For the Chugiak-Eagle River Star

Monday, Feb. 29 was a day of torn emotions for Cindy Just.

The 44-year-old Eagle River mother reminisced about her recently-deceased 14-year-old daughter, Lindsey, who contracted a rare blood disease last fall and died in late December. There were tears as she talked about her bright smile and mostly cheery attitude despite all the medical problems life handed Lindsey.

Sinking into the snow with each step, I didn’t know which footprints to follow March 3rd as I started up 5,001-foot Harp Mountain in South Fork (Eagle River) Valley. There were about four sets of tracks, but they dipped several inches into the snow and none seemed very good.

I was suddenly reminded of the highly-charged political campaigns for the office of U.S. President. If people remained on the same trail, I thought, maybe a good one would emerge. But instead, there is a major divergence – creating several trails ranging from mediocre to poor to abysmal.

The Anchorage School Board unanimously decided that educational outcomes and not just cost savings are to be considered as administration conducts a district-wide study of building capacity.

The move could look like a bit of back pedal as board members and administration officials respond to community backlash regarding last fall’s discussion that three of the district’s aging schools – Central Middle School, Inlet View Elementary and Gruening Middle School – might represent too much expense to rehab considering the fact that nearby schools are nowhere near full capacity.

The first weekend of March in the Anchorage area is typically reserved for watching the Iditarod and taking in the last weekend of Fur Rendezvous, while trying not to turn in to an ice sculpture yourself, due to frigid outdoor conditions. But with the beautiful weather lately and a plethora of plays, an art show and live music all coming up; you might not want to leave the Chugiak-Eagle River area this weekend.

Here’s a look at what you can expect:

‘The Fantasticks’


After weeks of relative calm in and around Eagle River, strong gusting wind, on Feb.17 caught Pete Panarese and me off-guard.

As we reached the 3,510-foot summit of Flattop, we dashed for shelter under a large rock, where we regrouped for the second phase of our climb. Then we set out along the ridge, to the southeast, toward Peak 2, and then possibly, Peak 3.

 I quickly pulled a balaclava over my head, turned up the hood on my Gortex jacket and put on warmer gloves. We had a quick snack and some water before continuing our hike.

Battling the competition is usually plenty to worry about when a ski team looks ahead to a state championship meet. But the elements and chance were as much a factor as the opponents during the three-day state cross country championships held over the weekend.

Led by the Mustang girls’ second-place finish, the Chugiak and Eagle River cross-country teams skiied and sloshed their way through a windy, and often too warm setting, at Kincaid Park.

The roster for the Eagle River Broncos semi-professional football team is shaping up with several players hailing from the Chugiak-Eagle River area.

As of Monday, Feb. 29, the team had 21 players signed – 13 of those selected on Feb. 20 at tryouts and another eight signed after the team’s first practice on Feb. 27. The team’s final roster will have 25 players with two reserve players.

The Anchorage School Board gave approval a week ago at a special Thursday night meeting to its preliminary 2016-17 budget with one caveat: If the state Legislature does not include the $50 per student increase the district is banking on, then more cuts may have to occur.

Members had agreed two days earlier to postpone final voting on the preliminary budget to allow for more review of the proposal to close the district’s projected $11 million gap.

The Anchorage Assembly further clarified the distances that marijuana businesses can be located to various other activities within the municipality at its meeting Tuesday night.

It doesn’t matter who we are or where we live, we are drawn to nature because we are nature at the molecular level, or as the late astronomer Carl Sagan opined: “…our bodies are composed of the same elements in stars …we are essentially star stuff.”