.

Note: I think I’ve covered pet fitness before in this column, but with summer approaching, it doesn’t hurt to revisit the subject…

Prudent travelers make a concerted effort to match fitness and skill levels among members of a group on backcountry excursions. It’s common sense, promotes safety and adds to everyone’s enjoyment. But do we use the same amount of discretion with our pets? On an early summer climb in the Chugach Mountains several years ago, I severely miscalculated the endurance of my dog — a two-year-old standard poodle — and put us both in jeopardy.

From nearly $30 million to fix Eagle River Road to $5,000 to replace the kiln at Fire Lake Elementary, the 2013 capital budget has something for almost everyone. Here’s a run-down of local projects approved for state funding:

Eagle River Road rehab MP 5.3-12.6 $29.8 million

Eklutna Bridge replacement $14 million

CVFD replacement fire house $6.15 million

Traffic mitigation, Artillery Road interchange $6 million

Tablelands drainage $3 million

CBERRSA residential pavement rehab $2.5 million

Two crumbling stretches of local infrastructure were among the biggest winners when the 27th Legislature wrapped up its regular session earlier this month in Juneau by passing a $3.3 billion capital budget that includes millions for local infrastructure improvements.

“If you notice a theme, the projects are roads, roads and more roads,” said Rep. Bill Stoltze, co-chair of the House Finance committee.

On a sunny spring evening, the Birchwood Community Patrol rolls into the parking lot of a local park, where several cars sit idling. In short order, two vehicles full of teens decide the big green pick-up is an unwelcome neighbor and high-tail it out of the parking lot.

 

“That’s pretty typical,” says patrol member Jeff Hartley.

There’s a party Saturday — and everyone’s invited.

Our Redeemer Lutheran Church (ORLC) is welcoming the entire Chugiak-Eagle River community to celebrate its 50th anniversary Saturday, May 5. A potluck will be held at the church (18444 Old Glenn Highway) at 5 p.m. and a polka band will perform at 6:30.

Anchorage Police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker said a 44-year-old woman was killed when she crashed her Hummer SUV into the gate emplacement at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Muldoon gate in Anchorage on Monday, April 30.

Parker said driver Brenda Kay Davis was declared dead at a local hospital.

Police were called to the scene by JBER security, Parker said.

Invesigators found no skid marks leading up to the crash site, and Parker said there was no immediate indiction that alcohol was a factor in the accident.

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